Summer school: the opportunity of a lifetime

Tue 19 Oct 2021

Summer school: the opportunity of a lifetime

In previous posts, we’ve discussed why summer schools in the UK are an excellent way for students to immerse themselves in a subject they love while spreading their wings, making new friends and having fun. Today, we’d like to talk in more detail about summer programs for international students and the opportunity of a lifetime that the illuminate Cambridge summer school has to offer them.

There is a long tradition of international students coming to the UK to attend summer school, and there is a huge variety of programs to choose from. We wanted to offer something unique, exciting and – above all – something we’re passionate about: an exceptional educational and enrichment program for girls aged 15-17.

St Mary’s Cambridge is a boarding school offering summer programs. Boarders from more than 20 different countries make up 20% of our school community so we understand both the ambitions and the concerns of parents when sending their daughter to a summer course in England.

Will she be safe, happy, stimulated, inspired? Will this be a life-changing experience for her? And – of course – will the cost of investing in the summer school be justified by the experience and educational value? The illuminate summer school has been designed to answer ‘yes’ to all these questions.

What is illuminate Cambridge?

illuminate Cambridge is led by a team from St Mary’s School, Cambridge – a school with a 120-year history of empowering girls to aim high and achieve their dreams. Devising an international summer program was an extension of the transformative experience we offer to all girls in our care.

illuminate is a two-week academic and cultural program exploring a series of lively academic themes, including history, politics and oracy, devised by our Oxbridge-educated course leaders. It aims to challenge and inspire with 30 hours of tutor-led classroom teaching, extended through a series of carefully curated educational and cultural visits, taking advantage not only of our Cambridge location but also our proximity to London and its many world-famous landmarks. And, last but not least, it includes time to relax and explore the beautiful city of Cambridge.

Cambridge is an inspiring place, one of Britain's most culturally exciting cities, famous for its education, innovation and world-changing ideas. St Mary’s is located within a 15-minute walk of the centre of Cambridge, with its museums, galleries, theatres, concert halls and shops. However, our surroundings are not all hustle and bustle. Next door to our academic buildings and boarding accommodation, Cambridge University Botanic Garden provides natural peace and tranquillity, ideal for study or contemplation.

St Mary’s boarding set-up is well-established. We provide safe, lively home-from-home accommodation in our boarding houses, with a real family feel. Parents looking for boarding schools with summer programs can rest assured that their daughter will be staying in modern, purpose-built accommodation, full of activities, friendship and fun, with the feel of a girls-only academic summer camp. 

Why girls-only?

St Mary’s excels at educating girls and was a finalist in the UK Independent Girls’ School of the Year Awards 2021. From teaching and pastoral care to school life, everything is built just for girls. Friendship groups flourish, and girls are enabled to build self-confidence and learn in an environment free from gender stereotypes.

We pride ourselves in providing a nurturing environment, full of role models to encourage and inspire girls, giving them every opportunity to take the lead and be comfortable in putting themselves forward. The illuminate Cambridge program builds on this long tradition.

We also recognise that the summer school experience is all about fun, and our illuminate hosts will ensure that afternoons, evenings and weekends are filled with shared activities and experiences. Iconic ‘Cambridge moments’ - from punting on the Cam to behind-the-scenes Cambridge University settings – are all part of the illuminate program, together with evening activities such as karaoke, quizzing, baking and sports.

As a complete summer school experience, we believe that illuminate Cambridge is second-to-none. Drawing on the St Mary’s Cambridge experience of teaching, nurturing and inspiring girls, our course leaders have devised a dynamic program of lively academic themes, delivered by subject-specialist tutors who will share their passion for the subjects, both in the classroom setting and further afield.

Subjects will be brought to life with carefully-curated day trips. For example, how better to learn about the history of Tudor England than to visit the glorious Hampton Court Palace in London, King Henry VIII’s favourite residence? Classroom studies of the special relationship between the US and Britain will be augmented with a visit to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. And what could be a better way to experience a slice of traditional British culture than with fish ‘n’ chips and a paddle at the seaside?

St Mary’s longstanding relationship with the University of Cambridge and our location at the heart of the city offers the chance to get to know this amazing place in a unique ‘behind-the-scenes’ ways -  allowing girls to see a side of England you can't just Google.

The illuminate Cambridge summer school course offers the opportunity of a lifetime to live, learn and grow in an extraordinary city, safe in the knowledge that the whole experience is underpinned by the St Mary’s pedigree of empowering girls to reach their full potential academically and socially.

Through our two-week residential summer course, girls will gain knowledge, skills and confidence, make lifelong memories, share experiences and find new friends. And illuminate is just the beginning, as it nurtures knowledge, skills and independence, and prepares girls to pursue their aspirations with confidence and drive. You can apply for your place here.

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