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Taunton School: The UK’s first alternative two-year pathway to university

Some families look for a school with a long, illustrious history of student wellbeing. Others seek one that is future-focused. Then, there are those who want their children to develop advanced skills fast. At Taunton School — an IB World School set on 56-acres of land in enchanting Somerset — education encompasses all of the above and more.

Here, international students — who have been welcomed with open arms at the school’s dedicated international school since 1996 — take their next steps with ease and confidence. They owe it all to Taunton being one of the first institutions in the UK to offer a bespoke alternative pathway to top universities across the globe such as the University of Bristol, University of Exeter, California State University, University of Auckland, University of South Australia and more.

The Pre-Foundation Year (PFY) and NCUK International Foundation Year (IFY) offer unique advantages. The PFY takes place first, preparing 16-17-year-olds for the globally-recognised NCUK IFY in Year 13.

Tricey Agbolu from Ghana and Paul Paclot from France, as well as Jarry Wang from China — among the first cohort of international students to complete this two-year course — are set to join prestigious universities in the UK and Canada.


The IFY is designed for international students to excel in business-related disciplines at  undergraduate level. Not only do students become competent in business studies, economics and mathematics, they learn how to think critically too. “The thing about this course that really appealed to me was the fact that it was really business-focused. It also provided me with a clear pathway for studying at university,” Agbolu shares.

The English for Academic Purposes (EAP) module gave Tricey an edge over her A Level peers. She can write university-standard essays and coursework with conviction. While others attend university orientation eager to learn the ropes of coursework, Tricey’s experience has prepared her to hit the ground running at university.

“I cannot wait to begin the next step of my academic journey at the University of Kent,” she enthuses. “I don’t believe I would have received my offers without the help and assistance from the fantastic staff at Taunton School.”

Early preparation can be daunting for young adults, which is why the school also offers the PFY for students between the ages of 16 and 17. This one-year programme serves as an ideal stepping stone into the IFY. It comprises 650 hours of directed study, plus 350 hours (minimum) of additional independent study alongside Taunton’s extensive co-curricular programme.

Outside the classroom, students explore their passions and discover new ones. They strive for elite sporting performance in county, regional and national competitions — be it in rugby, hockey, netball, cricket, tennis, athletics, swimming, football, cross country, horse riding and more — guided by experienced coaches. Artistic minds express themselves through music, art, drama, dance, debating and public speaking. Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts achieve their Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme or partake in the Ten Tors Challenge.

Taunton School

Taunton School is home to an expansive list of extracurricular activities that develop key life skills such as leadership, teamwork and reflection. Source: Taunton School

There is plenty more to explore at Taunton — enough to ensure every student leaves with a distinctive, captivating story to tell. Tricey got to play cricket, take part in The Duke of Edinburgh Award, organise charity events and volunteer in forest management. “It was great to be able to get involved in extracurricular activities here at Taunton alongside the IFY.”

Clearly, a mix of advanced preparation and interdisciplinary superiority is a recipe for success — Tricey, Paul and Jarry are testament to this. Each has passed the IFY course with confidence. They are set to thrive in their respective universities and graduate ready to join Fortune 500 companies.

“I am so proud of Tricey, Paul and Jarry, who have worked incredibly hard to achieve such fantastic offers to their dream universities,” says Adrian Hallworth, Principal of Taunton School International. “These students have paved the way for others to follow in their footsteps, and I cannot wait to see where their experience at Taunton takes them next.”

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