2015 - 2016
THE VOICE OF BOARDING FOR 50 YEARS
Our Golden Jubilee
Celebrating 50 years www.boarding.org.uk
Summer boarding school EXPOS Tony Little BSA Honorary President
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Celebrating our Jubilee t gives me enormous pleasure to write the foreword to this celebration marking 50 years of the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA). The BSA was formed just a couple of years before I had my first experience of senior boarding in the late 1960s. To board at Eton then was to say the least a formative experience. The school was of course as historic and traditional as it comes, and yet my first term followed the Summer of Love and Sgt Pepper. If these two worlds were sharply contrasting then, contrast them again to boarding today. For all Mr Wilson’s 1960s rhetoric about in the ‘white heat’ of change there was little evidence of that in boarding schools then. Spartan fixtures and fittings, large dormitories, inadequate heating, poor food and pastoral care in the hands of prefects were common attributes. Fast forward 50 years and what a difference: comfortable rooms, central
heating, abundant food and wraparound 24/7 pastoral care from boarding professionals. And that doesn’t even consider the access today’s boarders have to first-class facilities and broad co-curricular programmes. That the change has been so great is of course well known to those who work in boarding. The hard part is explaining the seismic leap to the outside world, especially journalists or sceptical parents. Yet throughout all that has changed there has been a constant, reassuring and valued presence: the BSA. From its first meeting at Keble College, Oxford in July 1965 the BSA has been there, rather like a long-serving and warmly trusted boarding house matron. So what comes to mind when one thinks of the BSA? Professional development, expert advice, an increasingly strong voice to government and journalists, information provider for prospective parents and
convenor of the boarding family for conferences and events. The BSA does all this and, swan-like, much more besides, in exchange for a modest annual subscription. That we need the BSA and all its valuable services is beyond doubt as we contemplate the next 50 years of boarding. The challenges are great and many – and we don’t know what the boarding landscape will look like in 2065, how many boarders we will serve or how many schools will even offer boarding. But however things unfold, it is an enormous comfort to know the BSA is there with us on the journey.
Thank you BSA, and good luck as you plan your centenary! Tony Little BSA Honorary President 2015-2016
“You are treated like a young adult.”
Photo: Clayesmore School
Contents It was 50 years ago today - Robin Fletcher
First steps - Dick Davison
You do have your own stapler don’t you? - Dick Davison
Change and professionalism - Dick Davison
Heading uphill - Adrian Underwood
Fit for purpose - Hilary Moriarty
A view from the chair
State boarding history - Paul Spencer Ellis
Life chances for young people - John Hagen
First director of training - Tim Holgate
Secret gardener no more - Melvyn Rolfe
Getting it right when the inspector calls - Alana Davidson
Making it home from home - Dr Felicia Kirk
Modern boarding - Jonathan Taylor
50 years on - Charles Bush
Nurturing younger minds - John Baugh
Without a backward glance - Simon O’Malley
Boarding for girls - Mary Breen and Caroline Pascoe
Let boarding boys be boys - James Hanson
The co-ed perspective - Peter Green
To discover the real value of boarding today - Nick Wergen
Sanatoriums to health centres - Kathy Compton
Safer schools for all - Kris Robbetts
Good school governance - Stuart Westley
The future of boarding - Wendy Griffiths
Widening access - Ian Davenport
Character education - Simon Reid
Beyond the classroom - George Vance
Gazing into the crystal ball - Leo Winkley
BSA Member List
IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO TODAY By Robin Fletcher, BSA National Director
t was the year Churchill died and Stanley Matthews hung up his boots. The year Ian Smith declared UDI in Rhodesia and The Sound of Music changed the film world for ever. The year the Beatles released Rubber Soul and Roy Jenkins became Home Secretary. The year the M4 opened and cigarette advertising on television was banned. And so 1965, the year the Boarding Schools’ Association was formed, was arguably quite uneventful. But at least one more event deserves a mention. For just 12 days after the BSA’s first conference at Keble College, Oxford, on June 30th and July 1st, newly appointed Secretary of State for Education Tony Crosland issued his legendary 10/65 circular. As we know the DfE issues notices every month. Yet few have had more impact than 10/65 - the circular calling for all state schools to introduce comprehensive education. Not every education minister, however competent and well meaning, leaves much of a mark on the world they control. Margaret Thatcher’s stint at education in the early seventies is remembered for nothing else than for scrapping free milk. Kenneth Baker in the eighties gave us the National Curriculum, Baker Days and City Technology Colleges. Charles Clarke in the noughties won the battle to introduce tuition fees, while recent incumbent Michael Gove has already lent his name to the ‘Govian’ period of academic reform. Ironically Tony Crosland is less remembered by name than deed. But what a deed it has proved to be as the argument over school standards, selection, streaming and grammar schools has raged
ever since. Aside from launching an education revolution however, what else was happening when BSA heads gathered for the first time? Down the road in Wimbledon, Australian Fred Stolle was meeting South Africa’s Cliff Drysdale in the semi-final of the men’s singles. A little further north in Sheffield, Yorkshire were taking on the visiting South African cricket team and we were listening to Elvis Presley top the charts with Crying in the Chapel. As well as saying goodbye to Churchill, the nation also bade farewell to writers TS Eliot and Somerset Maugham, cricketer Wally Hammond and comic fall guy Stan Laurel. On the other side of the coin, we also welcomed a clutch of newborns whose names are well known today, including Piers Morgan, JK Rowling, Robert Downey Jr, Anna Chancellor, Vinnie Jones, Jeremy Vine and David Milliband. It was a world where the average Briton earned £1,250 a year, lived in a house worth £3,900 and paid 5p for a pint of beer. Today the same person earns £24,000, lives in a house worth £188,000 and pays £3 for the same pint. In 1965, we lived under a government struggling to keep control of the economy while the opposition both bitterly opposed and changed its leader at the same time. Taken as a whole, BSA did indeed decide to launch itself in a relatively quiet year, except for that small education revolution.
The rest as they say is history.
Photo: Keble College
FIRST STEPS By Dick Davison
Eden’s inaugural message to the BSA’s first conference at Keble College, Oxford, in the summer of 1966 still resonates. “There are two jobs which need doing now… “(1) Correcting the idea that boarding education has any social class connotation; letting it be known that many children… actually need it and… others would benefit… from some boarding experience. “(2) Fostering co-operation and co-ordination between all kinds of school on a local basis… with the object of exploring the possibility of amalgamated classes, teacher exchanges and fuller use of existing facilities all round by common participation.”
ifty years ago in July 1965 the seed of what became the BSA was planted, against a political background of government hostility to independent schools and indifference to boarding education. A radical Cambridge sociologist, Dr Royston Lambert, who had been researching life and learning in private and state-funded residential schools, convened a conference of boarding practitioners from both sectors. They quickly concluded a permanent association would be useful. Five months later, in December 1965, 30 local education authority representatives met again in London to establish the blueprint for the BSA.
Ironically neither of the two men most responsible for it held any post in a boarding school. Lambert, credited by a later BSA chairman as the Association’s ‘onlie begetter’, was a young academic with an enthusiasm for comprehensive education, whose subsequent five years leading the progressive Dartington Hall was not entirely successful. But speaking 20 years later, Bruce McGowan, BSA chair in the late 1960s, said: “Roy Lambert was never merely an academic sociologist. He cared very much about the people in the communities he studied and it is no accident that BSA conferences from the start until now have been much concerned with pastoral care.” The second pioneer, who became BSA’s first chairman, was Robert Eden, vice-chairman of Essex County Council.
Roy Lambert also spoke. He accurately foresaw many of the subsequent changes in boarding schools. He suggested children should have time ‘for doing what they liked when they liked’, that ‘dull uniformity’ should be replaced by personalisation of space, and schools should reduce the ‘strict hierarchy that characterises many boarding schools’.
secretary paid a princely £208. Much of the pattern of annual conferences, still familiar today, was established early on. In addition to the annual association (now the heads’) conference, annual conferences for housemasters and housemistresses and for matrons began within two years of the first meeting. In BSA’s early days much time was spent on state boarding issues at a time when local authorities were increasingly reluctant to support children in boarding schools. Already in 1966, a paper on setting up a clearing house for state boarding was being discussed. BSA embarked on a 15-year campaign against the notorious ‘out-county rule’, preventing authorities placing children at schools outside their own jurisidiction, which was not won until 1980.
In BSA’s early days much time was spent on state boarding issues at a time when local authorities were increasingly reluctant to support children in boarding schools
BSA had nearly 200 founding members, including 134 independent schools, 28 maintained and other schools, 22 local education authorities and a collection of official bodies including the Department of Education and Science, the Methodist Education Committee, the Oxford University Education Department and the IAPS. Within two years, BSA membership had doubled to include 373 schools, 21 education authorities and 17 other bodies. Subscriptions yielded £1,436 8s 0d annually, with the
With this focus on state boarding, it was no surprise that one of the addresses at the second annual heads’ conference was given by Sir William Houghton, chief education officer of the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA).
“The ILEA considers it most necessary that pupils should not leave school without having had the opportunity of living and working together under residential conditions which preferably last a full term,” said Sir William. That ringing endorsement was long forgotten in 1989 when the ILEA, itself doomed to abolition, closed down one of the last state all-boarding schools, Woolverstone Hall in Suffolk. Ironically the building was sold to the Girls’ Day School Trust, to relocate its Ipswich High School.
Throughout its history, BSA has promoted the benefits of boarding. The terminology and methods might be different today but a minute from 1966 sounds familiar: “It was felt that there was a great deal of ignorance… about what was available in the way of boarding education... It was thought that a series of articles might be submitte to magazines such as New Society or the New Statesman, or better still to the Daily Express (sic) or Mirror, whose readers on the whole knew nothing of boarding.” Another recurring theme was calling for a national government policy on boarding. In 1970, a BSA 10-point plan for boarding landed on the desk of Ted Heath’s new education secretary, Margaret Thatcher. It was concerned entirely with the state support of boarding and most of its points were stimulated by the evidently failing lack of local authority commitment. Point 1 stated: “the policy called for LEAs to be forced to provide boarding education for children who needed it. It proposed LEAs should be assisted to provide a variety of types of boarding – fulltime, short-term and weekly.” It added: “In any LEA boarding school provision should be made for admitting children who have no particular need for boarding education, so… such schools should not be full of ‘need’ cases and thus defeat one of the objects of boarding accommodation, i.e. to give children from unsatisfactory homes the opportunity to mix and live with children from normal homes.” Sadly Mrs Thatcher did not choose to be the saviour of boarding education and in 1974, BSA chairman Michael Hart, headmaster of Mill Hill School, struck a sadly familiar note: “Most people still equate boarding education with the public schools. We are as far removed from a national policy on boarding as ever.”
The second decade 1975-1985 By Dick Davison n his 1974 address, reviewing the BSA’s first decade, chairman Michael Hart highlighted boarding’s increasing exclusiveness: “a trend towards earmarking places in maintained boarding schools increasingly for special cases only, and a trend towards providing places in independent boarding schools increasingly for wealthy clients who may not believe in boarding per se.” These trends, he warned, would weaken ‘a peculiarly English institution’ the boarding school community, which ‘transcends local boundaries, which joins under one roof children from different backgrounds and with different interests and which derives its strength from a consensus of parents and teachers, and often pupils, that the latter will all benefit in some way from the boarding experience’. In the following year, the executive committee crystalised BSA’s response to these concerns. They discussed four principal issues: developing professional standards for boarding staff, research, declining boarding numbers and, perhaps above all, the public profile of boarding and the desire to see government acknowledge its value in public policy. Following a wide-ranging debate at the 1976 annual conference, these issues came to dominate the next decade and beyond. During the late 1970s and much of the 1980s, many of the practical responses to these challenges were initiated by one man above all, Ewan Anderson. Appointed BSA research officer in 1975, Dr Anderson was an academic
at Bede College, Durham, and, as a former housemaster at Birkenhead School. He began immediately to oversee the production of ‘occasional papers’ to help boarding staff. The second of these,’ The Housemaster and the Law’ was written by Tim Stirk, at the time a boarding housemaster at Lancaster Royal Grammar School. Its introduction said it was ‘not intended to make every housemaster his own lawyer, nor intended to make him neurotic…(but) to provide a general guide which may help to solve minor problems and which may point out major ones’. While its title aroused some concern at first, it became an indispensable guide to the legal responsibilities of house staff and was subsequently revised three times, its final edition appearing 17 years later in 1993, at the dawn of a new regulatory age. But it was the annual conferences, especially for house staff and for matrons and sanatorium staff, which were especially valued for their contribution to professional standards. They quickly became very popular and their organisation a major additional responsibility for the Association’s secretary, Shirley Dewes. It was not long into the BSA’s second decade, therefore, that a conference organiser was appointed. Shirley Dewes’ near-neighbour in Dulwich, Jill Alexander, was interviewed for the post. Jill recalls the encounter: “She lived just over the
Photo: Lancaster Royal Grammar School crossroads from here so I had an interview, sitting on deck chairs in her back garden with her and Bill Spray, the chairman. I remember quite clearly Shirley saying to me:
“We are run on a shoestring. You do have your own stapler, don’t you, because we can’t afford to buy another.” That’s how we ran it, saving money at every possible cost.” She went on to run conferences for the BSA – and to introduce the annual conference for deputy heads too – for two decades. From very early on, there was a demand for accreditation. “The house matrons and sanatorium staff wanted some kind of certification for having attended the lectures at their conference,” says Alexander. “Obviously they weren’t being examined and no-one knew what they had learned but I said I could create a decent-looking document to demonstrate they had attended this conference, with these speakers... That developed eventually into the formal training, worked out with Roehampton University, which started in the mid-1990s. But the demand was there very early on.” On research, Ewan Anderson concentrated on three main priorities: keeping an up-to-date
record of schools and the general state of boarding, professional support for boarding staff and general research into boarding practice.
government funding for a clearing house scheme, designed to help LEAs place children in maintained boarding schools.
boredom and confused values, and yet we ignore the form of education which has the style and structure that could serve so well.”
He started a professional journal, ‘Boarding Education’, collecting articles from boarding professionals and others to publish annually at Christmas, to coincide with the housemasters’ conference. Like Jill Alexander, he recalls the need for thrift:
Anderson recalls: “The chairman asked me to do a full survey of maintained boarding, the first since Royston Lambert in the early 1960s, when there were 145 schools offering boarding. My survey found there was still boarding in 101 schools but many of the beds were empty. So when we went to see the Department they were very impressed that I was able to tell them that about 10 per cent of the beds were empty the previous week.
Sadly, the launch failed to make waves. Perry reported to the Executive that official response to the pamphlet ‘had been somewhat lacking and press response had been nil’. This was to be a recurring theme. In 1980, for example, publication of another leaflet (“What? Send my child to boarding school?”) was recorded as ‘small but on the whole encouraging’.
“To keep costs down the university department undertook the printing at very low cost and my mother did all the typing!” Anderson’s general research activities were mainly designed to ensure boarding schools kept up with the latest developments in independent and maintained education. “One of the most interesting ones we did was to ask about 35 house staff to go through their lists and regularly tick how many of their boarders they had spoken to that week. The results shook many of them when they discovered that they had spoken to only about 10 per cent of them.” The BSA’s concern with declining boarding numbers was, as in its first decade, still mainly concentrated on the accelerating disappearance of boarding from the maintained sector in much of the country. This concern led, in 1978, to three years’
The clearing house, which operated until the early 1990s, surveyed available places twice a year. Anderson visited most of them to get to know their specialisms and ethos. Local authorities with children to place would get in touch and the clearing house would find places for them. “With the support of a far-sighted professor at Durham, my wife, as secretary, and I were able to take this on and we placed up to 350 children a year.” In 1977, desperate to get government recognition of the value of boarding, the BSA published ‘Boarding for Britain’, a polemical leaflet arguing the advantages for the nation of boarding education. Launching it, the chairman Dick Perry said: “It is time that someone stood up at the DES, grabbed the Prime Minister of the day by the scruff of the neck and faced him with the lost opportunities within boarding. We talk of the social problems within our community, of the
Also in 1980 the BSA began an increasingly close dialogue with the Independent Schools Information Service (which in those jihadiinnocent days was universally known as ISIS). In 1983, with the active and practical support of ISIS in the form of its energetic and successful press officer Jane Capon, the Association established a public relations committee. And in 1984, ISIS itself published ‘Boarding is Fun’. Not all members of BSA approved of it, but the chairman, Joan Sadler, principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College, said: “It has done much to win the support of a group of parents who have hitherto given no consideration to the possibility of their children entering our schools.”
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Professionalism By Dick Davison
In 1989, Philip Cadman, the owner of Crookham Court, a private boarding school in Berkshire, was jailed for 10 years along with two staff after a trial which changed boarding education for the better. Crookham Court (not a BSA member) had been exposed by Esther Rantzen, the ChildLine campaigner. Following the revelations, late amendments to the Children Bill then going through Parliament included boarding schools in the proposed regulation of accommodation for looked-after children. A move welcomed by the sector. Ever since, much of the BSA’s time has focused on training and improving safeguarding.
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At the start of its third decade, BSA was aware boarding was declining but did not know the rate. On the rare occasions when accurate statistics were available their value was obvious. In general, however, initiatives were inspired by general impressions, hunches and anecdote. In 1982, ISIS (the Independent Schools Information Service) began publishing its annual headcount, ISC census. This furnished inescapable evidence of the pace of decline. There were about 112,000 boarders in ISISmember schools in 1982, more than a quarter of all pupils in those schools. By the end of that decade, in 1989, boarding numbers had dipped below 100,000 for the first time. It was the short, sharp recession of 1990-1991 which dramatically accelerated the flight from independent boarding. While day numbers were barely affected boarding numbers declined sharply. For most of the following
decade, boarding numbers in independent schools fell annually by two per cent or more. The fall provoked several reactions. It hastened the development of different varieties of boarding – weekly, flexi, occasional – to stimulate flagging demand. International recruitment accelerated, aided by the end of the Cold War and the opening of new central and eastern European markets, plus growing interest from mainland China. The number of foreign boarders in independent schools grew by more than 40%, to around 20,000, in the seven years to 1996.
It is ironic, too, that the historic Boarding Standards Committee, which drew up the first comprehensive set of regulatory standards following the Children Act of 1989, had also started life as a promotional initiative. A suggestion that BSA should establish a national kitemark of boarding excellence had spawned a small working group to define the criteria which then expanded to represent every organisation involved in boarding education plus, Government and childcare professionals.
Structural change within state education was also rendering the BSA’s clearing house scheme less useful, as decision-making was transferred from LEAs to individual schools. John Haden, then head of King Edward VI School, Louth, and later chairman of BSA, says: “The clearing house’s time had gone. It was treating something as a system which wasn’t a system any longer.” Haden recalls: “After a meeting in London in 1990 to discuss the idea of a marketing organisation to match the effectiveness of ISIS, several of us tried to plan a strategy on our way back north by train, over a few cans of Newcastle Brown Ale. We thought it should be called STABIS, the State Boarding Information Service, echoing ISIS.” STABIS was duly established, within the BSA structure, and soon published a parents’ guide to boarding in the state sector, for which the BSA negotiated financial support from the Department of Education. STABIS eventually became the State Boarding Schools’ Association (SBSA).
BSA responded too. Promoting and marketing independent boarding became a top priority and BSA began to support fee-charging boarding schools. For nearly four years from 1992, it employed as ‘national boarding promotion officer’ David Tytler, ex-education editor of The Times. In 1991, the BSA organised the first-ever National Boarding Week, launched with a day conference in London. Schools nationwide organised activities in an initiative focused principally at local and regional media. The executive recorded that most of the wide coverage “had been tremendously positive... especially in the regional press.” Sadly, the optimism which the exercise aroused did not last; a second national boarding week, organised in 1995, met a “disappointing” response from schools. The boarding weeks were a collaboration with ISIS which also produced other results. ISIS ran two major surveys for BSA, first of boarders and then of their parents. With sample sizes of several thousand, they charted for the first time the positive feelings of most boarders and their families to the experience.
But perhaps the most dramatic response to decline originated outside the BSA. In the mid-1990s, a group of heads of so-called ‘flagship’ schools, led by Edward Gould of Marlborough and Stephen Winkley of Uppingham, convened crisis meetings. The outcome was the Boarding Education Alliance in 1997, a three-year boarding PR campaign. It raised subscriptions from around 400 independent and state schools and hired the Henley Centre and a major London PR company to commission case studies and reports and stimulate media coverage. The results were not immediate but, together with the benefits flowing from Harry Potter, were positive and measurable in the following decade. There was an important internal consequence of the shift in BSA’s focus to the numbers crisis in the independent sector. Maintained school members began to feel marginalised. They were, of course, also witnessing a decline of their own: between 1964 and 1987, the state boarding sector had shrunk from about 12,000 boarding places to just over 7,000 places, and indeed continued to shrink to a low point of about 3,800.
“Living here is like having one big family.”
But perhaps the most positive and lasting achievement of the BSA’s third decade was establishing its nationallyco-ordinated training for boarding staff.
Pioneering work in East Anglia by Sarah Evans and Jane Laing, successive heads of Friends’ School, Saffron Walden, led BSA to search for possible higher education partners for a formal training programme. In 1996, Roehampton Institute (now University) proved the ideal choice. Roehampton asked BSA to appoint someone to co-ordinate this training nationally and be responsible for quality assurance procedures and maintaining professional standards. Tim Holgate, former head of Warminster School, became the BSA’s first director of training. And with the appointment of Adrian Underwood as the Association’s first national director in 1998, BSA stood on the brink of becoming a fully-formed professional association.
Photo: Bedales School
Photo: Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Buckingham at the 2015 SBSA Conference
UPHILL here were four keys to BSA ‘becoming a fully-formed professional association’ (to quote Dick Davison in the previous chapter). First, I did not obey the rules at the final interview for National Director late in 1997. The short-listed candidates were asked to give a six-minute presentation. I spoke for a lot longer outlining my vision. Thankfully for me this was taken up by the association, particularly by the nine chairmen I worked with.
Second, in appointing Tim Holgate as director of training, the BSA had already made a highly significant contribution to its future role as the leading provider of boarding education. Tim’s expertise, attention to detail and encouragement of all boarding staff were highly instrumental in the association’s growth. Third, in early 1999 the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) approached BSA to confirm that the new Government wished all those working in a residential setting to be trained. It added that if the BSA undertook the training programme, the Government would provide financial support.
Fourth, a significant element of my vision was for the setting up of a national office in central London. At the time the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and the Independent Schools Information Service (ISIS) had offices in Grosvenor Gardens House in Victoria and these bodies supported the BSA in renting offices in the same building. The support from the general secretary of the ISC, Dr Alistair Cooke (now Lord Lexden) and the ISIS team led by David Woodhead and Dick Davison, was invaluable.
By Adrian Underwood BSA National Director 1998-2006
This confirmed the Government was prepared to listen. It was also an example of positive co-operation across different bodies.
In 1998, realising there were no benchmarks for boarding schools, the BSA set up a ‘boarding kitemark’ committee to establish a framework for validating good welfare practice. A few months after this committee had been formed, the Government published a White Paper on the future of social services, including the national inspection of boarding schools. Immediately, the Kitemark Committee became the Boarding Standards Committee with the aim of presenting to Government sector standards. This was a vibrant body comprising of representatives from two Government departments, from all the independent school associations and from social services. It submitted to the Government in 2001 a set of 52 standards and three appendices. In March 2002 the Department of Health (DoH) published the first edition of the National Minimum Standards (NMS). With only a few tweaks the standards published were those submitted by the committee.
inspectors (BSPIs) who would be members of the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) inspection teams. These BSPIs would contribute their significant experience as working professionals in the sector to the quality of the first national inspection regime. The DfEE funding enabled BSA to offer day courses, bespoke boarding consultancy for schools and the Professional Development Certificate courses at a cost much lower than the market rate. Thus, the number and range of courses grew rapidly. The first day course was memorable. It was held at the London Zoo Conference Centre and, as Dr Roger Morgan took the delegates through various boarding issues, he had to compete with the sight of giraffes being led past the window behind him to their enclosures. Roger contributed significantly to the professional development programme, leading training days and being an authority on boarding matters. It was no surprise when he was appointed the first Children’s Rights Director.
This confirmed the Government was prepared to listen. It was also an example of positive co-operation across different bodies.
As the professional development programme grew, it was quickly realised national publications on boarding practice were urgently needed. Surprisingly in 1998 there were few generic publications on boarding practice. So Tim Holgate commissioned small and large publications to support the training programme. Of note, in those early days, were Good Practice in Boarding Schools (ed. Tim Holgate), Running a School Boarding House – A
The BSA had led its first national initiative in its new role. This was followed by a Government partnership agreement for the inspecting boarding schools with the ISC and the BSA. This included recruiting and training of boarding sector professional
Legal Guide by the late Robert Boyd and the first in a long series of Boarding Briefing Papers. As the training grew, so did the publications. All these initiatives were supported by the establishment of the first BSA website which in 2000 was seen as somewhat of a novelty! The Boarding Education Alliance had been a great success and handed over its role to the BSA and ISIS in 2000. It was re-branded Boarding in the 21st Century (B21) and continued to take every opportunity to promote the values and qualities of boarding. One of the real issues which both campaigns had to confront was the memory of boarding life of previous generations. The appointment of the BSA’s first Media and Communications Officer was a measure of how much the media and schools were now contacting the BSA on any boarding issue. Television and radio interviews and articles in national newspapers and popular journals were increasing. Many of the issues raised were reported in another initiative – The BSA Bulletin. This was published several times a year and kept schools informed on all boarding issues. This was complemented by ‘Boarding School’, the annual magazine of the association. One of the most satisfying elements of the national profile was the increasing contact from schools. The association became the first port of call for heads wishing to chew over an issue or a problem. Many conversations
In the years to 2006 the BSA maintained its regular service to schools and its national role, but also continued to develop as new initiatives were required.
MODULES, PORTALS & APPS
became topics for Boarding Briefing Papers or led to meetings with Government representatives, particularly on the national inspection regime. On inspections there were well-documented issues about the consistency of judgements of different inspection teams. Regular meetings with the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) were required to ensure schools in different parts of the country were inspected fairly and that ‘interpretations’ of the NMS did not become the basis for judgements. Having established in the early part of the new century the framework of the BSA’s role, in the years to 2006, the BSA maintained its regular service to schools and its national role, but also continued to develop as new initiatives were required. The boarder parent and boarder voice came to the fore in two new publications Parenting the Boarder by Libby Purves and Being a Boarder by Rose Heiney (Libby’s daughter). These were published in 2002 and 2003 and are still selling well today. By their own admission, Libby was a reluctant first-time boarding parent and Rose was an enthusiastic first-time boarder. By reflecting on their experiences in these publications they conveyed to new parents and new boarders some of the anxieties and joys of boarding. Many schools send these publications as part of the joining package for new boarders. B21 continued promoting boarding with such reports as Living with Friends (2001), More than a Day (2002) and Out of the City (2004). These were the result of national surveys of the view of parents and boarders, notably of those in prep schools and those day pupils in urban prep schools who were choosing to board in their senior years in a rural school. In 2003, at the BSA’s suggestion, the ISC included in their Annual Census
the amount of money spent by schools on new or refurbished boarding facilities, thus confirming the commitment of schools to improving the boarding experience. Further notable publications were Duty of Care (2004) by Dr Tim Hawkes, World Class – Meeting the Needs of International Students in British Schools (2005) by Dr Christopher Greenfield and Philip Hardaker and the Boarding Marketing Manual (2005). The national director, as well as visiting member schools throughout the country, was invited to support the establishment of the Australian Boarding Schools Association and addressed its annual conference in 2001 and 2005. In 2005 the Utting Report Progress on safeguards for children living away from home commended the work of the BSA and its training and publications programme. In the same year the commitment of the BSA to a national boarding need programme was recognised by the Government and a DfE ‘Boarding and Vulnerable Children’ committee was established. This committee encouraged local authorities to work with educational trusts and schools to offer a boarding place to a vulnerable child when it was gauged that this would be the best educational and social option. Throughout this decade, the BSA gave its fullest support to state boarding schools. In 1998 their collective organisation was still known as STABIS (the State Boarding Schools’ Information Service). The national director persuaded the STABIS committee this was confusing and The State Boarding Schools’ Association (SBSA) was born. BSA and SBSA worked very closely together and this close collaboration saw a rise in boarders in state boarding schools and growth in the number of schools. Most notable was the joint
submission to the Government that state boarding schools needed capital investment. In 2004-2006 significant grants were made by the Government to fund new boarding houses and refurbish boarding facilities. What a different world we live in today. Our schools are about people not buildings. So it is right to conclude this chapter by paying tribute to those who did so much between 1998 and 2006 to make the BSA what it is today. It was a lean organisation with only four fulltime staff. Tim Holgate’s contributions were immeasurable. The office started with a parttime assistant, Ginda Utley. As the first fulltime administrator, Pamela Cherry developed systems and ran the office in a highly efficient and effective way. So much so, she was often heard to say: “Oh him, the national director, he just wafts about”. Sophie Marsh, followed by Ruveni Ellawala, were our media and communications officers. The support of the chairmen and national executive, as mentioned above, was vital to the association’s development. We rightly celebrated the 40th anniversary of the BSA at Keble College, Oxford on July 4, 2006. Keble College was the venue for the association’s first conference in 1966. We welcomed many to that celebration who had contributed to the association over those four decades. It was noted at that celebration that in the eight years from 1999 to 2006, the association had run over 25,000 training days and more than 800 boarding staff had gained the professional certificate in boarding education. The BSA had established base camp and was heading uphill.
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Headmaster of The Dragon School and BSA Chairman for the year, gently reminded me we were possibly a tad late in planning his conference for the following May. In the early days, the London office and training were very separate operations. Working from home then meant for Tim very little contact with the London office. There was a limited programme of day seminars in topics such as child protection and welfare, but the bulk of the work was in running the certificate course, now accredited by Roehampton University. The courses make up an intricate jigsaw, and organising them was made more complex by the then lack of technology. No emailed essays, much posting of substantial parcels, and anxiety about deadlines and work lost in the post. It was masterminded impeccably by Tim, who laid the foundations and constructed the world’s most important boarding qualification.
By Hilary Moriarty, BSA National Director, 2006-2014
When did I really become aware of BSA? Not when I was a deputy head or head. No, I really noticed BSA when my school lost a speech day speaker at very short notice. My PA suggested I contact BSA and I was hugely surprised when Adrian Underwood cheerfully agreed to be our speaker.
Over lunch, Adrian described running BSA as ‘the best job in the world.’ I never forgot it. He was right. But it wasn’t always plain sailing. When I came into post in September 2006, funds were low – indeed, the then Honorary Treasurer, Stephen Withers Green, Bursar of St Edward’s in Oxford, took his chance at the BSA’s 40th anniversary conference that year to announce a late change to subscriptions, up 40% for the following year. Unheard of, but essential if BSA was to survive. After this annual rises were kept as low as possible, by growing other income and keeping a constant eye on costs. After moving offices in 2014 reserves grew to the point where serious expenditure on new developments and appointments would become possible.
BSA in 2006 seemed quite domestic in scale. Training belonged to Tim Holgate, ably assisted by his wife Anne, working from home and supported by Pam Bailey, a wise counsellor with particular strengths in pastoral care training. Adrian had run the London office with his wife Pamela, an accomplished administrator, who retired a couple of months before Adrian, with the intention that her replacement would be well installed before the new National Director arrived. Sadly it took us until Christmas to make the necessary changes. We managed the SBSA Conference in November 2006 at Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College by relying heavily on Principal Tony Halliwell’s good graces and administrative skills, and it was at that November conference that John Baugh,
Tim’s retirement in 2008 coincided with unprecedented demand for training. Alex Thomson OBE arrived to take over, setting about making expert boarding training available and more accessible. The day seminar programme increased dramatically but not at the cost of the certificate courses. To support the expansion, Mark Robinson, with a wealth of front-line experience and energy, was appointed as Assistant Director of Training and Liz McDonald, a dedicated and highly efficient Roehampton administrator, joined the team. BSA grew because member schools needed it. The arrival of the National Minimum Standards in 2002 prompted a seismic change in boarding practice. But in due course the DfE described boarding schools as a ‘mature sector’ and set about reducing the Standards in number. It was a privilege to work with sector colleagues and the DfE to reduce the NMS to 20 with only 64 bullet points –
Photo: Welbeck - The Defence Sixth Form College
and interesting to hear a Reporting Inspector recently remark that even though they are minimum standards, they are still not easy to meet. Ofsted inspection of all boarding in my early days in office had been an absolute shock to the system. How many calls did I take from head teachers, irate because their ‘boarding inspector’ had never set foot in a boarding school before arriving on their doorstep, trailing clouds of experience in children’s homes and wanting to see the Restraint Policy? BSA provided the liaison with Ofsted when things went wrong and the training to help schools withstand what felt like inspection by onslaught. But the system did change, and partly thanks to concerted and consistent lobbying, we now have ISI inspecting boarding and teaching in independent schools. ISI inspections are rigorous and publicly available. Government and parents draw confidence and comfort from their scrutiny. But in the independent sector, peer review, from professionals in boarding is fundamental. Ensuring that was recognised in high places has been a major achievement in recent years. Having a feature about them in general, but Wymondham College in particular, on The One Show felt like a triumph. Initiating the first proper state boarding census in 2013 provided vital information about the health of the sector in increasingly changing times. Much of the work for SBSA in my time involved conversations with government ministers and interested charities about the possibility, practicality and value of placing vulnerable children in boarding. Many independent schools were interested, indeed involved, in such schemes. But local authorities always preferred the idea of state boarding, but then, sadly, appeared to take little action. A major thread in the fabric of my years was the prolonged conversation with government about international students and visa regulations. The Border Agency was desperate to cut the international student numbers following the 2010 election pledge to reduce immigration, and inclined to lump all international students into one category of immigrant.
Building public trust in boarding schools and asserting the value of a boarding education was a major focus in my years at BSA.
“I’ve made friends from all over the world who I will definitely keep in touch with.”
ELENA With Matthew Burgess, then General Secretary of ISC, BSA campaigned for recognition that international boarding children were very different from those coming over to university. In due course, key concessions were won, recognising the distinctions between small boarding schools and huge universities, and BSA and ISC helped member schools make the transition to the newly cautious times.
Building public trust in boarding schools and asserting the value of a boarding education was a major focus in my years at BSA. The ISC census every year showed – broadly – a steady state in boarding numbers overall, but detailed scrutiny revealed falling numbers of younger boarders and rising numbers of international students. There was a real PR challenge to schools themselves, but also to the BSA. When funds allowed, BSA brought in formal PR advisers to increase positive coverage of boarding and the BSA in the national press considerably. Times were definitely changing: websites became more important than print, social media arrived. Active PR on behalf of the Association and its members, but also of boarding itself, is now an essential. Five conferences a year – sometimes six – occupied, very pleasantly, a surprising amount of time.
Starry speakers such as Libby Purves, Rachel Johnson, two Poets Laureate, and experts in adolescent psychology - Dr Christopher Thurber from America and Dr Michael Carr Gregg from Australia - graced our platforms.
ST JOHN’S COLLEGE, SOUTHSEA
We walked fine lines, weighing desirability and availability against cost, and always seeking to make the conferences professionally worthwhile. One of the joys of the job was the opportunity to travel, culminating in a week touring five cities in China, in August 2014, speaking for British Council about the benefits of British boarding schools. My years in post were enriched by contacts with BSA’s sister associations in the US (TABS) and Australia (ABSA). Pete Upham and Richard Stokes, my equivalents in the US and Australia, were guests at BSA conferences. In return I was honoured to attend TABS conferences with three of the BSA Chairmen, and to speak twice at the ABSA conference, in Canberra and Brisbane, at the latter accompanied by the then BSA Chairman, Christian Heinrich, Headmaster of Cumnor House. The BSA will always be greater than the sum of its parts: it speaks to member schools, and it speaks for them. It trains them and it represents them to government and its agencies. It stands for all its member schools and it stands for boarding itself, now seeing a happy resurgence. It remains only to wish BSA every success in meeting all the challenges of the next 50 years.
Photo: St John’s College, Southsea
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Congratulations to the Boarding Schools’ Association on reaching its Golden Jubilee...
“The Australian Boarding Schools’ Association has not only valued the wonderful relationship we have with the BSA but has also used the Association, its staff and board members, as mentors for our work. The BSA has led the way in so many areas of boarding schools - standards, training, university accredited courses, excellent publications, relevant conferences and overseas marketing just to name a few, and throughout the existence of ABSA we have watched and copied the model form the UK. Remember, Charles Caleb Colton said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and the BSA should definitely be flattered!
“As a former Chairman of BSA and HMC, I congratulate the BSA on its Golden Jubilee. Boarding has always been a cornerstone of the education provision offered by HMC schools and so the work of BSA is of central importance to me and my fellow heads.
“Well done on 50 years, and we look forward to working together over the next 50 years to develop and serve the Boarding School market!”
Former HMC Chairman Headmaster of Uppingham School
“ISA encourages its many boarding schools to join BSA, as we know they will receive the specialist advice and support needed to deliver world-class pastoral education. The UK’s boarding schools are the pinnacle of excellence and their attractiveness to pupils from across the world remains undiminished, thanks to BSA’s excellent work over the last 50 years. So on behalf of our President, Lord Lexden, and Chair, Dr. Sarah Welch, and all of ISA’s 370 Members across the country, I am pleased to congratulate BSA on this milestone.”
Executive Director Australian Boarding Schools’ Association
Haberdasher’s Monmouth School for Girls
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“Girls can benefit so much from a boarding experience, not just academically but through extra-curricular opportunities and making friends for life. But for the benefit to be realised boarding has to be of the highest quality and that’s where the Boarding Schools’ Association plays such a key role. The BSA is expert on all aspects of boarding staff development which in turn helps the thousands of girls who board every year. It’s also a strong and united voice for all boarding schools and that’s incredibly important among all the other education voices. The Girls Schools’ Association congratulates the BSA on its golden jubilee and wishes it well for the next 50 years of serving the boarding cause.”
Charlotte Vere Executive Director Girls Schools’ Association
“As boarding continues to evolve and change, the wide range of excellent services provided by the Boarding Schools’ Association does great deal each year to ensure that the breadth and quality of services provided in our boarding schools remain at the cutting edge.”
Neil Roskilly Chief Executive Officer The Independent Schools Association
“AGBIS congratulates the Boarding Schools’ Association heartily on its excellent work to support and promote boarding over 50 years. AGBIS looks forward to continued work in close co-operation with BSA for many years to come.”
Stuart Westley General Secretary AGBIS
What an incredible achievement!
A VIEW FROM THE CHAIR Robert Eden Essex CC
Allan Dodds Ottershaw School
Michael Hart Mill Hill School
Bruce McGowan Solihull School
William Spray Leighton Park School
Donald Witney, King Edward’s School, Louth
John Kendall-Carpenter Wellington School
Richard Perry Fyfield School
Edward Double Lincolnshire CC
Pamela Evans Midhurst Grammar School
Audrey Butler Queenswood School
Joan Sadler Cheltenham Ladies College
Colin Reid St Christopher School
Christopher Greenfield, BSA Chair 2009-2010
Audrey Butler, BSA Chair 1989-1991
I attended my first BSA conference in 1987, after taking up my first boarding headship in September 1986. It was held at a remote hotel reached via the slow train to Oxenhope in Cumbria. There I found friendly Heads from England’s best-known schools and from fascinating lesser-known schools. The fellowship and sense of common purpose of the gathering made a huge impression. I resolved to attend the conference every year!
Congratulations to the BSA on its 50th Anniversary. There can be no doubt that it has played a major role over its lifetime in the development in and improvement of boarding in both state and independent schools. That lifetime has encompassed enormous challenges mirroring those in society at large and not least the Children Act of 1989. The BSA’s support and training of those working with young boarders is invaluable. I count myself fortunate to have been involved with developing the Association in the 1980s and 1990s as a Housemistress and Headmistress and wish the Association continuing success in their future endeavours in the future
Twenty three years later, I became Chairman of BSA in 2009-2010. The slow train to the top indeed!
Anthony Millard, BSA Chair 1999-2000
Rosalind McCarthy, BSA Chair 1996-1997
BSA is clearly in fine fettle! We have come a long way since those bucolic conferences at Low Wood and my Torquay 2000 conference as chairman when the sun never stopped shining. BSA is now sharply focused and centrally placed in the great educational debate. Boarding is now on the front foot! And now for the next 50 years!
When I was appointed Chairman of BSA in 1996, it was a crucial turning-point for the Association. Negotiations had been going on for some time with regard to the establishment of Professional Qualifications for Boarding Staff. Finally, with validation from the Roehampton Institute, and with the appointment of a BSA Training Co-ordinator, both academic and nonacademic staff in boarding schools were given the opportunity to gain career recognition for the valuable work they do. As Head of Cobham Hall, a small GSA Boarding and Day School, it was a real privilege during my year of office to raise the profile of boarding at many major educational conferences, and even to suggest, in financially straitened times, that re-branding our boarding communities as flexible, ‘sleep-over schools’ or as ‘hotels’ for children, was something worth considering. I remember how much time it took out of my day-job at Cobham to organise the BSA’s 1997 Conference at our usual stress-busting Ambleside venue, eventually deciding to choose a Star-Trek inspired theme, ‘Boarding - the Final Frontiers’, urging all Boarding Schools ‘to boldly go’ into the future with confidence. (Full report in the BSA magazine number 11 Autumn 1997) It would seem that they certainly have!
John Haden King Edward’s School, Louth
Adrian Underwood Moira House School
Ian Small Bootham School
Paul High Prior’s Court School
Rosalind McCarthy Cobham Hall School
Anthony Millard Giggleswick School
Norman Hoare St George’s School
Stephen Winkley Uppingham School
Clarissa Farr Queenswood School
Nicholas Ward Royal Hospital School
Quentin Edwards Bilton Grange
Philippa Leggate Malvern Girls’ College
Jonathan Hughes-D’Aeth Milton Abbey
Geoffrey Boult Giggleswick School
John Baugh The Dragon School
Dr Christopher Greenfield, International College, Sherborne
Melvyn Roffe Wymondham College
Richard Harman Uppingham School
Jan Scarrow Badminton School
Ray McGovern Sexey’s School
Christian Heinrich Cumnor House School
Wendy Griffiths Tudor Hall School
Photo: Hazlegrove Preparatory School
Congratulations to the Boarding Schools’ Association on reaching its Golden Jubilee...
“Both IAPS schools that I had the privilege to lead were members of BSA and benefited from the excellent training opportunities of BSA courses, particularly those for matrons, gap staff and house parents. “I much appreciated the fellowship of the annual BSA Heads’ conference with its opportunities for prep school heads and senior heads to spend time together. It has always been highly regarded on the conference calendar. “Over half a century, the BSA has moved with the times, from the introduction of National Minimum Standards to the growth of state school boarding and the SpringBoard bursary scheme. BSA has embraced and moved with the changing landscape of boarding and now provides greater diversity of provision and more flexible options than ever before. “For the busy family of today, boarding can provide stability and social opportunities that make a child’s school years real and rich in opportunity. And for schools, the BSA provides support, advice and a voice for boarding. Here’s to the next fifty years!”
Julie Robinson General Secretary Independent Schools Council
“Congratulations to the Boarding Schools’ Association on its Golden Jubilee. The boarding sector comprises some of our best schools, providing excellent education and pastoral care for children from all backgrounds. The Boarding Schools’ Association should be proud of its history of providing support, challenge and advice for this important part of the education sector in the UK.”
“The Society of Heads congratulates the Boarding Schools’ Association on its golden jubilee. Around 65% of Society schools have a boarding element and all are members of BSA. The support that BSA provides for these schools, whether it be the bespoke and high quality training for boarding staff or the lobbying on NMS or Tier 4 visas, is valued highly by our schools and has contributed significantly to enhancing the quality of boarding provision within them. The Society recognises that BSA has come a long way in 50 years and sends its best wishes for this year’s celebrations and for its work in the future. Whilst boarding numbers are back on the rise, there are still many challenges ahead.”
Peter Bodkin General Secretary 2010-2015 The Society of Heads
“Almost one third of IAPS schools are boarding schools. Some are traditional, whilst increasingly there is a flexible approach to weekly and nightly boarding options. IAPS has a long-standing strong relationship with BSA which we value greatly. Schools in IAPS benefit from specific boarding training provided by BSA and there are annual joint IAPS and BSA conferences for boarding prep schools. IAPS works with BSA to promote modern boarding as a positive lifestyle option for families and as we celebrate 50 years of BSA we also look forward with optimism to boarding remaining one of the defining features of so many of our schools.”
David Hanson Chief Executive IAPS
Nick Gibb MP Minister of State for Schools
What an incredible achievement!
“I love the freedom of it and the creativity.”
DAISY BEDALES SCHOOL
31 Photo: Clayesmore School
Two-time Chair Paul Spencer Ellis reflects on its important role.
Photo: Wymondham College
he State Boarding Schools Information Service (STABIS) was founded in 1990 with John Haden, Headmaster of King Edward VI School, Louth, as Chairman. But that is not the beginning of the story. When the BSA founded, Robert Eden, an Essex county councillor, was the first Chairman. This set a pattern with the majority of Chairs coming from state boarding schools or local authorities over the BSA’s first decade. This was because many local authorities ran their own boarding schools and used boarding to support young people with difficult home circumstances - as well as educating many fee-paying boarders. Many local authorities closed boarding in the 1970s and 1980s and several Direct Grant schools with boarding became independent, so the BSA naturally came to be dominated by independent schools. The list of BSA Chairs after 1976 contains very few state boarding school heads and this reflects the sharp decline in the number of state schools with boarding.
The State Boarding Schools’ Association celebrates its silver jubilee in the BSA’s 50th birthday year.
THE VOICE OF STATE BOARDING FOR 25 YEARS
The creation of the Independent Schools Information Service (ISIS) with the aim of promoting independent education – day and boarding – preceded the founding of STABIS in 1990 and the STABIS was a deliberate parallel to ISIS in name. While ISIS was a stand-alone organisation with day and boarding schools in membership, STABIS was exclusively concerned with promoting state boarding schools and the BSA National Executive sanctioned its existence as a sub-committee in 1990. ISIS was wound up and the rather clumsily named ‘State Boarding Schools Information Service’ became the ‘State Boarding Schools’ Association’, making its
alignment with BSA much clearer. So much for the history. So what has STABIS or SBSA actually achieved over the last 25 years? The work of the SBSA Management Committee has covered several key areas, most importantly the promotion of state boarding. This has been done with a small advertising budget which represents the main expenditure covered by membership subscriptions, plus the ability but to create stories about boarders at state boarding schools which have been taken up by local and national press. ‘Education’s bestkept secret’ is a line which has been used on and off for many years but it is amazing the number of journalists who ‘discover’ state boarding and are keen to write about something that they did not know existed! Recently SBSA commissioned research which involved a survey of all boarding parents at SBSA schools. The subsequent report, based upon replies from over 30% of our boarding parents, gives detailed analysis of the parents who choose state boarding and their reasons for the choice. This has been distributed to all state boarding schools and is used to inform advertising and PR stories. There have been recent very positive negotiations with Ofsted over the way boarding is inspected. SBSA officers talk to DfE officials about matters that concern our sector, which is a very small part of state education but seen as very successful, which also explains why we are given very generous ministerial access as well as having regular visits by ministers to SBSA Conferences.
When David Milliband and Lord Andrew Adonis were schools’ ministers, significant capital funding was made available to SBSA Schools and, more recently, Lord Nash has instructed SBSA Academies to make an 8% surplus on turnover which can then be spent on Governors’ priorities including capital projects. The SBSS Annual Conference has given the opportunity for staff at all levels in SBSA schools to meet around the specific subject of state boarding. This is usually hosted by a larger SBSA school while the AGM is the opportunity for a smaller school to host a one-day event. At an unofficial level there is much further contact among SBSA schools with mentoring for new head, heads of boarding working together to improve standards and “Mocksted” inspections being conducted in one school by boarding staff from others. There is also a stream of e-mails on the lines of “I have a boarding problem about which I would appreciate your thoughts”. State boarding schools are an important jewel in the boarding sector crown and the SBSA has played a key role in helping to ensure it prospers and thrives over the past 25 years. Paul Spencer Ellis SBSA Chairman 2006-2008 Vice Chairman 2008-2014 and Chairman 2014-2016.
THE VOICE OF STATE BOARDING FOR 25 YEARS
ifty years ago, BSA’s founding independent and state heads met in Oxford. At the time, I had the privilege of a term at Christ’s Hospital, as a temporary House tutor and student teacher. As a former a ‘minority boarder’ at a London day school, that ‘Housey’ term began a working life time in boarding, in England and overseas, in a cathedrals, two grammar schools, and three mixed comprehensive schools. Having survived four years working in state boarding schools in Idi Amin’s Uganda, I returned to UK education just in time to go through the great change to comprehensives. I worked my way down the east coast from Northumberland to Norfolk, from Head of Chemistry to Principal, and part-time teacher of ‘Health Education’. Ten of those
years were in Louth, at King Edward VI School, where from the 1790s, the Head used his attic bedrooms to house boarders to supplement his meagre salary. We still had boarders in the 1980s and through them I became involved in BSA. Hopefully, boarding will return to Louth. My last eight years as a Head was at Wymondham College, by far the largest of England’s state boarding schools. It was founded in the Nissen huts of a WWII hospital to serve the whole of Norfolk. By the 1980s, rusting corrugated iron, comprehensive re-organisation and a decline in boarding numbers threatened its future. In the 1990s, thanks to the governors’ vision and the support of central government with capital funds to transform decaying huts into exciting new buildings, the College survived. By the 50th anniversary in 2001, Wymondham was well on the way to the success it is today.
Today, boarding schools are successful, popular, and Ofsted rates many as ‘outstanding’.
There was a time when most state boarding schools seemed to be faced with extinction. But today the number is growing again for the first time in 50 years. They are successful, popular, and Ofsted rates many as ‘outstanding’. Why do we need such schools? Who would suffer if they did not exist? I have tried to make the case for more boarding places in comprehensive rather than selective schools, for boys and for girls, to provide opportunities for young people whose life chances are blighted by family disadvantage. These are the ‘looked after’ children who have a real ‘boarding need’ and whose opportunities can be transformed by a place at a good state boarding school. There they can thrive alongside the boys and girls whose parents have bought into the opportunity for them to benefit from a very good boarding education.
John has published a new book called ‘Boarding on the State’.
LIFE CHANCES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE By John Haden former head of Wymondam College and first Chairman of STABIS
THE VOICE OF STATE BOARDING FOR 25 YEARS
THE VOICE OF STATE BOARDING FOR 25 YEARS
SBSA (formerly STABIS) Chairman and Vice Chairman
CHM Derry Bancroft VCHM Bob Gurthie
CHM Tony Jeavons VCHM Derry Bancroft
CHM Bob Gurthie VCHM Angela Daly
CHM Paul Spencer Ellis VCHM Melvyn Roffe and Malcolm Lloyd
CHM Melvyn Roffe VCHM Angela Daly and Victoria Musgrave
1997 Hong Kong handed back to China
1994 Channel Tunnel opened
CHM Norman Hoare VCHM Chris Potter
CHM Angela Daly VCHM Melvyn Roffe
CHM Ray McGovern VCHM Roy Page and Paul Spencer Ellis
CHM Malcolm Lloyd VCHM Ray Mc Govern and Paul Spencer Ellis
CHM Paul Spencer Ellis VCHM Irfan Latif and Roy Page
CHM Roy Page VCHM Paul Spencer Ellis and Ray Mc Govern
2012 London Olympics
CHM Chris Potter VCHM Tony Jeavons
2011 Prince William marries Kate Middleton
CHM John Haden VCHM Norman Hoare
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“The merging of different cultures is fantastic.” By Tim Holgate
JAMES OSWESTRY SCHOOL
often wonder whether my interview to be BSA’s first Director of Training might have stood out from the others on that day as I was disastrously late for the appointed time, due to cows escaping onto the railway lines at Wootton Bassett. In any event, I was delighted to be part of the negotiations at the end of 2006 with Roehampton University to accredit the planned training programmes for boarding staff. This was an imaginative leap of faith by an innovative education faculty to award qualifications for courses that were entirely taught and assessed by non-university staff. Shirley Lee, the programme convenor at the time, and the vice-chancellor himself, took a particular interest in BSA’s programme and provided invaluable advice and support. There followed a hectic year, as I appointed a tutor team from among experienced boarding professionals in a number of member schools, and we worked on devising the course content, assessment methods and resources for a graduate-level and non-graduate modular programme Venues were chosen in schools around the country to provide regional courses as well as using central London conference centres We were delighted with the steady growth in participation, and it is gratifying to witness the momentum that has been generated by my successor, Alex Thomson.
Photo: King Edward’s Witley
I was particularly pleased with the enthusiasm with which boarding house matrons greeted the training courses, and they appreciated the greater professional recognition that the BSA/ Roehampton qualifications provided. We used the annual conference for nurses and matrons as part of the course content, and provided lectures appropriate to their changing roles.
Two events provided a catalyst for expansion and diversification of the BSA’s professional development programme. The first came about in 2001/2002 when BSA convened a national committee to draw up a set of minimum standards for boarding schools. Recognising that the then DfEE intended to impose such standards on us and other care sectors, it was a bold step by the BSA Executive to take the initiative, rather than to wait for a government ‘think tank’ to draw them up. Chaired by Dr Roger Morgan, this national committee came up with the 52 NMS framework which kept us occupied for over 10 years before they were slimmed down in 2013. These standards therefore formed much of the training framework for identifying and evaluating good practice in the wide range of boarding schools nationally. On the back of the launch of NMS, the DfE asked us to provide a series of one-day ‘road shows’ around the country to explain and illustrate the standards and what they were expecting to achieve. For this, they were prepared to make a sizeable grant to cover the costs, and thus started many years of significant financial support from central government for BSA’s professional development programme in all its aspects. These road shows developed into a broader programme of day seminars in London and around the country, which appealed to many boarding staff who did not wish to join the accredited programme. At this time, we started the induction days for antipodean Gap assistants arriving into UK boarding schools in January. We were rather overwhelmed by the first exploratory event with over 150 attending in a large conference room – rather like taking sixth-form assembly, but for a whole day! Smaller regional events quickly followed. After moving offices in 2014 we embarked into the world of publications – several pamphlets on choosing a boarding school
for parents and pupils were followed by Good Practice in Boarding Schools and World Class, which became the unofficial text books for the accredited courses. A meeting in Australia with Dr Tim Hawkes enabled me to edit his book Duty of Care for UK readers. Another important publication was the legal guide for running a boarding house. We wrote, researched and commissioned a series of Boarding Briefing Papers, many of which I see are still available today. Many of these arose from requests by schools for guidance on topics as varied as Guardianship, Homesickness and Writing Policies. As if we didn’t have enough to do, we followed up on an increasing number of requests from schools to bring the training to them. This aspect of BSA’s work enabled us to tailor a training programme to the needs of particular schools. Overseas member schools did not wish to miss out either, and it gave me great pleasure to provide boarding-related training to groups of schools in Denmark and Germany, and provide Inset to schools in Switzerland, Australia, Brunei, Thailand and China. Overseas schools were fascinated by the concept of a government laying down requirements for the operation of boarding schools, and soon came to recognise the unifying and central place of such minimum standards to their own schools, wherever they might be. It gave me great pleasure to hand over the reins to Alex after nearly 12 years in the job, and I have been delighted to see BSA flourish in the years since.
he first time I set foot in a boarding house was one night in July 1983. I was visiting my then girlfriend (now my wife), and was shown through the green baize door into the boys’ side of the house where my later-to-be father-in-law was housemaster. Here was where I would sleep. Just in case I had any other ideas. The boys had only been gone a few days and the fug of sweat and socks hung thickly in the stagnant air.
I made myself as comfortable as I could on a 2’ 6” bed and enjoyed an untroubled night’s sleep. Former BSA Chair Melvyn Rolfe celebrates the modernisation of boarding but warns against schools becoming too exclusive.
Photo: Horris Hill
It was not an auspicious prelude though to my boarding career. Early the next morning and without waking me, Mrs C, the cleaner had seen my bearded and somewhat dishevelled form in the bed and scuttled off to inform matron (my later-to-be motherin-law) that she had better call the police because a tramp was asleep in one of the dormitories. Over 30 years later, as the BSA celebrates its half century, it is salutary to consider how much has changed.
The sequestered institutions where once anachronistic practices were too often the norm are unrecognisable in today’s open, healthy boarding communities. The shadow of the ‘old ways’ can be discerned in the first set of National Minimum Standards with their emphasis on limiting the role of prefects, on allowing access to the outside world and, strangely, facilitating communication between boarders and parents. It is incredible to think the highspeed, hyper-connected lives boarders now live is less than a career’s span away from the obligatory single boarding house phone box with its ChildLine stickers and long, usually hierarchical, queue waiting in line. Boarding schools are no longer remote secret gardens. They are very much part of a diverse, dynamic globalised world. They are, sometimes uncomfortably, an international prestige brand. Overseas students now make up a significant part of boarders at our schools, but we remain ambivalent about the international nature of our clientele. Media coverage habitually portrays increased international students as proof of the decline of boarding, not its greater global relevance. And the visa regime regards international boarders as a threat rather than a contribution to the UK trade balance and ‘soft power’.
Will boarding schools still be flourishing in a further 30 years? Despite our global success they remain fundamentally counter cultural. We champion qualities of community, forbearance and service to others, yet wider society appears increasingly individualistic, intolerant and self-serving. Our values rather than our practice can now seem anachronistic and it is debatable if they can endure. It must also be admitted that many of the improvements of the last 30 years have been bought at more than just a financial cost. Increases in boarding fees have significantly outstripped wage inflation. Schools have become much more open, tolerant and inclusive and yet simultaneously more exclusive. Further expansion of the state boarding sector and initiatives such as those by SpringBoard, Buttle UK and Royal National Children’s Foundation are vital to make boarding available to many more who could benefit from it, and ensure it remains an intrinsic part of UK mainstream education. Long may it remain so.
Photo: Bedales School
“Boarding provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will change you forever.”
LANCASTER ROYAL GRAMMAR SCHOOL
GETTING IT RIGHT WHEN THE INSPECTOR CALLS
Alana Davidson, is a Boarding Tutor and Head of Faculty – Languages at Steyning Grammar School and an inspector for ISI and Ofsted.
‘The hooks for the boys’ flannels need to be apart further by 1” or I shall have to fail you!’ pronounced the inspector nearly 30 years ago. was new to the school and new to state boarding and totally taken aback by such a lack of perspective. The fact that a third of our boarders were local authority placements, desperately in need of tender loving care, consistent support and guidance, appeared irrelevant. Another eye-opener for me in the course of that particular inspection was that nutritional value and variety in the food was not of any real concern – merely the fact that the boarders were fed something. Nor was it of any consequence that boarders had little, if any, privacy, had only one bedside locker in which to store their belongings, had their ‘home time’ dominated by a series of physical exercise activities and, worst of all, were rarely listened to. However, painful as the experience was, I learned one hard fact about running a boarding house:
“NEVER ignore attention to detail in the care of your boarders”. Time moved on and the focus for Care Inspections evolved to meet the expectations of a more aware and questioning society. Boarding schools became more accountable for the details in the standard of the care they provided and more responsible for the holistic development of the young people entrusted to them. National Minimum Standards for Boarding meant that both BSA and SBSA schools now had a clear benchmark to measure the quality of their
provision. Medical care became more than a daily dose of castor oil, food had to be varied and nutritious with boarders actually having a choice, ‘enrichment activities’ became the new buzz words and crucially the safeguarding of young people became non-negotiable. Eventually, the responsibility for the Inspection of Care in Boarding in SBSA schools was placed in the hands of Ofsted while the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) assumed responsibility for the independent sector. It was at this stage that I undertook to train as an ISI Boarding Co-ordinating Inspector to experience the inspection process from both sides. This ‘hands on’ training was the most professional and enriching of my whole career in teaching. When Ofsted announced the introduction of a new framework for the inspection of boarding schools the SBSA concerns of disparity in the interpretation of the NMS.
The ‘tone’ of inspections in the independent sector were more formative and supportive. Fast forward to September 2015 when Steyning Grammar School was on the receiving end of an inspection under the new framework. We are really pleased to inform our colleagues in other schools that Ofsted appears to have taken on board the concerns about ‘disparity’ and ‘tone’ and inculcated this into the recent training of their inspectors. The inspectors were nothing but informative and understanding of what running boarding actually entails. However, flannels were not our prime concern this time but locks – mortice locks, thumb locks, starlocks – which just goes to prove that attention to detail is still as important as ever.
Photo: St Mary’s Calne
Photo: St Mary’s Calne
Leading a boarding school is all about creating a home environment believes Dr Felicia Kirk, Headmistress of St Mary’s Calne
here are many ways to create a successful family home. I came from a relatively large family – there were five of us, all quite close in age. My mother was a busy stay-athome mum, very focused on creative ways to keep us busy. My father went out to work but was much engaged with our academic lives, keeping a close eye on our progress. I think they’d forgive me for saying that, over time, they moved from a fairly liberal, 1960s set of beliefs to something more disciplined, responding to the realities of life as we grew older and our personalities developed in different ways – all to do the best for us. If I look at my siblings and their families, a generation on, although we came from that same home environment, I see different approaches to doing the best for their children. They have different working arrangements, different expectations – many different priorities. Yet I think they all try
to strike a balance as my parents did – the delicate balance, tailored to each individual child, between discipline and freedom, influencing and controlling. Leading a boarding school is not so different from this, in my view. The school community is as close as it gets to a home environment in school form. What separates a boarding school from a day school is of course the ‘whole-day’, in fact ‘whole-life’ nature of the experience. There does not come a time at the end of the afternoon when the girls at St Mary’s Calne head off home. We are there 24/7, engaging them creatively, focusing on their academic progress, balancing discipline and freedom girl by girl – just like in the homes of my family members. Of course this ‘whole-life’ boarding experience also brings with it many additional benefits. We offer our girls a breadth of opportunities to develop their talents and fulfil their potential, while ensuring our enrichment provision at
Photo: St Mary’s Calne
all levels is of the highest standard. The girls are involved in music of all varieties, sports of all kinds, drama at all levels, and all kinds of clubs and societies. This is complemented by a pastoral environment in which all girls can live, learn and, most importantly, grow in wellbeing and self-confidence. The first thing a Head needs is a clear understanding of what parents value about the school – what it is that led them to make the choice from the many options open to them. This is an art rather than a science and it can be very hard to pin down. It’s something we all try to express when we hold open days, or when we meet prospective parents, and the better the job we do of capturing the essence of the place, the more successful we’ll be. And again, there’s a delicate line to tread, because it’s the job of the Head, with the support of the Governors, to set the direction – not just to follow tradition. Each Head
needs to bring their own vision to the existing ethos, and to make sure what the school is doing adapts to the changing times and the different people who live and work in it. In a girls’ school like St Mary’s Calne one of the balances we need to strike is to encourage our girls to pursue opportunities across all areas of life, while maintaining the notably warm, relaxed and supportive attitude we’re known for. Another is to nurture the English boarding school tradition that appeals to UK parents and to so many others around the world, while also encouraging the global perspectives our girls will need to succeed in the decades ahead. These are unique and difficult challenges, challenges a boarding school Head faces in a highly competitive and economically unhelpful environment. And of course economic and social pressures also ratchet up the expectations parents have for what the school can achieve.
In my experience, this makes two things of paramount importance – having the right team in place, and constant, effective communication. In my current role I was fortunate to be able to build a relatively new senior team, though of course this can be challenging in itself as they bed into their new roles in a new school and learn to work together. As with a family home, it’s not always easy to accept incomers, but they really do bring a fresh perspective. Good communication, though, is the absolute key. This means communication of all kinds
– internally and externally – and timing and quality are almost equally important. I am a great advocate of honest, transparent communication. There is a natural tendency to smooth things over and leave issues for another day if they don’t need to be dealt with now. I find this is rarely the right answer, particularly with parents. The earlier a developing issue can be addressed, the better – a phrase I really hate to hear is “If only I’d known…”! The good news is that with difficult challenges comes deep satisfaction when things are working well. When the match between the school and the Head is right, so they can authentically lead (and sell) the vision, being a Head can be a great job. What’s more, it’s a job in which we experience new things every day – as Heads we really have the opportunity for life-long learning of exactly the sort we want for our girls.
8.30pm Relax with friends
MODERN BOARDING From cold showers to soft furnishings, Jonathan Taylor, Principal of Wymondham College reflects on how modern boarding has changed from his own experience in the 1980s. must confess to a nostalgic fondness for my years at boarding school in the 1980s. I received good teaching, excellent care, a range of character-building opportunities and independence away from home. My school certainly ensured I was fully prepared for the challenges of university and life beyond. I also remember large dormitories, lukewarm (and cold) showers, occasional mornings with ice on the inside of windows, variable food and an environment that would not always have been described as homely! That being said I benefited enormously from the experience. Twenty-five years on I am now Principal of Wymondham College in Norfolk, the UK’s largest state boarding school. We educate 650 boarders and a similar number of day students in an operation that’s busy, complex and always rewarding. Modern boarding retains features that would have been recognisable 25 years ago, but has also moved on profoundly.
Our boarding houses are certainly transformed and explicitly aim to be a ‘home from home.’ Our houses are mixed sex downstairs areas and students socialise
happily between year groups and genders. Upstairs areas are far more homely, with soft furnishings, pictures and students are encouraged to personalise their areas. They are also warm, the days of ice on windows long gone! Students can keep in contact with home using mobile phones, e-mail and Skype and have significant input in to food choices, facilities and the range of extra-curricular activities on offer. A school term is always very busy and modern boarding takes full advantage of the extra time available. Like many boarding schools Wymondham College runs an extended school day, with a rich and varied extra-curricular programme that starts straight after the end of a ‘normal’ school day, is broken by supper and ‘prep’ and continues into the evening. Our programme offers more than 60 different weekly activities, regular visiting speakers, weekend and evening trips and over 650 sporting fixtures a year. Our Duke of Edinburgh Award, CCF and community services programmes are all hugely popular. In a typical week activities include music theory, jazz band, brass group, flute choir, full orchestra, drama club, horse riding, volleyball, cooking for fun, film club, tennis, swimming, squash, rugby, football, debating and numerous house activities (including Take Me Out and other game-show-based activities!). It is this variety and the endless opportunities modern boarding offers which adds so much value to students who board and plays such a significant role in developing character traits so important in life.
A great way to illustrate what modern boarding is through the words of one of our Year 11 students. Esther Oyewole describes boarding as ‘an amazing experience.’ In a piece originally written about modern boarding for a local newspaper she adds: “Forget all the stereotypes and cliché rumours… you may have heard amongst the crowds. No, we are not nasty cast offs, and neither are we stuck up spoilt brats. In fact, we are pretty much like normal teenagers. “The beauty of boarding school is that we have a diversity of people, a wide range of facilities and spend time a lot of time with our best friends while still getting the academic support necessary to help achieve our full potential. “We are going to be honest with you, having started at this school over four years ago. We were at the young age of 11 when we came here, so starting was a scary experience. “Now, bearing in mind that starting high school is one of the most daunting experiences of your adolescence, try imagine having to go through all those emotions without having the physical support from your folks like most Year 7s would. Different people deal with things in different ways, but the best part about the boarding experience is that you have your own big family ready to help 24/7. “One thing we often get asked is ‘you must be so bored all the time being at boarding school’. That couldn’t be more wrong.
Here’s an example of our daily routine: 7:00 Wake up
7:30 Go downstairs for registration
7:35 Make your way over to breakfast
8:00 Go back to house, brush teeth, tidy dorm and get ready for school 8:25 Leave boarding house and go to tutor room 8:30 School day begins
11:05 Break time – return to house for biscuits and hot drinks 11:20 Return to lessons
12:25 Lunch break, eat lunch then return to house to play sports, board games, watch TV, if in Year 11 go up to your dorms and attend the vast range of clubs and catch up sessions the school has to offer
1:30 Return to lessons
3:45 End of school day. Attend extra-curricular activities, relax in dorm, watch TV, play outside or go and see friends in other houses 5:30 Meet downstairs for registration then make your way over to dinner
6:30 Prep (homework) - either study in house or go to tech block to use computers
8:30 Finish prep, get toast, fruit, biscuits and hot drinks. Watch TV, do extra-curricular activities from sign language to hockey or relax with friends. 9:45 Go up to bed, shower and brush your teeth 10:00 Lights out
“There is a packed schedule at Wymondham College to ensure that we never find ourselves without something to do.” “Overall, the experiences and memories we have gained in the last four years are something… words cannot easily describe. We couldn’t even imagine what our lives would be without boarding. Maybe boarding is not for all but if you’re looking for somewhere that will stretch your intelligence, give you opportunities you’ve never even thought about and where you will have a great time then boarding might just be for you.” Modern boarding continues to build on many of the traditional strengths and provides student with well-rounded, world-class education – in an environment more homely and comfortable than I experienced all those years ago.
3 .45pm Sport practice Photo: Wymondham College
Photo: Wymondham College
Photo: Wymondham College
8.30am School begins
“I was so lucky to have spent five years in a happy, caring boarding community which was full of decent people.” Charles Bush, Headmaster Oundle School (2005-2015)
YEARS ON Charles Bush Headmaster Oundle School (2005-2015) n my final few months at Oundle the opportunity of a flight to Hong Kong provided the chance for a thorough read of the Boarding Schools’ Association golden anniversary issue. Fifty years on strikes a chord with me as 50 years ago, in summer 1965, I left my boarding prep school with many happy memories of achievement and success. I shall celebrate the 50 years by returning to my old prep school in the summer to give the prizes away. The first time I did this was 20 years ago and it will be a pleasure to return. Dick Davison and Sir Anthony Seldon painted a picture which remains vividly familiar to me. Food – I have not eaten porridge or rice pudding since prep school; letter-writing home on Sunday morning each week after breakfast – if we had no idea what to say we could copy from the Headmaster’s draft on the blackboard – and some of these were kept by my mother; endless games of cricket in the yard and despair when tennis balls were lost in an uncovered but walled underground stream; the sprint after supper to claim first use of the billiard table in the old priory building; crayfish fishing by the river; or making model (inside) or making dens in
the Bishop’s garden (outside), or bowling at a stump and travelling home unaccompanied at the end of term 200 miles from Winchester to North Devon changing times at Basingstoke and Exeter. Whatever the rose-coloured time in the glass these were golden times indeed. Spartan, yes, enjoyable yes, life-changing undoubtedly, I was so lucky to have spent five years, from 8 – 13 in a happy, caring full boarding community which was full of decent people. The staff may generally have been an elderly bunch, with some notable exceptions, but we were very well educated with a kindly Headmaster and his wife in a family-style environment. It is no surprise I became a schoolmaster, the largest influence was two inspirational teachers at senior school in Melbourne. It is no surprise that my career progression has taken me steadily towards the heart of boarding life (Oundle currently has 860 full boarders) having experienced 37 of my 40 years in schools being within a boarding culture. May the great benefits of boarding prevail and boarding continue to thrive. Photo: Oundle School
Preparatory school is an active and practical choice for modern families according to John Baugh, former BSA chair and Headmaster of the Dragon School, Oxford
ow is the health of preparatory school boarding in the BSA’s golden jubilee year?
When we, the schools offering boarding to boys and girls of preparatory age, present ourselves as successfully answering real family needs and providing outstanding educational experiences, we can become a very attractive and holistic schooling proposition. Give children the chance to try boarding for themselves and little more persuasion is needed.
In some quarters there may be surprise such a concept as living at school from the age of eight persists at all in the 21st century. Those of you reading this are of course among the well-informed and imaginative who clearly do appreciate that not only does it flourish but in today’s boarding world things really have changed.
Despite the addition of all sorts of impressive modern learning, arts and sports facilities, many boarding prep schools still have a reassuringly traditional air. Schools may indeed look similar to years gone by – but what happens in them has certainly changed beyond recognition and not just with nice new buildings.
For those not yet in the know, the very word boarding can still have dire associations with banishment or punitive regimes. Many parents looking fondly at their sweet young offspring today could no more contemplate a boarding school than sending them on an SAS survival course. That is, of course, until the children reach a certain age and their individual interests and needs, and the exciting experiences of their friends and peers who have tried living at school, start presenting the very surprising notion that boarding is an active, modern choice which a child might thoroughly enjoy and the whole family appreciate. The best intentions of parents, our cultural concern with good parenting and a belief in ‘quality time’ with children can all make boarding, as it has been understood in the past, a hard ‘sell’ to even the busiest, multicareer families who may later find it the ideal answer to both their education and childcare dilemmas.
The life a boarding child leads today leaves the sad stereotyped and outmoded image of prep school boarding, with its hard beds, poor food and lonely weekends far, far behind. Photo: Dragon School
While the Dark Arts and Quidditch are not on most school activities’ programmes, Harry Potter has certainly had an influence on the freedom and excitement that living away from home presents - and the Potter series certainly did not stress modern, hotel-style facilities.
“They come from all kinds of families and all kinds of places”
Boarding offers a breadth of things to do with friends under the supervision of friendly adults and, often, teenage gap year helpers. This is what can so attract children who may these days lack siblings, or friends nearby, or safe places to play, or parents at home when they finish the day at school.
As a Head of a long- established but very modern prep school, I see no sign that boarding is the dying art that some interpreters of the statistics have suggested. What I do see are characterful, highly individual, happy and enquiring pupils with strong relationships and a mature approach to life. They come from all kinds of families and all kinds of places: at half-terms and holidays some of them have a five-minute walk and some a day’s plane journey ahead of them. It’s all part of modern preparatory boarding which encompasses an extraordinary range of backgrounds, abilities and lifestyles - and which has an enduring appeal around the world.
Of course what a good prep school does - provide an excellent education and preparation for entry to and life in senior schools - remains its great appeal for parents. Adding boarding to this adds a special dimension to learning with any number of additional opportunities which create a demonstrably enriching experience of school.
Where demand is high, so of course are expectations - levels of care, contact and service must be high to exceed the needs and expectations of those new to British boarding.
As we have seen, it is often the children themselves who ask to
The statistics show that over half of all boarders are ‘first timers’ with no family experience or tradition of going to boarding school.
board and who convince their own parents to let them try it. The parents then come to see the benefit of practical things like the supervision of Prep, extra help from teachers and a safe place to be after 5.00 pm in the afternoon. The philosophy of thriving and soughtafter boarding prep schools, that boarding parenting is a productive partnership of home and school, underpins all this.
The overseas market continues to grow significantly as new economies present new choices to their citizens. All of these ‘customers’ are looking for a quality product and are prepared to pay if it is outstanding.
The teachers, Houseparents and parents work together to create an educational and life experience that suits modern family life rather well. Given my school and many others are keen to attract young boarders endeavour to do just that, I would estimate the state of prep school boarding to be bouncing with health.
Boarding pupils are noticeably independent and responsible say their teachers. Not in a preternaturally grown-up way because they’ve been ‘sent away’ to school (a phrase to be avoided and rejected by any right-thinking boarding school that intends to attract a single pupil or pass an inspection) but because they naturally learn to manage themselves and get on with those around them.
Busy careers, frequent travel, difficult school runs through heavy traffic and the demand for after-school activities can all make day school a logistical nightmare for some families.
Perhaps that was always the benefit of a boarding education but in today’s preparatory schools it is not the outcome of tough discipline and emphasis on self-reliance but the product of a warm community life.
The family itself has changed and single parents, only children and those whose work takes them abroad also find much in boarding to improve their lives. School can provide stability, care, fun and lasting friendships when it is one of your homes.
A modern preparatory boarding school must of course offer an excellent education; all successful and healthy ones offer just that, but it must also provide genuine care, support and co-operation with and for pupils and parents.
Anecdotally, demand for preparatory boarding is strong. Overall figures for prep school boarding in general have been fluctuating in recent years with tiny downward trend.
Photo: Dragon School Photo: Dragon
Given my school and many others keen to attract young boarders endeavour to do just that, I would estimate the state of prep school boarding to be bouncing with health.
Without a backward glance…
one always telling them what they should and shouldn’t do and they associate time with you with more positive things.
Round-the-clock great education Boarding schools have the most diverse and highly qualified teachers. They are passionate about what they do and know how to open all sorts of new worlds for their pupils. Staff don’t just teach in the classroom. All are involved in extra-curricular activities and children will see them in the classroom, on the playing field, on stage or as a mentor. That is what teachers at boarding schools do. The best are truly concerned with educating the whole child, not just teaching them how to get an A in English. In turn, children are equipped with many of the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in life.
Boarding provides a ‘built-in social life with important life skills attached’ believes Simon O’Malley, headmaster of Wellesley House preparatory school in Broadstairs, Kent
Extensive facilities and extra-curricular activities Wide-open playing fields, well-stocked libraries, music rooms, common rooms, clubs, swimming pools, equestrian facilities, squash and tennis courts are all part of the huge array of facilities at the best prep schools. Boarding schools are good at keeping children busy and most really go to town on the activities they offer. What better way to introduce your child to a host of different experiences and new hobbies?
Strong sense of community s parents consider boarding for their child, they question their motives. There will be many, but they will invariably return to just two: children deserve the best possible education and to be happy and fulfilled.
So opting in is not something to stress over but to savour. Boarding, for children of all ages, offers a unique experience and options and is an excellent educational choice. Children feel encouraged, supported and engaged in a shared experience.
Let’s start by being brutally honest as a parent of 20 years and a headmaster of 10. However much we want to be around our children, they may actually sometimes prefer to be in a place where they have a flock of friends around them 24 hours a day.
In my view boarding, be it full, weekly, flexi, prep, senior or sixth form, offers five great benefits.
Children board because they are ready for it and want to - they’ve read Harry Potter and Enid Blyton, they’ve seen the impressive set-up and they want to be part of it. As Boris Johnson said “It is about the ritual and intrigue and dorm-feast excitement of a British boarding school.”
Photo: Wellesley House School
Besides all this enthusiasm for a huge sleepover every night, they are also showing their first important signs of independence.
Pastoral This encompasses many issues including health, social and moral education, behaviour management and emotional support. Superior pastoral care is not just a parent’s job - prep schools have understood and dealt with hundreds of children going through their early years and adolescence. Children cannot slip through the cracks at a boarding school. Staff have the training and long years of experience to do an excellent job, 24 hours a day. And as a parent, I have been happy for some of these duties to be the additional responsibility of professionals within a structured and caring environment. In turn, the time you spend with you child is of higher quality. You stop being the
Boarding helps to nurture a respect for others and an empathy and concern for their surroundings. Children feel they are around extended family, make trusted friends and learn good manners and fair play. Boarding helps develop a child’s confidence because they interact with other children constantly. Older pupils are encouraged to take care of younger pupils. Current pupils are encouraged to show the ropes to new pupils and mentor them. Boarding provides a built-in social life with important life skills attached.
Multi-cultural Around 28% of the children boarding today are from multicultural backgrounds making the boarding environment culturally enriching and socially beneficial. Boarding school parents are preparing their children extremely well for the diverse world we live in today.
To finish I believe prep school boarding makes children physically, mentally and spiritually fit to move on to the next important stage of their lives. As a parent, I believe it is therefore worth the ‘letting go’ to watch them walk on ‘without a backward glance’.
Photo: Hazlegrove Preparatory School
“It is like being in a holiday camp; we get to do so many different things with all of our friends.”
â€œBoarding is synonymously linked with sleeping on campus and eating school meals 24 hours a day. But at its best boarding offers so much more...â€? Photo: Oakham School
61 Photo: Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls
Mary with boarders
The central value of boarding is community
Good boarding brings girls together as sisters and lifelong friends believes Caroline Pascoe, headmistress of Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls.
By Mary Breen, Headmistress, St Mary’s School, Ascot
ne sometimes hears a parent saying 'the choice will be up to my daughter' when it comes to selecting a school. I think that is putting quite a lot on the shoulders of a 10 year old! More often, parents make the selection themselves and encourage their child to believe in that choice by telling them they have chosen the best school in the country, be it day or boarding, single sex or co-ed. Many of our parents at St Mary's Ascot attended single-sex schools themselves, and (especially the mothers) feel the environment in a girls-only school is just what they want for their daughters. And so the girls come, and they enjoy their parents' choice. The acid test for girls’ schools is when the girls feel they are old enough to make a choice for themselves, and their parents agree. That 'natural' break comes at 16+, after GCSEs. From a smallish girls’ boarding school, the girls may then feel the pull of the co-ed boarding or the freer setting of the day school. What do we do then, to maintain our sixth form numbers and ensure we keep almost every one of our 60 girls per year group? For us, the sixth form is the jewel in the crown. We have a separate courtyard for the Upper
Sixth, where six houses of 10 study bedrooms each circle around a communal living area. It is well staffed of course, but it feels like a halfway house from school to university. Every year, we put Year 10 into the Courtyard when the Upper Sixth have finished their A levels, to give the girls a taste of what is to come. And then there is the teaching. In a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week school, the teachers can run ‘surgeries’ well out of hours - the maths tuition goes up to 8pm in the evening and also takes place on Sunday afternoons. The girls help each other every evening with their study. All this commitment yielded 95% A* - A at GCSE, 95% A*- B at A level and 25% Oxbridge from last year’s leavers from a not especially academically selective school (we take pretty much only Catholic girl boarders).
But the main reason almost all of the girls choose to stay at St Mary’s is the friends that they make throughout their time here and the fun they have while they are here, from age 11 to age 18.
I’d like to end with an excerpt from an article written by an Upper Sixth pupil in her last term at St Mary’s. On her way to Oxford now to read English, she gets right to the heart of what she found so special about girls boarding: “It goes without saying that I have received an excellent academic education at St Mary’s Ascot, and while that is important with regards to statistics and of course my own success and personal satisfaction, I have also received an education that has prepared me for the trials I may face in the future. “The most valuable gift that St Mary’s has given me is confidence in my own ability and potential. The positions of responsibility offered at St Mary’s have taught me what it means to be a role model, but also that it is good to put myself forward. This will encourage me to do the same at university and in the workplace, something essential for my own success but also for the growth of female participation in the fiercely competitive professional sphere in general. “I love being at St Mary’s because it is filled with people who all love being here, teachers and pupils alike, who are all working towards a common goal. I recognise every single face when I walk down the corridors. Our sense of community could be explained by the size
of St Mary’s, by our shared faith, but also by the shared experiences that bring us together. Furthermore, my teachers at St Mary’s have had a huge impact on my experience of school because the relationships I have formed are based on partnership and mutual respect, and without their unrelenting support, my own lack of confidence and self-doubt and would have definitely got the better of me.” “St Mary’s is a school where working and confidence are “cool” and make-up isn’t. It is a place where ultimately, girls feel comfortable being themselves and are encouraged to make decisions based on their personal aspirations, not on what they are expected to do.
Though potentially clichéd, St Mary’s has really been a second home for me and it is where I have made friends for life. “We all reach our most important milestones at school: I have grown from child, to adolescent, to adult here. My teachers have watched me grow academically and as a person, and when we say goodbye in July, it will be with sadness but also with anticipation for the continued relationships that our shared time at St Mary’s make inevitable.”
Boarding is synonymously linked with sleeping on campus and eating school meals 24 hours a day. But at its best boarding offers so much more. The central value of boarding is community - the unique and incomparable sense of belonging. Whether you’re seven or 18, travelled half way across the globe or live just down the road, the overwhelming sense of community is at the heart of our boarding experience. No matter the age, ethnicity or religion, boarding allows girls to form international friendships and create long-lasting memories. Our boarding diversity brings an intensified strength of inclusivity and a widened appreciation of varying nations. With over 600 girls from 18 different countries, we embrace variety and the vast capacities of each and every girl. The word ‘sister’ is frequently passed around. Some mean their genetic siblings lucky enough to be boarding too. But for most they are speaking about their roommate or neighbour, their closest friend and deepest ally. For those who have never had an older sibling to look up to or been able to lend clothes to a younger sister, boarding offers the perfect place to fulfil the sisterly role. A sense of pride and self-confidence is easily identifiable among
those girls who offer themselves up as sisters. Being a positive role model and gaining an increased sense of respect and responsibility in the boarding community is an invaluable experience simply unfeasible in some home environments. Boarding offers our girls so much more than just a place to stay; it gives them people to talk to, friends to rely on and sisters to depend on. Growing up together, sharing a bedroom, eating and playing together – boarding really is a home from home. HMSG allows its girls to grow into confident young women, developing in a safe and familiar environment with round-the-clock, bespoke pastoral care. The girls can take full advantage of the live-in teaching and support staff too. The boarding staff have strong links with the school’s academic staff and this is crucial in providing the highest level of support and care for the boarders. Each and every child’s experience as a boarder is different. No two girls are ever the same. However, what we can guarantee is that every boarder is given the highest level of care, the greatest level of opportunity and an unprecedented boarding experience. If they take advantage of this offer, it will undoubtedly add outstanding value to their later life.
I have soon realised what boarding means to Aldro boys in terms of their social development as they go through their senior school mock interviews with me. I’m forever trying to draw out of them what character traits they would bring to senior schools, what stories they can tell to express their personalities, and I always get them to describe other boys in the group interviews. Invariably, the conversation turns to their character in the boarding house – “he makes us all laugh”, “he’s really good at getting the louder ones to shut up after lights out”, “he looked after me when I started boarding”.
James Hanson is head master of Aldro boys preparatory school in Surrey
lease? So it begins. At Aldro, we don’t push boarding, it happens. Boys go home and start the nagging process. It is often met with a polite “when you’re a bit older, son” response. That defence never lasts long, and pretty soon the parents are marching in to school with a suitcase. “One night!”, and “it’s just a trial – we’re not committing to anything”. To the boys, the adventure has begun. It is a playdate, a sleep-over – more time with their friends, more school. As you enter the dorms, the first thing that hits you is the giant life-size Minion teddies adorning the beds and comfy seats. When you get to the windows, you realise every room looks out over the beautiful grounds from the swimming pool to the sports pitches, the lake with its own adventure island and the castle fort. Our boarding staff love their time supporting the boarders – recently I joined in a game of Scrabble with a couple of year 8 boys. Not the fast-pace, all-play bananagrams, but good oldfashioned Scrabble. When one of them proudly laid down five tiles and declared “46 points”, my eyes widened and my brain desperately tried in vain to clutch at any possible flaw in his adding up. This was going to be a tough loss! Our fulltime boarders also had it tough last year, or so they told me – they only managed three trips to see live Rugby World Cup matches!
Even though we are only a quarter boarding, we have many staff actively working in the boarding house throughout the week – after all, living on-site of any job is a real lifestyle choice. This care pervades all areas of school, from the classrooms to the matrons and nurses room to the sports fields. Our smallest boarders are looked after with the care and dedication needed – the head of the Junior Department makes sure she is on duty for the occasional nights that the year 3 and 4 boys start boarding. We always seek to buddy them up with older boys who went through boarding at a similar age, especially those who had the odd wobble and know just how to get alongside the youngsters.
With boys, especially first thing in the morning – there is no worry or concern about what they look like.
The Aldro boy rationale is: up, dressed, food. No hint of even a wet comb if they can
Photo: Photo: Aldro School Aldro
help it. Some of us don’t have the luxury of hair-style any more but even my selfdepreciation doesn’t shake them into pity or indeed urgency to brush the hair before eating breakfast. It is so refreshing they aren’t consumed by image worries, or the need to play on phones or tablets. Boys can just be boys for a few more years.
By Peter Green, Headmaster, Rugby School
attended an all boys’ boarding and day school in Dumfries in Scotland. At the time, we boys considered it the most natural thing in the world to go to a school without girls. It would never have crossed our minds that the school would, at some stage in the future, take girls. They had a school of their own on the opposite hill – an all girls’ convent day school. When I was Vice-Captain of the school one of my more pleasing tasks was to organise joint social events. I had to liaise with my opposite number there to facilitate the retreats and the discos and whatever else we were encouraged to do together. In fact, I still do. Reader, I married her. Or should I say, we married each other. Years later, I was part of the group that initiated full 13-18 co-education at Uppingham School. When we moved to Ampleforth College, my wife, Brenda, opened the first 13-18 girls’ house. That really did seem like a break with tradition. It’s hard to think of a more traditional single-sex community than a monastery. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say both changes happened pretty seamlessly. There was no real fuss. No new rules were necessary. Parents, staff and existing pupils accepted the idea and the reality. The only significant change was catering for girls’ sports and recruiting more female members of staff for the boarding houses.
Photo: Hazlegrove Preparatory School
At Ampleforth, the girls got a brand-new boarding house but the boys didn’t mind. Interestingly, any opposition came not from the monks but from the boys (who confess now to being embarrassed at their attitude). Some of them, in the first term, wrote in big letters in the snow on the tennis courts below the girls’ house NO GIRLS AT SHAC
(Senior House Ampleforth College). The snow melted but more came (not long to wait for it in North Yorkshire) and one of the first intake of girls wrote, in even bigger letters, NO BOYS AT SHAC. It was no surprise when she became the first Head Girl Monitor. But things soon settled down. In 2016 Rugby School will mark 40 years of co-education. Three girls entered the sixth form and were followed by a full cohort in 1976. We are aiming at a 50:50 ratio and we are nearly there. Rugby is the birthplace of the game of rugby. It’s the school made famous by Thomas Arnold and of course by Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Rugby remains a traditional school, but we see tradition as the living face of the dead rather than the dead face of the living. Dr Arnold himself said: “There is nothing so unnatural and so convulsive to society as the strain to keep things fixed, when all the world is in continual progress; and the cause of all the upheavals in the world may be traced to that natural but most deadly error of human indolence: that our business is to preserve and not to improve. It is the ruin and the fall alike of individuals, schools and nations.” Rugby has never been frightened of change; indeed we welcome it. We say ‘Contest!’ rather than ‘Conform!’ There are now 15 boarding and day houses, seven for girls. There is in-house dining for all and fierce inter-house rivalry. The girls who attended in the 1970s send their sons and their daughters to Rugby. One of those is my current chair of Governors,
While the boys and the girls may not live together, they work together and play together. This is the modern world.
To discover the real value of boarding today Nick Wergen, Head teacher of Steyning Grammar School asked his students…. hen an Ofsted Inspector says he does not want to leave the boarding house at the end of the day, we know modern boarding is getting it right.
Lucinda Holmes. I’m happy to say we have an impressive record of parents choosing their alma mater for their children – the number increases every year. Co-educational schools also recognise the good sense of having brothers and sisters attending the same school so parental diaries can be synchronised.
To quote Her Majesty’s Inspectorate more fully, “this is not just a model for how schools should work – it is a model for how the world should live”. We are fortunate to have such a wide variety of boarding provision in the UK, with so much choice for parents and students.
The girls who started at Rugby 40 years ago must have been brave. The challenges they encountered must have been quite different to any our new girls find. The current generation nearly always out-performs the boys at every stage. But they know many of the upper echelons of many professions are still dominated by men. However, I’m confident in them.
We are proud to be a school with boarding – this sums up the modern boarding life for young people, and the boarding sector is now a world away from the institutionalised connotations that the word ‘boarding’ might bring. We view it as a privilege that 125 students choose to live with us.
They bring diversity, vibrance and anchor our whole school – and boarders in turn get what I think is a unique advantage in embedding the skills needed to be successful, confident and empowered young adults.
But our approach at Rugby, which goes beyond co-education, is to nurture everyone’s talents. The whole point of a Rugby education is to encourage the whole person. I am told the school environment is gentler and more engaging than it was in the late 1970s, and I welcome that. But there’s a restless desire among the girls and the boys to challenge, to persist, to improve - together. But there was, I’m told, a glitch in 1995 – well before my time! - when Rugby School appointed its first Head Girl. About half the school’s boys, led by a gang in the sixth form, staged a chapel boycott in protest at her appointment using the slogan ‘We are not sexists, we are traditionalists.’ One of their objections was a suspicion that, in welcoming girls, the school was sacrificing school sport in favour of pursuing academic achievements. The new Head Girl, Louise Woolcock, kept her cool. ‘By next term,’ she said, ‘they’ll be used to it. Boys being boys, they will argue about anything.’
Photo: Rugby School
How do we judge our success? Academic achievement, enabling students to gain the best qualifications possible is one measure, giving students the passport to their next stages of learning and work. But we are much more aspirational than this – being part of a boarding community enables students to develop the key skills for lifelong success and happiness. We embed the teaching of learning characteristics, teaching grit, growth mindset, self-control, gratitude, curiosity and zest alongside academic studies. Boarding students have a significant advantage over their peers in developing these key characteristics, the boarding experience itself contributes to the
development of engaged, independent young adults, prepared and ready for the next steps of university, apprenticeship or work. Boarding in 2015 places safety and student welfare at its heart, with excellent living and social accommodation, substantial academic support and enrichment programmes that make visiting adults wish they were back at school. Students are supported by their houseparents, boarding tutors, matron and the wider pastoral team in developing confidence and self-esteem, and a varied enrichment programme seeks to broaden their horizons. From Duke of Edinburgh awards to Zumba, Rotary Interact to rocket making, students play as well as work hard in boarding. Students themselves are the best advocates for boarding. Ana tells me that she chose to board “to slowly adapt to the idea of going to university alone”, and that boarding “has made me aware of other cultures as well as making me more independent”. Julia chose to board to get “new experiences” and reflects on how she has made “lifelong friendships”. Raymond reflects how boarding has “allowed me to become the individual I am today” with boarding life “filled with the greatest experiences ever”. It is the sense of boarding community that comes our most strongly from student voice, and how much they learn from being a part of this; Max compares boarding life to a tree, with seeds that “are full of energy and the will to grow” becoming a “diverse, accepting and comforting family”. The grit, optimism, curiosity and zest that students develop in boarding are key foundations for future success and happiness. Our success criteria should insist on nothing less.
Photo: Wellesley House School
“I remember my first day being so shy and now I can’t wait to come back.”
Kathy Compton RGN BSA Nurse Adviser
Life for a live-in nurse in the 1970s was hard work, but enjoyable
had no experience of boarding school health care until I started running a boarding house of 62 boys with my husband in 1983. As the house master’s wife (and registered nurse) it was a part of my role, in the absence of a matron or nurse, to look after the boys’ medical welfare. I don’t know a nurse who was working in a school in 1965, but Margaret Leslie Ellis started as a matron in a small boarding school, as a qualified nurse, in 1967. That is the first year the BSA ran a conference for matrons. The topics included flower arranging and darning! In those days many smaller boarding schools employed a matron, be they a qualified nurse or not the job was the same. The larger schools employed nurses to run their sanatoriums. One source told me that when she started in 1972 at the age of 23 her school only employed nurses under the age of 30, so at 29 she left for another job. Margaret (who attended every conference from 1967 to 2012) thought Sanatorium Sisters were included in the BSA conference title around the time nurses had to register. At an RCN conference around 1990, it was found that five boarding school nurses attending were not registered, but blissfully working illegally as nurses, happily employed by their schools. By the late 1980s Marilyn Watts, a school nurse, became concerned about the isolation and unsupported practices of some of boarding school nurses. She was the first nurse to represent boarding school nurses on the RCN School Nurse Forum.
In those earlier days in smaller schools without Sanatoriums, basic first aid and generally administering to unwell boarders was the order of the day. In an RCN report they comment that nurses were not qualified to do first aid and they seemed unaware of this. The author stated “some of the practitioners practices were even doubtful as second aiders!” Nurses were administering Prescription Only Medicines without a prescription or a ‘local operational policy’. They were administering vaccinations on verbal instructions from the school doctor. For those giving vaccinations, none of them had up-to-date training in CRP or anaphylaxis “or realised the importance of having another person on hand or having access to a phone.”
In those days also there were no policies or protocols and record keeping was at a bare minimum! When I retired in 2014 as a boarding school nurse I maintained I spent more working hours on paperwork and communicating information than actually physically caring and talking to our pupils. In 1990 the reason for this was already becoming apparent. Marilyn comments to me in a letter “I can only say to you again - cover yourself on all accounts by getting permission from parents and putting everything in writing!” Nurses were supported by the school doctor or Medical Officer. In the larger boarding schools the doctors were often regarded as an important part of the school. Some even lived in. At one school during the 1960s the school doctor was just employed for the school. This Doctor “set up a Dining Club with some of the more don-type masters and went shooting and was very much involved in the social side of the school”. Now the school doctors are in some of the larger boarding schools still an important part of the school, and work closely with their nursing colleagues. However, many boarding schools have a doctor who visits from a local surgery, but has little to do with the school otherwise. Life for a live-in nurse at a large boys’ boarding school in the 1970s was hard work, but also enjoyable. “It was a very sociable time and with few women around we were invited to parties and suppers to increase the number of women. In those days the housemasters’ wives were expected to lay on cocktail and dinner parties and got nothing in return. We also did a lot of entertaining. Our off duty was three half days a fortnight! But as well as nursing we also did cookery and first aid with the corps and I also helped cook prefects’ dinners for a widowed housemaster. We sang in the choirs and went to all the house plays.”
Without computers, mobile phones and tablets, communication with home was quite different. Parents did not expect to hear from the school unless there was a problem. Margaret remembers only phoning parents if their child had been to hospital and she had to get the number from the school secretary in 1967! Another nurse remembers in the early 1970s “When a pupil was admitted to the medical centre we did not phone the parents we sent a letter saying your son/daughter has been admitted to the sanatorium and if you hear nothing further from us please presume they have recovered and are back in school.” Mental health was regarded with suspicion and I well remember a conversation with a headmaster in the 1990s exasperated by a staff member who was off work with stress, claiming stress simply did not exist! Nurses remember children losing weight and despite it being noticed little being done until it was far too late. Now a large amount of a nurse’s time is taken up with ‘listening’ to pupils (and staff) and referring them to the school doctor and CAMHS. The introduction of several new immunisations have made a real difference. Margaret remembers several times when dorms were full of pupils suffering from mumps or measles or rubella. Chicken pox also caused problems and now there are moves to introduce the varicella vaccine to the adolescent age group. The flu vaccination has also made a big difference. One nurse remembers in the 1970s in one of the larger schools “epidemics were frequent in the Lent term. We had 33 beds in the Sanni and they were often all full. They never suggested more nurses, just a housemaster’s wife would organise Common Room wives to help serve meals. The three nurses just worked, worked, worked without any off duty!! So much goodwill was expected and was given in those days... Housemasters and their wives always visited their pupils in the Sanni and would often stop for tea and have a chat.” Recent research carried out by MOSA and PHE showed schools which offered the flu vaccination to all boarders had significantly fewer pupils suffering from flu than those who didn’t. Herd immunity works!
Several pandemics have occurred during the last 50 years. The one that had the most effect on boarding schools in my recollection was SARs (2003). It coincided with Easter holidays and the start of the exam season. Many schools encouraged students taking exams not to return home to affected countries. My own experience was being contacted by the headmaster on a Sunday morning at the end of the Easter holiday and asked to attend a meeting with him and the bursar. We had a small number of children returning from Hong Kong, already on the plane, and there had been some phone calls from day parents, probably inspired by media reports, demanding we quarantine these pupils. After some discussion I volunteered (having been assured that the pupils had not been in contact with anyone with SARS and had been fit and well when they boarded the plane), to be quarantined with the pupils in the school Outward Bound centre in the middle of Dartmoor. It was a lovely week, although we all shot nervous glances at anyone who coughed. We returned to the boarding house through a back entrance, during the day for hot showers, to pick up supplies and to use the computer. I asked Margaret what she had in the way of equipment in 1967. She replied that she had “a few bowls and Dettol!” There was no San at her school so the pupils were nursed in their own beds. She also commented that it was a part of her role to ensure pupils made use of the wash stand bowls down the centre of each dorm. She was expected to supervise the showers, which were in a separate shower block, and hair washing was the matron’s job on a Saturday! There were regular nit checks as well. Things were different in the larger boarding schools, boiling up the instruments daily, taking and developing x-rays and an anaesthetic machine. An anaesthetist would go in to give a pupil a GA for a consultant orthopaedic surgeon to perform MUA for fractured wrists. Another nurse commented “Equipment was basic but we did plastering for broken arms rather than send them all the way to hospital.” There were also comments that in the old days there was just a radio and a TV in the day room! How would pupils today survive a day in bed without their music, phone, computer or tablet?
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Our Students are Future Leaders After just four years we have grown into a school with an outstanding reputation. Our alumni are now attending some of the world’s leading universities, from Cambridge to Yale, from Stanford to LSE, and beyond. Last year’s graduating students achieved an average IBDP score of 37.2. Two of our students scored the maximum of 45 points.
A Unique Option for Teachers We offer a highly competitive salary and benefits package. Jeju Island represents one of Asia’s most beautiful locations and has direct access to nearby cities such as Shanghai, Tokyo and Bangkok. You can find an up-to-date list of vacancies and information about how to apply on our website.
Safeguarding Our School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. The School expects all teaching staff, non-teaching staff and volunteers to share and uphold this commitment.
By Kris Robbetts Senior Associate Veale Wasbrough Vizards
n the past 50 years education in the UK has changed beyond recognition. There have been 22 Secretaries of State for Education (including the notorious milk snatcher Margaret Thatcher), 13 Education Acts and countless secondary legislation. This give a flavour of the inevitable political and regulatory shift over half a century, but what has been the more tangible legal impact for boarding schools? Legally, the abolition of corporal punishment (first in the state sector in 1987, then a decade later in the independent schools) is worth a mention, as is the creation of the concepts of ‘Parental Responsibility’ (1989) and ‘Gillick competence’ (1985) and the legal recognition of disabilities and special educational needs (1995, 2001). All represent regulatory change designed to acknowledge and prioritise the rights and well-being of children. There has also been the creation of more general legal responsibilities that would have been wholly alien to boarding schools staff in 1965. Some of these were due to technology developments but others to more
general societal change in areas including discrimination, licensing, food safety, data protection, drugs, immigration and safeguarding. Culturally, boarding schools today find themselves supplying services to a very different clientele in a much more interconnected world. Academic results, fees, facilities and access to higher education all are now analysed in great detail by sophisticated and well-informed potential customers, many living overseas. Schools also face greater regulatory scrutiny and intervention from bodies including the ISI, Ofsted, Children’s Services, the police, UK Visas and Immigration or the Charity Commission. And media interest and political sensitivities are increasing. The upshot is that boarding schools operate in a more demanding market and a more complex regulatory regime. The autonomy and perhaps even the individuality of schools is under pressure but the significant contribution made by the sector to the economy and national cultural identity remains undiminished.
Today’s students have been exposed to mobile communications technology and social media for most of their lives.
If there are such things as legal highlights from the last half century, the following deserve particular mention.
Legal highlights United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) The UNCRC is billed as the most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty in history. It is impossible to overstate the significance of the Convention in changing the way children are perceived and treated and in showing how the enshrinement of rights in international law can have a profound impact nationally and locally. As one of 194 signatories, the UK used the UNCRC as a springboard to introduce new child-centric domestic legislation. Children Act 1989 This legislation, introduced between 1989 and 1991, has had a fundamental impact on education delivery and introduced concepts that continue to shape the way children are taught and looked after. ‘Parental Responsibility’, the ‘welfare principle’ and the jurisdiction of local authority Children’s Services to intervene where
there is concern about the welfare of a child can all be traced to this Act. Without an awareness of this legislation those working in schools will not understand why a child’s best interests will almost always override other considerations. It also determines why and how much parents with parental responsibility (and those without it) are entitled and expected to exercise influence over their children under the age of 18 at home and school. National Minimum Standards for Boarding (2002 - present) BSA was instrumental in creating the first National Minimum Standards for Boarding in March 2002. The NMS, as they are often called, were issued by the Department of Health under the Children Act 1989 and Care Standards Act 2000 and became applicable to boarding schools via the Education Act 1996. The standards recognised the need to codify
arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children educated away from home and presented child-centric outcomes as the mark of compliance. There have now been several incarnations of the NMS, the most recent issued under the Education Act 2011 in April 2015. Safeguarding (1974-present) The implementation of minimum standards chimes with the long and continuing series of legal developments designed to prioritise child welfare in education. This consolidates a focus on safeguarding now rightfully integrated into the regulation of all organisations working with vulnerable groups. The first government guidance on child protection in the UK was issued in 1974 and ran to just seven pages. By 2010, government guidance on safeguarding ran to 385 pages and referenced more than 200 pages of guidance contained elsewhere. This
rise reflected the cultural and legal impact of the Laming (2001-03) and Bichard (2004) Inquiries plus the implementation and development of the Every Child Matters Framework from 2004. Following the Munro Review (2009-11), the focus is now on reducing bureaucracy and increasing efficiency. And while the latest Keeping Children Safe guidance is certainly far more succinct than Working Together, it has been designed to complement rather than replace it. Inspections In 2003, the Education Independent Schools Standards Regulations were introduced, establishing the compliance requirements for all independent schools and creating today’s inspection regime. Inspections now often occur without notice and in some cases as the direct result of complaints from parents.
Social media The advent of social media has revolutionised the relationships between key stakeholders in the boarding school sector. Today’s students have been exposed to mobile communications technology and social media for most of their lives. This has led to new ways of creating and sharing information and a more dynamic interplay between pupils, parents and teachers. But cyberbullying, the distribution of indecent images, online abuse and criticism of individuals and institutions is now more prevalent and present a significant challenge for those tasked with safeguarding young people. The future If the last 50 years are anything to go by, the sector can continue to expect even greater levels of regulation and oversight. Independent schools justifiably guard their individuality and autonomy. But that need not prevent
acknowledgement of the value of rules and regulations in raising standards and ensuring adequate protection for children. Based on the past half century however we should be prepared for developments in the legal and regulatory landscape that cannot even be guessed at today. Kris Robbetts is an education lawyer at Veale Wasbrough Vizards LLP. Formerly a resident assistant housemaster, Kris edited the second edition of BSA’s Running a School Boarding House (2009), delivers legal training to new house staff for and has 15 years’ experience of working in and for boarding schools on all types of pupil, parent and regulatory matters including safeguarding incidents and crisis management.
has never been more important as Stuart Westley, General Secretary of the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent School (AGBIS) explains There are approximately 2,260 independent schools in Britain. They are extraordinarily diverse in size, gender, age range, selectivity, boarding, day and setting. Yet the responsibilities of their governors vary very little. Each school is subject to the same law, regulation and potential oversight by The Charity Commission. And each is very obviously and directly responsible to its market. Thus we have a paradox. The existence of a single legal and regulatory framework clearly suggests a single, objective, accessible set of criteria to judge school governance. Indeed judgements are made and criteria which (should) inform judgements certainly exist. Yet what schools are trying to achieve differs considerably. So issues of direct relevance to some governing bodies will be of little or no interest to others. Indeed that very diversity might lead us to think that we have little to learn from other governing bodies. But is it healthy and should it persist? Most involved with British independent schools would have little difficulty supporting the view that the sector provides an excellent standard of education. There are more pupils in our schools today than before the deepest recession since the 1930s, the demand for places in boarding schools among pupils from all over the world is high and 30% of A* grades at A level in 2015 were gained by the 13.6% of pupils in independent schools. We have all much to be proud of, including those who serve as governors. Contributing to the successful development of young people, even in a non-executive capacity, should be deeply satisfying.
But there remain regular laments about the increasing burden of regulatory compliance,
the requirement that governors involve themselves in day-to-day management matters, the lack of recognition that governors are busy people, often with demanding day jobs and that consequently as is obvious (apparently), it is becoming more difficult to recruit governors. No numbers are cited on governor shortage. But the strong impression formed is that those schools which approach succession planning conscientiously, thinking carefully about the skills they need, looking for additional talent and not leaving the whole process entirely to the Chair, have little difficulty recruiting governors and therefore having a strong and effective board. It is interesting to note the recent development of advertising for governors. A decade ago placing adverts would attract almost universal condemnation, an obvious manifestation of weakness, if not desperation. In recent years a number of schools have chosen to advertise locally, invariably with very encouraging results. Interestingly a small number of schools which clearly have no need to advertise now choose to do so. Reflection on recent developments of governance in the maintained sector is instructive too. Among maintained schools, including academies and free schools, governor shortage is being addressed imaginatively and energetically. Governance in the independent and maintained sectors has much in common but there are important differences. The principles of good governance advocated by the Department for Education should be of considerable interest to us. They include: smaller boards (with composition determined increasingly by consideration of skills rather than representation), a sharp focus on strategy and avoidance of involvement in management detail (still sadly all too common
in both sectors) and a wise balance between supporting the head and senior leadership team and holding them to account rigorously for performance. AGBIS and its predecessor Associations exist solely to promote the principles of good governance and provide advice, support and training for those who volunteer their services. The well-known guidance document ‘Guidelines
somewhat trifling, necessarily compromise judgements of governance and management. That is the philosophy of ‘limiting judgements’ and its effect is stark. The available time during inspections is short. There is limited opportunity for the relevant inspector to enquire deeply into the quality of governance, even when armed with the specimen list of questions and even assuming they have a thorough understanding
this is done and governors are regularly reminded to refer to it. The document sets out the fundamental duties of charity trustees which include always acting in good faith, never personally benefiting as a trustee, acting with skill and care (the degree of skill and care required is defined), taking advice when necessary, acting collectively, reporting serious incidents to the Commission (there are examples to illustrate the meaning of ‘serious’).
Beautiful Responsive Websites #SchoolWebsites Congrats on the 50 years BSA
from Simon & the team @intSchools for Governors’ is a distillation over 30 years of wisdom from highly experienced practitioners. There are other sources of enlightenment and wise judgement too. For approximately a decade the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) has made judgements on the quality of schools’ governance along with the quality of leadership and management. Judgements necessarily imply criteria and criteria exist and are easily accessible. They refer to the size, skills and composition of the Governing Body, the effectiveness of induction of new governors and of governor training, the appropriateness and clarity of the governors’ overall strategy, effectiveness of governors’ oversight of the academic, extra-curricular and pastoral dimensions of the School, governors’ presence in the school and their support and challenge for the head and senior leaders.
of the principles of good governance. The result is that while regulation is understandably scrutinised in minute detail, constructively critical comments concerning the effectiveness of governance are seldom mentioned in reports. It is difficult therefore to avoid the conclusion that a governing body deemed excellent in an inspection would be well advised to conduct its own review in pursuit of an informed judgement of its performance.
Approximately 80% of the independent schools represented within the Independent Schools Council are charities. They therefore fall within the purview of The
Those criteria appear entirely appropriate and should, if applied effectively and consistently, provide an excellent incentive to leading governing bodies towards high, and more consistent, standards.
Charity Commission. The Commission seeks to interpret charity law in language accessible to lay people, mainly through guidance documents. The Commission’s documents generally distinguish between ‘Must’ statements which describe legal requirements and ‘Should’ statements indicating best practice. While Charity Commission staffing has been much reduced recently, there is clear evidence of increased focus on ensuring charity trustees fully understand their responsibilities, including and particularly those providing services for children, and have a duty to ensure their safety.
In practice that objective is only partially achieved. Inevitably in recent years inspections have focused increasingly on regulatory compliance. The nature of the regulation, largely intended to protect children, has become increasingly complex and failures of compliance, even those which may appear
The number of statutory enquiries mounted by the Charity Commission has risen from 12 in 2011-12 to 103 in 2014/15. The Commission’s ‘The Essential Trustee’ is perhaps the single most important document which needs to be provided for school governors during their induction. It falls to the Clerk to ensure
Adding more substance, the ISI Inspection Handbook describes how governance is assessed and includes a reference to vision, monitoring standards, effective financial oversight, the conduct and efficiency of meetings, including the quality of papers which inform them.
The scrutiny provided by the Charity Commission sits alongside and complements that provided by others with responsibility for oversight of children’s services, including local authorities, the Department for Education (in England) and the police. While those authorities will be concerned with specific legislation, including criminal activity, the Charity Commission is primarily concerned to ensure charity trustees meet their responsibilities fully and particularly that the beneficiaries of the charity are fully protected. Of particular interest recently is the way in which the whole body of trustees, in the case of schools the Governing Body, exercises effective oversight of the operation of the School. The Commission is clear that it is not the governors’ job to be involved with management of the School but it most certainly is their responsibility to enquire rigorously into whether the management is providing properly for the beneficiaries including, in the case of children, ensuring their safety. In short, governors must exercise effective oversight and the standard of oversight expected of them is rising. I wonder whether the paragraphs above have caused you to be further daunted by the complexity and the stress of school governorships or whether you see the rising expectation of governors as an exciting challenge. My hope is that extending awareness and understanding will increase our confidence as we serve our schools and their pupils. Let us pursue that holy grail of governing more effectively without the task becoming more time-consuming. As we don’t have more time, understanding and efficiency are the keys.
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80 Photo: Tudor Hall School
The future of boarding By Wendy Griffiths, BSA Chair 2014-2015 and Headmistress of Tudor Hall School
Predicting the future of boarding is a little like gazing into a crystal ball… the future is largely unknown but as we stand today, the future of boarding looks bright. The number of boarders is rising and the UK remains a leader in education worldwide.
Whatever the future may hold, as a sector we have a collective responsibility to ensure that every boarding school has best practice in every area. We are duty bound to ensure the best for our pupils and in doing so will continue to be supported by BSA, committed to providing specialist training of the highest standard to make this happen. During my time as BSA chair, the Annual Conference for Heads in May 2015, was titled ‘Challenge, Care and Confidence’ a topic I believe will stand the test of time. Looking through the first annual conference programme the topics of pastoral care, safe guarding and broadening access were being discussed and I believe will still be key to our sector in another 50 years. Working in a boarding school is a challenging and demanding job whatever sort of school you’re in, but in a boarding school there is a sense of commitment when you’re living with your colleagues and pupils. There’s a huge sense of responsibility when parents are entrusting you with their children for a significant part of their life. People on the outside often say that living cheek to jowl with people must be overwhelming, but as we know it is a huge privilege to work and live in the closeness
of a boarding community. But with privilege comes responsibility. In boarding communities we put care and child safe guarding at the heart of what we do. We believe in a flexible mind-set and know that we can shape our young people to rise to what the world has to offer and to have happy and successful lives. We know that their experiences outside the classroom will provide our students with an edge in a competitive work place. Our job is not simply to turn A grades into A stars, but to turn out people who seek to do more, to try new things, to tackle the tricky, the hard and the difficult - and to do so with enthusiasm, zest and determination. Our job is to show young people that it is ok to question and to wander off the beaten track occasionally, because we know that risk taking and failure are both critical experiences in their development. Our role is to give those whose formative years are placed in our trust, permission to embrace the challenges of life, and the confidence to do so. We know that the focus we put on working with local schools in the maintained sector and the work that we do with long-term
partners overseas allows our pupils to understand how fortunate they have been in their educational experience but also for many it helps build a true understanding of philanthropy in a practical and financial sense. We constantly challenge them to question and speak up for themselves and others where necessary. We encourage them to be individuals at all times and to have the courage to take the road less travelled. Overall we are confident we are making a difference to each pupil and adding value that cannot be measured by a league table. Boarding, I believe, will stand the test of time in providing students with the time to develop fantastic standards and diversity and I look forward to what the next 50 years will bring to our communities and to the Boarding Schools’ Association.
83 Photo: Christ’s Hospital School
By Ian Davenport, CEO, SpringBoard Bursary Foundation
Each year more and more boarders are being supported by schools and national bursary programmes. Ian Davenport, CEO of the SpringBoard Bursary Foundation, describes the transformative effect boarding is having for pupils, their families and communities.
“Boarding is by far the best experience of my life. It has brought me closer to school and has given me the motivation to learn and to succeed in school.” his is just one of many quotations we received from the SpringBoard pupils. It has been a humbling experience to talk to so many who have been given the opportunity to change their lives and surmount hurdles which through no fault of their own have been placed before them at home or in their community. “It is now realistic to aim to become a lawyer…”, or “It’s a really good experience, once in a lifetime…”, quotations which provide further pieces of evidence that boarding schools can provide ambition and aspiration. It is impossible to deny that boarding schools, independent and state, offer life-transforming opportunities for the pupils, but, to misquote John Donne, no child is “an island entire of itself”. So the impact of the pupil on their boarding school and their home community can also be profound. This is what we call the ‘ripple effect’. It can be seen in many moving and often unforeseen episodes, like the father who, having pretty much ignored his son for most of his life, turned out alone at the end of the street in the darkness, in the driving rain and the wind to welcome the bus back after his initial visit to the school. He was proud of his son’s success and I believe this made him refocus his own priorities. When another one of ‘our’ SpringBoard pupils left for his first term at a boarding school, his whole street turned out to wish him good fortune.
They were delighted with his ambition and determination to raise his aspiration, and by going he touched the lives of others and sowed the same seed. One of our pupils wrote to us and said: “When I go home I often give talks at my previous school to try to encourage others to apply so I can perhaps help others just as I was helped.” The pupils have also had a strong effect on their schools. A teacher commented to me: “The opportunity [SpringBoard] has given our pupil has had a real impact on the other students, as they start to realise what might be possible for themselves. You have opened up more than one window for a young person and their family.”
In our experience boarding schools have been positive in embracing the concept of offering life-transforming opportunities. This is not a new phenomenon, as many schools were founded on such principles. Christ’s Hospital and King Edward’s School in Witley sprang from the desire of Edward VI to provide educational opportunities for children from the streets of London. Blundells, where I was Head Master, was founded by Peter Blundell in 1604, who famously wrote: “Though I am not myself a scholar, I will be the means of making more scholars that anyone else in England.” He realised the power of education and provided the opportunity for the youths of Tiverton to be educated for free. He also understood the force of the ‘ripple effect’, knowing that while individuals benefit from the opportunity, the wider benefits can be found in so many ways. These themes have been shown in many recent reports, for example, the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission Report, 2014 said: “Education is a key driver of social mobility and reducing educational inequality is central to this goal.” Our research supports the success of the boarding community in their desire to promote social mobility. Many boarding schools have a long history of offering bursary places, but several committed and enthusiastic grant-making charities have also provided crucial financial assistance. Buttle UK, the Royal National Children’s Foundation and the Reedham Trust offer support and advice and are perhaps best known. The SpringBoard Bursary Foundation, founded only three years ago, was built upon the foundations of the Arnold Foundation, Rugby School’s imaginative and innovative bursary programme, and shares these core principles. In developing our charity model I was determined to build in a strong independent impact assessment process. Primarily
our model emphasises the benefit to the individual pupil. But because we work through community groups it also ensures these benefits are felt more widely in the home community and in the school, endorsing the desire of boarding schools to engage with the social mobility debate. At the outset we commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to investigate and analyse all aspects of the benefits we believe bursary programmes offer. It is a three-year project and we received its interim report at the tail end of 2014, which was extremely positive. NFER supported our contention that we are undoubtedly providing life-transforming opportunities for the pupils and making significant ripples into the home communities. The pupils reported they are inspired and challenged to fulfil their potential, they are
more confident academically and socially, and they have embraced great personal responsibility. Families have reported they are proud, happy and appreciative, and they have found the schools to be open and non-judgemental. Among many positive comments, one, from the parent of a current SpringBoard pupil, said: “Words actually fail me because I continue to give thanks; when they said it is more than an education, it is the experience, I really fully understand now. Thanks, as always.” The NFER interim report also highlighted the effects bursary pupils are having on their communities. Ray Lewis, CEO of Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy, one of our supportive community leaders, commented: “We have witnessed how these life changing bursaries…benefit each student…have an enormous impact on their families and the wider community, raising ambitions and increasing hope for a positive and productive future.” I cannot sign off without praising the boarding schools, as without their commitment and support nothing would happen. There is an unattributed quotation which perhaps more neatly sums up their influence on the pupils. “There are two gifts we can give our children,
the first is roots, the second is wings”.
Photo: St Lawrence College
We have been blessed as a charity, as have the other charities in the sector, by the real enthusiasm shown by state and independent boarding schools. What is evident from our extensive work with pupils, community groups, parent’ forums and our interactions with the wider environment is the strength of gratitude towards the boarding schools. It has been a particular pleasure to see the engagement between the pupils, the community groups and the boarding schools. Each has a greater understanding of the other, and this can only be good. Why are our schools held in such high regard? Because they engage with the bursary process actively and energetically, because as the NFER findings show, they feel having SpringBoard pupils raises awareness of social diversity and breaks down prejudices. Finally
governing bodies and Heads are strategically placing their schools ready to face the challenges the boarding sector will encounter over the next decade, one of which is a desire among many to ensure to boarding schools become more open, inclusive and in some cases, a desire to revisit the intentions of their founders. I finish with an excerpt from the NFER report, “…pupils are recognising real impacts on their aspirations and enhanced confidence that they can succeed in life”, and a quote from a pupil, ‘It changed my life in many ways. I have become a more confident and mature person. It has also given me a vast amount of opportunities to explore my skills and it has allowed me to try new things that previously I would never have been able to. “My favourite thing about my boarding school was the level of pastoral care available. Having never been away from home in this way, I was naturally quite scared about the boarding experience. The level of support I received from my HM, matrons and teachers was second to none, but the amazing thing is they are still there to offer support and guidance today. I have never come across anywhere else like it!”
“I have made friends for life from all over the world.” MOSHOPE ST LAWRENCE COLLEGE
Beyond the classroom he name of legendary Headmaster and educationalist Kurt Hahn is widely recognised for creating many lasting institutions, like the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, Outward Bound, the United World Colleges and Gordonstoun School. All these are well known to us but Hahn’s influence and philosophy is arguably most widely propagated across the globe by what is still perhaps his bestkept secret: Round Square. Formed in 1966 at a conference of like-minded schools at Gordonstoun (and taking its name from the building of the same name), Round Square is now an impressive worldwide network of 150 schools in 40 countries across five continents. With our headquarters in the RS Worldwide Office in Windsor, Round Square schools across the world share a holistic approach to learning built around six pillars or IDEALS: Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service. Member schools can be very different but also have much in common:
for example they tend to be independent boarding schools, a fact which helps to facilitate boarding exchange programmes. Rockport is unique: the only independent boarding school in Northern Ireland; and significantly, a school located in this part of the UK with neither denominational affiliation nor any church representation on the governors. Therefore, membership of Round Square provides our students not only with the international dimension necessary to combat those twin threats of parochialism and insularism that that may have dogged this part of the UK in the past; but also with a sense of moral purpose that underpins everything we do. Indeed, here at Rockport we have recently welcomed Australian, Austrian and German students to the boarding house and all for the cost of flights only.
Bringing the world to Rockport is as important to us as is getting our own pupils to travel overseas. Students of various ages have opportunities to attend Round Square Conferences at national, regional and global levels and in the last year alone boarders from Rockport have attended global conferences in Jordan and in Singapore. Put simply, Round Square connects people who, like Kurt Hahn, share that passion for education beyond the classroom.
George Vance Headmaster, Rockport School
Photo: Rockport School
n 2014 the “Grit and Resilience Manifesto” was launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility as well as in the CBI’s report on education which talked about the need to encourage “personal behaviours and attributes – sometimes termed character”. At Gordonstoun this focus on character education is something the school has pioneered from its foundation.
The teaching of life skills has always been at the heart of Gordonstoun’s broad curriculum. One of the central ways in which Gordonstoun develops ‘character’ is through Service. This emphasis on Service has been an integral part of the school curriculum since 1936 when the “Watchers” service was founded. The school’s founder Kurt Hahn realised that the nearby Moray coastline had only a limited coastguard service and worked with the local coastguards to build a watchtower manned by Gordonstoun students in poor weather. Over the years the provision of service to
the community has grown from one service in 1936 to 12 in 2015, with the Peer Mentor Service being the newest. Contributing to community benefits young people in different ways. As you might expect they gain compassion, self-esteem and learn the importance of contributing to society. However, we also find that by learning to see things through, they gain greater resilience which in turn enhances their academic performance. At Gordonstoun, every year 11, 12 and 13 student commits their time to Service at least one afternoon a week. A commitment to Service is one of the IDEALS which all Round Square schools adhere to. There is a misperception that ‘character education’ is only about challenge and the outdoors. Character education is so much more than that. It is about finding out about yourself through participation in a broad range of experiences and this is what makes the Round Square ethos so compelling.
Simon Reid Principal, Gordonstoun
n 1876 Western Union president William Orton said the telephone had ‘too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communications’. Today, there are more mobile cell phone devices on the planet than there are human beings. When futurologist Richard Watson, spoke at the BSA Heads’ Conference in 2013 (under the oxymoronic heading ‘Future Trends’), his expert view was that predicting 18 months into the future was a pretty big ask. Looking on the bright side, however, the same author wrote in a national newspaper: “If history teaches us anything, it is that revolutionary thinking can overturn so-called inevitabilities and impossibilities.” In considering therefore the future of the BSA, we may exercise caution in predicting what lies ahead for the next 50 years. Equally, we can be confident that the BSA’s lively and innovative thinking can have a powerfully positive effect on the boarding sector. The boarding school landscape has changed much in the past 50 years. So too has the BSA’s composition and role. No one back in 1965 could have confidently predicted that in 2015 the BSA would run five conferences a year, over 50 seminars, publish guide books and numerous best practice papers. Only the bold would have predicted that it would one minute be helping to allocate Government money to support state boarding training, and the next providing expert consultancy to boarding schools in Turkey or Switzerland, answering queries from prospective parents overseas, or dealing with calls from the national media. So if 2015 was hard to predict in 1965, how can we reliably say what the BSA’s role will be in 2065 when it turns 100 and receives its birthday telegram from the King? Or Head of the Free Republic of Britannia? At heart the BSA is a membership association, so its role is inextricably linked to boarding schools. In turn their role is linked to the pupils who board. We have already seen over
the past 50 years the nature and features of many boarding schools alter dramatically. Some schools which once operated successfully no longer exist. Many schools that for years were the exclusive preserve of boys are now co-educational. The traditional world where many children started to board at the age of eight (‘it was just what people did in those day’), or even younger, has passed over, as social norms have shifted, and junior boarding numbers are now a small proportion of the boarding population. If so much has changed therefore, what if anything has survived?
Well the good news for the BSA is that is still has over 500 members in the UK and overseas. And there are still around 75,000 boarders at independent and state boarding schools. The age and country of origin demographics may have shifted but there is still a vibrant boarding community within so many of our schools.
By Leo Winkley Head Master of St Peter’s School, York and Vice Chair of the BSA
The BSA represents a slice of the UK education market which contributes millions of pounds a year to the economy and employs thousands of people. It represents schools that are engaging sincerely and positively with issues of social mobility and mental health. It represents a caring profession whose often unspoken mantra is that the child is at the centre of everything, and that it is the whole child that we are concerned with, not simply an examination candidate number. At the first BSA conference at Keble College, Oxford in July 1965 most of the UK’s bestknown boarding schools were represented. And despite the change and challenge of the
intervening years, all of those schools still welcome thousands of boarders every year in 2015. It is of course a foolish person who uses past or current success as a guaranteed guide to future performance. And while 2065 may seem far away, one would like to think that if the British boarding schools’ sector manages to survive and thrive, so too will the BSA. We will continue to need a single voice when we wish to speak to the media or the government. We will continue to want to turn to a strong, expert membership organisation when we need support, advice or training. And we will continue to benefit when that
organisation bring us together from time to time to share best practice, renew friendships and discuss the revolutionary thinking that can overturn so-called inevitabilities and impossibilities. The BSA may not be the cell phone of membership associations by the time if turns 100. But it will still be a vital communication device for all us who work in boarding, even if this author and some of his colleagues will have long since retired and gained entry, subject to satisfying the requirements, to that great boarding school in the sky.
Photo: St Peter’s School, York
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SYNERGIA_BSA 98x139:Layout 1 The Harefield Academy The King’s School, Canterbury
Worth School Wrekin College Wychwood School Wycliffe College Wycliffe Preparatory School Wycombe Abbey School Wymondham College
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Aiglon College, Switzerland
Approved programmes which can balance and build your career We specialise in working with Independent Schools at all levels, developing Leadership and Management skills from HOYs, HODs, HouseParents and Senior Leadership Teams.
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REST OF THE WORLD
Peponi School, Kenya Prem Tinsulanonda International School, Thailand Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Australia Pymble Ladies’ College, Australia St Cuthbert’s College, New Zealand St George’s College, Argentina The Doon School, India The International School of Penang (Uplands), Malaysia The Regent’s School, Bangkok, Thailand
BBIS Berlin Brandenburg International School, Germany
The Regent’s School, Pattaya, Thailand
Brilliantmont International School, Switzerland
Trinity Grammar School, Australia
College Alpin Beau Soleil, Switzerland College Champittet, Switzerland
The Regent Secondary School, Nigeria
United World College of South East Asia, Singapore
College du Leman International School, Switzerland
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