DIVINE Mercy College is a unique school in several respects. Thirty years ago, in 1954, it was set up by the Marian Fathers as an independent boarding school for the sons of Polish exiles in the West.
It continues to fulfil that role, and boys of Polish origin make up 40 per cent of the present school; for some time however it has welcomed boy's from Britain and elsewhere and is now also a day school.
There are boys from America, West Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Zambia, Nigeria, Mauritius and Hong Kong as well as England.
Unique features include the Opportunity all boys have of learning Polish if they wish. This may be the only school in Britain which can in fact offer two Slavonic languages, for as well as Polish, Russian can be taken.
Other languages available are German and Latin, and all the usual grammar-school subjects are taught. Extra English is available for foreign boys.
,Another unique feature is the teaching of Polish history alongside British history, and here use can be made of the rich store of Polish treasures in the museum. This results in an
unusual broadening of pupils' outlook.
Divine Mercy College occupies a beautiful site of 72 acres on the banks of the Thames at Henley. The school's main building is Fawley Court, a historic country house designed by Wren in 1684, with grounds laid out by Capability Brown.
There are a church, chapel, modern laboratories and dormitories, the museum, library, gym, etc. Good 0 and A level results are obtained, as the classes are small and the teacherpupil ratio is high.
Mass is offered with each form once a week, in addition to Sunday Mass, Benediction and daily prayers. Religion is taught by the Marian Fathers, and all other subjects by the highlyqualified lay staff of men and women.
Pastoral care is given by the form-mistresses and formmasters, who live in, and by the chaplain.
The resident matron and the visiting school doctor preside over the pleasant sick-bay.
Soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics and athletics are among the sporting activities, together with kayaks, air-rifle shooting, pool, table-tennis, chess, war games and bridge for further recreation.
The boys edit a bi-termly magazine. Boys can also use the computers, or learn about photography. The school has a dark-room. This year, the school will be working on a man-powered boat project, thanks to a research grant. Some boys have attended classes in car maintenance at the local technical college.
Entrance is by examination in general knowledge, English and mathematics. The next exams for entrance to Forms 1 to IV are on March 30. For higher classes and foreign boys, a good school report is needed.
The school has an open afternoon on May 18. Enquiries should be addressed to The Principal, Rev C Pisiak MIC, Divine Mercy College, Fawley Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 3AE, Tel. 0491 574917.