A dozen boys and girls gather round for instructions. A few then step up on the start podium and bend to crouch; at the sound of the whistle, they soar up in an arc and come down to make a clean slice, and bob in and out of the water.
Such a sight is common at Saint Felix School where students – aged two upwards – discover and develop their full potential in terms of academic, sporting and creative achievement through a broad and balanced curriculum. Here, Saint Felix’s Sixth Form students can have personalised learning packages including select A Level subjects – like Latin – that are not offered elsewhere.
With small class sizes, individual attention and a robust pathway programme, it is little wonder Saint Felix is in the top 5% of UK schools for A Level progress. In 2021, 100% passed the A Level exams, with more than half of the students obtaining A* to A.
Fittingly, Saint Felix has earned the title of the top school in Suffolk for A Level progress. Recent university destinations for graduates include University College London and Imperial College London.
That’s not all. Saint Felix offers an extensive extra-curricular sports programme for all pupils throughout the week. Clubs take place during and after school and are run by PE staff and by external sports coaches.
The best opportunities to optimise education with the demands of training can be found at Saint Felix. There are weekly lessons via the Swimming Club. From the Learn to Swim Programme at Nursery and Prep level to the International Programme at Senior and Sixth Form, all pupils build up their swimming competency.
“Swimming has been key for the local community; we are surrounded by the sea. All children need to learn to swim as it is a key life skill. It is an enjoyable social sport but it is also competitive,” explains Sue Purchase, Director of Swimming.
Indeed, Saint Felix School has produced numerous medallists for local county, national, regional and international swimming competitions. This independent co-educational institution even won the Top School Award at the ESSA Primary Small School Relay Championships for three consecutive years.
What is their secret to all these stellar results? A combination of outstanding learning and training opportunities with a highly qualified team of coaches – these provide a rounded education and swimming experience to those who enjoy the aquatic sport.
“Several of our swimmers that have started with a swimming club have then progressed into school; they’ve seen that it’s an easy transition. But they also see that the education they get here is so good and integrates the swimming with it,” notes Purchase.
That is why swimming is even offered as part of the PE subject for GCSE and A Level students; Saint Felix School has their own indoor pool which is linked to the prestigious Elite programme. Such swimmers are given the opportunity to train during the games afternoons as well; they have often been selected for England Talent Camps, the ASSE programme and for international representation.
“The environment we’ve created here at Saint Felix School allows our students to manage the balance of studies and sports in the best possible way,” says Nick Thompson, Head Coach.
Marin De Villard, a Year 12 international student-boarder, agrees: “The major advantage of swimming at Saint Felix School is everything – being so close allows for extra time to study, socialise and rest.
Staying at Saint Felix’s grounds is convenient for students like De Villard. It allows them to attend regular morning training and classes with ease. De Villard has won two National Medals at the recent French Junior Short Course Championships. Even more impressive is that his performance resulted in two new Suffolk County records.
Swimming is not the only sport that Saint Felix School excels in. They have an active Equestrian Team; members can attend specialist clinics and learn from guest coaches.
Competition opportunities abound for this small yet successful equestrian group, such as the National Schools Equestrian Association Championships’ Royal Windsor Horse Show or the Royal Norfolk Show.
Besides these two sports – and many others such as fencing, hockey and rugby — Saint Felix School offers various exciting extra-curricular activities such as learning a musical instrument and acting in a dramatic production in their own Silcox Theatre. Senior and Sixth Form students get to take part in Chess Club, Art, Drama, Music as well as STEM (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities too.
Saint Felix School’s idyllic 75-acres campus on the Suffolk Heritage Coast, with excellent on-site facilities such as their safe and culturally diverse boarding houses, is another reason why students thrive here. Anna Borschel from Cologne has certainly enjoyed her short stay there.
“Every member of the boarding staff is really nice and supports you not just in school but also with all other problems you have,” enthuses Borschel.
Boarders can choose from a rich array of options: full (all seven nights), weekly (four to five nights), flexi (between one and three nights), and occasional – that lets them experience the best of both academic and boarding life at Saint Felix. With numerous evening and weekend activities on top of structured study sessions, there is never a dull moment for a Saint Felix School student.
If you are looking for an all-rounded school with a special focus on swimming, fantastic boarding and top-notch academic curricula, Saint Felix is that school for you.