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I joined RIC because...

Year 14 student


Year 10 student


Year 8 student


It's always nice when students drop us a line to reflect on their time at RIC and thank their teachers and houseparents. Also valued are the many letters of thanks and recommendation from our parents who have trusted us over the years with the education of their children. 

Coming from a ‘top’ local grammar school, RIC was a great change of pace. The college‘s relaxed atmosphere creates an environment of motivation, encouragement and support, rather than one of pressure, intensity and unhealthy competition.The bonds I created with tutors and the level of support and knowledge they were able to impart to me in both group lessons and on a one to one basis was instrumental to my academic success and growth as a person. RIC was the first place where I have ever genuinely enjoyed being in school. The tutors were always more than willing to give up their own time to support me both academically and personally. It was evident that they wanted the best for me. They recognised my strengths and encouraged me and supported me on a level beyond what you’d expect from a school tutor - and one that I have personally never experienced before.

RIC promotes an environment of outstanding academic success and above all doesn’t impose undue pressure and doesn’t foster a gratuitously high-intensity environment. The relaxed, informal atmosphere resulted in me genuinely enjoying the two years I spent in sixth form, ultimately leading to my academic success and a place at LSE to study Law - which I never would have achieved without the help and support of the outstanding tutors at RIC.

Emily is now studying Law at LSE.

I remember my grandfather telling me, “Hassan, intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. Remember this and you will do well.” I have hung onto his piece of advice. Moving back to the U.K, leaving my father, family and school friends 6,222 kilometers away in Khobar, Saudi Arabia has been the biggest and most exciting change in my life so far. We had to find somewhere with a significantly low-crime rate, as we were coming from a sheltered compound (a walled, safe-zone of residential villas and leisure-centres where expatriates live in relative freedom from Saudi laws) so we found Rochester Independent College (RIC), an outstanding private school close by that would allow me to take my GCSE’s in a year. RIC was a lot like the British International School where I studied before. The diversity of culture and ethnicities at RIC from Thai to Congolese to Indian to Chinese to Russian eased me into school-life smoothly, and I didn’t feel like an outsider, I fit in. Here at RIC, I have attended science-fairs, musicals, plays, art and fashion exhibitions, taken part in national writing competitions, played on the RIC football team. The classes are small, with a maximum of 8 – 10 students, which allows teachers to be very in tune with students. The teachers track your progress very closely, quickly pick up on your weaknesses, spot your strengths and inspire you to build on them. Teacher feedback was really beneficial for me because I had to complete a total of 10 GCSE’s in just a year.  My grandparents recently visited us here after two years, and we carried on our last conversation like it had only been yesterday. My grandfather shook my hand, hugged me and smiled, “I am proud of you, Hassan… You remembered".

Hassan went on to win a place at UCL for Medicine. 

I came to RIC shortly after moving to England from Lithuania. I tried going to a state school first but found it a very unpleasant environment. The informal nature of RIC made it feel welcoming- a place where you were heard, seen and cared about. I joined at 13, in year 10. For A level I chose to do subjects in arts and humanities- fine art, drama, english, history of art and philosophy. I enjoyed the critical, academic aspects of philosophy, english and history of art which provided me with analytic skills whereas drama and fine art allowed plenty of room for creativity and exploration. The Fine Art department was the place where I spent most of my time- from lessons to lunchtimes. The staff were not only inspiring teachers but also friends who supported my artistic (and not only) development for four years. It was here that I gained a love for art and became certain I wanted to carry on doing it at university. When it came to applications, I was given help and advice on my portfolio as well as encouragement. I went on to do a foundation in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. I think this course was an invaluable experience for me- I learnt to develop, inform and challenge my art practice further. After completing a BA, I hope to work as a practicing artist, art critic or a curator.

Ginte won a place UCL's Slade School of Fine Art after her foundation at Central Saint Martins.

I would just like to thank you so much for everything last year, helping me completely change my situation! I remember being told by one of my old teachers after receiving my AS-levels to just ‘apply to do BTECS or get a job’ because maybe university ‘wasn’t for me. I was in a hopeless situation (I thought!) and genuinely believed I had insufficient skills to pass my A-levels. But just out of pure luck I found Rochester Independent College on the internet and my mum encouraged me to give A-levels another shot. I am so grateful for everything and want to thank everyone at Rochester for helping me jump back onto the path I was told I shouldn’t take.

Rochester specialises in helping students who failed on their first try to retake and achieve their desired grades. For the first time in the last two years I felt as though my dream of doing medicine could be possible because I was surrounded by people whose advice I trusted. I felt great to be taught in such a safe place where asking questions or saying you don't understand didn't seem like a weakness. The teachers were more than willing to help during the lesson time or outside. I'm so incredibly happy I had to retake my A levels because attending Rochester taught me the ability to learn and more importantly understand what I'm learning. But also to face failure and learn it's not the end of the world and you can always try again. Although I attended Rochester to gain good A levels what I actually gained during my time there was so much more.

Natasha joined from The Judd School and is now at Bristol University studying Medicine.

RIC understands the university entrance system. They take the time on first meeting to listen to your child’s wishes, and to advise on the best possible course by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of results to date. Sometimes they suggest a complete change of subject as in the case of my youngest daughter being advised to take English A level in one year which resulted in an A. They also advise the pupil as to which examination board they would be best suited to take to achieve success. For me, as a parent, this adult approach is like a breath of fresh air. This method whereby the student is constantly monitored and supported works. Having paid for private education for our three children since they were small, we assumed after they achieved sound GCSE results that they would secure good A level grades. This didn’t happen. Without moving them all to Rochester Independent College, they wouldn’t have been able to achieve their dreams.

We are so happy that Emily's difficult decision to change school last year has paid off. Her grades last year of BCC were raised by 4 grades. There is no question that if she had remained at her old school, she would not have been in a position to take up a place at Exeter.

Emily joined from Walthamstow Hall, Sevenoaks.

With the impending end of Sam’s schooling upon us, we felt this would be the perfect opportunity to put in writing our eternal thanks and gratitude for all that RIC has achieved with him. the decision to send him to RIC was probably the best we have made as parents thus far and the almost ‘silent’ impact of the College was both immediate and startling. Every day since we have witnessed the improvement in his whole being and an ever growing enthusiasm for learning that just wasn’t there before. Thank you for taking our little lost boy and putting him on the road to becoming a fine man. Thank you for all the self respect he is developing for himself and others, thank you for treating him as an equal and responsible adult and for giving him a sense of purpose, individuality, direction and worth. Thank you for believing in him, trusting in him and for finding his academic ability and tuning him into it. All in a day’s work for you maybe, but simply life changing for us. We had to make some big commitments to finance his time at RIC but despite this feel it would have been excellent value at double the price. RIC is truly unique and remarkable and we would not hesitate to recommend it to anybody.

Just a short note to let you know that my son Alex is graduating from Reading University with a 2:1 in History next week. He received confirmation of his results yesterday. He has also applied for and been accepted as an intern in Washington DC for three months later this year. I cannot thank you enough for his time at Rochester Independent College when he repeated his A levels. It really set him on a great path and he still speaks about his time with you with great fondness.

It only seems like yesterday that we were discussing what Jacob should do! Your advice and guidance was spot on and Jacob has certainly got a lot out of this year. He now has one of the most important things- choice about what he does next. Over the last year he has shown what he can do when he gets the right support. He also enjoyed the year, which is important. He made some new friends and met people from lots of different backgrounds as well as different countries. We did have some fun BBQs here at home when he invited some of them back for an end of year party and without exception, they were delightful.

This is just to say a very big ‘thank you’ to all of Alistair’s tutors at Rochester Independent for your superb guidance, expert management of the application for Law, unfailing kindness, patience and brilliant teaching. You taught him to think properly, to write clearly and fulfilled every promise you made to us. I wish you all continued success and many more students to benefit as he has done.

RIC was beyond instrumental for me. It completely reinvigorated my love of learning, and introduced me to my degree subject. I went in completely demoralised, and came out much more confident. It took away all the barriers which had held me back before, and enabled me to be who I had the potential to be. My history tutors at RIC were incredibly helpful in getting me into history at Durham and gave me very kind references. RIC gave me the space to be who I was, and got rid of the constraints which had only held me back in school. Everyone was very kind. When applying, they helped me figure out what would be best. I would thoroughly recommend the one-year A-levels course.

Abigail joined RIC from Tonbridge Grammar

We are over the moon. We can’t believe that she has actually got the place she wanted. This time last year we were so worried and so disappointed with the year she spent at the Grammar School she transferred to for her A levels. There they promised her so much but gave so little real support - once she had enrolled they seemed to lose all interest in her. At RIC she was supported and encouraged from the minute she came until the minute she left. She has got all her confidence back and is really looking forward to Sheffield.

Lizzie has made us very proud with her resilience and steely determination despite all her setbacks and her positivity has been all down to the fantastic support from her tutors and the efforts made to build up her confidence. It’s been absolutely amazing to see Lizzie blossoming so much and happy and smiling again since she joined RIC and I know that the encouragement, advice and support you have all given will help her enormously in her next steps. It really has been the making of her. She is so grateful and appreciative and always speaks so highly of all her teachers and how passionate and supportive they are.

After looking at Allen's recent report, I felt I really wanted to tell you all you are just fantastic! I am so glad I found out about Rochester, as it truly is a magical place. Allen finally has a place to let his true abilities shine at Rochester, after a struggle in Chinese public school system. I do believe he is just a wonderful boy at heart, and he seems to be growing in all aspects. Many heartfelt thanks to you both, and to the teachers there for your patience and ongoing support of Allen. You all are just wonderful!

I joined RIC after GCSEs at Gad’s Hill. After leaving RIC, I spent 4 years studying for my Masters in Astrophysics at Sussex, graduating with 1st class Honours. I am now in my first year studying for my DPhil in Astrophysics at Oxford. Studying at RIC was great fun; I met a lot of good people and still keep in touch with many of them. I'll never forget the Rochester's Got Talent competitions and our rendition of The Village People's greatest hits.

Laurence joined RIC from Gad's Hill School.

Thank you to you and your staff for helping to get Josh to university. I am sure that had he remained at Wellington College he would not have achieved sufficient to get him a reasonable university place.

Louis got ABB plus a B for history AS. We didn’t quite believe you could pull it out of him. How wrong we were. You should hear us recommending you! Thank you to the team. In Louis’ words “the place I was in this time last year was dark. Look where I am now!"

Louis joined from Bryanston School, Somerset for Year 13. 

Just a brief note to say that we are pleased with Tom’s results and delighted that he has been accepted at Manchester. Clearly the hard work put in by Tom, and the exemplary support given by the academic staff, has paid off and vindicates the decision to change schools for year 13. We would have no hesitation in recommending RIC to others in a similar position. Please pass on our grateful thanks to all of Tom’s teachers and to the boarding staff whose support was equally important – not least for putting up with all that muddy rugby kit! The experience of being away from home has also been a maturing one for Tom and a great stepping stone to university life.

As you will now know, Jasper has been offered, and has accepted, a place at Liverpool University to study veterinary medicine. All the effort and persistence paid off, none of which would have been possible without the enormous amount of work you and your team have put into helping him get his grades and the guidance that you have given both to him and to Suzy and myself to help us to keep him on course. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and it hasn’t been. It has, though, been enormously worthwhile and the whole purpose of this letter is really just to say thank you for teaching another pig to fly.

When I started my I course at RIC I was surprised by the size of the class and its friendly atmosphere. I would never have thought that teachers and students could be so relaxed and yet maintain the effectiveness of the class. Rochester Independent College is a great choice if you want to learn English and go to a prestigious university.

The atmosphere at RIC is vibrant and the tutors I had were immensely influential in making me more independent and efficient. They were always there to help and guide me but also gave me space to help myself grow. RIC is unique in that it gives you the safe space to explore your youth and also find independence and maturity. The classroom atmosphere was very relaxed and it gave us every opportunity to discuss different topics and ideas, which is so crucial in becoming a more eloquent individual. It allowed me to voice my thoughts and opinions and, overall, feel like a grown-up. I’m currently at the end of my second year on the BA World Performance course at East 15 in Southend.

Coming to the College for the Upper 6th was a completely different experience from grammar school. I had no idea a “teacher” could be any more than a face spouting information – the personal and caring atmosphere you have in place nurtured me into the young man that was so stifled in the image conscious and controlling institution that I spent 5 years suffocating in.

Josh joined from Rochester Maths.

I am sending you this mail on behalf of my daughter, Barbara Akpata and the whole family, to express our delight at her recently released A level results which were excellent. As you may recall, she resumed at your school halfway into the first term last year, and she had to have extra lessons, particularly in economics, a subject she had no previous tuition in. When you consider that she was enrolled for the one-year programme, her ABB grades in her three subjects are all the more remarkable. This success is undoubtedly largely attributable to the diligence and professionalism of her teachers. I congratulate you for this feat, and ask that you keep the flag flying. Rest assured that your institution shall continue to receive the highest recommendations from me, as you labour to develop young minds.

Just a little note of thanks! We are very grateful to the support given by yourself and your staff in ensuring that Seb achieved three A grades this summer and gained a place to study theology at the University of Nottingham. After being unable to carry on at school into his A2 year through illness, Rochester provided the perfect environment for Seb to carry on with his studies and realise his goal to gain a place at a top university. Thank you for the help and guidance given during the UCAS application process and to all the tutors that taught Seb in History, English Literature and Politics. Everyone was very approachable, professional and helpful to Seb at all times. Seb is very much looking forward to going up to Nottingham this weekend and starting his course. kind regards.  

Seb joined RIC after his year 12 at Colfe’s and went on to gain AAA in History, Politics and English Literature.

Our son Alan resat his A and AS levels through Rochester in 2012/3. He subsequently got a place at Cardiff to study archaeology which he is enjoying thanks to the excellent help your school gave him while he was there. His confidence and his essay writing skills came on by leaps and bounds whilst he was with you. Well he would be a bit horrified that I was telling you, but in a recent essay he wrote on Ancient History he got a high first. He was so pleased that he sent us a copy of the mark sheet and when we had finished scraping ourselves up off the floor, we naturally told him how very proud we are of his achievement. It brought tears to my eyes! So well done Rochester for turning our son around! And thanks to all the staff who worked so hard with him,

John, Matthew and myself want to express our heartfelt gratitude for ensuring Matthew’s success. We are all thrilled with his results Please pass on our thanks and appreciation to all Matthew’s BRILLIANT teachers; you have all been amazing. We cannot recommend Rochester College enough. Best wishes for a bright future.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at RIC. The teachers were amazing for getting me the grades I needed to attend University. I was surprised at how much I liked the smaller classes, they made me interact more but were enjoyable at the same time. I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't attended RIC. The smaller classes helped me interact more than I used to at my previous school. I never would have got the grades I needed to attend my University if it wasn't for RIC and the teachers. RIC is where I found the passion for the subject I am still learning today. I’m currently studying for a Masters in Media and Communication at UOP.

Before I came to Rochester I struggled with my grades and my prospects for university were much akin to Ikea tables. I couldn’t stand them. I enjoyed myself, learned a lot about myself and my subjects of choice and came out all the better for it.

After a year at RIC Tom celebrated grades of A*A*AB in four A levels- English Literature, Sociology, History and History of Art. He left RIC for a BA Honours course in Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.

I want to let you know how much we appreciate all the work you have done with Allan and how much he has flourished at RIC. I have seen how impressive your school is, on both the academic and pastoral sides. It is unusual to find a school that has your distinct ethos and a capacity to work with a degree of informality that makes students feel comfortable and able to express themselves while giving them clear boundaries about what is acceptable. I have also appreciated the constant level of knowledge about Allan’s progress and needs.

I think I came to RIC in 1992. I had just received my A Level results and had failed to meet the offer from Liverpool University to study medicine despite it being a very generous one. I made an appointment to see the Principal of RIC. Somehow I agreed to retake 4 A levels. The first thing that struck me when I started at the college was the smell of sausage rolls in the morning. I also remember being told off for “not descending the stairs like a human being”. After three terms of maths, science and general deportment courtesy of Mr Brian Pain, I managed to meet the second offer from Liverpool and also learned to descend the stairs like a lady. A bit. I now live in Liverpool and work as a surgeon having qualified from medical school in 1999. I owe all my success to RIC. I look back on that year with enormous gratitude.

Dear Alistair, I wanted to write to you and your colleagues who have made such a difference to Louise this year. I must particularly thank you for your marvellous insights when you first met Louise in helping her choose her subjects. What inspired choices. The commitment of the staff, and the standard of tuition, are excellent. It has been wonderful to see Louise develop academically and grow in confidence. I sing the College’s praises to everyone I meet. With grateful thanks.

We wanted to write to you to express our gratitude for everything you and the staff of the College have done for Alex. She has had a wonderful year and, hopefully, there will be some good academic results in August. However, what is more important to us is the complete change in her demeanour. You may remember how nervous and lacking in confidence she had become in the last two years at Kent College and I think you will agree that the Alex of today is very different. A year ago it was difficult to get her to talk- now we can’t shut her up! The other very obvious difference is the way her intellect developed. She is now interested in everything around her and has an opinion to express on most subjects. Our main worry is that whichever university she goes to needs to have inspirational and humourous tutors if it is going to carry on the good work that has been started at Rochester.

We would like to say a huge thank you. Jack came to you less than a year ago from Gravesend Grammar with all C grades at AS. He now has A*AB in his A levels with a place confirmed at Warwick. It is particularly special for us because we met at Warwick- and got there with lower grades than Jack!

The college isn’t like a traditional private school. The teachers give you plenty of guidance, but they expect you to take responsibility which makes it more like being at university.

Josh joined RIC from Oakwood Park Grammar, achieved 4 Grade As at A level in 2010 in a year from scratch and won a place to study English at Bristol University.

We can’t say we are lovers of mobile phones. We like them even less when they intrude upon ones holiday, but when ours rang on a rather dismal Friday morning three weeks ago at our hotel in Mallorca, the feeling of elation was difficult to describe. On screen it read ‘A’ Economics. We both screamed with delight, shocking and bemusing our fellow guests in the process. In one second we realised that Louise had gained her dream place reading Psychology at Warwick.- YIPPEE! Two and a half years ago Louise started at your College after a couple of years in the educational wilderness. She has worked hard to turn herself around and so have you and your brilliant staff at Rochester Independent College.

Dearest Brian. My motto in life is honesty is the best policy but I honestly do not know how to express how grateful I am for everything you have done for me. Since attending this College I have changed so much (all for the better I hope) and I owe that largely to you. I think I am ready now for uni life, which I wasn’t before I came here. Before I get all soppy, I’m going to stop…

I was really happy with my GCSE results from Tonbridge Grammar School so saw no reason to go anywhere else for A levels especially as all my friends were staying on. However I didn’t do well in my AS year, I wasn’t concentrating and knew I was going to fail. It was a very pressurised environment, there wasn’t much individual help and you were left to either sink or swim. It was very stressful, I wasn’t getting anywhere, I was totally unprepared for my exams and as time went on I felt that there was no way out of my situation. I continued on to my A2 year though regardless. When I got my final A level results I was so shocked. I got CDD and I knew I had to make a difficult decision. I had been really looking forward to my gap year. I had an amazing expedition planned – a placement at a big cat sanctuary in Malaysia then travelling round Asia and Africa. I now had to decide whether to take a clearing place at a university that I didn’t really want to go to or retake. I decided to retake and it has been such a brilliant experience. I can’t thank the College enough. The teachers are so good at what they do, they encourage commitment and that really works for me. I get so much help and encouragement that my confidence has improved enormously – even my driving instructor has noticed it! Any worries about not knowing anyone soon disappeared as everyone in my groups are in the same boat so we have lots in common. I have made loads of new friends. I would advise anyone to change their learning environment if they are struggling. I wish I had known about the College sooner so that I could have transferred after AS. Coming to Rochester Independent College is the best decision I have every made.

Emily joined RIC from Tonbridge Grammar.

Dear all. I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for everything you did to help me achieve A levels that I could never have dreamed of. This time last year, I thought my dreams of ever going to uni had vanished, now I have achieved the impossible and a place on the best drama course in the country! I know I haven’t been the easiest student but I am truly grateful for every inch of help you have offered me. Hopefully seeing how much I have changed over the last year is satisfaction enough. I am 110% more confident in my ability and feel totally ready to embark on the challenging degree ahead, knowing I will take the skills I learnt at Rochester with me. Rochester (and my failure last year) have taught me that if I want something, I can achieve it- if I work for it!

To become a doctor has been my lifetime’s ambition so not achieving the necessary A level grades first time round was disheartening. I decided to retake at Rochester Independent College. The teaching style here was a little unorthodox compared to what I was used to at school but one that I settled down to very quickly and one that proved to work. This combined with the friendly atmosphere was a great tonic to my confidence levels. Brian’s constant constructive criticism in Maths helped me to reach my goal and getting entry to Medical School became more and more probable. I was absolutely thrilled when I got my grades in March and I’m now looking forward to starting Medicine in October.

To all the staff at RIC. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me over the last three years. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed my time here. It was the best decision I ever made to come to the College and I have learnt so much from you all- not only in the educational way but lessons in life I will take with me wherever I go.

What can I say I am still in shock with the relief of receiving my son Alastair’s results, particularly the English. When Ali was encouraged to go for Warwick I thought you were all shooting high but he’s done it, he has learnt a lot about growing up at the College and now he has a very much brighter future to look forward to. I can but thank you and all involved in this success, from his tutor Alistair whom we first met at that very difficult time twelve months ago and who gave him the initial inspiration to join the College, to the ladies who kept him so well fed after he left home and became a resident. I do hope that his story will help others face their current disappointment and go on to achieve their maximum. Your educational formula at the College is very special.

I know I might never have been the most attentive, hardworking student ever, but with the occasional reminder, or even veiled threat I managed to get grades I thought and almost believed were totally beyond my reach ("you'll never be an A grade student Alastair"- my last head of sixth form.) What you have at the College is almost scary in its nature- an ability to make gold from lead, to heighten the aspirations of dreamers to previously unthought of altitudes and, most importantly, to get them there. I sincerely wish you all the greatest success in continuing this in the future.  

Alastair achieved ABB at A level, after arriving at the College from the Judd School, Tonbridge with DEU and won a place to study English and Film at Warwick University. He is now working for Channel 4 after a stint at EMAP's Smash Hits television. 

I am enormously grateful for all the time and special effort you and the staff have made helping George make so much progress. Thank you once again.

I am writing to thank you and your team for the considerable hard work and effort that you have displayed over the past year for Edward. The staff and Edward should be congratulated on their success. Edward’s offer to read medicine at Leicester has been confirmed.

Without a doubt RIC was the best learning experience I've ever had. Loads of support when you need it and when you need a bit of space and time to get on and sort your own learning, that was fine too. Knowing that all staff really want to help you and that they know the best way to do this is by working with you I spent lots of time with my head being enriched by the staff and students as well as in books but after I left, RIC shaped me towards not just academics but enjoying people and interacting with everyone to make life better for everybody. I spent four wonderful years at Exeter University, can't recommend it highly enough. In between loving university life and doing all sorts of amazing activities with friends and the university I completed my Masters in Physics. After university I went away to Japan to eat and learn about all the different types of pickle (Tsukemono).

Guy joined RIC from Gad’s Hill School.

Tom was at Rochester for a year in 2002-3 having a second stab at A levels after being at Kent College, Canterbury. He graduated from Nottingham University earlier this month with a First in Ancient History, much to our delight (and his). A substantial share of the credit for this is due to you and your colleagues at Rochester, as you helped Tom rediscover enthusiasm and self motivation for academic study. So, a very big thank you to you all.

Tom is now working for the BBC.