The Prior Park College difference is its people.
Teachers do more than teach. They mentor, guide and support in and out of classrooms. From cooks to cleaning ladies to school office workers, everyone cares for one another at this leading independent school in Bath.
For 17-year-old Andrii Sendziuk, Prior Park College’s community spirit is one of the main reasons for his success getting into Georgetown University.
“I like that there is always somebody to help me whenever I need it, whether my problems are academical, personal or any other,” he said.
“The College has a unique spirit.”
Prior Park College is one of the UK’s largest, co-educational, Catholic, independent senior schools for 11 to 18-year-olds. Outstanding, well-rounded education takes place overlooking the World Heritage city of Bath; a diverse range of co-curricular activities ensure the holistic development of every pupil.
For international students, there is extra support provided in the form of English as an Additional Language (EAL) curriculum, which includes coaching for the Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) exam, IGCSE English as a Second Language and International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Andrii’s journey from pupil to successful applicant to one of the top universities in the world exemplifies how all of the above make for an impressive university application.
From the get-go, Andrii’s days at Prior Park College are nothing but “dynamic”.
At first, it was challenging. Prior to the College, Sendziuk did not need to use calendars and timetables to balance all his activities (be that rehearsing for the school musical, helping to organise a sixth form event or working with a reading group at a local primary school) and academic requirements.
He now looks back to those early days with pride, crediting them for teaching him “incredible personal discipline”.
So much so that months into quarantine, he is still extremely productive. Although he has been on study leave since early May, teachers still keep in touch with Sendziuk. They check in regularly, discussing news and topics related to the subjects they teach.
Andrii believes the routine Prior Park College instilled in him will give him “a great head start” when he heads to university in the autumn.
“My life will get even busier and being strongly self-disciplined will definitely help me succeed,” he said.
Prior Park College: ‘Amazing pastoral team’
Prior Park College prides itself on the quality of its pastoral care.
An external report by the Independent Schools Inspectorate tells us the impact this can have on pupils. The Educational Quality Inspections (EQI) report — focusing on the quality of academic achievements and personal development of the College’s pupils — ranked the College in the highest category “excellent” in both areas.
The report highlighted the College’s rapid learning progress, great enthusiasm by pupils, exam success and so forth.
Many areas of excellence across the College were recognised. The report stated the “success in a wide range of pursuits such as art and design, music and sports reflects the extensive range of talents possessed by pupils.”
On pastoral care, the inspectors said, “Pupils understand what is needed to keep themselves healthy both physically and mentally and have a strong sense of well-being.” The report also states, “Pupils are excellent citizens within their own community and have developed the capabilities to make wider contributions to the wider world.”
Andrii explains how this is possible. It starts with teachers who are always there for pupils whenever they need additional support whether in or outside lessons.
“It has been a normal thing for me to email my teachers asking for some time outside lessons to go through topics I struggled with and they have never said ‘No’.
Indeed, when asked what are the facilities or resources Sendziuk is most satisfied with at Prior Park College, his reply is “its amazing pastoral team”.
This is what distinguishes the College from his previous schools. Although they had strong emphasis on academics, the wellbeing and mental support for students were often not prioritised.
This is not the case at Prior Park College. Every week, the sixth form gets to attend lectures by people from different backgrounds on topics such as how to balance mental health and academic pressure, setting realistic goals or learning from people with backgrounds different to them.
There is also “Prior 4 Life,” a six-module course which includes discussions on important ethical concepts like human rights or discrimination. The College provides trained peer mentors, free counselling and events like retreats and meditation sessions too – there is a whole suite of initiatives to help pupils understand who they are and what they want.
Andrii said, “At Prior, there is a team of teachers and support staff who are responsible for helping students get through academic pressures, personal problems and other issues as smooth as possible.”