Current & Former Students: Pen Portraits


completed his A levels at Dixie in June 2015, then he went to Durham university to do Chinese studies. Last year, he went to Beijing for his one year overseas course (Sep 2017- July 18) at Tsingua University. He is about to come back to England soon.

My Experience in China By Jordan Henshaw

As of today, I only have one month left of my Year Abroad at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Now is an ideal time for me to reflect on my experiences in China, so as to inform (and maybe entertain!) those interested in studying or working overseas as part of their degree, or living elsewhere in the future. This past year has been filled with good and bad times for me, but because you should always ‘end on a high’, I’ll start by discussing the difficulties of my life abroad.
Before beginning though, I want to emphasise that the point of mentioning negatives is not to complain or discourage people from doing a Year Abroad. Indeed, I think it’s important to know that different cultures work in different (and sometimes surprising) ways before you make such a big decision; especially when you could be moving to the opposite side of the world!
In my experience, these can all be grouped under the umbrella of ‘culture shock’. The British are generally regarded as especially polite, including by the Chinese who consider us ‘绅士’ shēnshì (‘gentry’ or ‘gentleman’). You can only imagine my reaction, then, when I discovered how queueing is not a popular pastime; my Starbucks cup had ‘外友’ wàiyǒu (‘foreign friend’), ‘Mr. Gentle’ or ‘Sunshine Boy’ written on it instead of my usual name; how tube passengers often photograph or film foreigners without permission (and more) in China. Although some of these were amusing to start with, they have all stressed my foreign background, and made integrating into Chinese society difficult.
However, the ensuing homesickness has been easy to solve. The university environment is summed up in the motto of ‘自强不息’ zìqiáng bùxī (‘to strive unremittingly’), meaning that students here tend to prioritise academics. Because I am very much the same, I have been able to meet and befriend new people from different countries easily, whose warmth has helped Tsinghua to feel more like home.
Also, regular phone and video-calls with, and visits from family and friends have been occasions that I have looked forward to. Through providing  something which is not Chinese or academic to think about, these times have proven to be (sometimes welcome) diversions from my Year Abroad. After each conversation or visit, I have been able to approach the remainder of my time in China with a clearer mind, allowing me to better enjoy and make the most of my stay here.
Changing tack slightly, cultural difference can also be positive. Because relatively few foreigners can speak Mandarin, natives tend to be very willing to speak Chinese with you, and are very pleased and vocal with praise when you do so. Indeed, this condition (and my very deep love for coffee!) has enabled me to strike up such a rapport with some local baristas that they buy food for me when they go shopping! These small acts of kindness have helped to create a friendly environment to settle into.
In conclusion, although there have been good and bad aspects to my Year Abroad, I have ultimately been able to solve the negatives with the positives. Because of this, you should not be discouraged from living overseas, due to fear of the unknown alone. 
Indeed, as this time can enrich your university experience through how you improve language skills, obtain cultural understanding, form lifelong friendships and so on, my final piece of advice is ‘只争朝夕’ zhǐzhēng zhāoxī (‘seize every minute’). After all, in the immortal words of JLS: ‘you only get one shot, so make it count, you might never get this moment again’.

I joined Dixie from the age of 11 and continued my studies through to sixth form. I chose to study my A levels at Dixie Grammar School because of the interest each teacher takes in your person development and dedication to getting you the best out of your education.
At A level I read biology, chemistry and maths with my fourth subject for AS being art. I chose art as it was a release from the more academic subjects and enabled me to have creative freedom and broaden my skillset. I enjoyed every aspect of these subjects. Many a lunch break would be spent in the science labs with one of the teachers answering any questions I had or expanding my knowledge on the subject enabling me to get the best head start at university. The teachers at Dixie Grammar understand that students all learn in very different ways and incorporate these differences into their teaching to ensure each student thrives. From video documentary projects to field trips and university lectures. In addition to my four primary subjects I was encouraged to enrol in an open university course to get an early insight into university standards and I am so glad I did. Not only did I learn about a subject I was interested in, it taught me time management and how to learn independently.
I applied to five different universities, some above my predicted grades and some lower to guarantee myself a place. I accepted my second offer to study biochemistry at The University of Huddersfield and it has provided me with the opportunity to work in an incredible Immunology Lab in Australia.
I would not have achieved the grades I did or had the confidence to be where I am today without the constant support during and after school from the teachers and
students at Dixie Grammar. I have made some lifelong friends along the way and feel blessed to be part of this community.



Current Head of Physical Performance with Kubota Spears in Tokyo, Japan. I have experience in high performance coaching across rugby, mixed martial arts, boxing and motor sports.

Ollie left the Dixie in 2000 and went to Bath University to complete an HND in Sports Science. From there Ollie completed a degree in Sports Science at St. Mary's London, and following an apprenticeship with Leicester Tigers, became a Strength and Conditioning coach with Queensland Reds, Australia. He has been in his current role in Japan for almost 3 years. 

emily parkes (2003)
I was at the Dixie from 1995–2003 leaving to train as a Veterinary Surgeon at Robinson College, Cambridge. I qualified in 2009 and initially worked in a mixed practice until joining a small animal practice in 2013 where I am a Senior Veterinary Surgeon. I have particular interest in diagnostic imaging, having gone on to complete a general practitioners’ certificate in imaging.
I have fond memories of the Dixie and appreciated the Science departments’ help and support in applying to my chosen career.
Dixie 1998-2006
I left Dixie to go to the University of Bristol, qualifying in 2011 with a M Eng. I am work for Renishaw PLC currently setting up ADEISS in Canada.  Have a look at this link to find out more but be ready to let the opening ad run first:
Opportunities at the Dixie, including public speaking, have stood me in good stead for much that I do now.
Good luck in your chosen career.


Ellie Harland (2010)

I joined Dixie to study for my AS and A levels, I chose Dixie for its small class sizes, tight knit community feel and support network.

Initially I wanted to be a vet so I chose to study maths, chemistry and biology to A level and then I decided music would be a great AS level to broaden my base and have some time away from a "classroom" environment.When it came to applying for university I put four choices down to study veterinary medicine and was encouraged to put down a 5th choice to leave my options open. I decided on chemical engineering based on my love of both chemistry and maths, this ended up being the best decision ever because I am now a Master of Chemical Engineering working at an oil refinery on the south coast.

The support I got from the school during my application, rejections and acceptances was amazing and the friendships I made along the way are cherished very dearly!



luke thornton

I joined Dixie in year 6 and remained there all the way through to sixth form. Upon completing A-levels, I then went on to the University of Kent, where I first studied for a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in Comparative Literature, graduating with a first and a distinction respectively.

After spending four years at university and a lifetime in education, I decided it was time for a break and headed to China, where I became an English Language Assistant with the British Council. Needless to say, living in China for a year was a completely unforgettable and inspiring experience, and one that would never have happened had it not been for my first trip to China whilst a student at Dixie in 2008.

After returning to the UK, I began a career in advertising, and am currently an Account Manager at JWT, working with HSBC as my main client. In my current role, I am frequently required to balance creativity with logical, commercial thinking. This balance is something that reminds me heavily of my time at Dixie, where I had just as much fun recording results from experiments in the science labs as I did discussing modern American literature. Both these activities involved group work too, and with Dixie having such a strong community, it fostered my sense of collaboration - an invaluable skill with regards to the diverse teams I now find myself working in. Dixie's motto is 'A good education is a gift that last forever' encouraging from the off a culture of lifelong learning, which sparked in me a curiosity that still permeates everything I do today. Working in a competitive industry in a global marketplace requires adaptability and although I didn't know it at the time, my years at Dixie were great preparation for this.

My name is Kate Oliver and I am a Project Manager within the Supply Chain at Boots.
I started life at Dixie in year 1 as a very shy 6 year old, and have progressed through both junior and senior schools and finally Sixth Form, where I gained a music scholarship and left with A Levels in Business, French and Music.
During my 13 years at the Dixie, I had the opportunity to get involved in a wide variety of sporting, academic, music and extra-curricular activities including playing in the schools hockey, rounders and tennis teams, taking parting in numerous musical productions and concerts and going on a world challenge expedition to Kenya & Tanzania. In my final year at Dixie, I was honoured to represent the school as head girl – teaching me valuable life skills including public speaking and team leadership which I depend on so much now in my career.
The dedicated staff and small class sizes at Dixie provide a great community which helped to set me up for University, where being self-motivated and confident to work both independently and in a group was essential.
After leaving Dixie, I studied International Business and French at Portsmouth University for 4 years where I undertook a year in industry working as a Distribution Intern for Warner Bros Pictures International in London as well as a year studying abroad at L’Ecole de Management de Normandie in France where I attainted an International Bachelor of Management qualification in addition to my degree.
Last year I graduated from Portsmouth with a First Class Honours degree and am now on a fast track Graduate Scheme at Boots.
My current role at Boots requires me to be agile with a lot of attention to detail whilst working on high profile projects within the global Supply Chain and managing a project team with different  skills and attributes. I regularly use the skills and behaviours instilled in me at Dixie as they have helped shape me into who I am today.
Although my days at Dixie seem like a lifetime ago, the experiences I had and friends I made will be with me forever.


maurice chung (2013)

I started Dixie in year 1 (back when the Junior school was still called “The Wolstan”) through to the end of Sixth Form.  

The school has given me amazing opportunities not only academically, but in extra-curricular activities such as performing in concerts and doing school musicals. I have had the best of times filling in the role of Social Prefect in Upper Sixth, where I was able to organise various events throughout the year. All of this, no doubt, had given me the confidence and the foundation in going on to audition for London drama schools. After a gruelling year of auditions, I am proud to say that I am now training at Mountview Academy Of Theatre Arts, one of the leading UK Performing Arts Conservatoires, on a Dance and Drama Award Scholarship.

I can honestly say my time at Dixie was incredible and an amazing experience. I am grateful that I was able to study here for 13 years!

emily davis (2014)

I was a student at Dixie from Reception until Upper Sixth and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It wasn’t until leaving Dixie and going onto university and the world of work that I truly appreciated the support and opportunities that Dixie gave me. In sixth form, I studied English Literature (to AS Level), Biology, Maths and French, which provided me with the analytical skills required for my degree. I also had the opportunity to study Mandarin Chinese at GCSE level, alongside History, PE, French and other core subjects. 

After leaving Dixie, I attended Durham University and I have recently graduated with a First Class Honours in Law. At Dixie, the careers advice and assistance helped me to realise that law was the best career path for me. Most notably, I was put forward for an exclusive open day at Oxford University and introduced to a law club at DeMontfort University, where I was able to develop and practice core skills which proved essential for my studies and work experience. In sixth form, the guidance and numerous reviews of my UCAS application, alongside interview practice, ensured that I was offered a place at Durham to continue pursuing my career in law. I am now training to be a solicitor, having secured a job with Squire Patton Boggs, in Leeds.
Throughout my time at Dixie, I was heavily involved in sport, playing both netball and hockey, as well as competing in athletics and cross-country. Dixie recommended I played for Hinckley Ladies Netball Club and this proved to be a huge part of my life, playing competitively every week and spending two years on the Executive Committee. I continued playing  sport at university, learning to row and competing at Henley Regatta.

I was also fortunate enough to take advantage of the variety of trips which Dixie offers. Highlights include the World Challenge expedition to Peru - where we completed a 7 day trek in the Ausangate mountain range and participated in a project to restore a school - and a trip to a lion conservation project in Zambia. I learnt a lot during these trips, especially teamwork skills and an ability to persevere and complete our tasks in some very challenging situations, whilst creating some amazing memories.

During my final year at Dixie, I had the privilege of being Head Girl. The responsibility not only made my final year at Dixie a highlight, but it proved an asset for job applications and interviews, allowing me to showcase key skills employers search, providing an excellent foundation for moving forwards onto university and my career. I gained key public speaking and leadership skills, alongside learning to act in a professional manner and engage with staff, students and parents alike.





eve gooden (2014)

I joined the Dixie in Year 10 and carried my studies on into the Sixth Form, where I achieved 3 A’s at A-Level in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and an A* in General Studies.

With the help of my form tutor I applied to Imperial College London where I have just completed my degree in Biomedical Science and obtained a first. 

Initially, I was extremely indecisive about what I wanted to study at university and where, and my form tutor, Mrs Harland, showed great patience and support, coaching me to reach that important decision. I found that smaller class sizes at the Dixie helped me to believe in myself and reach my full potential, giving me the confidence to excel at university. 

I have made friendships and memories that will last forever and I am grateful to the Dixie for this experience. 

George bacon
I joined the Dixie at the start of Year Eight, moving from Hastings High School in Burbage. I was instantly taken aback by far smaller class sizes, the far greater amount of attention as a pupil from teachers and the vast number of extra-curricular activities you could involved in. I said yes to everything I could, and now in Upper Sixth still play an active part in the school orchestra and wind band, and even played Warbucks in the school production of Annie last year. In my GCSEs I achieved 9 A*s and an A, and am taking A Levels in Biology, Physics and Chemistry this year. I am hoping to study medicine in the future, and the support throughout the UCAS application process has been superb - the advice given to me regarding structuring my personal statement and UCAS form has given me a lot of confidence in applying to medical schools.



anisha mackay
Joining in September 2016, I found becoming a part of the Dixie Sixth Form much easier than I had expected. Within a matter of weeks I had a good group of friends, plenty of academic support from my teachers and was already beginning to involve myself in school life. Several of the numerous extra-curricular opportunities on offer at the Dixie complemented my academic interests, particularly the Sixth Form debates. Whilst providing the opportunity to speak in front of my peers, debating has helped develop my skills of argument and has strengthened my overall confidence. Subsequently, I have chosen to study Law with French at university, confident that I will put my debating skills to good use.


angus nickols
My name is Angus Nickols and I am Head Boy here at The Dixie Grammar School. I joined Dixie for Sixth Form and since arriving at the beginning of last academic year, I have settled in extremely quickly and have loved my time here so far. The friendly atmosphere is extremely welcoming and I have no doubt that any student that joins will have the same experience as me. I have been offered many interesting opportunities, not only academically but also extra-curricular but have felt supported every step of the way allowing me to develop as an individual.  Outside of school I tend to be busy playing rugby for Market Bosworth Rugby Club as well as helping coach the U12 age group of whom a number are pupils at the Dixie. I am the oldest of 5 children in my family as well as having a large extended family so I often enjoy spending time with them at home or in Wales where our family have spent our summer holidays for the last 50 years.