Academic Update

The College’s focus on academic ambition found expression this term in quite an intense way for some of the leading academics in the Lower Sixth as they headed to the Herefordshire countryside for Oxbridge residential weekends, at a stately home that is rumoured to have been a likely hiding place of Guy Fawkes. The ideas being harboured there by Marlburians are likely to have been less explosive, though perhaps no-less radical, as they were put through their academic paces by dons in Economics, PPE, History, Theology, Medicine and Biology. Supported by Andrew Oxburgh and Ginny Brown, Marlburians had the chance to experience the rigour of a ‘supervision’ and to practice their all-important interview skills.

Marlburians have not limited themselves to applications on these shores and 2023 has heralded one of the most successful international application cycles for many years, with places secured at some of North America’s most prestigious universities. Under the guidance of Alys Langdale, 22 Marlburians and Old Marlburians will be heading to universities like Stanford, Berkley, Brown, Vanderbilt, Emory and William and Mary. With a lot of press attention focused on the challenges of entry to the UK’s most competitive universities, we are proud of the willingness Marlburians show to look beyond the traditional routes, and the strong network in place to support the rightful ambition of our pupils.

Following the retirement of Guy Nobes from the post of Head of Guidance after many successful years, Alys Langdale has taken over the newly minted Futures Department, which will play an expanded role in ensuring that Marlburians are well prepared for life beyond Marlborough, whether that is through the traditional university route, or in pursuing new and innovative options, like degree-based apprenticeships. Lower Sixth pupils have started out in earnest on the road to 2024 university applications, with a training day earlier in the term on using our new advising platform, UniFrog, which is the UK’s leading provider in this field. Personal statements are high on the list of priorities this term; getting to grips with this task now will make the process of applying in Michaelmas a good deal more straightforward.

The Lower Sixth could do worse than look to the example being set by the Hundred and Upper Sixth this term. I was humbled and startled to hear from the lady who cleans in the library that she was having trouble managing her work because when she arrived at 7.30am each day, the library was already full of pupils deep in study. The same has been true throughout the day, and in the evenings; we have had to open a range of other spaces to meet the demand.

At the time of writing, pupils in the Hundred have come through the challenge of their first public exams, with many already beyond halfway. Most pupils in the Upper Sixth have had a few papers, with the majority to follow after half-term. All exam candidates will need to make the most that this period offers for sustained revision to ensure that they consolidate their knowledge and practice using past papers. Though study leave has begun, beaks will be available to support pupils throughout their preparations. Any time spent on revision and practice in the coming weeks will be time well spent, and we would welcome any support from parents in providing a calm and structured environment for revision as we move towards the conclusion of the exam season.

For fear that you might think that it has been all work and no play this term, there have been incredible opportunities for Marlburians to expand their horizons beyond the classroom. There was a Physics trip to CERN in Geneva, a trip for the Hispanists to Costa Rica, while the Geographers have been out on field work expeditions to the somewhat less-glamourous Boscombe, and yet to come is the French exchange, re-instated for the first time since COVID. There have also been inspiring talks, the most impactful of which was undoubtedly the visit of Mrs Janine Webber BEM, a survivor of the Holocaust, who gave a hugely inspirational talk about her life.

Dan Clark
Deputy Head, Academic