BOARDING SCHOOL Boarding’s
Where boarders are the sole focus Guards officer to housemaster •Indian dawn? Number 35 • Spring 2012
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 1
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The magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
Number 35 • Spring 2012
Director’s column: land of opportunity
In defence of boarding
Common sense or dark art?
A picture a day...
Marie Celeste to independent school of the year
From Guards officer to boarding housemaster
Boarding’s Olympics Summer
Renaissance in the heart of England
Everything planned around us..
The most beautiful boarding house in history?
Making historic Roedean work for the 21st century
HR challenges: Look forwards not back
Making weekends the big thing
Managing risk on school trips
Common sense or dark art? Page 8
Boarding’s Olympic Summer Page 16
International students foster local history 45
The most beautiful boarding house in history? Page 32
The deadline for the next edition of Boarding School (issue No.36) is 31 August 2012. Copy for this edition should be sent to: The Editor Dick Davison Boarding Schools’ Association Grosvenor Gardens House 35-37 Grosvenor Gardens London SW1W 0BS Telephone 020 7798 1580 Fax 020 7798 1581 Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.boarding.org.uk
Boarding Schools’ Association Ltd Registered in England and Wales. Registered No: 4676107 Registered Office: Grosvenor Gardens House 35-37 Grosvenor Gardens London SW1W 0BS Publisher’s Notice Boarding School is published bi-annually by the Boarding Schools’ Association.
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The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 1
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2 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
the director’s column
land of opportunity? This has been a year in which boarding has surprised us all: in the midst of recessionary times, in the midst of economic hardship, even assailed by ageold stories of unhappy boarders in the grimmer establishments of the last century, boarding is thriving.
We await with interest the figures for the year which will be revealed by the ISC census in late April, but the buzz throughout the year has been about boarding numbers holding up and even growing. In the week in which I write this, three schools have contacted the BSA office to ask, ‘How do I start boarding – there’s this super house on the edge of the grounds, and we think it would make a perfect place for boarders. . .’ To be fair, none of the enquirers had in mind launching a boarding house for a hundred boarders; their aims were more modest and more in keeping with their original purpose as providers of education for a day population. But between them, if they pull it off, they would offer boarding to a hundred young people, and in future years, who knows?
possible in most day schools. And for many youngsters, that’s why they are there. What else does a school need, then? Enhanced music, drama, art and sport, in spades. What it does not need is a staff convinced that the day starts at 8.30 and finishes at 5.00, with maybe an occasional match on a Saturday. The activities programme which keeps boarders happy and active during evenings and weekends can be the bedrock of their education and for many it will be an avenue to an adult life and achievements beyond their wildest dreams. A recent article in The Times highlighted all the actors thronging our stages and screens – Dominic West, Hugh Laurie et al – who were former pupils of Eton. Among other fascinating details – such as Eton having a former RSC actor as their Head of Theatre – was the fact that an Eton boy, during his five years at the school, was likely to see or be able to perform in as many as 100 school plays. As a some-time English teacher who managed to put on school plays, I hung my head in shame. Why so few? Perhaps because I was Head of English, Head of Sixth Form or Deputy Head, not Head of Theatre; perhaps because my schools had no Head of Theatre – the school play was a jolly extra, do it or don’t do it if you like, but woe betide you if you cast the hockey centre forward in a key role and there’s a clash between matches and rehearsals.
“This year, more than any other for some time, Britain is at least ‘thinking sport’.“
And why should they not have confidence in their ability to attract boarders, when you consider the success story of The Harefield Academy, which opened its brand new boarding accommodation in September – see feature in Boarding School edition No. 34 – and by Christmas had thirty five students happily ensconced in their new bedrooms. Here is the evidence of demand for boarding places in state schools which had not dreamed of such development even five years ago. No wonder that independent schools, which might once have had boarders but then closed down their boarding operation in the lean years, are looking again at making boarding part of their business model. We wish them luck, and look forward to seeing them join (or re-join) BSA. What all of them will need to watch, of course, is that they provide well – not just adequately, but positively well – for all of the twenty four hours in which a boarding school operates but a day school does not. There’s a whole lot more to being a boarding school than just providing dinner, breakfast and a warm, safe place to lay your head in between. As this edition of Boarding School amply demonstrates, boarding schools by their very nature offer opportunities way beyond those
In a boarding school, as the Times reminded us, they can rehearse morning, noon and night: well, maybe not at midnight, but boarding certainly offers the pupils, the facilities, the expertise and the time – a magical combination. The classic array of activities – I have come across schools with as many as 90 different things going on during the week – gives youngsters the chance to try anything, and maybe find the one thing where they have potential, whether its tennis or tiddlywinks, art or archery, violin or volleyball.
This year, more than any other for some time, Britain is at least ‘thinking sport’. Many of this year’s Olympians will have come through Britain’s independent schools; many will have been boarders. It was inspiring, some years ago, to hear Duncan Goodhew talk of being ‘spotted’ at a prep school, and urged to apply to Millfield, a school able to support and capitalise upon his undoubted talent, and make an Olympic gold medallist of him. There will be more Duncans this summer, emerging from the playing fields and pools and courts of our great schools, living proof of the opportunities boarding can make possible, and what is possible when you grab such opportunities don’t look back. We can be very proud of them. Hilary Moriarty National Director The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 3
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In Defence of boarding
PIPPA MILLS, head of boarding at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, was disturbed and angered by hostile references to boarding in the national press. Critics, she says, should come and see the modern truth for themselves. It’s nothing new, I know, but it was with a growing concern in the first few weeks of this year that I read correspondence in the press, much of it occasioned by an article headlined “The British boarding school remains a bastion of cruelty”, in The Guardian, accusing boarding schools of causing profound developmental damage to the children in their care. The bold statements of repression and trauma that we appear to inflict on our pupils made me reflect deeply on our raison d’être. Could we really be responsible for major problems in adulthood by destroying intimate relationships? Are we truly wicked, cold institutions which remove from the inmates the ability to talk about or understand emotions? Our critics accuse us of causing the child to shut itself off from the need for intimacy. They allege that we cannot adapt ourselves to the individual needs of a child. I have no doubt that this was the case at the cold, stark Scottish boarding school which my father attended during the war.
Cold showers, prefectorial beatings and bullying of younger pupils were all commonplace during his schooldays. My father rarely had the opportunity to see his parents from one term to the next and his first letter home, clearly written through gritted teeth, reflected a sad and deeply traumatised existence. Pastoral care in those days had yet to be invented and my father was undoubtedly a very unhappy pupil throughout his school days. It has to be acknowledged, however, that this did not put him off from embarking upon a career in prep school boarding, a commitment which he pursued until the day of his retirement. Following his death a few years ago l I was greatly moved to hear my father’s former head of house describe him as a keystone in his childhood and admit to me that giving my father’s eulogy at his memorial service had been more emotionally harrowing for him than speaking at his own grandfather’s funeral. On my reflective journey, the seeds of comfort began to sprout and grow. The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 5
In defence of boarding continued
At HMSG we have a tightly-knit group of junior boarders who The essence of one recent argument has been the apparent thrive on supporting each other through thick and thin. Every harm that we do to young children, allegedly thrust into the girl is a valued and unique member of her boarding horrors of boarding school life from an alarmingly house and individually the girls are encouraged to young age. I was consequently greatly strive for excellence across the board. However, comforted one recent weekend to watch each girl also knows that she has a firm our junior boarders, some of whom are “I have been in circle of friends on whom she can rely eight years old, relishing the prospect boarding school when times are hard. These friendships of a Saturday night spent amongst the transcend age, race and culture: closest of friends. education all of my life boarders pull together when the going and I am, like it or not, gets tough and the youngest members Decked out in pyjamas and the of our community are cherished and mandatory “Onesie” they embarked fully institutionalised. cared for by staff and pupils alike. upon the brewing of hot chocolate, I spent my childhood followed by a ear-splitting karaoke Opponents of boarding school life accuse competition, complete with dance as a staff child in the us of exposing our pupils to regimented actions and the usual heated discussion boarding houses...” lifestyles. They fail to acknowledge that over who really should have won X Factor children need rules and boundaries, as this time round. without them confusion, bad behaviour and social ignorance are willing temptresses. We guide It would seem that some of our opponents cannot, the children in our care round the obstacles of adolescence, or will not, acknowledge the stability that we give to helping them to form their own moral compass which will children who otherwise would have very little continuity in their serve them for the rest of their lives. Many children who come lives. These are often children whose parents are employed into boarding lack this inherent structure, for many different in the armed forces and who without the stability of boarding reasons, and it is our challenge to present them with guidelines school life would be forced to change schools as frequently as that are reasonable and relevant. Nowadays school rules are their fathers change postings, some as often as every two years. appropriate and fitting for children in the twenty-first century, Likewise we have in our care a significant number of children delivered not with the cane, but through reason, explanation who come from split homes and who long for a respite from and example. troubled domestic lives. 6 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
For Pippa Mills’ father, Colin Laird (back row, right), boarding at a Scottish boys’ school in the 1940s was a very different experience.
I was further buoyed at a recent open day to be questioned intently by a prospective parent over our reasons not to accept boarders younger than eight years old, as her almost-seven year old daughter is desperate to be allowed to join the boarding ranks. The undisputable message that our adversaries have not taken into consideration is that boarding is now fun, it is cool and it is much desired - because boarding schools simply could not survive unless this were the case. Every institution needs to adapt and evolve according to the needs of its customers, and boarding schools are no exception. Since my father’s unhappy school days, man has landed on the moon, the internet has been invented and we have witnessed the inauguration of the first black American President. Change is unstoppable, inevitable and in the case of boarding schools undeniably an improvement on the days of old. Nowadays boarding schools are regularly and thoroughly inspected by government-appointed agencies to ensure that we meet the ever increasing demands of the law, and to allege that boarding schools are beyond such legislation is ludicrously wide of the mark. Furthermore, and perhaps more pertinently, these days the customer very definitely votes with his or her feet. If parents do not like what they see at open days, or what they hear on
the grapevine, then the child will go to school elsewhere. End of story. Never has it been so critical for us to adapt to the needs and the demands of our consumer in order to ensure that boarding school life is a fulfilling, stimulating and above all a happy experience. If it our customers were not contented then closure would be just around the corner and our P45 notifications in our pigeon holes. I have been in boarding school education all of my life and I am, like it or not, fully institutionalised. I spent my childhood as a staff child in the boarding houses which my parents ran and have returned to the life that I know and love. On graduation from university, other careers seemed empty and only surface deep, although perhaps more financially attractive in the first instance. I briefly considered the world of commerce, having gained a degree in languages and business studies, but a PGCE at the University of Cambridge soon set me straight. My calling was unequivocally into boarding school life and now as head of boarding at my current school I have no doubt that those who accuse boarding schools of causing harm to the children in our care do so simply out of ignorance. I suspect that witnessing first hand the merriment, deep friendships, and community spirit in our boarding houses would weaken the resolve of even the staunchest of our opponents, would they but witness it at first hand.
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 7
Marketing prep school boarding:
Common sense or dark art? RICHARD FENWICK, Headmaster of Hazlegrove School, believes that marketing is about making sure that the school does what boarding pupils and their parents want. It is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that marketing is the answer to filling our school and our boarding houses with happy and enthusiastic children. We can be left wondering if we are muggles trying to compete in a world of potions, quidditch and the dark arts and that somehow, marketing is the magic wand. After nearly fourteen years of headship, I have come to believe that there is no magic answer and that 90% of marketing is a mixture of common sense and hard work. My own approach to marketing is based on three key assumptions. • The first is based on something I heard Russell Speirs say years ago along these lines: ‘Marketing isn’t selling what you produce, it’s producing what you can sell.’ 8 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
• The second assumption is that about 80 per cent of parents join a school because of what they have heard through word of mouth. • Finally, that your most effective marketers are your current parents and pupils. An effective marketing function in a school is a key aspect of defining culture, provision and communication strategies. Marketing can only therefore be effective if it is an integral aspect of the leadership in a school.
It is vital that we are aware of our current market, what works for us now and what it is that we do that satisfies our current parents. Research, questionnaires, informal open forum parents’ evenings and chatting on the touchline will all help to build up a picture. We have to be very responsive and ready to consider altering and developing current provision to meet demand and need. Let me give three examples of the kind of useful data that can come out of informal research: • Discussion with boarding parents leads to a review of mobile phone use and the installation of a number of fixed line phone
booths in all boarding houses with individual dial-out options. • Analysis of the pattern of enquiries and visits leads to altering timing of open days. • Questionnaires for new boarding parents provide valuable feedback about how we can improve systems, provision and communication. We all now also get a limited amount of parental feedback through the inspection process, but it is probably a good idea to commission an external provider to carry out an in-depth and comprehensive parent survey every few years.
Everyone associated with the school needs to be very clear about what the school stands for, its key values and its vision for the young people in its care. These are usually implicit in the way a school runs and although they may be clear internally, it is important to make sure that this vision is explicit so that all stakeholders can easily present the school effectively to the wider community. It must also be clear from published material and the school website.
For boarding to be a successful and marketable aspect of a prep school, it must lie at the heart of the school and be central in all strategic and operational planning. Staffing is vital, not just in terms of quality, but also in number. Children must feel loved and safe, so make sure you appoint staff for whom the wellbeing of the boarders is a priority. Pupils benefit from having a number of adults around during the evenings and at weekends, not just to run an exciting activity programme but to be there, in chapel, at meals and to mop up the odd one who hasn’t quite fitted in with the provision available. Matrons, gap students, graduate assistants, artists-in-residence and sports assistants can all add to the rich tapestry of life in a vibrant boarding community and with the number of graduates there are out there, they can be very good value for money. We have found that parents really appreciate an up-to-date news page with lots of recent photographs so that they can see images of their children busy and happy with their friends. It is worth allocating some administrative time purely to managing cameras and uploading photographs. It is also a good idea to invest in a fairly serious SLR digital camera with a meaty lens to able to get some of those not-to-be-missed moments from a distance, both indoors and out.
Most prep schools cannot afford the luxury of an inhouse marketer. Instead they rely on the best efforts of an overworked head or senior member of staff and a member of the administrative staff who looks after admissions. This can work really well as it ensures that there is joined up thinking between the information and data that comes back from the marketing function and the strategic planning that takes place at a leadership level. If you use an in-house approach consider buying in some external help on a regular basis. Three or four days a year will help to give you a marketing health check, to help you review your marketing plan and to come up with some ideas and initiatives. Remember that you are buying their time so make the most of the consultant you use. A well-presented report may cost you a day’s fees so you may be better just to ask for a couple of hours of verbal feedback and use a secretary to take notes.
Managing the Visit
The parental visit is a pivotal aspect of the marketing process. It is important to be honest and not to over-promise - they are looking for reasons to trust you. Try to ensure they meet the right people, who will instil hope and optimism and make sure that you communicate a good mix of heart and detail. Parents are keen to know about bed times, meal arrangements, who sits next to whom, how phones are managed and so on. Explain not just what you do, but why you do it. The principle behind procedures is usually of more interest than the actual arrangements. Your main objective must be to give the parents the hope that your heart is to look after their children as if they were your own.
Finally, it is important to make sure that at a leadership level, key staff keep asking themselves two questions when making any decisions or when involved in operational planning. • How will this work for a boarder? • How will this work for a boarding parent? The result may be very enlightening, and will almost certainly make marketing boarding much easier to manage.
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 9
A picture a day… PAUL SPENCER ELLIS, Headmaster of Royal Alexandra and Albert School, has found a way of introducing prospective and current parents to the daily realities of life in a boarding school.
I am not even a vaguely competent photographer, but an electronic camera is fairly foolproof, websites will only take fairly low resolution photos and it takes me around two minutes to upload a photo, give it a title and a brief commentary. The job could be ghosted by the director of marketing, but feedback indicates that people like the fact that I am running the diary myself.
Are you a tweeting Head? Does the Principal blog? Or do you use a fountain pen to write entries in your diary? By inclination I am that fountain pen user, but I have surprised myself this year by running the Headmaster’s Photo Diary on our website.
The photos are of what goes on day-to-day in school, not of major events which will be covered by press releases and the weekly newsletter. It gives a view of the ordinary life of the school rather than the display that prospective parents expect on an open day.
The website attracted over 10,000 new visitors in January 2012 and we know that the website was the first contact with the school for 40 per cent of our current boarders. Our specially commissioned You Tube clip ‘All aboard to board’ has now had over twenty-four thousand ‘hits’ but that is aimed more at potential pupils than their parents. The headmaster’s photo diary is the most visited page on our website and for many prospective parents with no experience of boarding it allows them to see boarding, not just read about it, as this helps to bring it alive – in the same way that a visit is so much more informative than a printed prospectus.
Correspondence indicates that it is also looked at by parents of current boarders. They feel that it keeps them in touch with the reality of life at the school. Will I continue with the photo diary? Yes, until I struggle to find subjects for photos, but this has not been a problem so far and I have visited bits of school life that I might never otherwise have seen.
Follow Paul’s photo diary at www.raa-school. co.uk/blog.asp 10 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
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The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 11
From Marie Celeste to independent school of the year. When Mike Farmer became head of a girls’ boarding school in Perthshire, one guide described its boarding as the Marie Celeste. Last year, Kilgraston was named Independent School of the Year. How was it done?
Scotland’s leading boarding school for girls, Kilgraston, in Perthshire, has experienced a phenomenal increase in boarding over the last eight years. Under the leadership of Principal Mike Farmer, the school has seen an 87 per cent growth in boarding numbers and is currently in the enviable position of having to turn prospective boarders away. It was a different story when Mike joined Kilgraston. The school had so much spare capacity, with one house mothballed, that one school guide unhelpfully likened the boarding to the ‘Mary Celeste’. Faced with an uphill struggle, the first task was to convince parents that the school was not going to go to the wall. The management team set about making lots of small low cost changes. The boarders were spread throughout the school and some of the spare rooms were converted into common room spaces - all, incidentally, now converted back again! 12 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
Pupils’ artwork was spread throughout the school to show achievement and improve the sense of community. Witnessing immediate improvements, parents and pupils put their faith in the school and the exodus was thankfully halted within the first year. The next challenge was to improve the marketing and to find new pupils. Rather than going for an expensive media campaign, the team decided to focus their resources on networking. There was a complete overhaul of all the school’s literature and this was then spread to every known contact of the school. A new high-quality prospectus and website were created to show there was still some movement in the ambitions of the school and this spreading of the word quickly paid dividends as people began to drift towards Kilgraston to ‘take a look’.
Mike Farmer has accepted the position of headmaster at St Teresa’s, Effingham, Surrey, and takes up his appointment in September. The principal’s PA took on the additional role of head of admissions (a crucial job) and prospective parents visits were reviewed and planned like a military operation; successes and failures were critically evaluated. Getting the ‘visitor route’ right was a key factor and every aspect of the tour was analysed. Attention to detail became the mantra; even the quality of coffee was tested! This revitalisation did not come at the expense of ditching the school’s traditions. Kilgraston is proud to be part of the Society of the Sacred Heart, a network of some 240 Catholic schools worldwide which frequently have pupil and teacher exchanges. Mr Farmer says: ‘We are defined by our Sacred Heart ethos which creates a happy and loving community. In an aggressively secular society, we continue to uphold the strength of Catholic and Christian tradition and values.’ These links have provided Kilgraston with a foundation to work on and have greatly increased international boarding enrolments. Whilst effective marketing was a key factor in the turnaround, success would have been short lived if the product wasn’t right. Again, all aspects of the school were analysed and improvements were made where necessary. Getting the staffing right was a top priority. ‘It is the people not the buildings that make the organisation’ as Mike Farmer proudly boasts; ‘you would struggle to find a more talented and dedicated team of staff. They work tirelessly for their pupils and the community and, at the end of the day, it is this commitment at every level that has made the greatest difference to Kilgraston’. Thankfully, as numbers increased, Kilgraston was in a position to invest in new facilities. Following on from a recent multimillion pound investment in sport and the arts, Kilgraston is about to start a new wave of capital investment. Construction will begin on a new science building in the summer, to create a better space for scientific study. Once it is complete, the old laboratories will be incorporated into an enhanced sixth form centre with state of the art facilities.
This will complement Kilgraston’s current sporting facilities which feature an equestrian centre with 60m x 40m floodlit arena (the only school in Scotland with this facility on site), an international sized all-weather hockey pitch, eight all-weather tennis courts, sports hall with climbing wall, fitness suite and a 25 metre indoor swimming pool. The Kilgraston success story was recognised this autumn when it was named the ‘UK Independent School of the Year’. The judges described Kilgraston as ‘particularly impressive’, ‘forwardthinking’ and ‘an example to other schools’. The judges took into account the excellent inspection which Kilgraston recently received at the start of the year from HMIe along with a number of other factors including its best exam results to date with an exceptional 57% A grades (95% A-C) for Higher and an excellent 54% A grades (92% A-C) at Advanced Higher. ‘We encourage a love of learning; in my view it is, and always should be, cool to be intellectual. We have consistently achieved outstanding academic results, such as a new record for the Lower Sixth in last year’s SQA exams.’ Mr Farmer says. ‘And finally we give our girls horizon-broadening, life-enhancing opportunities – from songwriting and ceramics to rock-climbing, swimming, horse-riding, karate and music.’ He believes too that Scottish schools are becoming more favourably looked upon by parents from south of the border. ‘Kilgraston is thriving,’ said Mr Farmer, ‘and our record numbers confirm we are seeing a pleasing revival in girls’ boarding north of the border. In recent years, the trend has been for parents to place their daughters in more prominent English schools but that trend has been reversed through proactive recruitment and marketing.’ He added: ‘Scottish boarding schools are every bit as good as their English counterparts and parents no longer see the need to pack their children off down south.’
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 13
Making the transition
from coldstream guards major
to prep school housemaster
Two years ago, ANTHONY LIDDELL, was a major in the Coldstream Guards. Now he has very different responsibilities as boarding housemaster at Elstree, a prep school in Berkshire. Here he and Elstree headmaster MARK SAYER reflect on the transition from army to prep school. The transition from Foot Guards officer to school housemaster has been much more seamless than I had expected. The institutional nature of these two vocations, though different in many ways, demands a similarly-structured environment. In adjusting to a new career, that made life much simpler. I continue to work within an established routine, with a clear management structure and responsibility for a team. Whilst in the Army I was commanding soldiers; here at Elstree I am responsible for 7-13 year-old boys. In fact it’s simply an age thing! Whether leading soldiers into battle or shaping the personal development of prep school boys, I have derived enormous pleasure from looking after the welfare and wellbeing of relatively young people. I did not arrive at Elstree with any great preconceptions or expectations, and therefore nothing has really surprised me. I was delighted to discover quickly that just as much importance is placed upon building trust and respect with colleagues and boys alike. I have no pedigree or experience in terms of education, so there were inevitably some raised eyebrows amongst colleagues when I first arrived, particularly from the more experienced staff, so I had to prove myself. Having come from an infantry battalion of 650 fighting men, building a good working relationship with a small, predominantly female boarding team, has perhaps been the hardest adjustment to this new lifestyle of mine. Now, four terms in, the team and I have earned each other’s mutual respect, largely founded upon shared values and beliefs. As an army officer, unless I made a very rash judgement or issued an ill-conceived instruction, those under my command would rarely question my decision-making. I have found school to be a very different environment. In the army one issues an order - at school one ‘kindly requests’ or ‘invites’ somebody to do something. Amongst colleagues, there is more opportunity 14 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
for open debate than in the army where a commander’s word is often final. Furthermore, I had been accustomed to dealing with a plethora of often complex, personal issues from soldiers, many of whom come from very humble backgrounds. For some, the only salvation from spending time in prison was joining the army. It has been something of a dramatic contrast now dealing with boys, predominantly from more privileged backgrounds, who want for very little in life. To a greater extent, the transition to working with boys at Elstree has been made more seamless because of the credibility earned from my experience as an Army officer, and particularly those in the 11-13 bracket, who understand better the demands of being a soldier. During my first fortnight in the classroom I was persistently bombarded with the question: ‘Sir, how many people have you shot?’ I graced nobody with a response. Another popular question was: ‘What was the scariest thing that ever happened to you in the Army?’ I was able to reply, with absolute integrity, that it had been ‘getting shot at.’ Sport plays a huge part in life in the Army, especially when back from operational commitments in the UK. It goes without saying that sport is equally important at Elstree. Rugby and cricket have been great passions of mine here; it gives me enormous pleasure coaching the boys, the majority of whom have not yet become cynical about life in any way. They are easy to inspire and incredibly receptive to learning. I am obviously well-placed to educate the boys in their understanding of the importance of the work of the armed forces; I do this through trips, such as the British Military Tournament and supporting initiatives such as the ‘Ten for Ten’ campaign. I played a leading role in a revised Remembrance Day ceremony at the school when the boys enjoyed seeing
me dressed in home service clothing, laying wreaths in a small Garden of Remembrance. I have started navigation training with boys, teaching them how to find their way around using a map and compass within the school estate. I am also involved (in an advisory capacity) in the Elstree Award (Elstree’s own version of the Duke of Edinburgh Award). This runs throughout a boy’s final three years at Elstree, promoting leadership via a range of events and activities including first aid training, local community work and presentation skills. The award currently culminates in an overnight camp, where boys build their own shelters and then complete a 12-mile trek in the local area.
As a commander of men in the army, it was my job to motivate and inspire confidence in my subordinates. As the housemaster at Elstree, which itself has a strong reputation for exceptional pastoral care, it is my job to encourage and instil considerable self-esteem in the boys. I feel very privileged to have experienced life in the army and now latterly at Elstree – I consider it to be of the utmost importance that both institutions share a clearly-defined ethos and a commonly-held set of principles upon which everything is founded.
Mark Sayer writes: Whilst it is unusual to go straight from the army into running a boarding house, choosing Anthony Liddell to fill the position of housemaster at Elstree was, for me, a straightforward decision. Some might question the wisdom of such a selection and there were, naturally, adjustments that had to be made. However, I instantly picked up on Anthony’s energy, enthusiasm, lack of stuffiness and willingness to adapt. I also recognised that the boys would benefit a great deal from his varied and transferable skill set. When interviewing for a new housemaster, I explored a number of criteria. Strong pastoral care is an integral part of Elstree life; clarity and consistency at all times is vital. I was looking for somebody committed, patient and prepared to give quality time to the boys, empathising with their needs while being able to discipline them outside school hours. Good leadership skills are essential to the role and it is crucial to develop mutual respect. The ideal candidate would need to have imagination and energy, as well as an appreciation of a solid command structure, with clearly defined staff organisation. Plenty of forward planning is required and it is essential to stay on top of paperwork, emails and phone calls. Anthony’s experience didn’t extend to the classroom and I was initially less comfortable about this aspect of his contribution to school life. I decided that teaching PSHE, once a week to every class, would be the quickest and most effective way for him to get to know the whole school. These are discussionbased lessons, with clear preparation but no marking required. Opportunities to share life experiences would help Anthony gain maximum exposure. Having been an instructor and communicator in the army, I felt confident that he would be more than able to maintain control and structure in class. More recently, as he has developed his craft, we have made use of his A level Latin to teach a beginner Year 6 group.
I worked hard to help avoid any pitfalls in employing somebody with little direct familiarity of a school environment outside of his own childhood experiences. We sought to ensure Anthony’s new career path ran as smoothly as possible. How would he handle the significant age difference, dealing with young prep school boarders, some only eight years old, as opposed to squaddies in the army? Whilst Anthony’s experience was in teaching and training, might there be times when the classroom was more demanding than the battlefield? School life has certainly moved on since his own time at prep school, so it was important to recognise the significance of maintaining traditional values, whilst being progressive and forward thinking. While many parallels can be drawn between the routine of army and school life, there are also considerable differences. As a Guards officer, Anthony had come from an environment where he was, to all intents and purposes, in sole charge. In addition, in a school one has to negotiate rather than just ‘tell’ people what to do, although the end result may end up being the same. Dealing with parents at such close proximity, alleviating their anxieties and the issues surrounding their prize possessions, the boys in his care, will have been a whole new ball game. However, Anthony has risen to the challenge and been an enormous asset to Elstree, adapting well to his new role as housemaster. His sporting ability has been a great benefit, particularly rugby and cricket. He has a fantastic singing voice, being a choral scholar, so has been a superb addition to our school choir. Having a ‘man’s man’ looking after male boarders in an all boys’ school, with a very supportive, equally energetic wife, has been an attractive option. Both Anthony and his wife, Davina, have excellent personal skills and are popular with boys and parents alike. The boarding provision has grown and continues to thrive since the Liddells joined us in September 2010 – long may it continue! The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 15
s ’ g n i d r a Bo ummer s c i p m y l O
ons. London ti a r e n e g r n er of spor t fo 30th moder m e m th u s te t s a r te b a re ele s Britain’s g e world to c g th in r d providing b n t, r u r e o a r m p ll a m ir u e s m th o is s fr Th ing isation, and elite athlete will be play n g a ls g in o r r o o b h l c d il s n a w g 2012 UK’s boardin g, exper tise in coaching e th d n A . d trainin ir countries. Olympia d e n th a t n n o e ti s ti e e r ep comp athletes to r g n facilities for u o y g in produc above all, in
Olympians swing to Eton’s boating song Probably the largest contribution by any single school to London 2012 is Eton’s facility for rowing and flat water canoeing. Dorney Lake, built and paid for by Eton at a cost of £17m is, in effect, loaned to the nation for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics. Dorney Lake is a 2,200m, eight-lane course with a separate return lane constructed to international standards and fully completed in 2006. It is now the best rowing course in the UK and one of the best in Europe and was a great success in 2006, when Dorney Lake hosted the Rowing World Championships, gaining high praise from both competitors and spectators. Dorney Lake is set in 450 acres of parkland which includes an Arboretum and Nature Conservation area. During the bid to host the 2012 Games, a finish tower was added to the course in time for the Rowing World Cup in 2005. In preparation for the Olympics, the rowing centre will be enhanced to provide improved facilities for athlete warmup and flatwater canoe/kayak competitions. Additional
facilities have been added with an upgraded roadway and the construction of two bridges on the island between the main lake and the return lake. Up to 30,000 spectators per day are expected and there will be 3,500 staff and volunteers assisting the venue. Athletes will be housed in the residential buildings at the Royal Holloway College, which is 16km from the competition venue. After the Olympics, Dorney Lake will continue to provide a world-class training and competition facility as well as being the home of Eton College's rowing. Over 100 schools and clubs row at Dorney Lake; national squads, including Olympians, train here regularly. The Junior Rowing Initiative (9s to 18s) is a rowing programme for schools not previously offering it as a sport. Other programmes for young people and adults, outdoor and indoor, are available. Canoeing for young people was introduced in 2005.
Photograph: Michael Pearcy Words&Pictures 16 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
Haileybury’s hockey organiser Annie Thomas, a PE teacher at Haileybury, will be helping to run the Olympic hockey competition as 'Administration Group Leader - Hockey' for London Organising Committee Olympic Games (LOCOG).
Annie Thomas, taken after she finished 8th in her age group and was the 3rd Brit home in the World Triathlon Championships in Beijing last year.
Currently preparing for the hockey test in early May and helping to ensure that the 120 ‘games makers’ (volunteers) allocated to Hockey are assigned to appropriate roles and receive the necessary training to fulfil those roles, she says: ‘I'll be full time from early July until the end of the Olympics with a short rest before undertaking a games maker role myself at the wheelchair rugby for the Paralympics. ‘It's a wonderful opportunity to be involved in an event which I have been passionate about for over 40 years. The size of the whole operation is completely mindblowing with meticulous attention to detail for every facet.’
Kelly wins Olympic legacy pool Robin Brew, former Olympic record holder and director of swimming at Kelly said that ‘The new 50m pool will revolutionise our able-bodied and disabled swimming programmes, allowing us to train and compete on a level with the very best swimmers in Europe. The impact of a facility of this nature will be of significant value to generations of young swimmers, both from Kelly, Tavistock and further afield and truly reflects the ideals of the Olympic Legacy.’
The Kelly swimmers; Molly Redford and George Humphrey with coaches Robin Brew (Director of Swimming), Archie Brew, Jenni Henry and Robin Francis and Headmaster Dr Graham Hawley
Kelly College has successfully bid for a 50m Olympic Legacy Swimming Pool, which will become available after the London 2012 Olympics. The bid will not only serve to enhance the development and success of the Kelly swimming squad, which has already enjoyed many Olympic successes – including Sharron Davies and more recently Heather Fell, in Beijing 2008 – but will also provide an outstanding facility to many local and national swimming clubs, schools, the wider community of West Devon and beyond.
Kelly College has received a conditional offer for the 50m swimming pool from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is dependent on meeting planning permission, project management and fundraising requirements. Headmaster Dr Graham Hawley described the news as a once in a generation opportunity. ‘This is excellent news and endorses the quality and credibility of our bid and the essential business plan that underpins it. There will of course be a great deal of work in the months ahead, but this is the best news that we could possibly have received at this stage in the process.’ Once the London paralympics are completed, the training pools will be dismantled, taken back to the manufacturers and refurbished. Kelly expects delivery in April or May next year with a projected operational date of early 2014.
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 17
Boarding’s olympic summer continued
Millfield’s proud record Few UK boarding schools can have as extensive a record of Olympic representation as Millfield. Millfieldians have represented nine different countries at the Olympic Games, with swimming the most prominent sport. In total, 56 Millfield athletes have competed at the Olympics and have won 11 medals. Probably the most famous of them are Mary Bignal-Rand, who won a gold, silver and bronze at the 1964 Olympics and Duncan Goodhew’s gold in the 100m breaststroke at the 1980 Olympics. In addition, Mark Foster swam at five Olympics. Millfield has built its reputation around an ethos of using sport to develop young people both academically and as individuals. As a result, sport plays a big part in the Millfield academic programme. Pupils are coached by staff, many of whom have played at international level. Millfield has made a significant contribution to the Olympic Games and the school is very excited about London 2012 with several former pupils hopeful of selection.
• In athletics: 27-year-old Jemma Simpson (800metres) who has competed at Commonwealth Games, European Championships, World Championships and the 2008 Olympics; and Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand, 800 metres and 1500metres) who was a silver medallist at 800m and 1500m in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. • In hockey: 29-year-old Richard Mantell, who made his England debut in 2003 and was a member of the Great Britain
hockey squad which finished fifth at the 2008 Olympics; Nick Brothers, 27-year-old goalkeeper who was in the England side which won gold at the European Championship in 2009; and 27-year-old Simon Mantell, who scored a hat-trick in England’s Commonwealth Games 2010 bronze medal in their defeat against New Zealand. Simon’s father Chris Mantell teaches at Millfield and mother Ali Mantell teaches at Millfield Prep School. • In rowing: 24-year-old Cameron Nichol whose career highlights include silver medals in the men’s eight at the 2010 World Rowing Championships, the 2011 World Cup Series and the 2011 World Rowing Championships; and Helen Glover who, at 25, has won a gold medal in the women’s pair event at the 2011 World Cup Series and a silver medal in the women’s pairs at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. • Swimming: James Disney-May – the 19-year-old was named in Great Britain’s World Swimming Championships squad earlier this year, and Robert Holderness, a member of the GB Junior team for the European Junior Championships in 2007 and Welsh junior record holder in 50m and 100m breast stroke. • Fencing: Jamie Kenber and Rhys Melia (men’s foil) and Chrystall Nicoll, Katherine Kempe and Sophie Williams (women’s sabre). • Others hopeful of making Olympic squads are Peter Wilson (clay pigeon shooting) Carl Myerscough, British record-holder in shot put and former world junior bronze medallist, Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe (Ireland – modern pentathlon) and Connor Niland (Ireland – tennis).
…. and as if looking forward to 2016 wasn’t enough
Millfield is also hosting the Russian Olympic swimming team who will be using Millfield as their preparation camp ahead of the Olympic Games in London next summer. The 60-strong squad will be using Millfield’s pool and other facilities for 11 days in the run-up to the Games. Senior Performance Director of the Russian swimming team, Andrei Vorontsov, said: ‘We have chosen Millfield because of its campus facilities and general atmosphere. It’s very important for the team to prepare both physically and mentally for the Games and Millfield is an excellent place for us.’ Millfield Headmaster Craig Considine said: ‘We are proud to host the Russian swimming team ahead of the Games next summer. Millfield has always had a strong connection with the Olympics and we’re delighted to be able to play a part in London 2012 legacy.’ 18 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
Millfield pupil Jazmin Sawyers is well on her way to becoming an international star of track and field. Two Gold medals, in the long jump and 4x100 relay, at the 2011 Commonwealth games, alongside a ninthplaced finish in the Heptathlon at the IAAF World Youth Championships, are all indicators of her talent and potential which may see her representing Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics. In January, instead of staying fit in the gym, catching up with her A-level studies and tackling her duties as newly-appointed head girl, she spent a week hurtling down icy shutes in Austria, as part of the GB Bobsleigh Team competing at the first ever Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck. Sawyers, alongside team-mate Mica McNeil, (pictured) claimed silver in the final event of the inaugural games – not bad considering she had never set foot inside a bobsleigh until eighteen months ago.
r e iv r e th n o s le u r n to k n o M Larger schools often catch the headlines especially when it comes to listing their most successful alumni. However, smaller boarding schools often punch above their weight even in the fiercely competitive world of sport. Monkton Combe School, near Bath, where senior pupil numbers have never before topped four hundred (409 pupils this year) is an unlikely nursery for Olympians. Yet in the rowing world few schools can equal Monkton’s record. The ‘camaraderie’ and inter-House rivalry of pre-war boarding at Monkton survived into the fifties and well beyond. A small school founded on strong Christian principles, Monkton’s ‘missionary zeal ‘ often translated into sporting success and nowhere more so than on the river. Rising to prominence in English schools’ rowing by the 1930s, Monkton was able to defeat the biggest name schools at Henley in an age where well honed technique allied to grit and selfbelief would more than compensate for a lack of top equipment or a suitable stretch of water on which to train. Monkton had neither of the latter. In WRGM Laurie, Monkton produced arguably the most outstanding oarsman of the immediate pre-war and post-war era, culminating in his winning Olympic Gold in 1948 in the coxless pairs. Active octogenarian Old Monktonian, Mike Lapage (Silver in VIIIs 1948) will be carrying the Olympic torch for a few hundred yards near Land’s End on 19th May this year.
The latest generation of Monkton Olympians were at school in the 1990s: double Olympic champion Steve Williams was coxed for four years at school by Rowley Douglas (winner of Gold at Sydney) and now Alex Partridge (who won Silver rowing in the VIII at Beijing) once again carries Monkton hopes into London 2012. Size doesn’t necessarily count when it comes to laying the foundations for world class achievement.
From Left: Beijing, Silver (Alex Partridge); Sydney, Gold (Rowley Douglas); Athens, Gold (Steve Williams); Beijing, Gold (Steve Williams), London, Silver (Mike Lapage)
Worldwide Plymothians qualify for Olympic pool The Year 10 pupil, who boards in the specialist swimming house at Plymouth College, previously represented her country in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the World Swimming Championships (25m) in Dubai. Ruta Meilutyte, 14, has qualified for the Lithuanian team, and Jade Howard, 16, has been selected for the Zambian swimming team. Jade is no stranger to international competition, having competed for her nation at world level on several occasions. Jade is a day pupil at Plymouth College and currently studying for her AS Levels alongside her swimming training programme.
Three young swimmers from the Plymouth College elite swimming programme have been selected for their countries’ Olympic teams at London 2012, and more may follow. Jamila Lunkuse, 15, will swim for Uganda. Last year the talented swimmer brought home two gold and three silver medals for Uganda in the CANA Zone 3&4 Swimming Championships. Competing in Botswana against eleven African nations, Jamila triumphed in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke, and came second in the 50m butterfly, 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle.
“I am absolutely delighted that the girls will be competing in London 2012”, said Plymouth College Director of Swimming, Jon Rudd. “They put in many, many hours of training and make a lot of sacrifices. To compete for their country at the biggest sporting event in the world is the ultimate reward. “We have yet more swimmers who have chances of selection to national teams, including Great Britain, and we have our fingers’ crossed that it’s good news for them too. But to already boast three Olympians six months before the Games even begin is extremely exciting for any school and Plymouth College is rightly proud of them.” The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 19
Boarding’s olympic summer continued
Like mother, like daughter? Staff, students and parents are eagerly awaiting the 2012 London Olympics. Parent Mary King is part of the Great Britain equestrian team bidding for gold at the Olympics. Mary will be competing in her sixth Olympics. Mary’s daughter Emily (15) is a student at Queen’s and has already made her own debut in the British junior team at the European Championships, where she came an impressive seventh, competing against eventers five years older than herself. Headmaster, Chris Alcock is hopeful that Emily will follow her mother into the senior squad and take part in a future Olympic Games herself. ‘We have a strong equestrian tradition at Queen’s and have been delighted to share in Emily’s recent success. We will be watching Mary with keen anticipation at the Olympics and wish her well.’ Mary will not be the only focus for the Queen’s community this summer. Popular assistant boarding housemaster Ian Haley is hoping that his South Africa team will make it through the final qualifications to join the other top hockey teams at this year’s London Olympics. Ian, a prolific goal scorer, juggles his boarding and hockey coaching duties at Queen’s with trips around the world to represent his native South Africa. ‘I have the dream job,’ says Ian, ‘working at Queen’s with enthusiastic and immensely talented youngsters and being able to follow my own playing career wherever it takes me.’ Ian’s many supporters at Queen’s will be cheering him on if South Africa make it to the Olympics . . unless they are playing Great Britain, of course!
Hockey hopefuls Three former pupils of Repton are in the current GB Ladies’ Hockey squad and are part of the squad training for London 2012 and are hopeful of being selected for the Olympic squad. Pictured winning bronze medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 World Championships are
20 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
Commonwealth games from left – Georgie Twigg, Susie Gilbert, Charlotte Craddock World cup bronze from left – Susie Gilbert, Charlotte Craddock, Georgie Twigg
Rugby School and the Olympics In 2009, Lord Coe unveiled a commemorative plaque at Rugby School, saying he was ‘delighted to celebrate the role played by one of Britain’s oldest schools - and arguably Britain’s most famous Head Master, Thomas Arnold, in the development of the modern Olympic Movement. The Olympic expert, Professor John Lucas of Pennsylvania State University, confirms that Arnold is ‘one of the most important personalities in the evolution of the modern Olympics’. Having read Tom Brown’s School Days aged twelve; Baron Pierre de Coubertin visited Rugby School in the 1880s and spent a night in the Chapel ‘where the great clergyman rests who was, as I see it, one of the founders of athletic chivalry’. As he later wrote in his memoirs, ‘It was to Arnold that we turned, more or less consciously, for inspiration’. In 1906, de Coubertin instituted the Olympic Cup to honour institutions and individuals who played an outstanding role in the development of the Olympic Movement. It was awarded to Rugby in 1915 and the only replica, on loan from the IOC, was recently presented by BOA’s Chairman Lord Moynihan to the Head Master, Patrick Derham.
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Boarding’s olympic summer continued
Tonbridge’s welcome for Australians
Tonbridge School may be in the heart of Kent but it is less than one hour from London’s Olympic Park.
And from early July, Tonbridge will be hosting the Australian Olympic athletics team as their pre-Games training base. Tonbrisge’s Sports and Media Centre, completed in 2008, provides national standard indoor facilities to complement outstanding outdoor facilities which include over 100 acres of superbly-maintained playing fields, three astro-turf pitches and an all-weather athletics track. The quality of the facilities allowed Tonbridge to be recognised as an Olympic training venue for London 2012. The Australian athletics team will be arriving around 10th July and will consist of approximately 80 athletes and coaches. They will be staying in the school boarding houses, with Tonbridge’s in-house catering staff providing all meals etc. There will also be small judo teams from the Ukraine and Belarus. In addition the Tonbridge School Community (parents, staff, ex parents and old Tonbridgians) are hosting family and friends of the Australian athletes.
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The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 23
Renaissance in the heart of England ELIZABETH UDALL reports on the doubling of boarding accommodation at Ashby School and the resurgence in interest in state boarding it represents. Elizabeth I was on the throne when the first boarders arrived at Ashby’s School House in 1567 and, almost five centuries later, student residents are still waking to its view of the castle in Ashby de la Zouch. But now, nestling alongside the school’s heritage buildings, is an award-winning, cutting-edge facility and it is this which signifies its place at the centre of an emerging trend in the UK, a ‘renaissance’ in state boarding. The hi-tech expansion at the Leicestershire school was a response to a significant increase in demand. School House has almost doubled its boarding to 72 this academic year. ‘With up to three applications for each place it was clear our boarding facility needed to expand,’ says headteacher Eddie Green. ‘The history is still there, the level of care is still there - Ofsted has repeatedly judged School House as “outstanding” - but the days of dorms and cold showers are long gone. Our fees may be a fraction of those in the independent sector but that does not mean parents are less demanding. They want to see facilities that reflect the level of care we are known for and which they expect for their children, Ashby’s boarders now have twin or single en suite bedrooms and the latest in environmental and technological design, including green energy generation and a swipe and thumb print system, allowing access for each individual to create a different experience from what is on offer in the new building. Mr Green agrees that, amongst the many reasons why parents choose state boarding school for their children, the pressures of modern family life are paramount. ‘Parents work long hours, work away from home or overseas. Students also come from abroad. There is enormous value placed on the education we provide but whether the parents of our students live in the UK or overseas they are also looking for the relative peace and security we can offer in a Leicestershire market town. ‘While working to earn for their family, parents want to feel secure in the knowledge that their children are making great 24 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
friendships and are being kept occupied – that they are not wandering the streets – and, most importantly, that they are being cared for.’ Hilary Moriarty, Director of the Boarding Schools Association, agrees: ‘Ashby’s School House has had to almost double in capacity and they are having no trouble filling the extra places. The school typifies the new era in state boarding. ‘The number of state boarding schools is increasing for the first time in many years. There are now 38 in the UK and we are still seeing a rise in applications. I get calls from parents desperate to find a place for their child in one of them.’ There will soon be more than 5,000 children in state boarding schools and Ms Moriarty has no doubt that the surge in interest is being influenced by the pressures 21st century living places on families. ‘Families of modest means with both parents putting in long hours and sometimes working away are finding state boarding offers stability and safety for their children. ‘School finishes around three but parents might not be home until six, perhaps much later, or work takes them away from home completely. Nowadays many families don’t have grandparents nearby to help out – or they might be working themselves, which is increasingly likely as retirement ages rise. ‘It is these parents who are discovering state boarding. They pay to cover their working hours with nurseries, child minders or nannies. They are used to their children not being in their daily care through the week and, as the children get older, might be struggling to arrange childcare – but private boarding school fees are beyond their reach. ‘Then they hear about state boarding, where teaching is free and accommodation costs much less than in the independent sector and suddenly the leap is not as big as it might once have been.’
across the country and positive steps being taken by policy makers and educators to support this important resource. The expansion at School House is very much at the forefront of that. ‘State boarding has such a crucial role to play in solving many of the difficulties in contemporary life and there is obviously a growing need for accessible residential education.
Pictures: Fabio de Paulo
Hilary Moriarty believes safety is a key factor in parents’ decision to go the state-funded boarding route. ‘Some families live in places where their child is at greater risk of becoming a victim of crime. I think the number of deaths of young people on the streets, not to mention the rioting in cities across the UK last summer, has increased parents’ fears. Boarding is seen as a safe haven.’ Diane Reay, Professor of Education at Cambridge University and a former Ashby School pupil, is hoping to see new research into state boarding education. She sees the expansion at School House as part of a resurgence in political and parental interest in a long-neglected area which needs to be looked at more closely by experts. ‘This new building is part of a renaissance in state boarding, which has long been marginalised in mainstream education. ‘We are seeing rising numbers in state-funded boarding places
‘Andrew Adonis, the former schools minister who was himself a state-funded boarding school pupil when he was in care during the 1970s, championed expansion in the sector and Michael Gove has said he feels it is the way forward, working with academies to add state boarding.’ Three flagship academies have all visited School House, keen to draw on their expertise, and eight academies in all are working on plans to add boarding. With restrictions of around £10,000-£12,000 placed on fees, accommodation costs can be covered but there is no surplus for building so existing state boarding schools and those eager to expand continue to appeal for government funding. The sector’s surge in popularity is clearly set to continue. ‘It is important that we now centralise state boarding in research,’ says Diane Reay. ‘For looked-after children, for the children of parents who work long hours or away from home, perhaps who live in areas of high-crime, it offers a caring, consistent, safe but vibrant community. ‘It is like a huge family where the pressures of modern living can be lifted and you have the days and evenings to achieve and excel.’
Steyning Grammar School opens its new boarding house. With 2,000 pupils, Steyning Grammar School is the largest of all the schools affiliated to the State Boarding Schools Association and the only one in Sussex. Headteacher Chris Taylor said that, although the 70 boarders at Steyning were a minority, the new facility was a vital part of the school’s continuing success. ‘The boarders at SGS contribute enormously to the school’s vibrant character, both inside and outside the classroom. Their academic achievements are consistently above the national average and our wide range of school clubs, societies and crosscurricular activities benefit from their positive engagement and cultural diversity.’
Director of Boarding Rob Pavis recognised the importance of such a facility at SGS: ‘The school has had boarders for 400 years now and very few schools can boast such a longstanding tradition. This new boarding house will provide a secure future for boarding at Steyning Grammar which benefits so many young people from across the UK and beyond.’ The school currently accommodates boarders from as close as Chichester and Haywards Heath, to Nigeria, Hong Kong and the Caribbean. The new boarding house boasts state of the art facilities with single ensuite rooms with data-points and internet access, a separate computer suite, a music room, a large dining facility, student kitchens and a range of both indoor and outdoor recreation areas and common-rooms. The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 25
planned around us…
Benenden is one of a tiny handful of schools which continue to offer 100 per cent full boarding. DEBRA PRICE, Benenden’s development director, explains why full boarding still appeals to 21st century pupils and their parents.
26 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
Assumptions are dangerous things. A lot of people in the independent education sector assume that full boarding has had its day. Many aren’t even convinced about the value or relevance of boarding in the 21st century. How wrong people can be. In fact, our experiences in this corner of Kent suggest that full boarding is not only alive and well but has never been better. Benenden has been, and remains, a full boarding school for girls; demand for places has never been greater. Over the last ten years the school has grown by 100 students and further expansion has had to be held back because the school is so full. The creation of new accommodation has enabled this year’s record school roll of 540 girls in school, with 80 per cent of students living within 90 minutes of school. For September 2012, yet again, every year group is full and waiting lists are long. The 13+ lists for 2014 are closed and the reserve list is extending rapidly too. A small boarding market does not need to mean a declining market. But how can it be that the Benenden experience seems so much at odds with a sector that arguably moved away from full boarding because of a belief that there isn’t a demand for it?
We spend a lot of time reflecting on what works and what doesn’t, and when something doesn’t work we try very hard to make it better. With this cohesive market intelligence it becomes far easier to work out what aspects of full boarding should be zealously protected, what features should be adapted and what aspects should simply be changed for good. It is fair to say that this methodology need not be unique to a full boarding environment, but it has proved very important in helping Benenden make sure that its full boarding offer is absolutely in tune with the demands of this and future generations of Benenden families. More specifically, our market intelligence tells us that 21st families value full boarding environments. They value the quality of life offered by a specialist environment. They value the range and quality of opportunities that a full boarding school is able to offer. They understand that a full boarding offer is cohesive. There is an equality in an environment where all students have open access to the range of options available and these options are not curtailed by limitations of who is or is not in school. They value too the flexibility that full boarding can offer. Full boarding doesn’t have to mean every single weekend in school; it can be balanced by some weekends at home. We provide our parents with guidelines and are flexible within them. On a typical weekend in the autumn term over four-fifths of Lower School pupils decided to be in school; clearly the girls are voting with their feet.
We don’t presume to know what attracts parents and students to our 100 per cent full boarding offer.
Part of the answer lies with another faulty assumption: that to be a full boarding school means that you are wedded to the past, either unable or unwilling to unshackle your school from traditions that lack relevance for the needs of today’s students and parents. Benenden’s full boarding offering isn’t based on the past, rather it is crafted around the needs of today and the future. This said, parts of the Benenden offering are timeless: nurturing a culture of courage and compassion, respect for others and yourself, developing deep confidence and helping enable each girl to leave school enjoying the life-long support of a lasting group of friends. We try very hard not to make assumptions. We don’t presume to know what attracts parents and students to our 100 per cent full boarding offer. Instead we ask, and we keep on asking. We listen carefully to parents and students. Like an increasing number of schools today, we do more listening than talking. We gather their views formally - via regularly commissioned qualitative research or regular meetings with parents - and informally, from views expressed on the touchline, or by students in any walk of school life.
In the words of a student, ‘The fact that Benenden is full boarding is the best thing about the school.’ Perhaps astutely, she goes on to explain ‘because we are all in the same boat, the school is “forced” to ensure that everything about boarding is amazing.’ ‘Everything is planned around us,’ explains another student. And she is absolutely right; the design of the learning and living day means that the school day is not constricted by day school requirements. Time is allowed for tutor meetings, sport and extra-curricular activities. Rehearsals, clubs and societies can flourish in the evening or at weekends because all students are available to participate. Opportunity breeds enthusiasms; if a student is in school anyway she is far more likely to try something new.
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Everything planned around us continued An ambitious weekend programme crafted around the interests of every year group provides students with an array of opportunities. When Claire Oulton became Benenden’s headmistress she transformed the school’s extra-curricular offer. In her words, ‘the best boarding schools treasure the relationship between children and their parents and then add to that everything that a day school can offer and then add to that everything that a day school can’t offer.’ ‘It’s a huge emotional and financial sacrifice to allow your child to go to boarding school,’ she adds, ‘it has to be worth it’. The resources devoted to the weekend programme, for example, easily surpass what even the most dedicated parent can lay on for their teenage offspring. Some activities are designed to expand personal horizons whilst others exist to provide the shared experiences that help form the deep friendships that are truly a hallmark of a full boarding experience. Back to assumptions. Another flawed assumption is that full boarding means that children and parents miss out on the home experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. A ‘first-time’ full boarding school father explains: ‘Our daughter started full boarding aged 12. She had always wanted to go away to school aged 11 for seven years of boarding school life. I wanted her to wait to enjoy a couple more years of her being at home with us. After a concerted effort on her part, and some very reasoned arguments, we compromised and she started at 12. However, we quickly realised that she was ‘made’ for boarding school. She has made very good friends with whom she has remained close right up until this her final year. With some regret I realise that she was right and yes she should have been allowed to start a year earlier. We never lost her to
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boarding; she simply gained a whole new range of experiences and friendships that she has loved. Selfishly, we sometimes do things that seem in our interests rather than our children’s. It is humbling to accept that in some things our children really do know best.’ Other students cite deep friendships as being part of the inevitable and perhaps most valued by-product of a fullboarding environment. ‘From the beginning you learn how to get on with other people. Sometimes that can be intense but it is fantastic having your friends with you.’ And in a full boarding school, they always are. But there are unexpected benefits too. Parents are programmed to protect children from making mistakes; full boarding offers the freedom for pupils to do just that and to learn how to correct them without parental intervention. What a frightening and essential life skill to give your child. Full boarding allows pupils to exercise greater choice about how to spend their time in the evenings and at weekend or at break and lunch times. Add to that the opportunity to develop independence of thought and to form opinions that may well be entirely different from parental ones and boarding begins to take on a different light. These days full boarding schools exist not for the convenience of family custom but for the benefit of the pupils - a distinction that this generation of boarding families is acutely aware of. What a refreshing change of culture the 21st century has wrought in this most traditional of realms. Why on earth didn’t we think of that earlier?
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 29
dawn? With the second largest population in the world, rapidly developing as a successful economic power and a strong link to established communities in the UK, India seems to have enormous potential for growth in education which may involve UK boarding schools. Certainly education is seen in India as one of the most fundamental pillars of their future success. However, reports conducted in recent years have indicated that the market for boarding school pupils travelling to study in the UK is both not as strong as one might expect, given the size of the country, and likely to prove difficult for British boarding schools to develop further. It was against this backdrop that a consortium of nine independent boarding schools, coordinated by agent Michael Couch, made their initial visit to Mumbai and Delhi to find out first hand what potential they could identify and how the challenges could be tackled. Five of the member schools arrived in mid-January to attend the Premier Schools exhibition in the Nehru Centre in Mumbai for two days, paid visits to local schools in order to compare our educational systems and then moved onto Delhi where the schools hosted a seminar for interested parents. The schools involved in this early foray were varied and included two girls-only institutions, Abbots Bromley and Headington, and two co-ed schools, Oundle and The Royal Wolverhampton School. The group was completed by Moreton Hall, Shropshire, whose additional opportunity for summer schools was of significant interest to the families who visited the seminars and exhibitions. Michael Couch, based in China, has worked extensively with the nine member schools over a period of time and was convinced that the diversity of school offer would be attractive to a range of potential pupils in India. His preliminary visit suggested the more optimistic view that there is indeed a market for UK boarding school education amongst Indian families. Is there a potential market in India? Certainly at The Royal Wolverhampton School we have a small number of Indian boarders, male and female, who come to us partly as a result of our local links to the Indian community on the fringes of the West Midlands. Highly motivated, quick to integrate and determined to succeed, our Indian pupils demonstrate what potential there is. We have also been approached from schools in Delhi to form teacher and pupil exchange partnerships in order to improve expertise in key subject areas and broaden the experience of their schools and to move away from the sole focus of many Indian schools on subject based education. 30 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
India is rapidly developing into one of the world’s superpowers. It has historic cultural links and many family connections with the UK. Why then do so few young Indians choose to board at UK schools? MARK HEYWOOD, Headmaster of The Royal Wolverhampton School, was one of a group of heads who went earlier this year to explore the potential. He returned full of optimism. What has now become clear is that the rapidly growing wealthy Indian middle classes are now looking for a broader education than that associated with their well established and highly successful ‘public schools’ such as the Doon School and Mayo College. These were designed to educate the elite of the Indian population and to create the leaders of the country in the future and have clearly achieved their aims. There are however very few of these, and not accessible to many of the newly affluent population. With a population in excess of 1.2 billion people, a thriving business and finance economy and an aspirant population who want more from their schools in the large metropolitan cities, it requires only a tiny percentage of these middle classes to make up significant numbers of potential pupils. It appears from the five schools we visited and from conversations with parents in Mumbai and Delhi that Indian education is moving forward at a pace. There is significant investment from business leaders and government to create schools that would impress the most stringent ISI inspection team and discerning parent. Particularly in the rapidly developing upper middle class suburbs there are schools that concentrate on sport, equestrianism and the performing arts as well as having the strong focus on learning and teaching that we all recognise in our schools in the UK. Schools such as the Genesis School and Step by Step schools (pictured) in newly created suburbs were particularly impressive and lead the way in very different ways; one with outstanding resources and an experienced leadership team brought in from the highly regarded Mayo College, the other a very child- and learning-centred school where each pupils’ talents were recognised and rewarded. There are schools with multi-million pound investments of facilities and reasonably small classes where the education is focused on the individual and the education of the whole child is key to success.
What can UK schools offer? During the two days of the education exhibition in Mumbai our stand was constantly busy with enquiries and conversations. At times, all five delegates were busy discussing the advantages and opportunities that we offered. Certainly some came out of curiosity and probably didn’t really see what they could gain from sending family so far away. Others were actively interested, had seen articles reported in The Times of India and other papers and were keen to see what was on
offer. In our plenary sessions to evaluate the experience we identified that we can offer a ‘global perspective’ that they as yet do not fully exploit. Most of our schools are multi-national communities where pupils can learn from each other and appreciate our differences and strengths. As India grows into a economic superpower, many parents identified advantages for their children in mixing at an early age with young people from all over the globe. This is in contrast to the largely ex-pat ‘international’ schools that exist in all large world cities (and seen in Mumbai with only American students, behind very secure walls) where it is not the norm to integrate local and international children. We also have a strong geographical pattern of Indian communities in the UK who have familial links to areas of India and who can act as focal points for students. Some of our boarders from India are weekly boarders who stay with extended family in the local area at weekends and some holidays. Many of the schools guidance systems we saw focus heavily on entry to USA universities as their first choice of institution. Surprisingly, there was a worrying lack of knowledge and understanding of the variety and quality of universities in the UK and Europe. As elsewhere in the world, access to the best universities in the UK can be facilitated by time spent in a British boarding school and this point was not lost on a good number of the parents. A more integrated approach from schools, further and higher education institutions should inform the local population about the opportunities they are missing.
We also identified that many of our schools have unique features that are attractive to a certain element of the Indian population. This might be outstanding academic success in single sex or co-ed schools; equestrian expertise; drama and performing arts specialism; an elite swimming squad preparing athletes for Olympic aspirations or an historic foundation that is attractive in its well-established mark of quality and success. This is clearly no different from the marketing that we do in the UK or other international markets as individual institutions. What is different is that, with a growing population able to afford education and determined to improve the opportunities to the next generation, Indian families we met are seriously considering boarding schools in the UK as a viable option for their children’s education. It is also evident that, whilst India has wonderful schools with outstanding facilities, there are at present too few to match the growing demand. Perhaps in time there may be more concerted competition from a developing education sector within India; in the meantime, at least two students from the visit have secured a place at one of the consortium schools and at my school we have two young talented Indian swimmers keen to join our elite swimming squad in due course. As an initial foray into a small section of the market at quite lowkey events, the group was convinced that there is clear potential and an openness from parents and local schools to establish links with the UK. The group will visit other larger Indian cities later in the year to spread the message with the prospect of a steady trickle of pupils coming to the UK to not only learn how to run India, but how they will manage one of the world’s greatest economies in years to come.
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 31
The most beautiful boarding house in history? 32 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
One of the great sights of Marrakesh is the Medersa Ben Youssef, with its magnificent stucco and ceramic decorations, mostly from the 16th century. Restored in the last few decades, it is one of the few buildings where nonMuslim visitors can appreciate the exhilaration of Islamic religious art in Morocco.
Originating from the 14th century and still in use until the 1960s as residential accommodation for religious students, the building is, in effect, a glorious boarding house. Arranged round a central courtyard with a pool which both cools and reflects light, it is now a welcome refuge from the noise and hustle of the Marrakesh medina. The courtyard, framed by two columned arcades, opens into a prayer hall elaborately decorated with rare palm motifs as well as the more-customary Islamic calligraphy. Whether the students found it so exhilarating is harder to believe. It is claimed that up to 900 of them were crammed in at one time. The cells in which they lived and studied are small and sparsely furnished, and also not-so-subtly segregated by class. The better-off students had cells looking out on to the glories of the central courtyard; poorer young men from the countryside were consigned to more frugal, prison-like accommodation with only a high window (to give light and eliminate distraction while students were committing the Quâ€™ran to memory). It is, frankly, hard to imagine ISI inspectors finding it meeting any modern UK regulatory requirement.
Students at the Medersa before it closed in the 1960s.
The Magazine of the Boarding Schoolsâ€™ Association BOARDING SCHOOL â€˘ 33
Founded in 1885 as one of the first girls’ boarding schools in the country, Roedean provides an academic education for around 400 day, full and weekly boarding girls from 11 to 18 years.
Making historic Roedean
Its vision: ‘looking outward, aiming high’ is inspired by its 40acre setting to the east of Brighton and its extensive campus with spectacular views across the English Channel. There is even a ‘secret’ tunnel linking the school to the sea shore. Roedean was originally designed by Sir John Simpson, a former parent, famous architect who became president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Sir John’s buildings, both internally and externally, characterise the classic Arts and Crafts international design movement that flourished between 1860 and 1910. The buildings he designed included museums, art galleries and the original Wembley Stadium, whose iconic twin towers he first designed for the school. Mrs Frances King, Roedean’s Headmistress explains the challenge that Roedean faces. ‘Accommodation at a leading girls' boarding school today should be homely, warm, light and spacious - with plenty of space for socialising, study as well as privacy. To bring us up to world class standards, the internal layout and fabric of the boarding facilities require sensitive and significant modernisation.’
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Therefore, over the next 18 months, Roedean will be transformed by a multi-million pound refurbishment of all four boarding houses. This will include the major reconfiguration and redesign of 200 bedrooms as well as communal spaces and private study areas. These far reaching developments will be some of the most substantial in the independent sector today. This huge project will be managed by the award-winning architects Buckley Gray Yeoman (BGY) with an anticipated completion date of summer 2013. The team are more familiar with refurbishing boutique hotels, so transforming a working boarding school on this scale will provide unique challenges. ‘When I first saw Roedean, I was struck by its setting, presence and wonderful buildings. I anticipated with excitement what I would find inside. But on looking around the school I soon appreciated that it needed re-invigorating,’ says Paul White, director of the architectural practice. Mr White adds: ‘Many of the features have been lost over the generations. It is our exciting task over the next eighteen months to create that home from home for modern girls, while drawing upon the rich history of the school.’
‘When I first saw Roedean, I was struck by its setting, presence and wonderful buildings. I anticipated with excitement what I would find inside. But on looking around the school I soon appreciated that it needed re-invigorating,’ says Paul White, director of the architectural practice.
work for the 21st century
There are four identical boarding houses which all overlook the sea at the front of the site – they are the first buildings that a visitor sees. In fact these Grade II boarding houses form a gateway to the school. They reflect a scale and appearance of a grand country estate. But they are all in need of major internal refurbishment. The school appreciates that the transformation may not be straightforward. Mr Paul de Garis, Roedean’s estates manager says: ‘Old buildings always throw up surprises. The key features we want to retain are in the communal areas such the fireplaces, panelling and cast iron radiators. Structural steels, heating and wiring were installed on an ad-hoc basis over the years.’ On the site’s listed status, Mr de Garis adds: ‘As a Grade II listed building we also have to ensure that every step of the process is compliant with a whole host of regulations’. The architects explain that there are five key challenges for the project, while at the same time ensuring that it is delivered within time and budget: designing study bedrooms that are fit
for the 21st Century and beyond, creating inviting and homely common rooms with easy access to cooking and tea-making facilities that the girls will enjoy socialising in, addressing OFSTED requirements – to provide consistent outstanding boarding accommodation throughout the school; ensuring all of the Government boarding and education regulations are exceeded; overhauling the heating, lighting and services in each house in keeping with its period features. Mr White and his architectural team undertook a significant amount of research with the girls before embarking on the designs. They wanted to hear from the users themselves what accommodation in a top girls’ boarding school should be. The students explained to him and his colleagues that they wanted somewhere that was homely and welcoming: a place that was both comfortable and safe with private areas for study but communal areas for when they wanted to socialise. Most importantly they requested that the environment should be a place that they would want to call home. ‘We learned from the girls that we needed to enhance the
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 35
character of the building while making spaces for contemporary living – creating memorable spaces, from the study bedrooms, through the corridors to the common rooms. We have also developed a colour scheme based on the Arts & Crafts theme and individual house colours. The colours will be vibrant, rich and warm – no magnolia!’ emphasises Mr White. Work begins in March 2012 with the refurbishment of a sea-facing bedroom and corridor. This will be the test room for the girls to provide their feedback on the design, colours, construction, storage and layout. So far, based on the visualisations that the girls have seen, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Liz, a student in the lower sixth form enthuses: ‘Revamping the buildings will be such a move forward. The atmosphere will be similar to that of a university. The environment will be very smart and mature.’ Isabella, a boarder from Surrey adds: ‘It will feel like a home, all cosy and modern at the same time. I can’t wait.’
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Commenting on the bedroom design itself, Natalie in Year 8 says: ‘When I need rest from my studies I shall be able to look out of the window from my desk across the sea. I am really looking forward to that.’ The transformation of the building will not simply include the drawing rooms, dining rooms, corridors, bedrooms and bathrooms. New furniture, fixtures and fittings will also be researched and used throughout. Presently, the architects are working with the school leaders and pupils to choose the right chairs and lighting for their workspaces, and furniture for the lounge areas – all in keeping with the Arts and Crafts character. The design and construction team at Roedean are ready for the quick and smooth transformation of the accommodation from its present dated feel to make boarding work for today’s young women.
HR challenges: CLIVE McCOMBIE, is a career HR specialist who has been closely involved with the independent education sector since 2008, including a period of nearly three years as HR Director of Gresham’s School. As a consultant, he reflects on what makes the sector different and what can usefully be learned and adapted from the worlds of industry and commerce.
Look forwards not back
On a recent holiday, I met a Dutchman who has lived in England for many years. In a typically forthright manner he opined, ‘the trouble with you English is that you spend your time walking backwards into the future’. I suspect that he has at least half a point and I dare to believe that his observation may sometimes apply to the independent education sector. Indeed, my recent experience suggests that the single greatest obstacle to modernising initiatives in this sector relate to fixations with ‘the way we have always done things.’ This goes with the related assertions that ‘education is not a business’ and that we are such a different proposition to all other socio-economic groupings, that only educationists can truly understand us and manage our affairs.
Of course, I exaggerate to make a point. There are notable exceptions, not least the decision taken by my erstwhile employer to engage a career professional, from the world of business, as HR Director. Nonetheless, preconceptions about the uniquely different world of education raise their heads, even in more forward thinking enterprises and pose particular challenges for the HR professional, which would not normally be encountered in similarly mature organisations, beyond education. In this short space, I can only touch on the ingredients of that challenge in the form of a checklist but it may be a helpful tool for senior education professionals in conducting their own internal audit and organisational healthcheck.
HR/PEOPLE MANAGEMENT HEALTHCHECK HR/PEOPLE POLICY & PRACTICE ELEMENTS
MET IN PART
All levels of management and staff accept that the school is a business and must be run as such. A ‘whole school’ strategy exists. Strategy implementation can be traced, as a continuum, through faculty, function, department and appraisallinked individual plans. The concept of ‘line management’ is understood. Staff/management reporting lines are clearly established. Heads of Faculty/Function/Department are trained and skilled line managers. Teacher-Managers have time to manage, motivate and develop their professional colleagues/team members. Academic appraisal is not limited to classroom performance and pupil results. Academic and support roles are appropriately valued and integrated. HR policy and practices are: • Legally Compliant • Equality Proofed • Transparently Communicated A centralised HR function is fully supported by managers who: • Understand the HR part of their role. • Can be relied upon to uphold the spirit and the essence of HR policies and practices. The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 37
It will be no surprise that, at the start of my Gresham’s assignment, such an audit identified much fundamental work to be done in areas that, in my ‘other worldly’ experience, might have caused raised eyebrows, hence the notion of a ‘different’ challenge for HR in this sector. During the course of meeting that particular challenge, a number of genuinely idiosyncratic issues were also uncovered to do with: • The nature of the contract with academic staff. • The very particular role of the schoolmaster/mistress, allied to extra-curricular commitments not present, to the same extent, in the maintained sector. • The existence of a plethora of additional allowances for extracurricular duties, sometimes dwarfing the basic teacher pay. • Decentralised HR policies and practices (often the product of ‘wet fingers in the air’) which undermined equal treatment for equal circumstances and tended to reinforce a two-class society of academic and support staff. • A compartmental as opposed to ‘whole school’ approach where sometimes unsupportable and often unnecessary differences introduced complications and, at times, significant remedial cost. The Gresham’s approach to some of these issues has been presented in more detail elsewhere but the key elements of that approach included:
substantial paid duties (e.g. HoD, Housemaster/mistress), to one where, for example, the HoD or Houseparent component is the driver of job size and the relatively smaller teaching component is subsumed in a higher basic salary, where existing allowances are consolidated. In other words, a model where we have HoDs or Houseparents who also teach, reflecting a proper emphasis, relative to their responsibilities. • A series of pay scales providing for competency/performance related progression, different grades for Faculties and Departments of different size, a grade distinction between teachers who only teach and those who have an extracurricular component and a parallel structure to the HoD structure, providing for Advanced Skills Teachers who, for whatever reason, choose not to follow the Teacher-Manager route. This also, incidentally, provides for lateral movement in pay terms, for those advanced skills teacher managers, who decide, at some future time, to relinquish HoD or Houseparent type responsibilities.
...‘the trouble with you English is that you spend your time walking backwards into the future’
• An exercise to size and structure all academic and support staff roles. • Replacement of the established model for pay, where everyone is designated a teacher who may take on additional
• A revised approach to academic staff appraisal and a first-ever appraisal regime for support staff, providing for at least one formal development review every year and interim, less formal 1:1s. All individual appraisals incorporate SMART objectives for both ‘on the job’ activity and training and development. Academic appraisals, particularly those relating to heads of faculty or department, incorporate specific reviews of line manager competencies and performance in relation to the management, motivation and development of team members and the manager’s ability to relate and proactively contribute to the wider context of the school’s overall strategic and operational delivery.
Over this period, the HR challenge has continued to be met with and proved eminently susceptible to tried and tested solutions from other sectors, suitably tweaked, customised and adapted for independent education. Much of the challenge is as old as time – people do not welcome change, are protective of their comfort zones and, no less in education, assert that they are a special case. My recent experiences in the sector happily acknowledge and provide for those characteristics of work, employees and customers which are different from other worlds of work but many responses are totally transferable – good and frequent communications, transparency, a properly rewarded and acknowledged workforce, investment in training and development, a visible senior management walking about and honest management of expectations. Clive McCombie is Managing Consultant of Performance Matters and worked with Gresham’s between 2008 and 2011. He is now working as a consultant: email@example.com
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Making weekends the
big thing At a time when many schools are increasingly moving towards weekly boarding, Moor Park, a prep school in the heart of the Shropshire countryside, is trying to buck the trend. Even with a new boarding team in place, newly refurbished and themed dormitories and rapidly growing boarder numbers, the question was still being asked: what do we do about our weekends? And the answer was: make them big. So last summer term saw our first ‘Big Weekend’ boarders’ event. With an outdoor theme and the sun shining, sixty excited children poured onto site for their first experience of a ‘weekend in’. The evening began with a ‘three-legged treasure hunt’ which had the children tearing, hobbling and hopping around the woodlands, playgrounds and fields of the 85-acre site. When the treasure was all found (and consumed) the children worked off some more energy in a game of giant outdoor dodgeball (a firm Moor Park favourite). The barbecue was lit and after supper all of the children gathered to watch the sun set and toast marshmallows around a massive campfire. Having set such a high bar, Moor Park’s second Big Weekend in the Michaelmas term perhaps presented even more of a challenge. Would the children support it in the same way on a chilly autumn evening, and how could the fun of the outdoors be recreated inside. The inspiration came from a Sunday night ITV game show called ‘The Cube’. Seven challenges were laid out to test the children’s balance, stamina, timing and accuracy. From stacking cups and target ball throwing to stepping over hurdles and walking a straight line whist blindfolded; their competitive spirit really came to the fore. The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 39
Once again in the spring term the boarding team were inspired by their favourite television programmes, this time by Masterchef. With a number of budding cooks already populating a thriving after school cooking activity, they knew this would be an easy sell. As one child was heard to say ‘if it involves food, I’m in!” And what a foodie extravaganza it was! The children (resplendent in food themed fancy dress) designed and made their own supper of pizza and ice cream sundaes and they made bread rolls. They tested their taste buds with cheese, fruit, meat and herb identification challenges. But by far the most laughs must have come from the world record eating challenges… how many jaffa cakes could you eat in a minute? Possibly a logistical nightmare for the staff to organize but from the ear-to-ear smiles on the children’s faces, it seems it is all worth it. Every big weekend evening is topped off with a suitably themed late night movie and then the exhausted children flop into bed. In the morning, the pyjama-clad children are greeted by a full English breakfast, (noted by some to be the finest meal Moor Park has ever produced!). The children go home buzzing about the event and parents are now talking about having to up their game to compete. The events clearly create a buzz around the school and it is probably being applauded at the dinner party tables of Shropshire, by groups of parents suddenly enjoying a weekend off. Each big weekend has been more popular and more eagerly anticipated than the one before. If the staff and children could, they would probably do this every weekend. Either way, there are no ‘sleepy Sundays’ here; Moor Park is a school truly embracing their wild weekends.
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The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 41
Managing risk on school trips Each year there are near misses or tragic incidents in relation to youth activities whether it be school trips or youth expeditions overseas. That said, the rate of incident is extremely low and, whilst there is much in the media in respect of risks to teachers (and indeed some unions dissuade their members from taking part in these activities) properly planned activities, whilst carrying a low level of inherent risk, are hugely beneficial in terms of development of young people and should be encouraged. The courts are supporting such activities and indeed the Compensation Act was enacted partly to encourage such activities. Judges now have to ask themselves as a first tier test, whether the activity undertaken is an activity such that it should be encouraged by society and whether that of itself should prevent a civil claim from proceeding. The legislation is new and relevant cases of its application, few and far between at this stage. What follows is an attempt to simplify how legislation affects school trips with a summary of key requirements. 42 â€˘ BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schoolsâ€™ Association
MELANIE BLACKMORE offers a quick guide to the legislation and regulation aimed at minimising risk on school trips.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 The purposes of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the HSW Act) include protecting people other than those at work from risks to their health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of people at work.
Section 3 of the HSW Act places general duties on employers and the self-employed towards people other than their employees. Clearly children in schools fall into this category whilst at school and also when attending any educational visits organised by the school.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) generally make more explicit what employers are required to do to manage health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Like the Act, they apply to every work activity. The main requirement on employers is to carry out a risk
assessment. Employers with five or more employees need to record the significant findings of the risk assessment. Risk assessments should take into consideration, not only the risks to employees but any other persons that may be affected by the planned activities. By combining the requirements of Section 3 of the HSW Act and the Management Regulations, risk assessments should be completed for activities where children could be put in harm’s way. This obviously includes school trips. The complexity of the risk assessment will depend on the level of risk anticipated; so for example a risk assessment for a day trip to a museum, where the risks involved relate to means of getting to and from the museum and the risks whilst at the museum need not be complex in nature. However, an overseas residential trip involving multiple activities will be much more complex and may require several different risk assessments to be completed.
How these regulations apply to planning school trips In order to ensure a school trip is planned effectively, it is necessary to ensure the following steps are taken:
• Having effective health and safety management systems in place that staff can refer to when organising school trips. • Appointing a competent Educational Visits Coordinator to support staff who are organising trips and to liaise with relevant members of senior management and health and safety advisers if they need further advice or assistance. • Ensuring that trip organisers and leaders have had adequate training and competence.
There are three basic types of risk assessment that can be used. These are: • A generic risk assessment – e.g. travel by coach. In this case, the risks when travelling by coach are likely to be very similar in every instance. Those staff using this assessment should check to ensure it is still valid, amend it if necessary and sign it off with a review date. • An activity specific risk assessment – e.g. canoeing. In this instance, the risks may change depending on where the activity is going to take place and who will be participating in the activity and who will be leading it.
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• A dynamic risk assessment – This assessment should be done immediately prior to an activity taking place. E.g. if weather conditions have changed, then the risks may be different from the activity specific assessment and additional controls may need to be introduced. In some cases, it may be necessary to find an alternative activity because the risks are too high. Factors that should be considered during the risk assessment process include: • The ability of each individual child to participate in each activity. • The medical conditions of leaders and participants. • The suitability of the transport to and from the venue. • The suitability of the venue itself. • The suitability of all staff and leaders involved in the trip and associated activities, first of all to ensure that they are competent to deliver the required learning experience and run the trip or activity and, secondly, their suitability to work with children and young people. • Contacts where assistance may be necessary. For residential and overseas trips, the following additional factors should be considered: the suitability of any accommodation, environmental and health risks, political risks, cultural differences, emergency and contingency plans, and language issues.
www.TripSafely.com T: 01462 608848 E: firstname.lastname@example.org The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 43
• Identification of the various activities involved in the trip. • Complete risk assessments of the proposed activities, to identify precautions and controls that should be implemented. These should be done by a competent person. If necessary, a member of staff should visit the location and assess the risks. A dynamic risk assessment may still be essential at the time of the activity. • Have arrangements in place to ensure that people are named as responsible, to ensure that the precautions and controls identified are put in place. • Use of reputable companies for transport, activities, accommodation, etc •Provision of relevant information to parents/guardians in relation to the trip and the activities involved. • Collection and records of information from parents/guardians in relation to things such as medical conditions, special diets etc.
• Emergency and contingency plans including emergency telephone numbers. • A post trip review to identify what went well and where improvements could be made for future trips. The key to successfully planning a successful educational visit is the management system used by the school. If the whole trip is being planned by a third party and all activities are being run by third party providers, then school staff need only be qualified in managing children. If the school is planning the whole trip, then they need to determine if the Package Travel Regulations apply and then proceed accordingly. The school’s educational visits management system should have procedures to follow to ensure that third party providers have been checked for competence and what to do if the trip falls within the requirements of the Package Travel Regulations.
• Provision of relevant information to those members of staff involved in the trip.
Staff should not be allowed to lead a trip until they have gained enough experience through attending trips lead by others and have the necessary skills and qualifications to lead specific activities.
• Nomination of an experienced and competent trip leader and where appropriate a deputy.
Melanie Blackmore is the co-founder of TripSafely.com the leading online Educational Visits Management System in the UK.
One of the most adventurous trips undertaken by a British school party ended up immortalised on a postage stamp. In December 2005, 17 pupils and three members of staff from Dauntsey’s School made the history books by becoming the first ever school group to visit the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. A picture of the group with a stunning Himalaya backdrop, taken during a sixday trek, was featured on a stamp issued by the kingdom, famous for having “Gross National Happiness” as the key aim of the national government.
44 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
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Students from UWC Atlantic College are helping older members of the local community delve into their history and share local heritage on a unique website.
International students foster local history Members of a computer club for older people, run by students at UWC Atlantic College, are digging into their past to find photographs and stories to upload to People’s Collection Wales. The bilingual website is dedicated to sharing the history and experience of Wales and its people with the world. Over 32,000 items – from old photographs to video stories – can be found in the collection, and UWC Atlantic College, based in St Donat’s Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, is encouraging the sharing of photos and memories between its students and elderly members of the community. The 12th century St Donat’s Castle has a rich history, having been owned by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and hosted parties to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and a young John F. Kennedy. In 1962, the A-list stars were replaced with students from around the world. UWC Atlantic College, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, now has over 350 students from over 90 countries. The education follows a values and issues-based academic programme combined with a strong focus on co-curricular activity and leadin to the award of the International Baccalaureate diploma. A core component of the IB, which the college originally developed alongside the International School 46 • BOARDING SCHOOL The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association
of Geneva and the UN School of New York, is communitybased service. Brian Gilvear, 77, has lived near to the college in Llantwit Major since 1962 and attends the weekly computer club where students help older people with using the internet and computer programmes. Brian has been helped by student Chiara Baiocco, 17, from Turin, Italy, to upload his pictures onto the People’s Collection Wales website. Brian said: ‘It’s been eye-opening searching through my photos at home for ones to put up on the People’s Collection website. It really brings back some great memories of what life was like in the area and how UWC Atlantic College has helped out in the community.’ With Chiara’s help, Brian was able to upload some pictures of land donated by UWC Atlantic College to the cub scouts of Llantwit Major. The picture from 1970 shows scout leaders, including president of the local scouting association, Ian Colston, opening the door to a brand new log cabin with members of the scout committee in the background. Brian was also excited about sharing pictures of generations of his family and, having now been introduced to the site by Chiara, he is keen to upload some more of his pictures to People’s Collection Wales.
The Collection already contains historic prints of St Donat’s Castle, a picture of ladies enjoying a day on Llantwit Major beach in the nineteenth century, and another of Tresilian Cave, where tradition has it that if a boyfriend can hurl a pebble over the arch of rock he will marry his love.
People’s Collection Wales is a partnership project between Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, the National Library of Wales and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, and is funded by the Welsh Government.
Brian, whose grandson attends another of the UWC colleges in Costa Rica, said: ‘It’s lovely to know that pictures of Llantwit Major’s history is being shared, and I’d recommend others to share their pictures to show off our area’s interesting heritage. It would be great if some of the people who are in the photos, such as the carnival pictures, can come forward and share their memories of what life was like back then.’
Rheinallt Jones, from People’s Collection Wales, said: ‘It’s important that younger generations help older members of the community to upload memories onto People’s Collection Wales. Older generations in our communities have important and worthwhile memories and contributions that would be very valuable to the Collection. What everybody may not have is the confidence to use computers to get them on the site but the students at UWC Atlantic College have shown their local community that it’s easier than they think to upload these treasured pieces of Welsh heritage so they can be enjoyed by us all.’
Chiara, who has built up a strong relationship with Brian, said: ‘It’s been interesting hearing Brian’s stories about what life was like in the area back in the sixties and seventies. I think it's important that younger people help upload images and videos onto the site, so that we can share their memories. If we don’t help record the memories of the older generations, we could lose glimpses of what life was like for people years ago.’
Original articles on boarding issues are always welcome. If you have a story please contact:
The Editor Boarding Schools’ Association Grosvenor Gardens House 35-37 Grosvenor Gardens London SW1W 0BS Telephone 020 7798 1580 Fax 020 7798 1581 Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.boarding.org.uk The deadline for the next edition of Boarding School (Issue No.36) is 31st August 2012 and should be sent to the Editor at the above address.
The Magazine of the Boarding Schools’ Association BOARDING SCHOOL • 47
Left to right: Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Natural History Museum, Tate Gallery and City Hall Cardiff.
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