Welcome to RIC from the Principal

Established in 1984, RIC is a place for individuals and a successfully distinctive alternative to traditional schools. There’s no uniform, everybody is on first name terms and the average class size is 8. Creative arts share equal billing with traditional academic study. Atmospherically relaxed, there’s an emphasis on exam success without unnecessary pressure. It’s a natural stepping-stone between school and university.

The first thing you’ll notice when you visit RIC is that our home is a one-of-a-kind urban campus at the heart of a designated conservation area. It’s a must-see for prospective families. The historic site, with listed buildings linked by award winning wildlife gardens, has a uniquely warm sense of place in which our diverse community of 345 students and 100 staff study and work.

RIC students, described by The Good Schools Guide as a “strikingly nice bunch,” voice their opinions and think critically, creatively and independently. 75% of them are from the UK, 25% are international from 30 different countries. The mutual respect between teachers and students is palpable. We welcome children from the age of 11 and boarders from the age of 15. They leave us not only with results that exceed expectations and open doors beyond RIC but with empathy and optimism, enthusiasm for the future and confidence about themselves and their education.

As we grow, we’re maintaining a focus on what makes the special alchemy of the RIC culture work: an aspirational, informal and creative environment, flexibility of approach and a focus on the individual needs of every student who comes to us, whether in the Lower School or Sixth Form. Visit our campus just once and you’ll swiftly see why RIC is a school unlike any other.

Alistair Brownlow

Virtual Open House

35 Years of Visual Arts

Map

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Dickens House Boarding

The former Dickens Hotel is a Grade II listed building that offers thirty-four high quality single rooms for girls, many of which are en-suite. This premium boarding facility features common rooms, student kitchens and landscaped gardens. The building dates from 1840 and features a striking ground floor Tuscan Doric veranda of 8 columns.

RIC has 108 boarding spaces in total spread around the campus, including houses for students aged 18+ where older sixth formers can have a little more independence while still being part of the community.

Staff ensure new students from overseas are picked up from the airport, welcomed and shown around Rochester and the College. They are introduced to current students who act as friends and buddies on first arrival.

To learn more about boarding at RIC click here.

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New Road House Lower School

Small by design, we’re able to get to know everyone well but large enough for good friendship groups to be formed. The Lower School has up to 60 students in years 7-10 aged 11-15 and up to 60 in Year 11. Individual attention in all subjects is not only always available, but practically inescapable.

The ISI judged that the personal development and behaviour of RIC students was “excellent,” saying: “The use of first names and informal attire generate a relaxed environment. Sanctions are few in an atmosphere which values respect highly, and rudeness is not tolerated.”

The Lower School offers a full academic curriculum, complemented by specialist provision in the visual, digital and performing arts.

We welcome everyone who has the desire and motivation to excel, not just those who have passed the 11+. All class sizes are small, the average being 8, the maximum 12. Our GCSE results speak for themselves. A remarkable 38% of the grades achieved by our students in 2020 fall between 9-7 (A*-A) with 94% of all grades at 9-4 (A*-C). This is a testament to the effort exhibited by our students and the excellent teaching provided by our dedicated staff team.

To learn more about Kent’s non-selective 11+ alternative click here.

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Allotment

The campus provides a beautiful, safe and welcoming environment for our students with intricate architectural features and inspiring artistic installations around every corner. Every square foot is a learning opportunity. The allotment grows vegetables and herbs for use in the College kitchens.

RIC is one of the only schools in the UK to achieve official accreditation of its commitment to the environment. The ISO 14001 certification is a recognised sign of a business commitment to going green.

Students regularly use the College gardens and allotment as a resource for both teaching and recreation and volunteer to help in its maintenance. The aim is to encourage students to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative and understand how they can contribute to community life. Our resident RIC chickens have their own home next to the Maths shed.

The gardens host our start of the year move in barbecue for boarders and the end of year summer festival for parents, students and friends of the College. Star Hill’s answer to Glastonbury and Latitude is an annual celebration of student artwork, music and performance.

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New Court

New Court is the home of a dedicated sixth form study centre and our Year 11 Common Room spaces. Subjects taught in this building include Spanish, French and Italian, Geography and History.

Our teaching and pastoral staff are pro active, identifying where students are having difficulties and offering practical help, solutions and encouragement. Boarders benefit from an evening study club in New Court where they can work with the support and supervision of Resident Tutors.

Tutors file regular reports on students and these are emailed to parents giving constant feedback. An end of term report should never contain surprises for either students or their parents. The College operates an ‘open door’ policy and parents feel free to come and see, telephone or email Personal Tutors and the Principal to discuss any issue concerning them.

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Creative & Digital Arts

The Good Schools Guide, reviewing RIC, said that it was “hard to imagine better provision for an artist.”

RIC is also one of the leading creative boarding schools in the UK and our staff, who are all practitioners in their own right, have industry and studio experience in filmmaking, fine art, illustration, ceramics, graphic design and digital media, photography and fashion and textiles.

The home for our award-winning Film, Media and Visual Arts departments features state of the art fibre optics serving four Apple Mac design labs as well as airy studio spaces. All students are able to take part in regular life-drawing classes, A level History of Art is an option and the galleries and museums of London are only 40 minutes by train away. Last year RIC students won places at leading art schools including UAL’s Central Saint Martins and UCL’s The Slade School of Art.

To learn more about the arts at RIC click here and for our latest exhibition catalogue of student and staff work click here.

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Star Hill Sixth Form

The sixth form is the biggest part of RIC with up to 240 students each year studying A levels. It’s a stepping-stone between school and university and is ranked in the top 2% of schools in England for value added progress at A level meaning that our students make more progress and exceed expectations.

Very small classes lead to a far more active involvement by students in their education and almost inevitably to excellent results. Classes are small, contact time is high, individual help is plentiful. Every RIC sixth former gets the support of a dedicated personal tutor ensuring students are keeping constant track of their own progress.

Most RIC sixth formers take two-year A level courses, but we also offer intensive one-year A level programmes and retake courses designed to help students needing to improve their A level grades. We welcome A level students up to the age of 21.

The College is part of Dukes Education and our sixth formers have access to the very best university admissions guidance and support from Oxbridge Applications, Dukes Medical Applications and Dukes US Admissions.

Click here to find out more about RIC’s sixth form.

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Labs

There are eight fully equipped labs at RIC used by both Lower School and Sixth Form students. RIC supports students who are looking to study a science related subject at university. As well as Biology, Chemistry and Physics we also offer GCSE Astronomy. Our small class sizes mean budding scientists have the individual support they need from our well qualified teaching staff. In 2020 nine RIC aspiring doctors won places at UK medical schools. Many former students are now practising doctors, dentists, vets and pharmacists and often they return to campus to help guide and inspire the next generation of future medics. 

To learn more about our specialist medical preparation programmes click here.

 

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Star Hill Boarding

Our aim in RIC boarding is to ensure that all students are well supported to live in an international environment where the informality of the College is combined with supervision appropriate to the age of the students. We understand that our boarding students are often far away from home and our aim is to ensure that they live and learn in a happy, secure and positive environment. Students on the campus occupy separate houses that are dedicated to boys and girls in different year groups.

Learn more about RIC boarding here.

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Gordon House Boarding

RIC’s boarding is all on campus and our students have their own study bedrooms. We know how hard changing schools can be, so our boarding students are supported by our boarding team who live on site 24/7, as well as their personal tutors and the College nursing team.

As well as looking after academic needs everyone at RIC is committed to ensuring students are happy, healthy and well fed. There are two College dining rooms and all food is prepared freshly on the premises.

While the majority of our boarders are British, we are an international school with students on roll from up to 30 different countries. Ofsted said: “The promotion of equality and diversity is outstanding. The multicultural mix of students is reflected in the staff team and the ethos of the College is inclusive. Cultural differences are actively celebrated. Individual customs and values are all given equal regard and additional support needs, arising from ethnic backgrounds and language barriers are actively provided for.”

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Musical Gates

The giant, gleaming stainless-steel gates and railings of Rochester Independent College are an impressive sight. But they have a secret. Inside, they are a complex and beautiful musical instrument with the tonal range of an entire orchestra.

RIC takes as its unofficial mascot not an emblem of classical myth but a flying pig, originally a riposte to the cynicism that greeted the College’s chances of success when it was founded in 1984 and now celebrating the idea that anything is possible for our students.

The flying pig has been immortalized in a magnificent piece of public art. The gates and railings are decorated with six gleaming pig sculptures, ground, welded and polished by sound sculptor Henry Dagg, alongside clover leaves, a mathematical equation and a Middle English inscription. Members of the The City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra gave the first ever public performance on the gates. They performed “Pigs with Altitude”, an original composition, commissioned specially for the event by RIC.

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Lower School Art Studio

RIC’s provision in the visual arts is rich and Lower School students are taught Fine Art, Textiles, Photography, Ceramics and Graphic Design. The Digital and Creative ICT options available include short courses in Photoshop, Illustrator, Digital Video Editing Computer Programming and Music Technology. Film and Media are on everyone’s timetable from year 7 onwards, as is Drama and Music.

The Good Schools Guide said “Art rooms have a welcoming feel, with much of the work of university standard with real individuality and flair.”

Away from the studios, last year’s art themed week involved a residential adventure for the whole Lower School to Cornwall where they visited Tate at St Ives, the Eden project and the Leach Pottery as well as attending surf school. Previous art weeks have seen the Lower School relocate to Paris and the Kent coast.

 

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Photography Studio

A level students enjoy an Art College atmosphere where they are welcomed at all times during the working week, not just during lesson times. In the Photography studio we have a dark room and rooms with lighting for shoots. Student projects in recent years have focussed on fashion photography, portraiture, documentary and street photography.

The College’s touring exhibition of student and staff art showcased work this year at Sun Pier, Chatham, and The Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable. In 2021 RIC will be exhibiting at The Pie Factory, Margate.

Click here for our visual arts blog.

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Gym

At RIC we take our Sport provision very seriously and aim to provide our students with an enriching experience developing sporting skills and promoting fitness for all.

Our fully equipped gym enables our students to stretch their legs and keep fit at lunch times and break times; these facilities are also available after school should students wish to exercise before going home. We currently have a number of talented sports people at the College including national swimmers, Fencers, BMXers and some international Go Karting competitors. We are very happy to support these students and to celebrate and promote their successes.

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MUGA

The College campus features a newly refurbished multi use games area which is always busy at break times. The facility was designed specifically for the location and utilises state of the art sports turf to provide a superb playing surface for hockey, football, basketball and netball. The new facility is protected by an advanced twin-bar fencing system with kickboards and a full roof net.

In the Lower School we aspire to create sporting teams and champion sporting activities which are not confined by out-dated school traditions. As well as football, rugby, basketball and netball we also think outside the box; activities such as climbing, shooting, horse-riding, dodgeball and martial arts all ensure that our students experience activities which they may not have previously considered.

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Maths Shed

The garden shed at RIC looks normal on the outside but open the door and you discover it is not a shed but a learning environment. There you find teenagers applying the trapezium rule or proving equations. The maths shed is one of several subject hubs and al fresco classrooms that have sprung up in the college’s picturesque gardens over the years.

Maths is the biggest A level subject at RIC and students regularly proceed to study subjects requiring top grades in it at top universities. Student Destinations in recent years include Maths at Cambridge, Computer Science at Imperial, Philosophy and Economics at LSE, Aeronautical Engineering at Bristol and Accounting at Warwick. We also teach A level Further Maths, Statistics, Computer Science and Cambridge STEP papers.

To learn more about Maths at RIC click here.

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Garden

The picturesque campus of RIC, an urban oasis in the heart of a designated conservation area, has been called Kent’s best-kept educational secret. It’s a very special learning environment that will quickly become a home from home.

Wildlife and well-being have always been at the centre of planning for the garden. Our students, many of whom are engaged by the climate change action movements, have been asking us to do even more as a school. Leaving spaces for nature and wildness is becoming more crucial for carbon sequestration and the garden is our own small contribution to that. Students have made bat and bird boxes to encourage biodiversity and an outdoor classroom project has given the opportunity to establish a project that will encourage wildlife and have long-term conservation value.

The huge contribution made by the garden to student welfare was recognised in our recent ISI inspection: “Pupils demonstrate an excellent aesthetic appreciation of the visual arts and their natural surroundings. They appreciate the peace, greenery and wildlife of the surroundings within an urban setting and enjoy the gardens for relaxation and personal reflection.”

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Underhill Hall

Underhill Hall is home to RIC Drama, exams, art shows and performances with seating capacity for 100 people. The copper canopied roof transforms into an open-air auditorium with productions from visiting theatre companies and students. Low voltage electrical installation and modern construction techniques combine to give the underground building a minimal carbon footprint.

RIC offers Drama at GCSE and BTEC level and Theatre Studies at A level. London’s West End is only a 40-minute train journey away and students benefit from a stunningly broad range of trips to see a range of plays and performances. Students also have the opportunity to take LAMDA grade exams in Speech and Drama.

The College put on a big production of Bugsy Malone in the Brook Theatre and an even larger scale Little Shop of Horrors will be at the Central Theatre next year.

Drama at RIC
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Finland House

Finland House was once the home to the Finnish Consulate, serving the nearby Chatham Dockyards which is now a World Heritage site.

A level English Literature, Philosophy and Business Studies are based in this building, just three of the 40+ A level subjects offered at Rochester to sixth formers with no restrictions on subject combination. As well as more familiar academic subjects, we also offer languages ranging from Chinese to Russian and newer subjects such as Global Perspectives.

Many of our teachers are also textbook authors, examiners, artists, film makers and musicians. Students are prepared for their GCSEs and A levels with help from professionals who are really in the know about what is required.

To learn more about our teaching teams click here.

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Gainsborough

The College occupies mostly Georgian, listed buildings carefully restored and enhanced by modern design features. The Gainsborough houses some of our specialist classrooms that are used by both Lower School and Sixth Form students. It’s the home base for Computer Science and Music Technology as well as Economics.

At RIC we combine the academic with the creative this year we are offering Lower School students the chance to follow courses in Eco Arts, Maths, Music and Astronomy and Creative Entrepreneurship.

Music classes at Rochester from year 7 upwards involve technology and digital elements of music production. Our small class sizes and dedicated teaching staff mean that students really get to grips with their subjects.

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Rochester & surrounding area

Rochester is a small town with a rich heritage, a flourishing contemporary arts scene and a vibrant student buzz. Rochester is famous for its connections with Charles Dickens and a magnificent Norman cathedral and a striking castle that can be viewed from RIC’s classrooms and the Halls of Residence bedrooms. We’re only 40 minutes from Central London.

Rochester is a great place for the creatively minded. The castle grounds host live concerts in the summer from music’s biggest names. Local galleries include Nucleus Arts and The Deaf Cat gallery where RIC students exhibit their work. The Zandra Rhodes Gallery is located at opposite our campus at the University of the Arts and we are next door to The Medway Little Theatre where RIC students often attend Youth Company classes and help stage productions.

Sporty students use nearby Medway Park, a multimillion-pound sport centre. Facilities include a swimming pool for fitness or fun, athletics track, sports halls, fitness suite and spa, a sports therapy clinic and respiratory clinic. The park was an official training camp for 13 Olympic and eight Paralympic sports for the London 2012 games.

To learn more about Rochester click here.

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Apply Now

FAQs

What are the school’s admissions criteria?

The College is completely non-selective and we treat each student who comes through the door as an individual. A member of our Lower School or Sixth Form team will sit down with them, talk them through their educational history, and then map out the next steps in the journey going forward. All we ask from our students is a determination to work hard and to try their best.

What are your school’s entry points?

We do not have a set entry point and are happy to receive applications for students in all year groups at any point in time. Of course for those on the intensive 1 year courses it is ideal for them to start with us sooner than later to make the most of the teaching time available.

Are you currently open for tours?

Yes we are. To book an informal chat with a member of staff and to come and have a look around our campus please drop us an email at: admissions@rochester-college.org We would be delighted to see you and show you how school can be different.

What is the admissions process for Year 7?

Admission into Year 7 follows the same procedures as any other year group. We are completely non-selective and we welcome students to come and have a look around the College at any point. We are also happy for those considering a move to the College for secondary school to take part in taster days.

How do I apply for a place for my child?

Once you have been for an informal interview and tour contact us at admissions@rochester-college.org.uk or give us a call on 01634 828115 and we will send across an application form. Please complete this and send back along with your child’s last two school reports and a copy of their passport.  Also, any exam results if appropriate. Once we have received this paperwork and you have been for an informal interview a decision is made and an offer of a place, subject to reference, is sent out.

How can I request a prospectus?

We are able to provide both paper and electronic versions of our prospectuses. Should you wish to receive one please drop the admissions team an email at: admissions@rochester-college.org

Are there spaces available for this academic year 2020/2021?

Yes, the College has spaces for entry into all year groups with our flexible entry policy. Contact our admissions team for more information.

When is your next face-to-face open event?

We have a lower school taster day on 5 November 2020. For more information and booking details click here.

Do you have an entrance exam?

We do not have any formal entrance exams. On occasion, we may ask students to complete a Maths or English paper to see what level they are working at. This is to guide our support of the student rather than to put upon them any entrance requirements.

Are there any English language requirements?

For students coming to join us for whom English is not their first language we would ask them complete our two English language tests. For students who are over 18 on entry we would require them as part of their via application process to have an IELTS score of 4.5 or above.

Do you offer learning support?

Students are supported in their learning at the College and our SENCO is available to speak through any particular concerns that students may have.

Is there a school bus service?

We do offer a school minibus service, which serves Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Maidstone areas. To enquire about the minibus please send an email to our admissions inbox: admissions@rochester-college.org, which will be passed on to the transport manager.

What are the school fees?

Our school fees can be found at the following link: https://rochester-college.org/information/fees-1