Almost all schools in the UK require their international students' English language meet a certain level if being applied to. Normally, international applicants would usually be rejected if failing to meet the language requirement, however in England there's a school who would be willing to take students at all English levels. That school is Sherborne International School. "The idea of it is try to make sure international students get the best possible opportunities of getting into top quality schools in the UK by taking them at whatever stage their English academic development is" said Mr Tim Waters Head of Sherborne International School in an interview with BE.
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BE: First could you please introduce Sherborne International a little bit?
Tim Waters (Tim): I should explain a little bit about Sherborne International as it's quite an unusual school. We specialize in providing a bridge – a transition between international education system and the UK education system.
The idea of it is to try to make sure international students get the best possible opportunities of getting into top quality schools in the UK by taking them at whatever stage their English academic development is, and putting them through a series of courses to raise that level of performance to get them through top schools in the UK can offer.
BE: Can you tell us a little bit about how Chinese students do at Sherborne International, and perhaps the numbers?
Tim: We have 35 to 50 students from Hong Kong and China each year. Unusually they are students who are very academically capable. They are students with an enthusiasm for study, but often they are students whose background is not English language speaking or whether they're not attending a school where English is taught to a high level. So they have a huge amount of potential, but they have not yet been able to make the best use of their potential. Our task is to help them to get to the point where their English and their cultural awareness is so high that they can make the very best of themselves academically.
We used to find that a lot of students were focused on science, mathematics, business, economics. But increasingly from China these days we are finding that very broad range of interest. Students are interested in arts, creative subjects, and as frequently found, students are interested in mathematics and so on. We make sure we provide for that by having a broad range of options, so that whatever their future might be we can cater for it.
BE: What type of students are you looking for? Particularly from China? What's the application process?
Tim: The type of student can vary quite broadly. Sometimes we have people who are quite academically focused, and at other times we have people who are quite general people, who are perhaps sportsman, people who are quite good at music and what combined with their academic studies. The key thing, however, is to have students who are enthusiastic and prepared to engage and work hard when they are here.
In terms of our applying to Sherborne International, the critical thing for us is getting the idea of the level of English that the student has. So we ask them to sit a basic English test which will grade their English ability. Now students perhaps might be a little worried about that.
Don't worry too much because if your English is good, that's fantastic. We'll put you into one of our higher groups where we can teach you to take account that good English to draw your skills out quickly. If English is not a strength, however, again we can deal with that and provide a lot of extra support pushing the level of English quickly so that again your potential can be drawn out, but with a slightly different approach perhaps to those where English is good.
We may ask for a mathematics test for some students, but not always. The critical thing, however, is that English test, any reference that the agency gives us, plus your school report as well.
BE: What's a typical day at Sherborne International like?
Tim: At Sherbonre International we try to make sure that there's a lot of intensive academic study but also that it's mixed up with activities such as sports, drama, public speaking, to broaden pupils' skill base. We’ll start at about half past eight in the morning. We'll have an assembly, but after that lessons go through until mid-morning. Pupils break for 20 minutes. They can have biscuits, tea, and relax a little it, and their lessons again until later morning.
A good lunch break where students can eat a variety of food- we have western food, oriental food. We have a range of different types of food available there. Then in the afternoon it's back to a combination of lessons for three days per week, but sports or other activities for two days a week. Again we subteaching after schools on some of those days. Then stopping, break again, and prep in the evening.
We do have lessons on Saturday morning, again to keep the intensity of study. But after that in the afternoon on Saturdays we have expeditions out to sites of cultural and historical interests, or places where people relax and enjoy themselves for that Saturday afternoon.
BE: Can you tell us about the extra-curricular activities? What sports are on offer, and the activities you mentioned for Saturdays?
Tim: We're very lucky in Sherborne International to have fantastic facilities for sport, music, drama. Partly there are our own facilities but also partly there are facilities in the town that are owned by Sherborne School and Sherborne Girls School. We are able to use those equally as results of the arrangements we have. So students can play basketball, football, cricket. They can take part in Rugby, get involved with netball, volleyball, tennis, and also some other sports like canoeing, horse-riding and sailing.
So there's a huge range of things that students can do. The level of activity varies. We have some very good school teams that compete locally. We also have some students who go on to compete at national level. So really a wide range there. We also have very strong music, because Sherborne School is one of the best music school in the country and we have full access to their music teaching, their music facilities, orchestras. So our students are playing at the highest level. There are many students involved with that.
With drama, again we're very active. We have our own theater which was built about two years ago, very very nice theater. And we perform plays both within the school and locally in other venues. And sometimes we take part in production mission with Sherborne Girls and Sherborne Boys.
In terms of culture things we have a huge number of visits and activities we put on. We go to cities such London, Exeter, Bristol, and later in year we have four, two or three expeditions to other cities in the country such as Liverpool, Winchester, sometimes Edinburgh and places like that to broaden pupils' experience in the UK.
Other activities that we do can involve wide range of things like theater, outdoor education, Duke of Edinburgh Award, long-distance walking, things like that. So the whole sweep of activities you'd expect in the mainstream are pretty school
BE: Can you share us the leavers' destinations over the last couple of years?
Tim: We have students go on to a lot of the top schools in the UK. The important thing is to get the school right for that individual person. So some of our students will pick a big name school such as Harrow, Abingdon, Cheltenham Ladies, Stowe, Roedean. We have lot of students who go to schools like that. We also have students go on to excellent specialist school like for example drama, theatre, music, things like that, or sports men and women who want to go on somewhere like Millfield if they want to take their sports onto a high level. So it's a very broad range of schools that we send students to. A lot of students end up at very high-class universities eventually as well. We have many student going on to Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UL, and places like that, so at all levels.
Founded in: 1977
Type of School: Co-educational
Located in: Dorset
Age range: 11-17
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