4 UK schools educating bright-minded, ambitious and all-rounded students

A rigorous curriculum, an extensive range of extracurricular activities, and opportunities to pursue many interests. Those are among the things that describe a well-rounded education. 

The right education will set your child up for success in university and beyond. Not only will they be university-ready, they’ll also be prepared to hit the ground running by the time they graduate. 

Schools that adopt this approach give students the space and support for them to reach their full potential and become well-rounded, positive-minded and resilient individuals. From encouraging independence to inspiring creativity and building social skills, these schools do it all.

If this is something you seek for your child, consider one of these UK schools: 

St Joseph’s College

St Joseph’s College recognises that each student is unique and gives them the space and encouragement to thrive as individuals. Source: St Joseph’s College

Located on 60 acres of beautiful parkland in the heart of Suffolk, St Joseph’s College is a day and boarding school that offers an excellent education from Nursery and Reception to Prep School, Senior School and Sixth Form.

St Jo’s recognises that each student is unique and gives them the space and encouragement to thrive as individuals. Hence, the emphasis on a well-rounded curriculum, creating a holistic experience of study, recreation and performance, as well as a vibrant social life.

Students here have limitless opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities to pursue their interests. There is something for everyone with activities such as volunteering, rugby, football, cultural interests, debating, and more.

The College stands out for its successful track record in supporting able students to some of the UK’s top higher education institutions for sports. It boasts 100% pass rates for international students, with students moving on to Bath, Loughborough and Hartpury, as well as Life University (Atlanta, the US), to name a few.

Its Performance Sports Academy Sports Academy supports a limited number of high-achieving sportsmen and women with scholarship awards. The BTEC Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development is offered as well — providing students a qualification recognised by leading universities.

Although students here pursue a wide range of interests, they still do well academically. At Sixth Form, they can mix BTECs and A Level subjects — to great results. Leavers are prepared for life in leading universities, including Russell Group and The Times Newspaper’s Top 20 universities the likes of University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, London School of Economics, University of St Andrews and King’s College London.

Bredon School

Bredon School understands that the wellbeing of its pupils is equal to their academic achievements. Source: Bredon School/Facebook

Bredon School is a dyslexia-friendly independent boarding and day school for children aged seven to 18 years old, situated in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside.

The student community is a caring and compassionate one where pupils learn foundational values of respect, kindness and hard work. Bredon School understands that the well-being of its pupils is equal to their academic achievements and ensures that every individual flourishes and reaches their full academic potential while developing a life-long love of learning through the broad and enriching curriculum. 

“We know that success isn’t just about preparing our children for examinations, we must also enable them to develop character, creativity, competency and confidence, so they are equipped to live happy and successful lives,” shares headmaster, Nick Oldham. 

Students of all ages join extra-curricular activities that continue to nurture their existing interests while exploring new passions. Students have onsite climbing facilities, a clay pigeon shooting ground, onsite access to the River Severn together with extensive pitches, a floodlit astro pitch and fully equipped sports hall. Its 84-acre rural setting lets students reap the most out of the outdoors, whether it’s on the school farm, climbing wall, shooting range or across its stunning campus. Each week, students get to try a range of activities including archery, cycling, climbing, kayaking and orienteering to name a few.

Kingsley School

Kingsley School offers both rigorous academics and an expansive curriculum that allows students to explore their interests and skills. Source: Kingsley School/Facebook

At Kingsley School, an independent school located in Bideford on the banks of the River Torridge in North Devon, children learn that anything is possible. As part of this special family, students learn to give their time and serve generously, to appreciate what they have, and to connect with their environment and others. Teachers and staff encourage qualities like courage, generosity, honesty, imagination, tolerance and kindness.

“We are a family that values mindfulness and wellbeing along with academic challenge and curiosity, so that we can all reach our potential to be better global citizens to build a better world for our future,” says headteacher Robert Pavis.

It’s an approach that works — as seen in its academic success. As many as 83% of students achieve A* to C grades, according to its three-year average. With the Top Universities Programme, in collaboration with its partner college in Oxford, selected students have the help they need, including a specialist mentor, to win a place at one of the Russell Group universities, including Oxford or Cambridge.

Apart from rigorous academics, the school also offers an expansive curriculum where students are encouraged to nurture their wider interests and skills in sports, music, art, and drama so development isn’t just confined to the classroom.

An ISI Inspection Report sums up the school best: “The quality of the students’  achievements in academic and co-curricular areas is exceptional.” Click here for information about admissions as well as scholarship opportunities. 

Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation

Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation has over six centuries of experience in nurturing its pupils. Source: Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation/Facebook

Built on four core values – moral integrity, ambition, responsibility and kindness — Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation (DCSF) aims to provide students aged three to 18 with a complete education. 

Students will be instilled with these values through a caring, supportive community where highly qualified and supportive teachers help them unlock and reach their full potential.

With the motto “Confidence for life. Respect for all.” DCSF has over six centuries of experience in nurturing its pupils. Small class sizes allow students to fully engage in personal group lessons, where they can feel heard. 

Other than its strong academic focus, the school also offers a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities including the Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes, World Challenge expeditions and more. Sixth Formers can join clubs like MedSoc — which organises lectures from academics, practical “hands-on” sessions at local universities, and workshops with professionals — or the Creighton Society which invites visiting speakers, including academics, to address the group, in addition to hosting pupil talks and debates on historical topics, to name just two. 

The school has a diverse international student community that celebrates all backgrounds. Students will be exposed to various cultural events and traditions such as Chinese New Year, international student dinners and themed school lunches. 

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