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P 19

Head Viewpoint Positive Thinking

P 82

Kirstie Allsopp My School Days

The value of learning a language


Win a luxury family holiday to Portugal

Have a sporting summer

How to defeat DYSLEXIA Great ideas for GAP YEARS


More contact hours, more modules, smaller tuition groups, Dr George Zouros BSc, MSc (Lond), PhD (LSE) Lecturer in Economics

the student satisfaction of leading UK universities.

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We set out to create a place where the world’s quickest minds could meet: the best students, the best academics, the best learning environment. And, for the first time, we set out to discover the extent of our success. Have small lecture groups, one-to-one tutorials and access to the world’s leading academics made the difference we dreamed was possible? An independent survey of those who know best, our students, gave a resounding “Yes”. In fact, NCH students’ academic satisfaction levels are twice the average of leading UK universities.* We set out to create an intense, rewarding, life-changing academic experience. We’re delighted to have exceeded our students’ expectations. If you’d like to know more, call us on +44 (0)20 7637 4550 or visit our website for Open Day details and to order your prospectus. *In a directly comparable study, 63% of students at New College of the Humanities who responded said their academic experience has exceeded their expectations vs a 32% average for Russell Group university students studying humanities or social sciences. (Source: 2014 Youthsight student experience survey, HEPI format)

Where quick minds

Contents How are pupils dealing with new pressures? Find out on page 65

CONTENTS Issue 12 Summer 2014

WIN! family A luxury on holiday page 75

Summer is finally here – and we’re celebrating the great outdoors. For children that are passionate about horses, a school offering riding as part of its curriculum is the perfect option, says writer Thalia Thompson in her article Riding High (page 45). Our What’s On? pages are full to bursting with things to do this summer; come rain or shine, there’s no excuse not to entice children off their gadgets, away from the TV and into the fresh air. Take a look at our pick of six of the best action-packed family holidays, in idyllic destinations across the globe, on page 56. And don’t forget to enter our competition on page 75, where you could win a luxury stay at The Four Seasons Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal. Good luck – and see you in October!

Claudia Dudman, Editor Cover: Millfield School, Somerset   Ăžďƒž    Ăžďƒž



Head Viewpoint Positive Thinking


Kirstie Allsopp My School Days

The value of learning a language


Win a luxury family holiday to Portugal

How to defeat DYSLEXIA Great ideas for GAP YEARS


Education 5 News

Our round-up of hot topics

11 Stories of old

Katie Hughes discovers some surprising traditions that schools still cherish

21 Teen spirit

Glynis Kozma looks at how co-ed schools manage relationships between their pupils

45 Riding high Thalia Thompson investigates schools that offer riding as part of the curriculum

48 Top 10 gap years

UCAS shares its pick of the best year outs

53 Acts of kindness Follow us... Like @ISParent us on...

The Perse School are spreading cheer with a Random Acts of Kindness campaign

65 Great expectations How are today’s pupils dealing with the pressure? Natalie Milner finds out

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37 Behind the scenes

71 Healthy minds

38 Learning to live with dyslexia

Jo Heywood gives a spirited riposte to reports of a “silent epidemic of anorexia sweeping through schools�

Head of SEN at Portland Place describes Thinking Differently Week Mum Sarah Brinton explains how a specialist school helped her son



41 Under pressure

15 Making a difference

Ann Haydon on the importance of empowering pupils with the will to succeed

17 Access all areas

Independent schools are philanthropic by their very nature, writes Gareth Doodes

19 Positive thinking

Nicola Huggett explains why she is keen to promote a “glass half-full attitude�

25 Why learn German?

The German language is highly valued in the workplace, writes Helen Smail

26 Bounce back

Giulia Rhodes on the latest book about how to cope with the demands of modern life

56 Get active! We select six of the best adventurous family holidays in fabulous destinations

66 Book club A round-up of the top beach reads for you and holiday books for kids this summer

73 Brave war ace remembered Fergus Tremar Menendez, pupil at Wycliffe College, tells his great grandfather’s story

75 Competition A luxury family holiday in Lisbon, Portugal

In Focus

Didn’t get the A-level results you expected? Severine Collins has some wise words

77 What’s on

31 Just a different way of learning

54 Bright young things

82 School memories

Special educational needs advice is gathered by Charlotte Phillips

Ebba Jacobsson checks out the stars from the independent school sector

EDITORIAL Editor Claudia Dudman Art Editor Marc Walker Sub Editor Natalie Milner

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Things to do during the summer holidays Channel 4 presenter, Kirstie Allsopp, looks back on her time at Bedales

DISTRIBUTION Independent School Parent magazine is for parents of children educated in prep and senior independent schools across the UK. The prep and senior issues are published termly. Parents can subscribe for a free issue at: Independent School Parent also publishes A First Eleven Guide to Independent Schools biannually. Š CNP Ltd 2014. All rights reserved. Text and pictures are copyright restricted and must not be reproduced without permission from the publisher. The information contained in Independent School Parent magazine has been published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. All liability for loss, negligence or damage caused by reliance on the information contained within this publication is hereby excluded. All pictures by Thinkstock unless otherwise credited.

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD David Moncrieff, Chairman Tor Down, Parent James Durant, UCAS Andrew Fleck, Sedbergh School Tory Gillingham, AMDIS Rachel Kerr, Girls’ Schools Association Glynis Kozma, Educational Journalist Zoe MacDougall, Teacher Heidi Salmons, The Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference Dr Anthony Seldon, Wellington College Elaine Stallard, Elaine Stallard Consulting The Rt Hon Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Education Select Committee Sheila Thompson, Boarding Schools’ Association Ben Vessey, Canford School David Wellesley-Wesley, Independent Schools Show Peter Young, Marketing/Brand Consultant


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Open Days Friday 20 June 2014 Saturday 21 June 2014 Saturday 27 September 2014 Saturday 11 October 2014 Come and see why the University of Liverpool is a great investment in your future. To register go to

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Our pick of the top parenting and education news

Private Schools Boost UK Economy by £12bn

For the first time, an independent consultancy has analysed the economic benefits that independent schools bring to Britain. Schools under the Independent Schools Council provide the following: • An annual contribution to GDP of £9.5 billion – larger than the City of Liverpool or the BBC. • More than 227,000 full time equivalent jobs in Britain supported by ISC schools. • Annual savings for the taxpayer of £3 billion – equivalent to building more than 460 new free schools every year.


Young scientists from Sherborne Girls in Dorset celebrated National Science and Engineering Week in an experiment to find out if it is possible to walk on custard. “Unlike water, custard is a non-Newtonian liquid so in theory we knew that it was possible to walk on a swimming pool of it,” said head of physics, Katy Smith (left).


It’s not enough to read through your notes when you’re preparing for exams, say Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) teachers. Matthew Greenfield, head of physics at St Catherine’s, Bramley, says: “You wouldn’t take your driving test if you’d read the Highway Code but never driven a car”. For more top tips you can visit for a guide to preparing for those all-important summer and winter exams!

ETON COLLEGE AND WELLINGTON HEADS TO RETIRE The head master of Eton College, Tony Little, has announced that he is to retire after the summer halve in 2015. Also announcing his retirement is Dr Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, Berkshire. After nearly 30 years in private education, Dr Seldon will stand down from the school next year. The decision brings to an end one of the most high-profile careers in private schooling, one that has seen him pioneer the expansion of Mandarin lessons in schools and alternatives to GCSEs and A levels.

Right, Tony Little, Below, Anthony Seldon


FamilyTravel at Mr & Mrs Smith…

Smith & Family, the hotel booking service from the team behind Mr & Mrs Smith, has launched a new guide to family travel. The handbook: Smith & Family Annual 2014, is packed with inspiring ideas, giving you the low-down on everything from summer getaways to half-term escapes.


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Let’s Go Fly a Kite...

St Mary’s School brought the skies, over the city of Cambridge, alive with a swarm of brightly coloured kites in celebration of International Women’s Day. Students created 40 kites representing different countries, each inscribed with the issues that women face. The event, organised by the only all-girls’ school in Cambridge, was to raise awareness of women’s equal rights to education and political representation.

Right, Jack with Trevor

Hot off the presses is ISP’s The Good Universities Guide, which aims to help students choose the right university. The guide includes chapters on selecting a course, financing your study and the skillset you’ll need for the next stage in your life. The guide is also available on Apple App Store, Kindle Fire and Google Play.

Time for tea

Abbotsholme School, Staffordshire, organised a special tea for this year’s scholarship recipients, held in the school library, to congratulate them on their success. The pupils, from a mixture of Years Seven, Nine and 12, were from both Abbotsholme, and other schools. They were also joined by parents, grandparents and other relatives to mark the special occasion.

BLUNDELL’S YOUNG SHEPHERD TRIUMPHS AGAIN Jack Aldridge, Blundell’s pupil, was crowned National Young Shepherd of the Year for the second year running. Jack took part in the prestigious Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s competition held at the Newbury Show and won both the Junior Champion and overall Championship title. The Year Nine pupil was presented with an impressive cup and rosette.


A SQUASH’D FAVOURITE Robinsons SQUASH’D is a new exciting handy-sized capsule containing 66ml of liquid, making the same amount of drinks (20) as a standard one-litre bottle. It is available in three delicious flavours made with real fruit juice to suit all tastes – apple and blackcurrant, orange and peach and summer fruits. At £2.49, each bottle can be mixed with water to make great tasting drinks wherever you are.

A Fashion Extravaganza

Model Yasmin Le Bon was the star judge at Heathfield School’s annual fashion show in March. Le Bon, who is an honorary old girl, joined judges Angela Drisdale-Gordon and Georgie Pincus from the London College of Fashion at the Ascot-based school. SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT 7


Heads on the Move

ÞDr James Whitehead has taken up the headship at Downside School in Somerset.

STUDENTS TRIUMPH AT CIFE AWARDS CEREMONY At the CIFE Academic Awards presentation held at the House of Lords in March, Lord Lexden presented awards for academic excellence to 38 students who achieved outstanding A level and GCSE results last summer. Lord Lexden, former general secretary of the ISC, is the honorary president of the Council for Independent Education (CIFE).

MONMOUTH SCHOOLS’ 400TH ANNIVERSARY 400 years of educational excellence were celebrated by the Monmouth Schools with a giant convoy of 1,500 pupils and staff visiting the historic St Paul’s Cathedral in London, for a service of thanksgiving. The momentous day in the history of one of the country’s oldest schools capped a fantastic month of events, starting with 550 young singers and musicians raising the roof of the Wales Millennium Centre at a concert, followed by a visit from HRH the Earl of Wessex.

Þ David Lambon takes up the reins at Ampleforth College, North Yorkshire, in September.


Stars gathered at The Savoy this spring for Trust in Fashion, hosted by ITV newsreader and Rainbow Trust patron, Mary Nightingale, to raise money for the charity that helps families of children with a life threatening or terminal illness.

Harper Lee Signs Off Digital E-book Harper Lee has given the go-ahead for her classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, to become an e-book and digital audiobook, filling one of the biggest gaps in the digital library. Out 8th July.

Bolton School Boys’ Division is All Abuzz In sunny conditions, around 20,000 bees arrived at the Bolton School Boys’ Division. Under the watch of apiarist Keith Hemming, the bees were transferred to their new hive, which was built last term by the boys in Beekeeping Club. 8 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT SUMMER 2014

Þ Sarah Kerr-Dineen is the new head of Oundle School, Peterborough. She starts in September.

ÞLisa Brown is the new acting head teacher at St Margaret’s York, Yorkshire, from July.

ÞNicola Edgar is to be the new head of Saint Martin’s School for Girls, Solihull, this September.


Monmouth pupil, Sky Ballantyne, 11, reads a prayer

Stagger the school fee payments With parents paying an average of £29,000 per year, SFP, a provider of school fee finance, is urging them to pay it monthly by direct debit rather than the full amount in one lump sum for each school term. sfpschool

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An array of bizarre traditions have made their way through generations of private schools, Katie Hughes investigates




hilst many head girls and boys can expect to luxuriate in their own ensuite bedroom, keep a car or spread out in the school’s largest study, some are entitled to slightly more unusual perks when they reach the pinnacle of pupil power. Among these are the right to grow a beard, keep a pig and even to mix with royalty. Often these privileges have endured for centuries – not least at Christ’s Hospital in Sussex, where the Senior Grecian (head boy or girl), has the right to present a “loyal address” to the new monarch on the way to or from their coronation. This ancient custom has seen pupils mingling with royalty ever since St Edmund Campion, a pupil, carried out the first address to Queen Mary in 1553. Since then, most of our monarchs, including the current Queen (in 1953), have been similarly greeted. The receiving of royals also falls, to a lesser degree, to the head girl of Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire, which has welcomed blue-blooded visitors throughout its life. And some senior school pupils have traditionally been treated like royals themselves. At Merchiston School in Edinburgh a carved chair has long sat on stage to elevate the school captain. At Haileybury in Hertfordshire the head boy and girl can arrive at chapel late – places for them are reserved in the front pew. Blundell’s in Devon has rejuvenated a more bizarre right – for the head pupil to keep a pig at school. And recently, the head boy and girl did exactly that. “The piglets, named Randall and Russell, were very popular and also useful for those studying biology,” says the school’s headmistress, Nicola Huggett. Other animals also feature on the list of pupil privileges. A horse can be ridden under the arch at Repton in Derbyshire, thanks to the head boy’s right to mount it, while a goat would nibble the grass at Strathallan in Perthshire if the head pupil chose to exercise his or her prerogative to have one. The former of these two schools has been known to uphold the privilege whilst the latter has not. Nor has the head boy at Uppingham, in Rutland, taken up his alleged


right to grow a moustache or get married. His counterpart at Felsted School in Essex is similarly unlikely to enjoy such extraordinary perks, but has been available for photographs from time to time – posing with beard, pipe and goat on the front lawn. Former pupil Rob Short, who works at the school says: “I can’t remember a head boy or girl exercising these rights, but I know they are very proud of them.” In neighbouring Suffolk, head pupils and their deputies at The Royal Hospital School can “walk out” with a silver-topped swagger stick – a relic of the school’s naval roots – and do this during many formal parades. But

❝ Blundell’s has

rejuvenated a right for the head pupil to keep a pig at school ❞

often, ancient rights can include more pedestrian benefits for head pupils, such as a weekly meeting with the headmaster (Fettes College in Edinburgh), a duty to lead the school out of mass (Downside in Somerset) and a chance to plant a tree on Founder’s Day (Benenden in Kent). But pupils don’t need to be heads of school to win age-old entitlements. If you want to walk across the Queen’s Lawn – an elegant stretch of grass at Fettes College – you need only be a prefect to do so. And at Christ’s Hospital all pupils have a right to free entry at the Tower of London – as long as they are wearing their Tudor uniform. The Morning Hills ceremony, practised by Winchester College since 1884, celebrates its freedom to “access and use” the local hills and sees hundreds of its pupils striding out twice a year to climb a nearby mound for an early-morning celebration. As the Spanish essayist George Santayana wrote: “England is the paradise of individuality and eccentricity.”

OUR FAVOURITES ● At Repton School you can keep a goat in the paddock and grow a beard. ● Sing the Vive-La (a satirical review of the year) on Founder’s Day at Fettes College. ● Furl an umbrella at Eton College – all pupils are also allowed to call teachers “beaks,” cricketers “dry bobs” and rowers “wet bobs”. ● Wear your own jumper and scarf at Stowe. ● Carry a silver-topped cane at Malvern College. ● Wear a pink tie or pin at Charterhouse. Follow us on Twitter @ISParent and share your SCHOOL TRADITIONS with us.


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head Viewpoint

Making a difference ann haydon, principal of Surbiton High School, Surrey, writes on the importance of empowering young minds with a confidence to succeed


t Surbiton High School our aim is to inspire, encourage and empower our young people to be the very best they can be in and out of the classroom. Our pupils have a special kind of confidence – one that is built on self-belief and positivity. They gain this confidence from the ability to try new things. Whether it’s a new language or a sporting endeavour, it’s vital that the opportunities are there for them. Of course we are immensely proud of our academic results. This year almost 54% of A-level grades were A*-A and 84.5% at A*-B. And 80% of the girls are going on to study at Russell Group universities, including Oxbridge. However, its important to look beyond the A* and add real breadth and depth to test and develop a girl’s character.

Left, girls at Surbiton high School, Surrey, are encouraged to try new things

Passion and energy We see our school as a dynamic breeding ground for ideas. Our teachers have been independently recognised with several outstanding education awards for leadership and drive which is an inspiration to the pupils. We see passion and energy at play every day in the school environment whether in sport, music, drama or academically. Our classrooms, halls and outdoor spaces are alive with conversation, debates, mind-expanding projects, research and individual and team challenges that go far beyond what any curriculum prescribes. In the sporting arena, we can boast borough, regional and national success in all of our “Super Six” sports. Our Vision of Sport programme caters for “Sport for All” and “Advanced Sport” and we are equally proud of the girls’ achievements whether competing for their country, county or for the school team at their own level. For those who enjoy drama and music we offer numerous opportunities for our pupils to display their talents and express themselves. Everyone can

above, ann haydon, head of Surbiton high School, Surrey

audition for the school play and perform at instrumental evenings and bespoke shows put on across the year. For those who do not want to take to the stage, the drama curriculum also develops confidence in public speaking and self-expression that is a great benefit to personal development.

Time to give back We strive to ensure every member of our community feels safe, cared for, noticed and appreciated. While we feed our pupils’ minds to help each one realise their potential, we of course also care about their happiness and actively encourage them to use their talents and time to help others. Within the school we operate mentoring programmes to support

❝ Our pupils have a special

kind of confidence, built on self-belief and positivity ❞

pupils and our girls engage in many charitable efforts. From Friendship Hour, where we provide individual companionship to elderly members of our local community, to our enterprise efforts and renowned fashion show, we create pastoral fundraising opportunities to give back locally and globally. This year’s “Surbiton Goes Global” fashion show raised over £13,000 for charity and involved more than 450 pupils from Surbiton High and Hampton School – real community spirit in action! Indeed, we are proud of our dynamic programme of charity events, supporting more than 30 charities to raise a total of £40,00 to date this year. The intellectually rigorous and challenging academic environment our talented teachers provide, ensures that our girls achieve the very best exam results plus a well-defined sense of compassion and the confidence to do the best for themselves and others. Surbiton girls are authentic young people with strong values who can go out into the world and make a difference. SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL ParENT 15



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Access all areas Gareth Doodes, head of George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh, dashes notions of privilege by outlining the giving nature of independent schools


ndividual journeys to headship take many different forms. However, the best heads are those, as Stephen Winkley put it in the spring edition of this magazine, who are original and know what their leadership role is. Leaders such as Tony Little at Eton College, Charlie Bush at Oundle and Tim Manly at Hurst in West Sussex demonstrate a reforming vision and zeal that, for me as a young head, is inspiring. We all have to have role models to whom we should aspire. In 1989, and 12 years old, I went for a scholarship interview at Eastbourne College in East Sussex and was met by the then head Chris Saunders. Ebullient, clubbable and interested in me as a person, I left the interview determined not only to be a pupil at Eastbourne but also to be a headmaster in later life. However, if it hadn’t been for that scholarship I doubt I would have been able to attend Eastbourne. My parents, who had little financially, gave up everything to enable me to go to independent school, to be given the opportunities they hadn’t had. That gift and sacrifice has stayed with me and become an empowering force to ensure I provide as much access to independent school education as possible.

pressure from politicians who use the label of “privately educated” as an excuse for “privilege bashing”. It’s ironic that many MPs and ministers were privately educated, yet few will risk putting their head above the parapet to defend them.

Challenges ahead

Exceptional care Parents who choose to send their children to independent school make huge sacrifices, and it’s the duty of heads and senior staff to ensure that they’re given value for money, superb teaching and exceptional care for their children. I took up my post as principal of George Heriot’s School in 2014 after four happy years as headmaster of Milton Abbey, a rural day and boarding school with 250 pupils focused primarily on the provision of learning support, in an idyllic setting. Heriot’s is Scotland’s top-performing academic school near Edinburgh Castle with 1,700 pupils. My first day at Heriot’s was interesting;

charitable status is key to the onward philanthropic nature of independent schools, says head Gareth Doodes, above

as I spoke to all the staff it became clear that I had more staff at Heriot’s than I did pupils at Milton Abbey. What is extraordinary, however, is the amount of giving at Heriot’s. Founded in 1628 with George Heriot’s legacy, the school adheres to its charitable vision, providing 75 free places to children who have lost either their mother or father, called Foundationers, and a further 75 bursaries, many of which are at 100%. With up to 12% of our total income returned as bursaries with extra support from benefactors, Heriot’s reaches large numbers of pupils who otherwise would never have benefited from such opportunities. Sustaining this level of giving isn’t easy, and demonstrating public benefit is now a key part of a school’s purpose, especially with

In Scotland, the pressure on schools has been even greater than the rest of the UK, as the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has been assiduous in examining independent schools. As the referendum on independence in Scotland looms, there is nervousness among some heads about the changes that this will bring to charitable status and recruitment for boarding. The SNP has pledged not to change the charitable status of independent schools after independence. But if the SNP does not have a majority after any independence vote, there could be a leftward shift in the education agenda. Charitable status is key to the working of our schools, and to the onward philanthropic nature of their existence. Boarding schools are nervous about economic uncertainty concerning the retention of the pound, and the effect that this will have on recruitment. Day schools in cities which rely on the financial services industry, such as Edinburgh, are watching with interest as to whether a newly independent nation will see a change to the business, financial sector and labour market. As a 36 year old, and one of the youngest HMC Heads, I’m keen to ensure that the sector is secure and will thrive. When faced with a challenge, I remind myself of the privileged position I am in to lead and care for children, of the people who have inspired me, and those who have made sacrifices for me. My headmaster changed my life; if I, too, can inspire one heart and mind to achieve more than they thought possible, then my ambition, fired in a scholarship interview, will have been realised. SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL ParENT 17

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Positive THINKING Nicola Huggett, head of Blundell’s School, Devon, explains why she is always keen to promote a “glass half full” attitude


vividly remember an anxious and upset parent of a 13-year-old girl coming into my office one day demanding to know what the school had done to the lovely positive and communicative child of 11 that they had sent to us. We sat down and started to talk about how difficult growing up is – the perils of the internet, too much texting and how social networking is directly reflected in many households, including my own, with a consequent lack of real face-to-face talking. Confidence and a positive outlook towards anything we suggest as a parent are derided and we find ourselves telling our children to “cheer up” or “think about how lucky you are”. Those words still fill me with gloom from my teenage years and yet I seem to find myself saying them to my children! So how are we to build confidence and positivity?

Fresh perspectives Being optimistic, or “glass half full”, must be the default setting of teachers and pupils alike. As teachers, we spend most of our waking hours alongside the children we hope to inspire. We can only do this by being positive ourselves, showing we are capable of looking at every situation afresh and judging it on its own merits. We have a duty to be optimistic and I include that in every job description I write, whether it is for a maths teacher or a groundsman. Within that, one truly inspirational person in your life can make that difference – you only need one – and in all good schools, the staff in their role as tutors play a vital role in fostering confidence. With a small number of tutees and a protected time to see them, an effective tutor can focus on the individual positive outcomes of everything their tutees do at school. Continuity is key and that relationship between tutor, tutee and parent builds this confidence. Pupils at the top of the

Pupils at Blundell’s are encouraged to be good listeners

❝ With a worldly

teenager it often helps to try to stick to the 70:30 rule of 70% listening and 30% talking ❞ school also play a vital role in promoting a positive attitude. Older pupils must be approachable, good listeners and do things for the school community. Leading your school as a senior pupil is about earning the school’s respect, not demanding it. We talk to our monitors in Year 13 about making a difference, being accessible representatives, implementing their own ideas and leading confidently. Finally, as parents,

how do we encourage our children to be positive when the kitchen door slams and a video game comes on in response to a simple question? Keeping channels of communication open is key, as is letting them choose what they want to be positive about. We need to create an environment where we can listen and take time to hear; try to stick to the 70:30 rule – 70% listening and 30% talking. A quiet voice can encourage us to lean in to hear. A displacement activity, such as driving somewhere together, can help to start a conversation. Once we have listened, we have opened a door to positive thinking and allowed it to walk through. After that, we must let our children begin to have control over their own academic lives and their interests, rather than leap to solve every problem ourselves. The more lightly we can hold the reins of expectation, the stronger the pull on the other end will be and with a positive attitude, there is nothing we cannot achieve.


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28/05/2014 14:39




Glynis Kozma asks: how are relationships between boys and girls managed at a co-ed school?




t the school’s Saturday evening dances I had to ensure that pupils obeyed the “three foot rule”: teenage boys and girls could dance together as long as there were three feet between them. As a newly qualified teacher in a co-educational boarding school, I wasn’t completely sure if this rule existed, or if it was the pupils’ mischievous interpretation of the head’s strict approach to teenagers’ blossoming romances. I didn’t dare ask the head but continued, rather ineffectually, to patrol the dance floor . Of course it was impossible to patrol every corner of the school grounds and pupils who wanted to find some privacy

would find somewhere. At the time – the 1970s – co-educational boarding in senior schools was somewhat unusual compared to today. The spectre of teenage pregnancies was always lurking in the background because, unlike in a day school, pupils were together all day, every day and at weekends.

Has anything changed? Co-educational boarding is now common place in many senior schools, including those that were staunchly boys-only. Rugby School admitted girls to the sixth form in 1976, but it was only


co-educational boarding is far more commonplace in today’s schools

in 1992 that girls joined the school at 13 and it became truly co-ed in its 200year history. Many parents appreciate the benefits of co-ed schools, but many have reservations about hormonal teenagers in a boarding situation. So is there any need for you to worry? Janette Wallis of The Good Schools Guide says: “we always ask schools about pastoral care and supervision when we visit them. Are pupils allowed in opposite sex boarding houses? What is the school’s attitude to teen relationships?” Should parents ask these questions? “Yes, of course. Don’t be embarrassed; schools expect these questions.” If you find it hard, go down the route of the school’s attitude to sex, drugs and alcohol.”

How do schools deal with co-ed boarding? At The Leys, Cambridge, which is fully co-ed, director of pastoral care, Caroline Wiedermann, says: “we do keep an eye on relationships between pupils all the time. We all want them to grow up ready to experience healthy and ‘normal’ human relationships – and what could be more normal than romantic attachments between teenagers, who are the great “experimenters”? It’s the role of the houseparents, the assistants, matrons and all other staff, to watch

carefully, discreetly and sensitively. We always consider if pupils are getting too serious too quickly; getting out of their depth; or if they are ready for a serious relationship. The biggest concern for us is age differences – usually an older boy and a younger girl. These often end in failure and upset. We have a clearly defined policy of suitability of relationships between different ages.”

elapsed, parents have seen how co-educational boarding works. We have a clear and tough policy on breaches of rules around relationships, and pupils are made aware of these boundaries at an assembly at the start of the school year. This is reinforced through housemasters and mistresses if there is any ‘overheating’”.

Preparing for uni

How do the pupils feel about this? “We ask older pupils to talk to the younger ones about not going too fast and not getting into situations for which they are not emotionally ready. Our sixth formers are the best people to do this and we accept that they are young adults, who may have relationships as long as we are sure they are not spiralling out of control. We have a weekly pastoral meeting for senior staff where pupils’ welfare is discussed. We also find that pupils’ peers come to us, rather than their parents, if they are concerned about another pupil. We have found that pupils in a co-ed environment are more likely to have platonic friendships with both boys and girls and these friendships often endure after leaving school. Bedales School in Hampshire has a 116-year co-educational history. Head master Keith Budge says: “co-ed boarding is not mentioned as a concern as much as it used to be; as time has

A school that wholeheartedly embraces co-ed boarding is Abbotsholme in Staffordshire. Here, sixth-form boarders of both genders live alongside each other in a log cabin complex, in preparation for sharing accommodation at university. “The communication between staff and pupils allows staff to be aware of changes in pupils’ relationships, so they can monitor these appropriately. Pupils do have relationships, whether between boarders, boarder and day, day and day, and staff take care to ensure that these are appropriate at all times. Boarders have to follow guidelines set out in our boarding manuals as well as every pupil within the school having to follow the code of conduct, behaviour charter and school rules.” It would appear that, as a parent, you need not be too concerned about teenagers living closely alongside each other. Schools may have abandoned the “three foot rule” but they are clearly aware of the risks, and also the many benefits, of co-ed senior boarding.


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Why learn German? Helen Smail, head of German at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls explains why learning German is more relevant than ever before


erman in schools has been suffering against a negative backdrop in recent years. There have been claims that the subject is too difficult, then there’s the elusive A* at A level and that all Germans supposedly speak English. It is, however, not all doom and gloom. At Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, around 40 pupils, from an average Year 10 cohort of 80, have been opting for German at GCSE since 2010 and in the last two years there have been about 15 students at AS level. There is no doubt that pupils are beginning to appreciate the need for

German, especially in the workplace. The German economy is strong and, in a competitive business market, employers value competent German speakers. The German-speaking world is the UK’s biggest trading partner outside the USA. Whilst Germans may well have good English, there are also advantages in understanding the language and, more particularly, the thought-processes of one’s trading partner. Additionally, German is spoken as a native language by around 120 million people worldwide. Former pupils who go on to study at university report that, although they are studying philosophy, film studies,

left, pupils learn culture and history as well as a foreign language when learning german

comparative literature or history of art, inevitably they are faced with the significance of German culture and the advantage of acquiring, at the very least, a reading knowledge of German. Transferable skills learnt via a language are extremely valuable to a future employer. Learning any modern foreign language will improve communication skills and confidence. If German, as some claim, is more complex than some other European languages, this can work in a pupil’s favour, since the high degree of problem-solving, the level of analysis and the eye for accuracy required when learning this language are skills advantageous to employers. At HMSG all pupils study German as the second modern foreign language in Year Eight. They quickly see the links with English, and, as their German increases, they appreciate the logic and entrenched rules of this language. HMSG has recently achieved success in the UK-German Connection’s scholarships programme and two years ago the UK-German Conection Youth Ambassadors programme. Also, they offer an Instant Impact Grant that provided a taster-trip to Germany for Year 10, which, in turn, has led to an annual school exchange. This academic year we embarked on a creative cross-curricular project uniting the German and Dance departments. German history, from 1930-90, was portrayed via dance, culminating in a show with 120 pupils across all age groups. It is clear that, in combining inspiring academic activities and support from external sources, pupils are seeing the relevance of taking German. SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL ParENT 25


Bounce back

If you don’t get the exam results you are hoping for, pick yourself up and try again, writes Severine Collins, acting principal of Lansdowne College in London


he ink may be barely dry on your exam papers, but do you have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that things might not have gone as planned? If you are dreading the arrival of your A-level results in August and they turn out to be not as you’d hoped don’t panic, you’re not alone and help is at hand! There are many famous people, Albert Einstein included, who failed in a spectacular fashion in their examinations but still managed to have highly successful careers. It was also noticeable that in the recently published Sunday Times Rich List of billionaires living in the UK, many of them were academic failures and it certainly didn’t seem to affect their ability to climb to the top of their various professions. But this may be of little comfort when you receive your examination results and find you have lost a coveted place at university and now have to reconsider your future plans. So what are your options and what should you do next? The first thing to do is take advice from your current school or college. Your teachers may be able to advise you on how to contact your chosen university and negotiate a slightly adjusted offer. However, you’d be unwise to accept a place at a university just to get onto a degree course which requires lower grades when you know you are capable of higher achievement. Retaking A levels may be your best option if you are confident you can improve on the results you’ve already got. It is nearly always possible to improve disappointing exam results. They may not be so quickly remedied since the abolition of January AS and A2 exams but there are still several routes to enhance your opportunity of getting into a top university in 2015. Universities are always keen to accept top students and are unlikely to reject

Top, Harrow School, Above, Severine Collins, acting principal of Lansdowne College Right, students at Lansdowne


❝ It’s unwise to accept a place to get onto a

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COMMENT students who have retaken exams. A few may increase the standard offer, but most understand that accidents can happen and feel that if a student is motivated enough to take their exams over again, they are committed and mature and may work harder on their degree course. You will need specialist advice, though, on how to submit an effective re-application if you are re-applying for some of the very competitive courses like medicine or law at the Russell Group universities. You might also consider that if you feel you are capable of achieving ABB grades or better, over the past few years, Below, Godolphin School Wiltshire

HOW I DID IT Alex Phillips writes about her experience of studying for A-level retakes at Lansdowne College


Above, studying at Campbell College, Northern Ireland

fter two gruelling hours trying to log on to UCAS, I saw the word “unsuccessful” by my name. I needed three A grades to read history at Leeds. I hadn’t got them, and I hadn’t got my place. My school advised me to find a place through UCAS’ Clearing, swallow my pride, and go to any university that would accept me. I refused, and in a state of denial, left it to my mother to enrol me in a school to retake my exams. My confidence was at rock bottom. Lansdowne College knew what it was doing. Every single assessment objective, mark scheme and practice paper was dissected and laid out in front of me, so that even if I didn’t think I could achieve it, I knew exactly what was being asked of me. My teachers knew the exam boards better than I knew my date of birth, and translated that knowledge to me. I practised exam after exam until it was burned into

my brain through sheer repetition and hard work. My confidence grew enough for me to re-apply, choosing the universities I really liked, even aspiring to Bristol, who asked for A*AA. I got through the retakes by thinking of them as just another weekly exam, and when the college told me I had got A*A*A, I had to see it in writing before I believed them. Suddenly, my future was certain again. I became my own person. My gap year had not held me back – instead it shaped me. Those grades weren’t just down to me. I owed all those at Lansdowne for guiding me into and through the exams.

Follow us on Twitter @ISParent and share your top tips for EXAM RESULTS DAY with us.

changes in the rules about how many students universities can take means you stand a better chance – than ever before – of gaining a place at a top university. There are many independent sixth form colleges around the country who are experts in dealing with the “when good exams go bad” scenario. Lansdowne College is a sought-after private college in London offering outstanding expertise for students who need to retake their A levels, providing intensive tuition in small classes and guaranteed results. The teachers use a distinctive style of programme designed to promote self-motivation, based on regular exam preparation and practice. The success of this method speaks for itself, with the majority of students achieving grades from A* to B to get on the university course of their choice. Sixth form colleges have a lot of experience in helping pupils and ensuring that they add value to their existing results. Whatever happens, you are not alone, we will help you achieve your expectations. INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT 29

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special Educational Needs

A different way of learning

* Names have beeN chaNged

charlotte Phillips gathers advice on making a smooth transition to senior school if your child has a learning need

The most commonly occurring special educational need is dyslexia



tarting senior school can be a daunting experience for even the most confident child. One day you’re top dog in a place where everyone not only knows your name, but your quirks, likes and dislikes, too. The next, you’re in a vast establishment where everything – buildings, classrooms and even the number of fellow pupils – has been ramped up in scale.

Senior school may still be childhood, but it’s an evolved form where one eye is very definitely on the adult world to come. It’s hard for many “normal” pupils, but it’s even tougher for those with learning needs. “It can be difficult for many children,” says Bernadette McLean, principal of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre. “They’ll have more teachers and subjects, they’ll need to be better at multi-tasking, process information quicker and cope with revision and exams.” She paraphrases Charles Handy, philosopher and business guru, by way of example. Where else but a secondary school, he says, would people be expected to work in 35-minute slots, then move to a different site and face punishment if they talk to each other except at official break time? For a child with learning needs such as dyslexia, everything about life at senior school can seem designed to ensure maximum discombobulation, something that can be a permanent battle for any pupil whose difficulties with organisation make it akin to an extreme sport. “If they struggle to bring in the right books and sports kit or take down homework, they can get into trouble with the teacher and end up being bullied,” says Pauline Johnston*, whose son has Asperger’s Syndrome. “The more independent they’re meant to be, the trickier it is.” While there are many different types of special educational learning need, the most commonly occurring is dyslexia, where often bright, articulate children

Schools have become much better at recognising that all pupils have their own individual learning needs


struggle to read and write. It is allied to dyspraxia, where coordination can be problematic, and dyscalculia, characterised by difficulties in grasping basic number facts.

A friendly environment Other children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be fidgety, impulsive or lack concentration. In the UK 100,000 youngsters have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) often marked by social communication difficulties. For these children, the ideal

learning environment is one where they aren’t merely tolerated, but welcomed, are offered structured support and given regularly reviewed targets that, though realistic, are aspirational, too. For that to happen, a school community needs to be learning-needs friendly, and that means not only the head of learning support, but subject teachers, too, says Michael Hughesman, governor of a special school, and ex-principal educational psychologist. “If the provision is organised in an inclusive way, every teacher should take on responsibility for teaching all the children in their care and draw on the learning support department to assist

corbis/getty images

New kid on the block


❝ For a child with an extremely high

IQ who is ‘extraordinarily’ dyslexic a hothouse just won’t work ❞ Alison Love, mother

You can ask whether individual learning plans are available

them.” That said, there’s no doubt that awareness of Special Educational Needs (SEN) has improved, says Jo Heywood, headmistress of Heathfield School, Ascot. “Schools today are much better at recognising that all pupils have their own individual learning needs, and teachers are better equipped to support each child in their class. At Heathfield, we are working towards ILPs (Individual Learning Plans) for all pupils, whether or not they have special learning needs.” However, it’s important to be realistic. Schools can vary widely when it comes to the type of learning need they can support. Alison Love, a mother, says that for a child with an extremely high IQ

who is “extraordinarily” dyslexic a hothouse just won’t work. Anything that might have a detrimental effect on the majority of pupils’ learning, such as persistently disruptive behaviour or the need for full-time, one-to-one support in class for a pupil to access the curriculum, can be a step too far. At Heathfield, for example, Heywood says, “we have to balance the number of pupils with learning needs carefully in the student body”.

Ask the right questions There are practical ways parents can help, starting with asking the right questions when they visit prospective schools. In addition to finding out what induction programme is offered for all new pupils, it’s also useful to quiz staff about the support on offer and how a child’s learning needs, progress or problems are communicated. “Ask how and when staff are made aware of their child’s learning needs,” says Heywood. “When would the school

feel it appropriate to feed back to them, as parents, about how their child is settling in to new routines and how they are coping with the new expectations?” She also suggests asking to meet new specialist teaching staff, finding out how and when they share information such as ILPs and how their child’s progress is tracked and reassessed.

Hands-on parenting It is, however, a two-way process, she points out. Parents should also check what information they need to provide – such as reports from an educational psychologist or other specialists, so that a school can decide whether it can help. And once your child has started at a new school, be prepared to be a hands-on parent. Weigh in with homework concerns, says Bernadette McLean, particularly as the amount piles on further up the school and those with dyslexia, for example, start to flounder. “If it’s taking all night, tell the teacher.” Similarly, don’t assume that voicing concerns just once will be enough. “It isn’t like at prep school, where the SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL ParENT 33

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WHERE DO I FIND HELP? ❝ The best schools will teach children

strategies to maximise their strengths ❞ Susan Hamlyn, director of The Good Schools Guide Advice Service

form teacher would tell everybody else,” says McLean. “Be prepared to repeat yourself – and keep doing it.” Sometimes, a child who isn’t actively flourishing may be better served in a school that gives higher prominence to learning needs. “Parents need to tailor their expectations to what the child can achieve – in the right context,” says Susan Hamlyn, director of The Good Schools Guide Advice Service. “The best schools will teach all children to maximise their strengths and learn strategies to minimise the effects of their difficulties.” Some will admit only pupils who have acquired a statement of special educational needs. This will be issued by the local educational authority, often only after a complex and timeconsuming battle, statements commit them to providing and funding support in a named school. Others, while mainstream, welcome larger than average numbers and may

specialise in one particular need, such as dyslexia. Provided that parents can find the right establishment, the effects can be transformational. When Alison Love’s son was first assessed at the age of seven, she was told that he would never be able to follow a mainstream curriculum. But he went on to flourish at a well-respected independent senior school. He is about to take his GCSEs – and is predicted A and B grades. And a learning need shouldn’t be seen as something in need of a cure, says Bernadette McLean. “Why should it be?” she points out, “it’s not a disease.” Instead, she urges, choose a school that will not only support your child, but also embrace them for what they are. “Your dyslexia is as hard or as easy as the environment you’re in. If the teacher encourages you, you’ll be willing to take the risk next time.” For Alison Love, seeing the world the way her son does has been life-enhancing. “It’s been a fascinating and exciting journey.”

Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre One of the oldest established and most highly regarded sources of help in the UK which offers support, advice and training for individual dyslexics, children and adults and their families and teachers.

list of helpful questions for prospective parents to ask, from how self-esteem is rebuilt to pupils’ access to specialist teaching, staff training and specific details of literacy and numeracy interventions.

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The Driver Youth Trust Set up by a mother of a dyslexic child, this campaigns to improve teaching and resources for all children who struggle with literacy, particularly those with dyslexia.

CReSTeD The Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils offers information on schools specialising in supporting children with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD). Includes a

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Above, a school equipped with specialist resources can transform a child’s development

“You have to celebrate their different way of thinking,” agrees another mother, Fran Lambert, whose dyslexic son has just been awarded a sixth-form academic scholarship. “Dyslexia’s not a disability, it’s a different way of learning and it just takes them longer to learn the same things but once they’ve got it, it’s in their long-term memory forever.” SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT 35

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The knowledge that suits every pupil Charlotte Knox-Williams, senior SEN teacher at Portland Place, London, talks about Thinking Differently Week, which fosters an individual approach to learning


ach year we invite pupils, parents, and staff to participate in Thinking Differently Week, which aims to explore individual approaches to learning and raise awareness about Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). This year. we focused on how the changing structures of brains could help us understand individual approaches to thinking and learning. Our whole school “learning objectives” were simple: to understand some of the areas and functions of the brain, to understand that everyone starts life with a unique brain and that our brains are always changing. Thinking Differently Week is guided each year by the ideas of pupils: activities range from film screenings to cake sales, picture quizzes and Just a Minute-style competitions to poster designing and song writing. The week aims to connect, even briefly, with every pupil at school through these activities, which are woven into every lesson. For example, in Year Seven science, pupils learnt about electrical circuits by “being” amps and components, devising rules for moving around and carrying volts to one another. This approach engaged the pupils kinaesthetically, as well as revealing a practical means of investigating why certain circuits behave as they do. In English, children were armed with an array of objects, blindfolds and rubber gloves, to reduce the amount of sensory information that their brains were processing in order to make fresh discoveries about the items. The pupils approached each object by isolating their

Above, Charlotte Knox-Williams Right, with pupils at Portland Place School, London

auditory, haptic and visual experiences in turn, recording their ideas in words on tags. Each pupil then chose one object and used the different sensory ideas connected to it to shape a short piece of descriptive writing. Exactly how the Great War started is a topic made up of complex, patterns of alliance and enmity. The week saw pupils tackle it by adopting a symbolic costume aligned to a country. Wearing hats, cloaks or wielding props, pupils explored the concepts of alliance and opposition through postures and gestures. Groups then received telegrams informing them of unfolding events and pupils deduced how they should respond to it, with the news of Franz Ferdinand’s assassination sparking a reaction of movements and counter-movements.

❝ We focused on how the changing structures of

brains could help us understand individual approaches to thinking and learning ❞

Pupils were invited to make posters and a short film about their views on “thinking differently”. According to them it has the following definitions: “finding different ways to learn”, “learning that suits every pupil” and “when you have fun!”. It is vital that learners with SpLDs understand that they are capable of achieving their aspirations. With this in mind, we invite professionals who have excelled in their field, and who themselves have SpLD, to speak to pupils about their career progression. We were pleased to work with Dr Kate Hammer of KILN, which helps companies apply creative problem solving to commercial challenges. Led by Dr Hammer, Year 10 pupils used concrete, sensory approaches and processes to probe how inclusion works at the school. They worked in groups to design questions, challenge conceptions and envision future developments. The Week has evolved and always strives to enable more creative approaches to teaching and learning.


A mother’s story

Learning to live with dyslexia sarah Brinton is convinced that sending her dyslexic son to a specialist prep propelled him back into mainstream education, where he’s now taking his GCSEs


hen I was at school, we used to just call them thick” said my mother, when I told her Charlie had been diagnosed as dyslexic, with some dyspraxia and mild ADHD thrown in for good measure. Thus my first experience of sharing, just after his seventh birthday, that my

elder son had a specific learning difficulty, was met with less sympathy and understanding than I had hoped. My father was more helpful with: “well, now we know what it is we can do something about it”. My mother could not have been more wrong – even though she simply put voice to the thoughts I could see passing

across the faces of family and friends when I told them that Charlie was dyslexic. I discovered that those who don’t have a child with dyslexia joined the dots to create a picture so distorted they had no idea what they might be looking at. I was made to feel like it was something shameful, to be feared, and avoided in conversation.

Left and top right, Charlie’s mainstream school lets him show off his talent for practical problem solving, right, moon hall


Like many parents encountering dyslexia for the first time I had no idea what I was dealing with. Knowledge of some famously successful dyslexics – including Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and even Einstein – was cold comfort. If Charlie couldn’t read, school would be an Everest to climb – how could he possibly cope with 10-plus years of learning? What sort of job would be his fate?

Time for change I had originally suspected all was not quite as it should be when Charlie was five years old and bringing his school reading book home. I would spell out “red”, turn the page – and Charlie could not read it. At first I thought: “he’s a boy, they don’t like reading, he’s not paying attention” but over time my concern increased and when I raised it with his teacher I was told: “we don’t like to put labels on children”. Not wanting to be an awkward parent I accepted her greater experience and suggestion that it may be developmental – even though my instincts were hammering alerts incessantly. We struggled on through Year One but by Year Two, when my maternal anxieties were at fever pitch, Dad suggested that Charlie should change schools – if his current school wouldn’t help him, he reasoned, I should find one that would. I tried two preps, the first mentioned dyslexia and gave me the name of a superb dyslexic school (Moon Hall in Holmbury St Mary) which miraculously happens to be less than two miles from our house in rural Surrey – and a fantastic educational psychologist. I dismissed their advice thinking it was a polite way of saying Charlie was simply not academic enough for their selective criteria. When the second school also broached dyslexia, I knew I had a problem, or rather a solution. I was determined to secure the best support I could for Charlie. If he had trouble learning, I was going to do everything in my power to ease that situation by putting him in the best school possible. My dyslexic peg, I came to realise,

would never fit in the educational round hole – so I would find schools willing to take more individually shaped pegs and support their way of learning.

Support network It is testament to the support Charlie received from Moon Hall that he has been in mainstream education since Year Six, and is now taking his GCSEs at at a senior school in Scotland. I had never intended for Charlie to board, and definitely not so far away, but thanks to the early support he received in Years Three to Six and the progress he made, I was able to choose a senior school that draws out and enhances his strengths and talents. This early support gave us the most comforting gift – confidence. I am convinced that I have been assisted by the schools I have chosen along the way, especially Moon Hall. Being with a group of 40 or so other parents – it is a very small school – made an enormous difference to

❝ Being the mother of

a dyslexic child has been the most rewarding, frustrating and frightening experience of my life ❞ me. And knowing that Charlie was not alone with his difficulties, plus learning that other families’ experiences correlated with my own, helped me keep all of the challenges that we faced in perspective. Because raising a dyslexic child is a challenge. Being the mother of a dyslexic child has been both the most rewarding, frustrating and frightening experience of my life. Frustrating in that trying to encourage a son who would, in the normal course of events, prefer to walk the 600 miles from our home to his senior school rather than open a book, irrespective of it being for learning or pleasure; frightening because we parents know how hard it is to secure employment, even with the ability to read and write fluently. Rewarding? Absolutely. Charlie’s character: tolerant, kind, patient, generous; his talent for practical problem solving (construction of varied household items, fitting a tent back in it’s bag, map reading – we don’t have a Sat Nav), and just “being Charlie” is all formed from his dyslexia. I would not change one hair on his head. SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT 39

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Under pRessuRe The demands of modern life prompted Brigid Schulte to come up with a blueprint for a better way of coping, says Giulia Rhodes


ith two school-aged children, a stressful job, domestically relaxed husband and demanding cat, Brigid Schulte was not just busy, she was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Like many other “hair-on-fire women”, she would bake for the school cake sale at 2am, sneakily check her Blackberry on school trips, dash late into meetings, catch up on work in the small hours and constantly scan her mental to-do list as she ferried children to sports matches or dashed off yet another overdue email. On one occasion, in the midst of her “everydayathon”, she received an email from her husband, a fellow journalist, who was working in Afghanistan. The accompanying picture showed him in filthy clothes, drinking a cup of watery coffee outside the metal box in which he slept. “My reaction shocked me: I was jealous,” says Schulte. Of course, she was worried about his safety and she missed him, but most of all, she admits to feeling envious of his being able to concentrate on one thing while at home she was juggling work deadlines, overflowing laundry, children’s stomach aches and empty food cupboards.


❝ The biggest lesson of the The realisation that this couldn’t be right, that living this frenetic existence was doing her, her children and her marriage no good, led to a book entitled Overwhelmed, now published in the UK after attracting much interest in Schulte’s home country of America. It also led to a blueprint of sorts for the kind of life Schulte actually wanted to be leading – a busy one still, but one in which she had time to appreciate the things which matter and berated herself less about those which don’t. The busy mother – who can actually grab a moment to read this book – will find herself exclaiming aloud in recognition. Yes, perhaps the number of plates Schulte kept spinning was higher than average, but most will recognise her desperate efforts to conquer the to-do list. The biggest lesson of Schulte’s book is that it has no end, so you can stop trying to get there. “This is how it feels to live my life: scattered, fragmented and exhausted. I am always doing more than one thing at a time and feel I never do any one particularly well,” explains Schulte at the start of her research. She gives her situation a name – The Overwhelm – and sets about consulting a huge number of psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, time management experts – and of course a host of mothers – in her efforts to tackle it.

book is that the to-do list has no end, so stop trying to get there ❞

Many things that Schulte learns are blindingly obvious but utterly liberating

tells them. “When I looked up again, the sky was dark, the yard still covered in weeds, and I was alone. I have often thought back to that moment with such regret,” she says. Schulte, like most of the other mothers she consults (even those who do not work outside the home) are facing role overload. Yet not only is she trying to be mother, wife, worker, homemaker and more – she sees that she is also

trying to do them to an impossibly high imagined standard. Researchers have found repeatedly that women, mothers in particular, feel more time pressured than any other group. Their day is most fragmented and their multi-tasking most extreme. They also feel more guilt and disappointment about what they achieve in their time than anyone else. And, they are the least likely of any group to offset stress with proper relaxation. While Schulte lives and works in America, a country which supports

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Inspirational journey The journey is an interesting one, her research enlightening and sometimes inspirational. Many of the things she learns are both blindingly obvious and utterly liberating. Your kitchen floor doesn’t need to be clean enough to perform heart surgery on; entertaining should be more about the welcome and the company than showy food (spaghetti with ketchup, and a nice candle on the table is more than adequate for one group of family friends she meets in Denmark); everyone, mothers included, needs time for leisure (and may need to remind themselves what that is). Most importantly, perhaps, she is reminded that time will not wait, a moment gone is a moment gone. On one occasion she recalls her children calling her over to join them bouncing “in sheer delight” on the trampoline. She will do, just as soon as she has finished weeding the gravel, she 42 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL ParENT SUMMER 2014

working mothers significantly less than the UK, many of her experiences ring true with British mothers.

Work versus play Eleanor, a mother of three from London, and a marketing consultant, swapped a permanent position for self-employment when her youngest child started prep school last year. “I wanted to be around more after school, and I am, but there are always emails pinging in which I

need to answer. The children get upset when I’m distracted by work. School pick-up time always seems to be when I’m in the middle of something productive and scheduling meetings is a logistical nightmare,” she says. According to Diane Houston, professor of psychology at the University of Kent, the role overload felt by Schulte and by Eleanor is common. In the UK, some of this is actually a result of the huge, and very welcome, advances that have been made in giving women more

You need to take care of yourself so that you can support your children

than a straightforward choice between motherhood and career, and in involving fathers more in parenting. “It is a positive thing that we have that flexibility – with greater opportunities for part-time work, better maternity packages and shared parenting – but it does create role demand. Men seem better able to make do than women, who can find it impossible to pass on some of the responsibilities and concentrate on what might be seen as ‘business critical’,” says Diane. “Good-enough parenting has been swallowed by the pressure to attack it in the same way as a degree or a career. Women can run themselves ragged trying to do it perfectly. Not disappointing your children is important, the cakes being from a shop rather than homemade is perhaps not.” Time for yourself is crucial, she insists. “It’s like the airline rule of fitting your own oxygen mask first. You need to take care of yourself so you are there to support your children.” Nowadays, Schulte makes time to read, run and canoe – using time freed up by a fairer division of labour at home (and more trust in their ability). She sets realistic expectations, starting each day with whatever is genuinely most pressing and devoting no more than five per cent of her time and energy to the least important. She reminds herself not to miss out on those trampoline moments. Her week consists of 168 hours, as always, but “time feels better,” she concludes. Any mother who would like to share Schulte’s quest for “time serenity” should put the reading of this book on her to-do list. Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time by Brigid Schulte (Bloomsbury, £12.99)

LONDON IS OUR CAMPUS Release your career potential with a degree from the University of Westminster

Riding For children passionate about horses, a school offering riding as part of its curriculum is the best of both worlds, says Thalia Thompson


East Sussex a new stable yard, paddock and indoor sand school have opened recently. At Sidcot School in Somerset, pupils have been keeping horses for over 20 years and horses have been on site since the school was established in 1699. All these schools welcome beginners as well as experienced riders. Pupils can bring their own horse, can loan or “adopt” a school horse or simply try the sport out with a series of riding lessons.

Courses for horses For some students, a passion for horses can turn into a career, and riding can be part of a school’s formal curriculum. It can be a module for GCSE or A-level sport, and many schools also offer Pony Club or British Horse Society qualifications. At Stonar there’s a specific rider development programme,


Clockwise from top left, Stonar in Wiltshire, Millfield in Somerset, outdoor arena at Stonar, pupils celebrating and looking after their horses at Sidcot, Somerset

which can include up to three lessons per week within the school curriculum. And at Millfied, committed competition riders can drop a subject in Year Nine or take a sixth-form option for the British Horse Society Assistant Instructor exam, an internationally recognised professional qualification which carries its own UCAS points and can also lead to useful gap year opportunities. Even for those not planning an equestrian career, riding teaches valuable life lessons. The enjoyment many young people gain from riding motivates them to learn to manage their time to fit it in with their academic studies. Mayfield is proud of its academic reputation. “We do have a strong ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos,” says Jill Barker, director of riding. “Right from Year Seven, the deal is they can ride as much

getty images


or a teenager who loves riding, a school with a stable full of horses or the opportunity to bring their own pony to school with them, could sound like the perfect place to study. Riding is good for children, too. It’s a fantastic form of exercise, requiring flexibility, balance and coordination, to say nothing of the physical demands of grooming and mucking out. Learning to ride and take care of a horse also teaches young people patience, responsibility and determination. And following on from the British equestrian team’s success in the 2012 Olympics, there’s greater interest in riding as a serious sport, not just an enjoyable hobby. There are independent schools that can cater to your child’s passion for horses without compromising on academic standards. And the facilities on offer are top class. At Millfield school in Somerset, there’s stabling for 53 horses and the outstanding facilities include a polo pitch and a whole team of coaches, trainers and stable staff. Stonar school in Wiltshire has stabling for 65 horses and riding has been a core feature of the school for decades. At Mayfield in


❝ During the stressful teenage years

a horse can be a much-loved, quiet and non-judgemental friend ❞

tend to be the pupils who are the busiest. If they’ve got a horse at school and they have to be down at the stables before breakfast to look after it, it instils a sense of responsibility and discipline that equips them well for life.”

Working together

as they can keep up with their studies, so they learn to manage their time. I’ve had girls getting into vet school while eventing two horses all the way through their A levels.” Carrie Rolls, marketing manager at Stonar School in Wiltshire, agrees, noting that “riders

Of course, the academic and riding staff at a school need to work together to support children in learning these skills. Riding can be fitted in throughout the day – from first thing in the morning to lunchtime to free periods as well as after school and at weekends. Students who bring their own horse to school can often use livery services to help with the day-to-day care of their horse – for example, at Millfield all the horses are in full livery, while at Mayfield the school takes care of the horses in the morning with the pupils taking on the responsibility in the evenings and weekends. Riding at senior school isn’t only for those children who’ve been riding ponies almost

since they learnt to walk. Many pupils take their first ever horse riding lessons on the schools’ horses and learning to control and take care of such a powerful animal can bring about a tremendous sense of achievement. And there are competitions to enter at every level of riding. “It’s a lovely atmosphere here, anyone can compete,” says Jane Keep, stable manager at Sidcot School. “We’ve got kids going out jumping one-foot classes. It’s fantastic for building confidence – and it gives them confidence in other spheres of their life, too.” There’s often a strong emotional bond between a horse and its rider and during the sometimes stressful teenage years a horse can be a much-loved, quiet and non-judgemental friend. “It’s brilliant for the pupils, especially the boarders” continues Jane Keep, at Sidcot. “They come here and they can forget school for an hour or so.” Danny Anholt, director of riding at Millfield, agrees. “We’re so fortunate because our facilities are right in the middle of the campus at Millfield. Pupils can pop down in morning break or even passing between lessons and sort of pat their horse on the way through, so they have a real connection with their horse. They feel they have their little piece of home with them at school.”

Top 10 Gap Years u r car e er

o y t r a t s to kick

Taking time out between school and university can have a positive impact on future job prospects – as long as you plan wisely. Here UCAS shares its pick of the most valuable gap years

1. Teaching in the UK or Abroad This has to be one of the most valuable ways to spend your gap year – you gain professional teacher training experience, it can help you learn another language and culture, and (in most cases) you’ll be paid a wage. Some far-flung destinations are in such need of English teachers they will also throw in flights and accommodation as part of the package. For more information on teacher training in the UK go to how-it-all-works/teacher-training


2. Become an Au Pair

There’s no pretending that becoming an au pair for a year isn’t hard work, but it can also be extremely rewarding and is a great experience for those wishing to work with children, in the community or as teachers. Online agencies, like Au Pair World, will sign you up for free and allow you to create a profile from which prospective families can choose you or vice versa. To find out more visit


3. Do a Ski Season

Being a chalet maid or ski instructor takes dedication, organisation and hard work to pull it off. But before we put you off, just remember you’ll be getting some quality slope time and you can show prospective employers how well you cope under pressure. Take a look at

4. Volunteer in an Orphanage You can sign up for trips to teach in orphanages through companies like The Unique Travel Company, to be a drop-in volunteer or to work with traumatised children in certain circumstances. These types of experiences help develop your own language and social skills, and are particularly useful if you are interested in a role working with children, or vulnerable children, in your future career. Visit

5. Helping with Wildlife Conservation There are lots of companies who offer young soul-searchers the chance to while away the hours in a sun-drenched location and also offer help to the animal kingdom. I-to-I is one such group who can organise turtle or monkey conservation in South America and for the Indian subcontinent. For more information go to

6. Apply for Work Experience or Internships Abroad This is probably most useful for those aspiring journalists out there who should know that finding a way into this industry can be tough. Internships provide invaluable experience and are a means to help you make up your mind about your career path. If you’re interested in print or broadcast journalism such as newspapers, magazines, radio or TV, Projects Abroad is the place to start. They also have other volunteering projects that might interest you. Visit

7. Building Projects in Underprivileged or Third World Countries Not only does this opportunity mean you can feel good about your year out (and your parents won’t have a bad word to say about it) but prospective employers will be impressed at the commitment you gave to a charitable cause. Organisations, such as Real Gap Experience, can put you in touch with groups who make these kinds of trips and, for a fee, will often arrange your accommodation as part of the trip. Visit


With the cost of university greater than ever and skills based training more highly valued than ever before, students are looking for alternatives to uni which offer real career prospects, or Gap Year opportunities which, whilst fun, are also actually useful from an educational and employment point of view, teaching a valuable life skill. A career in food is, more than ever, an exciting and realistic option for those seeking alternative training options! So, what better way to spend a year out than learning a skill that will be with you for life and offer real employment prospects wherever you go? Something students are always told on graduation day at Tante Marie is that whatever happens economically, everyone will always have to eat! This means that there will always be a demand for people who can cook! Graduates from Tante Marie’s courses have spent their Gap Year doing an amazing range of activities, from running their own ski chalets to cooking on yachts in the Caribbean, from travelling around Australia and never being out of work, to even teaching cookery in South American schools! Of course the added bonus of doing a cookery course is that, as a student, you can go to university without having to worry about living off baked beans on toast for three years! Being able to invite friends over for ‘your famous Sunday lunch' is guaranteed to ensure your popularity and fame across campus, and your skills will make you highly employable during the holiday periods, being able to cook amazing food on private yachts and holiday villas throughout Europe!

In 2010 Tante Marie teamed up with the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality, creating the Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts which is now being offered at independent cookery schools around the world. Tante Marie literally sets the standards which other cookery schools aspire to and graduates from Tante Marie Culinary Academy are now running successful food businesses around the world, ranging from Michelin starred restaurants to some of the world’s world top events design companies, food styling business and even enjoying careers in food journalism! A cookery course does not have to take up your entire year out, but look on it as an investment which will pay off, as you earn money during the rest of the year, on the back of your new found skills.

Whether you are looking for an alternative to university with a view to enjoying an exciting career in food, or simply looking for an inspirational Gap Year course to set you up for an exciting year out, Tante Marie Culinary Academy is the perfect launchpad for your culinary journey. For extensive details on all courses, please visit the website where you can also download the latest prospectus and view details of the Academy’s exciting move into new, state-of-the-art premises in spring 2015, including a new training restaurant and hospitality management qualification!


❝ A gap year shows employers that the candidate

has experience of other cultures and languages, plus budgeting funds and planning trips ❞

above, students can go abroad in order to experience children’s sports coaching in a different culture

8. Summer Camp Work

Every year, thousands of American children head off to summer camps around the USA and if you can get on board and be a team leader at one of these – or camps in Canada, New Zealand or Australia with Bunac – then you’re sure to gain a good reference and some great travel stories to boot. Visit and

9. Take your Sports Coaching Abroad

10. Try a Bursary Funded Experience

Frontier offers students the opportunity to go abroad and coach children’s sports in different parts of the world. You’ll have the privilege to see how children gain confidence and learn the importance of teamwork by playing sports. There are coaching opportunities in Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Fiji, Malaysia, South Africa and more. For further information go to

Organisations such as Raleigh International can help with funding if your trip is socio-orientated or economically responsible. Their website has plenty of options for getting involved in helping third world countries or building projects in places like India. You’ll have to raise some money to help fund it – but a few weeks of work could be all you need. Visit


Bromsgrove School

Worcester Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B61 7DU T: 01527 579679 W: Head Teacher: Chris Edwards MA (Oxon) Headmaster from September 2014: Mr Peter Clague Admissions: Rachel Scannell E:

Key facts

Gender / Ages: boys and girls, 3-18 years Total pupils: 1615, boys 910, girls 705 Type: Day, Weekly Boarding and Full Boarding Fees: Pre-Prep: Day from £2,200 – £2,600 Prep: Day from £3,375 - £4,385, Weekly Boarding from £4,990 - £6,040, Full Boarding from £6,845 – £8,440 per term Senior: Day £6,915, Weekly Boarding £4,845, Full Boarding £10,395 per term Typical class size: Prep – 20, Senior – 16, Sixth Form – 2-12 Faith: Anglican Motto: Deo Regi Vicino (God, King and Neighbour) Entrance procedure: Entrance Test and Interview

School Philosophy: Ancient but as contemporary as tomorrow, Bromsgrove’s scope is staggering: from A level to the International Baccalaureate, day to boarding, the arts to sport, pupils can soar. Utterly dedicated to the individual pupil, despite its size, Bromsgrove shuns public school drones and instead looks to produce creative citizens with a strong moral compass and a dash of pizzazz to boot. The Good Schools Guide says that Bromsgrove “inhabits the academic stratosphere” and lauds our titanic extra curricular programme as one of the finest it has seen, while the Tatler’s Good School Guide called us a “Great school with a fantastically global perspective”. Friendly, engaging and – despite its ranking - not driven by league tables, Bromsgrove is a local, national and international centre of learning.

A specialist creative multi-arts institution Art Business Communication Design Fashion & Textiles

Film & Television Music & Theatre Arts Photography Writing & Journalism 01326 213730


Academic Record: Bromsgrove achieves outstanding results at both A level and IB Diploma. Over 98% of Sixth Form leavers continue to world class universities with the majority going to the Russell Group of Research universities. Extra-curricular: The Extra-curricular life of the School is hugely important with activities sessions every afternoon and on Saturday mornings. Pupils are encouraged to reach their highest possible level at sport, music, drama, debating, CCF and in numerous other areas. Notable Achievements and Alumni: Alumni include: Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham, A E Housman, Poet. Lucilla Wright England Hockey team Olympics and Commonwealth games. Olivia Safe Opera singer. Andy Goode England Rugby. Ben Foden England Rugby. Open Days: 11+ & 13+ Saturday 13th September Prep School (Years 3 – 6) Saturday 11th October Sixth Form Saturday 8th November


PAY IT FORWARD Students at The Perse Upper, Cambridge, have been spreading spring cheer with a campaign based on doing things for others


Acts of kindness included picking up litter, baking cakes and walking dogs

Cambridge Half Marathon and donating his fee to Cancer Research; Athene Robertson picking up litter in the countryside; Ferdie Bullmore giving food to Jimmy’s Night Shelter; Millie Reynolds making soup for her granny in hospital; Alex Rand baking a cake for his form; and Joseph Tidy leaving flowers on a neighbour’s doorstep. Other students carried shopping, walked dogs and washed dishes. The initiative was organised by head of Year Seven Dani Creese and head of

This spring more than 200 students have taken part in the Random Acts of Kindness Campaign ❞ ❝

Year Eight, Emma Cope, who said: “We hear all the time about social media facilitating negative peer pressure, but the RAK relay shows it can also help young people organise themselves, and each other, to do good. The students really enjoyed making and watching the films and nominating their classmates. They’ve learnt that no matter how busy they are, there is always time to be kind.” The school runs regular “random acts of kindness weeks” but this is the first time it has used social media to facilitate the fun. Film clips of the acts were posted on schoology – a school social networking site – and students encouraged each other by liking their favourites and posting comments.


aluing one another is a key aspect of education at The Perse School, Cambridge. This could be seen in the RAK, or Random Acts of Kindness, campaign that students embarked on this spring. The campaign involved over 200 students setting up a “RAK relay” filming themselves doing something nice, posting it online and then nominating two of their peers to pick up the baton. Their Random Acts of Kindness spread not only throughout the school but into the local community. More than 200 students from age 11 to 13 have taken part over the past few months and children have begun running out of people to nominate. Some of the most impressive kind acts include Sasha Karabasova repainting a pirate ship for a local playground; musician Tom Roddis performing at the


YOUNGTHINGS Up-and-coming stars from the independent school sector, by Ebba Jacobsson

Jamie Sparks, 22

Atlantic Rower HARROW SCHOOL, MIDDLESEX Jamie Sparks and rowing partner, Luke Birch, rowed for 54 days, five hours and 56 minutes and over 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic in 2013 for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They came fifth overall, second in the pairs’ race and set a new world record as the youngest pair to row the Atlantic. They battled 30 knot winds, had only 80 minutes sleep at any one time, lost over 12kg each – despite eating over 6,000 calories every day – and have raised over £310,000 for

Davina Combre, 27

Breast Cancer Care, the greatest amount from a single challenge in its history.

Jewellery Designer TUDOR HALL, OXFORDSHIRE What started as a hobby for Davina soon developed into a small jewellery business. After graduating, she worked

Morven Stewart , 23

with a number of renowned designers


before setting up Davina Combe


contemporary jewellery using gold

Morven runs an Open Studio in

vermeil, silver and semi-precious stones

Perthshire and is a self-employed

and her pendant earrings were recently

artist. “The help I received from Aileen

adopted by Pippa Middleton, sending

Neilson at school was invaluable, she

her straight to fame. In March 2013,

allowed me to work in my own style

Davina teamed up with Ovarian Cancer

and gave me own studio space,” says

Action and created a limited edition

Morven. “Much to my housemistress’

pair of earrings with 15% of the sale of

horror, my kilt and shirt were always

each pair being donated to the charity.

Jewellery. She creates elegant,

covered in paint!” She then studied at Gray’s School of Art and Bridge House Art, Ullapool and had a solo exhibition in Newton Dee Gallery, Aberdeen. 54 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT SUMMER 2014

School’S out

Sophie Glover, 21


St JameS Senior GirlS’ School, london Sophie is an artist in her final year at University College of Falmouth, and has already established herself as a fine artist drawer. Sophie primarily focuses on drawing leading to her work being commissioned as illustrations. In 2012 she Sophie illustrated The Queen’s Beasts, a children’s book written by Sophie Bristow. She has also made illustrations for many companies including Berry Bros. & Rudd, Caroline

Ben Hanlin, 28

Gardner, The Berkeley Hotel and


Claridge’s Hotel. Sophie maintains that

WarWick School, WarWickShire

individualistic teaching of art at school

Ben is the star of itV2’s Tricked, a six-part series that aired in

set her in incredibly good stead.

the encouraging atmosphere and the

autumn 2013. Ben hosts the show, tricking unsuspecting members of the public and shocking celebrities with his own special brand of hidden camera magic! in the summer of 2012 Ben started presenting alongside hacker, dodge and the gang on cBBc, where he displayed his magic skills. over the last 10 years he has been performing hand magic and stage magic at events all over the uk for audiences from two to 2,000.

Jonathan Bailey, 25


maGdalen colleGe School, oxford Jonathan is best known for the ITV drama

Broadchurch, the Channel 4 comedy Campus and the BBC’s Leonardo, but is also renowned for his work in theatre, most notably for his part of Cassio in the National Theatre’s Othello. Jonathan first knew he wanted to become an actor after he saw Oliver! Rex

on stage aged five. He’s just finished filming an episode of Doctor Who.

For more information visit...


Ge t ! e v i act

Forget the fly-and-flop – it’s time to get adventurous. Combine an idyllic location with a fun-filled family holiday that you’ll treasure forever. Independent School Parent selects six of the best




The Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa, Marrakech, offers the best of both worlds – it’s just 10 minutes from the buzzing Medina for fun in the souks and is the height of luxury for adult pampering. Set in the exclusive Palmerie area – known as the Mayfair of Marrakech – this private boutique hotel has five acres of gardens for children to roam in and a large outdoor pool for a splash around in the sun. You can combine a family camel adventure through the lush Palmerie with a guided tour of the labyrinth of souks – where teens can spot monkeys, snakes and chameleons – and learn the art of haggling for trinkets. As the kids play safely in the grounds, you can steal a few moments and get a traditional hammam with a treatment for two in the spa. And there’s even a complimentary babysitter if you’d rather the children were supervised. Enjoy the Maroliano restaurant with its fusion of Italian and Moroccan flavours, after which you can relax in one of the hotel’s six large private Pavilions, reached along pathways winding deep through the garden. ● “The Best of Both Worlds” at Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa costs from €2,085 (about £1,700) based on a three-night stay for a family of four, including a three-course lunch at La Pergola or dinner at Maroliano each day (excluding drinks), a one hour camel ride and spa treatment for two. Call +212 (0) 524 329 988 or visit

Above, the beautiful Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa Right, take a camel ride through the desert


fOrEST HOLIDayS Escape to the heart of beautiful woodlands in a luxury cabin with Forest Holidays. There’s a choice of nine idyllic destinations across the UK: Forest of Dean, Sherwood Forest, Blackwood in Hampshire, Deerpark in Cornwall, Keldy and Cropton in North Yorkshire plus Argyll and Strathyre in Scotland, and the latest addition – which opened this May – in Thorpe Forest, Norfolk, on the banks of the River Thet. There are Forest Ranger-led activities, such as cycle hire, archery and various sporting pursuits, as well as outdoor adventures ranging from pony trekking to canoeing – and even big tree climbing! But if you want to simply relax and take in the wonderful surroundings you can unwind in the outdoor hot tub, enjoy spa treatments or hire a private chef for a special dining experience in your cabin at Blackwood, Sherwood and Thorpe locations.

right, after a day of canoeing or big tree climbing, you and your family can relax in a luxury cabin

The stylish cabins sleep from two to 10 people and come in a range of designs, from great value to top luxury – like the Golden Oak Treehouses. l A mid-week stay in a Silver cabin at Thorpe Forest costs from £625, based on July 2014. Visit


above, riviera Maya is known for its luxurious hotels like Barceló Maya Beach resort right, help protect baby turtles in Mexico


Try something different – Barceló Maya Beach Resort is inviting families to become tiny turtle lifesavers this summer, allowing you to play an integral part in local conservation efforts to protect the endangered sea turtles of the Riviera Maya region, in Mexico. Take part in the hatchlings’ first journey to the sea between June and September. These baby turtles will return to the same patch of beach to, in turn, lay their own eggs. Barceló Maya Beach Resort is located in tropical gardens overlooking the white sands of the Riviera Maya.

Unwind in the U-Spa with Mayan steam bath or try sports at the Barcy Club and family excursions, to discover the sights and culture of the surrounding region. l Seven nights all-inclusive (for two adults and two children) in a superior room at the Barceló Maya Tropical hotel costs from £1,315 per person, including return flights from London Gatwick and airport transfer with Virgin Holidays. Visit virginholidays. or call 0844 557 3859.


A cruise on a traditional Hotel Barge is arguably the best way to relax and enjoy life. Perfect for couples, families or groups of friends, you can cruise through the very soul of France, as you enjoy the peace and quiet. Experience life from a truly unique perspective, on a new range of products: a fleet of Hotel Barges that will cruise the regions of Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy, Provence, Champagne and the canal Saint-Martin in Paris. 2014 Departures: May 26th - June 19th and 27th - July 4th, 7th and 25th September 29th Last remaining cabins at reduced rate from £ 1, 267 Other departure dates available on request for full charter

· A NEW fleet of canal barges to cruise the regions of Provence, Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace · 12 cabins per barge, all with ensuite bathrooms; 6 crew at your service · A pleasant setting with a Jacuzzi and bicycles on board · Gourmet French food and wines, drinks and excursions included

London Call Centre: Tel +44 (0) 208 3 281 281 - Email:


We love…

Above, the wild beauty of the Masai Mara in Kenya Below, the Giraffe Manor on the outskirts of Nairobi

Kodomo is a great website devoted to luxury travel with kids, giving you the low-down on family-friendly destinations across the globe with personal tips and essential info. Visit

GET INTO THE WILD ON SAFARI Abercrombie & Kent has been creating incredible travel experiences for over 53 years – its fabulous safaris suit families with children of all ages, with familyfriendly lodges and tours. Experience the Masai Mara and spot the “Big Five” in Kenya, watch the great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti on a trip to Tanzania, embark on a canoe trip on the Zambezi, take a walking safari in Zambia, or put your bush skills to the test in Botswana. The Eastern Cape, South Africa, offers an alternative (and malaria free) game viewing trip. The Family Kenya tour starts with a stay at Giraffe Manor on the outskirts of Nairobi where guests get to breakfast (quite literally!) with giraffes, before visiting the rescued elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Spend a couple of days in the wilderness at Ol Pejeta Conservancy before heading to the Masai Mara. A stay at Sanctuary

Olonana lets guests spot the Big Five as well as gaining a glimpse of the day-today lives of the Massai people. The dedicated family programme includes identifying animal tracks and bush skills. ● A nine day Family Kenya Tour costs from £4,440 per adult and £2,549 per child based on a family of four, including all flights. Visit SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT 61



GREECE & THE CARIBBEAN • Bareboat Charter • Skippered Charter • Assisted Sailing • RYA training courses • Yacht ownership schemes Book now special summer rates

• We are family run • All yachts are in excellent condition • Yachts from 30 to 56 ft • Dinghy & Outboard included • Go sailing on the day of arrival • Wifi available on board • Why not Indulge yourselves on a luxury Skippered charter

S ail

St. Vincent & The










ice adv e rt 1 9 8 6 e xp e c n si











Columbia Beach Resort ***** Superior

Set on the wide sandy beach of Pissouri Bay, this attractive resort is perfect for families. The 94 spacious suites surround an 80 metre outdoor swimming pool and flower-filled gardens. There are two restaurants, several bars and the state-of-the-art spa is one of the best on the island. A full range of water sports are available from the mile-long Blue Flag beach. 7 night price from£4,485 for a family of four including free half board for summer holidays (until 31 October)



Prices include flights, car hire or transfers, accommodation with breakfast, Kirker Guide Notes to restaurants, museums and sightseeing and the services of the Kirker Concierge. Family prices are based on 2 adults and 2 children under 12.







Kirker Holidays provides carefully crafted tailor-made holidays to over 140 destinations in 40 countries - including 70 classic cities and over 250 relaxing rural locations throughout Europe & beyond. We also specialise in tailor-made family holidays perfect for half-term short breaks - itineraries include private airport transfers, carefully selected family friendly hotels and expert local guides to ensure all members of the party get the most out of the experience. For all our holidays the Kirker Concierge can help to arrange excursions, concert and gallery tickets, and private guided tours, and reserve a table for a delicious family dinner at a recommended restaurant.


Grand Elba *****


This relaxing resort hotel overlooks the sandy beach at Arena, close to Estepona and just an hour from Malaga. Bedrooms are spacious, there are plenty of interconnecting options and many have balconies overlooking the sea. There are four restaurants an exceptional spa and indoor, outdoor and children’s pools. 7 night price from£3,175 for a family of four for bookings made at least 30 days prior to departure, saving £240

Speak to an expert or request a brochure: 62 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PARENT SUMMER 2014

Borgo Scopeto Relais **** Superior

Overlooking the city of Siena, this is the perfect place to enjoy Tuscany and all 58 bedrooms offer spectacular views of the rolling countryside. In the grounds of the hotel are two outdoor swimming pools, two tennis courts and a small wellness centre, whilst the surrounding countryside is perfect for exploring by bike or on foot. The restaurant serves local cuisine with olive oil from their own estate, and tours of the winery can be arranged. 7 nights for the price of 6 until 28 September - price from £4,595 for a family of four, saving £480

020 7593 2283 Please quote code XIS


E! SAnV a second

50% o r families room fo gust… in Au

TAKE A TRIP BACK IN TIME IN PARIS Set on the Place des Vosges in the heart of the Marais, Paris’ oldest quartier, Pavillon de la Reine has the feeling of a private home rather than a hotel. Totally safe and wonderfully quiet, the hotel dates back to the 17th century and is covered in greenery. Hidden away from the galleries and cafés by a private courtyard, awash with roses, it’s a true haven in the capital. There are interconnecting rooms for families, teens can practise their French with the local enfants in the small playground and a sandpit opposite the hotel, while some of the best museums in Paris are close by. Take a stroll down to the Seine in the sunshine, or visit the local boulangerie to buy the best ingredients for a picnic on the grassy Place des Vosges, often named one of the most beautiful squares in the world.

Right, Paris has plenty to keep teens busy, while offering a taste of luxury

● A stay in Pavillon de la Reine costs


from €495 per night, based on two adults and two children in August 2014, staying in two rooms, with 50% off the second room, on a B&B basis (usually from €380 per room per night). Visit

Advice from the head concierge at The Merrion Hotel; Borrow The Merrion bikes to see the city by bicycle; take a private guided family tour or recommended route.



Embrace your inner Viking at Dublinia and see what life was like on board a Viking warship.


Take a sea safari along the River Liffey and out into the bustling port and Dublin Bay, for seals and porpoises.

Above, Vancouver has a big-city buzz

For a true adventure, take a two-week family road trip across Alberta and British Columbia with Scott Dunn. You’ll travel through some of Canada’s most beautiful landscapes. Begin in the plains of Calgary and climb into the dramatic scenery of the Rocky Mountains, staying on the edge of Moraine Lake. Head on into cowboy country to spend a few days at a traditional working ranch. Next you’ll embark on the scenic drive across British Columbia into the Coastal Mountains, to explore Whistler for mountain biking and rafting. From here, head across to Vancouver Island and the spectacular Pacific Coast for surfing fun. For the less adventurous, go whale and


The Experience Gaelic Games offers a blend of culture, history and sport, with Gaelic football, hurling and handball. Follow us on Twitter @ISParent and go to our website for more HOLIDAY TIPS

black bear watching or discover secret hot springs and take a dip. Finally, enjoy the buzz and big-city vibe of Vancouver and enjoy cycle paths around Stanley Park and beyond. ● A tailor-made, two-week trip, based on two adults and two children sharing rooms in Vancouver and Vancouver Island, a suite in Whistler and two rooms on the ranch and at Moraine Lake costs from £17,500. B&B, all flights and transfers included. Visit











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Great expectations

psychologist, presenter, columnist and writer of the 2008 government paper Safer Children in a Digital World, said it was important for the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) to insist upon “outstanding” pastoral care across all of its independent schools. Her talk focused on the current challenges that schools, parents and children face in developing and promoting “resilient” students; ones who are able to cope independently with their aspirations and manage adversity in their school and personal lives. Further speeches included social media and gaming, the mysterious workings of the teenage brain, the value of “failing well” and methods of nurturing emotional development that are currently working in schools. But perhaps most moving was Old King’s pupil Jean-Andre Prager’s speech on his battle with cerebral palsy, sharing the struggle he faced with schools unable to

This spring King’s College School, Wimbledon, hosted a conference to discuss the pressures faced by today’s pupils. Natalie Milner finds out more


ead teachers from almost 200 leading UK independent schools attended the True Grit: Developing Emotional Resilience in Schools conference this spring, to learn how to equip their pupils with the resilience to deal with the pressures of perceived failure. It’s no secret that schoolchildren across the UK are coming under greater pressure to perform and achieve at school, and at times to the detriment of their general wellbeing. The True Grit conference came at a time of heightened awareness of external societal pressures and, more importantly, the impact they have on the self-confidence, identity and physical appearance of young people. Dealing with the normal demands of schooling is difficult enough, but with these added pressures in mind, children are increasingly worrying about being perceived as a “failure” rather than focusing on their “success”. “It is a balancing act – motivating young people but not allowing them to feel oppressed by the sheer weight of all our expectations, and indeed their own,” says Andrew Halls, head master of King’s College School. “We know they will succeed, but they are not always so sure, and this can lead to high levels of self-doubt that are, for some, crucifying.”

❝ It is a balancing

act – motivating young people, but not allowing them to feel oppressed by all of our expectations ❞ Above, girls at King’s College School, Wimbledon

“And of course the pressure to be perfect is not just an academic one: personal appearance, social groups, family background and concern about their own future in a troubled world are issues that are all too vivid for many bright and ambitious young people.” The conference brought together some of the UK’s top researchers and practitioners in the fields of pedagogy, neuroscience and adolescent psychology. Professor Tanya Byron, clinical

deal with his condition, before he was accepted at King’s. Through sheer grit and resilience Prager gained a place at Oxford University. Speaking at the conference, he shared some sage words of advice: “aim high, fall hard, get up fast”. The True Grit conference has highlighted the growing need for the independent school sector to fully recognise the pressures affecting young people today. It’s vital that schools develop sensititive and modern approaches that can be influential on both a pupil’s education and wellbeing.



Holiday reads

We round up the top books to keep kids reading this summer…

The Apple Tart of Hope By Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Geek Girl By Holly Smale

(Hardback, Orion, £10.99)

(Paperback, HarperCollins, £6.99)

The best baker in the world,

“My name is Harriet Manners and I

Oscar Dunleavy, is missing.

am a geek”. So begins the tale of the

Everyone presumes he is dead

15-year-old who is not cool or trendy,

but no one seems too surprised.

doesn’t like fashion and who is bullied

Only Meg, his best friend and his

at school. Until, that is, she is spotted

little brother Stevie are shocked.

by a talent scout, signed to a model

A story that captivates you from

agency and whisked off to Russia for

start to finish, this is the second

a fashion show. All seems well but as

novel from Fitzgerald following

soon as she gets home, there are a

her debut, Back to Blackbrick.

few problems she needs to deal with.

Half Bad By Sally Green

Eleanor & Park By Rainbow Rowell

(Hardback, Penguin, £7.99)

(Hardback, Orion, £7.99)

It’s modern-day England and witches

Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan are

live alongside humans. White witches

two misfit teenagers living in Omaha,

are good, black witches are evil and

Nebraska in the 1980s. Eleanor & Park is

16-year-old Nathan is both. Nathan’s

essentially a love story about two school

father is the world’s most powerful and

kids who fall for each other over their

cruel black witch. Trapped in a cage,

passion for comic books and mixtapes

Nathan must escape before his birthday,

on the school bus. This is a brave book,

at which point he will come into his own

which tackles some serious issues, such

as a witch – or else he will die. A gripping

as bullying, race, body image and

tale about the indomitable will to survive.

domestic abuse.





READER’S PICK Tweet us your top books and we’ll share them online...

(Paperback, Picador, £11.99) Part bard, part rapper, Kate Tempest is the first person under 40 to have won the Ted Hughes Award for Innovation in Poetry for Brand New Ancients. This is the text of her hour-long tale set to music, most aptly described as a spoken word performance. In it, Tempest’s craft as a traditional poet cleverly draws on the ancient world where she imagines that we are all gods. Simply reading Tempest’s work, however, doesn’t do it enough justice. It’s her performance of it that takes it to another level.


Divergent By Veronica Roth HarperCollins, £7.99 “Rich in imagination, a real page turner for the holidays. It’s a great gutsy read.” William, Dorset

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iscover the proven strategies and techniques that London’s leading residential property expert uses to help his clients buy their ideal homes and negotiate prices you wouldn’t think possible. Follow the simple techniques highlighted in The Prime London Property Puzzle and avoid the wasted time, money and stress suffered by the typical buyer and become the person that other people ask: “How did you buy that property before we even heard about it and how did you secure it at that price?” In the book and set of 6 CD’s you will discover: • Why the London property market is rigged against buyers • The most effective ways to find “off market” properties – See the properties that most buyers will never even know exist. • How to have your offer accepted even if it is not the highest offer • Why relying on the internet seriously affects your chances of ever finding your ideal home

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Summer reads

Take some time out and delve into our pick of the best books...



(Paperback, £8.99, Hodder & Stoughton)


Ruby Wax – comedienne, writer and mental health campaigner – shows us how our minds can jeopardise our sanity. She explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world. Here’s the manual to help you become the master, not the slave, of your mind.

Summer means one thing: time to stock up on some beach reads...

Give YourSelf Permission to Live Your Life By Priya Rana Kapoor

Inspire: The Art of Living with Nature By Willow Crossley

Paperback, £11.99,

Hardback, £16.99, CICO Books

Balboa Press

“I am flower mad with a

Pack your bags as you

passion for decorating,” says

embark on the Permission

the author Willow Crossley.

Journey™, that will equip

Featuring over 50 creative

you with the strength and

ideas to bring the garden,

courage to live your life as

seaside and countryside

your own. Brilliant!

into your home.

102 English Things To Do By Alex Quick

Verdure By Christopher Boswell

Paperback, £7.99, Old

Hardback, Frances Lincoln,

Street Publishing

£12.99, out 26 June

This beautifully designed

In 2007, the kitchen at the

tome takes an affectionate

American Academy in Rome

look at English eccentricity,

was revolutionised. This book

from tea to cheese-rolling.

came from the chefs’

Caveat: you might start

inspiring vegetable recipes,

collecting garden gnomes

with local, seasonal, organic

after you’ve read this.

and sustainable ideals.


Little Beach Street Bakery By Jenny Colgan Sphere, £7.99

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul By Deborah Rodriguez Sphere, £7.99

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules By Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg Pan Books, £7.99


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HEALTHY MINDS Jo Heywood, head of Heathfield School, Ascot, responds to reports of a “silent epidemic of anorexia sweeping through independent schools”



n common with many headteachers, I was dismayed about stories in The Times and Sunday Times this spring talking about “A silent epidemic of anorexia sweeping through the country’s top independent schools”. The stories quoted so-called experts, often speaking anonymously, who suggested that girls from aspirational families were the “fastest-growing” group using mental health services as they struggled to cope with the pressure to achieve top grades. Reading further into the story, there were claims that “top private schools are in denial about the scale of the problem because they do not want to damage their brands”. “Being high-achieving, a perfectionist and competitive are all traits that are celebrated in highly academic girls’ schools,” Susan Ringwood, of the eating disorder charity BEAT apparently told The Times. “They are also among serious risk factors contributing to an eating disorder.” There were also claims that independent schools “unlike the state sector” do not have guidelines on the pastoral and psychological care they have to provide. This claim is not only unfair but untrue, as the independent sector is overseen by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). In my experience, the ISI place just as much importance on pastoral care as academic standards. Nevertheless, the statistics speak for themselves. There is no disagreement that the most likely demographic to suffer from an eating disorder are in the 14-25 age bracket, but I believe that stereotyping girls who attend the UK’s private schools, and further singling out girls’ schools, just stereotypes not only our schools, but the social background and gender of a child affected by this serious mental illness. Girls and women are still more likely to suffer anorexia than boys but a growing number of boys do suffer. A groundbreaking study from the National Institute for Health Research last

Above, Jo Heywood, head of Heathfield School in Ascot

year found that by the age of 13, one in three girls and one in five boys were upset or distressed by their weight. One in 10 pre-teens and two-thirds of 13-year-old girls were also “worried about getting fat”. These statistics are deeply concerning. For The Times to suggest that private schools are sweeping this issue under the carpet to protect their “brand” is at best unhelpful, at worst simply symptomatic of the prejudice facing independent schools in this country. All the girls’ schools I have worked in, and have worked with, are incredibly open in tackling this complex illness and other eating disorders, both in and out of the classroom, whether that is tackling early signs of the illness to trying to tackle its root causes before it even manifests itself. It goes without saying that our pupils have access to all the appropriate medical care.

At my school, we are completely candid about discussing eating disorders and body image through our PSHE lessons and listening to speakers and we will continue to be so. We even look – where we can – to make cross-curricular links. I currently have my Form IV GCSE drama students working on plays which address eating disorders, with a view to them performing them to lower forms. We find that messages coming from peers who are just a little older can be just as powerful, if not more powerful, than simply being taught about eating disorders. I really do believe the rise in instances of this illness goes hand in hand with the growth of celebrity culture and the bombardment of so-called images of perfection through 24-seven media channels, causing self-esteem issues in our young people. You only need to look at the growing eating disorder statistics for boys to see that they too are affected by the images of perfection they see in the media and on the internet. The debate reared its head again recently when Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman said she was “bored” with the debate on skinny models and that people simply did not want to see real models on the front of Vogue. Most of us are now savvy enough to know about the world of airbrushing and the smoke and mirror effects that go into a fashion shoot. Through education at schools, I believe this message is finally getting through. In the fashion world where reputed designers like Victoria Beckham are stick thin, haute couture is made in tiny sizes and a plus size is ludicrously size 12 or above, it is little wonder that heads like me feel they should push back when our schools are blamed for the pressures causing anorexia. Now more than ever, independent schools are doing the utmost to fight the causes of these insidious disorders and the fake worlds of celebrity and showbiz, which have seen them accelerate. SUMMER 2014 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL ParENT 71

An independent, co-educational boarding and day school in Reading for students aged 11-18

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An inspiring education

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Brave war ace remembered Fergus Tremar Menendez from Wycliffe College in the Cotswolds, writes on his great grandfather’s experience of the Great War


y great grandfather Frank Tremar Sibly Menendez has always fascinated me. Apart from the phonetic similarity of our names, our birthdays are almost exactly 100 years apart: I was born in Gloucester on 13th January 1996 and a century earlier Frank was born 26th January 1896 in Nassau, the Bahamas. His mother, Maud Sibly, was the youngest sister to the eccentric founder of Wycliffe College, G.W. Sibly. Frank studied at Wycliffe from 1909 to 1912 and then went on to St John’s College, Cambridge to study law.

Outbreak of war At an age not much greater than my own, in 1914 Frank left his Cambridge education to join the Army. He started in the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment, training to use weapons such as the Lewis gun, before transferring to the Gloucester Regiment in 1915. He was sent to the trenches on New Year’s Day 1916 where he remained for 17 months. He rose up the ranks to lieutenant, and then captain, where he is cited in a newspaper for “leading his company with great success in the fighting at Trones Wood” during the Battle of the Somme and showing “special gallantry” in some raids at Neuve Chapelle. An example of

Above, Fergus Tremar Menendez Top right, flying ace Frank Tremar Sibly Menendez and a photo he took of a destroyed village Below, Maud Sibly and Frank’s original military log book

such “gallantry” is evidenced by letters my family have kept. One is from the wife of a captain who died on the battlefield and she describes how Frank left the trenches “eight times in what Major Vernon said was Hell” in order to retrieve the body. In May 1917 he left the army and joined the 57th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. He served for six more months on the Front as an observer and gunner in DH-4 planes, becoming an “ace”. As well as reconnaissance photography, he is listed with six aerial victories against German Albatrosses.

❝ Just a few months

before peace was declared Frank was involved in a severe aerial crash ❞ One encounter says that “when attacked by five enemy scouts, he drove three of them down and the other two withdrew”. In October 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross (and nominated for a DSO for bravery on the battlefield). Sadly here the story takes a turn. During 1918 Frank returned to England to continue his training with what was now the RAF. On 1st August, a few months before peace was declared, he was involved in a severe aerial crash thousands of feet above Ipswich. The reason for the crash is lost to history, but

Frank miraculously survived. His co-pilot, and friend, was not so lucky. Frank was both psychologically and physically damaged – his handsome visage disfigured and he lost an eye. The whole left side of his body was damaged. At the time, plastic surgery was still in its primitive stages, yet the doctors managed to give him a decent facial reconstruction, complete with a replacement glass eye. He was able to move on from the tragedy and forge a life beyond the troubles of the war. In the years after 1918, partly spent recuperating in the Bahamas, my grandfather describes Frank as a “bit of a lost soul”. Nonetheless, Frank began to move on with his life. He married my great-grandmother, who was working as a military nurse for the Red Cross at the time, and had two children with her; he eventually joined the Board of Trade as a civil servant and held the position for many years. In World War II his previous experience with Lewis guns meant he was the nominated gunner in his local Home Guard. He was also seconded to the Ministry of Economic Warfare at this time. Frank died in an Eastbourne nursing home in 1973. Our family comes full circle. I am now preparing to leave Wycliffe for university just as my great grandfather did 100 years before. I am fortunate to live in a time of relative peace in Britain and can hopefully look forward to continuing my education without having to brave the terrible times that Frank faced.


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win a luxury three-night family holiday to Lisbon

independent School parent has teamed up with the stylish Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon to offer a three-night city break


Terms & CondiTions: All enTries musT be submiTTed by 11.59pm on 1 8 July 2014. The prize musT be used by 1 mAy 2015 And is subJeCT To AvAilAbiliTy.

he Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon has long been considered Lisbon’s premier luxury hotel. Situated in the heart of the city, it offers sweeping views. The hotel boasts a luxurious spa and rooftop fitness centre, acclaimed restaurants and a prestigious Contemporary Art Collection including works from Portugal’s most renowned artists – and children can explore using the hotel’s free iPad art app. There’s lots to do in and around Lisbon, from bodyboarding at Guincho beach and visiting Europe’s largest oceanarium or the animals at Badoca Safari Park, to experiential learning at the Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium and exploring the Sintra Toy Museum. And the hotel can arrange tuk-tuk rides or motor side-car tours for the family and picnics at Cascais.

Your prize includes: Three nights B&B for a family of four in two interconnecting rooms; to include some family activities and one complimentary dinner.

How to enter For your chance to win, simply answer the following question on our website at: Q. on which portuguese beach can you and your family get active and go bodyboarding?


What’s on?


Get out and about this summer holiday with our round-up of events nationwide


On Your Bike






Relax on idyllic lawns in the shadow of the beautiful Port Eliot House, at this year’s annual celebration of words, music, food, fashion and fun! With a laid-back atmosphere, boutique camping, top guest writers and musicians, what’s not to love?

The annual cycle around the parkland of the World Heritage site Blenheim Palace is back. Cycle around the lake, over the Grand Bridge, and stop off for a picnic. For more competitive parents, there’s the Sportive 60 or 100 mile route, too.



[ DEVON, 17-21 JULY ]


[ LONDON, 1-31 AUG ]

Kids Go Free!

A host of London theatres are offering free tickets for under 16s with a paying adult for Kids Week, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wicked. On sale from 17th June.

A five-day summer camp of music, adventure and outdoor living. There’s kayaking and surfing on the coast and campfire feasts from Fifteen Cornwall, Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen and The Ethicurean. Plus yoga and forest runs. Headliners include Brit Award winner Jack Johnson.

The first show is at the NEC, complete with BBC Gardeners’ World Live, Producers’ Village and Supertheatre with Mary Berry, James Martin and more top chefs.


Get Back to Nature


This summer, the outstanding natural beauty of Yorkshire will be shared across the globe as it hosts the Grand Départ of the famous Tour. Riders will set off from Leeds, travel through the Yorkshire Dales and sprint into Harrogate. Stage Two goes from the historic city of York through a mix of iconic climbs to Sheffield, with the Stage Three going from Cambridge to London’s The Mall.


Edinburgh Fringe The famous arts festival will display thousands of performers including dance, comedy, music, operas, spoken word, exhibitions, alfresco dining and events including Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile and a Tale of Two Towns walking tours through old winding streets.


The Big Feastival Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver takes over Blur musician Alex James’ farm for a weekend of music and food, with chef demos, street food, glamping village and fun fair.



SURF’S UP The world’s largest free charity beach festival, Paddle Round The Pier returns to Brighton with watersports, sponsored boat races, kids’ entertainment, rides, a huge sandpit, skate and BMX ramps, music, and Paddle Village exhibition. Free entry.



Fancy an action-packed family getaway with canoeing, gorge walking and mountain biking? Or perhaps you’d rather sip Champagne in your very own hot tub under the stars? Forest Holidays is offering readers 10% off a break in one of their luxury cabins in idyllic locations across the UK*. Call 03330 110495 and quote: SCHOOL14; or go to forestholidays.

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of all the universities and higher education colleges across the UK – an invaluable resource for students planning the next step in their educational career.


Guide is a multi-media directory


versions, The Good Universities

Spring 2014


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Deciding on the perfect course,

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city and campus is no mean feat.

Over 600 Universities and H Higher Education Colleges 001_GUG_coverV3.indd 1

17/04/2014 15:18









[WALES, 11-13 JULY]


Europe’s largest wakeboard music festival. You can watch wakeboarding by day and bands at night. This year’s music line-up includes Tom Odell, John Newman and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls and more.


NEW AFTERNOON TEA AT THE GORING Luxury hotel, The Goring – the Duchess of Cambridge’s prewedding location – has launched The Season Afternoon Tea inspired by a collection of elegant hats and fascinators by leading London milliner Gina Foster.



Elegant hotel, Burj Al Arab has unveiled new offerings for children, including personalised child menus, a Sweet Train for daily treats direct to your suite; and 24-carat gold iPads.



Treat yourself and hire your own private chef this summer. Franck creates authentic French cuisine in your own home, offering mains, canapés and finger foods using the freshest high quality local ingredients.




Cut It Out Henri Matisse: The Cuts-Outs exhibition features 120 bold works from the final chapter in the artist’s career. Under 12s free; adult £18;

Celebrate with Shakespeare In the year of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, The Globe is hotting up with Titus Andronicus (until 13th July), Julius Caesar (20th June-11th October) with pre-show introductions and post-show Q&As, King Lear (6th-23rd August) and The Comedy of Errors (30th August-12th October).



School memories TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp was so unhappy at school that she attended 10, until she went to Bedales in Hampshire, where she thrived… home for their successes in their school work. But I’m not interested in sending my children to university or paying for it unless they are seriously studious. Work experience is far more important.

Did you like school? No I hated it. I was unhappy and terribly homesick. I was sent to St Clothilde’s prep school in Lechlade, Gloucestershire, aged eight, which was the first of 10 schools that I attended. I was in fact much happier at home. I was a non-conformist and Bedales responds to this type of child. It was at Bedales that I eventually found my niche.

Were you an all-star sports captain? No, no, no! I was hopeless with bats and balls and being competitive, I didn’t like doing anything I could not do well. As a child, standing out from the crowd and competitiveness were frowned on, so I hid it. As an adult I am very competitive and sportswise I like to go wild swimming and cycling.

How was Bedales different? I arrived when I started my GCSEs and it was my first experience of a co-ed school. It was a friendly sympathetic environment. We didn’t wear uniforms and called teachers by their first names, although now, with my children I feel it is important to call teachers by their surnames otherwise boundaries get a bit blurred. Bedales has a very strong charitable and artistic ethos.

If you had advice for your schoolage self, what would it be? I would work much, much harder at my studies and I would chill out about my friends: I had the social antennae of an amoeba and would get far too caught up in their dramas.

What was your nickname? I got called “Kirst,” which I didn’t like but everyone’s names get shortened so it was a bit of a fait accompli.

❝ I had the social antennae

What did you want to be when you grew up? My ambition was to get married and have four children. Nothing was expected of girls of my generation from a professional aspect, although a lot of my peers went on to university, so I did not see the importance of working hard and I did just enough to get by. Were your family at all academic? My grandmother had my mother in her 40s and my mother left school at 16. My father left Eton, went straight into the Army and later became chairman of Christie’s. So there is no recent history of family members having gone to university. I have worked very hard since leaving school and have been presenting

of an amoeba and would get far too caught up in my friends’ dramas ❞

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Location, Location, Location for 15 years now. If I had one criticism of my parents I would say that they were not interested in my schooling. How do your children compare to you? I look at my children and think to myself: “how do I incentivise them”? I have two step-sons and two sons, and I am very keen on rewarding them at

Which teacher stays with you? I was dyslexic, and although I liked maths I found numbers hard. My maths teacher Dennis Archer was fantastic and got me through my GCSE. Philip Parsons, Ruth Whiting and Alison Willcocks were my very inspiring history teachers. I was creative-ish so I also enjoyed art. What about friends? I had five close girlfriends but no male friends. Bedales is a small school and Bedalians stick together. What do you think your teachers would think of your success? I think my teachers would be surprised to see what job I have today. They might be also surprised that I had stuck at something so long! For more information visit...





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Independent School Parent Senior Summer 2014  
Independent School Parent Senior Summer 2014