I have been student of Ellesmere College for past three months. Now I am having a four-week Christmas break, which is only the convenience of independent British schools.
Ellesmere College is located in a very small town Ellesmere, which has only 3000 residents. It is quite developed as for a town so small; in the city center there is Tesco, Spar, a post office, dry cleaning and much more. Ellesmere is situated one-hour drive from Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, so flights and transport to college are quite easy to plan.
The school is surrounded by grasslands with lots of cows grazing, that you can see from your room’s window. College was established in 1884 and the main part of the school is really old. This makes school a beautiful place that looks like a small castle made of red brick.
There are around 500 students attending to the school ranging from age 7 to 18. I am in Sixth Form, which is the last two years of college. There are about 120 Sixth Form students in our school. They live in three different houses: St. Bede’s, St. Luke’s and St. Oswald’s. First two are boys’ houses and third one a house for girls. Accommodation is not excellent, but I got used to it quite fast. I live in the oldest and smallest house and it has one drawback: public toilets. On the other hand it has much bigger rooms and is located inside the main building on the top floor, so I get nice views and better network signal (which is sometimes a big problem in our school). The other boys’ house was build more recently, every room has its own bathroom, but they have much smaller rooms. Girls house is located quite far from the main building, so they have to walk to their classes for 2-3 minutes after every lesson. Their house is divided into two parts, the new one and the old one. Girls have very big day room and nice new kitchen built 2 years ago. They cook a lot whereas in St. Bede’s boys do not cook at all.
There are people of over 20 nationalities in our school. Currently there are five Poles. All international students are full boarders, which means that they stay in school for the whole term (they leave school during exeat weekends, half term and break between terms). All the British students are weekly boarders, they live in school from Monday to Friday and they go back home every weekend. The last group are the day students, which come to school every morning and leave every evening. In Sixth Form each group is about 1/3 of all students.
School offers both A-level and IB. I was a pre-IB student back in Poland, so I chose IB for my course. Besides, I personally think that it is more challenging and gives better and wider knowledge. In Ellesmere College IB has one more advantage: there are only 13 students in our group. Everyone has six subjects of their choice (with some restrictions) + Theory of Knowledge. It results in very small classes (3 people doing Maths HL, 3 people doing Physics). Level of teaching is very high, my Physics and TOK teachers graduated from Oxford and my Maths teacher from Cambridge. All other teachers are also very good. Everyone teaches in a friendly way, we do not have unexpected tests etc. It is quite amazing how all the teachers make their subjects very interesting, I love going to all my classes, because they are simply very interesting!
Ellesmere College offers a great range of extracurricular activities. Pretty much every kind of sport you can think of, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Drama, Art, Combined Cadet Force (Army, RAF, Navy), debating and much more. School’s sport is at very high level, especially rugby, tennis, swimming, hockey and cricket. Some of the students train every day, but there are also many people who train only once a week. School has one fitness center and one gym, Sixth Formers are allowed to use them all the time.
School life can get boring sometimes, especially for international students, because we do not have access to all the interesting things we had back home. College tries to fight with that, so we have trips every week to cinema, paintball, shopping centers etc. Every exeat weekend there is a trip to a bigger city like London or Manchester. In the school library except books there is also a huge variety of movies to rent.
School has one disadvantage: connection with the outside world. Internet in our school is controlled all the time. We are allowed to use Facebook, Youtube and other ‘fun’ websites only three, fixed hours a day. Mobile phones also do not work well. Only few operators work and it is very hard to get a high network signal or 3G. It is a disadvantage, but I got used to it. I know places, where my telephone will work and where it won’t. Having limited access to Facebook seems ‘cruel’ at the beginning, but in fact it helps to save a lot of time and focus on my work.
To sum up, Ellesmere College is a great place. It is completely different than Poland. I would recommend it to every potential BAS candidate. It is the biggest Polish community of all BAS schools ( 5 people) and is a great place to spend last two years of your high school life”.