A tour around RHS
Last week, I visited the sunny Suffolk town of Ipswich to the Royal Hospital School (RHS) with our Director, Sarah Bacon.
Ipswich, one of England’s oldest towns, is located in the East of England, less than 2 hours from London. (See the big arrow on the map). RHS is located just 7 miles from the centre of Ipswich.
The school has a strong naval heritage and was first founded to provide education to boys whose fathers were travelling overseas in the Navy. In present day, there is still a strong naval link and all students take part in formal parades several times a year!
When we arrived at the school we met up with Amanda Males, the Local Guardian for our guardianship student, Alex, who attends the school. Sarah and Amanda spent some time with Alex hearing about his active school life whilst I had the pleasure of having a school tour with Emily Allinson, the International Registrar.
Despite the sub-zero temperatures outside, the sun was beaming and I was able to begin the tour enjoying the spectacular views across the quad which overlooks the River Stour. The school itself is set within 300 acres of beautiful countryside. Emily says the beautiful surroundings definitely help students to get out of bed – there’s nothing like some morning inspiration!
There are a wide range of core academic subjects for students to choose at GCSE and A Level; from Maths and English to Classical Civilisation and Design Technology. The Art and Design Department is popular amongst students and enjoys an outstanding reputation. Students’ work is proudly exhibited all year round for students / parents / visitors to view – it really is a way to ‘wow’ visitors!
In addition to academic subjects, Emily explains that different year groups are expected to take part in certain enrichment activities too. In Year 9 and 10, all pupils take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and in the Sixth Form, students are expected to take part in voluntary work, leadership and service.
Support for international students
As I toured around the grounds, Emily was keen to stress the support RHS gives each of their pupils and the fantastic EAL provision in place for international students. This includes specialist English tuition, with the aim of making the curriculum more accessible, and also IELTS lessons at no extra cost. There is an ‘open door’ policy in the international room where students can come and go at break, lunch time or after school to study or relax BUT only English is allowed to be spoken! At 12% international, RHS are proud of their diverse range of nationalities and have students from all over the world, ranging from Mexico to Russia to Nigeria.
There are 11 boarding houses within the premises which provide age-appropriate pastoral care and support for the 430 boarding and 320 day pupils. The boarding staff ensure that the international students are well integrated, mixing with other nationalities, and most importantly speaking English outside of the classroom!
Sport – one of the top schools in the country for sailing
RHS have an impressive range of sports facilities including 96 acres of sports fields, an all-weather pitch, tennis and netball courts, a sports hall including a climbing wall (!), and sailing provision within 5 minutes of the school grounds. The sailing is extremely popular amongst the students and is openly available to all abilities, not just those who have had prior experience. In fact, when pupils join the school in Year 7 they have the opportunity to learn during a week-long sailing course. This is very much the positive and encouraging ethos they have at the school – they want to nurture every student and to open opportunities to all.
After exploring the sport facilities, we began touring the music block. The building is well equipped with 3 spacious classrooms, 15 teaching/practice rooms, a concert hall, a recording studio and a music technology suite. The latter two are particularly useful for the increasingly popular music technology course which students can take at A Level. Not all schools offer this as an A Level subject so it’s welcoming to see that RHS do!
Outside of lessons, there are a wide variety of music groups which students can choose to join, including the chapel choir which regularly performs at St Paul’s Cathedral and The Royal Albert Hall – something the school are extremely proud of. Music lessons are available in a range of musical instruments and over one third of pupils learn a musical instrument or take singing lessons. The school like to do their share in giving to the community and therefore organise regular concerts for locals to attend. This is a great platform for RHS students to practise performing to an audience, of which all abilities are encouraged to take part.