Part of Taunton School, this small campus offers tailored support and education to international students to prepare them for taking GCSEs, A Levels and the IB in a UK school.
Part of Taunton School in Somerset, TIS was opened in 1996 to offer a specialist education to international schools. Over the years it has expanded to include an international middle school, and to offer pre-GCSE, one-year GCSE, two-year GCSE, pre-Foundation, and Foundation programmes. It offers the best of both worlds – a standalone campus with boarding facilities where teachers focus on the specific needs of students with English as a second language, and all the benefits of sharing the facilities and mixing with the much wider community of Taunton School.
TIS is a small campus with just 60 students aged 8 to 17 years. Class sizes are small, there is a very nurturing atmosphere to help overseas student settle in a ‘home away from home’, and there is a high proportion of students moving onto the main school to study A Levels and the IB.
While TIS has its own campus – a wonderful manor house just three miles away from the main campus – it is very much part of Taunton School. Students have access to the impressive sporting and educational facilities at Taunton School, and there are many opportunities to mix with the British students through joint trips, musical performances, sports fixtures, and extra-curricular activities.
Students stay in one of two single-sex boarding houses at The Grange, and they all represent this house when competing in several inter-house competitions against the houses at Taunton School each year. There are no exeat weekends which means that during term time students can always stay in the boarding houses.
The school has been praised by ISI inspectors for its education of students from many different cultures and backgrounds. Its 2019 report said: “In TSI, newly arrived international pupils are carefully supported and monitored in the first weeks to enable them to settle in and make good progress.” And commenting on their academic progress, inspectors said: ““Pupils with EAL (English as an Additional Language) make rapid progress from their starting points in both TSI and in the main school.”
Taunton School was rated Good in its most recently available ISI Educational Quality report (2017).
TIS offers a choice of programmes for students with a beginner or intermediate level of English, and prepares them for the pathway to university in the UK or abroad.
For younger students aged 8 to 11 years, teaching follows the National Curriculum for England delivered at Taunton’s Prep School; older students aged 12 to 14 years follow a pre-GCSE course to prepare them to move to the main Senior School. In both programmes, 40% of the curriculum is dedicated to intensive English language development; as well as English, other subjects studied include mathematics, science, history, geography, ICT, art, music, Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE), PE, and games. Some lessons may be taught with mixed age groups, and students are given plenty of opportunity “to contribute orally and thus improve their communication in the English language.”
TIS also offers one and two-year GCSE/Pre-IB courses. In the one-year course, for students with a higher level of English, 20% of the curriculum is dedicated to intensive English language development and the rest is given over to other subjects. Students sit between five and eight GCSEs at the end of the academic year
In the two-year course for students with a more basic level of English, more time is dedicated to English development (40%), and students will sit their GCSEs over two years (up to five GCSEs in their first year, five or six GCSEs in their second year). Most students will join the main Taunton School campus after this to study A Levels or the IB.
Students can still join TIS from as late as 16 years old. There is a Foundation Programme in Economics and Business Studies for 16 - 17 years old, or an International Foundation Year for 17 - 18 years old, which includes business studies, economics, mathematics, and EAP (English for Academic Purposes).
This is a school that offers international students a more intensive and personalised introduction to UK schooling. All teachers at TIS are specialist English language teachers; as the school explains, “even when students are learning maths for example, that teacher will also be focusing on English”. The school is invested in personalised learning; there are small class sizes with a maximum of 10 students in each, and frequent one to one mentoring meetings. And the focus is on moving students into the main school; students are assessed regularly so that they can be transferred into the equivalent year group within Taunton Prep or Senior School once they are ready. Some students move to the main school after just one term, others after two years.
In 2020, the one and two-year GCSE students at TIS achieved well-above average results, which shows the strength of teaching here. These are students who are achieving strong grades in a short space of time and in a second language. 41% were graded Levels 9 - 7 (compared to the national average of 17.4%), and the pass rate was 89%. There was a 100% pass rate in subjects including art, German, ICT, music, psychology, and Latin, and the school also performs well in biology, business studies, economics, English, French, geography, and mathematics.
Adrian Hallworth, principal of Taunton School International, said:
“The vast majority of our students achieved six or more GCSE passes, with a significant proportion attaining seven and others being successful in a remarkable eight subjects in just one year of study. It is sometimes hard to appreciate how hard these students have to work to achieve such outstanding results. They are supported by a wonderful team of professionals, both in and out of the classroom, who create a fantastic ethos and atmosphere.”
The cost of such an intensive, tailor-made education does not come cheap. Annual tuition and full boarding fees range from £21,600 for Year 4 up to £41,985 for Years 12 – 13.
The admissions process is easy and straightforward, and involves simply an English assessment and an online interview.
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