Greetings from Winchester College

Greetings from Winchester, where time flows faster than a river (a fast river that is) so we are already late for our report and we have but month until we return back to our normal lives at Kepler. But before that, let me share with you an insight into school life so different from what we are used to.

Since boarding is a concept so strange to us, I will begin with this greatest of unknowns. First and foremost, it is awfully convenient to stay in such proximity to every aspect of our lives. For comparison, my record bed-to-school time back at home is about 55 minutes with sacrifice of any comfort, here, it is 20 casual minutes at most with breakfast. Also, we are cared about by whole team of people dedicated only to running the house occupied by over 60 adolescents. And just the opportunity to live surrounded by this complex of buildings, ranging in age from several hundreds of years to very recent, is something very unique.

Being in boarding school also means that our every activity is completely bound to the school. I cannot complain about lack of freedom, but it is still entirely different when the school doesn’t end with the last ring of school bell. Our meals, free time and sleep are too part of our school life.

Although the classes here are much smaller (consisting usually of 10 – 20 pupils) and everyone attends only their few selected subjects, the lessons are surprisingly similar to what we are used to. Still, the lower number of people allows for more personal approach from the teacher and more time for inquisitive questions (which I am very fond of). On the other hand, the content of the lessons is very exam-focused, everyone is trying to prepare us for the final tests and in some subjects, we seem to do almost nothing else than write A level styled mock papers.

Sometimes in the whole afternoon, sometimes squeezed between lessons, but every day we have some time for some extra activities, of which there is a wide selection. We should do some sports and on Wednesdays we “serve the community,” but otherwise we are free to chose whatever we want. Adam especially loves the school workshop, but more about that in his part of the report.

If I should evaluate our little trip, over all the difficulties with getting here, I am really glad that I committed to this and got this remarkable experience, but I am also looking forward to getting back to normal regieme of czech general education and meeting again all whom we parted with over a month ago. I will miss the deserts though.


Dear all,

it is with great pride that I can write you about my stay at Winchester Collage where I have been for almost two months now. I am very much grateful for their kind generosity that has been shown to me and generations of other people. The ideal of providing free education is the reason this beautiful school has been founded in 1382 and it has been running ever since.

Originally, it consisted of two courts, one where both boarding and education happened and which also includes school chapel, and one where the technical stuff happened, including sloughing pigs and brewing beer (both for teachers and pupils). As the demand for education at Wincoll rose, new building rose. First, school (one hall house) was built in the eighteenth century as additional space for education. In the nineteenth century, Flint court with tens of classrooms was built from classic English red bricks in classical style and paved in, you guessed it, flint. Decades later, it was partly rebuilt to be more gothic. There are many other buildings where education happens, including science school with very good equipment (everyone in our set has measured photoelectric effect), art school I have never been in, music school and places for sport.

There are also ten houses, not including the original Collage, which is the most prestigious among them, which are in the city near the collage itself. All of them were build in the nineteenth century. As of right now, P.E. centre (right now, provisory 1000 m2 building is used.) is under construction, together with the first boarding house for girls, who have been allowed to study here since couple years ago. It may be relevant to at this point mention that the headmaster is a woman.

There is mandatory chapel service twice a week and voluntary services are daily. For me, as an evangelík, those services are something surprisingly beautiful, especially since I mostly attend those where choir sings. In my experience, it seams like Church of England skilfully combines beauty of catholicism with theology of reformation.

There is also another place I go to multiple times a week: the Mill, also known as Department of Design and Technology. This is a large shop where the subject Design and Technology is taught, and which is also accessible to all pupils on four afternoons a week. There I can, after receiving thorough safety training, freely use variety of tools, the most notable of which include three CNC milling machines, four metal lathes (one of them CNC), CNC leaser cutter and plasma cutter. I of course didn’t know how to operate any of those, which is why technicians are always there to help everyone with anything. I usually spent every minute possible there, as this is opportunity that’s practically impossible for me to enjoy in Czechia.

Regardless of whether you do design and technology or philosophy, there is one subject that is mandatory for everyone: DIV. This is subject unique to Winchester collage and has high goal of teaching pupils to think. That is by no means an easy task and different teachers have various approaches to it. My set, taught by Mr. Rattray, spends lessons predominantly by presenting on and discussing various topics, including art, philosophy and international affairs, which are especially interesting, as the class consist of people of DIVerse backgrounds.

Regardless of both socioeconomically and geographically diverse backgrounds, everyone comes together to create the most welcoming and genuinely polite atmosphere I have ever seen at school, exactly according to the school motto: Manners maketh men. Whenever I walk by anyone I know, be it pupil or member of staff, we always greet each other. I have chatted with more people here then I would have ever expected, including debate with chemistry teacher whether physics or chemistry is better. This is, together with the beauty of this place, what I will miss the most when return home, which is not to say I don’t miss it.

Kind regards