International Pupils at Bishop's Stortford College

 "Overseas boarders spoke appreciatively of how swiftly they were helped by their peers to settle into the school." ISI Inspection 2017

Bishop's Stortford College has welcomed pupils from around the world for many years. Our aim is to ensure that all our international students are well integrated and have a real sense of belonging. You can read thoughts from several of our boarders here.

We have around 50 international pupils with us each year from a wide range of countries. The majority of these are in the Senior School which caters for 13-18 year olds. They represent between 10-12% of all Senior School pupils. We also have a number who join our Prep School, usually from the age of 10 or 11.

In the past few years, students have joined Bishop’s Stortford College from a number of different countries:

China (including Hong Kong) Kazakhstan South Korea
Estonia Latvia Spain
Germany Lithuania Turkey
Thailand Nigeria Ukraine
Italy Poland UAE
Japan Russia Oman


“… he felt truly at home, talking in terms of “we” and “with us” after only two weeks.” - Parent of an international boarder

Main Entry Points for International Pupils 

  • 10+ (Year 6)                                
  • 11+ (Year 7)                                                                 
  • 13+ (Year 9)                                         
  • 16+ (Year 12/Sixth Form) 

Education Programmes

We offer a broad range of GCSE and A Level courses. Sixth Formers also have the opportunity for additional study in the form of EPQ and IRP (see our A Level Subject Guide for further details). Due to the nature and duration of the academic courses we offer, boarding tends to be on a long term basis (ideally 2 years or more) but in some circumstances we are able to accommodate shorter term boarders (usually in the Sixth Form.)

Bishop's Stortford College is one of the top performing co-educational boarding schools in the UK. Our pupils, including those from overseas, reach excellent standards in public examinations and move on to a range of top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

For more information, including about Guardians, please visit our Admissions/International Pupils page.


Settling In

Grimwade Boarders Prep School Boarders in Tree Grimwade Boarders Weekend Trip to Church Farm

We take great care in the first few weeks to help new students to settle in quickly so that they will be able to work well and thrive in all areas of school life. One student who joined us in September wrote this about her boarding house community: 

“I found that Young House became a second home for me with a lot of funny sisters. To my mind there is nothing to add to this House to make it better.”

A parent of one of our international students wrote this about her son’s time at Bishop's Stortford College: 

“Sören enjoyed the life at Bishop's Stortford College, the boarding system, the friendly atmosphere, the facilities the school offers its students in many different ways and he felt truly at home, talking in terms of “we” and “with us” after only two weeks.”

New students are helped to settle into the House and College by having a “shadow” or “buddy” who, together with the House Parents, is responsible for looking after them for the first few weeks. 

Welcoming Event

In addition to the welcoming support of the boarding house staff and fellow students, a special welcoming event, organised by the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Department, is held for our international students at the beginning of every academic year to help this settling in process.

ESOL Department

The ESOL Department plays an important supportive role in the pastoral care of our international students, liaising with academic and boarding staff and parents to ensure the well being of our international students, not only in the first few weeks, but throughout their time at Bishop’s Stortford College.


 Pupils Enjoying Boarders' Chinese New Year Boarders at Chinese New Year celebrations 2019 Grimwade boarders enjoy sunny sunday walk

Integration into the British culture

Our international students love being part of a typical English market town. Senior School students are encouraged to get involved in our Community Service programme, which brings them into contact with people who live and work in the town.

As part of our broad curriculum and weekend trips, students will be exposed to a wide variety of cultural experiences and full advantage is taken of Bishop’s Stortford College’s close proximity to London and Cambridge with visits to art galleries, museums, the theatre etc.

Integration into Bishop’s Stortford College

International students are integrated into all aspects of life at Bishop’s Stortford College and, once again, the ESOL Department plays a key role by helping international students to explore issues of cultural interest and by encouraging them to take part in extra-curricular activities.

There is a diverse blend of full boarders, weekly boarders, pupils who board a few nights a week (part time boarders) and day pupils. The College boarding houses create a natural environment for friendships to form between boarders and day pupils, and between those locally based, those from further afield and those from other countries. Through these friendships, full boarders enjoy the benefit of being able, with permission of parents or guardians, to visit or stay at weekends with the families of flexi-boarders or day pupils.

Special boarding community and House events help our international students to further integrate into the College community and international boarders are expected to use English as their primary language in their Houses as well as around the school campus

Language Support

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Department

The ESL Department exists as a language support for those pupils whose first language is a language other than English. Our aim is to help pupils achieve their full potential in using English for everyday, social, academic and professional purposes in the four key skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). Pupils in need of additional support with their English are usually provided with a minimum of two lessons a week at no extra charge until they have passed their Cambridge First for Schools [FCEfs]’ and Cambridge Advanced, IGCSE ESL or IELTS examination.

This support is provided on an individual or group basis by a dedicated, professionally trained teacher and forms an integral part of Bishop’s Stortford College’s curriculum. The ESL classroom is a bright and cheerful place to work and learn and it provides a calm and peaceful base for the overseas pupils to gather for their lessons.

The Department also recognises that traditions and cultural awareness are very important in language acquisition and aims to incorporate these aspects into the teaching programme. We aim to make the experience of improving a student's level of English as enjoyable as possible. We are aware that English is the international language and it is therefore essential that every overseas student is able to use it effectively. The English language underpins every mainstream subject, thus giving the Department a unique role in supporting pupils’ academic goals.

The ESOL Department runs courses which are as closely tailored to the individual needs of each student as possible. Depending on his or her age and level, a student will be prepared for the following examinations:

Cambridge IGCSE in English  as a Second Language or English as a First Language and IELTS (the International English Language Testing System).

Overseas students make up around 10% of our Senior School roll and we welcome students from a wide variety of nationalities. As well as teaching ESL, the Department is very active pastorally and organises the annual International Welcome Party as well as accompanying pupils to Parents’ Meetings and providing them with help for their university applications.