UK schools with dynamic arts, sports and academic programmes

Sibford Schoo
Source: Sibford School

Nobel-winning scientists, George Orwell, inventions such the first colour television and the discovery of DNA profiling — there is no shortage of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit to emerge from the UK. The starting point? Great schools.

A British education is a passport that opens many doors. Not only do graduates master the world’s lingua franca, they amass a wide variety of skills within and beyond the classroom. Creativity and originality are encouraged as they strive to get into the world’s top universities. From the field to the auditorium, pupils here discover their talents, develop social skills, and make friends for life as well.

If you seek a well-rounded education that prepares your child for university and beyond, consider these British schools:

Sibford School

Sibford School

Sibford School provides the UK’s only Intensive English Course to international students needing to polish their English language skills. Source: Sibford School, Facebook

Sibford School — a day and boarding school based on Quaker values — recognises that students come in all forms and backgrounds. Offering an inclusive school environment that supports and nurtures both academic and sports talents, Sibford also understands international students may particularly need extra help with English language skills.

That is why Sibford has developed a specialist English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) department where international students can acquire the language skills needed for academic achievement. Among the programmes taught here is the Intensive English Course — not offered in any other UK schools — designed for students who need to boost up their English skills to intermediate level before progressing to GCSE Years 10 and 11 or Sixth Form (for A Levels). 

Lasting one year or two academic terms, this course will guide students to become more confident of their English skills, not just in English classes but also other subject classes with their own specific vocabulary. Attesting to its prowess are its 100% pass rate for the University of Cambridge Preliminary English Test, an internationally recognised ESOL examination.

This year, Sibford Sixth Form delivered an outstanding academic performance, with 58.5% of students gaining A* to B grades in their A Level and BTEC exams – the highest ever — while 100% of students passed all their subjects. As a result, Sibford was placed in the top 1% of schools in the UK for the progress that their students made.

Sibford’s 50-acre campus is located in safe, rural Cotswold, and is also nearby major cities such as Oxford (20 minutes) and London (one hour). Students can also access over 90 extra-curricular clubs, sports and activities at Sibford including its own specialist climbing wall, rounders and triathlon.

Bootham School

Bootham School

The beautiful front of Bootham School. Source: Bootham School, Facebook

If you’re looking for a school that helps students acquire the academic qualifications they need to go on to the next stage of education while simultaneously acquiring the wisdom needed to lead a good life, look no further than Bootham School.

Bootham is located in the historic city of York and offers education for students between the ages of three and 18 through its Junior School and Senior School. Here, learning is not only confined to the classroom. Students can choose from a wide range of sports, after school activities and volunteering and social action opportunities to build new skills.

Quaker Schools like Bootham aim to develop a caring community that values the peaceful resolution of conflict and provides opportunities for service to others, especially the less fortunate. Students and staff of all faiths and none are welcome here, while its Quaker ethos sits happily with people from all backgrounds. Students will develop skills such as a strong sense of social understanding, the ability to deal with adversity, and a strong sense of self-worth.

Bootham’s Senior School headmaster Chris Jeffery said their knowledgeable and passionate teachers focus on offering students personalised, well resourced pastoral care and personal development. It is unsurprising why the majority of their students have secured places at their chosen university course. “I firmly believe that all parents ultimately want their children to be good people even more than they want them to be successful people; doing both is what we specialise in!”

Strathallan School

Strathallan School

Source: Strathallan School, Facebook

Do you want to attend a school that will help you realise your academic potential and offer opportunities to excel across a wide range of sports within an environment that boasts of a real sense of family and community? These are just some of the hallmarks of Strathallan School that attract throngs of students — including international students from over 28 countries from age 7 to 18 — to its campus each year.

Here, teaching is built around you to ensure you achieve the best grades and skills needed to succeed on your chosen path. Strathallan also serves as a springboard to attend some of the best universities in the world. “Our aim is to send our pupils out into the world with strong friendships already forged and the ability to make new ones, with the knowledge and skills to succeed at university and beyond,” says headmaster D M Lauder.

In 2020, more than 40% of Strathallan’s sixth form leavers took up places at top 10 universities and over 70% at selective universities both in the UK and abroad. From professional sportspeople to entrepreneurs, Strathallians graduate into impressive, ambitious roles.

Strathallan is the first Scottish school to offer pathways that include full GCSE and A Level offerings alongside full Highers, Advanced Highers and Extended Project Qualification programmes. Last year, 58% of the school’s A Level students achieved straight A*/A grades, with 20% of pupils overall achieving A* across the board. For GCSEs, 52% of GCSE results awarded to Strathallan students were graded seven to nine, previously (A and A*).

It’s not all work and no play at Strathallan. The school’s sports programme is exceptional — at least 10% of pupils play at a national or international level each year. You’ll also get to choose from an exciting selection of activities such as golf, skiing, canoeing, equestrian disciplines, and clay target shooting, among others.

Christ College Brecon

Christ College Brecon

The stunning campus of Christ College Brecon — where students pursue academic excellence in all aspects. Source: Christ College Brecon, Facebook

Not many schools can boast a campus set within the stunning scenery of a national park — Christ College Brecon can. Situated on a picturesque site on the outskirts of the historic market town of Brecon, Wales, Christ College Brecon is a boarding and day independent school for boys and girls between the ages of seven and 18.

“We are fortunate to be based in such a beautiful area with so many opportunities for young people to develop their moral compass for life,” shares Gareth Pearson, head of Christ College Brecon. Those opportunities include an outdoor education programme where pupils gain more than physical prowess — they harness leadership skills, self-confidence and teamwork experience too.

Here, every pupil strives for academic and artistic excellence, guided by a robust support system and dedicated teachers. Each week, hundreds of instrumental and vocal lessons take place. Two out of five pupils in the school learn at least one instrument. One out of three take part in at least one choir or ensemble. In its auditorium, pupils perform ambitious productions of Scrooge the Musical, Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast, mentored by professionals. This year pupils will be tackling The Addams Family.

Rigorous academics, a rich balance of extra-curricular activities, an enviable location, supportive pastoral care and wellbeing system — at Christ College Brecon, it’s an environment focused on character education that spurs today’s young talents into tomorrow’s well-rounded leaders.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International