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【SCMP Education Post:Boarding Insider】Three Cotswolds Schools to take your breath away

Boarding 101

Hong Kong parents wishing to send their child to a school set against the backdrop of quintessentially English countryside and quaint villages need not look no further than an area in the upper part of the southwest region of England known as the Cotswolds. Being in the fresh air and having swift access to thriving towns, villages and historical cities make this week’s three school choices worthy of consideration …
The Cotswolds covers an expansive area of 800 square miles across six counties, mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Defining features of the Cotswolds include its endless hills, lively market towns, quintessential English villages, beautiful cottages and churches and rich honey-coloured stone of which many of the buildings are made. There is also the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile footpath which affords magnificent views.
Situated within a short drive of the historic cities of Oxford, Bath and Bristol, Hong Kong children who wish to attend either of our three Cotswolds schools can be sure to go on some unforgettable trips. Visiting parents will also be able to maximise their time in the stunning surroundings. Here are those three Cotswolds schools:
Wycliffe College

Located in the town of Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, co-educational Wycliffe College provides a world-class education for Prep, Senior School and International students.

Wycliffe is not a table-topper in terms of exam results, largely due to the school’s willingness to not set artificially high thresholds that restrict entry. However, in terms of improving pupils’ performance from start to finish, with the aid of ‘value added’ data compiled by The University of Durham, Wycliffe is among the best schools.

The extra-curricular programme at Wycliffe is extraordinarily broad. The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) offered at Senior School is valued highly, with many cadets partaking in more adventurous training away from the school. Nordic skiing expeditions and alpine climbing in Austria, for instance, have been known to attract pupils’ interest.

Sixth Form pupils benefit from a comprehensive range of activities and a thorough support programme for applying to university. Wycliffe is one of a handful of schools which runs preparation classes and testing systems for US university applicants. Pupils have gained places at top US universities, including Ivy League.

All in all, Wycliffe is a school which goes out of its way for its pupils. Covering areas such as relationship education and car maintenance, the school even has a Life Skills Programme in place to prepare students for adult life.


Westonbirt School

Located near the historically quaint town of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, the all-girls’ Westonbirt School is an independent day and boarding school for 11 to 18 year olds.

Daily life at Westonbirt is always stimulating but there is never a feeling that girls are overwhelmed. Pupils are encouraged to perform for the fun of it. There is a healthy range of intellectual and active pursuits on offer, ranging from Debating and Philosophy to World Challenge – an international travel programme which requires girls to raise funds for themselves and then train for a demanding event, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

One of Westonbirt’s strengths is pastoral care due to a high staff to student ratio. Incidences of bullying are rare and are dealt with swiftly. Westonbirt girls much prefer teamwork and to cooperate by organising social and charity events and the like.

As with Wycliffe, a non-selective intake breeds somewhat patchy GCSE and A-level results. However, girls are encouraged to reach their potential and that counts for more than grades. Like Wycliffe, Westonbirt also fares well in the value-added stakes.

There are four boarding houses while sixth formers benefit from their own individual study bedrooms in the separate Sixth Form building. International students frequently comment on how much they enjoy learning in the school’s calm surroundings.

Overall, a new simplified and lower fee structure, and a pervading sense of serenity and joy around the school, make Westonbirt an attractive choice for Hong Kong families.


Kingham Hill School

Kingham Hill School (co-educational, 11-18) is situated in the north-eastern corner of the Cotswolds close to the beautiful town of Chipping Norton, and a short drive from Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Everywhere you turn at Kingham, the views are stunning. In such surroundings, pupils of wide-ranging abilities can and do thrive in the classroom. In terms of extra-curricular pursuits, CCF and Duke of Edinburgh typically lead the way. There is also an excellent Performing Arts Academy.

All in all, we have three non-selective schools here which, despite not appearing near the summit of exam league tables, enable pupils to reach their potential and learn in peaceful and charming surroundings. For a child’s sense of well-being and self-development, location does mean a great deal.

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