Leaver Profiles

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2020 Year 13 Leavers

Will Usherwood

 

What subjects did you study in Sixth Form and why did you choose them?

When I was first asked to confirm my A Level choice, I thought it would be an easy call. Staying on at Sherfield was always a given for me and during Year 11 I had received sound guidance from the school regarding my best alternatives. However, as the confirmation deadline date loomed, I realised that narrowing my interests down to just three subjects was going to be tough. This was not helped by the fact one of my favoured choices was History, and back in Year 9, I had decided against taking it as a GCSE, which is kind of funny, as that’s now my degree choice!

In the end, I opted for Geography, English Literature, Economics plus History. From the outset, I knew that I would end up dropping one of these but starting off with four options afforded me reassurance that I would end up with the right combination. After a few months, I reluctantly parted ways with Geography and chose to pursue the remaining three, all of which I have genuinely enjoyed studying from start to finish!

 

Why did you decide to study here at Sherfield School?

Somewhat inevitably, it was initially my parents’ choice to be honest! However, I joined the senior school in Year 9 and very soon realised it was a good fit for me. The pupils who had transitioned from Prep school were most welcoming and I have remained friends with many of them throughout, along with other new faces who arrived along the way.

When it came time to decide where to study post GCSE, I never really gave other colleges much thought as I recognised that personally speaking the Sixth Form package at Sherfield was the right choice. The main attraction was the limited class sizes along with the close bonds I had developed with my subject teachers. I have always preferred learning in small groups where there is a lot of interaction between staff and pupils, rather than a more lecture-based approach adopted by larger colleges; albeit I realise this is a style I’ll have to get used to at University.  

I have known some of my teachers for a long time now, for instance, Mrs Younger-Murray has taught me English for five straight years – heaven knows how she has put up with me for that long! In addition, I knew that I would be able to continue to take part in concerts and drama productions and take advantage of the Sixth Form Centre and sporting facilities too.

Ultimately though, I chose to stay on because however corny it sounds, Sherfield is as much a community as it is a school and I know I will miss this.

 

What did you enjoy most about Sherfield?

At the risk of repeating myself, I would say the community feel and the sense of belonging, coupled with some great friends and excellent teachers. Also, I enjoyed the increasing sense of freedom, responsibility and mutual respect that unfolds as you progress through the school. I think Sherfield has prepared me well for university, making new friends and meeting new challenges.

 

What are your plans after Sixth Form?

All being well, this autumn I should be heading off to Exeter University to study history. But for now, I am just keeping my fingers crossed for good news on August 13th!

My plans post Sixth Form remained fluid for quite a while. Originally, I had my heart set on a PPE degree and explored this idea at Oxford but in the end having visited a variety of destinations including Durham, Loughborough and York and having looked into alternative courses such as politics and liberal arts I firmed up my UCAS offer from Exeter in May.  

My next steps were not always clear, nor did they form an obvious path, but I now feel confident that my future plans for university life are the right ones and I look forward to starting in September – the lasting knock-on effects of the pandemic notwithstanding of course.

 

How has Sherfield helped you develop your career goals and prepare you for life?

More than anything else, the environment at Sherfield has helped me grow as a person. My confidence has shot up since I first arrived, going from a quiet and reserved boy in Year 9, to being able to stand up and perform on stage, and having a real belief in my academic and sporting ability. Sherfield’s friendly atmosphere and great staff have helped me develop as an individual, nurturing my independence and giving me the confidence I need to achieve my goals.

 

Have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities or trips?

I have been involved in a number of activities during my time at the school, particularly within the performing arts department. Over the years I have had the chance to play piano and sing in a wide variety of concerts and shows. They always feel special and are a real opportunity for young musicians to improve their performance and confidence.

The fact our school productions are staged at The Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke has also been a highlight because it gives all members of the cast and crew the opportunity to experience a professional environment. 

I have also been on a number of trips, some with an academic leaning, others just for fun. There are two occasions which in particular stand out for me: firstly, a visit to the Houses of Parliament in Year 9 which was fascinating and spurred on my interest in politics and current affairs. The second an autumn term trip to Lille in Belgium to visit the Christmas market there. The hot chocolate and churros are a particularly good memory!

 

What have been your highlights/main achievements while studying at Sherfield?

I like to think that I have achieved a number of things whilst at Sherfield ranging from and unexpected grade 8 in my maths GCSE, to winning the Battle of the Bands with Oisin last year. However, I am also proud of unofficially breaking the school discus record last year at Sports Day during a break in events. Mr Anagho kindly measured my efforts and I was thrilled that I had miraculously beaten the existing best-recorded distance – I am aware this might be because discus is not as popular as say the 100m or the relay, but for all you pupils out there, remember to put your names down next year as it is a record ripe for beating!

Joking aside, it goes without saying I also have to add being Head Boy to the list; working alongside Lisa, Jonny and Emily in representing the pupil body at meetings with the SLT, meeting new parents and pupils as well as attending events such the Sherfield on Loddon Remembrance Sunday service has been a real highlight and honour.

 

Have you experienced any challenges?

Other than being too good at discus, I have of course experienced challenges, I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t to be honest. I was unfortunate to suffer from a form of childhood arthritis when I was younger, just at the time my peers were being taught the rudiments of team sports. As a result, I really feel as though I missed out not just on the health benefits but also in terms of fitting in and being part of a team. Fortunately, I am pretty much fine now but sadly too late to try and make the first XV! However, Sherfield accommodated me with other sports ranging from basketball to badminton, something which I am forever grateful for as it meant I still had the ability to play sports.

 

Do you have any advice for future students?

Anyone who attends a school like Sherfield is obviously very lucky. However, if you don’t make the most of the opportunities on offer then you won’t get as much out of your school years as you could. I would advise giving everything and anything a go whether that be on the sports field, in the music room or in the classroom. You might surprise yourself and learn a new skill, find a new hobby or develop a liking for a subject you never thought you would.

In addition, I’d say don’t be tempted to leave all your learning until the last minute. I learnt that Years 10 and 12 are as important as 11 and 13, and it is important to focus through all four years. You never know when a global pandemic is around the corner, and you will be ever so grateful that you worked consistently when your term-time work and mid-year mock exams count towards your final qualifications.

 

 

Jonny Phillips

 

 

I first started at Sherfield School when I was 2 years old and have stayed there for the whole of my schooling. I have enjoyed every step of my journey at Sherfield and will be sad to say “Goodbye”. I have made lifelong friends at Sherfield along with forming great relationships with the teachers throughout my time at the school.

I believe Sherfield has helped me become the person I am today and has given me the confidence to work towards and achieve my goals.

 

Why did you decide to continue on to the Sixth Form here at Sherfield School?

I had no doubt it was the place for me for many reasons. I have hugely benefited from and prefer having smaller class sizes. It has enabled me to get more one-to-one time with my teachers and tailor-made lessons where needed. I felt that in a larger environment with more students it would be difficult to get this kind of support; as with so many students, it would be unlikely that we all had the same areas of difficulty.

Furthermore, over my years at Sherfield I have created bonds with students and with teachers that I believe have enhanced my studies by giving a healthy balance between work and play which is vital.

Sherfield 6th form also had a dress-code and I felt this would help to prepare me and other students for what’s to come in the working life where there is a certain level of discipline in relation to the dress-code. 

 

What subjects did you study in Sixth Form and why did you choose them?

The subjects I chose to study when entering the sixth form were Mathematics, Physics and Design Technology. My reason for choosing these subjects were, first and foremost, that I enjoyed each of them, but in addition, I knew that these would lead me onto being able to take my dream university course, Mechanical Engineering, at my dream university, Southampton, which opens many career paths.

 

What are your plans after Sixth Form?

My future aspirations are firstly to get into my university of choice which is Southampton and finish my Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Following this, I would love to move into the automotive industry as this is where my passion lies. I hope to work with the biggest car manufacturing companies in aiding the design and performance of high-end cars using physical principles and material knowledge.

 

How has Sherfield helped you develop your career goals and prepare you for life?

I have been at Sherfield for 16 years and so you could argue that this school has made me into the young adult I am today, and I would 100% agree. Teachers always say how one of the best things about the students at Sherfield is how polite everyone is, and this is something so vital to life no matter what career path you take. This school has taught me practically everything I know and helped me achieve my hopes and dreams to date.

In terms of preparing for my career, one of the most important things that was encouraged by Sherfield was work experience. It is one of the most important things in preparing you for university and your career to see if it’s what you really want to do. Furthermore, it’s something that you can talk about in your personal statement when applying to university. For my work experience, I spent a week at Ferrari after submitting my CV which our head of sixth form and tutor helped me write. I believe by doing this and being able to talk about this on my personal statement it aided me in getting into my university choices.

 

What have been your highlights while studying at Sherfield?

Having been at Sherfield for the majority of my life I couldn’t possibly pinpoint my favourite highlight or memory, however, there is one thing that I am incredibly grateful for and is a highlight of each day I have attended Sherfield and that is the lessons. It sounds odd but looking forward to lessons is something I put down to the teachers and how they have a balance between effectively teaching you and making the lessons enjoyable.

To pick just one stand out memory where I just had the most amount of fun would be when we had an inflatable obstacle course on the field for a house competition that we raced around on one of the wettest, muddiest days of the year.

 

Have you experienced any challenges?

I have experienced some challenges at Sherfield, for example, my GCSEs and A-levels (even though we won’t ultimately sit them), applying for various roles of responsibility and sports events over the years.

 

Do you have any advice for future students?

If I was to give any advice to future students, it would be to take every opportunity you can, be it higher roles, volunteering roles or anything else. These roles will not only grow you as a person but also give you more topic of conversation in both your CV and your personal statement which are the documents that help you in all stages of your life and career especially when getting into the university you want.

 

I would like to finish off by thanking everyone at Sherfield, both students and teachers, for making me the person I am today. I am sad to be leaving Sherfield but I know I will be back for frequent visits in the future.

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