Secondary school: Westminster School, 2005-2010
University destination: University of Oxford
Playing pool in my house common room which we soon turned into an indoor football pitch (this wasn’t the most cunning plan as it was right next door to the housemaster’s office)!
Leading my house Milne’s in house singing dressed in a giant Winnie the Pooh costume.
Make it a bit more connected to the outside world.
The Greaze, essentially a glorified wrestling match over a horse-hair pancake on Shrove Tuesday. The person with the most pancake at the end wins Maundy Money from the Queen.
Fantastic. Caters to the strongest students but also teachers were very willing to provide extra support in subjects I struggled in.
Not really, although there were services in Westminster Abbey twice a week.
Winning the History of Art travel prize and getting to organise a trip to Beijing when I was 17. That was an incredible opportunity which really made my Pre-U project.
A lot, given around 50% of students went there.
I have previously gone back for the school carol concert and my parents are still involved in the school choir.
Yes! I got gated for missing my last lesson on a Saturday to go to a Chelsea match.
The school counsellor was a lovely, supportive man and the peer support network (which I was fortunate to be a part of) was a great idea.
Central, Sensational, Stretching
Secondary school: Westminster School, 2 years (sixth form)
University destination: Oxford University, French and German
I remember getting lost from the station to the school on my very first day and panicking that I would not be let in and left out on the street. I arrived, rather sweaty and flustered, and was immediately let in with proverbial open arms. I quickly found my footing and memorised the really very ridiculously short route.
My best memory from school was probably the Zumba lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays where we would perform Jane Fonda-esque routines in the sports hall. Far more enjoyable than track running or cricket, which hardly ever let you wear neon headbands.
I think this may have changed since I left but I think it is a little intimidating beginning as a girl in a demanding all male environment and I think they could do more to make this an easier process. Anyway, you quickly realise that the boys are not cleverer, just more confident and have no clue what is in store for them.
Countless. There are Latin prayers every Wednesday morning that you have to chant madly in a cult-like fashion. Abbey twice a week in Westminster Abbey, for goodness sakes. A weird thing that I never understood was on pancake day everyone gathers in the school hall and a member is chosen from each house to essentially fight to the death over a pancake that is thrown into the ring. The victor is the boy that snatches the largest chunk of it. Absurd.
Although Westminster may have a reputation for being a little odd (see above), the teachers are really incredible. They push you outside of the, often restrictive, syllabus structure and frequently go above and beyond in terms of challenging you.
It is officially Church of England and there is Abbey twice a week and Latin prayers, however, neither of these feel at all religious, they are more like assembly.
Writing an article about Fassbinder, a very angry German queer film director, for the Camden magazine, the school’s magazine. There’s even a place for that, yes.
I think when I was there, around 50% of each year went to Oxbridge and they support you very well through the process (since they know it so intimately). They do extra classes to prepare you for the entrance exams and then the interviews as well. On the other hand, if that’s not your bag, you don’t have to get involved at all.
I am still in touch with several of the teachers and have been back since to attend the quite astonishing Christmas event.
Certainly not. Very rude for asking.
Each house has a lovely, dear matron, who is always there if you need cake and then there is a head of house, who is a teacher and you can go to for any worries, etc. and really makes you feel at home. The house system is very good at making you feel settled and looked after.