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UK schools that equip students with skills for life

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Source: Mikal Ludlow, Dean Close School

The global job market is constantly changing – having the right qualifications is necessary but so is life skills development. When the right life skills are matched with the right jobs, people are more likely to feel happier in their workplace.

“It’s getting the right mix of abilities, technical knowledge demanded by the workplace, and skills to use those abilities and knowledge,” the Rt Hon Anne Milton MP says.

Examples of life skills are organisation, working in teams, and even study-time management. More often than not,  school is where children pick up these life skills, and more top-tier universities are recruiting applicants who demonstrate a well-rounded portfolio of such skills today.  

That is why schools in the UK, especially boarding schools, recognise the importance of life skills besides ensuring high academic standards on top of a holistic boarding experience. These life skills are practised on a daily basis where boarders learn to be independent  yet know how to work with teams to achieve both academic and personal success.

These four UK schools are great choices if you are searching for a home away from home that can equip your child with the necessary life and academic skills and help them get admitted to top-notch universities.

Dean Close School

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Dean Close School develops pupils into self-confident and valuable individuals that truly know their self-worth. Source: Dean Close School

Dean Close School sees pupils as potential visionaries. At this co-educational day and boarding school in Cheltenham, students gain more than just a good education — they get an education that inspires visionaries, complete with encouragement, nurturing and inspiration to make a positive impact on the world around them.

A deliberate approach to instill skills for life across the whole curriculum — co-curricular, academic and community endeavours — makes this possible.  Students learn independent thinking and the self-confidence to challenge the status quo, among other crucial skills, through its extensive range of instrumental and vocal groups, altruistic projects within the local community and the wider world, subject-related competitions and challenges, partnerships with other schools, locally and internationally, and many more.

The result? Graduates who embrace the world around them and excel in life beyond school. These are the future movers and shakers, who are flexible, creative, empathetic and kind. Not only do they value other human beings in the process, but they also know how to creatively challenge the norms when they feel they want to seek change in their world.

As for the setting, picture a 50-acre parkland campus that includes a professional theatre, climbing wall, two flood-lit astro turfs and a fully equipped gymnasium. The environment is safe, happy and close-knit, allowing all students to explore their given gifts. Everyone is made to feel belonged and are deeply valued whilst their qualities, interests and potential are respected and encouraged.

The Leys School 

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Located in Cambridge City, The Leys School offers numerous opportunities for pupils to shine with their individual talents. Source: The Leys School

The Leys School – located in the centre of beautiful Cambridge provides an education based on three foundations: Academic, Pastoral and Wider Curriculum. With easy access to Cambridge’s links to academic and enrichment opportunities, the Leys pupils can participate in university league sports, attend university professors’ lectures, or even sing in their Chapel Choir that often performs with the city’s finest college choirs for Evensong. 

In offering a wide range of creative, cultural and sporting options – with over 100 clubs and societies – the Leys pupils have plenty of opportunities to choose and develop their interests and talents. A Level pupils also have the advantage of access to post-doc mentors.

Another benefit of studying at the Leys is the small size – every teacher and staff knows the individual strengths and character of each pupil, and guides them in selecting their extra-curricular activities alongside their academic studies and overall well-being. That way,  pupils are nurtured and encouraged to be the best they can be, and become more confident by the time they graduate.

Leys pupils have the choice of full boarding or home boarding – both allow the pupils to experience a strong-knit community of learning and playing together.

Uppingham School 

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Uppingham School’s beautiful campus with a long history dating back to 1584. Source: Uppingham School

Established in 1584, Uppingham School – located in Uppingham Town – has a long history of providing education to both boys and girls. Even then, their education is modern and innovative – with a new campus offering state-of-the-art science, arts, sports and theatre facilities.

Recognising that the attitudes learnt at school will stay with pupils for the rest of their life, Uppingham encourages them to question, think and explore ideas across a wide range of academic disciplines. Easier access to information means the Uppingham educators also teach critical skills such as evaluation, discernment and analysis.

Uppingham’s flexible curriculum also allows a personalised learning schedule that fits each pupil’s interests, aptitudes and goals. For example, Fourth Form students can explore the full range of subjects, while Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth students take core GCSE subjects besides their chosen subjects. For Sixth Form students, they can select from 26 A Level subjects as well as a BTEC in Sports, together with research programmes and enrichment opportunities.

At the same time, the family-oriented school lets their pupils stay in 15 boarding houses with housemasters and housemistresses together with their own families.

Uppingham students ultimately graduate as critical, enthusiastic and curious future leaders with excellent academic results.

Woldingham School

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Woldingham School does not only have a beautiful campus but it also offers unique boarding features. Source: Woldingham School

Woldingham School’s 700-acres Surrey countryside campus is both beautiful and peaceful. Yet it takes less than 30 minutes by train to travel to London, the energetic capital city, offering their students the best of both worlds.

On campus, each boarding house is tailored to respective year groups. The Head of Year, housemistress and assistant housemistress oversee their care ensuring a safe and secure home for girls who come from all over the world. Strong bonds are guaranteed.

From Year 10 onwards, students can get their own room and Upper Sixth boarders stay in ensuite study bedrooms – both of which are unique among UK boarding schools.

On the academic side, the ever-supportive teachers at Woldingham School take time to focus on the needs and aspirations of every student. With some of the UK’s best facilities for music, drama and sports, students are encouraged and motivated to participate in these extra-curricular activities since well-being is a key priority at Woldingham.

The result? Many Woldingham graduates are empowered and courageous, have excellent academic records, and become top-notch sportswomen, successful musicians and award-winning scientists, among others.

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