WITH LOW STUDENT TEACHER RATIOS, STAFF MEMBERS AND STUDENTS AT ALBEMARLE INDEPENDENT COLLEGE ALWAYS DEVELOP STRONG BONDS
For many people, the phrase ‘private schools’ conjures up images of stuffy uniforms, starched collars and stodgy puddings. But a growing number of independent colleges in the UK are offering students an alternative to antiquated tradition. We visited Albemarle Independent College in central London, which has been offering A-level and GCSE courses since it was founded in 1997.
Albemarle sits in a quiet residential street just behind Park Lane. Students are chatting and laughing in the lobby and on the steps outside as we arrive – there are no uniforms here.
But clearly the relaxed atmosphere belies some seriously hard work, and Albermarle’s results speak for themselves. In 2016 and 2017, all of the college’s A-level students achieved A*-C grades. Of these, an impressive 88 per cent and 71 per cent achieved A*-B grades in 2016 and 2017 respectively. And this is no flash in the pan. Every year from 2010 to 2016, 80 per cent of Albermarle students have managed A*-B grades at A-level.
So what’s the secret of Albemarle’s success? “We try to focus on the specific needs of every student,” the principals – and founders – James Eytle and Beverley Mellon told us. “When we opened Albemarle, we wanted to offer A-level and GCSE students the chance to benefit from the small classes usually seen only at top universities like Oxford and Cambridge.”
“Albemarle’s policy is that no class has more than eight students,” says Eytle. “But most A-level sets are smaller than five. Working in such small groups means that it is much easier for teachers to support learners and to meet the needs of individual students.”
In total, Albemarle has a total of around 150 students every year. Most of these are A-level students, but there are also some students sitting or re-sitting their GCSEs.
With such a low student-teacher ratio, staff members and pupils at Albemarle are able to develop very strong bonds. “We encourage teachers to build positive working relationships with their students,” Eytle explains. “This means that we are able to get to know our students as individuals. And we can identify any problems or impediments to learning very swiftly indeed.”
Teachers are also encouraged to give one-on-one support outside lessons – again, something that is only possible with a small cohort of students.
Eytle is also keen to explain that the college isn’t only focused on exam results. “Many pupils find it hard to look beyond results day in August,” he explains. “At Albemarle every student has a personal tutor who helps them to think about the future. We also run a year-long University and Life Skills course to help students prepare for life after school.
“We also work hard to support students who want to read subjects at university that are beyond the A-level curriculum. We run special programmes for certain degree courses, such as Engineering, Medical Sciences, Economics, Management, Art and Architecture,” Eytle says.
Every year, Albemarle students go on to study at some of the world’s best universities. As Eytle explains, “After two years, we really feel that we know our students. And so we’re very proud of their success and we hope that we have given them the tools they need to succeed at university and beyond.”
For information about Albemarle Independent College, contact:
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