Winchester College 2023
As promised, the late, yet necessary report from our now home of Winchester College is due. We have gone through quite a lot so far and will try to sum up the experiences…
We are more than grateful for being offered such an opportunity and the work done behind the scenes, without which we wouldn’t be writing about the wonders of Winchester.
Martin and Ondřej
The education system in Winchester is completely different from the Czech one. The lessons period starts at 8:45 and finishes at 13:00. Every pupil then returns to their respective house for lunch.
Our afternoon should be filled with some activity; we are supposed to make the most of our stay at Winchester, since a lot of the activities available are unique. Furthermore we don’t have to pay for the vast majority of equipment. One of the listed activities must be Community service (CS) or the Combined Cadet Force (CCF).
The second learning period begins at 16:00 and lasts until 18:00, but only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, after which we attend “Tea” (our dinner). From 19:00 to 21:00 we have “toy time” – two hours designated for study, revision, homework, and reading.
However, we don’t have lessons all the time during the lesson periods. We may have “bookies” (basically free lessons we spend in our house) or MobLib, which is a lesson we have to spend in the library studying on our own. We also have lessons on Saturdays before lunch, we can spend our afternoons by going to societies, doing sport, or even going to the town.
We must also attend morning Chapel service every Friday, as well as Sunday service.
We are both in the same groups for subjects we share, which are Physics and History chosen by us, and a special WinColl subject called Div, which can be compared to our HSt. Both Physics and History are taught by two teachers each, and we cover different fields with them. For Physics that is kinematics and optics and waves and kinematics, in History we cover Witchcraft and growth of nationalism in Japan between the World Wars.
I live in the Furley’s (Chernocke) house, and I share a bedsit with another boy from my year.
The school term began on 11th of January with a Cathedral Service held in the Winchester Cathedral. We were sitting right behind College students, which means we got the 5th row and further into the back, so we could see everything very well. The service itself was quite nice and inspirational, it consisted of a few passages from the Bible, a few newer texts and some hymns. The whole school attended it, the reverend greeted us and wished us a successful and happy term.
In the afternoon I got a tour of the school where I saw the main two buildings of the school (Science School and Flint Court), the School Library, the School Museum (there are artefacts even from the 4th millennium BC), the Chapel, and even another boarding house.
I also had my first lessons that day. Apart from Div, History, and Physics, I also study Maths here. I am in the top group of the normal maths subject, but there is also Further Maths, which is even higher. I am also in the highest Physics group, but I don’t feel lost by any means.
There is a wide range of extracurricular activities on offer, most of which aren’t tied to being skilled at them – we are welcome to try anything we may find interesting. From sports I chose swimming and squash (I also wanted to do rowing on the river, but that would require me to undergo a training of what to do in case the boat cants over with me) and I also go to a few societies, namely astronomy, programming, and a UN simulation society.
A special kind of activity is Community Service, which everyone has to do, unless they do Combined Cadet Forces. For that I teach primary school children maths and then play some board games like Connect Four with them.
Our lunches are a bit of a ritual, as first of all we have time allotted specifically to it and we all eat together. Each table is dedicated to one year, which was a bit of a problem for us. I was not the only exchange student in my year, there were also two girls from America. This meant that we didn’t fit on our table and some people had to sit with another year. Once everyone is standing by their chair, the Dons (teachers) are seated at the tables and the housemaster says “Benedictus benedicat”. We all sit down and are expected to have a conversation with the Dons and other students. The Dons serve everyone a plate, which is then sent down the table. The lunch ends with the housemaster saying “Benedicto benedicatur”. Apart from the main course we also have dessert after each lunch, which is usually some sort of a cake – lemon, chocolate, with fruits… (to make it clear, the cake is rectangular, so it is always a “buchta”, not a “koláč”).
Overall the food here is great and we can ask for more if we want to. The juices here also have flavour and colour :D
I was really happy when I found out that everyone here is very friendly and happy to help. You could ask a random pupil where a class is and there is a good chance they would go there with you, even if it was quite far.
Unlike some other British schools we don’t wear school uniforms here. There is a dress code of wearing a suit, but the exact look of it is kind of up to us (it can be a bit funky). The only time we have to wear a white shirt and a dark suit is the Sunday Chapel service.
Lessons here are only 35 minutes long, breaks are usually 5 minutes long. Since we sometimes have to get to another building during that time, teachers usually don’t mind if you come a bit late. However, they may mind if you come late to the first lesson, since it is completely up to you when you leave the house, so coming late is entirely your mistake (unless you have a good excuse, like a meeting with the housemaster).
While we do get quite a bit of homework, due to having a lot more free lessons and the two toy times it is very well doable. Not doing your homework is one of the worst things you can do and can end with a Headmaster’s detention on Sunday(!).
I am really enjoying my stay at Winchester College and I believe that it will continue this way :D I am really grateful to be here and would like to thank everyone who helped me get where I am.
The British system of education has earned my admiration from the get-go. Not only can I pursue my interests without any disruptions, I also receive valuable preparation for my planned future studies, especially for chemistry and physics. The pace is fast, yet we still dig deep. I was pleasantly surprised by the generosity and personal attention given to me, if there was anything needed to clarify. Communication with other pupils is pretty much the same story, they are extremely helpful, kind and love playing chess (most of them), either in the chess club, or after preces (2115).
Even though I knew the range of possibilities was wide I definitely wasn’t expecting to be greeted by an avalanche of them. We have access to the gym, sports ranging from cricket to badminton as well as other non-physical communities, including the Chemistry society, History society, and others. I personally take part in the The possibility to customise one’s daily routine is also there, I just had to present the idea to my generous housemaster.
I certainly hope to bring this routine home, since the advantages are already noticeable. The time spent in Winchester will leave a huge impact on my thinking.