Oppidan partners with Marbella Beach Resort Puente Romano

Oppidan Overseas

Beach resort Puente Romano in Marbella has become the latest destination to join the Oppidan Overseas programme.

Oppidan will be the exclusive education provider for families at the resort, running a wide range of activities for children aged 7-13 and private 1-to-1 mentoring available to families in the afternoons.

Oppidan will be at the resort from the 5th-12th April 2020, allowing your children to prepare themselves for returning to school after the Easter break. If you would like to join us and stay at the club, please do let us know.

For more information about any of our Overseas work please get in touch or visit our Overseas page here.

Information on the Harrow Test: Autumn 2019

The Harrow Test is the pre-test for entry to Harrow School, taken by the majority of boys between mid-September and mid-October of Year 7. Boys are offered conditional places based on successful Common Entrance exams taken in the summer term of Year 8. The Harrow Test takes place at the school; for parents and teachers who decide to attend, they will be invited on a tour of the school and a visit to a Boarding House. 

At Oppidan, we specialise in preparing boys for the Harrow Test; that preparation is based on a measured approach to helping boys remain engaged about the process, without putting undue pressure or concern on that application. A less is more approach is considered the mark of an appropriate guide of preparation, especially with the interview. Preparation for the academic elements of the test include familiarisation with the types of questions likely to be answered, and confidence to be able to tackle those problems head on. 

The Harrow Test is composed of the following elements: 

English and Maths Tests (1 hour) 

These tests are taken on a computer and take an hour to finish. It comprises five section: for the English, vocabulary, grammar and comprehension, and for a boy's numerical ability, mental arithmetic and problem solving. The test is timed and each section has a separate time allowance such that a boy has to use the time allocated for each specific section. 


English Writing (20 minutes) 

This is a straightforward assignment used very generally to check a boy's literary and writing ability. The school are looking for clear, accurate English - it is not an area to get overly fussed or concerned about. 

Visual Processing Speed Test

This is a short test assessing a boy’s ability to process visual information.

Two Interviews

One interview will be with a House Master and the other will be with a senior member of the Harrow teaching staff.  The aim of the interviews is to give a boy a chance to develop on his breadth of academics and an opportunity for candidates to showcase their interest in learning. A willingness to engage is the priority; senior schools are looking for a “zest for learning” and whether you are timid or confident, the point is to paint detail on your life, to outline your interests in a variety of subjects, and to show a willingness to engage in debate and give their opinion. Senior schools are not keen on boys who have been rehearsed or who have memorised template answers.

At Oppidan, we work on the basis that coaching children into reciting rehearsed template answers to questions is detrimental to their chances of a successful application. A relaxed approach in this area is vital to a proficient and rewarding interview experience. Interviews will involve poetry analysis, debates, thunks and picture analysis too all within the context of critical thinking.

Examples of Interview Questions:

  • Why do you want to come to this school?

  • What interests do you have outside of school?

  • What is your favourite subject?

  • Why do you like a particular subject?

  • What makes a good teacher?

  • Which books have you read recently?

  • How would your friends describe you?

  • What has been interesting you in the news recently?

Harrow Test Results

By the end of the first week of December of Year 7, an applicant is put on one of the lists below and is notified accordingly. Roughly 180 offers are given out for 160 places and some boys (about 30-40) are placed on a waiting list (no batting order.) An offer of a guaranteed place is contingent on an average of at least 65% overall at Common Entrance and a minimum of 60% across both English and Maths papers. 

The Game Plan For Clearing: A-Levels 2019

If you opened your A-Level results today and the grades looking back at you weren’t what you’d hoped for or expected, there will no doubt be a wave of emotions and thoughts hitting you. 

The outcome of many things will often reflect the effort one puts in, but other times there will be a mismatch of input and results. Whether this means that you’ve missed out on a University place, or simply didn’t achieve a grade you felt you worked for, it will hurt. 

In the aftermath there can and will be many questions asked, and much soul-searching done but this is a waste of energy. You now have 2 choices. You can dwell on what didn’t happen or use these results as a springboard for the next step. 

Here are the 3 things you need to remember:

1. Practice resilience

Your results didn’t go to plan but the world is going to keep turning and you will have many fantastic adventures and meet brilliant people irrespective of the university or course you do or don’t do! Trust us on this one. This period of change is one that you can grow from and must try to pick yourself up before your emotions manage you. You have the capacity to adapt and be successful! It’s time to start solving the next step. 

2. Think about what you desire to learn. 

Ask yourself what you enjoy and what you look forward to studying. Did you perform better in a subject than expected? This will help make navigating clearing easier. We don’t recommend wild swings to subjects you’ve never studied i.e. applying for Mandarin and Accounting if your UCAS was five applications to study Medieval History. Your passions and interests likely haven’t changed overnight, so stay true to yourself! Thinking about your long term aspirations can help here. What subjects of study will help you get to that place? Many graduate-entry jobs will be happy to accept any degree subject as long as it has been completed to a high standard. So send yourself in the direction of study that you will truly be engaged with for the next 3 years. 

3. Set yourself a game plan 

As Baz Lurhmann wisely wrote ‘Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum’. 

Your results will not stop the world from turning (even if it feels like they will do now - we promise!), use them to motivate yourself. Make a list of your passions and long term goals, shortlist areas of interest, give UCAS a call or check out their website, also give universities you applied to a call and see if there are places on similar courses or one that you applied to previously but didn’t accept an offer to. 

Remember as part of your game plan to be kind to yourself. There are so many options available beyond immediate entry to university - a gap year can offer unique work experience opportunities, or time to study and retake exams if you feel that you want to. Keep dialogue open and the right decision will come your way. 

Get in touch if you think you would benefit from the guidance of an Oppidan mentor.

Past-Paperless Mentoring

For many of us a paperless world is in sight. I’m not talking about preserving forests, not directly anyway. We all agree that is important. I’m referring to exam papers (of which there are many). I’d argue that all of us who have anything to do with Oppidan are interested in lessons being about learning, not solely about past exam papers. 

As teachers and mentors, we’re all aware of the duty we have towards young people and families to help them achieve their ambitions. Exams often open the door to these ambitions. So how do we do this without draining the life out of learning? How to keep young people eager upright, rather than stooping ashen-faced under stacks of papers? 

It’s been a real joy to arrive at mentoring sessions this year with a bag full of books, articles and links to Ted Talks. A lesson involved examining a range of different History texts (think The Story of Art vs extracts from The Magna Carta) and trying to come closer to answering the question: ‘What is History?’ From here we built-up to thinking about different types of history and the questions of why and how History is re-written. We incorporated examples from the course taught at school and my mentee was surprised to realise how much he knew. Only afterwards did we look at the exam question which asked whether or not it is a problem that History is constantly being rewritten. 

This all had me thinking that perhaps we need to learn more freely first to equip young people to tackle exam questions later. 

Written by Digby Don, Oppidan Mentor

To view Digby’s mentoring profile click here.