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【SCMP Education Post:Boarding Insider】The lowdown on Mayfield School

Boarding 101


From humble beginnings to boarding school greatness, Mayfield School for girls continues to go from strength to strength. With a vast campus, an enviable reputation for creativity in the expressive arts and the humanities and exciting developments in many sporting disciplines, Mayfield is one school for Hong Kong parents to look out for …

Mayfield School, previously St Leonards-Mayfield School, is an all-girls’ school for 11 to 18 year olds. Mayfield is located in the village of Mayfield in East Sussex. Famous coastal towns such as Brighton and Hastings are just a short drive away and make perfect trips for pupils. Mayfield is a Catholic school but warmly welcomes those of other faith traditions.

It seems that every boarding school has a fascinating history behind it and Mayfield is no exception. The school’s existence is largely down to a picnic. On 26th May 1863 Mother Cornelia Connelly, who had established the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in 1846, escorted a small group of girls from the Holy Child School at St Leonards-on-Sea to the ruins of the Old Palace of Mayfield, where they would enjoy a picnic. With the tranquillity of the countryside and elegance of the ruins evidently leaving their mark on Cornelia, the estate was soon purchased by the Duchess of Leeds and presented to the religious order.

Yet, for Mayfield, academic excellence is not just about results but also the stimulation of one’s intellect and creative touch. Indeed, the school promotes an environment in which girls can flourish in areas which may seem peculiar to others. At Sixth Form level, for instance, Ceramics is offered as an A Level subject and girls and teachers take it seriously. However, I do not look for peculiarities, instead opting to admire the school’s breadth of curriculum and resistance tofavouring certain subjects over others.Mayfield is a school which likes to buck trends, adhering as it does to admirable values. The school is a shining example of the why parents may be drawn to single-sex schools because Mayfield girls do not conform to so-called stereotypes. Many pupils, for instance, do Mathematics and Science and the results are extraordinary.

On a personal level, I am very interested in value-added performance; in other words, the difference between a student’s expected grades and the grades they actually obtain (calculated by Durham University Centre for Educational Management data). Mayfield is currently in the top 20% of participating schools in the country. The School has an enviable record of supporting girls of more modest ability in public examinations. In addition, Mayfield has an excellent record of supporting exceptionally bright students on scholarships to more than exceed their potential to ultimately secure places at the best universities. All in all, a school’s value-added performance can provide clues as to how much it cares about its pupils and the quality of teaching.

In terms of extra-curricular pursuits, Mayfield School can offer Hong Kong girls innumerable opportunities for pleasure and self-discovery. The Arts are strong at Mayfield, with Drama, Musicand Textiles the standout disciplines. Particularly eye-catching is the Textiles Studio where girls makes dresses and lose themselves in a world of thinking, planning and drawing design ideas.

Hong Kong girls may also be excited to learn that Mayfield can offer a top-class education in equestrianism. Mayfield girls have won more national championship titles than any other school in the UK, and riders benefit from an indoor school, a full set of show jumps, off road hacking and a cross country course. Importantly, keen riders are excellent managers of time at Mayfield and even fit music pursuits and other sports into their schedules.

Mayfield fosters a spirit of participation and effort as opposed to purely elitist competition. While girls do compete at county and national standard in sports as diverse as water polo, hockey and dance, extra-curricular clubs, such as fencing, zumba and lifeguarding, are equally valued. One sport which is competitive is tennis. Girls can receive private coaching from South Coast Tennis Academy (SCTA) and go on tennis tours to famous clubs around the world.

All in all, Hong Kong families interested in Mayfield can be certain of receiving a warm welcome at open mornings which are held on normal teaching days. It is important to experience a typical day when visiting a school. Individual visits can also be arranged, and girls can even attend Saturday Workshops where they can do activities and get to know current pupils. These Workshops are held twice a year. Often held in conjunction with the Saturday Workshops, Hong Kong girls may also enjoy a sleepover with Mayfield’s current boarders.

Picture: Mayfiled School Twitter

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