A senior school and sixth form college composed of an almost entirely international student body, Concord College is a co-ed day and boarding school with a very academic environment and a strong record of GCSE and A Level success.
Founded in 1949, Concord offers a British education to a very international community of 600 students aged 13 to 18 years, with girls and boys coming from all corners of the globe. This is a predominantly boarding school environment with 500 students as boarders; a small number of around 100-day students come from the Shropshire area. Concord’s record of success is built on having small class sizes, giving students individual attention, and weekly academic testing.
With such a competitive learning environment, it is important for the school to support students with a strong pastoral programme. This includes one compulsory sports session a week, twice weekly staff meetings to discuss the needs of individual students, student ‘listeners’, and an enrichment programme of non-academic activities.
Concord celebrates is internationalism in many ways. For example, students present musical and dance traditions from their home countries in the annual Winter Concert, they visit local primary schools to raise children’s’ understanding of other cultures, and the dining hall serves up a menu of global dishes. It’s also a non-uniform school.
Principal Neil G Hawkins will step down in September 2021 as he has been appointed global principal of Concord College International (CCIL), and he will be replaced by Dr Michael Truss. an Oxford graduate, Dr Truss was formerly head of academic enrichment at Bedales, and deputy head at Barnard Castle School. As well as having an “enthusiasm for teaching and focus on the individual student”, his brings to the school passion for outdoor education and a strong background in sport – so maybe we can expect a boost to the school’s performance in these two areas?
Concord College was rated Excellent in its latest ISI Educational Quality Report (2019).
The challenging curriculum at Concord is delivered by knowledgeable teachers who share their expertise “freely in and outside of the classroom” according to ISI inspectors, and students confidently use technology in their learning. It’s a long school day that starts at 9 am and runs until 5.40 pm; there are compulsory “twilight activities” that start when lessons end at 4.20pm including DofE, samba drumming, art, sport and Latin. There are then two prep sessions between 6.30 and 8 pm.
In Form 3 (Year 9) students follow a broad curriculum with a wide range of subjects including maths, English, science, history, geography, French, Spanish, German, computer studies, art, music and drama. Students who need extra English support are withdrawn from French, Spanish and History for extra lessons.
Students study GCSEs and IGCSEs from Year 10, with core subjects including mathematics, English (and English Literature in most cases) and the sciences (biology, chemistry and physics). The school offers a wide range of options including art, astronomy, computer science, drama, economics, French, geography, German, history, music, religious studies, Spanish and statistics.
In the Sixth Form many students add a fourth subject either at A or AS level and a few do more than this. Again, there is a wide range of subjects including art, biology, chemistry, economics, English, French, further mathematics, geography, history, mathematics, music, photography, physics and Spanish. Some students will also study for the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Most students study maths at A Level.
Students can study French, German and Spanish from beginner to A Level, and native speakers of Chinese or Russian can take these languages at GCSE and A Level.
There is a Super Curriculum, which highlights these school’s pure love of learning. There are subject clinics, teacher-led clubs, student-led academic societies, academic trips, and opportunities to enter national and international competitions.
Class sizes range from 16 at GCSE to 14 at A Level, giving students the individual attention they need to thrive in such a high-paced learning environment. In 2019, ISI inspectors reported that students were encouraged “not just to learn the facts, but to understand things.”
Student progress is very closely monitored here with regular assessment. Students sit two or three tests each Saturday morning, and parents receive the results of these via a school app; Sixth Form students have a test in each A Level subject every two weeks. It certainly means that by the time students sit their GCSEs and A Levels, they are very accustomed to working under exam hall conditions. For international families coming from very learning goal-oriented schools, this will feel very familiar.
This is very much an academic school where most students will choose maths, the sciences and humanities over the arts and sports. However, there are many opportunities – and the facilities – to play sport, act, and perform music for enjoyment. As the school says, students are encouraged to “maintain a healthy balance in their lives”.
While you’ll most likely to find that students will take private cello lessons or play tennis as a form of recreation rather than a career path, they do study drama, music, and sport up until GCSE. In 2019, ISI inspectors found that the “standard of art at A Level is very high”. There are then opportunities to study music as a BTEC Level 2 qualification rather a GCSE, and art at GCSE and A Level.
Students can sit LAMDA exams, individual instrumental lessons are popular, and there’s a busy annual calendar of music events and concerts featuring student bands and ensembles. While Concord does not have a reputation for being a sporty school, there are competitive sports teams.
There are facilities for drawing, printmaking, textiles, ceramics, photography, and graphics in three art studios, with one exclusively for Sixth Formers. There’s also a well-resourced music department with a purpose-built auditorium, practice rooms, music technology suite, rehearsal room, drum studio, recording studio, and a dedicated music and art section in the main library.
As well as PE lessons in sports including swimming, volleyball, badminton and athletics, students have compulsory activities on Wednesday afternoons such as cycling, rock climbing and dance. There are sporting events throughout the year, including a House Cross Country and Sports Day. Facilities include two large sports halls, squash courts, dance studio, aerobics and weight training room, climbing wall, running track, indoor heated swimming pool, football pitches, volleyball courts, all weather basketball and tennis courts, and a high ropes course.
There are extra-curricular clubs to choose as varied as choir, orchestra, jazz, archery, badminton, basketball, horse-riding, chess, debating, Japanese and computer programming. Students achieve at a high level in local and national competitions such as UK Maths Challenges and astrophysics Olympiads, and the school’s outdoor curriculum includes the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Leadership roles range from subject mentors and students’ librarians to lifeguards and sports leaders
In 2020, 85% achieved A*/A at A Level, and 96% at A*-B. There were 15 students from this cohort accepted into Oxford and Cambridge; others went to LSE, Imperial, Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester, and St. Andrew’s. Around half of the students study medicine, natural sciences, and engineering.
52% of GCSE grades awarded were Grade 9 or equivalent – 88% were Grade 7 or higher (A*/A equivalent).
Concord’s results speak for themselves, and it’s these outstanding academic achievements that attract parents from around the world. If you are looking for a school to nurture the potential of your high-achieving child, then Concord deserves to be shortlisted.
There are 17 boarding houses, with most students staying in single rooms. Shared facilities include two well equipped common rooms, a student kitchen, and the West End common room.
Weekends are busy for Concord boarders. After morning tests on Saturday mornings (also a requirement for day students), there is a full programme of compulsory activities for students in Forms 3 & 4; Form 5 and the Sixth Form can choose activities including a free bus service to Shrewsbury.
In contrast to many UK boarding schools, Concord remains open to boarders every weekend during term-time; students can ask to leave the campus on exeat.
With gorgeous views of the Shropshire countryside from many of its classrooms, and set amongst acres of land, Concord has a beautiful, secure and remote campus. As well as the music and sports facilities listed above, there is a library with 7,000 books, art studios, and the 'West End’ student social area. Recent developments at the campus include a 22-lab science building and extending outdoor space for sport and recreation.
Day students can apply for entry to Form 3 (Year 9), Form 4 (Year 10) or the Sixth Form (Year 12). Entry is tough and for entry to Forms 3 and 4, students should have a “strong chance of achieving A* (8s and 9s) or A (7s) grades in a wide range of GCSE Level subjects”. Applicants sit online entry tests or tests at the college and may be required to attend an interview.
Annual tuition fees for day students are £15,600; boarding fees for the academic year 2021/22 are £47,500.
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