Last week, we shared on our website the Part 1 video clip of the interview with admission officers at Abingdon. Today we're going to share the second part of the video in which the two officers proudly said that boarders at Abingdon could go to breakfast in flip flops and pajamas when talking about the homely and informal environment that Abingdon is trying to create.
Click the link below to watch the video
BE: What's the percentage of international students and boarders at Abingdon?
Ms. Jane Jorgenson (Jane): The international percentage is roughly 8 percent in our senior school. We do also have international students in junior school, but very few. We really value tremendously our international students and I think none of us would feel comfortable living in the world in the 21st century if we didn't take account of all the different cultures, and nations that live around us. So to us, it is a vital part of living in the 21 century.
Mark Hindley (Mark): And there is something very important to us. We have as a school a lot of day boys, boys who live within 20 miles or so of Abingdon who come in every day. They are quite culturally mixed, but a lot of them are very tradition in English. And it’s really important for them that they live side by side with International community, and it's really important for the international boys that they get a real feel for what England and being in European is all about.
We make sure that our borders and our day boys are in the same house. That means they are in tutor groups and they are mixed in tutor groups. In some schools, if you are an international student, you go to a school in England, and it is sort of a little enclave of international students who might as well be at home. But for us, it's really important that, if you come to England, you mix in with other English boys, and mix in with different types of boys, so that you are learning about yourself and they're learning the world. And hopefully together we have that sense of global perspective.
BE: Could you talk about pastoral care at your school?
Mark: So I run the Pastoral. I ultimately, apart from the headmaster, am in charge of the pastoral care at Abingdon. And we'd like to feel that it's one of the real strength at our school. So you have a tutor who looks after you, but that tutor isn't the only person that has been looking out for you. It's very important that whatever member staff you come across, they have your best interests at heart. So if you need to talk to somebody, or you want to talk to somebody, you can talk to one of your teachers, or you can talk to the people who takes you for other half, or you could talk to your tutor.
And crucially, on top of that, you have your housemaster. You stay with the same housemaster for the 5 years while you are at Abingdon, and he really has that overview of how you're getting on, and sometimes he will need to urge you to do things a little bit more or work a little harder. But equally he's there for you when things are tricky, worrying you or troubling you. So that pastoral care is really important.
BE: What about boarding life?
Mark: In terms of boarding, we know it's important that they have an enrichment programme. So we run a really thorough enrichment programme on top of the school life, and that's specifically for boarders. So that involves trips, socials with girls' schools and other schools. It might be just something as casual as doing cooking, going to a trampoline park or doing some team building exercise. But we have that running alongside everything.
Because one of the real benefits of boarding is that you are in a community with people that you haven't necessarily chosen and you learn how to get on with other people, and hopefully you make friends that will stay with you for life, and really close-knit community.
I particularly think our boarding has a very different feel to some of the more traditional UK schools. I come from a background where I was at a very very traditional British boarding school which was all boarding. And it's quite hierarchical and year groups are quite separate, and it's very English formality about it. Whereas, we try to make sure that our boarding is more homely, more informal. So you get all benefits of an English school, but you can go to breakfast in your flip-flops and your pajamas. You don't have to stay in your school uniform all day.
And once a school day finishes, you can just be in the boarding house. When you are in the boarding house, you just see different year groups all mix in together and different houses all mix in together. So it's a really supportive, friendly, informal, homely environment. We think that's what distinguishes us from some of the more traditional boarding schools like Tonbridge, Harrow, Radley, Charterhouse. And that point of difference is really important for us.
BE: What unique courses and extra-curricular activities are offered at your school?
Jane: In terms of the unique lessons, Mark talks about our approach to teaching. We certainly look at the curriculum that we could offer in the UK. It's an independent school. We have a reasonable amount of flexibilities as to which subject we can offer, so what we are looking at and have looked at: we've introduced Philosophy, Psychology as distinct subjects at A level. We also are an A level school, so our boys follow A levels for two years in the sixth form having part of that taken at IGCSEs at the GCSE level. On the GCSE level, this coming year, introducing Information Technology because we now see a really good grounding and proper computer studies going forward.
We are quite traditional in our subjects though. There are many other schools offering those particular subjects. But we are looking at the core subjects that will get boys into universities with relatively traditional outcomes. We are not a school that is···Largely we're sending boys to Russell group universities, to universities to study subjects like engineering, like economics, medicine, and they will be looking for traditional subjects. So it is in the other half where we are doing the less traditional things. You can learn to bellring at Abingdon.
Mark: Before we went to the other half, what I would say is we are in an academically very rigorous school. So we are selective, and the quality of our students is very high. So there will be some schools that will be striving for unique subjects because they need to find that point of difference. For us, actually, the subjects have to be really academically worthwhile and rigorous to be studied. So yes we are introducing ICT, we are doing computing because we know that coding and things like that are becoming very important. So we wouldn’t for example do photography at A level because it is not academically rigorous and our boys are academically rigorous.
Although we are an A level school, what we've done is that we've looked at things like the IB. and we've said "Okay, that bit of the IB might be quite good", and so we want our boys to have the benefit of all the extra things, for example, from the IB but while doing A levels. So we now have what we call the EPQ, which is extended project qualification where the boys have to do a qualification which is about independent learning, independent studying. We teach theory and knowledge of those sort of things in our general studies programme.
We have what we call Mindsets programme where it's about trying to get to groups with how your work. Are you a kinesthetic learner, are you somebody who's much more visual, somebody who likes spider diagram or lists. So we take in the best bits of those and we teach them within our curriculum while maintaining that very strong academic core. Because we are selective. Our boys do very well. We've got 20 Oxbridge places a year, 5 or 6 boys going to Ivy League on top of that a year. And that is really important for us: the academic core.
But the real point of difference for us is our other half. So we have a 138 different clubs at the moment. Some of those are mainstream things: the sports, the drama. Some of those are completely off the wall things like Lego architecture, robotics. There's a board gaming club. Some of the things are for the sort of minority: sports guys who don't necessarily want to play team sports. We recently won the national sailing competition. We are probably the best fencing school in the country. "What about ultimate Frisbee?" (asked Jane). We have ultimate Frisbee.
And if there's something you want to do isn't already being done, then you just have to say, and we will do everything we can to start that club. It's really about trying to find that thing that the boys are just going to love. The other half is very very strong. In terms of elite programmes, we have a very strong programme of elite performance. So we have over 30 boys who are grade 8 on various instruments
The 2017 China Summit of the Association of Leading Independent Schools is to be held in Beijing and Shanghai on Sept. 15 and Sept. 17 respectively. At that time, Abingdon School, together with over 10 leading boarding schools in the UK will be present for admission interview.
Students who want to take the interview should attend a pre-test at least 1 week before the activity begins.
Pre-test registration is now open!