Millfield

Logo of Millfield

Pupils Info

Gender – Co-Ed School
Age range – Age 13-18
Number of pupils on roll – 1218 Pupils

Characteristics

Average Class Size: 12
Day and Boarding School
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 3%
Day: £21,810 – Boarding: £32,385
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 54%

SUMMARY

1935, Millfield is a modern school; not just modern in terms of its state-of- the-art facilities; but modern in its approach to education; modern in its emphasis on gender equality; and modern in its outlook and longer term ambitions. The school stretches vastly over 100 acres of Somerset; with 1200 pupils split into nineteen boarding houses, it is not small. Yet the magnitude of the place allows for an extraordinary range of activities and exceptional facilities. New(ish) buildings include a Design & Technology block (2005), Music School complex and Concert Hall (2006), and Science laboratories with a Science lecture theatre (2009). The buildings are generally attractive, but typically modern and purpose-built – “They are always building,” says Boy A.

Background and Reputation

Millfield is a school that has so much on offer for so many different types of pupil; there is truly something for everyone here. Similar to a comprehensive school, it takes pupils of all academic abilities and prepares them for life. From the very beginning, its pupils are expected to take responsibility for their studies and be proactive in all areas of school life. The School is proud of its modern facilities and teaching methods; rumour has it that by September 2013, all pupils will be using iPads as learning tools. The famed ‘Millfield Mix’ refers to the School’s policy of encouraging the acceptance of pupils of all academic abilities, nationalities and backgrounds. Around 20% of its students are international students and a great many bursaries are given out. Thus tolerance and understanding are at the heart of the school’s ethos. However, if you are looking for a cosy, nurturing environment then it is likely that Millfield is not the place for your child. One parent describes it as a “small fish in a big pond situation”: pupils arrive, used to being among the best in their prep school, only to find that they are no longer top of the class or on the A team. Class sizes are typically 11 – 18 and ensure pupils get necessary attention from their teachers, and while those who thrive tend to be the confident and self-motivated, these are attributes Millfield aims to instil in every child. To ease the transition to senior school, the new Nine at Millfield programme will from September 2014 create a community of Year 9-only boarding and day houses, alongside a broad and stimulating Year 9 curriculum and co-curriculum and a network of pastoral support.

Academic and Exit Results

Being totally non-selective (and proudly so), Millfield does not concern itself with the academic league tables, but this is not to say that its pupils do not work hard or succeed academically. The School insists that each pupil tries their hardest and does the very best they can in exams. This is reflected in Millfield’s record of dealing very well with pupils with SEN. Their unparalleled learning support department develops Individual Education Plans for students with varying educational needs, and an entire English class in each year is taught their subject in the SEN department (also very helpful for those for whom English is not their first language). Pupils are in small classes with pupils of very similar academic ability and IQ which enables staff to teach each class very specifically. The range of subjects taught at Millfield is a huge plus point: pupils can choose from nine languages and subjects unheard of at similar schools, such as World Development and Media Studies. As well as GCSEs and A levels, the School has begun to offer Cambridge Pre-U (for History), and also the Extended Project Qualification. Other more original qualification options are also found at Millfield: CISI Securities and Investments course, a double A level award in Leisure Studies and vocational BTecs in Art & Design. Millfield pupils have a reputation for being hands-on and practical and Head Craig Considine is keen on reinforcing this, getting the pupils to learn some more practical, vocational skills in the classroom. Hold on, someone under the age of 30 who knows how to change a tyre? The school boasts a library of award-winning design which contains over 23,000 texts. All new Sixth Formers complete the Lower Sixth Research Project in the first weeks of the autumn term, seen as a good introduction to the EPQ and undoubtedly good practice for university. Staff and pupil book recommendations are compiled on a website, and the library further serves the school community through organising talks from outside speakers such as the performance poet Mat Harvey.

Social and Pastoral

Millfield is big – “Don’t expect to know everyone in your year,” warns Boy A. The nineteen “really nice” boarding houses (nine of which have opened since 2003) are at the centre of pupils’ school lives, and provide a slightly cosier environment in which they can wind down. Run by ‘houseparents’, many have their own grounds and some are off campus, reached by bus. Houses compete in debating, music and sports, leading to a strong sense of community. All have perfectly adequate facilities, but Boy B suggests picking the newer modern on- site houses. Pupils have mandatory prep time from 7-9pm in the houses, after which time they are allowed back onto campus to use the sports and other facilities (apparently the school Astro gets pretty social at this time). With a sizeable number of day pupils, provisions have certainly been made by the School to make them feel included. They can stay for supper and prep time, and while they are all housed in one of 4 ‘days’ houses, there is still the same houseparent support structure and they still enjoy similar common room areas, areas to make snacks, changing rooms and work rooms. Days houses join with boarding houses for inter-house competitions. An enormous dining hall serves “really great food, with loads of variety” (Boy B), so much variety in fact that they use it as a chance to promote cultural awareness and tolerance through themed meals from around the world. The School does see instances of bullying, but it tends to depend on the house and year group. Known cases of bullying are dealt with swiftly and effectively. As for the big drinking/smoking/drugs question, there are rumours that the number of studentindulging in such activities is high, but this isunfortunately to be somewhat expected in a larger school and it remains confined to certain cliques. Boy B notes that “It is just too hard to police everything in such a big school, and so people do get away withthings quite easily.” However, the school is taking measures to help resolve any issues; the implementation of a Positive Education model, replacing the old PSE programme, promotes positivity throughout school life by concentrating on pupils’ character strengths, encouraging open dialogue around relationships, emotions and health.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

Sport is a serious matter at Millfield – which proudly holds the reputation of the best sporting school in the UK. With its own website (millfieldsport.com), 130 staff coaches and facilities which are the stuff of dreams, this is no wonder. The School houses, amongst its many other facilities, an equestrian centre. Tartan athletics track, a 50m swimming pool that was used for Olympic training, a polo pitch and a putting green. Furthermore, sport is by no means just an energy release mechanism; it is a tool for the development of leaders and individuals through the ‘Millfield Pathway’ which advocates the coaching of the wholechild (mind and body). Home to around 50 international representatives at any one time, Millfield allows those who are particularly busy the option to take fewer GCSEs. Specialist treatment including sports nutrition, psychology and physiotherapy is also available to these chosen few. With this specialist coaching for those who are extremely talented, there are mutterings that those less naturally blessed can be left by the wayside. Millfield is seen by many as a specialist sports school, and this reputation overshadows its other achievements, but with so much on offer the less athletically-gifted will almost certainly find their niche elsewhere. Pupils are all encouraged to do something outside the classroom, whether it be sport, music, drama or art, and to do it to the very best of their ability. This may well be the key to why Millfield produces so many top class athletes, musicians, actors and artists. The Art department is fantastic and budding artists gain inspiration from Millfield’s own art gallery and sculpture park, which hold major contemporary art exhibitions of work by the likes of Andy Warhol, Lynn Chadwick, Marc Quinn and Sir Anthony Caro. Art studios are packed full of high tech equipment and the Music department is one of the largest in the country.

Extracurricular

The Sixth Form Club opens most Saturdays (expect a range of events from live music to quiet smoothienights), plus cinema nights and ‘hops’ are held regularly for the junior pupils. House trips are often held on Sundays, and pupils have the run of the school’s sporting facilities. During the week, the Millfield Activities Programme (mandatory for pupils in the first two years; optional after this) offers wide-ranging activities and aims to bring pupils together. Pupils are encouraged to discover unknown skills; while this sounds a little naïve, Boy B insists that they do genuinely enjoy making the most of the much-celebrated facilities. The school is also keen on outreach and charity work; the Millfield Foundation aims to maintain the ‘Millfield Mix’ by widening access. Individuals, houses and year groups organise fund-rasing events that range from comedy nights to jumping out of aeroplanes.

The Careers department offers “really excellent” guidance (says Boy B), including Oxbridge and especially impressive advice on American universities. Exit results aren’t brilliant with only four students going to Oxbridge in 2012 and only around 50% get accepted to Russell Group universities. The perfectly respectable Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds and Bath are all popular successful choices.

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