Perse School Cambridgereview by University of Oxford student. The Perse is a rigorous academic training college for entrance to top-level academic universities. This can be both good and bad. On the one hand, it delivers the goods, particularly for sciences; Oxbridge entry statistics are amongst the best in the country. On the other hand, this is a high-pressured and somewhat narrow environment, and pupils can become rather left behind or worse, spoon-fed for exam performance. But these are problems at all elite schools, and the Perse makes up for them particularly well. First, while the emphasis of the school is undoubtedly on science, a number of superb teachers in the humanities, especially at sixth form level, mean every pupil has access to intellectual stimulation above and beyond both their subject and the curriculum. (Scientists are particularly encouraged to take at least one humanity or social science.) Secondly, the school has a very strong, if somewhat specialised, ethos in sport. It is the best school in the country for hockey, famously having a former Olympian as a hockey coach. The public school tradition of a heavy focus on games complements, without coming close to rivalling, the academic rigour of the institution. Average weekly workload varies with the pupil; usually half an hour a day in homework. Class sizes are small and this is an immense advantage: six or seven are common in sixth form humanities and it can often be a lot less. Teachers are usually very high academic achievers themselves and provide an eminently useful personal link to Oxbridge and other elite universities; they are approachable and the best have wide interest and enthusiasm for intellectual pursuits beyond the curriculum of their subject. This was useful preparation for studying a humanities at Oxford- small teaching groups, intense discussion and grappling with the foundations of the subject are all familiar to any inquiring or intelligent pupil at the Perse. Those who are not suited for that, however, will find much to keep them occupied in the facilities for sport.
The balance between sporting and other activities is good; there is perhaps less focus on other extra-curricular activities but they all have specialist teachers and small, dedicated groups of pupils so this hardly matters; I was involved in the debating society and as a student-run society it was not as well organised as it might have been but this was balanced by its wider popularity.