It’s a place for individuals. The students are a strikingly nice bunch and there’s a lovely air of tolerance and warmth.
RIC: School that works
Founded in 1984, Rochester Independent College in Kent is a day and boarding school offering a distinctive alternative to both traditional independent education and the highly selective local grammar schools.
Nearly everyone who visits immediately senses this difference. The mutual respect between teachers and students is palpable. There is no uniform, no bells ring, students and staff are on first name terms and the average class size is 8.
The first thing you’ll notice when you visit RIC is that we occupy a one-of-a-kind urban campus. At the heart of a designated conservation area, the historically distinctive site with listed buildings linked by award winning wildlife gardens creates a special sense of place to explore and in which to live, study and work.
Visit our campus just once and you’ll swiftly see why RIC is a school unlike any other.
RIC aims to give students an enjoyable and successful experience of school in an international environment with small classes and high quality teaching and pastoral care.
Students in all parts of the school do not sit at rows of individual desks but gather around one table, in the style of a university tutorial. The focus is on achievement without unnecessary pressure, on examination success in a lively, supportive and informal atmosphere.
At RIC students learn and achieve more because they enjoy school and feel positive about themselves.
"When we started looking at secondary schools for our son, our overwhelming concern was that he would become lost in the system of the vast and largely impersonal schools we saw. As soon as we visited RIC we knew it offered absolutely the best learning environment. It offers the perfect combination of a nurturing and supportive environment, coupled with high quality teaching across a very broad curriculum. The small class sizes ensure that every child is taught individually, with a focus on their learning styles. My son has grown academically and perhaps more importantly, he has grown in his confidence and self-belief. Despite the unprecedented challenges that the school and the children have faced this year, the RIC Without Walls virtual school has enabled children to continue to experience the benefits of face to face online learning, and to maintain daily contact with their friends.
RIC offers its pupils a holistic, individualised and extremely positive school experience. Our son is happy, engaged and progressing well in his learning and growing in his self-belief and this is everything that we wanted for him as he moves along his secondary school journey. I think the highlight for us has been seeing him transition so confidently into secondary school. My son has loved exploring the broad curriculum on offer at RIC - he particularly loves film and media, and is planning a career in this field. He also loves the school environment, the grounds and the whole ethos of the school. We are so pleased we found RIC, it is the ideal school for us."
We encourage students to carry on with the interesting things in their life outside of school: we certainly don’t take over their home life. We always involve parents and keep them up to date. Because it works if we’re all in this together.
RIC students search for their own answers, voice their opinions, and think critically, creatively and independently. They leave us real world ready, not only with exam results that exceed expectations but also with enthusiasm for the future, a readiness to make life more interesting and with confidence about themselves and their education.
Speak to an RIC student and they’re likely to evince a special kind of confidence, voicing opinions that come from obvious critical thought. It’s hard to peg them to any categories. Rather, they’re a dynamic bunch with no fear of carving their own paths to success.
Students’ personal development is excellent. Students’ attitudes to their work and learning are exemplary. The college provides excellent support and guidance, which enhances students’ personal development. It is highly successful in its aim to develop self-knowledge and self-esteem.
We value academic and creative achievements equally. Our reputation was first established in Mathematics and the Sciences. Royal Thai Government Scholarship students join each year, often after winning International Olympiad Gold Medals before arriving at RIC. Many of the College’s former students are now successful medical practitioners and local GPs, surgeons and consultants often send their children to us.
As well as offering traditional academic pathways, 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, graphic design and digital media, photography and fashion and textiles.
When we talk to our students at Rochester about future career plans, their roadmaps are colourfully more diverse than those of a generation ago. As well as those aiming to become doctors and lawyers, as many aspire to work in corporate branding and web marketing, as bloggers, vloggers, search engine optimisers, commercial semioticians, trend forecasters and social media influencers. At RIC, while Maths remains our biggest A-level subject, followed by the Sciences, our students are increasingly making bold A-level and GCSE choices tailored to equip them for 21st-century careers and combining academics with creativity. Aiming for Sound Engineering at university? Match Music Technology with Maths and Physics. Fancy being a Fashion Designer? Why not try Textiles, Photography and Chemistry. The next generation directors and screenwriters might want to opt for A Levels in Film Studies with History of Art and English Literature.
It would be hard to find better provision for an artist.
We’re as committed to supporting students for whom passing exams at grade C is a great achievement as we are to those aiming for A*s. We welcome everyone who has the desire and motivation to excel, not just those who have passed the 11+ or have a string of top grades at GCSE. We help turn things around when they haven't worked out in the past. We aim to ensure that no student, regardless of academic ability, is left lost, overlooked or let down.
RIC is characterised by an unusual flexibility, a focus on making the system- and the timetable- fit around the students who come here rather than the other way around. We avoid overengineering education, overcomplicating it. We get on with doing what’s useful and necessary to help students get the results they need and enjoy school. We get out of the way when it’s useful, we intervene when it will help. Years of experience enable us to know the difference, to know what will work. It may look different for every student. A small school size allows us this flexibility.
I loved studying at RIC. For the first time in so long, I felt like the teachers actually wanted to hear my opinions and challenged us to think in different ways and be more critical. I gained so much happiness and confidence. Small, two-hour classes meant that we could debate and deviate whilst still covering the required information. Everyone was there to work hard, but it didn't always feel like work because it was really enjoyable! Every individual success was achieved, whether a student was aiming for an A grade or a C grade didn't matter - as long as you achieved your personal best it was a success. Grammar school made you feel that unless you had achieved an A or A* you weren't good enough. I'm eternally grateful to my parents for finding it and sending me there.
This successfully individual environment is a natural stepping-stone between school and university. Our annual destinations list reflects the diversity of our students and their enthusiasms. Recently students have proceeded to courses including Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge; History of Art at Edinburgh; Fine Art at UCL’s the Slade, Digital Media at Leeds; Computing at Imperial; Medicine at Oxford; Music Production at BIMM, Veterinary Science at Liverpool; Film Studies at Warwick; Law at Exeter; Dentistry at Bristol; and Fashion Marketing at UAL’s London College of Fashion.
Come and see what makes RIC work. We’d love to show you our school.
Explore our campus: https://virtualopenhouse.roche...
The average class size is a lipsmackingly small 8 (maximum 12).
Rochester Independent College stands out as a notable ‘alternative’ exception for its informal ethos and relaxed learning environment, though rigorous teaching and a strong focus on preparation for assessment, recognised in a recent outstanding Ofsted report, suggest that it might be better characterised as akin to a successful Swedish Free School.