“The village college could lie athwart the daily lives of the community it served; and in it the conditions would be realised under which education would not be an escape from reality, but an enrichment and transformation of it.”
Established in 1939 by the visionary educationalist Henry Morris, Impington Village College epitomised the transformation of education in Cambridgeshire. Designed to serve the community, Morris envisioned the college – and others in the village college network – as a centre for educational, cultural and social activity.
The original iconic building, which was designed by Walter Gropius, the founder of The Bauhaus School of Architecture, symbolised the departure from the traditional education methods of Victorian times. Morris’ legacy of serving the community has remained at the heart of the college and it’s co-located Sixth Form, Impington International College.
The institution has evolved over the years and the lower 11-16 school is still known as Impington Village College. But after 30 years of offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), the sixth form now carries the name Impington International College, reflecting the fact that it welcomes both local students and those from further afield and abroad.
“In 1991, we became one of the first ever UK state schools to offer the Diploma Programme.”
The IB aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who, through an education that builds intercultural understanding and respect, create a better, and more peaceful world. This is an ethos which continues to align with Henry Morris’s vision of life-long education that inspired the establishment of Impington Village College.
In 1991, we became one of the first ever UK state schools to offer the Diploma Programme; introducing the IB, which was relatively unknown then. It was a bold choice and a testament to our heritage of transforming education in Cambridgeshire.
Providing a robust alternative for students enabled the sixth form to differentiate itself from the other providers in Cambridge, a city recognised globally for the quality of its education. For years, former head of sixth form, Kevin Purday, worked to educate the community on the IB and its benefits – nowadays, the qualification is well-recognised. For example, half of students at King’s College, London have studied the IB.
Having been at the college for more than 20 years now, I have witnessed the impact of the inclusive, international education first-hand with our students going on to study at Oxbridge, Russell Group and globally-renowned universities. This academic year, we were thrilled to share that 10 per cent of our student cohort received offers from Oxbridge.
“I have witnessed the impact of the inclusive, international education first-hand.”
More importantly, I have seen our students develop into caring and compassionate individuals who understand their responsibility to their community. Service learning is a mandatory element of the IB. Creativity, activity and service (CAS) involves our students in a number of community service activities, including volunteering at Cambridgeshire’s first state maintained special autism school, The Cavendish School, which is co-located on our campus.
On a weekly basis, you will find our students visiting the school to support its students through a series of activities from Uno to computer games, to Dungeons and Dragons. Each fortnight, students also take part in a community project to document biodiversity statistics in Abbey Fields, a community owned development in the village of Histon and Impington.
Nestled in the heart of the village, I am proud that our college community simulates village life, with a close-knit cohort and small class sizes. With our 10:1 student to teacher ratios, our students enjoy close bonds with their peers and teachers.
“I am proud to have students from across the world join our cohort each year.”
Despite its small size, the college reflects the 153 different nationalities and cultures represented in Cambridgeshire and I am proud to have students from across the world join our cohort each year. It is important to us that our international students feel fully immersed in the college community and we are lucky to work with a number of local host families who welcome them into their homes and support them throughout the academic year.
Michaela Buňáková joined us from Slovakia, where news of the college had reached her, to study Russian, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, Economics, English Literature and German before she attended The University of Manchester. Another of our international students, Luke Kirilenko, joined us from the USA, by the way of Madrid, on a football scholarship.
Working with industry partners enables our students to combine the rigour of the internationally recognised, IB Career-related Programme (CP), with expert tuition from leaders in sports, performing arts and health and social care.
“The world’s first Career-related Programme student to be offered a place at Cambridge is an Impington alumna.
From Norwich City Football Club to the London Contemporary Dance School, I am proud that our students can continue to combine their studies with professional training, to develop the academic and practical skills that they need to succeed beyond the classroom. I am thrilled that Cara Rowland, the world’s first Career-related Programme student to be offered a place at the University of Cambridge, is an Impington alumna.
Over three decades, the college has expanded and we have outgrown our previous spaces, which led to us opening a brand new, purpose-built sixth form building last year: The Alan Rodger Building. Named after the late pioneer in polar exploration, Alan was also a dedicated former member of the Impington governing body, in addition to his role at the British Antarctic Survey, and embodied the IB values of inquiring, knowledgeable and caring.
Naming the building in his honour is a fitting tribute to these qualities, and a reminder to all who pass through its doors that education is a life-long journey that benefits the whole community; local, national and global.