Muddy Best Schools Guide #6: Bosworth College
Bosworth Independent College is an international day and boarding school for children aged 14 -19 years, based in Northampton on the road heading from town to Brixworth/Market Harborough (A508). Who knew? Well I didn’t, and I’ve driven past there a few times and had no idea it was there (*message to self, stop drive-dreaming)! The College is proud of its cosmopolitan community of British students working alongside both European and International students, and I have to say, I met a fair few of them on my visit, all looking like they were…well like they were having fun, now you mention it. I was invited for lunch (which I was actually very excited about; the sausage rolls were legendary in my 6th Form), and I have to say, school dinners have definitely moved on a notch since I was at 6th form ten years ago, ahem (ok, ok, it’s closer to 25, pah)!
Their student body is made up of around 310 students, of which 240 board at the College (I’m told by the students who don’t board, they’re jealous of the ones who do). With over 33 different nationalities residing at the College, students seem to have a good experience into other cultures, giving them a good chance to leave the college as pretty rounded individuals I’d say.
Set in a town campus across three main buildings, Bosworth has a lively and cosmopolitan feel. Bosworth Hall (on St. George’s Ave) is the hub of the College, where students have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the large restaurant and bistro, along with recreational areas to hang out with their friends, including a new Coffee Lounge (swish).
It also houses a large exam room, dance studio and the BTEC suite. Nazareth House and Queens the more traditional teaching buildings are home to 50+ classrooms, 9 science labs, 2 ICT rooms, art room and 2 large study hall areas. These are based on the Barrack Road a 5 minute walk from Bosworth Hall. Interestingly, Bosworth is also an examination centre and students can register and sit external exams at Bosworth Hall whatever their age and wherever they’ve studied.
Average class sizes?
With average class sizes of 8 (whoaaaa, makes my old school classes of 30 look like a field trip) at both GCSE and A-level, students really do get that individual attention. Combine this with a longer school day (core hours 9.00am – 16.00pm but the day can run from 8.30am – 17.50pm) and regular study hall periods, students who are either achieving or underachieving will be recognised and supported. Bosworth is also able to offer a more flexible timetable/courses, and students can sit just one A-level in one year, if they are just looking to improve a grade or take a new subject after their 2 year course. A one-year GCSE course is also an option and they have just introduced a BTEC Business Course.
The academic results?
Last year’s results outperformed the UK national average with 71% achieving A* to B grades and 86% achieving A* to C grades. The summer of 2016 saw four students gain places at Oxford and Cambridge, summing up their time at Bosworth as diverse, friendly, comfortable, focused and relaxed, with one student saying that the smaller-than-average class sizes and the individualised interactions between teachers and students made it highly enjoyable.
Other boasty bits?
Principal Fiona Pocock (more on her below), was proud to report that Bosworth Independent College achieved a top 100 placement in The Telegraph for the Top 100 Secondary School by A-level Results. To put this into context there are 4,322 schools/colleges currently in the Post 16 category in England according to the Department for Education, so to achieve a top 100 placement is no easy task and places them in the top 2% of A-level schools in England. Bosworth is essentially a non-selective college and the success at A-level reflects a high standard of teaching and dedication across the college. To rank 96th in England, is pretty darn good.
At the end of October, Bosworth also won a Northamptonshire Business Award for Service Excellence. The awards are in recognition of all the small to medium enterprises in the County and the hard work and drive of local businesses to continually improve their services. Speaking to Fiona the Principal, she said that while the college normally celebrates successes via student results and university destinations/competitive degree courses, it was refreshing to also recognise that they are a business that takes very seriously the customer service angle of what they do.
Integration of nationalities at Bosworth is key. Fiona spoke to Muddy with a lot of passion in this area.
“With 33 different nationalities in our student body, of which a large majority board with us, the student experience has to be at the heart of what we do, not only do we expect that students in our care achieve their very best academically but that they also develop into confident and well-rounded individuals, enriched by their time in our cultural environment. This starts from the very first phone call or email with the Admissions Team right through to the pastoral/boarding care on offer, our Personal Tutor scheme and the vast array of extracurricular activities students can join. We always aim to go above and beyond to offer a personal tailored service to each individual in our care.”
It does feel like the students’ wellbeing always comes first and and it’s clear that all of the admin team and teachers (and principal) have a great sense of pride and satisfaction in students’ successes. I think they’re also keen to recognise the time, effort and dedication made by each other and what a difference it makes on the international stage too.
Scholarships are available at both GCSE and A-level age. The GCSE Scholarship Test takes places on Saturday 4 February 2017 in the morning, however for A-level Scholarships, students need to book individual appointments in which to discuss their upcoming GCSE results and their future goals.
What do students do when they leave?
In the summer of 2016 Bosworth saw four of its top students off to study Law, Human Sciences and Engineering at Oxford and Cambridge. Commonly every year a high percentage of leavers enter the Top 30 universities into highly competitive courses and this year was no exception with 62% of university applicants achieving a place at a Top 30 UK university.
Principal at Bosworth Independent College, Fiona Pocock took up the post in 2014 and was a thoroughly engaging lady in our meeting just before Christmas. She began her career as a teacher/lecturer of French & Latin and then went on to become Principal at both Oxford International College and Oxford Tutorial College. Fiona is a big advocate of the uniqueness of Bosworth’s international cohort and was keen to highlight the importance of Taster Days for any British local students to sample it for themselves. Chatting to Fiona and a few of the other staff (all absolutely lovely, including a particularly enthusiastic PE teacher who all the students loved), it’s clear they all like the students and staff to work together as a team to ensure good grades, but it didn’t feel pressured, more a secure and happy environment and there is a genuine warmth and optimism. Obviously grades are important, but Fiona says that it’s all about the individuals and what they need and can achieve, and that’s not always 11 A*!
Bosworth has recently refurbished its boarding estate, with six large boarding houses, in which students live with their houseparent, and a number of senior houses where students live independently, all walking distance to the College. It is clear that Bosworth want their 240 boarding students to feel at home, and the students I spoke to said they loved it, there’s plenty to do, even on weekends, and they all felt part of a group.
The fun stuff?
As a boarding college there seems like there’s always something going on. In the Autumn term students visited Oxford, Cambridge, London, Alton Towers, University Fairs (not sure that’s strictly fun, but hey, it’s a day out), theatre trips and did stuff like go-karting, sailing in the Isle of Wight, ice-skating and Halloween & Xmas parties.
Each term there’s a programme of sports and activities on offer in the evenings and at the weekend, as well as an enrichment session in which students choose an activity to join. Sports on offer include badminton, volleyball, football and basketball plus activities like rock school and Zumba, along with lots of trips (mentioned earlier in fun stuff). For enrichment up to 17 options are given from chess, photography, history club, guitar lessons, yoga and critical thinking to name just a few (is it weird that I kinda want to go back to school if it’s like that?).
Day Pupils £4,000 per term
Weekly Boarders £6,427 per term
Full Boarders £7,034 per term
(Prices differ for international students)
Word on the ground?
Having spent an afternoon there and chatting to the students, they do seem genuinely self-motivated. The diverse nationality mix, definitely enhances the buzz of Bosworth. Speaking to a table full of 17 year olds at lunch, not one of them had a bad thing to say (I know, I know, I’m a big bad grown up, so why would they), but they all genuinely seemed to like the vibe at the College, especially the cake that was on offer that day ; )
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Although very informal (no uniforms), it is a traditional school. Students who work hard and recognise the need to work outside of the curriculum to develop themselves in both a social and academic sense pre their University application, will do well here (I like this, it’s a really well-rounded vibe).
Also great for elite sports people who may need time out of normal schedules. Bosworth caters to a variety of needs for students other pursuits and creates a timetable that enables sport and study, both to a high level. They look at each candidate as an individual and design a solution to suit their needs.
Not for: Students who are looking for the less traditional facilitating subjects. Also not for students (or parents), who may want a predominantly UK student base.
Dare to disagree? Discover for yourself at the Open Evening on 26 January, from 7pm (for year 9 and above). As ever, if you make it, please let me know your thoughts!