4 February 2021
Four talented pupils from Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools have been offered the life-changing opportunity to study at Oxford and Cambridge universities.
In fact, Ellie Cole, who was awarded two A*s and two As in her A levels last summer, has accepted an offer to read German and Hebrew at St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford.
Anna Vines, the Head Girl at Monmouth School for Girls, has an offer to read German and Linguistics at The Queen’s College, Oxford.
Fifteen-year-old, Xiaoli Biggs, also a student at Monmouth School for Girls, has an offer to read Engineering at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge.
Robin Skailes, from Monmouth School for Boys, has been offered a place to read Computer Science at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge.
Ellie Cole, a former student at Monmouth School for Girls, took a gap year after her results last year and has been working as an English assistant at a boarding school in Thuringia, Germany.
Ellie applied to Oxford whilst in Germany, sitting her admissions tests in Munich and doing the interviews from the school.
Ellie attended Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools from Nursery to Sixth Form and, as part of her degree at Oxford, will spend a year abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
“I think the language opportunities at school helped in my development and path to Oxford,” said Ellie, who lives in Herefordshire.
“Dr Camille Geisz taught me Latin from Year 7 and what I have learnt from her has been the foundation for all my other language learning.
“The German Department at Monmouth School for Girls was also amazing. Mrs Helen’s Smail’s lessons are what originally inspired me to want to study German.”
In addition to her degree offer, Anna Vines has won a choral scholarship to The Queens’ College, which boasts a multi award-winning mixed choir.
A former Cross Ash Primary School pupil, Anna was the managing director of the Prospect Young Enterprise Company that reached the UK national finals last year.
Anna, who lives just outside Monmouth, is studying Further Maths, Maths, German and Music at A level.
She won the Oxford-German Olympiad in 2020 and currently leads the cello section in Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools Symphony Orchestra and Senior Strings.
A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, Anna is in the Rodolfus Choir (run by Ralph Allwood), has been part of a quartet outside school for seven years, enjoys singing, playing lacrosse and netball, and is organising next month’s Monmouth’s Got Talent competition.
Anna said: “My time at school has inspired me hugely, thanks to the wonderful friends I have made, the incredibly supportive teachers and the wide range of opportunities on offer.”
Xiaoli Biggs, who turns 16 this month, has already achieved an A* in both A level Maths and Further Maths, and a B in Music.
The teenager, who lives just outside Monmouth, has 15 GCSEs under her belt and is currently studying A levels in Physics, Chemistry and Computing.
Xiaoli says she was inspired to pursue a degree in Engineering after alumna, Priyanka Aswani from Usk, returned to school to give a fascinating talk about engineering and being a woman in leadership in January 2020.
“I visited Cambridge when I was 10 years old and getting to go there has always been in the back of my mind,” said Xiaoli, who plays piano and flute and has Grade 8 in her London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) exams.
“I have enjoyed my time at Monmouth and it has given me a good grounding – not just academically – because I have been involved in many other activities, such as music and sport.
“Until the middle of Year 11 my ambition was to become an astronaut, but now I would more like to be an aerospace engineer.
“Going to study at Cambridge is like going to another world; it would be incredibly exciting to be a part of and I’d be really grateful to go and have that experience.”
Robin Skailes, 17, has already achieved A* at A level in both Maths and Further Maths.
A keen musician, who holds Grade 8 in clarinet with distinction and a trampolinist at the Monmouth club, Robin is studying A levels in Physics, Chemistry and Computing and would like a career in cyber security.
Robin, who lives near Ross-on-Wye, started computer programming at a young age and first used structured programming when he was nine years old.
His father, Andrew, is the Head of Maths at Monmouth School for Girls and his mother, Christina, also teaches in the department.
His grandfather was Head of Computing, and also taught Physics, at Stamford High School and Robin has learned a lot from him, too.
“The father of Computer Science, Alan Turing, studied at Cambridge and this is a fantastic opportunity,” said Robin.
“It’s a world-renowned institution, has a brilliant reputation for software development, and opens many doors.”