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Top schools that prepare students for life beyond exams

Driverless cars. Cashless transactions. Robots in classrooms. Technology is changing just about every aspect of our lives exponentially, which means more exciting times lie ahead. While they serve to improve and impact the lives of millions around the globe, these advancements will also spur plenty of disruption.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) notes that an estimated 65 percent of children entering primary school will work in job types that don’t yet exist. Schools and education providers will need a modern curriculum that reflects the changes happening in the world today in anticipation of tomorrow.

Traditionally, schools have always been exam-oriented. While exams serve to ensure students’ foundational knowledge is intact, there’s also growing awareness that there needs to be a shift from an exam-oriented culture to one that is more all-encompassing in today’s education system. Intelligence and talent should be measured in more ways than just exam results, while developing other qualities such as bolstering students’ character development shouldn’t take a back seat.

Parents who want their children to be prepared for university and life beyond will want to look for schools that don’t just prioritise academic achievement, but also one that grants students a platform to gain skills that will be beneficial for their future.

For those looking for schools with a wider set of values, here are four that should be on your radar:

SIDCOT SCHOOL

Sidcot School is a co-ed day and boarding school for students aged 3 to 18, set in a stunning 150-acre campus within the beautiful Somerset countryside, just south of Bristol, England. Here, students benefit from a safe, natural and welcoming family environment.

While the School delivers some of the strongest results in the Southwest for A-Level and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, it has a unique approach to learning that sets it apart from ‘hot house’ schools, who are focused purely on teaching to the test.

Sidcot’s Headmaster, Iain Kilpartrick, questions our obsession with exam results and explains the School’s ability to prepare students for a modern work place. He says, “I favour a system that has a wider set of values, focusing on students’ wellbeing, without cramming or hothousing. In my experience, a gentler and more rounded approach to education encourages students to perform well not only in exams, but in life in general.”

Sidcot School has held a progressive outlook since it was established in 1699. It was the first school in the UK to educate both boys and girls, and has continued to innovate since.  The School’s approach is informed by its Quaker heritage and the values of curiosity, simplicity, equality, empathy, personal responsibility and speaking up and being heard underpin life at the School. The Good Schools Guide agrees, saying, “For those untroubled by notions of social pretension or academic snobbery, yet for whom a considerate altruistic atmosphere really matters, this is just the place.”

SHERBORNE SCHOOL

In the pursuit of academic excellence, Sherborne School in England provides a full-boarding environment full of community care and opportunity. A HMC independent all-boys full boarding and day school for pupils aged 13-18, Sherborne works closely with parents to give every boy the best chance to thrive.

“Coming to Sherborne from Hong Kong, I was immediately struck by how friendly everyone was. I settled in really quickly, and soon felt like I was part of a large family,” explains Ho Yin (Ranco), a fourth form student.

Pairing academics with a rich tradition of sporting and musical excellence, Sherborne boys achieve great things in a range of sporting disciplines, from rugby to rifle shooting, golf to fives, polo to athletics.

Evidently, Sherborne is a place of growth, transformation and family. That’s why, during good times and bad, Sherburnians know they are cared for, that the whole community is looking out for them, celebrating their highs and sympathising with their lows.

Hosting regular visits and tour mornings, you too shall witness the thriving community of compassion at Sherborne.

KINGSWOOD SCHOOL

Becoming a student at Kingswood means studying in a welcoming and inclusive community. This boarding and day community offers a Prep School (nine months to 11 years) and Senior School (11-18 years). Located on a 200-acre site in Lansdown, Bath, Kingswood prides itself on its academic achievements, which takes place within the context of all-round personal development.

In recent years, Kingswood was ranked in the top five percent nationally for added value, and raw results regularly place it in the top 10 co-educational boarding or boarding/day schools. Almost all students go on to attend university, while an average of more than 80 percent of Kingswood students achieve the coveted A*-B grades required for entry into Russell Group universities.

Academic excellence aside, Kingswood is passionate about the arts. It has excellent art, music, drama and design and technology departments, while drama productions, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, professional masterclasses and trips ensure the arts continue to be celebrated and standards remain high.

Sports play an important role in students’ development and Kingswood helps students reach their athletic potential. The school is known as one of the best for sports in the Southwest, where students compete at both national and international levels. It also has strong links with various professional clubs, such as Bath Rugby, to support talented sportsmen and women.

GLENALMOND COLLEGE

If you’re looking for an inspiring environment for your child, Glenalmond will prove to be a strong contender. Glenalmond is a co-educational day and boarding school for students aged 12 to 18.  The 300-acre campus is located in beautiful countryside just outside Perth in Scotland, which means students will enjoy studying in a rural setting with unrivalled outdoor activities.

The school has a strong academic focus and works towards developing students’ academic strengths. Each year, a good number of pupils achieve places at Oxford and Cambridge, while a high proportion earn places at Russell Group universities. A total of 98 percent of school leavers go on to university or higher education.

While Glenalmond prides itself on its academic prowess, the institution also recognises that an emphasis on student life – such as the sports and the arts – is important for the holistic development of students.

Glenalmond has school exchanges and trips, with links to schools abroad. One of the biggest highlights is the international exchange with Brooks School in Massachusetts, US.

Glenalmond’s countryside setting allows the school to offer impressive outdoor pursuits for extracurricular activities, such as climbing Scotland’s famous Munros and kayaking on lochs, all with expert tuition. It also holds international sporting tours and expeditions to provide students with cultural experiences while serving as both a physical and mental challenge.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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