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Many parents choose UK boarding schools for various reasons, like a track record of academic excellence, specialist ESOL programmes, and an enriching home away from home. Sibford School has all these, and for Chinese national Brian, they allowed him to evolve into a more confident person.

“I wanted to go to boarding school in England so that I could learn better English and make new friends. My English is now much better, and I have become more independent,” enthuses Brian.

Founded in 1842, Sibford School is a co-educational, independent school for children aged three to 18. Its 50-acre campus in Oxfordshire — only 55 minutes by train from London — is home to 450 pupils, small classes, a wide range of facilities, and over extra-curricular activities and clubs. The atmosphere is always warm, friendly and down to earth. 

It’s a great place for international students to acquire the language skills needed for academic achievement. A specialist ESOL department (English to Speakers of Other Languages) staffed by experienced TEFL teachers ensures this.

“Not only will we help you get that all-important IELTS score necessary to enter the UK university of your choice but, perhaps more importantly, we will also help you to acquire as much language as possible to enable you to cope in the real world,” explains Sally Pickering, Head of ESOL.

Among the ESOL programmes offered is the Intensive English Course. It is designed for students who need to boost their English language skills before progressing to GCSE Years 10 and 11 or Sixth Form (for A Levels). 

Sibford School

Sibford School’s down-to-earth and welcoming boarding environment coupled with ESOL support help international students settle in quickly. Source: Sibford School

“The Intensive English Course consists of daily English classes and other subjects like cooking and textiles. We learn the basic grammar and vocabulary as well as about life in the UK, the history and the culture of the country,” says Shin, a Year 13 student. 

Most international students follow the main curriculum in the Mainstream School Timetable with ESOL support. They attend additional ESOL classes while their English-speaking classmates study Modern Foreign Language and English. To achieve an acceptable test score in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), students can take part in the Advanced English Course as well. 

Sibford’s specialist support extends to its Support For Learning department. They help make Sibford a very dyslexia friendly school. What this means is this mainstream, non-selective school is really good at supporting kids with educational needs.

“Our highly qualified and vastly experienced staff quickly build a rapport with our students and form relationships based on respect and understanding. This is key to enabling our students to feel supported and lays the foundation of their language success,” shares Pickering. “Our staff regularly attend training sessions to ensure we are at the forefront of innovations in ESOL teaching and, most importantly, clearly love what they do.”

Pair this with a diverse education that builds a strong foundation for learning and it’s little wonder that the family school received an “Excellent” rating by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) following their visit to the school in December 2021. “Excellent” is the highest descriptor possible. Last year, its A Level results was ranked in the Top 1% of all schools and colleges nationally too.

“Sibford pupils’ attainment and progress from their different starting points are excellent; pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding develop to a high level as they move through the school; pupils demonstrate outstanding attitudes towards learning and achievement; pupils’ communication skills are advanced for their age throughout the school’,” stated the ISI report. 

Jo, a parent of two Sibford School students, whole-heartedly agrees: “The teachers are all passionate about their subjects which definitely rubs off on the children. They also have an absolutely zero tolerance approach to bullying – which I know is not the case in other local private schools.”

Sibford School

The boarding houses provide an enriching and comfortable home away from home for students. Source: Sibford School

Boarding at Sibford School is an enriching, positive experience. Its two friendly boarding houses — Fielding for boys, Margaret Fell for girls — are run by House Parents. They live at either end of the boarding houses, and strive to ensure all weekly, flexi and full boarders are well cared for. 

Sibford School

Sibford School’s Sixth Form students are well-supported to excel academically. Source: Sibford School

“Our pastoral care is of the utmost importance too and is one of our strengths. We will provide personal support for students as individuals,” says Pickering. 

Such support has a big impact. Brian used to be a very angry child back home. Over the years, the gentle care of his House Parents helped Brian become calmer – so much that he’s set to become House Captain. 

“I will be helping the House Parents with the running of the House and will help ensure that all the students get on well together. I am really looking forward to this new responsibility and have some good ideas to make the House even better for everyone,” says Brian.

Parents would be happy to know Sibford School has specially curated an attractive 12,500 pounds per term International Package that includes tuition, ESOL/Language support, accommodation, catering, laundry, personal effects and accident cover, boarding house activities and trips, CAS application and return airport transfer per term. For more information on how Sibford School can help your child thrive in the UK and beyond, click here.

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