Unplugged: A Bromsgrove student reflection

Jolene, 18, is in the graduating Class of ’21 at Bromsgrove School and has recently completed the IB Diploma. She lives in Singapore.

Why did you choose to board?  Tell us your story!
I chose to board in England for the Sixth Form because I really wanted to become more independent by putting myself in an unfamiliar environment. My two years in Bromsgrove School studying the IB were excellent! Not only did I become more independent, but I was also able to explore and find my own identity as a young adult through this experience. I have made many friends from all over the world (particularly from Europe) which I would not have been able to if I had stayed in Singapore.

How big are the classes? How is your relationship with teachers different, being that you live on school campus with them?
Due to the fact that I take the IB curriculum, my classes tend to be smaller than the average A level classes, but it does vary. I had a class with just two of us whilst another class had 11 students. Overall, the teacher to student ratio is still very small. This makes communicating and reaching out to teachers for help easy. My relationships with teachers has always been excellent. They are extremely friendly, understanding and helpful. My Housemother was actually one of my teachers and it was quite frankly very beneficial for me as I could just pop into her office in the House if I had any question regarding the work we did in class or the text we were studying. It also cultivated a closer relationship between us as we were able to bond over our common love of literature (discussing different texts leisurely).

What is the workload like outside of the classroom? Were you up doing homework all night?
The IB is known to be a very demanding curriculum. There were times where I thought the workload was overwhelming but I always felt comfortable reaching out and letting my teachers know as I knew they would understand. Due to the bustling boarding life, it is rare for anyone to stay up all night doing work as we would be extremely exhausted by the end of the day.

What is the social life like at a boarding school? What do you do on weekends?
Social life whilst boarding is super fun! Boarding has given me the opportunity to mix with people from all over the world. This allowed me to learn new cultures and customs. Boarding is almost like having a sleepover with your best friends every night. On weekends, we spend Saturday mornings doing activities like playing hockey, football or netball or getting extra help from teachers. Then, we usually have the rest of the weekend off and go to town for a meal or hang out with friends from other houses.

Do you feel boarding school prepares you for university?
Yes definitely! Through boarding I have learned how to be independent by doing the basic things that I often take for granted back home. For example, although the school does provide laundry services, Sixth Formers are allowed to do their own laundry using the washing machine in the house. I have also learned how to clean my room and keep it neat and tidy. I believe that boarding has prepared me to be away from my parents for long periods. At first it was a little hard but after a week I was already comfortable in my new environment because of the new friends I had made and my lovely housemothers.

How did you adjust to living away from home? What advice do you have for new students starting to board?
My friends were a key reason why my transition was made much easier. Additionally I also had my sister with me which was reassuring as I always knew I had family with me.
I would advise new students to be open to new things that are outside their comfort zone. Coming to a new school and living here can be nerve-wrecking at first, but with a positive and open minded attitude, you will realise how rewarding the whole experience is in the end.

What kind of student fits into your school?
Well this depends. My school, I must say, has a diverse range of students. Honestly almost anyone would be able to find a group to mix with.

Is there diversity in the student body? If your school has day and boarding students, how do they mix?
Yes definitely. As mentioned above, boarders come from all over the world. My school is both a day and boarding school so we often mingle with the day students during after school activities or in classrooms.

What is the sports culture like at school?  What kind of opportunities are there in the arts?
Bromsgrove school is very competitive when it comes to sports. The school has won many awards in recent years, particularly in Netball and Rugby. Although competitive, the school also has recreational teams for students who are new to the sport.
Bromsgrove also places a lot of emphasis on the arts. The school has an annual musical and we often have inter-house competitions in the arts. The school has a huge and modern facility for the arts where students can go for music lessons.

What kind of community service opportunities are there?
Service is very important to Bromsgrove and it ranges from helping people at the old folks home to tutoring kindergarten students.

What was a particularly memorable moment during your school life?
I would say when I first arrived in school. Because I arrived at the beginning of Sixth Form, a lot of students were new. This made making friends super easy. I also had loads of fun meeting new people and learning about their backgrounds.

Tell us about your alumni network. How have you interacted with the alumni?
The school will invite a lot of people from the alumni group to come and speak to us about their life after Bromsgrove and what they’ve learned along the way. Usually these are organised by the careers department. This is a great opportunity for current and Old Bromsgrovians to mingle and it is also a fantastic way for Sixth Formers to think of what they want to do in the future.

If there was something you could improve in your school, what would it be?
Quite frankly, I can’t think of anything at the top of my head.

Why did you choose this school? Are you happy there?
I chose this school as it was very diverse in terms of its student body which I love. I also like the fact that the school provides a very holistic approach to learning. Not to mention, the IB curriculum is taught fabulously here. Yes I am very happy to be here 🙂