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Shubanu: My time at The Tiffin Girls’ School


by Shubanu

Hi! My name’s Shubanu and I studied at the Tiffin Girls’ School from 2013 to 2020. I loved my time there: I’ve definitely made lifelong friends and I came out with 4A*s at A-Level! Currently, I am a first year student at UCL, studying Maths with Management.

How did you find the 11+?

I completed the 11+ in 2012 and for Tiffin Girls’ I had to sit two separate stages, similar to the situation now. But for me, my first stage was a Verbal and Non-Verbal paper. This was different to the work I did in primary school, so I had to practise a lot at home to become familiar with the topics. The Maths and English section I found very interesting because the Maths wasn’t as challenging as I was expecting and the English section had very fascinating reading passages that I still remember to this day. All in all, my 11+ experience was a positive one, especially as I enjoyed all the preparation that it entailed – solving maths problems and writing stories were things I loved to do.

How was the teaching?

The teaching varies a lot as everyone has their different style of teaching, but overall I found it to be very engaging and they’re all extremely passionate about their subject. They’re also very approachable – there’s always someone you can talk to if ever you are unsure about something.

Especially in the first few years, there are many cool projects and group presentations to be done and this was a great way to keep everyone interested in the subjects and to maintain everyone’s creativity. One such project was when we had to create models in Geography about rivers and someone made it out of cake!

Until Year 10, we study all 16 subjects including French and Spanish, giving us a wide exposure so we can make the best decisions when it comes to choosing our GCSEs. When exam times come close, the teachers set up peer mentoring sessions, so that older students can help the younger ones, and this creates a safe and comfortable environment perhaps for students who aren’t confident enough to directly ask the teachers for help. They also hold additional lunchtime sessions for those who need the support – the teachers do go above and beyond to ensure we perform as well as we can in the important exams.

Was there pressure to succeed from the other students or school?

Personally I found that the pressure mainly came from myself, as I always wanted to maintain my high grades. However, being surrounded by like-minded students was always motivating and it also meant the grade boundaries were always quite high. The teachers were always willing to give you additional work and achieve highly but would never pressure you into doing extra activities that you weren’t comfortable with. Even though it may feel like the school has expectations for all the students to achieve highly, they will always ensure you have the right support and materials to do well!

How were your relationships with the other students?

In my opinion, the best part of my experience at the Tiffin Girls’ School was making lifelong friends. There’s a great culture of teamwork and support as we all want the best for each other, and the level of group work means collaboration and working alongside others is a skill we learn at a very early age. The school also supports this: in Year 12 when we get a new cohort of external students, they host a team building day which is a day filled with fun activities. Our classes are also mixed for many subjects at GCSEs so there’s ample opportunities to meet new people and to get to know everyone in the year group, (only Maths is grouped by ability, every other class is completely random!)

Even when we didn’t have group presentations, the great thing about the school is how we still were more than happy to revise and help each other learn, there wasn’t any real rivalry between anyone as everyone just wanted to do their best! Going to school to meet your friends everyday was a huge highlight of my school experience, especially because when I applied there was no catchment area so this meant my friends lived over 15 miles away from me: school really was the only place we could meet up and see each other!

How were the extra-curricular activities and clubs?

The Tiffin Girls’ School has one of the most diverse ranges of extracurricular activities and clubs, especially because if there was a club or society you wanted to join but it didn’t exist, there was nothing stopping you from starting it up! We had a Chess club and Medicine Society but also a Scrabble Club and a Conspiracy Theory Society! These clubs were a great way to meet more people, especially students from other years.

The school also has a wide range of sports teams, many of which have gone on to compete at a national level! I myself was on the netball team and travelling to and from different venues and playing against different schools was a great experience. We had training twice a week and being able to balance this with schoolwork was a very valuable skill I learnt.

In addition to sports, the school also has a big emphasis on the Arts: there’s a variety of orchestras to be a part of; there are whole school drama productions which are always fascinating to watch; the highlight of the school’s calendar is the annual fashion show, put on by the Art students and there’s a variety of different exhibitions throughout the year too. In fact, all the corridors in the school are decorated with students’ artwork, something I think is truly inspiring. Also, at the end of the school year, there’s a “creative week” where you can choose to have music, poetry, dance or art sessions and this is a beautiful way to end a year of hard work!

There are also many academic opportunities to participate in national competitions whether it’s for maths, coding or business. I participated in the Young Enterprise competition in Year 12 and we became the Regional Winners, but from this my team and I went on to set up as a real company and we are continuing our business endeavours! The school not only ensures you get good grades, but it really does give you a strong foundation for many life skills.

How was the careers’ advice?

In the final two years of my time at Tiffin Girls’, there was a lot of help and support regarding next steps and higher education. The school passes on a lot of information about work experience weeks and taster courses, all of which has been extremely useful for me. Especially now that I’m at university, all the extra activities that the school encouraged me to do has really given me the edge and I have a lot more experiences to talk about in applications.

We do have an external careers advisor who is available for lunchtime drop-in sessions for Year 12 and 13s. Additionally, in Year 12 we had weekly sessions about future plans, and we had many guest speakers come in as well, so the school really goes that extra mile to ensure you have all the information you need before making the important choices like what you wish to study at university!

If you could turn back the clock, would you have chosen this school?

Absolutely! I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this school, the teachers who believed in me and my friends who have never left my side. It’s a great environment: you never lose your passion for learning and you achieve extremely high grades. In fact, my year at Tiffins achieved the top GCSE grades out of all the state schools in the country!

In addition to everything mentioned above about studies and sports, the biggest thing about Tiffins is the sense of community! There is a house system in place and there’s a lot of friendly competition when it comes to winning the House Cup. We also celebrate the School’s birthday (it’ll be 141 years old this year!) with a whole day of fun games and lots of cake and these are definitely some unforgettable memories I’ve made. There’s also many student run events for charity; we support a variety of charities but the main one is United World Schools, and we have raised enough money to build and maintain a sister school in Cambodia. These extra elements really do make me extremely proud to say, “I am an ex-Tiffin student” and I wouldn’t ever want to change a thing!