After his mother’s unexpected passing, Nicholas Skansen departed Norway to live in Belfast with his father. While tragedy brought him here, it was Campbell College’s welcoming community that inspired him to stay. He still recalls his first day on campus with great fondness. Although he remembered feeling awed by the school’s grandeur, he got a strong sense of “brotherhood and community.” That helped him feel at home almost instantly.
“Exploring the halls makes you feel welcome and a part of something bigger than yourself,” he explains. “After walking about the school and having a look at the classrooms, the next words that came to mind were historic and prestigious. The school gives you the sensation of an institution that had an enduring legacy.”
True enough, it was the year 1894 when the College’s 100-acre woodland campus, which sits on the edge of beautiful Belfast, first opened its doors to boys from across the globe. Today, it is home to over 1,200 students between the ages of three and 18, spread across a Junior School, Senior School and a thriving international Boarding department.
Despite having to grasp the English language and starting afresh, it wasn’t long until Skansen was able to find his place within the community. “Campbell had a great understanding of my situation,” he says. “Both students and teachers helped me adapt and overcome these challenges.”
The College’s approach to academics played a massive role in his progression as well. Once upon a time, Skansen considered math to be his “weakest” subject. Today, he proudly describes it as his favourite subject. In fact, he is currently studying it at the A Level. Soon, he hopes to leverage the foundational skills he’s gained as a chemical or environmental engineering student at MIT. “I have no doubt that Campbell will help me achieve these goals,” he says.
“One of our greatest strengths is our breadth of curriculum, and we offer pathways for students of a range of abilities from A Level Further Maths to BTEC Diplomas, and each year students from all pathways progress to university,” explains senior teacher and head of careers, Sarah Coetzee. “Our inspirational and dedicated subject teachers maximise the potential of each student and help them develop a love for their subjects.”
Skansen’s transformation is a prime example of how Campbell College ensures young men turn their weaknesses into strengths. It’s little wonder why students here are attaining almost one grade higher in each subject at GCSE than they would in other UK schools.
The process begins with faculty members spending time with each boy to get to know them well. Findings are compiled and analysed to determine how educators can foster an environment that is suitable for all ambitious boys. An expansive list of offerings proves the College’s capability to cater to all needs and aspirations — each set in place to make the Campbell experience more holistic than it already is.
“We approach all aspects of our work with thoughtfulness and consideration, whether that is on the sports field or in the classroom,” confirms Headmaster Robert Robinson, MBE. “The two are not separate, and I think this is why our boys love school. We value all that the boys do in the name of the college, the academic, the sporting, the creative arts, the charitable giving. We value all.”
Beyond the classroom, senior students nurture their passions through the broadest range of opportunities possible — think Archery, Art Club, Athletics, Film Club, Language Club
Lego, Music, News Team, Scripture Union, and Shooting, amongst many others. Many students even spend their free time guiding younger students through school life.
“I signed up to be a homework mentor for junior boarders, which entails helping them go over school work and concepts they haven’t quite grasped yet,” explains student Alexander Brennan. “Studying the subjects at A Level meant I could pass on my knowledge to them. It also improved my relationship with the juniors, who I now play sports and have meaningful conversations with.”
Opportunities like these ensure the young men of Campbell identify their life’s calling well before graduating. Those in need of additional support can turn to Ms. Coetzee and her team, who represent the CEIAG (Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance) programme.
Together, they deliver Careers classes, host workshops, in-house webinars, work experience opportunities, and a mock “Assessment Centre” experience. They conduct numerous trips and visits to esteemed colleges and universities as well — one of which is the Oxbridge trip.
“We also help students prepare for life beyond Campbell by helping them investigate matters such as student finance and accommodation options, as well as preparing them for the nature of academic study at university through a study and research skills programme,” says Coetzee.
This allows every boy to take their next step with confidence after graduating from Campbell College. If that’s the outcome you seek for your son, click here to learn more about admissions to a school that truly understands what it means to challenge and inspire.