Westbourne School has long believed the depth and breadth of an IB education provides the platform for innovation and growth. With big ideas come infinite possibilities — as the graduates of its International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, which is recognised as the gold standard for Sixth Form students, would know.
“Over two years, IB students are developed into well-rounded scholars who go on to the best universities in the UK and around the world,” Dr. GW Griffiths, Westbourne’s Principal, says.
Westbourne is a co-educational day and boarding school in Penarth, voted one of the UK’s top 10 places to live in 2019, conveniently located near Cardiff, the capital of Wales. Since 2008, it has successfully offered the IB Diploma Programme — a curriculum with wide breadth and flexibility that prepares students for the academic rigours of university.
The benefits of the IB are wide ranging. From day one, students learn how to effectively manage their time, hone research and referencing skills, learn independently, all alongside developing their leadership skills. Critical thinking, teamwork, ethical global citizenship and communication are other key skills developed throughout the programme.
With links to INSEAD, the world’s number one MBA school, and Cardiff University, university preparation and career development are at the centre of the Westbourne’s IB student experience. Whether it’s attending Summer @INSEAD in Paris through exclusive invitation, or the numerous lecture opportunities at local universities, students have a wealth of opportunity to develop expert subject knowledge.
With these features, it is little wonder that 90% of Westbourne IBDP graduates in recent years have achieved Russell Group university places, primarily in STEM, economics or law.
Different countries, one dream
Anthony and Dharani may come from different countries but they shared a common dream: studying at the University of Cambridge.
It started with a simple wish for Anthony. He wanted a chance to enter the Biology Olympiad in his first IBDP year, having taken the Vietnamese Olympiad at his high school.
For Anthony, individualised attention by Westbourne’s IBDP teachers helped him achieve 45 points and secure a place at University of Cambridge. Source: Westbourne School
To his delight, he not only got into that Olympiad and scored a gold award, but then saw further success at the Chemistry Olympiad, where he scooped up another gold.
“I’m really glad that the teachers, Dr. Francis and Mr. Tucker, gave me the opportunity to register for these competitions, and they also have been willing to help and mentor me,” Anthony enthuses.
“For scientific students like me, these competitions come in handy when applying for the top universities.”
Meanwhile Dharani, a Malaysian, having enjoyed Debating and History in school, thought Law would be a natural fit.
“Cambridge has a different, anchored Law programme and I knew I wanted to do it,” Dharani explains.
“The Cambridge application requires just a personal statement, a reference and your grades. Westbourne continuously prepped and helped me throughout the process.”
Ensuring an inclusive and diverse community at Westbourne
Besides supportive teachers, Westbourne’s 350 students also enjoy smaller classes and individualised academic attention.
“Westbourne’s teachers give great care to every student, making sure that everyone reaches the high standard that they are hoping for,” Anthony says.
Dharani agrees. “When my parents met Ms. Phillips during parents’ evenings, it was really different because she was able to talk about my strengths, my weaknesses, and how I am doing. It’s so important, and only something you get at a small school like Westbourne.”
Developing future-ready students from day one
Westbourne strives in every way possible to help their students achieve their ambitions.
For example, back home, Anthony struggled with maths. Upon coming to Westbourne, he realised that good maths is crucial for any university science student.
“I got a lot of help from Mr. Morrison, improving my skills and being able to utilise and implement them into scientific concepts,” Anthony says, adding that Westbourne made it easier for him to choose a STEM career.
As for Dharani, she nearly got blindsided on the day of the Cambridge interview.
Fortunately for her, Westbourne hired a tutor to help her with the preparation beforehand. The mock interviews given by Ms. Phillips, Dr. Griffiths and Mrs. Barber gave her the much-needed boost to stay focused.
At the same time, Westbourne’s students have always been encouraged to gain as much relevant work experience to enhance their university applications and get a taste of working in their chosen industry. This year’s students were offered medical, marketing and legal work experience; some have even started their own small businesses.
A home away from home
Westbourne’s approach to homestay and boarding school life ensures that students — especially if they are from abroad — settle in better and faster.
“They are willing to share stories and advice about schools, university and life experience — I feel like their own child,” shares Anthony about his homestay with Mr. Mike and Mrs. Cath.
For Dharani, the best part of being a boarder is living with her friends. “Getting to share about our study experiences is really nice and helps me not to be lonely.”
At the Boarding House, the live-in House Parent — also well-experienced in looking after international students — provide after-school support as well as care for their safety and wellbeing.
Unsurprisingly, both Anthony and Dharani have been accepted into the University of Cambridge.
Anthony obtained the highest achievable score of 45 Points, making him one of just 0.3% worldwide to do so. Dharani achieved 44 Points, the equivalent of five A*s.
Westbourne’s IBDP students were ranked in the top 1% worldwide for the 2021 IBDP as well — 90% of its graduates have also gained entry to elite Russell Group universities .
A one-year Pre-IB with optional GCSEs — plus a choice of an international immersion programme — is available to help overseas students aged between 15 to 17 years in progressing seamlessly from national education systems into a British boarding school. Westbourne welcomes international students from 12 years of age.