Year 9 is a big deal. It’s the first year of senior school in the independent sector, a new environment, new friends and new teachers to get used to. For many it’s even their first experience of boarding. So, we asked a selection of Year 9 students, and Director of Year 9, Toby Sawrey-Cookson, for 9 reasons why Millfield offers children the best start to senior school life.
Bridging the gap between Prep and Senior School
We know that the transition between schools is a big one, whilst also being a time of adolescent change - physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. Nine at Millfield was designed to support pupils with this change, by providing the environment and support children need to settle in, succeed, and thrive.
Millfield’s programme includes age-appropriate learning and pastoral support that is adaptable for each individual. Our personal development learning programme, taught in house-based sessions, enables staff to really get to know the students and steer them on the right path for a successful time at school. The Year 9 curriculum offers a wide range of subjects and differentiation, which provides students with increased opportunities to discover their strengths and passions as they prepare to choose the subjects to pursue in the exam years to follow.
Director of Year Nine, Toby Sawrey-Cookson said, “What I love most about the programme is working closely with the students, getting to know them very well, whether that be in lessons, on the Year 9 camps, or within my boarding house, Keen’s Elm, and then over time, seeing their progress through the school. It’s lovely at the end of Upper Sixth when they come back and say that it was Year 9 that set them on their road to success.”
Houses located centrally on campus
Nine at Millfield places students physically at the heart of our stunning 240 acre campus.
All Year 9 boarding houses, 2 boys and 1 girls, are safely located in a crescent around the golf course in the very centre of campus. Students are in the perfect position to make the most of Millfield’s unrivalled academic, sporting and co-curricular facilities, with nothing being further than a ten minute walk away. The mixed Year 9 day house is by the swimming pool and car-park for easy drop-off and pick up.
Year 9 boarder Megan A said, “I started boarding in Year 9 when I joined Millfield. It has been really fun and everyone is so nice, we hang out in each other’s rooms a lot. Acacia House is close to everything so it’s really easy to walk everywhere on campus.”
Year 9 boarder Oliver N said, “With all the facilities right here on campus, with the pool just a few minutes walk away, I can swim seven times a week and still have time to play hockey, finish my prep and spend time with my friends.”
Year 9 boarder Freddie B said, “My favourite aspects of the school are probably how beautiful the campus looks all year round, especially in the summer when all the flowers are in full bloom.”
To discover more about Millfield’s stunning campus, click here.
A multi-sport ethos
The extensive sport and games programme for all students means there really is something for everyone. Sport plays a central role in the school’s vision to support and nurture individual students health and wellbeing, and it acts as a vehicle to develop students’ confidence and resilience whilst exposing them to teamwork and leadership opportunities.
Year 9 choose their core ‘Games of the Term’ across the year from a set list. They do not have to participate in the traditional independent school sports of rugby, hockey, cricket, netball or athletics that many schools insist on if they don’t want to. There will always be an alternative option such as basketball, football and tennis. Sport sessions are held four times a week, taking place on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, while Thursday afternoons are kept free for students to explore a different sport.
Whilst we are proud to offer over 27 sports and activities within a multi-sport experience, and don’t encourage early specialisation, we’re aware that some students will excel at one specific sport and will want to focus most of their sport time on this. Nine at Millfield offers these students the opportunity to specialise in their given sport and, in some cases, pursue it in place of all or some of the ‘Game of the Term’ sessions.
Millfield is famed for its sporting facilities, and, along with our unique blend of coaching, education and outstanding pastoral care, we believe that we have created an environment in which our aspiring athletes can excel. Millfield is home to nearly 50 international sporting representatives at any one time, while 13 Old Millfieldian athletes attended the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – the highest number in the school’s history.
Year 9 Student Freddie B said, “I chose Millfield because of the sporting facilities it provides and the opportunities that can come up during your time here. A highlight of my year was beating Sedbergh in a rugby match before Christmas!”
Year 9 student Evie C said, “I chose to come to Millfield due to the amazing balance of sport and academics. The facilities at Millfield are amazing and the Nine at Millfield programme was also a big attraction.”
Exposure to the Arts
We believe that experiencing art is an essential part of a well-rounded education. Alongside the core academic programme, Nine at Millfield offers students the chance to partake in a range of enriching co-curricular studies, including: Art, Cookery, Dance, Debating, Drama and Music.
From the Atkinson Gallery in the art department, to the 450 seater Meyer Theatre, to the 350 seater Johnson Hall, Millfield offers industry-leading facilities to support students in their various artistic pursuits.
We have many students that excel in their co-curricular and academic studies, and as a result of our tailor-made programme, those on academic or co-curricular scholarships are offered the chance to drop one of their weekly Games sessions to occupy themselves with their specialist pursuit instead. For those with less experience in the arts, we encourage them all to give it a go as they may uncover a hidden talent they didn’t know they had.
Year 9 student Freddie L said, “My favourite aspects of studying at Millfield are the different departments like the Art and Design Technology block because there is a wide range of activities we can do such as photography, stop-motion animation and 3D printing.”
Boarding – homes just for Year 9
At a stage of their lives when they are experiencing change, children need nurturing and guidance during their first year at Millfield. The Nine at Millfield programme has three dedicated boarding houses and a day house for Year 9 students only. There are two boys' boarding houses, Keen's Elm and Millfield House, a girls' boarding house, Acacia, and our first mixed day house, Ivythorn.
Having the students located centrally, with high staff to student ratios, creates a community where every child can feel like their boarding house is a real home from home. House staff quickly get to know each individual as they are responsible for both the student’s academic and pastoral wellbeing. Staff are particularly good and experienced at picking up on children’s emotions and helping them to settle into life at Millfield.
At the start of Year 10 students will go into senior houses, which house a mix of Year 10 to Upper Sixth students, however students get to choose a few friends to stay with for the move.
Year 9 boarder Freddie B, said, “I find boarding enjoyable as it allows you to socialise and make friends with many people. We spend a lot of time socialising and have the option to wake up early to do activities such as rugby, basketball, swimming or just go for a run. We have three amazing matrons and two brilliant house masters.”
Listen to our ‘Boarding House LIVE’ edition of The Millfield Way podcast here.
Millfield Activities Programme (MAP)
The Millfield Activities Programme (MAP) encourages students to enrich their week by exploring other interests. MAP offers students the chance to stretch and challenge themselves.
With all of Millfield’s extraordinary facilities to call upon, as well as the expertise and enthusiasm of our staff, students can engage with a wide range of indoor, outdoor, creative and adventurous pursuits. Whether it’s beekeeping, falconry, trampolining or ultimate frisbee, MAP provides students with the opportunity to find a sense of achievement and enjoyment in the most unexpected areas.
Director of Year 9, Toby Sawrey-Cookson, said, “Above all for me Nine at Millfield is about opportunities, and the opportunities on offer here are second to none.”
To learn more about MAP, click here.
The Outdoor Adventure Programme
Millfield’s Outdoor Adventure Programme aims to promote self-discovery and curiosity within an exhilarating natural environment. Its benefits for wellbeing are also widely documented. The programme offers a progressive level of challenge to our Year 9 students, all within a supportive environment which is uncontrived and stimulating.
The year is bookended with two camps: a three-day early Autumn Camp, and a five-day Summer Camp. They offer students a chance to develop essential outdoor skills while building and cementing friendships for the rest of their time at Millfield.
Those who particularly enjoy Outdoor Adventure have the opportunity to stretch themselves further by completing their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, the Ten Tors challenge and an Overseas Expedition, with recent trips seeing students trekking on the Norwegian Hardangervidda mountain plateau and through the Icelandic wilderness on the Laugavegur trail.
Director of Year 9 Toby Sawrey-Cookson said, “I’m a big believer that outdoor education provides opportunities for one and all. People can come from nowhere and become the leader in an outdoor education situation.”
Get a taste of our last Year 9 camp to Cornwall here.
The Millfield Mix
The cultural, neurological and socio-economic diversity of Millfield’s students is something that Millfield is rightly proud of and is not found anywhere else. We celebrate this diversity, known as the Millfield Mix. Currently, there are over 70 nationalities present within our student body. The school is grounded in the strength of relationships that are the bedrock of all great communities, and there has been a conscious attempt to align our curricula, especially at Year 9, to include learning on issues surrounding diversity and inclusion.
All students within the school, irrespective of their religion, are encouraged to explore and develop their own faith, and learn from that of others, within an environment of generosity and tolerance.
The oldest building on campus is the school chapel, built in 1882 - a couple of years before Millfield House! The chapel is dedicated as a place of worship for all faiths.
Millfield students use iPads to aid their learning, communication and organisation.
The school provide students with a suite of pre-paid apps that can be used in a variety of contexts to support their learning. Students are expected to use their iPad to record and organise their prep, receive and submit electronic work, and to use a range of apps to support their understanding in and out of class.
We believe that integrating digital technologies into the learning experience is essential if we are to equip our students for the future.
Boarder’s devices are handed in to house parents in the evening, and, after prep, students are encouraged to get outside and enjoy activities in the fresh air rather than stay on a screen.
Discover more about Nine at Millfield at our next Open Day. To book, click here.