Newsletter from Oxford

January 2023

Mark Fletcher-Single

Head of School, EF Academy Oxford

Dear Families,

As I now walk through the top floor of our teaching building, down what could have been referred to as '…past the old lab…', I find it not only unbelievable [the tremendous development of our facilities], but also hard to remember what the corridor looked like before, genuinely.

As a school, we have always excelled in the teaching and learning of science (of course, I truly believe our teaching and learning is excellent across the board in all subjects, but…), with many students going on to study biology, chemistry, physics as well as medicine and other science focused engineering courses at some of the top universities in the world.  Indeed, just before Christmas I bumped in to a 2022 graduate in town who is reading Chemistry at St Anne's College, University of Oxford. 

So, when looking to order our school's significant development plans intended over the next 5 years, the Science Faculty seemed a very prudent place to begin.  Of course, great teaching and learning isn't reliant on 'the best' facilities, but we wanted to begin with our school laboratories because we understand, with great teachers, how much further great science students, can be stretched and challenged in a great learning environment.  I hope you agree, looking at the photographs of our new Science Faculty - and 'yes', we did all of it (well, if you're serious about something…why not?) - this development's been truly transformational.

To ensure we developed the best possible teaching and learning arrangement in the laboratories, we actually moved 3 doors, 2 walls and 1 window, but can you tell from the quality of finish?  No, you can't.  What do you see?  You now see a large fully-equipped Chemistry and Biology laboratory with the most stunning teaching wall behind the teacher's demonstration island: a superb concept encouraging group participation, and ensuring greater synergy between practical demonstrations and whiteboard theory teaching.  You now see a brand new Biology and ESS laboratory with gas taps and sockets fitted at each workstation, creating more opportunities for practical experiments; and you now see a developed Physics laboratory with the teachers' resources so cleverly stored on the back wall to maximise students' individual work areas.  '…resources cleverly stored…to maximise students' individual work areas' may sound salesperson-esque, but it isn't, think of the space needed by each student for their text books, laptop, notebook, practical equipment, etc., etc., etc.: each worksurface, window, light, storage drawer, sink, gas tap and plug socket of this development was so carefully drafted on the plans, to ensure our students enjoy the best possible science teaching and learning experience.  And you know what?  I think we've done it. 

February in school is always a funny month, particularly for our Year 2s who are currently sitting their mock examinations.  These mock examinations are, of course, very important 'markers' and I encourage you to talk to your daughter / son not just about their results, but how they felt sitting these papers, too (i.e. prepared?, excited?, challenged?).  Teachers will be feeding back to students in detail about their progress and achievement, and what they need to do to increase it; but I have always felt the 'positive questioning' from home following mock examinations, completes the triangle of support young people need during this crucial preparation period.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all our Graduation Ceremony is on Friday 21 April this year.  I hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend.  Further details will be sent out shortly, however, for the moment, please save this date in your diaries.

Updates & Reminders

Mid-term break

18th-22nd March

Deadline to reserve seats for Year 2 graduation

18th-22nd March

Year 2 Graduation 

18th-22nd March

Department Updates

Dona Jones


Kevin Cousineau


A-Level & IB Academics

Assessment grades information

Assessments are key times for students to practice examination style questions based on recent course work and this will trigger important interventions if the course target grade is not met. We have a number of ways to support students not meeting target grades all designed to help them improve. Academic support sessions and booster lessons offer extra times with teachers to go through areas of the course that need improvement in understanding. Applied pathway support offers additional time after school for supervised study.

The next assessment grade (AG3) is timetabled as follows:

Dr. Mark Zumbuhl

UK Director of University Guidance

University Guidance

Assessment grades information

The final UK university application deadline on UCAS passed on 25 January and all students applying to the UK had their applications submitted in good time. The remaining applications to be made in the year group are for some European and Asian countries over the next few months, but the majority of the Year 2 students are now just waiting to hear the outcomes. We are very pleased to report that Ivy (Heyi) Wang has been offered a place at Cambridge University to study Education. There are several other excellent university offers through the year group, and some of the students who applied for Medicine have already had interviews or been invited to interview. Later this term there will be special sessions to explain to students the next steps in the process, including how to accept university offers. An important factor in deciding which conditional offers to keep are students’ mock examination results, as these will provide good insight into how students will perform in the final examinations this summer. Therefore, students should make sure to revise thoroughly in order that they can demonstrate their full potential in the mock exams.

The primary focus of university guidance shifts now to Year 1 students. Before the winter break we introduced students to the Bridge-U platform and they have been exploring different courses and options in various countries. This term there will be several more activities explaining in more detail how to research courses, getting students familiar with the written aspects of applications, and showing how to write strong application essays and personal statements. There will also be strategy meetings for students interested in particular kinds of applications (e.g. for medicine, engineering, or applying to the USA) and some test preparation sessions for the small number of students who may need to take specific aptitude tests. There will also be opportunities for students to attend university fairs as part of our trips, following on from the mini university fair hosted here in Oxford last term.

EF Academy Student Profile

This month, we would like to recognise and celebrate the Student Profile attributes by congratulating Anna Ladusch, who was selected by staff for her recent kind and helpful assistance to the boarding team, particularly in the evenings whilst serving snacks and drinks to the rest of her boarding house. Well done, Anna!

Activities and Adventures

Saturday Trips

Students visited 'Bear Grylls Adventure' in Birmingham, where they completed obstacle courses, archery, climbing and escape room challenges! The students also travelled to Cadbury World, birth place of the wonderful Cadbury's chocolate! They toured the museum and sampled many chocolate treats.  Also this month, students have had weekend swim sessions, been bowling and had a special brunch cooked by the boarding team. Coming up in February the students will have the opportunity to go go-karting, to have a guided tour of Cambridge, to see Hamilton the musical in London and to visit the historic Warwick castle!

After school club of the month - Running club!

During the Winter months, it can be hard to find the motivation to look after our bodies, but it is so important! One club who have met weekly, even in bad weather, are the running club! Every Monday, maths teacher James Messer takes a group of students running. Running is so beneficial for mental and physical health and the students who are in the club attend and enjoy it every Monday -  what a great way to start a new week! The club will hopefully be taking part in their first race in May. Well done James and running club! 

Boarding Life

It has been lovely to welcome back the students after Winter break, and to welcome new students to campus, too! We have had a great start to the new year with many activities taking place. The students have enjoyed celebrating the Lunar new year with several students cooking dumplings and spring rolls! Students continue to enjoy the hot chocolate nights and even took part in some Karaoke whilst waiting in the queue! We had brunch and a pool competition last weekend with tea and cake the weekend before that. We look forward to many more enjoyable events in boarding!

Other news

On Friday 21st April, Year 2 students will have their graduation Ceremony at the historic and beautiful Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford.
The ceremony starts at 2:30pm and friends and relatives of graduating students should aim to be at the venue for 2pm. It will be a fantastic day, celebrating your child's hard work over the last 2 years. Please email your child's pathway manager with how many guest tickets you require, by March 17th. 

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