Two students from Hastings are celebrating after being offered places to study at Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Buckswood School pupils Olivia Streeton and Thomas Bolton will be off to the UK’s top two universities in September if they achieve their expected A-Level grades.
The duo from the private school near Guestling had a gruelling set of interviews before Christmas and an anxious few weeks waiting to find out if they were successful.
Olivia was offered a place at Balliol College, Oxford, to read Chinese having started learning the language since joining Buckswood’s junior school at the age of 11.
“Studying at Buckswood alongside international students has really helped me, and Buckswood is a completely different environment to any other school,” she said.
“Other candidates at the Oxford interview had studied Chinese for a couple of years in groups of two or three, but at Buckswood Chinese runs through everyday life and is compulsory for everyone in the junior school so is almost second nature.
“We take part in the HSBC speaking competition, eat Chinese food every Tuesday, celebrate the New Year with music, dance and culture and so we learn so much more than vocabulary – it’s like a mini united nations.”
Olivia was able to talk at ease about modern and traditional Chinese literature and culture during her Oxford interview.
She agreed with the professor about the need for a greater depth of understanding that can be gained from studying both language, history and culture and how important the study of language is to international relations.
The interview process was a daunting one, with Olivia having to stay overnight in the city, but Olivia thought Oxford was really pretty.
“I stayed in halls, ate in the Great Hall, had tours around Oxford and took part in some entertainment,” she said.
“Everyone was really welcoming and helpful.”
Cambridge was the destination for Thomas, from St Leonards, to attend an interview to read mathematics at St Johns College.
“I had three interviews. The first was with a tutor and was about my personality,” he said.
“We clicked straight away as the majority of my education has been abroad and in international schools.
“The tutor was German, was married to a Polish man and had travelled a lot and really appreciated the value of internationalism.”
The following two interviews were about maths and Thomas felt he was able to stay calm and organise his thoughts.
“The one-to-one support I have had at Buckswood has really helped me approach problems from multiple angles and employ various strategies, and that was what I was being tested on in the interviews,” he said.
“The mock interviews at school really helped me, they really grilled me and it was a worst case scenario - the real thing wasn’t anything near as bad.”
Buckswood headmaster Giles Sutton said: “We are all so proud of all our Sixth Form students.
“Sixth Form is were life gets serious for our students, we hand over the reins and challenge them to balance their professional and personal lives, organising themselves, their studies and activities such as the Christmas Ball, Business Fairs or our upcoming International Day”.
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