Excellent feedback on English boarding school Rye St Antony!
When we collected Johanna from Oxford at the end of March, we decided to combine business and pleasure by spending a couple of days in the area to get to know that wonderful city a bit better. We also visited the heartachingly beautiful Blenheim Palace and its grounds.
Johanna’s second term continued along the lines of those fabulous first impressions I reported to you soon after she arrived at Rye St Antony. You may remember that she got to grips with the English school system right from the get-go, even finding some subjects almost too easy! Johanna used her initiative to speak to her form tutor and the Headmistress Miss Jones about the fact that she wasn’t being stretched in Maths and the Sciences, so they put together a bespoke timetable, enabling her to take those subjects in Year 12, while following the Year 11 courses in English, Latin and History. Her preparation for a GCSE in the latter was supplemented by individual tuition, to make up for the fact the course would normally last two years.
All this left no room in the timetable for sport or RE, but she used her evenings and Sundays to compensate. We didn’t want to interfere in all these adjustments to Johanna’s schedule and could only look on in wonder at all the positive academic and social effects. I can’t speak highly enough of Miss Jones, whose experience, kindness and constant professionalism were such a support along the way.
Johanna made some very good friendships and not only with girls in her boarding house. I may have already mentioned invitations to the home of a classmate, whose family lives in the Cotswolds. Otherwise, it seems weekends were spent making the most of Oxford’s more affordable restaurants, which cater for the student purse; cooking together; visiting exhibitions at the Ashmolean, or going to the cinema. It always sounded as if life in the boarding house was like being part of one big family, with lots of sisters there for you day or night. It was great to hear how happy Johanna was and, even if we heard nothing for a couple of weeks, we could be confident she was just busy, as confirmed when home for the breaks. At which times we found, and find, ourselves with a different, more mature child, able to make her own way through Heathrow and London; in control of her own life and decisions, even if she does still ask for my opinion. Job done!
What of the school itself? Well, I can only concur with the ISI Inspection Report that was published in February – it is excellent. Not only due to its flexibility, adjusting Johanna’s timetable as it did, but also the small classes, the teachers, their motivation and teaching methods; Johanna learnt to enjoy Maths and is keen to take the Biology exams following a trip to the University’s Neuroscience Lab, despite not taking the subject at all in Germany. I feel I should emphasise the intimacy of this little school, the care it gives all its charges, the quality of information about them (much via a parents’ internet portal), the warm atmosphere that pervades the whole school and the modernity of its facilities. All this undoubtedly contributed to Johanna’s results – no mark lower than C and a gratifying number of As. Impressive for someone joining courses part way through and learning in a second language.
And what of leaving Rye? Tearful, as expected, but less from Johanna than from her South Korean friend, with whom she’d spent many weekends. She got a good send-off from English friends, who are going to visit us in the summer, as well as from friends who hail from Mexico City and Guadalajara, and they’re already talking about a trip to Mexico for Johanna next year. All this despite her absence being temporary, as she plans to return in the summer to take the English, History and Biology exams, so that she completes her time in England with some qualifications, thereby keeping her options open as to whether she might return to the UK for university.
Upon her return to Germany, Johanna’s Headmaster granted permission for her to return for the exams, as well as taking the time for a chat to take on board any concerns she might have had about re-joining her class. Not that there have been many, as she is benefitting from everything she gained while in England; not only improved English, but also the Maths and Science topics that were so well taught match up to the current level here and even cover some of those she will meet in the coming year. The fact that the washing basket doesn’t only get filled but also occasionally emptied by Johanna is an interesting side-effect!
In conclusion, Johanna’s England experience has really made its mark in a way that is nothing but positive. It has broadened her world view, so she understands that school isn’t the be all and end all, that learning can be gained elsewhere and that there are lots of different points of view. She is much more aware of issues around the world, not only because the American President could threaten the economic future of her Mexican friends, because Brexit complicates matters for her peers at Rye, or because her Korean friend’s family feels threatened by their neighbours to the north, but because Johanna’s own world has widened. If she feels sad remembering her time in England with those friends at that school, her friends and activities here make up for it and the experience will be with her all her life.
This wonderful experience is thanks to you, Gina. Your knowledge and accurate recommendations are what helped to make this time such a success for Johanna and we are extremely grateful for that.