Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies03.10.17
Where to study in a private school in Cambridge?
During a conference for international education ALPHE in London, I met with a representative of the private school Cambridge CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) Gregory Horobin. Over the 35-year history, the school achieved very high results, - in 2015, 15 high school graduates were enrolled in Cambridge and Oxford University. Gregory Horobin agreed to give me an interview so that our readers know what influences such high school results.
L: Gregory, tell us who studies in school and about the programs CCSS.
G:CCSS is an independent high school in downtown Cambridge that was established 35 years ago, as a high school for British students. We have international students, but they are very well integrated. Basically, it is students from China, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Taiwan. The school is not more than 10% of Russian speakers of the total number of international students, which is very little for schools that are located in the area. Among them are students from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Our most popular program is Fast Track A-level. This program allows you to finish A-level in one year or 4-5 semesters (one and a half years). Of course, this program is for talented students with a good level of English. Last year, three international students completed the program for 1 year and all entered Cambridge University.
We also have standard 2-year A-level. As well as preparation programs for A-level: GCSE, Pre A-level and Pre-GCSE. These are very flexible programs. Depending on academic preparation and level of English, these programs can be from 6 weeks to an academic year and include either English only, or combine language with academic subjects.
Students can start thier study in September, January and April. For admission you need to show an international certificate in English (IELTS) and pass math. If students want to study science, then for admission they pass another test in science.
L: Tell us about the school campus.
G: We have two academic buildings in the centre of Cambridge. One building for Humanities and Social Sciences. The second is for Arts and Sciences. Also the College has 5 family residence — students live in a big house together with the host parents who look after students. All students live in separate rooms and they have food 3 times a day. All the houses are located within a 5-minute walk from the college, which prepares students for independent living and study at the university, where they also don't necessarily live on campus.
L: What makes you different from other schools.
G: We have more contact hours with the teacher. For each subject is given 7.5 hours per week, which allow you to study subjects deeply (usually in schools it is 4 -6 hours). At the same time, a maximum of 15 people per class (average 6), which allows you to create a very personal approach to each student. We offer 30 subjects for A-level and it is very flexible — students who have applied from October to August can choose any subjects for study. Those who arrive late — after August 1 — choose only those subjects where there are available places. Teachers - 35% of Oxbridge graduates, allowing students to experience the admission and education directly from the teachers. Some teachers teach both at school and at university.
L: You know that Russian students are very selective when choosing a school: look at the results and on the rankings. What can you say about this? Because your school doesn't participate in the ratings.
G: First of all, you should know that Stewart, our Director, is the President of the Independent Schools Council. He is also a Vice President of the National Association of Independent Schools. Stewart has a long career in this industry and is an influential figure in Six-Form Colleges. This helped to raise a great team at the school, which helps our students to develop and achieve such high results.
We have no more than 150-160 students, and each year our students show high results of final examinations and enter the best universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. We do not participate in the rankings, as it is a very small college: we have no more than 50 students in the graduating class of A-level.
But all of our students graduate with one A-level program, while in many colleges students, who do not catch up, are transferred to graduate the Foundation programme. If the school has many students, those who graduated with bad grades are simply lost in a general result. When I look at the results, the first thing I do is scan which universities graduates go to. Students come to us to enter a good university.
L: Are there many students studying for GCSE?
G: Not much, as it is also a program for one year. British students are not interested this program and not many international students are able to complete the program in 1 year. In addition, our school specializes at A-level, and it is easier to prepare for this program in the preparatory program Pre-A-level.
L: What else can students study at your school? Is there a possibility to study art or sport?
G: Yes, of course. Art is a very strong subject in our school. Students prepare for studies in the field of architecture and interior design. We have graduates who succeed in fashion marketing. Our students are prepared for further education with a specialization in art as well as in science subjects or social. As for sports, you have to understand that we are in the centre of Cambridge and there is no place for playgrounds and sports fields. But we are very lucky because there is a gym and pool near the residence, and our students can use them. Also, thanks to agreements with the university, we can use the running tracks and playing fields of the university, which we often use. That is, there are no sports facilities on the school campus but they are nearby in Cambridge.