Academic Update

The prize for the most satisfying emails to the Deputy Head (Academic) this term must go to two missives that came from Amelia S and Ned W, both of whom are Prefects with responsibility for library supervision. They were writing to ask if more space could be provided as there has been a surge in pupils in the Upper Sixth looking for study spaces away from potential distractions. This has come much earlier in the term than usual, and it is hugely encouraging that so many pupils have now got the bit firmly between their teeth in terms of their exam preparations – the reader should rest assured that more space was found!

Many will have had university applications materialise into offers this term, and this may lie behind the shift up in academic gear. We have had a record number of UCAS applications in this cycle, with 269 Marlburians and Old Marlburians vying for places at some of Britain’s best universities. Among those, 240 have received some of their decisions, the majority of which are from the Russell Group. It was pleasing to see in some coverage this week in The Telegraph that Marlborough is among the top feeder schools to this elite tranche of universities, being in the top 20 schools nationally sending pupils to the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and Newcastle (though frustratingly for many, the former two institutions have yet to show their hand for the 2023 cycle).

January is also the month for Oxbridge news, and we are thrilled for the Marlburians who secured coveted offers amidst a hugely competitive landscape, including Erin B who secured a place at St Hugh’s, Oxford to read History, where she will be joined by Bede C who won a place to read Archaeology and Anthropology. There was a strong showing from our linguists too, with Iona G heading to Pembroke, Oxford to read Chinese, Max W destined for New College, Oxford to read French and Italian and Tatiana Y to Queen’s, Oxford where she will read Russian and German. Jack H-H won a place to study Material Science at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, while Bella M won a place to study History at Peterhouse, Cambridge.

We are pleased too that Bea P, Josh M and Freddie L have secured places to study Medicine and Jessica Kastner (DA 2017-22) to study Veterinary Medicine. At the time or writing, ten further pupils await the outcome of Medicine interviews, and we have our fingers firmly crossed for them. Looking across the ocean, Kiara C has secured a place at Vanderbilt, Chris F has secured a place at the University of Chicago to study Economics and Stan P has won a full soccer scholarship to university in Washington DC; we await the main deadline for US applications later this term for the full picture.

One of the highlights of this term, is the Shell OM reading contest. Shell pupils are asked to read a piece of poetry, drama or literature by an OM, and the standard is usually exceptional. This year’s was no different, with William F winning the prize for his outstanding rendition of Charles Hamilton Sorley’s ‘Such, such is death’, though he was run close in the contest by Grace F and Oliver P.

In the Lower Sixth, the Ted Talks competition led by Mr Clayton has started in earnest and provides a forum for the exploration of some of the most interesting ideas, including Daisy D’s ‘Who the hell owns art?’, Edo Q’s ‘Was punk really Important?’ and Theo J’s ‘America Does Not Have a Gun Problem’. There are more thought-provoking heats in the next half of term, with the Final bound to be an outstanding and inspiring affair.

2023 Exams Update

Whilst the government has asked schools to make plans for the possibility that exams will not go ahead, and part of that planning includes the possibility that scores in mock exams could be used as part of a hypothesised process for determining grades. Though it is important of course that exam candidates are aware of this, it is more important that they realise the chance of exams being cancelled is vanishingly small. Pupils must avoid complacency at all costs and follow the guidance of their beaks to ensure that they are in the strongest position.

Dan Clark
Deputy Head, Academic