Westonbirt’s Top Ten Highlights of 2023
2023 proved to be a brilliant year for the school, with many initiatives, achievements and successes. So, as 2023 drew to a close and the New Year began, we looked back and celebrated our Top Ten highlights across the year on our social media platforms.
Kicking off the list at #10, we highlighted the opening of new facilities for both students and staff, with lots of development projects completing in 2023. These included eight new walled garden classrooms, designed to be in keeping with former greenhouses and helping to manage our recent expansion in student numbers and a new staff car park. Also a new and much-anticipated Sports Zone opened; this included an AstroTurf, new netball and tennis courts, and changing areas.
Next at #9, was the school receiving Highly Commended in the ‘Special Sixth Form” category in the Muddy Stilettos School awards. This award really highlighted just how fantastic our sixth form provision continues to be, providing leadership opportunities, curriculum flexibility and global service trips to India and Nepal. Our 2023 Year 13 leavers progressed to some great university destinations and subjects, including Oxford, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Southampton.
Coming in at #8, was our boarding provision. Holford, our new offsite Year 13 boarding house proved to be both popular and effective as a great transition to university life and work started on the refurbishment of our new Junior boarding house for Years 6-8, due to complete this Spring. Our boarding community proved that “friends become family” at Westonbirt with many evening and weekend activities including trips to London and the Warner Bros studios and themed events for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and we launched a new boarding video.
At #7 it was the fantastic array of overseas trips that our students were involved in, which have developed their skills, knowledge, independence, provided insights into other cultures and allowed them to give service to others. Trips included: a linguists’ visit to Spain; a US leadership exchange, a global service trip to India; a joint rugby/lacrosse tour of the US; a Japanese school exchange and a ski trip to Italy.
Continuing with the countdown at #6 in our Top Ten Westonbirt highlights of the year, was our Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Really, this entry could have been our co-curricular programme as a whole, offering such breadth and diversity including bee-keeping, FIRST Lego league, debating and more, but we chose to focus on CCF, new for the academic year. 2023 saw overnight training exercises, gliding induction flights (and scholarships from a local gliding club), a Remembrance service and to top it all, a flight in a Chinook helicopter with RAF Odiham!
Halfway through the countdown at #5, was music; 2023 saw a harmonious year at Westonbirt where music took centre stage. From enchanting Carol Concerts, Jazz Nights, Lunchtime Recitals to a memorable performance at Highgrove, the year was truly a symphony of musical accomplishments!
Securing the #4 spot was Westonbirt’s starring role in the fourth and final season of the popular Netflix comedy-drama, Sex Education.
Filming took place outside as well as in many of the interior rooms of the House: such as the Great Hall, corridors, School Office, and Head’s Study. We loved seeing our beautiful school on the small screen!
Coming in at #3 in was drama! In 2023, the Drama department created spectacular productions including ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘We Will Rock You’, and the enchanting ‘Frozen Jr’. It takes an entire school to bring these shows to life, and we’re consistently amazed by the creativity and talent displayed in each production.
The penultimate entry in our countdown at #2, was our sports achievements. Our student athletes did incredibly well in 2023, with representatives excelling in swimming, cricket, equestrian, and many other sports. Students even went global with an overseas lacrosse and rugby tour to the USA. Closer to home, we proudly witnessed national representation in athletics and lacrosse; teams clinched victories in ISA competitions in rugby and cricket; and individuals achieved in other sports, such as polo and e-karting.
Finally our #1 Top Ten highlight of 2023 was winning ‘Co-educational Independent School of the Year’ at the Independent School of the Year Awards in London. This achievement holds a special place in our hearts, as our journey into co-education only began in September 2019. Over the past four years, Westonbirt has undergone significant transformations, and this recognition is a testament to the collective effort. We extend heartfelt gratitude to Wishford Education, our backers, and the entire school community for their dedication.
And there we have it; a look back at 2023 with much to celebrate and applaud; we can’t wait to see what 2024 brings.