An education here is designed primarily for international students, with additional English language support, a flexible admissions policy and support with all aspects of moving to and living in the UK.
With a cohort of just 400 students, the school is small enough to offer the one-to-one attention within the classroom that students with English as a second language may need.
The school is focused on helping overseas students settle into UK school life – from helping with doctor’s surgery registration and setting up bank accounts in the student induction through to assigning every student a personal tutor to guide them through their studies. It also has flexible start dates (a choice of September and January) to fit in with Northern and Southern Hemisphere academic years.
Previously known as CATS Canterbury, the school was rebranded as The Worthgate School in 2022. It is now named after one of the eight historic gates to the city of Canterbury, built by the Romans. The school is owned by CATS Global Schools, which has independent UK boarding schools and international schools in China and the US; it is one of three CATS colleges which are focused on bridging the gap for international students towards a UK university education.
The Acting Principal is currently Dr Nicola Robinson.
The school was rated Outstanding in its most recent ISI inspection in 2019.
With a curriculum that is designed for both second language and first language English speakers, Worthgate offers a range of academic programmes for boarding students lasting from one term to two years. It has expertise in teaching English alongside academic study and the small class sizes needed to give foreign students the individual support they may need; there’s nine to 15 students in each class.
Many students, who may have English as their second language, come to Worthgate School for its immersive education. All lessons and after-school activities are taught and led in English to help students master the language in both academic and social settings.
In Year 9, students study a broad curriculum to prepare them for GCSEs in Years 10-11. The school offers a limited choice of GCSEs including the core subjects (English, maths and science) and a choice of art, geography, history and Spanish. Students are not coming here for the choice of subjects but rather for the additional support they get from subject specialists who are trained in how to teach students who have English as a second language.
In the Sixth Form, students typically study three A Levels over two years with options including maths, history, psychology, sociology, business, chemistry, physics, history, economics, further maths, biology. They also have the option to take the IB Diploma Programme.
The school offers plenty of support with the university applications, with university fairs, guidance on writing personal statements and progression agreements with over 40 UK universities. It also runs an optional Futures programme with electives including maths, international literature, creative writing, law, medicine and psychology.
Other programmes include a one-year, intensive pre-GCSE course for students with basic English, as well as a University Foundation Programme (UFP) helps international students to bridge the gap between a high school education overseas to university in the UK; as part of the programme students are helped to meet the English language requirements for UK a degree course.
After timetabled lessons, the school runs an extensive activities programme with a wide choice of sport, music, art, and drama clubs, as well as many societies. While the school does not have the numbers or resources to field its own sports teams, staff do encourage and help students in trials for local teams.
Worthgate has a strong academic record, particularly when you consider that most of these results are achieved by students studying in the UK for the first time and for whom English is an additional language.
2022 A Level results: 75% of students achieved at least one A*-A grade; 90% achieved an A*-C grade; and the pass rate was 100%
Students board in six boarding houses for students aged 13-17 and a further six boarding houses for students aged 18+, which are all located on the same road as the school – so it’s an easy walk to lessons.
There are shared en-suite rooms and a team of live-in houseparents, and each house is small enough to help create a very homely environment. There’s full catering for all boarders, and older students can choose to self-cater.
Students coming to the UK for the first time may find it easy to settle in the historic cathedral city of Canterbury in Kent, which has a large student community (there are several independent schools and two universities). They can enjoy the benefits of studying in a city with many cultural and historical attractions, while being close to the British countryside and cities including London.
The admissions criteria vary for each of the programmes offered, but The Worthgate is a non-selective school so enrols students of all abilities.
Annual fees are £29,995, and the school offers a limited number of scholarships.
Good for: Worthgate offers international students a bridge to a college and university education in the UK and it’s ideal for overseas students who want support to settle into UK life, and a steppingstone towards university-style independence. The flexible entry timelines, the fact that it is not academically selective, and its location in a very student-friendly city are all good reasons for choosing this school.
Its small community of students, informal vibe with students being on first-name terms with staff, and its broad range of courses (GCSEs, A Levels, Foundation and the IB) are popular with international students who may struggle to settle so quickly into a larger more traditional UK independent school setting.
Not for: With a focus on the needs of international students, this will not suit British students looking for a more traditional UK senior school. There are schools with larger campuses, and more state of the arts facilities across the UK, as well as those that can offer a larger boarding community that is on-campus.
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