Westbourne School

Westbourne Voices

Hear from our students

Every Westbourne story is different, however, you will see that many of the stories have interlocking themes.

Our strength is in our community, our sense of place and the celebration of every child’s unique talents.

Scroll through our stories from the youngest Prep and Nursery children through to those tackling GCSEs and the academic demands of the IB Diploma, throughout you will see a common theme….community, at Westbourne, it matters.

Future lawyer, Jayendra

Future doctor, Marketa

Aspiring lawyer, Marcus

Pre-IB and IB student, Jakub

Aspiring engineer, Anjola

Head Pupil, Morgan

Talented chemist, Anthony

Talented chemist, Anthony

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Anthony and I’m from Vietnam. I want to be a researcher in Biochemistry. I’ve been at Westbourne for two years.

How has your experience in Home Stay been?

I haven’t been back to Vietnam for more than a year. I’ve been in homestay for about 10 months with Mr Mike and Mrs Cath. It has been a wonderful opportunity and I couldn’t ask for more. They are really like a second family to me and the home environment they’ve created is so cosy. Every evening I can go down and have a chat with them, sit on the sofa and watch television and release any stress from the day. What is more important is that they are willing to share stories and advice about schools, university and life experience, and that’s the best thing I can ask for. It feels like a family, I feel like their own child.

What’s the best thing about living in Boarding?

The boarding house environment has made me grow. Since starting at Westbourne, thanks to my homestay parents I’ve learnt a lot about culture in the UK. They’ve guided me through everything – from the food, to history, even entertainment.

What are the benefits of attending a small school?

In small communities, everyone knows each other. That’s really great, as teachers understand you so well. Because of that, you can talk with them in the office or tell them what is occupying your mind and they are willing to help. I used to attend a public school in Vietnam, it was quite large, and I was in a class of 45 students! In that context, only when you’re the best of the best will the teacher recognise you. In Westbourne, the teachers give great care to every student, making sure that everyone reaches the high standard that they are hoping for.

How do you think the IB compares to A-levels? What would you say to a student considering both?

Before I joined Westbourne, I was actually looking at both A-levels and the IB. In scientific subjects, which is my main focus, Physics, Chemistry or Biology, the content is basically the same for both curricula. But the fact that in the IB you have to study a compulsory humanity and the core subjects like TOK and EE, I think that really helps with preparing you for university. I have to be honest, although they are really stressful with deadlines, once you go to university you know it’s really benefited you. The skills of being able to analyse, make controls in your experiment… it’s compulsory at university. So the IB gives you the opportunity to expose yourself to this way of learning first-hand. That’s really meaningful for us in the long term.

What academic achievements have you had outside the classroom?

I have always been an Olympiad student. I took the Vietnamese Olympiad in High School and that fire is still burning now, even after relocating across the world to the UK. I came to Westbourne and one my main objectives was to enter the Biology Olympiad in my first year in IB1. Recently I’ve also competed in the Chemistry Olympiad and other competitions. I’m really glad that the teachers, Dr Francis and Mr Tucker, gave me the opportunity to register for these competitions and I’m so happy they’ve been willing to help and mentor me. We all know that it’s beyond the current IB curriculum, and self-study is completely mandatory. It’s safe to say for scientific students like me, these competitions come in handy when applying for the top universities.

How have you found online learning?

I’ve liked it a lot! Partly because you can flexibly manage your timetable. You can work at your own pace, at home if you’re stressed or exhausted, you can have a 15-minute nap and then wake up and continue doing work. There’s more flexibility in the whole pace. I really enjoyed that.

Where are you going for university?

I applied to UCL and Cambridge. For UCL I went for Biochemistry but for Cambridge it’s Natural Sciences. I still don’t know where to go but I’m leaning towards Cambridge, although I always wanted to do research in Biochemistry. The thing about Natural Sciences at Cambridge is you start from the beginning, you have a broadened perspective of Natural Sciences as a whole. Then in the 2nd or 3rd year you start to converge into the specific subject subdivisions. I really want to have that broad perspective and then try to re-evaluate my decision, to assess whether Biochemistry is right for me. I’m really looking forward to Cambridge.

How have you been prepared for the future by studying at Westbourne?

Science in the future is definitely going to be harder. It’s going to be a notch more difficult than what we study in high school. Before coming to Westbourne, I wasn’t really good at Maths. When you go to university, Maths becomes a universal tool for any science student. When I came here, I got a lot of help from Mr Morrison with honing my Maths skills, starting from zero and going up and up, improving my skills and being able to utilise and implement those concepts into scientific contexts. This enabled me to be able to do statistics and the more analytical side of Maths in science, like in Chemistry or Physics. Westbourne honed my mathematical skills and made me feel more comfortable with my decision to engage in a STEM career.

When you look back at your time at Westbourne, what do you think will stay with you throughout life?

I will really miss Mrs Page. I still remember that she said right at the start of the course. I didn’t believe in it at first, but now I do. She taught us “how to read!”. I actually know how to read now, in a literal and emotional context. That will stay with me for the rest of my life. Even as a science student. That capability to write reports, or having that emotion, it’s all thanks to Mrs Page. I feel really grateful, it’s a relief that I now understand what she meant.

What are you looking forward to most about going to university?

The challenge, obviously! And the opportunities… and research! That encompasses the whole career of science. You have opportunities to meet a lot of people, you have the hardship of research, the ability to balance your bookworm life with meeting and hanging out with people, an important aspect of uni life too.

What’s the one thing you’d say to a student deciding whether or not to come to Westbourne?

Enjoy the challenge! Obviously the IB is a big challenge, but along the way just enjoy it, enjoy the community aspect, the time with your friends, the support from the teachers. Make your two years at Westbourne a memorable experience in your high school career.

Dharani, an IB student

Dharani, an IB student

What’s it like living in Boarding?

I really enjoy living with Ms Phillips. You get to know all the teachers at school and that’s nice to have that connection, but for a teacher to understand how you live and the things that you do on a daily basis… Ms Phillips is really lovely about how she does that. She really tries to make our lives better at home as well. It’s really really great living with her.

What’s the best thing about living in Boarding?

I think it’s living with your friends. Living with friends really gives you a different perspective. You all have the same experiences, you’re studying together, you’re all stressed about the same things. Getting to share that is really nice, and not to be lonely especially during the pandemic.

What are the benefits of attending a small school?

I went to a very large school previously. My parents would never want to go to parents’ evenings, because in a class of 40 students the teacher wouldn’t know who you were or have anything to talk to them about. However, when they met Ms Phillips, it was really different because she was able to talk about my strengths, my weaknesses, how I am doing. It’s so important, and only something you get at a small school like Westbourne.

Is there a member of staff who has inspired you?

All the teachers are really inspiring and they’re great at their jobs. The best thing about Westbourne and boarding is you have people like Ms Janette who are really really inspiring, just to listen to you when you come and cry about your problems. She gives you that tiny boost to just keep going and she’s a huge inspiration.

Where are you going for university?

I chose to study Law and I’ve always had an affinity for it. I like debating in school and enjoy History, so Law seemed like a natural fit. I chose to apply to Cambridge because they have a very different, anchored Law programme and I knew that was something I wanted to do. So I took the shot and I applied and I hope to be heading there in September if all goes well with my results!

Tell us about the application process…

For an application to Law, Cambridge surprisingly is one of the few schools that does not require you to sit for an external law exam, the LMAT. So all you need is a personal statement, a reference and your grades. The school was so helpful with how they coached me to write my personal statement, what to write, what not to write. The reference Ms Phillips wrote was absolutely beautiful and I’m sure played a huge role in me getting in. For the interview, Westbourne got me a tutor to help prepare me for that interview because otherwise I would have been absolutely blindsided on that day, so I’m really grateful that I got that support. Ms Phillips, Dr Griffiths and Mrs Barber also hold mock interviews, to give you that extra boost. So you’re continuously prepped and helped throughout the process until you make it.

What are you most looking forward to about going to university?

It has to be the subject – studying Law. I’m really excited! And meeting new friends and new people, as well as the location.

What’s the one thing you’d say to a student deciding whether or not to come to Westbourne?

I would say take the leap! The world here is far better than anything you could imagine. You have to take the leap to find out for yourself!

Kinga, an IB2 student

Kinga, an IB2 student

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Kinga and I’m from Hungary. I’m 17 years old. I would like to become an engineer. This is my second year at Westbourne. Math HL and Physics HL are both important to me for future study.

What’s it like living in Boarding?

I’ve been in the boarding house, homestay and now just moved to No. 5 four weeks ago. It’s been really interesting, especially with a six month break from attending school in person. It’s been a good test of resilience, compassion, it teaches you how to be flexible due to the pandemic. What I learned from this flexibility, through co-living, was that I could apply these skills in extreme situations in life, if ever I have to react quickly. It’s a mature environment mainly for IB2s – we are treated as adults. And there’s another adult, Ms Phillips, who ultimately has authority over us! But we are treated as equals and I really like and respect that.

What’s the best thing about living in Boarding?

It makes you grow up! As students living together, you shape each other, and that’s really amazing.

What are the benefits of attending a small school?

We get special attention from the teachers, the staff and from our classmates. You know everyone and you know each other’s skills so you can always go and ask for help. You know a lot of people in Penarth, you feel this really interlinked, warm bond that the whole community embraces you. When you go to the Boarding House, a big benefit is being able to talk and form such a close relationship with the staff, especially Ms Janette! Everyone really embraces you.

How do you think the IB compares to A-levels? What would you say to a student considering both?

I’m really STEM focused. Doing the IB, I had the opportunity to study English Literature. This was really hard for me as I’m non-native. You don’t have that opportunity at A-level. The IB opens up a new world for you. All the subjects you take at Standard Level make you grow as a person, with different perspectives and you have the opportunity to develop yourself. Those subjects might not be your future profession, but I think it’s really important to have a broad perspective.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I’ve gotten into running. It fluctuates, and if we have exams then I don’t do it so frequently. I take pictures of the scenery and it’s always different. The sea is really beautiful in both the morning and the afternoon. It adds to this whole image of being here, it’s such a wonderful place that I love. I did a bit of rowing, once they took us out in the morning during the sunrise. The water was really cold, but it was a really empowering experience. Even through lockdown, my experience this year has been really nice. The pandemic made us appreciate everything, and I can see that in all parts of our lives. We can go running, or even just for a walk, and there’s a sense of freedom.

Is there a member of staff in particular who has inspired you?

When some of us applied to INSEAD, Mark Peters, the Chairman of the school, sat with us to work on our personal statements. Really everybody knows each other! Everyone contributes, and they’re unique and admirable because they compose us as whole.

How have you found online learning?

The school reacted really fast and I think it sorted out the situation really well. They kept adapting to the situation. The pandemic had an impact on our learning and everyone of us could feel it. Especially in boarding, being here was really empowering because we pushed each other so it was a powerful learning environment.

Where are you going to university?

Last year I wanted to be a doctor, but now my first choice is Imperial College London to study Material Science and Engineering. It’s a small university and is STEM oriented mainly, but it has a business department and I was always passionate about Economics and Business. I could never choose between Business and Engineering, but this school helped me to continue with both. The course still contains a bit of Chemistry as well, so I can have the opportunity to broaden my views.

How was your experience at INSEAD Business School and do you think the opportunity helped your university application?

I was really excited to go to Paris so it was unfortunate that I couldn’t travel. However I think I managed to get the same experience. It was one week long. INSEAD focused on us getting to know each other, we were encouraged to have personal contact with each other even after the classes. That was really nice and I got to know amazing people even though it was online. It helped me with my university application and it supported a new perspective of what I would like to achieve in the future. People always think that Engineering is mainly for Maths, and Physics. I think it’s more about creating something to help the world, and business also helps with that to promote that science and business are a force for good.

When you look back at your time at Westbourne, what do you think will stay with you throughout life?

In our HL subjects, our teachers upported us both academically and personally. We get a lot of personal support. But my SL subjects especially have had a great impact on me. I’m going to remember Mrs Page’s English lessons that’s for sure, even if I’m becoming an engineer! She opened up a new window, which I thought I would never have.

What are you looking forward to most about going to university?

The thing I like about Imperial is you can take up short courses not related to your studies. So I might sign up for a Jane Austen lecture or a new language, who knows! So that will be interesting. I’m looking forward to experiencing London. Being independent. Getting out into the world on our own, nobody is going to take care of us. So I’m interested in how I will manage on our own!

What’s the one thing you’d say to a student deciding whether or not to come to Westbourne?

Dealing with failure is resoluteness… Westbourne teaches you that! When you go out, you’re gonna be ready!

Nikolay, an IB Diploma Boarding student

Nikolay, an IB Diploma Boarding student

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Nikolay and I joined Westbourne in 2017 for Pre-IB. I come from Moscow in Russia, well… my original town is in the middle of nowhere so I tell people I am from Moscow!

Why did you choose Westbourne School?

I had many opportunities but I chose Westbourne because of the place and because of the league table ranking initially. Later I understood that it’s not just about the rank, it’s mostly about the teachers and the students.

That was what I saw initially … the whole life that Westbourne was offering and I wanted to be part of it!

What made you specifically want to be part of that life?

First of all, I met Mr Underhill. I talked to him and he was amazing. He was our previous Principal and was also the person who I first met in Russia and who spoke to me even back then when I knew so little English. He still managed to make me feel at ease and I really like his personality.

I thought that if this is the Principal then all the teachers should be really good and if all the teachers are really good then all the students would also be really good.

Have you developed any particular skills since you have joined?

Before coming to Westbourne School I only studied English for a year so it has been my biggest achievement to be fluent now.

In terms of subjects, because of the way they are structured I have written a lot of papers and worked on a lot of projects and developed my analytical thinking.

Do you feel like that has developed your critical thinking skills?

Yeah, Theory Of Knowledge has definitely helped with that. I have spent all nights reading about topics we are discussing for ToK to understand them better. It’s like trying to find answers for questions nobody wants to ask because there are no answers.

Apart from this, I’m taking Maths HL, Physics HL, Economics HL – all of these really aim to improve your logical thinking and in combination with ToK it definitely made me develop critical thinking.

Do you think it helped you to develop those critical thinking skills?

It really helped with my university applications. I had to write a lot of essays to apply for the US and because of short deadlines, it felt very stressful. Having done the IB Diploma really paid off in that situation.

What universities did you apply for?

I applied to Princeton, Yale, MIT and Harvard. So far I have received an entry from Princeton. Today I’m speaking with alumni from Stanford, so that’s very promising. So far so good!

I’ve also applied in the UK and already have a few acceptance offers. My hope is to go onto doing a Masters and then a PhD.

How has the IB helped you with applying for universities?

Doing the IB Diploma definitely helped with the success rate I have so far. While in Russia I had to do a lot of different subjects in school, here I get to focus on six. This gave me a better chance to develop. It’s not just about the subjects, as I mentioned before I have to submit a lot of papers and analyse a lot of work.

For Economics I wrote my Extended Essay on my previous business. I had to analyse it and evaluate from my point what I have already learned.

CAS has also helped me to an extent. I would say I was already quite passionate about sports and creativity but I have done more service because of it. Definitely more than I would have done in Russia. CAS, in general, is great for university applications and especially when you can quote well-known charities you have worked with.

Can you tell me a little bit about your teachers and how they helped you?

The difference between Russian teachers and the teachers here is that there they can’t always focus on every student. Back home I was in a class of thirty people and it was hard for the teachers to keep a record of how everyone is doing.

Here, we have really small classes and really good teachers. In my Maths HL class, it’s just me and another pupil in the class. All my other classes are very small too. Economics is the biggest class I’ve got but that’s because everyone wants to do business.

What is being a boarding student like?

It was really nice for me to gain independence. I miss my parents, but I also feel more in control of my life. I decide what I do before and after school, it’s my responsibility to get up and go to school, to keep my place clean and other things like that.

The boarding house is great! Every house parent has been great too. There is a community in the house – watching films, studying together. I have my own room and even though it’s small I get to have peace and quiet for studying.

As a Head Boy, what advice would you give any students thinking of starting the IB?

The IB is an international school and my advice would be to not be afraid to make new connections and new friends. It’s amazing when you dive into all these new cultures and everyone is from somewhere interesting. Don’t hesitate, go make new friends and speak about things that you care about.

Thanks Nikolay!

Thanks Nikolay for sharing your experience. Nikolay has been offered a place to read Economics at top UK Russell Group, Warwick University and is undergoing the interview process for several Ivy League universities in the US. We wish him the very best of luck!

Andre, an ESL Summer School student

Andre, an ESL Summer School student

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is André and I’m from Stuttgart in Germany. I joined Westbourne in September and am currently in the first year of the IB Diploma Programme. Before I joined Westbourne I completed the English Summer Language (ESL) Summer School. Back home in Germany, I went to a bilingual school which meant that some of my classes were already taught in English.

Why did you join the ESL Summer School?

After I decided to join Westbourne School, my education agent in Germany advised me to do the ESL Summer School course before the academic year started to improve my English fluency.

I’m glad I did that as I found the summer course quite helpful.

Can you share a little more about how you found the course helpful?

Although my English level was good before I arrived it was still helpful to get a lot of practice. I learned how to do presentations and conduct research – skills I really needed later for school. My teamwork skills also improved massively as that wasn’t something I had been paying attention to before. It has helped a lot with all the group projects we are now given in school.

It was also great to meet people who were also going to join the school as boarding students. I got to make friends before the academic year had even begun. I was also already used to the boarding house because we lived there for the summer school.

Did you have any expectations before you arrived?

I had a pretty realistic vision for what the structure was going to be. I was expecting to have classes in the morning followed by lunch and activities in the afternoon.

I was also expecting to develop my scientific English language skills and learn how to present data confidently. It was great to see myself becoming better in that with every presentation I did.

Tell us about a typical day during the Summer School

After we woke in the Boarding House, we would have breakfast and take the short walk to the school. We would then get into our groups for lessons.

After lunch, which was provided, we would head out for different activities. There was a lot of choice with activities. One day we saw an English movie – Lion King, on another we went climbing in a specialised climbing gym.

We would always do really different activities where you can practise your speaking with other people and get to do fun new things.

Tell us about your fellow students.

We were all roughly the same age. There were students from Year 7 all the way to IB1.

I was the only German national, but I enjoyed being surrounded by people from all over the world. Others were from the Netherlands, Poland, China and various other countries.

Overall, did you find the ESL Course worthwhile?

Yes!

For three weeks you get to improve your second language a lot, in a hands-on way that you wouldn’t be able to achieve unless you speak constantly. I wasn’t expecting to see a big improvement because my level was good already and I could hold a decent conversation, but found academic English very useful and benefitted from gaining confidence in doing presentations.

The course is a really good opportunity. Also, you meet people from so many different cultures and get to interact with peers you wouldn’t have otherwise. I still chat with a lot of them on social media.

Plus, it’s so beautiful in Penarth so you really get to enjoy yourself.

How does the pace of life differ at Boarding School now, compared to school before

It is completely different.

The standard and the attitude from the teachers are nothing alike. In Germany, the students aren’t that keen on learning and the teachers are a bit less concerned with the process. I used to get the feeling that the teachers weren’t doing much work in order to prepare for lessons.

The feeling here, with teachers who have so clearly prepared for their lessons, is completely different. They really try and help everyone in the class by having a really clear structure for their lessons supported with Powerpoint slides and activities to engage us with.

Could you share any tips for future ESL Summer School students?

I think you should just be open-minded and not be afraid of having a new experience. If you’re willing to learn and meet new people, then you’ll improve your English really quickly and have a lot of fun.

Future medical student Matilde

Future medical student Matilde

Could you start by introducing yourself and telling me a little bit about your experience with Westbourne?

My name is Mathilde Gallia and I’m Italian. I joined Westbourne in Pre-IB and am currently in my last year of the IB Diploma.

How did you decide to come to Westbourne?

I was studying in Italy and really felt like I needed a change. I wanted to learn English and I was also influenced by my sister’s education path – she went to study in America. I didn’t want to travel as far so I chose the UK.

With the help of an Italian agency, we found a few schools and I was advised Westbourne was the best one. I came to visit and I really liked it. I thought that my English wasn’t great and also I was scared of going to a big school; I was afraid of being around a lot of people who already spoke English perfectly.

When I came to visit here, everyone was so friendly. I visited another school afterwards, but I didn’t like it as much so I chose Westbourne.

Did you find any differences between Westbourne and Italian education?

Everything is different! I think the main difference is that the school was really big so you couldn’t find teachers outside of school time. Here, every time you need someone they are around to help you.

The teaching method is also really different. I like it way more here because we combine theory and practice, studying both Chemistry and Biology there are lots of opportunities for practicals and dissections. In Italy they just want you to learn things by heart and it’s only theoretical.

Another difference is that here I do more exams. It’s actually a good thing because I am well prepared for my final exams and I feel confident. In Italy, I would have a lot of tests but I was never prepared for the final exam.

Can you share with us your plans for University?

I plan on applying for Medicine back home in Italy. Primarily due to the UK Medical Degree being much longer and I’m not sure that I want to study abroad for another 5 years. I also wanted to be closer to family because studying Medicine is quite intense and I would be great to be close to my family for their support.

I’ve always wanted to study Medicine. I can’t imagine myself pursuing anything else. I also feel prepared for university, having studied abroad. Before I couldn’t even imagine what would follow but at Westbourne, they really help guide you through the process of applying for University.

Studying at Westbourne and doing the IB Diploma has really helped me with the application process. The Biology and Chemistry IB Curriculum is exactly the same as the exams for entry into the medical course. That is really useful! In Italy the curriculum doesn’t cover the entry exams, it just covers other things that wouldn’t have been useful.

You have been in both the Boarding House and Home Stay, can you explain why?

When I first joined Westburne I chose to stay at the Boarding House because I really like being surrounded by people. I think it was the best way for me to meet a lot of new people and make friends.

I became friends with everyone so quickly and my English improved a lot. When I first came, I was the only Italian student so I was kind of forced to speak English. I also really enjoyed how close the boarding house is to the school, the train station and the gym.

For my second year, I decided to move into Home Stay. I loved my room at the boarding house, it was exactly what I’d expected. The only reason I decided to move was to have more personal space. I find it very difficult to concentrate and study if I’m not alone and I wanted the opportunity to have my own, personal space to focus on my last year of the IB Diploma.

I like my Home Stay, the room is big and the house is close to everything. The food is good and the House Parents are super flexible. It’s not a problem if my lesson finishes at 8.30pm and I need to have dinner then. Also, Del is a really good cook. She likes baking and I love eating cakes, it’s the perfect match!

I also really enjoy being in the same Home Stay as my classmates Macy and Michelle. I love being together with them. We spend a lot of time together and I know that they are there to help me if I ever need it and vice versa.

What’s the best part of being Head Girl?

I don’t really know how I became Head Girl! The teachers awarded it to me… though I do feel like I am the right person for it. I love being around people and I love helping people. I feel like if anyone needs me I’ll be there to help.

Since I became Head Girl I have been involved in organising things; people come to me and ask me for advice on writing EEs (Extended Essays) and other coursework. I love helping people because it makes me feel useful and that’s the best part of being Head Girl.

If you had to give a piece of advice to someone considering applying to Westbourne, what would you say?

I would tell them to just apply. I’m a really shy person and even when I didn’t know anyone at first, I found the experience of being here and staying at the boarding house absolutely fantastic.

I love the fact that this is a smaller school because when I had to learn English everyone was willing to help me, everyone was there for me and all the teachers were just really great!

Thanks Matilde!

Matilde is currently in her second year on the IB Diploma Programme, studying HL: Biology, Chemistry, English and SL: Italian, Geography, Maths alongside the core elements of the Diploma Programme, an excellent combination for her aspiration to study Medicine at University.

IB Diploma entry starts in September each year, international direct applicants are encouraged to apply early for the opportunity to gain one of the 24 available places each year.

Esther, an international boarding student

Esther, an international boarding student

Please can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Esther and although my family are from Hong Kong, I was actually born in Birmingham, as my parents moved to the UK themselves for University.

However, when I was 7 we relocated back home to Hong Kong, where my grandparents live. Ever since I moved to back Hong Kong I always knew I wanted to go to university in the UK, so I thought that if I was planning to come for university, my best chance was to come a bit earlier to prepare for it.

I had considered going to Manchester or Solihull, where I was born, but then I went to an exhibition and I met Westbourne School and I was like … yes!

When you first went to the school’s fair, did you know what type of school you were looking for?

I wanted it to be a smaller school because then I would fit in easier. I also wanted it to be a more international school so I can get to know more about other cultures. And I really have now!

I have friends now from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Russia, Argentina … basically from all over the world and the UK.

Last term, there was this girl that lived with us in the Boarding House, Emma – she lives in Germany now and me and my family are planning to visit her.

Before you came to Westbourne, did you have any worries about fitting in?

I was worried initially about fitting in… my doubt was that I won’t fit in because there are only so many people you could fit in with. But then I reassured myself that when it is a smaller school you get more attention from teachers.

Although actually when I arrived, In terms of fitting in .. I was in a class with all new people so it was pretty easy.

Can your share with us about how you settled and if you ever experienced home sickness?

There were a lot of new pupils when I joined so we all helped each other and we all stuck with each other so that made it much easier.

I was homesick only in the first one to two months because I was missing my parents and sibling and obviously friends from home. But then gradually you get used to it.

You can call your parents every day so that is good. After the first term I don’t even call that often because, like I said, I’m getting used to it. I call them like once a week.

Tell us a bit about how your lessons differ now?

In my previous school it was mostly just the teacher speaking and the students listening only.… you didn’t get to participate. That is why I wanted to go somewhere where the style of study is more interactive.

There is also the question of size. In my former school we were 40 pupils in a class. At Westbourne we might get split for some of the main subjects, however there is still no more than 20 people in class.

Last term I was with 10 people in a class. This term we are 12.

You mention a difference in teaching style, could you tell us more about that?

In my old school the teachers would just talk and we had to write down everything that they say or it’s basically just listening and you can’t do anything else.

Sometimes they would just give you something to do, for example for math they would just give you problems to solve on your own to figure it out without teaching and that was pretty harsh.

Here, there is more interaction and support and the teachers ask you questions and make sure you are okay with it before they carry on. If after a test they find out that most people don’t understand it they go over it again instead of just carrying on.

Tell us about the homework?

I used to get more homework before but in Hong Kong most school give a lot of school work so that is normal.

Here there is less homework but if you feel like you don’t have enough the teachers encourage you and you could ask for more to practice on the stuff that you aren’t sure about. So if someone didn’t understand a topic in maths they would just ask for more help and homework.

Can you share with us what co-curricular activities you take part in?

I do piano on Monday because I’ve been doing piano since I was 5. I really enjoy it, it’s very relaxing.

Tuesday I do Duke of Edinburgh and Thursday I do Mathematical Reasoning. I joined the last one because my friends do it and I figured I could always use some extra help with maths. But then I think it’s a lot more logical than normal maths like you can’t go straight to the answer. You have to think about it more. It’s like IQ questions.

Duke of Edinburgh is basically training your physical skills .. you have to do physical skill, activity and volunteering. A bit like CAS in IB. And you have to do the activities for three months. For physical I am planning to go to the gym with my friends. It’s a good motivation. For skills I’m doing piano and then for volunteering I’m teaching my friend piano. For the whole past term, she was asking me to teach her so this was a great opportunity to do that.

Now that you have been at Westbourne for one full term, do you feel that you made the right choice?

Yes!

When I left Hong Kong, it was me and one of my friends who went off to boarding school together, except she boards at a different school. There it is much more strict, they can’t really leave the school unless it’s a Saturday or Sunday. Here it is much more friendly and relaxing.

We are near the town centre and that makes everything really easy. We also go to Cardiff nearly every week. For things like shopping and cinema we hop on the train and it’s easy because we live next to the train station.

Thanks Esther!

Esther is currently in Pre-IB at Westbourne, our one year IB Diploma preparation programme for students aged 15 years.

Welcoming international boarders from 12 years on to the GCSE, Pre-IB and IB Diploma programmes, discover more about applying to Westbourne as an International student.

IB student, Fedor

IB student, Fedor

B student Fedor graduated in 2020 and is now studying at the University of York.

He told us how his IB2 studies and, in particular, the in-depth analysis he carried out for his IB Extended Essay, have proven instrumental in his undergraduate research.

“When researching Stalinist Russia for my IB Extended Essay, I discovered that a person who had lived in my old apartment block was killed during the purges. Fascinated by this man’s story, I continued my research after leaving Westbourne and have recently been led a campaign to erect a memorial for him. None of this would have been possible without studying the IB at Westbourne.”

He continued:

“The man’s tragic fate just couldn’t leave me indifferent, so I continued research into his life after my Extended Essay’s submission, cooperating with an NGO called The Last Address to hopefully erect a small memorial plate in the name of this man. Well, this is exactly what happened yesterday. The plate was affixed onto the block, just under the windows of the flat where Fritz Petrovitch Pauzer was arrested in 1937. A small ceremony was also held on site with a few of Mr Pauzer’s relatives, including his grand-niece who recalled her father’s memories of Mr Pauzer.”

 

“The family of Mr Pauzer was kind enough to share the scans of the archived file on him from the 1930s, which they only accessed recently. After studying the 60 pages of this file, it became clear to me that I might need to take it one step further, and I decided to book an appointment with one of my professors at York to see if there is an opportunity to publish an article about Mr Pauzer’s tragic fate, with the translation of newly-acquired primary sources.”

Beatrice, Year 5

Beatrice, Year 5

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I used to live in Cardiff and I joined Westbourne in Year 3. Years before that, even before nursery, I lived in London. I have moved around a lot. When I came to Westbourne, I was in Year 3 and my brother was in Year 1 and we’ve had a great Westbourne journey together because we sometimes play with each other outside. I think he’s glad I’m in a school with him because before he wasn’t old enough to go to school and he would miss me a lot.

What do you like most about Westbourne? How is it different from your other school?

I like that the classes are small. At my other school there were a lot of bigger classes. I was in a class of 30 but now there are always teachers about and they are willing to help you. Our class is quite small, there are only 15 and our teacher can help you which I think is really good for our education.

There are so many different cultures and so many different people with a lot of different languages, and everyone is friendly towards each other even though we are all from different places.

What subjects do you most enjoy? Why?

I’m an all rounder but personally I love English the most. We’re doing poems right now and honestly I really really love saying and writing poems. Poems are just so beautiful and they really paint a picture in your mind.

Do you have any hobbies outside school?

Rock Climbing at Boulders. It’s a holiday club that I go to. You never know who is going to be there as the classes vary depending on when it is. It’s really nice and me and my brother are good at it!

What are you most curious about?

I’m most curious about this country and how I could improve it. When I grow up I want to be a politician because I really think I could change the country into a better place. We are in a bit of trouble right now with the cost of living and climate change and I really think I could help it out.

You are Head Student. What do you have to do in this role?

In Year 5 we have elections and you can put yourself forward as a candidate for different positions. The teachers vote and I got voted in as Head Student. I put myself forward. I have a responsibility to be a good role model for others in the school.

Giulia, Year 4

Giulia, Year 4

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Giulia and I am in Year 4.

How is Year 4 going so far?

I like it so far. I like that we have been introduced to new subjects since Year 3. I’ve been introduced to philosophy now and I am learning about Greek philosophers and things like that. I like the way that it changes the way we look at other subjects.

When did you join Westbourne?

I joined at the end of Year 1.

What do you like most about Westbourne?

I like that you get more attention from the teachers and that the classes are smaller than at my old school. I also get to meet different people.

Do you have lots of friends here?

Yes, I have made good friends. Everyone is very friendly here.

Tell me about your favourite lessons.

I really like my English lessons because I have a lovely teacher. She is kind and doesn’t give too much homework. Not like maths, which has too much homework!

Art is lots of fun and I have a nice teacher. Miss Bayliss…she is very helpful.

Is Miss Bayliss your favourite teacher?

Yes! Mrs Bayliss is very helpful. The teachers are always there to help you when you need.

Do you have any hobbies outside school?

I like rock climbing.

What about in school – what are your favourite clubs?

I like the ninja warrior and climbing after school clubs.

Tell me about Forest and Beach School. Do you enjoy it?

Forest and beach school is the best! We get to go on trips with classes and build dens and at the beach there are rock pools.

Have you been on any fun trips with your class?

Not this year but I am excited about going on fun, residential overnight trips.

What do you want to be when you’re older?

I want to be an actress. I do fun Lamda workshops, which is acting/poetry through links to a school in London.

What are you most curious about?

Curious about what we’re going to learn next.  I’m looking forward to Senior School at Westbourne.

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt about at school?

About slime on Science Day! I also really liked learning about Remembrance Day and now that it’s the World Cup we can get to watch games at lunch with flags!

Olivia, Year 2

Olivia, Year 2

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am 6 almost turning 7.

When did you join Westbourne?

Halfway through Reception. I was at another school in Cardiff before joining Westbourne.

What do you like most about Westbourne?

Everyone is kind and respectful and lovely. I really like the smaller classes here because at my old school the classes were too big but here they are much less.  

I also like Assembly as I get to perform. The Reception and Year 1 pupils get to perform and they are really cute. I also like that they choose sensible students to be on the School Council and to be Star of the Week. The school chooses really carefully.  

Do you have lots of friends here?

Yes, lots.

Tell me about your favourite lessons.

I like dancing and singing and acting.

Do you have any hobbies outside school?

I like to make up a lot of songs and on a Sunday I go to a dance, singing and acting school. I really like drawing dresses that I can make one day for me and other people.  

Do you do any school clubs?

I go to the Badminton Club, which is fun. Tomorrow is the best day ever because I go to Rock Climbing and on Thursdays I go to Wizardry where you make slime and lava lamps. It’s so cool. I also go to Netball.

What do you want to be when you’re older?

I want to be a dancer because my mum was a dancer and she runs a dance school in London. My dad was an actor. I was thinking about making this shop with my friends where in one part people can choose a dress I have drawn, and in another part my friend Sahara will make the dress, and in the other part of the shop my friend Ella will take the money.

Gonzalo, Year 5

Gonzalo, Year 5

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Gonzalo and I come from Qatar.  I’ve lived there nearly my entire life.

When did you join Westbourne?

About 2 years ago.

What do you like most about Westbourne?

I like Westbourne because there are really cool clubs and I also have fun with my friends. I have made lots of friends here.

What subjects do you most enjoy?

History, Maths and Science.

Tell me about the teachers at Westbourne. Who’s your favourite?

Miss Jones is really nice – she also lets us have fun and the lessons are really interesting so that we don’t get bored.

Is Westbourne different to your previous school?

Yes. Westbourne has more clubs, and even though the other school had a bigger playground, I still like it at Westbourne. We get to go out to Forest School and on trips here.

Tell me about Forest and Beach School. Do you enjoy it?

Yes! We get to explore and, with my friends, we get to make huts and dens with mud! It is really fun.

Have you been on any fun trips with your class?

Yes, my first one was to Rock UK and my most recent one was doing Forest School for two nights on a residential trip.  I really enjoyed it.

What do you want to be when you’re older?

I want to be a tennis player. I am the youngest in my tennis class. Mostly there are 13 year olds and I’m younger. I do tennis outside of school and train once a week. I sometimes go with Dad to play.

What are you most curious about?

I’m really curious about the Senior School because we go there once a week to do Computer Science and Coding. One day we are going to look at the school to find out where our classes are and where we will eat next year.

Melisa, Year 2

Melisa, Year 2

Hello Melisa, can you tell me when you joined Westbourne?

I have just come here new! I was in London in Year 1.

What do you like most about Westbourne?

There are a lot of children from different places, which is nice. One of my friends here is from the Ukraine. I come from Turkey and have a house in Turkey. I speak Turkish at home. I can speak a bit of German and Welsh.

My favourite thing about Westbourne is the assemblies, when you get to perform and you get to see who the Star of the Week is and it just makes you smile!

I also like the art room. I like the beautiful playground and swings and that there is so much nature around here.

Tell me about your favourite subjects.

I really like Spanish. We learn Spanish on an app called Duolingo. I also like to do art and I like my teacher.

Do you have lots of friends here?

Yes, I have lots.  Everyone is very friendly and kind.

Tell me about the teachers at Westbourne. Who’s your favourite?

I like all the teachers. They are kind to me all the time. My twin sister and I are quiet.

Do you have any hobbies outside school?

I like music. I play the harp and the flute. I go to harp lessons and have them here at school in The Lodge and I also do my flute there. I want to learn to sew on the sewing machine.

Do you go to any school clubs?

I go to lots of clubs like Arts & Crafts and Chill Out and I also go to Nature Club.

What do you want to be when you’re older?

I want to be a lot of things. I want to be an artist, a doctor, a vet. Probably an artist because art is my favourite subject. I like drawing.

What are you most curious about?

I’m really curious about nature – especially about swimming in deep water! We get to do swimming here at Westbourne, which is great.

Michael, Year 5

Michael, Year 5

You only joined last year, how did you become a Prefect?

At the beginning of the academic year, everyone who aspired to be Head Boy or Girl, a Prefect or a House Captain had to make a speech in front of all the parents and all the children. After the speech, all the children voted on who they wanted for each position.

I was a bit nervous doing the speech but once I started I got the hang of it. My speech was about me promising to do my best to improve the school and show everyone that it is fun to learn.

When I was thinking about my speech I was looking up to the Prefects from last year and wanted to be like them because they were really good. They made sure that if someone was upset about something they would help them. If someone made a suggestion about something, they would seriously consider how they could act on these suggestions.

What suggestions have you had as Prefect so far?

We have put a couple of important suggestions to Mrs Chinnock so far. These included increasing the amount of tennis equipment in the school as so many people in the school now like tennis. We also represented pupil requests for new goalposts because the ones we had had become slightly broken due to people swinging on them.

As soon as we spoke with Mrs Chinnock about them, she helped us resolve those issues.

Can you share with us what lessons you enjoy most?

In class time, some of us join a MAT lesson (More Able and Talented) session. At MAT we get challenges which stretch our imagination, most recently we’ve been thinking about marketing and how we might make a video to advertise the school….we start recording next week.

I am also learning languages. It’s good because I get to help my little sister, she is in Year 1 and she just started learning French and is obsessed with it.

Did you start learning a language in year 1 as well?

No, I was studying in another school but then it was knocked down by the local council.

When I moved to Westbourne we started studying Spanish in year 4 alongside French. When I get to year 6 we’ll start learning Chinese. I’m excited about that because I like languages.

What was it like moving to Westbourne School?

Before I started I was really nervous. I didn’t know if I’d fit in or if I’d get bullied or anything like that, being the new kid. But I was welcomed with open arms and it was quite wonderful joining Westbourne.

What is it like here in comparison to your previous school?

In my previous school … some of the teachers were okay. There was one teacher who was really good but she left. At Westbourne, all of the teachers are absolutely amazing! They are kind, helpful and understanding. If you are struggling with something the teacher will immediately come to your aid and help you.

What is your favourite subject?

My favourite subject is probably Science. It seems to me that in science nothing is absolutely definitely going to happen like in Maths where 1+1 is always 2. But is science things that you can’t guess can happen.

What are some subjects you don’t like as much?

I think History and Art. For some reason when I am in an art competition then I am given quite a high mark but if I’m just doing art then even if I try my very best and try to think of it as a competition, I just do some average work.

How do the teachers approach the fact that you struggle with these subjects?

If you struggle with a subject the teachers give you extra help and maybe some more homework to help you practice. That’s very different from my previous school where we only had homework once a month. Here I get homework maybe two or three times a week.

I like homework actually. I’m not too keen on it when it is given on a Friday and due on Monday because I have quite busy weekends. Especially this weekend, I had a swimming competition and a birthday party to attend for two of my classmates.

Do you often hang out with your classmates out of school?

Yes, we are quite good friends.

Do you go to residential trips?

Yes, next year we are going to PGL and I am very excited. This year we went to Rock UK. It’s a climbing, outdoor physical activity centre. It was so much fun!

Do you do any extracurricular clubs?

Yes, there are different clubs every day of the week, apart from Friday when we have an assembly. Different clubs are available to different classes. There are two STEM clubs which happen on the same day but they are for different ages.

I go to a multisport club and I’m also in the senior school choir because in year five you can join the senior school one. It’s similar to how year six sometimes join the Prep School residential trip.

I also go to the Young Journalist Club on Wednesdays. We write a newspaper that is given out on the Friday assembly to parents.

Do you have any friends in year six?

Yes, I have a couple. It’s nice being able to mix with other year groups.

Charlotte, Year 4

Charlotte, Year 4

Do you want to tell me about yourself?

I’m Charlotte, I’m 9 and I’ve been in Westbourne for four years and I’m in Year 4.

And how is Year 4 going?

It’s great! The teachers are really nice if I’m struggling with something I always feel I can go to the teachers. They help me a lot and I don’t feel like if I don’t know how to do something I should be scared because… well, I have someone to go to.

So did you join Westbourne in Year 1?

I joined in Reception, only for four days a week and then I started Year 1.

What was it like when you first started?

I remember when I first started in Reception and there was this girl called Sophia and she told me where my peg was and she showed me around the school.

Did that make it easy to join?

Yeah, I was in Scotland before here in nursery but when I joined Westbourne I felt like I already know all the people and I knew all my class in the first hour.

The class wasn’t very big so they combined us with year one. But it was really nice because everyone came up to me and introduced themselves so I made a lot of friends immediately.

Did you always have a lot of friends in Westbourne?

Yeah, it’s been really nice! My best friend is Tilly. But also the teachers are my friends too… when I was a bit sad the other day my teacher and I had a little dance to cheer me up.

Has your day changed much now that you are in year four?

It’s the same as year one, it’s just that we have different work. The people are so caring and they always come up to me and … at this point it feels like this is my second family basically.

Tell me about the classes that you do?

We do English and Math and History… English is my favourite because I am really dramatic. I write fairytales like Cinderella but I don’t really do it like it is supposed to be, I tell it from the perspective of the shoe.

Do you get to spend any time with children of different ages?

Yeah, I play with reception and year 1 in the last break and we play tag and other games. It’s really funny!

My favourite game, however, is zoos. You pick an animal you want to be and you pick different sections and in the middle, we all come out and we get to be the animals!

Do you play that one with your class?

Yeah, I get along with all the people in my class really well. I don’t have anyone who I don’t really like. They are all really caring, if there is anything at all that upsets me they all come straight away.

Do you have any fun stories with your classmates?

Yes, we went on a residential trip. I went canoeing with my friend Gabby and we were doing this activity where you had to pass a ball to the children in the other canoes. But then our boat got tipped over so when we got out of the water my friends said she thought there was a little ant in the water touching her toe. And we decided maybe it’s a swimming ant!

Tell me more about the residential trip.

I loved it. It was activities in the morning then lunch and followed by more activities. One of the activities was called ‘ambushing’ so basically one group hides and the other group has to find you. We also did campfires.

I liked sharing a room with the girls from the room as well, I was in a room with some girls from my class and we really bonded.

How many people are there in the class?

It’s ten girls and four boys.

Do all of you go on trips together?

Not everyone, if your parents don’t feel ready for you to go then you can still go on a fun school trip. So when I was in year two my parents didn’t really want me to go on the residential so we went to folly farm and got to see all the animals. My favourite part was seeing the lamas.

Are trips your favourite part of school?

Actually, it’s lessons. You’ll think this is silly but I like it in lessons because I get to open up my imagination and I can just feel free.