Ashford Schoolreview by University of Oxford student. The great emphasis of Ashford school's academic programme is choice, with the timetable tailored around student's choices, rather than the other way around. This means that every student can study the unique combination of subjects that they are suited to. Class sizes at A level and GCSE are extremely small, with no class containing more than ten students, no matter what the subject, and this means greater interaction between students and teacher as well as promoting debate and discussion. Form tutors undertake constant monitoring and individual discussion of academic progress with students, meaning that parents/guardians are kept fully informed of their child's progress or problems at all times. The workload obviously varies from subject to subject and year to year, but I never experienced more that 3 hours a week per subject, and the great thing about staff at the school was that if anything was ever too much, a quiet chat could resolve the problem - there was no need for conflict. The school gains good results across the board, but particularly in maths and sciences. However, the emphasis is on learning and understanding, rather than just passing the exams.
Facilities at the school are excellent, and due to massive investment, constantly being upgraded and improved. All boarders have their own ensuite bathrooms, and the school cafeteria food is wholesome and tasty. The local area is relatively crime-free, and older students are allowed permission to walk into town at lunchtime without any harm ever befalling them. Notable social events include joint rock gigs with neighbouring schools, Sixth Form balls and camping trips. The majority of pupils at the school are English, white and middle class, but there is an increasing number of pupils from abroad, with Chinese, Nigerians, Americans joining the community.
The school has excellent sporting facilities, and regularly plays matches against local and international schools (touring regularly to Barbados, for example). Inter-house sporting competitions take place throughout the year, so almost all pupil will participate in some kind of competitive sport at some point. Other inter-house competitions include drama, music, technology, art and maths. The school has a thriving orchestra and several choirs that have toured abroad to great acclaim. Once a year, in conjunction with other local schools, a musical is produced. Other theatrical productions take place at all levels and ages. As well as the conventional extracurricular activities, there are more unusual ones - for example, I visited a nursing home weekly for a couple of years and did some tutoring in a local community centre as part of the school's commitment to charity work and volunteering. The friends I made and the life-skills I learned whilst participating in this activity certainly made it the most valuable I encountered at the school.