Alina Wiltshire, Lower Sixth

I joined Bede’s at the Prep School when I was 8 years old, so I have been here for pretty much my whole school life.

Art has always been my thing, ever since I was a little kid, and right from the Prep School I took every chance I could to draw and paint. I even used to come in for optional art sessions on Saturday mornings, and did my first fine art portrait when I was in Year 6.

Most schools would never encourage you to do something like that, and even though I was scared at the time it was the start of me learning to take the initiative and understand that I could do it, by myself.

When I joined the Senior School I started doing Photography straight away and then took up Ceramics in the Fifth Form too. The range of facilities and opportunities available here is really unusual, from the number of academic courses to the Co-Curricular options right down to things like the cutting-edge technology in some areas alongside the Victorian printing-press and the dark rooms in others. It’s a genuinely exciting place to study.

Of course, my GCSEs were stressful, but even in subjects where I struggled like Science and Maths I somehow managed to get A grades. I was obviously really happy with my results, but I was also surprised. I worked hard and had great support from my teachers, but just didn’t see my four A*s and four As coming!

I’m now in the Sixth Form and I’m studying two separate A Levels in Fine Art and Graphics plus Photography and Media Studies. I have my own space in the Art Studios and I spend as much time there as I can, which means, once you add it up, that I spend about 25 timetabled hours a week studying Art, which is exactly what I want.

I understand that my life at Bede’s is different to my friends, who are into Philosophy or English or Languages. Other students are all about Sport or Maths, but we all get along and the House system is quite special for enabling that. My house, Charleston, is really homely for example, and it’s always a relaxing place to be and feel like you belong.

Looking ahead, I would love to go to Central St Martins but in a way I would like to just start work and get some professional experience. The main thing is that by the time I leave I will have been at Bede’s for 10 years, and that’s 10 years of training that has meant that I can now choose to do whatever I want to.

That is obviously a very good feeling.


When Alina completed her GCSEs, she became the first student in the history of the United Kingdom to achieve 100% in her Art, Photography and Ceramics GCSEs. She is currently studying for her A Levels.

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