Page 1

Conference common room Volume 56 Number 3 Autumn 2019

The magazine for independent schools

Global futures


Uniform that speaks for itself.

Perry Uniform is a full service school uniform and sports kit supplier with an extensive range of services that make us a natural choice for any school. We work alongside our schools to deliver exceptional performance to parents, tailoring our services to meet the needs of both school and parent alike. Offering the convenience of on-line, showroom and shop as a truly integrated and multi-channel shopping service is just one of the many benefits of working in partnership with Perry Uniform. Call us on 0113 238 9520 or email info@perryuniform.co.uk today and find out how we can work with you and your school.

www.perryuniform.co.uk


Volume 56 Number 3 Autumn 2019

Contents Editorial 5 Fulfilling potential An alphabet for leadership learning, Tracy Shand 7 Why context is key, Dawn Jotham 9 Life ready, Stephen Mullock and Tessa Teichert 12 The windmills of the mind, Geran Jones 15

12

Use it or lose it, Helen Jeys 17 Safe, confident and resilient, John Lewis 18 Doubting Miss Daisies, Bernadetta Brzyska 21 Getting the best out of boys, Nick Gallop 23 Two into one does go! Ben Berry 25 What does it mean to be academic? Rick Clarke 28 The rise of tutoring, Hugo Sutton 31 The challenge of the new Scottish Islands Peaks Race, Sam Griffiths 33 Multicultural, multiracial Macrometropolis, Louise Simpson 36

18

Ex America semper aliquid novi, OR Houseman 38 English is not enough, Helen Wood 40 Mind your language, Lyndon Jones 42 Looking out Creating an award-winning fundraising campaign, Laura Firth 44 Achieving marketing lift-off, Fran Kennedy 46 GSA Woman of the Year 2019, Sue Hincks 48 Reviews Gender agenda, Kevin Stannard Boys Don’t Try? by Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts 50

28

Athens or Sparta? Joe Spence Edward Thring’s Theory, Practice and Legacy: Physical Education in Britain since 1800 by Malcolm Tozer 52 Five characters in search of their author’s alma mater, David Warnes Cradle of Writers by Patrick Humphries 54

Cover image – St Paul’s School, São Paulo, see page 36

46 Autumn 2019

3


Are your maths students...

Education ready? University ready? Work ready? Ready for the world? Our mathematics syllabuses give your students more pathways to success, with options to suit every ability level and career aspiration. Whether your students are taking maths to improve their career prospects, in readiness for higher education or as part of a university course, we offer a broad and flexible range of options. Learn more about our syllabuses at: cambridgeinternational.org/maths


Editorial Editor Tom Wheare Managing Editor Jonathan Barnes Production Editor Scott James Advertising Manager Gerry Cookson Email: gcookson@johncatt.com Conference & Common Room is published three times a year, in January, May and September. ISSN 0265 4458 Subscriptions: £25 for a two-year subscription, post paid; discounts for bulk orders available. Advertising and Subscription enquiries to the publishers: John Catt Educational Ltd, 15 Riduna Park, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 1QT. Tel: (01394) 389850. Fax: (01394) 386893. Email: enquiries@johncatt.com Managing Director Alex Sharratt Editorial Director Jonathan Barnes Editorial address: Tom Wheare, 63 Chapel Lane, Zeals, Warminster, Wilts BA12 6NP Email: tom.wheare@gmail.com Opinions expressed in Conference & Common Room are not necessarily those of the publishers; likewise advertisements and editorial are printed in good faith, and their inclusion does not imply endorsement by the publishers. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recorded or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Editor and/or the publishers. Printed in England by Micropress Printers, Suffolk, IP18 6DH

John Catt Educational Ltd is a member of the Independent Publishers Guild.

Summer 2019

HMC’s Autumn Conference later this month will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its foundation. On 21st December 1869, twelve Heads ‘traversed the dreary, sodden, mistclad country’ to join their convenor, Edward Thring, at Uppingham. The twenty-one volumes of the Taunton Commission had been published in February 1868, and, to quote Nigel Richardson’s fine biography of Thring, ‘the report proposed a complete overhaul of English secondary education, backed by greatly increased central government oversight. Each school’s charitable endowments would be reviewed, with some being re-assigned to create new schools.’ Following the report, with its striking pre-echo of recent government initiatives in this field, the process of drafting legislation was set in motion by the education secretary, WE Forster. In the first fortnight of March 1869, a group of Headmasters met at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London to discuss the Bill, successfully sought a meeting with Forster, and met again to consider his response. Boosted by the experience, Thring suggested a further meeting at Uppingham at the end of the year. Thirty-seven schools were invited, but these did not include the nine ‘Clarendon schools’, which had been specifically exempted from the Taunton Report, and which Thring felt relied upon ‘their prestige and false glory’. Then as now, Eton was used as a shorthand synonym for exclusivity and elitism. Mitchinson, convener of the first meeting at the Freemasons’ Tavern, said, ‘I think that if I may fairly claim to have laid the egg which developed into the present Headmasters’ Conference, Thring did all the clucking necessary’. Thring’s clucking has been transformed into an epidemic of headmagisterial twittering. Their thoughts are freely available, their experiences generously shared, and all this is in addition to the maintenance of regular letters to parents, former pupils and, if need be, the papers. It is perhaps ironic, therefore, that Heads should be amongst the most frequent fliers in the cyber sky, since some of the problems currently most concerning schools stem from the proliferation of social media. Whereas once the telephone was a stationary medium for conversation, the written word and the pictorial image are now the dominant form on devices that are mobile and part of a vast network of services and possibilities. Managing the use of mobile phones is a challenge for teachers as well as parents, and attempts to restrict their use can be seen in school as well as at home. In addition to informing and educating their pupils about the wonders and potential of modern information technology, schools have to protect them from its harmful side, teach them how to cope with its infinite capacity for good and ill and, finally, prevent them from wasting too much time in this seductive virtual world. Verba volant, scripta manent. The written word, either in the newspapers or on the smartphone screen, seems to possess authority and authenticity. ‘It must be true, I read it in the papers’ has now become ‘It must be true, I saw it on the internet’, or, worse still, ‘It must be true, I read it on the side of a campaign bus’. Headlines are very powerful and appear to convey simple, unarguable truths. Even when they are demonstrably false or nonsensical, they leave a parasitic message in the mind. Their spurious authority is exposed in Michael Frayn’s riff on Universal Headline Language in his wonderfully funny novel The Tin Men. Politicians have never been very trustworthy with words, but the present generation of journalist politicians is blatant in its use of verbal smoke and mirrors. In their original profession they acquired the skill of mastering enough of any brief or argument to make use of it as a means towards their word count end. With the new-found authority of office, this technique has become the basis for establishing governmental policy. Meanwhile, in America, a president who does not even bother to pay that much attention to detail, unleashes a stream of bees from his teaming bonnet, whilst outmanoeuvring his opponents by simply ignoring the rules of the game. Since words are the currency we use to transact thought processes, it would be as well to have a clear idea of what they mean and how to use them with some degree of precision.

Autumn 2019

5


Editorial For instance, it would probably be more accurate to describe state schools as ‘controlled’, since ‘maintained’ is all too often the last thing that they are. Schools are specifically required to take responsibility for an enormous range of social problems and issues, whilst they may find themselves providing meals for children who are going without. Starved of funds and stripped of resources, it is appalling to see clothing banks outside primary schools, put there in the hope of raising extra money, however little, to provide some of the things no longer affordable on reduced budgets. The loss of local government involvement in state schools is a disaster and the current central government approach to funding them is destructive. For all the debate about charitable status, schools are surely best run on a not-for-profit basis, not on an as-cheaply-as possible basis. This, however, does not suit a government dedicated to austerity nor a governing body answerable to shareholders. For all its alleged faults, the independent sector keeps the money inside the school and uses it solely for the benefit of the pupils. There are very few single sex, boarding only, independent schools in the UK. Most of the children in the independent sector are day pupils at schools with strong and valuable links to their local community. Governors, parents and former pupils maintain this link, which can be seen in the sharing of resources and the provision of bursaries that may well have a positive local effect. Schools have always offered fee reductions in the form of scholarships to attract talented children, and bursaries have historically been used to ease the fee burden on

existing parents or to help families that would traditionally have sent children to the school to do so. The expansion of bursary funding, partly brought about by successive Governments linking the continuation of charitable status with wider access, means that more than one in three pupils in HMC schools now receive help with their fees, and this is matched by the fact that every school in HMC is involved in partnerships with state schools and local communities. But, with the 54 international members of HMC and the 500 organisations in membership of COBIS, the independent sector also looks beyond this country and, indeed, Europe. Louise Simpson changes the focus of the regular Letter from America from North to South, describing the Head’s view from her office at St Paul’s School, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and regretting that she hasn’t made more progress in Portuguese. Independent schools are at the increasingly lonely forefront of MFL provision, so, at a time when this country is facing withdrawal from Europe, it is of some comfort that independent schools are working to maintain international links. One of the most important of these is the simple ability to be able to communicate. As Helen Wood writes, English is not enough.

SUBSCRIPTION ORDER FORM Conference & Common Room is published three times a year – January, May and September. Single copies cost £4.17. Two-year subscriptions covering six issues cost £25.00. Special terms are given for bulk orders, as below. Please fill in the number of subscriptions required and the total amount payable. Total amount

No. of Subscriptions required

1-4

two-year subscriptions @ £25.00 each ............................................................................ £ .......................................................

5-9

two-year subscriptions @ £22.20 each ............................................................................ £ .......................................................

10-19

two-year subscriptions @ £20.28 each ............................................................................ £ .......................................................

20 or more two-year subscriptions @ £18.48 each ............................................................................ £ ....................................................... Cheques should be made payable to John Catt Educational Limited and sent to the address below. Cheque for £ ......................................... enclosed

Signed ...................................................................................... Date .............................

Name ............................................................................... School name ................................................................................................................... (Block Capitals please)

Address........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................................................................. Postcode ................................................... Alternatively, we can invoice the school for your order. If this is more convenient, please indicate with your signature here ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

PLEASE RETURN THIS FORM WHEN COMPLETED, WITH YOUR CHEQUE, TO: John Catt Educational, 15 Riduna Park, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1QT 6

Autumn 2019


Fulfilling potential

An alphabet for leadership learning Tracy Shand begins at the beginning before B for Boarding ADAPTABILITY

No two days are the same in boarding schools, so adapting to change is crucial. Have you ever had those days that look nothing like your original plan? Take time to ensure that you have a plan B, especially during report writing time when you know that crises will happen.

BODY LANGUAGE

Did you know that only 7% of your message is conveyed through words? When you work in another country, it can feel a lot less than that. The right body language makes things much easier, especially when you haven’t got a clue what people are saying!

COOPERATION

The world of education is made up of many teams. From catering to SLT, cooperation is key. With a missing link at any stage, your community will not run smoothly. What one step can you take to improve the teamwork on your front line?

DIPLOMACY

You are not going to get on with everybody, but it is important to show a united front and consider cultural differences. Be kind and respectful to each other.

EMPATHY

Life can be hard for everyone in your community. Put yourself in their shoes, what one thing do they need? Take time to connect.

FOCUS ON YOUR TEAM

Each person has different needs. What one step can you take to make a difference to the life of someone else?

GRATITUDE

Embrace the power of ‘thank you’. It costs you absolutely nothing and yet it makes a huge difference to how you are understood and remembered by people.

HONESTY

Honesty is always the best policy - just be careful how you phrase it!

INTERACTION

From the catering and domestic staff to the head teacher, successful boarding means positive interactions. Acknowledge everyone if you can - with a wave or a smile if you don’t have time to chat. And get to know people outside your normal professional circle.

JUDGEMENT

In our multicultural communities, cultural awareness is key. Keep an open mind – think before you act. Some of your pupils

may show very little on the surface and that may mean that they need you to watch more carefully.

KINDNESS

Perform a random act of kindness – enough said.

LISTENING

Active listening is crucial. Listen without interruption to what is being said and what is not being said. Can you remember the last time that someone really listened to you? How did it feel? Pay it back to someone in your team.

MENTORING

We all have skills to offer, so share your wisdom. Help new staff or boarders or become a volunteer mentor outside work.

NEGOTIATION

Look for a win-win situation when problems arise. Step back and apply De Bono’s PNI thinking strategy. For any situation, what is Positive, Negative and Interesting?

OPTIMISM

According to Jim Rohn ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’, so carry a positive attitude.

Autumn 2019

7


Fulfilling potential PROBLEM SOLVING

U

QUESTION

VALUE

RESPONSIBILITY

WHAT YOU OFFER

In today’s world, you need to be able to do more with less. Budgets are tight, both for schools and parents. Think outside the box or go back to basics. What if? What else? The answers to these will empower you and your boarding community. And answer me this - what question do you not want me to ask you right now? You are responsible for your actions, and there’s another R to consider as well - Resilience. Get to know yourself and the skills you need to bounce back should things go wrong.

SELF MANAGEMENT

To lead others effectively, you need to be able to lead yourself first. What are your strengths, weaknesses and what do you really want?

TEAMWORK

The essence of your community. Are you a team player?

HERE

& THERE

A little understanding goes a long way. We all see, read and hear things differently. Identify the preferred communication styles of the members of your team. Know your value. Are you the ‘go to person’ for something? What do you bring to your school? How can you add value to your personal life and career? Are you prepared to go the extra mile?

X FACTOR

What unique quality do you have?

ZZZZ

Are you getting enough sleep? If you are having problems sleeping, make sure you download your day in a journal and have a bedtime routine that works for you. What would your alphabet look like for this school year? Tracy Shand is the CEO of Simply Boarding

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. wheare@gmail.com. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Giant Dolls’ House installation at V&A Museum of Childhood Pupils from Bootham School in York contributed to the Giant Dolls’ House installation, a collaborative arts project that was part of Refugee Week (17-23 June) and the London Festival of Architecture. This installation is the result of workshops led by architect Catja de Haas, and facilitated by Oxfam, in schools in the UK and a refugee camp in Jordan. The giant dolls’ house has more than 100 rooms covering a wall of the museum. Each pupil was asked to make a room in the dolls’ house to be displayed alongside those designed by Syrian refugees, charity shop volunteers and members of the public. Room 4 All by Bootham pupil Maya, aged 13, uses human rights as a design basis with safety, warmth, privacy, a friendly community, fresh air, food and water and, of course, great wi-fi! The rooms created by refugees included a garden left behind in Syria, the memory of a traumatic experience, and the dream home or business of the future. Visitors to the V&A Museum of Childhood were able to attend a drop-in workshop where they could make their own room to add to the dolls’ house. The installation is in support of Oxfam’s Stand As One campaign which aims to make sure our government provides the help that refugees urgently need to keep their families together, to escape poverty and to rebuild their lives in safety. Ruth Tanner, head of humanitarian campaigns at Oxfam, said: ‘Children instinctively understand the importance of family and of finding a place where they belong.’ Chris Jeffery, Headteacher at Bootham School, agrees. ‘This is a really important project for our young people to engage with, and working on it has given them a real insight into the experience of refugee children in particular. As a Quaker school, issues of social justice are high up on our agenda.’

8

Autumn 2019


Fulfilling potential

Why context is key Dawn Jotham explains the basics of contextual safeguarding and how educators can successfully adopt this approach to support their students and school communities

The importance of effective safeguarding policies and practices has been high on the national agenda of late – think of the spike in serious youth violence or the rise in mental health related risks. As education professionals, safeguarding is also something that is, or should be, at the forefront for headteachers, senior leadership teams and teachers. They are, after all, tasked with caring for our young people for approximately six hours a day, five days a week, and operate in an environment that is highly influential for children and teens. However, despite policy guidance, in many instances the effectiveness of any safeguarding or duty-of-care is greatly dependent on the context in which it occurs. This has prompted the new wave of safeguarding best-practice, known as contextual safeguarding, which adopts a more holistic view of assessment and interventions. Contextual safeguarding is an approach that informs policy and practical frameworks that has been developed by Dr Carlene Firmin and fellow researchers at the University of Bedfordshire over the past six years. It is, as defined by Dr Firmin, principal research fellow at the university, ‘an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families’. It is based on three key tenets that recognise that the relationships formed between young people and their neighbourhoods, schools and online interactions, carry a varied weight of influence; that

parents and carers often have diminished influence in these contexts; and that experiences in both familial and extrafamilial contexts are mutually influential. This is primarily due to the substantial amounts of time young people spend outside familial environments. Consequently, those working with young people need to be mindful of the different spheres of influence, and make a concerted effort to engage the people and organisations that exercise influence in these environments. As Dr Firmin outlines, at its core, contextual safeguarding is about recognising that ‘assessment of, and intervention with, these spaces [extra-familial settings] are a critical part of safeguarding practices’. As a result, context-driven safeguarding also expands the scope of inquiry to include a range of social contexts, thus broadening the risk factors considered when preempting or reactively intervening in the safety and wellbeing of young people. Contextual safeguarding becomes increasingly important as children progress from early childhood to their teens, as their spheres of influence expand and they spend more time in social environments and less isolated time with their families, and it is often these new experiences that determine their exposure to violence and risk of exploitation. For example, young people can be at high risk of online bullying, peer-on-peer abuse, robbery or serious violence as a result of their extra-familial settings and the social norms that are established with their peers.

Autumn 2019

9


Are you getting the most out of SchoolSearch? Have a look at your school’s profile on our leading online guide to UK independent schools – www.schoolsearch.co.uk

Now with dedicated search pages for UK regions and counties, many of which feature on the first page of Google search results. Add your school’s dates to our open days calendar and send us your success stories to post in the news section, which also includes leading advice and features provided by our featured schools. Featured schools can add social media links to their profile, including embedding a Twitter feed, and can showcase a promotional YouTube or Vimeo video. Our site has visitors from across the world looking for UK independent schools, and an established UK audience. Families can find and compare their nearest schools with our postcode search. SchoolSearch is in association with John Catt’s Which School? guidebook, now in its 95th edition, John Catt’s Preparatory Schools and Which London School? & the South-East.

Contact: enquiries@johncatt.com or call 01394 389850


Fulfilling potential Traditionally, intervening in safeguarding issues often involves assessing individuals in their own right, but also in the context of their families – parents or carers. While effective in some instances, many of these attempts are compromised by the aforementioned weight of influence. Whilst their family may not be the most influential relationship, there is an interplay that is present in different contexts and relationships. For example, the experiences of young people in school, in their community, with their peers, and at home, all impact each other. Given that context is key, it should also be recognised that the degree of influence of each of these relationships will vary in every case. For safeguarding leads, teachers and support staff who interact with students on a regular basis, at a broader level, contextual safeguarding helps strategize the ways in which support is provided. Pastoral care should be delivered in a manner that considers the nature and number of ways in which harm has, or can, occur, both in terms of locality and other individuals that may be involved. Taking this more holistic view of the issue at hand prompts early and appropriate interventions at a wider and more sustainable level by not only addressing the harm that has resulted, but the actions and environment that caused it in the first place. While this is a substantive shift in the way safeguarding is approached, it has not been designed to replace current methods of assessment and intervention, such as 1:1 interventions or discussions at the familial level, but to complement and bolster safeguarding activity that is already in place. Additionally, while driven by well-evidenced theories, there are some key

HERE

& THERE

practices that can be put in place to implement a more contextual framework. For instance, staff can make an effort to be extra vigilant and take an interest in what students say and do. This will help to form an understanding of the circles they move in, as well as their vernacular. Safeguarding leads can also conduct risk assessments that establish the risks pupils may experience in the community, or on their journey to and from school. Additionally, regularly working, or engaging, with the community will help contextualise these influential extra-familial environments and will be invaluable in knowing and adopting more mindful practice regarding what is going on and who are the key actors. Taking steps to connect young people with organisations is also a key step in implementing a contextual safeguarding framework as it proactively strives to rebalance spheres of influence while simultaneously expanding support networks. The environment in which our young people are growing up is becoming increasingly layered and complex, with influences stemming from online platforms, peers, families, local leaders (both positive and negative), and the broader community. Moving away from a culture of blame or acceptance that simply removes the young person from harm, it is important that a more sustainable approach is adopted. Considering the context of these interwoven spheres of influence not only extends the capacity of those engaging with young people to provide effective safeguarding measures, but also lays the groundwork for greater preventative action to be taken. Dawn Jotham is pastoral care specialist at Educare

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. wheare@gmail.com. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Sir Ian at 80

Bolton School Boys’ Division was delighted to welcome Sir Ian McKellen, a former pupil and Captain of the School, on his 80th birthday weekend. Taking time out of his national tour, he began his busy day with a lunchtime reunion with thirty former classmates, coming from as far afield as Scotland and France. In the afternoon he gave an abridged version of his national tour show to an audience of Y7-10 pupils, former pupils and staff in the Great Hall. Walking down the centre aisle and ending up on stage, Sir Ian opened with a reading from Lord of the Rings. He told of his love of pantomime and he reprised his Widow Twankey role, throwing sweets, oranges and bananas into the audience. He revisited early memories - seeing Peter Pan at the Palace Theatre in Manchester when he was three, the three Bolton theatres, now all gone, and going backstage at one of them and realising he wanted to act. He reminisced over his Cambridge days, where he met actors such as Miriam Margolyes and Sir Derek Jacobi and talked about how he began working professionally at a repertoire theatre. The audience was given a tantalising glimpse of a scene from the musical Cats, which he will perform in later this year, and he spoke about realising he was gay and how Section 28 inspired him to become an activist; telling how he eventually came out on radio while arguing against Section 28. Finally, the School Arts Centre provided the venue for Sir Ian’s surprise 80th birthday party. The stellar list of guests genuinely surprised him and included actors Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi, Richard Wilson, Timothy West and Luke Evans, as well as journalist Janet Street-Porter, pop star Neil Tennant and writer Armistead Maupin.

Autumn 2019

11


Fulfilling potential

Life ready Stephen Mullock and Tessa Teichert share Ellesmere College’s positive philosophy The philosophy of Ellesmere College is focused on individual success and only individual success. As a non-selective school, we look for pupils who are keen to try new things and not afraid of failure; but where opportunities and experiences are intrinsically linked with a positive outcome from the learning journey. The support of individuals is not just limited to those within the student community but extends to a wider range of intern placements. Every year we offer a number of key positions in the College for interns, catering for a wide variety of skills and subject areas of expertise. This academic year we will welcome interns as Arts Centre Manager, Sport intern, Music intern and IT intern, whilst we are currently looking for a Marketing/Media intern. These interns will be midway through their own degree or about to start their degree programme. We recently hosted a young German, Tessa Teichert, as an intern Marketing Assistant, and this is what she wrote when she left. My name is Tessa Teichert. I am 18 years old and currently attend a school in Germany which is oriented towards business and which also takes the foreign language aspect into account. I have always wanted to do an intership abroad and having now spent 4 weeks in the UK at Ellesmere College in Shropshire, I realise how good an experience it has been for me. Due to many extremely positive reports from friends from Germany who attended Ellesmere College to Study both IB and A level, and also from a dear friend from Birmingham, who was Head Girl there, and who has just completed her medical degree

12

Autumn 2019

and is now a Junior Doctor, I decided to send an application for an internship abroad to this awesome College. I arrived full of anticipation and excitement, and what I experienced more than exceeded all my expectations. The marketing team had put a lot of effort into creating an extensive plan to make the best use of the time available to me. This gave me a deep insight into the dedication with which people work behind the scenes at Ellesmere College. Internet presence, publicity flyers, current reports of events, accompanying students on expeditions, photos and many contacts with staff and pupils not only improved my English, but the daily routine and the spontaneous work crises improved my understanding of business activities. With the continued support of the team and their trust in my ability, I had the opportunity to complete many different tasks, which helped me to be more independent than I was previously. I was talking to publishers about deadlines and media packs, speaking with agents about the College in general and working on the daily Social Media feeds, uploading images on Facebook and Twitter to showcase the very busy and active school to a very engaged school community. The interviews with students showed me how special and unique Ellesmere College is. Ellesmere College gave me a wonderful insight of the student’s life in my last week, when I accompanied the students on expeditions. Not only did I visit great cities like Chester and Liverpool, I also saw laughing students and happy faces as they learned new skills and adapted to new environments - all part of the Ellesmere educational offer.


Fulfilling potential

Knowing that a temporary internship involves a lot of organization and work, I am especially grateful that Ellesmere College offered me this extraordinary opportunity. I must especially thank all those responsible for letting me experience an unforgettable time, which will certainly be of considerable use to me for my professional career, and has also shaped me personally. I was able to get to know many nice and helpful people who welcomed and supported me with open arms. As a student you can feel very comfortable in this place and experience support and encouragement in a wonderful atmosphere. As a co-worker you can experience how beautiful a co-operative and functioning team can be and what it can achieve. Unfortunately, my time is now over, but I have learned a lot in these four weeks and I will take everything with me for my future. Not only I have become more self-confident and independent, I also have gained better language skills in English. Moreover, I was able to experience the normal and great working life at Ellesmere College and it was and has been an unforgettable time for me which I will never forget. I thank everyone very much and can only encourage everyone - whether as a pupil or future employee - to let themselves be captured by the Spirit of Ellesmere. Special thanks to Rachel and Stephen - I will certainly come back. It was a wonderful time. Your Tessa In today’s world, guidance and recommendations are always valuable. Throughout the year we run a regular programme of visits from Old Ellesmerians to show our pupils the variety of career pathways and platforms from which they may choose, and to discuss their own career routes, what they did and how it helped. OEs have described working for NASA or for top Investment firms such as City Bank, as well as Green Technologies in the automotive industry. Not only do they open the eyes of the pupils but they can frequently offer mentoring and some wonderful work experience opportunities.

As an international boarding school, we have established links in a wide variety of countries and markets. The German market is very keen on schools offering a wide variety of the co-curricular opportunities that add so much to development of the pupil, as well as academic excellence. So, for instance, the sports academies we run have proved very popular and students often come to study the IB or A levels combined with our successful Tennis and Football programmes. We devote two afternoons a week to sport and leadership opportunities that help to develop and support the growth of a student’s ‘softer’ skills. In terms of employability, these are just as important as the academic grades, and together they fulfil the College mantra of ‘Life Ready’. Leadership on the sports field is matched by participation in DofE, First Aid or CCF, or acquiring ILM Level 3 management qualifications. The broader horizon helps to show pupils what is available and the platform we provide enables all pupils to make informed choices about what to do next. Many will pursue the University route, but look at four-year courses with an integral placement year. Others will use their Ellesmere contacts to undertake a year in industry before embarking on the next stage of their education. This year, one of our elite swimmers will be deferring her University place to concentrate on the 2020 Olympics in which she will be a member of team GB. One of the great delights as a teacher at Ellesmere is to see the wide range of specialism and interest that the pupils go into and follow, the confidence to study overseas and the high aspirations and challenges they pursue. But it is also to know that each pupil carries within them the skills to cope with the world beyond the school gates in a way that allows them to be pragmatic, confident and resilient, yet committed to making a difference and supporting all those they meet along the way. Being Life Ready is not just a marketing phrase but a philosophy shared by the whole Ellesmere community that shapes the students of today and the leaders of tomorrow. Stephen Mullock is Deputy Head Head (External Relations) at Ellesmere College

Autumn 2019

13


aqa.org.uk/apply | 01483 556 161 examine@aqa.org.uk

Applications are open for GCSE and A-level examiners. Apply now for summer 2020.

Old ways will not open new doors

It is time to put the 'i' into your boarding world


Fulfilling potential

The windmills of the mind Geran Jones warns that on social media what goes round comes round It is clear that when passions dominate the mind, these can torment people and prevent them from living in harmony, as Spinoza observed. These past two years and more, the country seems to have been living in a parallel world, one in which reality appears to have been sidelined by quixotic behaviour. It is not only that the referendum has fissured the country and that the failure of political leadership has led to a constitutional crisis. What is also deeply worrying is the cancer of the irrational, the outrageous and the counter-factual which has come to exercise a pernicious influence on vectors of information and on people’s way of thinking. In search of an explanation to establish why centuries of rational discussion and British pragmatism have been summarily jettisoned, commentators point to the effects of globalisation. The economic benefits of a shrinking world are broadly welcomed, but the social and cultural changes have given a rise to identity discourse. These processes have farreaching effects on identity formation on the individual level,

as well as to the new forms that liberal ideas on individualism have acquired in the modern age. This state of affairs has, in part, been promoted through two contradictory features of social media platforms: the centrifugal effect of enabling individual comment to reach a global audience via internet is in tension with the centripetal effect of the uniformisation of messaging through channelled ‘likes’, re-tweeting and forwarding, underpinned by commercial considerations. We live in a world of excess information which leaves us feeling overwhelmed. The consequence of round the clock news feeds and 24-hour messaging is boredom - or a numbness - for reality, and an acceptance of, and preference for, emotional rhetoric. This, in turn, has led to a sudden growth of interest in fake news and conspiracy theories, re-tweeted far more often than real news. Walter Benjamin was concerned that as information spread ever more quickly and further, the deeper became the perplexity of living. There is not simply an indifference to truth or facts. Honesty and Truth have been

Autumn 2019

15


Fulfilling potential

banished. Eliot makes a similar point: Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? / Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? For many younger users of Instagram, Snapchat etc, the view of society is a horizontal one. Hierarchy is not necessarily recognised at all. Self-esteem is refracted through social media interchange, recognition through volume of messaging, numbers of ‘friends’ etc. Well-being and confidence depend on the comments and approbation of electronic peers. This dependency on unseen ‘others’ is fuelling a crisis of identity. Many might see themselves in Alice’s interchange with the hookah-smoking caterpillar: ‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’ Identity has traditionally been bound up with culture, common history, tribal groups and religious belief. It is what one feels in common with one’s community and heritage and also what differentiates one from ‘others’. It refers also to social categories and to the sources of an individual’s self-respect or dignity. In the digital age, identity expression, exploration 16

Autumn 2019

and experimentation are being facilitated and developed online. Online users may have several ‘identities’. One’s inner self is not simply examined from within; it is projected into the virtual world, and in being so, becomes a simulation of one’s real self. New and changed characteristics become the order of the day as teenagers seek to develop a persona on line that seeks recognition and a sense of belonging in relation to a group. It presents the opportunity to be an author, a creator of fictional characters, though these images are of oneself, part wish fulfilment, part sincerity. But it is not just an outlet to overcome teenager timidity. Participation in messaging promotes dependency on these various platforms and becomes forced. What was once private has now become public. Moreover, individuality may be in conflict with pressures to conform to the groupthink of the forum. Making one’s personal life and thoughts accessible on screen is an inherently risky business. Reactions to posts and texts are not always positive; bullying, insults and harassment are also the hallmarks of online interaction, particularly for those who do not share the values or social codes of groups in work, school or politics. Such open manifestations of disapproval and insult online are, however, endured privately, with potentially catastrophic effects on mental health and physical wellbeing. Users express themselves freely in virtual environments in the expectation that online activity will provide a form of happiness, while their reflections move away from their realities. Identity has become bound up with image. Where young people compare the images and lives of others online with themselves, it is easy for them to get the impression that they do not measure up to someone else’s photoshopped beauty, coolness or vigour. Critical engagement melts away with the immediacy of the message, its clamouring for a response and the solitude of on-line screen activity. The obsession with social media risks producing young adults who confuse participation in an online community with having a social life in the real world. Today, a number do not react to the language and codes of the real world and demonstrate an inability to catch nuance, a blindness to body language, an inability to question peddled nostrums. Let us hope that we can continue to educate robust, well-rounded individuals, who can think for themselves and decide not to tilt at windmills. Geran Jones teaches at Westminster School


Fulfilling potential

Use it or lose it Helen Jeys stops to think about an ‘independent’ education I have just finished reading The State of Independence, edited by David James and Jane Lunnon. I would urge you to read it if you have not already. It is a fantastic summary of the challenges the independent school sector will potentially face over the next few years, a period James and Lunnon label ‘defining’. In the book, Briony Scott, Director of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia (AGSA), says the following: ‘Today, one of our major academic challenges is to reclaim the spirit of that independent, sacred space. In the face of relentless pressure to the contrary, it is a challenge to stop, pause and reflect. To think for ourselves. The pressure to wade through the flood of opinions, taking mandates and directives without question, speeding up and making rapid changes, lest we be perceived as old fashioned or out of date, is enormous … The ability to be a part of society but to remain independent of group norms and group think is essential for a true education to take place.’ The book has provided me with much food for thought, but this quote, for me personally, stands out. There seem to be so many pressures on us as a sector at the moment that I wonder how much time we actually take to sit back, as Scott recommends, and think about the education our school offers and consider whether it truly is ‘independent’. What does an ‘independent education’ mean to us as school leaders and how do we provide it? A cursory search of Google highlights the differences between independent and state schools, but the focus is on money, class size and whether one is born into privilege, which we know is a huge and inaccurate generalisation. Very few articles mention anything about the nature of the education offered by the independent sector and what makes our curriculum truly ‘independent’. We do have the ability to separate ourselves from government recommendations; we do not have to follow the potential strait jackets of Progress 8 and the EBacc Curriculum; but what do we offer that makes us truly stand out? Of course, we want our students to achieve brilliantly and to have the ability to access the best courses at the most prestigious universities. This ensures that we are bound, in some ways, to examination boards. However, aren’t we about more than this? Perhaps part of our answer to this comes down to our individual visions for our schools and what we, together with our stakeholders, believe is important, but I wonder if we reflect, with our staff, on this question very often, if at all. In the same book, Kevin Stannard (Director of Innovation and Learning at the GDST) talks about the need to ‘cast off the educational equivalent of William Blake’s ‘mind-forg-d mannacles’.’ How can we do this? What are his recommendations? Stannard comments that the way forward is to ensure that we teach ‘well beyond the test’, which he calls the mantra of any truly independent school. Briony Scott talks about the importance of fostering ‘independent thought, and to never lose the sight of the importance of wisdom’.

My focus at the moment, then, is to think about this issue for my own school. How is my school offering an ‘independent’ education? As a sector, we know that we offer a first-rate educational experience in small classes with children and parents who share the same ethos and ambitions. We know that we can offer excellent extra-curricular activities which enable our pupils to develop their talents. We are also fantastic at offering a pastoral education which is proactive and is fully mindful of the importance of the mental health of every student who attends our schools. We can also boast excellent results and outstanding university destinations. But I do think that we need to come back to some basics - what about the actual education we offer. How does our provision stand out? How are we preparing our students for their futures in a way that does make us ‘independent’? A wonderful article, written by Christy Grattan in the Daily Telegraph in September 2017, sees a student who has just received his A Level results, commenting: ‘I wanted to be a teacher until I realised how frustrating the status quo is; inspiring educators are forced to make the best of it, as frustrated as their students. A by-product of the density of the required material now is that teachers themselves are so inundated by marking and the proto-liturgy of exams that their own intellectual growth is diminished. Surely someone in the vocation – note the term vocation and not business – of education, should be afforded the chance to continue their professional development.’ Indeed, Helen Pike, Master of Magdalen College School, Oxford comments that the need to respond to ‘demands that are determined by others’ and the subsequent ‘lack of autonomy’ is leading to many teachers leaving the profession. This is a tragedy. We need to remember how fortunate we are to work in the independent sector. Rather than being ‘undervalued vehicles for government directives’, we should be the innovators and do what we encourage our students to do – to take risks so that we can offer an education that we can be proud to call ‘independent’. Perhaps a return to basics and a consideration of whether we are offering a Curriculum + can provide us with a focus for our reading during this new term of the year! Helen Jeys is the Headmistress of Alderley Edge School for Girls Autumn 2019

17


Fulfilling potential

Safe, confident and resilient John Lewis describes the educational benefits of the school’s personal safety programme At St Edward’s Cheltenham we have long believed that teaching our students practical life-enhancing skills is essential for their positive overall development and contributes to a successful academic learning environment. Our goal has always been to build resilient, happy, successful students who can go out into the world feeling confident and able to make safe decisions, no matter what situation they may find themselves dealing with. So, when in early in 2018 we had the opportunity to review and assess a new Personal Safety Programme from Streetwise365, we were excited to see how this could help us to work with our students. Streetwise365 believe that education providers need to take the lead in teaching students how to be safe. Their programme helps to achieve this via a series of interactive workshops and an online resource packed with content designed to educate secondary students on how to make safe decisions and stay safe in everyday life situations. Working closely with the Streetwise365 team, we were able to discuss our specific needs with regards to the subject of student personal safety and how we could introduce this training into our already busy school timetable. The overall objective was to integrate the programme into all Year groups

18

Autumn 2019

as seamlessly and as quickly as possible. We began with an initial programme of two-hour workshops, supported through the use of the online resource material, with the option to add additional workshops as and when required in the future. The Streetwise365 programme revolves around the simple principle of ‘awareness and understanding’, giving students the life skills to be aware of potential dangers in everyday situations. This assists them in making sensible and safe decisions, allowing them to act appropriately to move themselves to safety. Students and staff have attended the workshops together, working through real life scenarios. Through this they have learnt to develop the skills required to recognise potential dangers, practised defusing techniques and learnt basic defence skills to protect themselves if required to do so. An unexpected bonus has been that the staff have also found the programme very rewarding, proving that personal safety is a skill required by all ages. We found that the programme fits perfectly within our existing PSHE initiative, supporting the students and enabling them to improve the individual decisions they may make to keep themselves safe. We particularly liked the fact that the main emphasis of the programme is about detecting potential


Fulfilling potential

danger in real life situations and moving to safety as early as possible. The programme has also taught the students the key facts about UK Law with regards to protecting themselves, their families and their friends, with useful explanations about how the law may interpret their actions and the possible consequences of those actions. The Streetwise365 programme is relatively new, although it is now being used in a number of leading independent schools. It is underpinned by an existing and proven methodology called the Spear System, developed by Tony Blauer. Andy Privet from Streetwise365 has taken the Spear concept and built an education-based product suitable for Secondary and Sixth Form Students, with a version for pupils at Primary schools due for release later this year, enabling Streetwise365 to help students of all ages to stay safe. Using the internet as a delivery mechanism, the online resource provides PowerPoint presentations and videos to take every Year group through a structured learning environment. There is little planning or building of resource required by the teacher. Our teaching staff have found that the product has been extremely easy to implement, with no previous personal safety training required and with any level of teaching staff being able to teach the lessons. St Edward’s has just become a Streetwise365 Ambassador School, so we now benefit from an even closer working relationship with the Streetwise365 team, both in implementing the programme within the School as well as championing the product to other schools within the local community. Both the School and Streetwise365 are committed to developing the programme on a long-term basis.

We recently hosted the 2019 Streetwise365 Teacher Training Day, where teachers from local schools that are running the programme attended St Edward’s for a joint workshop aimed at helping the teachers to teach their students the Streetwise365 concepts. The next step of our implementation plan is to introduce the programme to our Prep School to allow students to access it at an earlier age. The lesson plans are age-appropriate and have been built within a spiral curriculum concept to allow the programme to build through the students’ school life and progress through the School. Future plans include inviting parents to join their children in Personal Safety workshops, allowing them to encourage and support the concepts of the programme at home. After 12 months of using Streetwise365 within the School, the feedback from our students and parents has been fantastic, with the levels of confidence and resilience of students improving. This positive result has transferred into the classroom and we are seeing the benefits of confident students through the academic achievements of the School. The Streetwise365 Personal Safety Programme ‘ticks the boxes’ in a number of areas: safeguarding; developing the whole child; working with parents; and teaching student safety. It also enables us to evidence some of the indicators as laid out by the Independent School Inspectorate. The programme has provided us with a mechanism to ensure that we are putting our students’ personal safety and well-being at the centre of everything that we do, helping us to develop our students into confident, resilient and successful individuals. John Lewis is Deputy Head Teacher St Edward’s School

Autumn 2019

19


4180 Streetwise365 Conference Common Room Advert_v04outline.indd 1

21/08/2019 13:49

What will they take with them when they leave?

To find out more about our alumni engagement programmes call us on 01983 761389 gresham-books.co.uk | info@gresham-books.co.uk CaCR Ad 2019.indd 1

21/08/2019 11:01


Fulfilling potential

Doubting Miss Daisies Bernadetta Brzyska explores the link between low self-esteem and underperformance in girls Daisy rarely got into trouble and was generally thought to be a diligent if rather quiet pupil. However, she had recently started to struggle in one or two of her lessons. As she had little experience of failure, she had scant understanding of how to cope with this unwelcome and surprising setback. Being rather shy, Daisy did not think to ask for help, even though she suspected that with the right support she would be capable of doing much better. But she could not put her finger on what was wrong and exactly what help she needed. Overwhelmed by the immediate expectations she felt had been placed on her, Daisy became increasingly anxious about school and retreated into herself. Yet, as she rarely misbehaved or gave any serious cause for concern, her predicament was overlooked even as her academic progress stalled. Most teachers will know a pupil like Daisy. They can become slightly disengaged and have an unexpectedly poor opinion of their own abilities. And even though their teachers may be fairly confident that their temporary lack of progress is not a symptom of any special need or identifiable condition, they do realise that there is a problem. The question is, how much of an issue is a problem like Daisy’s, can it be readily identified and, if so, what can be done to address it? New research* from GL Assessment, which is based on data from more than 40,000 pupils who have taken the Pupil Attitudes to Self and School (PASS) measure and the New Group Reading Test (NGRT), has explored the link between specific attitudes and reading attainment. Daisy’s opinion of her abilities is classified by researchers as ‘perceived learning capability’, which can be defined as a pupil’s short-term view of their ability to take the necessary steps to achieve their learning goals. It offers a snapshot of their impressions of their own ‘self-efficacy’, or what in generic terms is more commonly called self-esteem, at a particular moment in time. A low score for perceived learning capability is likely to be related to a specific subject experience or a change in environment, such as a move from a prep to a senior school. These attitudes are usually temporary, but if they are not tackled, they can become self-reinforcing and entrenched. A

pupil who may have negative feelings about a single subject or teacher could develop a long-term poor attitude to their entire school experience. This is termed ‘low learner self-regard’. Pupils with high self-regard tend to perform well: conversely those with low self-regard tend to do worse academically. According to GL Assessment’s research, by the time they leave primary school, one in five children (21%) doubt that they are clever, with girls more likely than boys to doubt their intelligence. Although there is little gender variation across most indicators, there are some notable exceptions. Girls appear to be particularly hard on themselves, compared to boys, when it comes to saying that they do not know the meanings of lots of words (27% vs 21%), and to disagreeing that they are clever (23% vs 19%). Interestingly, they are also less likely than boys to agree strongly that they are clever (27% vs 34%), even though girls significantly outperform boys at every key stage. While low self-esteem appears to have a detrimental effect on many children’s academic performance, the relationship isn’t straightforward. For instance, although half of those children who doubt their own intelligence (50%) are in the bottom third for reading ability, a fifth (19%) are, somewhat surprisingly, in the highest group. This suggests that even when children who lack confidence in their own abilities are performing well academically, a minority are doing so against what they feel are considerable odds, which in turn could indicate unresolved wellbeing issues. The good news is that children like Daisy can be helped. With the correct assessment and relevant interventions, negative attitudes can be addressed and even reversed. Dr Andrew Fordham, the Academic Progress and Reporting Co-ordinator of Wellingborough School in Northamptonshire, offers the example of a Key Stage 3 girl whose profile will be familiar to many teachers in the sector. She displayed all the signs of a pupil who had low perceived learning capability, in her case triggered by the long summer holidays. ‘The pupil had been at the school for a number of years but was beginning to show signs of a ‘summer dip’ in reading.

A pupil who may have negative feelings about a single subject or teacher could develop a longterm poor attitude to their entire school experience. This is termed ‘low learner self-regard’.

Autumn 2019

21


Fulfilling potential She scored highly in the New Group Reading Test in May but fell back significantly in September, a pattern that was picked up by the test. This dip was undermining her confidence and discouraging her from fully contributing in class. After discussions with her parents, we realised that skills that were being emphasised in term time were not being used over the summer. In particular, she was failing to read texts closely or more than once. As soon as we had identified the issue, we were able to put in place personalised learning targets and encouraged her to read more generally. This has boosted her confidence and enabled her to play a much more active role in lessons. She smiles more, the quality of her written work has also improved and I’m glad to report that she did very well in her end-of-year exams. This was a case of an assessment accurately identifying an underlying issue that had the potential to progressively undermine a child’s confidence if it hadn’t been addressed. Fortunately, her teachers were able to put in place the necessary interventions and she is a happier and better pupil as a result.’

HERE

& THERE

We don’t know why so many children have such a poor opinion of their abilities by the age of 11. But we do know that low self-worth has a knock-on effect not just on academic performance but also on wellbeing. And it can affect any student: high achievers, for instance, can write themselves off as not clever if they feel pressured to achieve or if their confidence is fragile. The key, as Dr Fordham found, is to identify children who have low self-regard early and put in place interventions to address their issues. Bernadetta Brzyska is Head of Research at GL Assessment * The study analysed a dataset of 40,243 pupils who sat both GL Assessment’s attitudinal survey (PASS) and adaptive reading assessment (NGRT) between 2016 and 2018. Pupils were aged between 7 and 16 years old and from UK schools. From September, PASS will include new interventions to help schools address a range of attitudinal issues, designed at a whole school, group and individual pupil level.

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. wheare@gmail.com. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Leys School School’s Director of Music commissions piece for Chamber Choir The calibre of the current line-up of The Leys School Chamber Choir so impressed their Director of Music that he commissioned a short piece by a top young composer for them to perform. Max Kenworthy turned to Rebecca Dale, who has composed extensively for Hollywood films and the BBC. Her works have topped the classical music charts and her album Soay was named Classic FM 2016 Album of the Year. ‘I’d been wanting to commission something for this group of singers because they have gelled really well this year and their voices have balanced very nicely. When Rebecca said she would be pleased to do something we explored a number of options and she came to the school to hear the choir several times, the whole process taking a few months to develop and come to fruition.’ The piece, a setting of Wordsworth’s much-loved lyric poem Daffodils, is full of colour and daring harmonies, and was performed in the presence of the composer at The Leys End of Year Concert at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden. Rebecca Dale praised the rendition by the 12-strong Chamber Choir, made up of 10 pupils and two music teachers. She told Max Kenworthy it had been ‘a brilliant first performance. All the work people put in and the musicality of the group really showed. It was so nice to hear lovely feedback from people in the audience, and a privilege to write for you and the group. Thank you for the opportunity, and for giving it such a great first outing!’ The piece features in a collection of sacred and secular a capella singing by The Leys Chamber Choir recorded in July and released on Priory Records. The choir itself will inevitably change in composition as the Sixth-Formers leave school. At least two will pursue Music, with one of the boys taking up a Choral Scholarship at Gloucester Cathedral and one of the girls offered a place to read Music at Keble College, Oxford.

22

Autumn 2019


Fulfilling potential

Getting the best out of boys … Nick Gallop reflects on how our understanding of the social, emotional and educational development of boys is changing for the better. There is rarely a more affirming moment within a school community than that of celebrating the students who complete their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. It is one of the highlights of the academic year – heartening and uplifting. Achieving an Award at any level requires commitment, determination, imagination and a willingness to stray outside the comfortable zones that young people often dwell within. The scheme is great too at unearthing and developing new skills and broadening horizons, and it is accessible to the widest range of students. The annual celebration evening always evokes a memory for me that stands tall amongst others. Thirty years ago this summer, I embarked upon my own expedition to complete a Gold Award in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District. Looking back, I still firmly believe that had Basil Fawlty clasped hands with Manuel, the Spanish waiter, and the two of them strolled from Eskdale to Keswick and back, they would have encountered fewer scrapes than my band of brothers did in the summer of 1989. Back then, and no doubt eminently sensibly, boys’ and girls’ expedition groups were separate. Consequently, and whilst hardly creating laboratory-like conditions, if one had wanted to draw unvarnished attention to gender-based differences – in approaches to planning, working together, meeting expectations, rising to challenges – then the separation of the groups along gender lines did precisely that. The boys’ group – my group – was dogged by self-inflicted problems from the off. One of our foursome forgot to bring the second of our two-man tents. Efforts to procure another one failed, so we were treated to camp-wide hilarity each morning as the four of us emerged gasping from the tiniest of tents, like record-breakers spilling from a Mini Cooper. We were wretchedly lost on a number of occasions, regularly late into camp, miserably under-supplied with food, and routinely low on water and sunscreen. We also considered ourselves heroic – extinguishing an out-of-control cooking fire of neighbouring campers. In spite of it all, we satisfied our Assessor. Just. And the expedition goes down as one of the most entertaining and enjoyable, and most formative learning experiences of my life. And what of the girls’ group? Well, they looked on at our haplessness with a mixture of alarm and scorn. They quietly rolled their eyes at our misplaced confidence, rising to their own challenges determinedly, efficiently and seemingly without fuss. We did wonder whether they had enjoyed themselves though. Yes, as research goes it is woefully anecdotal at the very best. But stereotypical or not, thirty years on – and for better or worse – you would be hard pressed to find a teacher that

would deny those characteristics and traits in many of the girls and boys they teach. And yet, back then, the very notion that boys and girls might just have different approaches to problems, challenges, their own mental and physical development, their relationship with and respect for authority, their learning, was borderline unthinkable. Steve Biddulph, one of the world’s best-known (and bestselling) psychologists, reminds us what a different era it was, when ‘we rarely acknowledged differences in the brains of boys and girls, for fear this would imply gender inequality. Today we know that there are numerous differences, and by understanding these, we can build on boys’ and girls’ strengths and address their weaknesses.’ It has taken several decades of data gathering and research to meander from the deeply held but fallacious view that there are no significant differences in the way that boys and girls learn, and consequently no need to attune educational policies and strategies at macro or micro level accordingly, to the realisation that the view, held by some teachers, that many boys’ attitudes to learning, especially ones that manifest themselves in unhelpful ways, are inevitable and to be accepted and ‘managed’, could well, of itself, be part of the problem. That there are significant gender-based differences in educational development, achievement and outcome, has only latterly become incontrovertible. Qualitative data demonstrates significant gender-based variances in enthusiasm and motivation at various stages and educational contexts, in active and sustained participation in sport, and in other nonclassroom based activities. Widely documented quantitative data demonstrates a significant performance gap, especially at GCSE level. In all of the most recent years, girls have outperformed boys at GCSE level by more than 6% when it comes to awarding the top grades (9-7). Indeed, with boys less likely to succeed at GCSE, they are similarly less likely to continue to complete meaningful academic qualifications at Sixth Form level. Dropout rates amongst school and college students post-16 is far higher for boys than for girls: recent OECD figures indicate that a fifth of UK teenagers drop out of formal education at post-16 level (amongst the highest figures in the developed world), and an ever-growing majority of them are boys. In the last decade, progression to university reflects a similar gender gap, with girls more than a third more likely to go to university than boys, as over 30,000 more females than males entered Higher Education in each of the three years between 2016 and 2018. The picture goes far further than attitudes to learning and educational outcomes, with data supporting significant gender gaps for school exclusion rates; prescriptions for antidepressants

Autumn 2019

23


Fulfilling potential amongst adolescents; childhood obesity; and suicide rates. In the developed world, by the age of fifteen, boys are three times more likely to die than girls. Three times. The picture is, of course, a complicated one. Many boys achieve highly at school whilst some girls do not. Attainment gaps exist for ethnicity and social class that often dwarf those for gender, and it is the interaction of all these factors that has an impact on the achievement and performance of girls as well as boys. Additionally, it is far from the case that girls outpace boys across the curriculum: data points to boys broadly matching girls in mathematics and science. But, thankfully, gone are the days when educational policies made no reference to the existence of a ‘gender gap’. The enduring notion that educational strategies could and should remain avowedly ‘gender-blind’ has rightly been consigned to history. But whilst acknowledging the issue is one thing, understanding it is another entirely. Boys think and learn differently from girls; they develop socially and emotionally differently and at different rates; different things motivate them and enthuse them; they are moved, inspired and engaged by different things; they are fearful of, and disheartened by, different things. How to make practical and meaningful sense of this? The last thirty years have seen a welcome reappraisal in our approach to understanding gender differences within the educational process. We have moved steadily on from what has been a persistent and pernicious erosion of faith in boys, learning instead to see their ‘frustrating habits’, their ‘giddiness’, their ‘impulsivity’ in a new light. In order to engage boys fully in an educational setting, the social and emotional context of their development needs to be engaged with too. A re-examination of the nature of what it means to be male – what it means to be a man – has led to a substantial and welcome broadening of our definitions of masculinity. We have also revised our standards and the expectations that we have of boys, and gained the skills and knowledge of how to resist the easy slide that leads away from understanding gender difference to accepting, and even endorsing, negative gender stereotypes. Two books that broke the mould twenty years ago, helping to shift understanding of boys’ development for parents and educationalists alike and move the gender debate forward, were Raising Cain by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, and Raising Boys (subsequently re-issued several times) by Steve Biddulph. Kindlon and Thompson challenged the educational and domestic settings within which boys developed with the question: what do boys need that they’re not getting? This question remains as relevant to us in schools now as ever. The authors discussed, for perhaps the first time, the vital importance of developing emotional literacy in young men and the need to cultivate emotional awareness and empathy to help boys to make sense of the social pressures and changes that they experience. They made significant strides in changing views of boys’ behaviour, shining a light on the some of the destructive emotional ‘training’ that many boys received in many educational settings. In the later parts of the book, the authors refer, arguably for the first time, to ‘toxic’ views of maleness, a term that is ubiquitous now, calling for a complete re-examination and a broadening of our understanding of masculinity.

24

Autumn 2019

Steve Biddulph made ground-breaking and reassuring sense about the things that make boys what and who they are – their natural creativity, their tendency to take risks, to act impulsively, to test, push and cross boundaries. From a parent’s and teacher’s perspective, the encouragement was to reset our dials when it comes to the behaviour of boys with a far better and clearer understanding of the impact of changing levels of testosterone, of the brain differences between girls and boys, the slower development of boys’ fine motor skills and cognitive skills. Biddulph also proposes some approaches to schooling that outline the importance of educational continuity, for example having the same teacher for longer periods of time, and how that can have a disproportionately positive influence on boys’ development and in building effective personal relationships. Several more recent books are worthy of close scrutiny. In Bringing Up Boys: Shaping the Next Generation of Men, James Dobson develops further theories of the ‘toxicity’ of masculinity, and indeed the growing vilification of it, leading to a culture that has become deeply confusing for boys, who are growing up without a clear idea of what the end product should be. Other books, such as Celia Lashlie’s He’ll Be Ok and Claire Gillman’s The Best of Boys, provide steadily more positive versions of masculinity, and discuss the importance of developing a sense of pride in being male. This year, in Boys Don’t Try?, reviewed elsewhere in this issue, authors Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts focus squarely on the way that boys live up to, and down to, teacher expectations, with evidence to indicate that the key instrument to raising attainment in boys lies with teachers themselves. Teachers need to shed a (largely) unintentional prejudicial belief about boys’ attainment and behaviour. We need to recognise that misplaced gender ‘perceptions’ when boys and girls exhibit similar ‘typically’ male characteristics – attention-seeking, following a pack mentality, rejecting academic work and disrespecting authority – somehow leads to girls largely escaping sanction, and being given far greater licence and latitude than boys, with serious consequences for the performance of both genders. When it comes to countering the ‘gender gap’, the value lies in taking time to understand how boys develop socially and emotionally outside educational settings; in employing strategies that actively encourage and communicate as positive and as broad a view of masculinity, uncorrupted by cultural prejudices, as possible; and in understanding that our own gender prejudices and misperceptions – our daily standards, expectations, tolerance levels and ways of communicating – have a deeply significant part to play in the educational performance of boys. Nick Gallop is Headmaster of Stamford School Referenced reading: Raising Cain Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson (2000); Raising Boys Steve Biddulph (first published in 1998); Bringing Up Boys: Shaping the Next Generation of Men James Dobson (2001); He’ll Be Ok Celia Lashlie (2005); The Best of Boys Claire Gillman (2013); Boys Don’t Try? Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts (2019)


Fulfilling potential

Two into one does go! Ben Berry celebrates his innovative StudyBeds StudyBeds have proved a success with the Sixth Formers at Holyport College. The beds were initially installed at the college, a co-educational day and boarding school in Berkshire, in 2017 and two years down the line they are still as popular as ever, with over 80 beds now in use in their four boarding houses. The relatively new school, which opened in September 2014, required a workable twinning solution for their upcoming intake of Sixth Form boarders. As an expanding school they were looking for a practical solution that allowed them to accommodate two students in relatively small bedrooms without compromising on the high standard of modern and well-appointed boarding accommodation they provided. Space-saving StudyBeds, the clever design that combines a large desk and full-sized bed all in the same footprint, proved to be the perfect solution! The initial installation of 48 beds went ahead in the summer of 2017 ready for the start of the 2017/18 academic year. As well as the beds, the college also had The StudyBed Company’s matching top box storage units and wardrobes fitted. These items combined meant that each student had a large desk, comfortable bed and lots of storage – all the vital components of a student bedroom - in a very compact space. It was also possible to create a clear division of personal space within the rooms whilst still allowing each student plenty of space to work and sleep. The large amount of storage space provided encouraged the students to keep their rooms neat and tidy too. At the time Holyport College commented, ‘The StudyBeds have been extremely well received by both students and school staff alike, and the robust quality, backed by a 5-year warranty is very reassuring. The StudyBed Company have been thoroughly

professional and efficient throughout the entire ordering and installation process and are a delight to deal with. We are looking ahead already to our next phase of expansion where we hope StudyBeds will provide part of the solution to our continuing successful growth as a C ​ ollege​.’ Following on from a positive year, Holyport College were true to their word and chose StudyBeds again for the next stage of their boarding expansion. In August 2018, The StudyBed Company’s installation team returned to fit another 34 beds complete with top boxes and wardrobes ready for the 2018/19 Sixth Form intake. On request from the school the new StudyBeds came with lockable storage boxes to give the students that extra security and peace of mind that their valuables and personal items were safe at all times, helping to uphold the caring and secure environment that Holyport College strives to achieve for all its boarders. As the 2019/20 academic year gets going and two years on from the first installation, StudyBeds continue to provide the Sixth Form boarders at Holyport College with everything they need from their bedrooms in a neat and compact footprint; a fantastic solution that allowed the college to successfully convert their rather small bedrooms to comfortable and practical twin rooms. Could StudyBeds work for your school? As well as twin rooms, StudyBeds are a great choice for transforming small rooms into functional and desirable spaces. Deploying them hugely increases the usable floor space in a room and can even allow an en suite shower room to be included if desired. StudyBeds are also well suited to dormitories. They provide the necessary work and sleep facilities plus storage, whilst allowing for a clear division of personal space within the room.

Autumn 2019

25


Gold GoldStandard StandardTesting Testing for forIndependent IndependentSchools Schools About Password Tests Password Pupil tests are used by independent schools for ‘gold standard’ assessment in English and Maths. Password results can be relied upon for international admissions to secondary education, GCSE, A level and IB programmes or utilised for pupil placement on arrival. Password Pupil tests are: • designed by experts and aligned to international standards • rigorous, accurate and highly reliable • secure and simply managed online • time-efficient, eliminating exchanges of papers and scripts by post or email Password tests are controlled by our partner schools’ own staff and delivered by the school, their trusted representatives, or by the British Council, wherever and whenever required.

www.englishlanguagetesting.co.uk

What our user schools say: Partnering with Password has been very successful, the support teams respond to queries promptly and the platform is incredibly easy to use and interpret. Since using Password tests, we have been able to offer a quicker turnaround decision to applicants, more accurately compare international applicants and have gone paperless.

Lucy Bird, Admissions Officer, New Hall School. are very satisfied with our partnership with Password. “We The support team are extremely prompt and professional. Working with Password we have been able to strengthen our entry requirements as having a certificate provided by a trusted body makes it easier to select students. The platform is clear and easy to navigate.

Nari Park, International Registrar, d’Overbroeck’s College. To find out more about Password tests, email: contact@englishlanguagetesting.co.uk

Ind Schools half page Ad June 2019.indd 1

30/05/2019 21:02

Accommodation Headache? Could StudyBeds Help Ease the Pain?

"A very last minute request and the service we received was second to none. The whole process of ordering, delivery and set up were all first class. We are delighted with the beds and more importantly so are our girls too!”

A Complete Student Bedroom: Large Desk Comfortable Bed Optional Storage

Sue Powell, Head of Boarding Farlington School

All in the same compact footprint!

Transform small rooms

|

Successfully convert singles to twin rooms

|

Improve dormitory layout and functionality

StudyBeds have a proven track record in student accommodation with hundreds in use at many universities and boarding schools around the country. Why not take advantage of our FREE TRIAL OFFER and see why The StudyBed has proved such a success? Contact us or visit our website to find out more.

01844 214484

enquiries@studybed.co.uk

www.studybed.co.uk


Fulfilling potential Since the desk and bed are in the same compact footprint, the usable floor space is increased, and the layout of the room can be greatly improved, offering students a more desirable and flexible space in which to sleep and study. The before and after pictures of a dormitory at Tring School of Performing Arts where StudyBeds have been installed shows just what a difference they can make. StudyBeds come in a range of different sizes from single up to full-sized double beds with a variety of matching furniture and storage options available. There is a bespoke finishing service whereby the beds can be painted in any colour or combination of colours meaning that StudyBeds offer a truly flexible accommodation solution. Combined with the free planning service available, as well as the option to lease the beds and The StudyBed Company’s first-class customer service, StudyBeds really are hard to beat. ‘I have used StudyBeds twice now and have not only been impressed with the product, which is excellent, but also with the very helpful attitude of the staff. I phoned twice with an emergency bedding situation, leaving StudyBeds with very little time. On both occasions they dropped everything and sorted the problem for me with the least stress imaginable.’ Martin Lees, Facilities Manager, Bath Academy. Although they have sold over 8,000 StudyBeds to date, The StudyBed Company understands that there is often caution when investing in an innovative product, so they offer a riskfree solution – a no obligation free trial. As part of the offer they will deliver and install a StudyBed to be appraised by students and staff. The bed can be kept for as long as required to evaluate it thoroughly and they will then return to remove it once it is finished with.

HERE

& THERE

Why not take advantage and see why The StudyBed has proved such a success in boarding school accommodation? Ben Berry is the Founder and Chief Executive of StudyBeds You can find out more about StudyBeds including their Free Trial Offer at http://www.studybed.co.uk/corporate/.

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. wheare@gmail.com. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Wellington College wins Boarding Research Award Wellington College has won the Boarding Research Award at this year’s Boarding Schools’ Association Awards. This award recognises the brilliant work of Delyth Lynch, the College’s Deputy Head (Safeguarding), who has recently completed a BSA research fellowship exploring what makes boarding schools vulnerable and what we can do to create a safer culture. The BSA Research Award recognises research undertaken by a school or individual into how to continue to improve the boarding sector and better meet students’ needs and Delyth is a worthy winner. Her research was conducted across numerous boarding schools, and the questions she raised and the discussions that followed, have already had a significant impact on the culture at Wellington. During her career, Delyth has made a significant contribution to the cause of boarding. The impact she has had at Wellington College over the twelve years is undisputed, but her reputation and influence reach far beyond the College gates. With this accolade, Delyth has cemented her reputation as a thought-leader in safeguarding. Not only will her work continue to improve the experience of our boarders, but it will undoubtedly serve to improve standards across the sector.

Autumn 2019

27


Fulfilling potential

What does it mean to be academic? Rick Clarke believes the founders of Frensham Heights were ahead of their time When I took over the reins at Frensham Heights school earlier this year, I was aware that I was stepping into a role steeped in tradition. Not a tradition of uniforms, authority and strict rules, but one of progressivism, of doing things differently and being proud of it. Frensham Heights nestles in 100 acres of rolling Surrey Hills, a rare and stunning location which our founders in 1925 knew would allow the youngsters in their care to develop at their own pace and to become the free-thinkers and inquiring minds of the future. They were aiming for a truly rounded academic education, one that acknowledged that there was far more to developing a successful human being than fact-feeding. It is an ethos which has served the school well – generations of successful Frenshamians are testimony to that - and it is an ethos of which I am now the proud custodian. And yet, as I meet prospective parents at the school, I am increasingly struck by the line of questioning taken by many of them. How academic is Frensham Heights? My standard response is to say that all children are stretched to reach their full potential, and since what the parents are essentially asking is how well do the children at your school do in exams, they assume I am referring to exam results. It has somehow become the norm that this is what we now mean by ‘academic’. However, an armful of A*s was not what Frensham’s founders had in mind when they used the word ‘academic’, and I find that I

28

Autumn 2019

am becoming increasingly uneasy with today’s shorthand for perceived success. If this is how a school’s academic credentials are measured, then I have a problem with the way that we define what ‘academic’ means. While there is certainly still a requirement for young people to have good qualifications, not least to open doors to college and university, the skills that lead to career success have changed, and are continuing to change, significantly. Last year, a World Economic Forum report on the future of the job market picked out the key skills that any workforce will need in the future if it is to be successful. With the growth in AI and technology, those skills included creativity, initiative, problem-solving and resilience. Other qualities that the report mentioned were leadership, emotional intelligence, service orientation and negotiation. Not one of these skills could be seen as purely ‘academic’. However, a school such as Frensham Heights with its equal emphasis on the learning which takes place outside the classroom as well as in it, is somewhere these crucial skills are honed in abundance. There is no doubt that an academic curriculum in the 21st century needs to be flexible and mindful of the changing demands of the world of work. To see the curriculum in purely utilitarian terms - as a set of grades to be achieved - is a mistake. When Michael Gove redesigned GCSEs during his tenure as Education Secretary to make them more ‘rigorous’, he


Fulfilling potential

was wanting our classrooms to be more ‘academic’. But he missed the point. You cannot fill students with facts and make them ‘academic’. To be truly ‘academic’ requires a mind that questions, that is able to seek out fresh information, that is excited by that new information and dares to speak up. In short, becoming a resourceful and resilient thinker – a true academic - cannot be taught within the strict requirements of a two-year course. There have also been some unfortunate consequences: ‘soft’ subjects such as Design, Art, Music and Languages have been stripped away, particularly in state schools, in a drive to encourage more children to study STEM subjects. If this is the hallmark of an ‘academic’ curriculum, then I worry that we are setting up thousands of youngsters for significant challenges down the line if we do not also look to develop those wider skills that the World Economic Forum sees as so crucial. All children, irrespective of whether they are being educated privately or by the state, should have the opportunity to develop those skills. When the founders of this school sat down in the early 1920s to work out just what they hoped to deliver, they were responding to the stifling and restrictive educational system of the Victorian era. Today’s relentless focus on exams is not dissimilar. We may have raised standards by having a national curriculum and a system of public exams which is recognised as every teenager’s rite of passage. However, the impact on the wellbeing of children and teachers cannot be underestimated - and we certainly have not produced a super generation of ‘academics’. If anything, we are in danger of putting students off independent learning through the relentless pressure to acquire knowledge within a strict framework. Frensham’s founders, three women who wanted to create a modern response to a rapidly changing world, offered an enlightened alternative to the suffocating Victorian edicts they had grown up with, allowing individuals to flourish and find their innate strengths. Today, I feel passionately that we should continue that tradition here at Frensham Heights. I believe that our progressive ideals are as relevant (if not more so) today as in the 1920s. I

believe it would be all too easy to sell this non-selective school on the basis of its very good exam results, but what we are providing is something far more valuable for the developing individual in an ever-changing world. Our curriculum takes children to Scotland for three weeks in Year 9, away from modern conveniences and technology. The students themselves call it life-changing. We have aspiring engineers learning alongside ambitious dancers. We send students to Malawi. We are inclusive, not exclusive. Whether it is on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe or coping with challenging weather at Everest Base Camp, we enable our students to discover what it is that makes them tick. It is what we do – and, I believe, do well. When I first visited Frensham Heights two years ago, I was struck by how the school felt different to any other I knew. With its emphasis on the outdoors and freedom, its spirit of openness, it felt closer to my South African roots than any of the other UK independent schools where I have taught. I know that every school will claim there is a little bit of magic about what it does, but with Frensham that special atmosphere is tangible from the moment you pass through its doors. There is a warmth about this community: everyone addresses each other by first names, and there is no uniform. It is an environment built on respect that is earned, not demanded. No wonder visitors describe it as a breath of fresh air. There is a mistaken assumption that non-selective schools are not academic, and this frustrates me. My school is academic - in the truest sense of the word. That’s why this Autumn, as I begin my second year at Frensham Heights, I will be exploring the subject further at the TEDx conference we are hosting in our theatre in October. And when visiting prospective parents ask me this year how ‘academic’ my school is, I will ask them what they think it is to be academic today. I am looking forward to some lively and interesting discussions. After all, that is what Frensham is – and always has been – about. Rick Clarke became Headmaster of Frensham Heights School in January 2019

Autumn 2019

29


INTRODUCING a new series of researchED guides

Leaders in Independent Education

ÂŁ12 ISBN: 978 1 912906 39 0

We assist families with impartial advice on the very best opportunities in independent education for their children. With expertise to support schools on feasibility, build and strategic school improvements.

www.gabbitas.com info@gabbitas.com +44 (0) 207 734 0161

ÂŁ12 ISBN: 978 1 912906 37 6

www.johncatt.com


Fulfilling potential

The rise of tutoring Hugo Sutton asks what consumers and tutors can expect from this growing industry Private tutoring is amongst the earliest forms of education. The Ancient Greek education system had a formal public school setting, but this was also heavily influenced by the use of private tutors. Aristotle and Plato certainly paved the way for many of the ideas that underpin modern pedagogy and classroom learning, but with Aristotle famously providing private tutoring to Alexander the Great, the phenomenon is clearly not a new one. Nevertheless, with the global private tutoring market expecting to reach a value of $177,921 million by 2026 (Zion Market Research 2019) the debate surrounding the use of and value of private tutors is likely to continue apace. So, what can both consumers and tutors expect as this industry continues to grow and where does the value lie in the modern tutoring industry, both financially and academically? Private tuition is a controversial aspect of the modern educational dialogue. With issues surrounding social mobility and the provision of education high on the agenda for the government, it is worth understanding the value that this industry has and the ways in which all parties involved in tutoring can benefit from this side of the education industry. One of the key reasons why parents may employ the use of a private tutor is to help with the stressful periods of transition that students go through at various stages of their education. Whether that be from primary to secondary, GCSE to A level, or onwards to university, most tuition revolves around support at these stages. For students these transition periods are key and can define the progress that they make throughout their academic careers. Schools of course place a heavy emphasis on these stages as well and teachers will be providing their own support at these key stages to their pupils. Nevertheless, with increasing pressures on teachers at all stages and the ever growing class numbers, many students may feel the need to look for supplementary support, particularly if there is a subject that they are struggling with. It is at this point that parents might first dip their toes in the murky world of private tuition. The difficulty is working out where to start. From retired teachers who advertise in the local paper, to online platforms with thousands of tutors, where should parents start and what should they be looking for? There are some important factors to bear in mind when looking for a tutor and these can vary considerably depending on the support that a child needs. Cost is a major factor and as with any industry there is a need to strike the happy medium. Whilst the ÂŁ20 an hour support from the 16 year-old down the road may seem attractive, it is less likely that they will be able to provide the depth of support that a child may need to help them to develop their understanding beyond the classroom. The best bet is to approach a reputable consultancy for advice and support. Although the cost may be higher, the security and, importantly, value for money that these agencies

provide is what sets them apart. Most of the top consultancies that provide tuition will ensure that the correct tutor is matched to a child, based not only upon their subject knowledge but also their character and suitability to provide specific support as discussed with the parents. These tutors will normally be graduates who are either tutoring full time professionally or providing support alongside their own day jobs. Parents can expect that these tutors will have been interviewed and assessed by the agency, but parents should always ask about whether an agency conducts DBS checks on their tutors as well. From there on it is up to parents to decide what support they would like. The variety of support that is available is an attractive prospect for many families who are looking to employ a tutor. Support can be at a child’s home in person, via online platforms such as skype, or even in a suitable public space such as a local library. It is this flexibility that has allowed more and more students to benefit from tuition in recent years. It is also important to look at the industry from the point of view of tutors. Despite the recent announcement of an increase

Autumn 2019

31


Fulfilling potential

in teacher salaries by 2.75%, many teachers will supplement their incomes in a variety of ways. Although exam marking has always been a popular choice, many education professionals are increasingly looking towards tutoring as an alternative. One recent tutor to come through the doors at Gabbitas explained why he decided to tutor alongside his teaching career. ‘…it is the flexibility that attracts me most of all. Compared to exam marking where I would have to be holed up throughout the marking period, tutoring allows me greater flexibility. 2 years ago I had an online tutee whom I tutored throughout the summer and was able to continue to deliver lessons even when I went away for a week to Crete.’ This flexibility is one of the main factors that influences teachers to tutor in their spare time. Nevertheless, many tutors are not necessarily practicing teachers, and for these tutors the motivation may be different. Recent graduates who enter the working world will often want to keep in touch with their academic studies and, for many, tutoring will enable them to do this by delivering support to students who may be looking to follow in their academic footsteps. Tutors gain a huge amount of satisfaction in helping their students succeed and a recent graduate commented recently whilst attending an interview at Gabbitas:

32

Autumn 2019

‘I helped a student study for his GCSE exam in just 6 months and when he achieved his desired grade I was over the moon. Helping him in the evenings alongside my office job gave me a real sense of fulfilment.’ The financial motivations are evident within an industry that is continuing to grow, but the best tutors are those who really invest in their pupils, and finding these top tutors can make all the difference for students at critical stages of their education. With a study by the Sutton Trust in 2016 showing that a quarter of all 11 to 16 year-olds have received tuition, it is a part of the education industry that is seeing no sign of slowing down. Whether you are a parent or a prospective tutor, it is part of the education world which looks likely to rise from strength to strength. Hugo Sutton is a qualified teacher and tutor consultant at Gabbitas, a leading educational consultancy providing tuition and education support to schools and families since 1873


The challenge of the new

Scottish Islands Peaks Race Sam Griffiths describes the thrilling debut of the Shrewsbury School Hunt – the oldest running club in the world – in an epic two-day race across fells and water ‘Runners!’ went the cry. Lamlash on the Isle of Arran at first light on a Sunday morning is a fairly inauspicious little hamlet. Yet it would soon welcome the remainder of the 40 boats that had silently crept into the bay having sailed through the night round the Mull of Kintyre. Now the sailors waited anxiously for their runners to return from the 19-mile round trip up Goat Fell; the sails were impatiently waiting to fill, the dinghies, ready to transport the runners, were bobbing in anticipation. And there they are, the stumbling figures of Tom Jackson, Sam Western and Simon Adney (OS) shuffle, for that is all they can manage, the last few hundred metres in a stunning 3hrs 47mins. I hand them their lifejackets which they fumble on, collapsing in the dinghy only to writhe in an agony of cramp and exhaustive disinterest. A frantic row out to Brown Bear, followed by a shaky scramble aboard, ensures we have a crucial 17-minute lead over our nearest rivals, Fettes College on La Giraffe. There was now just the small matter of a 15-mile sail across the Firth of Clyde to Troon and the finish. Surely nothing could stop us winning the Youth Section now…? First held in 1983, the Scottish Islands Peak Race is a somewhat unusual adventure race for teams of sailors and fell runners. Since 1992 there has also been a hotly contested Youth Section that has attracted mainly Scottish schools, but also ones from England and even Aiglon College from Switzerland. The race is non-stop and starts in Oban with a short 4-mile hill run. You then sail to Mull, run 18 miles over Ben Talaidh, sail to Jura, run 14 miles over some of the Paps, sail to Arran, run 19 miles up and down Goat Fell (often in the dark!) and then sail to Troon. Youth teams consist of six pupils who run in pairs with an adult, each pair doing one island with the fastest pair running the Oban section. Each team carries a tracker for safety, which also provides an addictive way of following their position on a mobile if you download the free app! Indeed, it was wonderful to feel the support of the school community via the tracker. Some must have even woken in the night to check it, as I received a message at 3am on Sunday asking why we were not moving! The most difficult task is finding someone who wants to offer their yacht to a team of ten unwashed souls. The famous explorer, Bill Tilman, used to advertise in The Times for crew by stating ‘No pay, no prospects, not much pleasure’ and it was in a similar vein that I appealed to my boarding house parents in the summer of 2017. Yet lo and behold, who should come forward but Hugh Clay, rounder of Cape Horn, Arctic sailor and veteran of the Scottish, British and even Australian versions of what is affectionately known as ‘Peaks Racing’. He very generously offered to skipper his Pocock 45, Brown Bear, with David Russell, a circumnavigator from Suffolk.

A year of ‘due diligence’ ensued before we committed to taking Shrewsbury’s famous Hunt running club north to create another chapter in its illustrious history. Having been kindly driven the nine hours to Oban on Thursday afternoon in the speed-restricted (62mph!) minibus by parent Shaun Western (who would then take it to Troon), we spent the morning at the Race Briefing, got vaguely familiar with Brown Bear and then brought her round to the start line. The club’s famous Huntsman’s Cry of ‘All hounds who wish to run, run hard, run well and may the devil take the hindmost’ was on our breaths at midday on Friday 17 May. The evocative sound of the bagpipes filled the air as Tom and Sam joined the en masse charge around the undulating course in Oban. Forty boats vied for pole position near the pier, the holiday sunshine belying an atmosphere of pent-up energy and competitive spirit, ready for the Le Mans-style start. Two by two the runners sprinted down the road, leapt into their rubber dinghies, and rowed to the eager yacht (doing their best not be hit and drowned) before heading up the Sound of Mull. There were only light airs, but the magic carpet of the flooding tide soon swept us up to Salen, where at 5.50pm, Paddy Barlow, James Weir and Simon Adney were rowed ashore to face the first of three rigorous five-minute kit checks. With no marshals on the route, the rucksacks had to be emptied: waterproof bottoms and top, thermals, hat, gloves, emergency shelter, map, compass and emergency rations were all accounted for; no costly return to the yacht was necessary.

Autumn 2019

33


How do your parents share contact details post-GDPR? Classlist is an award-winning app offering a secure way for your parents to share details and communicate A controlled alternative to social media Encourages positive parent community Completely free "Classlist is a huge hit with the parents, and really helped with our GDPR concerns. Thank you for a wonderful product!" Jenny Hill, Bursar, Aldwickbury School

Find out more: www.classlist.com/schools

A TASTE OF THINGS TO COME Are your students studying A levels? Do they know what they want to do at university? Our free subject specific Taster Days show your students how traditional A level subjects can lead to a wide range of options when it comes to choosing a university course – including some they may not have known existed!

WORLD TOP

200

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019

UK TOP

15

The Times/Sunday Times 2019 and Complete University Guide 2019

AWARDED

in the Teaching Excellence Framework 2017-2020

Our Taster Days in Norwich include the subjects Maths, Geography, History and Drama. Your students will get a real taste of what it’s like to study at UEA. They’ll work with our academics and tutors, meet current students and explore our unique and exciting campus. For more information visit: www.uea.ac.uk/universitytasters or email: enrichment@uea.ac.uk

EB5271_UEA_Taster Days advert_2.indd 1

04/04/2019 11:09


The challenge of the new

For the waiting crew there was little rest to be had; Brown Bear had to be anchored, sails stowed and supper cooked. The sailors then rested while the remaining four boys played cards in the sun, no doubt contemplating their own up-coming running leg with increasing anxiety. Despite setting off behind Fettes A and Windermere, it was clear to see from the tracker app that Shrewsbury’s runners had overtaken them. However, as this was only updated every half an hour, I rowed ashore early to await them. Led by the indomitable Paddy, all three piled aboard after their hugely pleasing 3hrs 37mins, including Ben Talaidh, while the rest of the crew fumbled with the spinnaker. Windermere School on Kittiwake soon ghosted past us in the fading light, their 35ft monohull making the most of the almost non-existent breeze. Soon the oars were put to use up in the bow, but at 45ft and 14 tonnes, it was almost possible to hear Brown Bear laugh at our feeble efforts. As darkness descended we reached the Firth of Lorne just as the tide started to flood against us at Duart Castle, but the breeze remained from the north-west, enabling us to nudge south. At this point, Hugh and David, a veritable Davies and Carruthers of the 21st century, made the inspired choice to sail wide and west of Fladda and its powerful tidal gate, before ducking in through the potentially treacherous Corryvreckan at slack water. By first light the rain had really set in, but the tracker confirmed that we had moved up into third place overall and first in the Youth Class, a stunning piece of sailing. But now, the lighter boats behind soon caught back up to us as we all took advantage of the ebbing tide to eventually arrive in Craighouse at 9am on Saturday. Jura was the island home of George Orwell when he wrote 1984, so it seemed appropriate that the oppressive presence of Fettes A on La Giraffe and Windermere on Kittiwake, eventually hunted down Max Green, Sam Watts and myself on our 14-mile wilderness run over some of the famous Paps. An aweinspiring landscape of Mordor-like proportions gave us a misty embrace, the ephemeral tracks enticing one onwards through a landscape of heather, bogs, fleas and ticks. Even the hundreds of deer questioned our presence in this untamed wasteland, nonchalantly looking up as we came within touching distance. Off the final Pap, all three youth teams charged down the scree and boulders, through leg-cutting bracken, before a ‘Death March’ back along the road to the dinghies. The wind rose, the

sails filled, copious amounts of pasta were hungrily devoured and midnight became the new estimated time of arrival for the final run. The stage was set for an unheard-of finale on Arran. But sailing can be a fickle business, and just as we were congratulating ourselves on going around ‘the Mull’ with no seasickness and keeping the Youth Teams just behind us, the wind, like four of our six runners, seemed to clamber into its bunk. A long slumber ensued, that is apart from James Weir and Max Green who, in a Herculean effort, took it in turns to row Brown Bear forward, close in to the shore, taking every shortcut possible. At long last, a slight breeze edged us past Holy Isle and at 5.10am we rowed ashore, a minute behind our rivals, and watched heart in mouth as our team set off one last time. Rowing back to Brown Bear, I found the entire crew asleep, seemingly dead to the world. The tranquil, sleepy delights of Lamlash were soon extinguished as the first four adult yachts got ready to receive their runners. Like whippets on a leash, the moment the painter from the dinghy was thrown up, the oars of the yachts dug in as they looked for any small advantage on the final leg. It was very quickly our turn; as we crept out of the bay, our tacks seemed to mock us as we made little headway east. Sam Watts on the binoculars spotted Fettes shougle (as the Scots say) along the road and in what seemed like only seconds, La Giraffe was behind us. It was now decision time for Hugh and David, but they stuck to the rhumb line, leaving the others to risk going north or south to find better wind. At no point could we relax. After 48 hours on the boat, the now suffocating smell of ten muddy and sweaty males exuding from the cabin became ever more invasive as we wished Troon harbour closer. But, at just after 1pm on Sunday, the exhausted crew of Brown Bear could finally celebrate. All that remained was a dinghy paddle to the nearest pier and a triumphant run up to the Harbourmaster’s office and the finish. Warm smiles from the wonderfully supportive and superbly organised Race Committee greeted us and a bottle of champagne was thrust in to our hands. Shrewsbury School on Brown Bear, at the first time of asking, had become Youth Champions of the Scottish Islands Peaks Race! Sam Griffiths is the Housemaster of Ingram’s Hall, Shrewsbury School

Autumn 2019

35


The challenge of the new

Multicultural, multiracial Macrometropolis Louise Simpson describes headship in the Jardins of Sao Paulo

When I announced to my staff at Bromley High School that I would be taking up a new headship in Brazil I was met with stony silence…. The distance, both culturally and in absolute terms, between a GDST school in leafy south London and a bustling co-ed city school of over a thousand Brazilians in one of the largest cities in the world that most of us remembered from geography A level case studies, seemed enormous, and it took a while for the idea to sink in. I must say, during the period between my appointment and my coming here in August 2014, whilst I had plenty of opportunities to visit my community and get to know them a little in the year before I moved here, there were times when I wondered whether it might not have been a better idea to have chosen somewhere a little more familiar and a little closer to home than Brazil for my first overseas post! I am now in the position, 6 years later, of looking back to the east, across the Atlantic, towards my next post, at Exeter School, where I will take up the headship in September 2020, and I would not have had it any other way. As one starts to reflect on the career choices one makes, and thinks about paving the way and preparing for the next head of St Paul’s, São Paulo, I inevitably turn my thoughts to what I have learned, what I would have done differently, and what I will say to the

36

Autumn 2019

next head, as they prepare to lead this great school community forward. So here are my reflections.

Stay connected

Many people have asked me over the years how different is St Paul’s, as compared to Bromley, and how similar is it to run a school in Brazil compared to London? There are many, many differences, but the similarities are more striking and much more fundamental, and hence, more important. The first thing I had to make sense of was the IB diploma programme and being an IB world school as part of a truly global community. The IB is a phenomenal thing – and I think that as educators, brought up on a diet of GCSE and A levels, we can all learn a lot from the international community of educators that exists beyond our home shores and the idea that a curriculum can have a philosophy and core values at its heart, which is much more than a specification or a set of assessment criteria. The IB is one subset of that community and embraces about 5000 schools of many types worldwide, but within the community of English medium and curriculum schools there are many other subsets, all of which provide support, collaboration and ideas to their members and associates. Being


The challenge of the new away from home, as we are, makes the links with similar schools much more important. We need to stay current and aware of changes ‘back home’ and in similar schools elsewhere in the world, so the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and the Latin America Heads Conference (LAHC), of which I am currently chair, have been important platforms and groups for me, as has international HMC, for maintaining links and connections with home and wishing colleagues to understand the life of an international school head.

Embrace the local context

I have found that many schools internationally cannot be truly independent as they have to work in parallel with the local curriculum and legislative requirements. In some places this is more rigorous than others and may well restrict your plans and ideas and innovations as a new head, simply because there are not enough hours in the working week to fit everything in! I have learned the importance of diplomacy and relationships within the local education community, and that our Brazilian diretora (who works just 3 hours a week) is technically far more important than I am when it comes to keeping the local education officials happy that we are complying in all senses with the local regulations. Teaching particular subjects, or a particular proportion of the curriculum in the home language, is quite typical in schools like mine. We see these as opportunities to be embraced, rather than restrictions which prevent us from doing what we want to do, but they do shape our curriculum and also our assessment procedures and reporting to parents. Embracing this, rather than trying to fight against it, will make life better for everyone.

Understand your parent body

We are a school of mostly local families and, in line with the majority of British international schools overseas, this has changed over time from a largely expat population. This brings with it some challenges, especially in schools that are relatively new and therefore do not have a community of parents who attended the school themselves, a community that in our case makes it easier for new families to make sense of some of our peculiarities. We take it as read in the UK that everyone knows what GCSEs are, after all we all read about them every August in the press, but such fundamentals might need to be spelled out to parents, staff and pupils who are much more familiar with their own national school system. Over the last five years I have discovered that the things parents are concerned about are largely the same on both sides of the Atlantic; it might just be the way in which they are communicated that differs. Working hard to communicate clearly has been crucial for us – and we still don’t always get it right. Inevitably there are times when things get lost in translation, or the expectation of parents does not quite marry up with the reality in school. Maintaining good humour really helps here – and ignoring WhatsApp to maintain sanity!

Freedom to follow our own path

We are extremely lucky to be liberated from the dreaded league tables – and this was a sigh of relief for me on joining the St Paul’s community. Of course our public exam results are important, and we are very proud of the results that our pupils get and the university entrance offers that they secure as a result. We proudly share them with the school community and wider public via our communications and social media, but the annual round of press coverage and images of leaping youngsters on the school

lawn, waving exam results in the air, is not something that is high on our list of priorities. The freedom that comes with this lack of national obsession and scrutiny is fabulous. We can focus on other things in our academic strategy like choosing the right attitudes in the classroom in our Lion Learning project, or devising Personal Powers for our Prep School pupils who, unrestricted by the Common Entrance syllabus and scholarship wars for senior schools (they almost all stay with us for 15 years) can enjoy projectbased learning in the international primary curriculum and enjoy plenty of creative and fun approaches to their learning which might seem rather strange in a traditional UK prep school.

The most fabulous teams

For a long time, those of us who chose to work overseas were considered rather maverick, or not up to the job back home or, worse still, running away from something. I am happy to say that this is absolutely not the case now! My staff body could not be more professional and committed – both locals and overseas hires (and we have a relatively small proportion of expats compared to many international schools). Binding the two groups together can be a challenge, but is essential if we are all to work together to deliver on our mission. Perhaps those who decide to come to the only UK government recognised school in Brazil have a certain level of drive and commitment about them. Certainly the challenges of language and culture in Brazil, not to mention the 12 hour flight, mean you need to be a bit more adventurous than you might in other parts of the world, but I have never been disappointed with my fabulous team. Working hard to get the recruitment process right is key here and one thing that we have worked hard on in the last five years in order to ensure the very best people to work with. Looking back on our five years here, and with a full academic year ahead to enjoy before we leave, there is little I would change. I am frustrated that my Portuguese is not better, but I have learnt so much more about many other aspects of myself, and of living overseas… I urge you to try! Louise Simpson is the Head of St Paul’s School, São Paulo

Autumn 2019

37


The challenge of the new

Ex America semper aliquid novi OR Houseman questions the effectiveness of new methods A colleague for many years has always had a severe problem with the start of term. He comes away from the training days and meetings with an air of despondency and approaches the new term with dread. An experienced teacher who has run a boarding house for many years, he has always commanded the utmost respect from his pupils, their parents and his colleagues. Those with less self-doubt cannot understand why one so competent should ever feel anything less than total confidence, indeed joy, at the start of a new school term. New headmasters, and he has seen several come and go, have on occasion seemed wary, presuming that a man of such experience and standing will inevitably present himself as an opponent to the new initiatives which they must inevitably introduce in order to show that a new regime has begun and that things are going to be different. Even they, however, soon recognise that his curmudgeonly demeanour is no more than superficial, and that far from a subversive opponent, they have, in fact, a loyal and highly effective member of staff. But the start of term sees him at his lowest. A few years ago he did respond quite positively to a visiting speaker. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation: it was the first talk of its kind which has not made me want to give up teaching’, he was heard to remark over lunch The visitor was not quite sure how to respond, but a few of us assured him he would rarely hear such praise. Just two years ago I thought my gloomy colleague had made some progress towards overcoming his start of term problem. After a very enthusiastic presentation from a new Head of Boarding, he had returned to his house in despair, only to emerge two days later an apparently changed man, celebrating the fact that the boys in his house were the same as ever, and proudly defying any attempts from new Heads of Boarding to make them anything else. As we walked away from the headmaster’s final address to the common room before the boys returned this year, however, he seemed more despondent than ever. I had seen this plenty of times before, and thought it deserved little attention. ‘After your comments last term, I am afraid I am not going to indulge this from you again. You know everything will be fine once the boys return. And you know exactly what you are doing, you have nothing to worry about. And there was really nothing to worry about in any of the presentations from management this term. No new appointments, so no new initiatives. Very straightforward.’ This had no effect, however. ‘You’ve forgotten someone’, my colleague replied. ‘I have a new Head of Department. That’s what is worrying me this time.’ This was true. There was a new Head of Mathematics, replacing a former incumbent who had held the post for

38

Autumn 2019

twenty years and introduced no changes whatsoever during that period. But this was an internal appointment, and we had assumed things would continue pretty much as before. ‘Not true. He spent the whole of August in America, visiting schools. He thinks they do things completely differently, and says we should too. New theories. I simply cannot work like that. He told me I have to do things differently. If that is what I have to do I have no chance. In fact, I’m not even sure I want to try. Perhaps it’s not too late to look for a new career…’ ‘Did he talk to you personally, or the whole department?’ ‘He pretended to talk to us all, but I know he had me in mind with every word he said. Our methods until now have been restricting, even stifling the pupils’ energy and creativity, he said. This was undoubtedly the fault of the more experienced members of the department, who were too reliant on old methods, too didactic in their approach, and not willing to try new ideas. He wants us to give the pupils more space in which to explore and to take ownership of their own learning. We should not be afraid to allow them to learn from their mistakes.’ ‘Oh dear. He didn’t talk about the absurdity of using nineteenth century teaching methods to prepare them for the 21st century, did he?’ ‘Of course he did. I think he even talked about training them for careers which had not yet been invented, but by then I had allowed my concentration to wander, so could not be certain that he had.’ I tried to be positive, but for once his despondency appeared entirely justified. The new Head of Mathematics had been teaching with us for just a few years, but had clearly impressed the headmaster, who had always expressed his own enthusiasm for progressive American methods, and saw the new Head of Mathematics as somewhat of a protégé. As my colleague and I separated to return to our houses and anticipate the return of the boys that evening, neither of us felt particularly positive about the new academic year. The usual business of the start of term meant that I did not see my gloomy colleague again until the end of that first week when I joined him for lunch in the common room. He


The challenge of the new was looking remarkably cheerful, and entertaining a wide circle of colleagues with anecdotes from the first week of term in his house. I found a moment to talk to him alone later that afternoon, and mentioned his despair before the start of term. What had happened? ‘It was remarkably simple’, he replied. ‘I never should have doubted myself.’ ‘I told you it would be fine. It always is. Did you have a conversation with your new Head of Department? Told him what you think? Said you are comfortable with your own teaching methods and do not feel the need to experiment?’ ‘Certainly not. I didn’t need to. It was easier than that. In fact, I didn’t need to do anything. It just happened.’ He gave no further explanation. Curiously, the new Head of Mathematics was no longer quite as buoyant as he had appeared to us all during the first week in which he confidently explained his new ideas and methods to all who would listen, or could hear. The positive, cheerful, innovative pioneer of just one week earlier was looking harassed, uncomfortable and distinctly stressed. I asked him what was wrong. ‘My Sixth Form class. They are a disaster. They have done none of the work I have set them, and I don’t think they have

HERE

& THERE

read anything. I asked them to do some independent research and present to the class and they have come up with nothing.’ A few days later I spoke to my Head of House, a member of this set, and subtly tried to find out what was happening in the class. ‘Well, we were a bit worried at first. He kept talking to us about self-reliance, resilience and independence, but didn’t seem to be teaching us anything. He presented us with problems from topics we had never seen before and asked us to solve them by discussing them with each other. But as none of us knew what was going on that didn’t get us very far. He asked me to give a presentation which I know I did really badly, but I just didn’t know what to do. Then we all got Es in the first test. But since then it has been fine, and I now think I understand it. ‘Well I’m pleased to hear that. Do you think you have adapted to his new methods?’ ‘No need. This week he just told us to listen and dictated some really useful notes. I have got top marks ever since.’ OR Houseman may yet adopt the Schartz-Metterklume Method

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. wheare@gmail.com. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

UWC East Africa On August 1st, 2019, United World Colleges (UWC) opened the eighteenth school in the movement, UWC East Africa, at International School Moshi, Tanzania, which was originally set up in 1969. The school is ready to welcome 80 students into its International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB Programme) this August, across its two campuses in Arusha and Moshi in the foothills of two of Africa’s biggest mountains. Becoming a UWC school will involve a substantial change in the composition of the student body, with a more diverse range of international students, over 50% of whom will attend on scholarships. ‘Our rapidly changing world needs a new kind of leadership that is globallyminded, compassionate and courageous, and that thrives on diversity. We are thrilled to bring UWC’s unique experiential education to Tanzania and to offer scholarships for students from East Africa and across the globe to access our IB Diploma Program irrespective of their ability to pay,’ said Jens Waltermann, Executive Director, UWC International.  On top of the IB Programme, students at UWC East Africa will take part in a dedicated Outdoor Pursuits Programme, which includes challenging mountaineering expeditions to Mount Hanang, Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. The programme is designed to give UWC East Africa’s students exposure to unfamiliar challenges that enable them to develop new teamwork and leadership skills. They will also be engaged in a wide spectrum of creative, physical, social and community activities through UWC’s Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) projects, ranging from peer education programmes in the local community to a bee farming project in West Kilimanjaro. Social justice and community service both lie at the heart of the UWC movement. ‘We’re very excited about adding to our already diverse community and broadening our reach in East Africa and beyond,’ said Anna Marsden, Director of UWC East Africa. ‘Tanzania’s natural resources and mountainous landscape will give UWC East Africa’s students something they can’t get elsewhere, with plenty of opportunities to experience the mountains and the Indian Ocean coastline.’

Autumn 2019

39


The challenge of the new

English is not enough Helen Wood sees challenges and opportunities for independent schools in language acquisition Being a bit of a languages and politics nerd led me to pick up a collection of essays recently, entitled Languages after Brexit: How the UK speaks to the World. The contributors suggest that the referendum result, by shifting Britain’s relationship to both its European neighbours and the rest of the world, has brought our interaction with other languages into very sharp perspective. My job as Head of School Partnerships at Password means that I am very aware of how many UK boarding schools have students from Europe and the rest of the world. It would be easy in the circumstances, therefore, to see Brexit as a simply another threat to the commercial viability of those schools most dependent on growing international pupil numbers and, ultimately, to my own job. Yet, having digested the arguments within the collection and combined them with my knowledge of teaching EAL pupils, Brexit seems, in fact, to present a golden opportunity to reframe school approaches to second (and third or more) language acquisition, whilst simultaneously transforming the quality of relationships between international and British students and addressing a huge skills gap in the UK economy. So, what would it require for the visionary leaders among you to seize this moment? Developing a better understanding around the processes of second and third language acquisition, and debunking some of the myths around language learning that are prevalent among pupils, teachers and parents, both British and international, would be a good place to start. The first among these myths might be that English is the most important language to know and will be sufficient in the future. Obviously, within an English medium instruction school, proficiency in English will be a prerequisite for academic achievement in the short term. However, in the longer term, focusing on purely one language is likely to be detrimental to a pupil’s outcomes academically, socially and economically. On the academic front, there is clear evidence that pupils who are literate in more than one language will out-perform monolingual speakers. Among the advantages conferred are better metacognition and conceptual thinking, which leads in turn to quicker problem solving. According to Viv Edwards, Professor of Language in Education at the University of Reading, multilingual children also tend to demonstrate, ‘greater sensitivity to the social nature and communicative functions of language’. This improves their ability to see situations from different perspectives, making them more astute operators in group settings. This is perhaps of greatest significance when translated to the workplace. Here, research has consistently demonstrated that monolingual English mother-tongue speakers are at a disadvantage in settings where English is the lingua franca, such as multinational businesses. They lack the skills required to adjust their language, because they are less aware of the kinds of linguistic features that a non-native speaker might find difficult to understand. What is more, while their multi-lingual

40

Autumn 2019

counterparts may choose to slip in and out of one or more languages other than English to negotiate a point of confusion, the mono-lingual English speakers are unable to do so in the transcultural environments in which many of them hope to be employed. Economic research estimates that this lack of linguistic skills among the UK workforce costs around 3.5% of GDP – demonstrating starkly that the ‘English is enough’ mantra really needs to be debunked and language learning given a genuine boost. Who better placed to do this than the independent school sector, where language learning for all is still encouraged, at least to GCSE? Against this background, not only are British pupils potentially subject to greater extrinsic forces motivating their language learning over the longer term, but international pupils, who are frequently speakers of more than one language, become excellent role models. These learners, having often been made to feel that their level of English is a deficit, are now empowered by their capacity to share their language learning skills and cultural knowledge with the wider community. This will enrich the process of language learning across the school and provide opportunities for improving the intercultural skills of the British pupils as well. As cultural awareness across the student body improves, and self-esteem among the international pupils rises, collective sense of belonging will increase and community cohesion will also improve (as, incidentally, will grades). While the first step in this process is about communicating a shift in perspective regarding the importance of language learning, the latter is more about developing a shared vocabulary for talking about language and celebrating skills acquired at whatever level. Creativity is required – such as the Mother Tongue Other Tongue initiatives put forward by the Scottish branch of the University Council for Modern Languages. These included poetry competitions whereby pupils write in their mother tongue and/or a language they are learning, and spelling competitions for learners of French, German, Spanish and Gaelic in early secondary education. What is important is that such initiatives are not just cultural tokenism such as putting on a special menu for Chinese New Year. Instead they demand planning and input from teachers across the curriculum regarding which activities will foster shared language goals among the learners involved (whatever the language) and afford valuable linguistic and cultural learning opportunities. It is not only pupils that benefit from this adjustment in approach. The teachers of English as a Second Language, who in my experience often feel undervalued in terms of their professional skills, can now see themselves on equal footing with the Modern Foreign Languages and English department. Moreover, an increased awareness of language learning across the curriculum and a shared language for talking about


The challenge of the new

Communication One

language may boost collaboration between EAL and other subject teachers leading to the development of more contentbased language learning materials to support EAL pupils. The quality of teaching for EAL pupils will improve and evidence suggests this will lead to better learning outcomes for all. Heads of EAL can also argue more securely for their subject to be treated as one requiring primacy in the timetable alongside MFL, as an alternative for those pupils requiring specific sheltered instruction in English, to ensure that they are able to reach their potential across the curriculum. Moreover, Heads of Admissions and Heads of EAL can act more powerfully as advocates for their students in terms of parity in fees. Why should the EAL pupils pay extra for their classes, when the British pupils are given access to second language tuition as part of their package? And by removing this financial burden on the parents of international pupils, Form Teachers and Directors of Studies may find their inbox has fewer emails of complaint about the additional cost of EAL classes or demands that their son or daughter is withdrawn from these, usually arguing they are ‘unnecessary’ as their child will learn English simply by being surrounded by mother-tongue speakers. This brings me to myth number two that senior leaders really need to dispel: that international pupils will pick up the language required as they go along. This is a particularly dangerous falsehood for the younger learners joining our schools. According to Professor Jim Cummins, the source of much of the theory and practice in second language acquisition and the creator of the concepts of Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) vs Cognitive Academic Linguistic Proficiency (CALP), the speed at which an EAL pupil acquires the linguistic skills to be academically successful depends hugely on the level of literacy he or she has already achieved in their mother-tongue in addition to the amount of time they have studied English for. Importantly, the cognitive advantage of being bi or multilingual only exists when the pupil has a level of mother-tongue development that allows them to cope with more abstract modes of thought. This means that pupils being admitted to prep-schools that are acquiring English as their second language and have not yet achieved higher levels of literacy in the mother-tongue are likely to be at both a short term and long term academic disadvantage compared to their British peers. These are the pupils who would most benefit from sheltered instruction of subjects by teachers who have specific

Communication Two

training in delivering subject content to non-native speakers as well as extensive English Second Language tuition. This points to one final area requiring some myth busting. One common practice in independent schools with EAL pupils is to insist they ‘speak English all the time’. They ban the use of mother-tongue, arguing both that English is the language of the school community and that using their home language will delay the pupils’ progress. In reality, allowing controlled use of mother-tongue in the classroom, particular for orally rehearsing a task with a compatriot before completing it again in English, does have significant advantages. Such a staged approach can increase weaker language user confidence and improve cognitive development in both languages. Besides, if EAL students do not continue to develop their literacy and academic oracy skills in their mother-tongue, the significant danger is that they will no longer be able to function in higher level positions requiring complex reading and writing skills in their own language on returning home. Hence, when I was Head of EAL at d’Overbroeck’s School in Oxford, I insisted that all my Year 11 EAL learners take the First Language IGCSE in their mother-tongue, if available. I also instilled in international parents and pupils the high value of mother-tongue literacy and the importance of finding out what peers of the same age had been reading at school and outside, and using the holidays to brush up on this. Implementing all of the above at your school presupposes that your senior leadership team already have or are willing to recruit experts in second language acquisition and English language learning to run your EAL department. It presumes you are prepared to invest in appropriate setting of language learners and provide sheltered instruction for weaker EAL pupils if necessary. It also assumes you will invest in on-going CPD for the EAL and MFL teachers at your school and facilitate their leadership of appropriate in-house training for all staff in this new approach to language learning. Just like navigating Brexit, I have no illusions that negotiating a whole school drive like this will be easy, but I do have the conviction that there are long-term benefits to be had that are worth the pain. Dr Helen Wood is Head of School Partnerships at Password, having been Head of the International Section at d’Overbroeck’s School for ten years and their whole school Head of EAL for eighteen years.

Autumn 2019

41


The challenge of the new

Mind your language Lyndon Jones asserts the educational benefits of studying Modern Languages at school and a conversation with Andy Hartley shows what this can lead to in life and in a career Modern Languages learning in senior schools, the benefits of which should be self-evident, has eloquent detractors, though what motivates them to air these views beyond fear, ignorance and prejudice, seems elusive. When, in 2004, it became optional for schools to prescribe languages as compulsory subjects pre-GCSE, what had previously been a commonly acknowledged faith in their value began swiftly to be eroded. This was a myopic concession to ease. Since then, their position in the curriculum has grown ever weaker. Articles in the press have spoken portentously of ‘The death of modern languages’, or of ‘Degree courses in freefall’, so that, were it not for a few obdurate voices in the wilderness, not least that of Richard Dawkins, who speaks of our ‘monoglottish disgrace’, one might be forgiven for inferring that we had thrown in the towel and relinquished our aspiration to belong to a better world because it all seemed too difficult. What has been filling the void has not strengthened the position of young people in their preparations for the modern world and its dangers. In a climate of conflicting entrenched Frankfurt

42

Autumn 2019

certainties, in which a foolhardy contempt for expert judgement defines the prevailing mood and all forms of peril are a mere click away, the need for disciplines in school that encourage young people to listen, to read and above all to think with openness, agility and honesty seems clear. What better source of confidence than a resourceful mind? Language study has an important healing role to play amidst the tensions of this troubled world and it needs its apologists. In search of reassurance I therefore sought out Andy Hartley, with whom I had studied Modern Languages at University, and who now lives and works in Brussels. LJ: Where did it all start? AH: As an all Yorkshire lad, I had never been abroad, other than on one of those pioneering package holidays to the Balearics, but I was intrigued by our Dutch neighbours, whose house, identical architecturally to ours, contained all manner of different things and smells, which struck me as interesting and exotic. I thought languages would open up ways to explore different places - and cultures, though this was not really a


The challenge of the new concept to me yet - and I resolved to become a modern linguist. LJ: How important were your teachers in stimulating your curiosity? AH: Like most others in my generation, I first encountered French as a compulsory subject in my first year of secondary school. It was taught fairly academically but was more amusing than many other subjects, as you had to speak up and make funny noises. I was precociously good at it, having a good ear and reliable memory, and when I was fourteen, I asked my teacher, Tony Kingham, to explain to me the tenses we had not yet come across in class so that I could read Astérix books. When, for my third year, I had to make one of those bizarre choices dictated by school curricula between Biology, Ancient Greek or German, I opted for German, initially an intimidating experience, for we actually had a native speaker. Dr H.E.H.A. Krips had been a brilliant young judge in Vienna at the time of Anschluss and had decided to get out while he could. He ended up for the rest of his life trying to foster an interest in German in schoolboys in Bradford. He was the oldest teacher in the school, but Dr Krips actually had a radically modern approach to language teaching and spoke to us only in German for the first three classes - to our total bewilderment. He then relented and taught us what it all meant in English. He was a remarkable old Viennese gentleman, from whom I gained the insight that a modern language is something very much alive and used spontaneously by people in other countries. LJ: And what have Modern Languages done for you? AH: It came as something of a revelation to me, when living in a village in the South of France for nine months at the age of 18, that the thing I had striven for years to master at school was, albeit with a good many colloquial adaptations learned by listening to those around me, immensely useful and fun, as it enabled me to engage with a quite different world to the one I had grown up in and make endless discoveries about it and its inhabitants and, ultimately, about myself. After two years of university, I repeated the experience by living for a year in Germany. I later became a professional linguist by training in Brussels to be a conference interpreter. I started to pick up Italian in the process and ended up marrying an Italian and staying on to work in Brussels. LJ: Have you found it difficult to go on learning new languages? AH: Given the large number of languages we work with at the SCIC (the European Commission’s interpreting service) there has always been considerable pressure to learn new languages for professional purposes. I have been lucky in that my employer has provided generous training opportunities for language learning. When I rejoined the staff in 1992, I was very keen to learn Spanish properly. I had a passing acquaintance with it from numerous holidays in Spain and also more recently in Cuba and Mexico, and it had always attracted me as an important world and literary language. Since I already had French and Italian it was not going to be too hard. However, non-linguists may be surprised to hear that there is one hell of a lot of vocabulary to learn if you’re going to use Spanish (or any other language) professionally, even if you’re on relatively familiar ground. Much later I learned Dutch for work, which again was relatively easy for someone who knows German and English. LJ: Does it surprise you that relatively few young people appear willing to take up the challenge of European languages, despite their claims to be pro-European?

AH: It surprises me, in an age of globalization and more frequent travel, where languages can be directly useful, and at a time of easy access to all manner of multilingual media on the internet for learning purposes (compared to the situation of a boy growing up in Yorkshire in the 1960s!), that language learning is actually taken less seriously by young people in England now than it was then. Is it the glib assumption that everyone speaks English and therefore what’s the point? But, of course, they don’t all speak English and this attitude smacks of cultural arrogance and a lack of intellectual and human curiosity. That I do find saddening and strangely inexplicable. Both my children were brought up tri-lingual (Italian, English and French) in Brussels, but with the freedom to speak whichever language they wanted when they wanted. They did most of their schooling in French before going to university in the United Kingdom. My daughter studied languages and is a proficient linguist. She has written English performing translations of Musset and Pirandello plays which she has directed. She has also mastered Farsi. My son studied chemistry and uses his languages competently in his private life, but it was thanks to his knowledge of French that he got a first temporary job in Glasgow. Learning a language is not easy, it is a challenge and a long process. Like many things in life, what is acquired with persistence and effort gives ultimately more satisfaction. A language is really like playing a musical instrument: you only get and remain good at it by constant practice. However, if you’re going to get anywhere, you just have to get stuck in, no matter how inelegantly at first. Nevertheless, even at a modest level, there is an immediate payback in making it possible to communicate with people in other countries and get things done. As an academic discipline, languages are not an exact science – whilst many things are definitely wrong, there is frequently more than one correct solution. But, unlike many other academic subjects, they are directly applicable in real life and what is more important - and more human - than the way in which two human beings communicate with each other? Developing this aspect of your intellectual and mental equipment enhances your general ability to interface with others. Learning another language inevitably teaches you things you didn’t realise about your own language, how you can make it work better for you and how others may be using it to manipulate you. Developing language ability makes you more aware of how communication works and of how to clarify your own thoughts when you are obliged to express them with more limited resources in a language that is not your own. Being able to speak a foreign language is an immensely useful life skill, but relatively few people make a career out of languages as I have done. In the global economy, where trade with other countries is all important, the successful candidate of two otherwise equally qualified job applicants may well be the one who has mastered a second language. So, to return to your question, languages have given me personally a job and a family, but before that they permitted me to broaden my horizons by living in other countries, getting to know people of different backgrounds and cultures, and gave me a better understanding of myself, as well as of a wider world. Lyndon Jones taught Modern Languages for thirty years Andy Hartley is a Senior Staff Interpreter for the EC

Autumn 2019

43


Looking out

Creating an awardwinning fundraising campaign Laura Firth describes a proud tradition of wide-ranging access

Found between Manchester and the Lancashire Moors, Bolton School, Tes Independent School of the Year 2019, is one of the largest independent day schools in the country with almost 2,400 pupils on roll. One in five pupils are supported by bursary funding, and promoting social mobility through bursary provision and a sharp focus on fee levels sees the School leading the way in this important work. So how does a school take the steps to make wide ranging access to a fee-paying school a top priority? Context and history are important. The Bolton School Foundation came into existence in its modern form in 1915, with the foresight and generosity of industrialist Lord Leverhulme, founder of what we know today as Unilever, bringing together two much older schools ‘to make it possible, for every child of ability, no matter what their social or financial background, to come to the School’. The combination of philanthropy and equality of access has remained crucial to the School’s success in the century since. So too has clear direction and vision from the Governing Body. For its first 89 years, the Foundation received direct financial support from the Government. During the heyday of the Direct Grant era, one in three pupils at the School received financial support for their education, reducing to one in four in the days of the Assisted Places scheme. Governors anticipated

44

Autumn 2019

the end of this scheme as early as 1992 and launched a Bursary Appeal which has continued to galvanise Alumni and other supporters ever since. Established for over 20 years, the School’s Development Office now raises, on average, £1 million annually. Since those early days, the School has spent over £27 million on bursarial assistance, enabling over 1,800 children to attend the School who would otherwise have been denied the opportunity to do so. In the 2017-18 academic year alone, the School spent £2.8 million on means-tested bursaries: one in five pupils across the two senior schools receives some level of financial support for their education, with the aim of returning to one in three. Any successful development activity inevitably has a slow start and needs investment, of both time and money, from Governors and from Heads. Open, honest collaboration between Bolton School’s Head of Development and its Heads has been crucial to its sustained fundraising success. The Head is the lynchpin of a School community: without their visible advocacy for a fundraising campaign - be that for bursaries or a capital project - there is no viable case for support. When a Head is able (and willing) to successfully articulate the school’s vision to a donor and explain how their financial support will contribute to the successful delivery of that vision, then gifts almost inevitably follow. At Bolton School, Development is high on both Heads’ agendas and they play an active part in shaping the School’s


Looking out Alumni engagement and development strategy. Both set aside significant time within their diaries to host donors in School, to attend Alumni events and dinners at School and around the country, and to hand-sign a thank you letter for every gift the School receives – from six-figure sums to the widow’s mite. Both, too, recognise the importance of the Alumni network to current school life, and the benefits that actively cultivating the interest and support of Old Boys and Old Girls can bring for current pupils. Alumni act as speakers at almost every keynote event in the School calendar, and are the backbone of its careers programme, with over 70 individual Alumni returning to School to inspire and guide current pupils in the last academic year alone. Drawing Alumni back into School, to demonstrate to them first-hand that the ethos and attitudes which they value from their own time at School still remain today, has proven an excellent cultivation tool for potential major donors. Of course, this close collaboration cannot work without a relationship founded upon mutual trust and respect. In order to devote such a significant portion of their congested diary to Development matters, a Head must know that their time will be guarded appropriately and that the level of access the Development Office is afforded to them is treated with respect. This active engagement in development from the Head is crucial. Many schools are recognising the needs for development work but it is simply not enough to appoint a Development Director

HERE

& THERE

and then leave them to it. In deciding development work is a strategic priority, Governors and Heads are committing their own time, and lots of it, not just committing to the creation of a new post. The positive impact of this strategy of collaboration is evident in the success of Bolton School’s most recent fundraising appeal, the 100 Campaign for Bursaries, which was launched in 2015 as part of the School’s centenary celebrations and received the Institute for Development Professionals in Education (IDPE)’s Fundraising Campaign of the Year Award earlier this summer. In their shortlisting comments, the IDPE judges described the campaign as demonstrating ‘…what can be achieved if everyone is working to the same objectives’. The public endorsement of the two Heads, Philip Britton and Sue Hincks, and their repeated, visible advocacy for the aims of the 100 Campaign and the impact it would have at the School, created an overriding momentum towards the campaign’s £5 million financial target, which was achieved in just four years. The 100 Campaign engaged new and existing donors in their support for the Bursary Fund and embedded the School’s ambitious long-term vision for open access within the psyche of the School community, giving it a firm foundation for fundraising into the next decade and beyond. Laura Firth is the Head of Development at Bolton School

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. wheare@gmail.com. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

To Russia from Stamford Ted Genever and Fabian Darbost, both in Year 9, are studying Russian at Stamford School. They have each been awarded sponsorship of £400, which they will use to help fund a trip to Russia. They were selected to receive the funding after a competitive process that required them to produce a report on the country, and complete a one-to-one interview to assess their knowledge of their chosen topic. The awards are designed to increase understanding of Russian culture, business, history and politics, and to give young people an insight into one of the world’s most powerful nations. The funding was generously donated by Richard Wallace, himself an Old Stamfordian, who studied Russian Language and Literature at Birmingham University, and who has spent twenty years working in Anglo-Russian relations and international trade. Richard said: ‘It is vital that the next generation understands our relationship with Russia, which is and will remain one of the most powerful and influential countries in the world.  It’s incredibly important that students study other languages and cultures, and develop the skills to think about how we relate to other nations, and work with them in every area of our lives.’   Caroline Wray, Head of Russian at Stamford School, said: ‘Trips and exchanges add a tremendous amount to the study of languages – without them, students are learning in a vacuum. It has also been extremely valuable for the pupils to have to complete such a rigorous assessment as part of their funding bid: that assessment has been a useful experience in its own right, and has introduced them to the research, presentation and interview skills that they will require in their professional lives.’ Stamford School runs an annual exchange trip to Russia, which is now in its 25th consecutive year.  Russian is thriving at the Stamford Endowed Schools as a whole: 21 students completed GCSE Russian in 2018, and 100% of students achieved A*-B at A Level.

Autumn 2019

45


Looking out

Achieving marketing lift-off Fran Kennedy finds outreach also raises market awareness

School’s out for summer. Many students will have packed their tents, wellies and sun cream, ready for braving whatever the British weather decides to throw at them across the UK’s burgeoning festival scene. It’s the last place they’d expect to run into someone they know, let alone one of their teachers! This year the UK is host to more than 750 festivals. No longer just for teens and young adults, family-friendly festivals are on the rise. Kids, mums, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents are all getting in on the outdoor action, giving parents a chance to relax whilst the children are entertained. Alongside the music, education is now part of the fun too. Bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘summer school’, Cheadle Hulme School showed no limits to upping the marketing ante when its own squad of STEM scientists took to the fields at the UK’s biggest family festival, bluedot. This annual music, science and culture festival takes place at Cheshire’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jodrell Bank Observatory and Discovery Centre, and attracts 5,000 visitors daily. Alongside this year’s headliners New Order, Kraftwerk, 808 State, Hot Chip and 46

Autumn 2019

Jarvis Cocker, for the first time Cheadle Hulme School took up their position beneath the Lovell Telescope in the Star Fields to host the CHS STEM School, an interactive stand of science experiments for kids and their grown-ups, run by a supervised team of the School’s Lower Sixth scientists, tasked with sharing their love of all things scientific and technological. We’re always looking to do things differently when it comes to raising awareness of CHS. What better way to do that than by tapping into the opportunities on our doorstep? It’s the right catchment area, full of families eager to play and learn, so it made sense to become an event sponsor and official partner. Most of our families discover CHS through word of mouth, so taking part in such events enables us to engage in a relaxed conversation with parents, particularly when they have plenty of time on their hands, their children are occupied, and everyone is enjoying themselves. Previously much of our marketing has centred on print advertising, so having done that for a few years we wanted to diversify. Sponsoring an event such as this provides tangible


Looking out results, and the whole School community, from the marketing team and staff to the students and parents, can feel the wider impact. Deciding to be involved was the easy part. But having never attended the festival and knowing there would be other family activities on offer made it difficult to know how to stand out from the crowd. Fire-eating would be a step too far, but the opportunity required something bigger than your bog-standard chocolate tombola. We wanted to use the festival to show rather than tell, and to give the School’s impressive Science department a moment to shine without simply talking at parents. Heading the School’s team of 17 and 18 year-old scientists, CHS Teacher of Biology, Mr Jonathan Hedwat agrees. ‘Usually our best chance to promote school science is either at Open Morning or through outreach work with local primary schools, but this was an exciting new idea. Working with bluedot is an ideal partnership for CHS, as we both share a passion for science and a commitment to engaging the very young.’ Following the festival theme Celebrating 50 years of the moon landings, the school considered what skills aspiring young astronauts might need. Preparing during a busy summer term of exams, study leave, reports, work experience and enrichment week, the team branded their stand, designed logos, produced an astronaut training log for collecting stickers, and created fun but informative signage such as ‘Warning: Mess Zone.’ A social media campaign was launched leading up to the event, with Twitter and Facebook posts counting down to lift-off. We were very excited to be involved and wanted to share our enthusiasm with the School’s wider community, so the social media campaign was a great way to tell everyone what we were planning whilst inviting as many visitors to the stand as possible. This increased our online audience engagement, particularly during the quieter holiday period, and generated excitement for what was to come. Meanwhile CHS’s team of scientists prepared activities which included a ‘stress ball’ station with handmade nonNewtonian fluid, ‘forces fun’ with an investigation into graphite levitation, exploration of low melting-point alloys, fantastic

ferrofluid within a magnetic field and shape-shifting springs. Science fans aged from three to twelve would be able to visit the four experiment stations at the School’s tent, collect a sticker for each activity and, upon receiving all four, complete their astronaut training by winning a pair of safety glasses. More than 500 stress balls, 30 bags of cornflour, and many questions answered later, the stand was deemed a resounding success. Curious young minds were entertained, and parents were thankful for cover when the rain came. But most of all, the families were enthusiastic about the concept and left informed and engaged with a deeper understanding of the School. Without being given the hard sell, spending time at the stand allowed families to ask their own questions; to be taught by older boys and girls rather than teachers; to have their faces painted; or sample bluedot cookies created by the School’s award-winning Sodexo at CHS catering team. It was a great demonstration of how separate school teams can work well together. This activity couldn’t have happened without the amazing STEM knowledge of students and staff, enhanced by the branding and social media support of the External Relations team. The organisers of bluedot approved! ‘This kind of fun, hands-on activity plays a vital part in helping to sow the seeds that can develop into a lifelong interest in science and technology. Cheadle Hulme School is a first-class partner to have on board with the festival. Adults as well as children learned lots – and had a lot of fun.’ Fran Kennedy is Director of Development and External Relations at Cheadle Hulme School

Autumn 2019

47


Looking out

GSA Woman of the Year 2019 Sue Hincks admires the diversity at the heart of GSA pupils’ choices Girls from 150 Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) schools have selected a shortlist for their latest Woman of the Year awards. The eight women in the public eye are: fashion model, Adwoah Aboah; computer scientist Dr Katie Bouman; BBC Blue Planet II producer Orla Doherty; journalist and documentary maker Stacey Dooley; philanthropist Katie Piper; climate change activist Greta Thunberg; tennis champion Serena Williams; and the education activist Malala Yousafzai. This shortlist includes women with multi-faceted interests embracing diverse walks of life from fashion to broadcasting to political campaigning. It demonstrates that the girls in our schools have a global mindset and an awareness of world-wide issues, comprising, as it does, women from other countries and women whose work and campaigning embrace universal

issues, such as how we look after our environment and indeed our planet, our exploration and understanding of space, and enabling girls around the world to access what we in the UK see as their fundamental right to education. I’m also heartened to see the great cultural and ethnic diversity of the nominated women. This reflects the equally diverse mix of students in Girls’ Schools Association schools, which in turn echoes the diversity of the UK population as a whole. It’s vital that children of all backgrounds have role models with whom they can identify, and of course it’s just as important that the same children are able to recognise and celebrate the fact that strong, successful women can come from a whole range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds which do not necessarily mirror their own. This is one of the ways in

British fashion model Adwoah Aboah founded the online support platform Gurls Talk, following her personal experiences managing her own mental health.

BBC producer and underwater filming expert Orla Doherty produced the BBC’s Deep Sea episode of the award-winning Blue Planet II series.

As a young black British female, I think Adwoah Aboah is a great role model. Not only has she been highly successful in her field, she has had to overcome things, like her battle with depression from a young age. I love how she hasn’t hidden it from the media and is trying to bring mental health into the mainstream through her organisation Gurls Talk. In an industry where so many people expect you to look or act a certain way, it’s really nice to see someone being so honest about their insecurities, and to see her speak up for young people with mental health issues. Keisha (age 17), Woldingham School (Surrey)

Orla Doherty’s fearless travel to the depths of Antarctica, and the story of how she learnt to dive and gained a passion for marine life, going on to make Blue Planet II, which impacted millions of people and kicked off a global movement for marine conservation, really helped me realise that any small things I can do, such as beach cleans and being aware of how I use the ocean, can make a real difference and help to save the sea and marine life I have grown up with and love. Danielle (age 18), The Ladies College (Guernsey)

American computer scientist Dr Katie Bouman led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes and was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the first image of a black hole. We were all very inspired by Dr Katie Bouman. We conducted extensive research into all that she has achieved and learnt a great deal ourselves. She is such an inspirational role model for someone so young and has achieved so much already in her career. Isabella, deputy head girl Rosie, head girl Chelsea and Elanor (age 17/18), Manor House School (Surrey)

48

Autumn 2019


Looking out British journalist and social issues documentary filmmaker Stacey Dooley was appointed MBE in 2018 for services to broadcasting, including BBC Three documentaries about child labour and women in developing countries. I find Stacey Dooley inspirational. As a woman in the 21st century it can be hard to speak out on controversial topics in the media and I believe Stacey has played a very important role in bringing light to differing global issues in her ground-breaking documentaries. Jess (age 17), Westfield School (Newcastle upon Tyne)

Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg initiated the school strike for climate movement, an international movement of school students who are deciding not to attend classes and instead take part in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change. I voted for Greta because she cares. She cares about her future, my future and everybody on this planet’s future. That’s why she protested. She inspires me because I would like my world to be eco-aware just like she wants her world to be. Imogen (age 11), Portsmouth High School GDST (Southsea)

Philanthropist, TV presenter and former model Katie Piper founded the Katie Piper Foundation to help victims of burns and other disfigurement injuries, after undergoing pioneering surgery to restore her own face and vision following an acid attack. My vote is for Katie Piper because of her bravery after the acid attack. She is an inspiration to young girls to follow their dreams no matter what their circumstances are. Charlotte (age 15), Palmer’s Green High School (North London)

American professional tennis player Serena Williams was ranked world No. 1 in singles on eight separate occasions by the Women’s Tennis Association. Serena Williams shows me that with hard work I can get to the top. She’s from an ethnic minority like myself yet she still managed to get to the top even in a male dominated industry. I believe that she’s a role model to both girls and boys. To quote Serena, ‘I really believe that a champion is defined not by their wins, but how they can recover when they fall.’ Budour (age 17), Cobham Hall (Kent)

Pakistani activist for female education Malala Yousafzai became prominent after being shot by a Taliban gunman in retaliation for her views. Co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education, Malala attended Edgbaston High School, a GSA school, after moving to the UK. Malala Yousafzai has inspired us every day to fight for our education. Even if we don’t take a bullet to the head, we can still make a difference in female education around the world, just like Malala. The last slide in our school presentation on Malala read: ‘She has done something for you, now you can do something for her.’ Anika (age 12), Newcastle High School for Girls GDST (Newcastle upon Tyne)

which we can challenge and begin to eradicate stereotypes and prejudices. There are a number of Woman/Women of the Year awards in existence, not least the longstanding Women of the Year Lunch, founded in 1955 and currently presided over by ITV’s Julie Etchingham. They’re all wonderful ways to celebrate the variety of women who make an impact on us as individuals and on the world in which we live. However, I do think there is something special about the women that young girls themselves have chosen, as has been the case in the GSA Woman of the Year awards. In these awards, the one thing all the shortlisted women seem to have in common is the ability to overcome adversity and to show strength in the face of difficult circumstances. Whether

that strength manifests itself in rising to the top of your field in a male-dominated profession, meeting criticism head-on, or refusing to be silenced or side-lined, all eight shortlisted women are indicative of the fact that the current generation of girls and young women in our schools understands that it’s okay not to be perfect: what matters is how you learn and grow as a result of whatever life throws at you. In that respect, these women are excellent role models and highly relevant to young women today. Sue Hincks is the Headmistress of Bolton School Girls’ Division The winner of the GSA Woman of the Year award will be announced at the Girls’ Schools Association’s annual conference in November

Autumn 2019

49


Reviews

Gender agenda Kevin Stannard reviews… Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking masculinity in schools by Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts Routledge 2019 ISBN 978-0-8153-5017-0 I recently undertook online training on GDPR, as required by the organisation for which I work. Rather than diving directly into the quiz, I dutifully watched and made notes on the presentation, pausing and rewinding several times to make absolutely sure that I’d captured everything. Then I readied myself mentally and took the test. At one point I Googled to confirm an answer where two possible responses seemed equally correct. Up popped my score (95%) with a ‘Congratulations’ message and a certificate (which I printed off); but I felt deflated. Which question had I got wrong? I steeled myself against the temptation to re-take the test. Behaviours like this epitomise what many see as typical of a girl’s approach to learning – meticulous, risk-averse, perfectionist. (About the only ‘male’ behaviour in the whole sorry incident was that I had delayed doing the training until the last possible moment). Of course, dispositions towards learning spread out along a continuum, and males may be found nearer the typically female end. But the ‘typical’ boy and ‘typical’ girl remain the polarised poster children for what are often presented as mutually exclusive categories. It is generally believed that school best suits those at the typically girl end of the spectrum. The typical boy just does not seem to be as engaged in learning as the typical girl. Boys Don’t Try? does not question the ideal-types invoked in these characterisations; rather, it deconstructs what we do with them in the classroom. The fundamental gender issue that the book addresses is difficult to ignore: boys underperform at all stages of primary and secondary education. Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts set out to show that most of what we think we know about how to engage boys in learning is not just wrong, but damaging. And by ‘we’, the authors include their former selves. The error was to try to engage boys by playing to their interests, making lessons competitive and topics more relevant, for example pitting groups against each other in knock-out quiz rounds, and choosing literature or topics involving sport or cars that boys might be more interested in. These boy-friendly strategies might work for a few and for a time, but they are unsustainable because boys who fear failing

50

Autumn 2019

in public simply do not compete; their survival strategy is to withdraw. Instead of playing to perceptions of boys’ interests and enthusiasms, the authors appear at times to underwrite the assertion that we ought simply to teach boys as if they were girls, i.e. through high challenge and high expectations, without gimmicks or shortcuts. But the book is predicated on the reality of a gender dimension to learning; rather than ignoring it, it offers practical guidance, based on a lot of research, on how to address the deficit in boys’ learning positively and productively. For decades the response has been to treat boys as problems, to be dealt with by special strategies that play to masculine interests and identities. The use of gimmicks and the adaptation of content to engage masculine interests and identities risks diluting the education offered to boys. And in so far as it reflects and reinforces an ultimately self-defeating stereotype of masculinity, it has proved damaging. Instead, the authors argue that teachers and schools should do everything possible to promote what they call ‘tender masculinity’. Most of the chapters are focused on an aspect of education that would benefit from a different approach to boys: mental health, expectations, sex and sexism, violence, and relationships. Each follows a pattern: setting out the problem; rehearsing the research evidence; and suggesting strategies at school and classroom levels. Pinkett and Roberts take turns in contributing chapters, but this authorial alternation disrupts the rhythm of the book. A chapter on disadvantaged students is uncomfortably wedged between chapters on myths about boys and on peer pressure, and appears out of place in another sense too; it focuses on disadvantage rather than gender and, while both interesting and disturbing, it doesn’t really contribute much to the book’s central problematic. A later chapter, ’In the classroom’, also breaks out of the thematic pattern, and serves as a foot in the door for the author to rail against single-sex settings. This is arguably the weakest chapter, resting on a partial reading of the evidence, its argument more ideological than empirical. The main target is the ‘diamond’ approach whereby for some subjects in some key stages in otherwise co-ed schools, single-sex setting takes


Reviews place. This is denounced as ‘timetabled segregation’. Tellingly, the chief argument against separating the sexes is the evidence that boys’ behaviour can deteriorate in the absence of girls. They register discomfort in expecting girls to adopt ‘caretaking roles’, but argue that this is for the greater good. It amounts to a reinforcement of gender stereotyping of the kind that is rightly denounced in other chapters. The authors appear to have a rather antiquated view of girls’ schools, assuming their purpose to be to protect girls from, rather than prepare them for, the real world. They assert that such settings increase awareness of gender differences. True, but awareness of gender does not amount to acquiescence in inequality – quite the reverse, in fact, if the focus is on preparing young women to navigate and transgress an unequal world. The authors touch only very lightly (and in a different chapter) on the irony of girls’ success at school, whereby the very dispositions that win laurels at school seem to create disadvantages in career progression and remuneration. Setting by sex is not a strategy to protect girls from particular subjects or pedagogies. But the book’s blanket argument that girls don’t need protection doesn’t address the asymmetry of aggression in schools. What are we to make of the data in the chapter on sexism, that more than a third of female students at mixed-sex schools have personally experienced some sort of sexual harassment at school; and 24% of female students at mixed-sex schools have been subjected to unwanted physical touching of a sexual nature? The authors do not trivialise these issues. Their answer is, however, not to protect girls, but to change boys’ behaviour. A worthy aim, but how long-term are we thinking, given the deep roots of behavioural differences such as those evidenced in the chapters on violence and on relationships? Meanwhile, girls continue to be expected both to supervise and to suffer in what might amount to highly toxic environments. Of course boys are not always aggressors. Many boys who exhibit the typical characteristics of girls quickly learn to conceal them, or live with the consequences in terms of bullying and teasing. Boys, the authors argue, feel greater pressure to conform to stereotypes, and this can literally be a killer. They point out that male mental health is in crisis: 75% of suicides are male, and suicide is the biggest killer of men under forty. They call for far greater efforts in schools to engage boys in reflecting on their mental health, and in respecting alternative masculinities and gender identities. The chapter on peer pressure rests on the classic, but now very dated, study by Paul Willis of subcultures of nonconformity among ‘lads’, who disengage and disrupt school because they see little point in it. This ‘self-sabotaging behaviour’ creates a cycle of disadvantage which ends up reproducing social inequalities. Reference might usefully have been made to the use that the sociologist Tony Giddens made of the Willis study in his theory of structuration. The book looks at evidence that such behaviour is not unique to disadvantaged and marginalised boys. They point to research that suggests that middle-class males, too, are less likely than their female peers ‘to achieve their full potential because of the influence of a dominant strand of masculinity that sees schoolwork and high achievement as effeminate and uncool’. There is a powerful indictment of the part played by teachers in reinforcing gender stereotypes, and creating milieux in which poor behaviour and disengagement become normalised.

Sexually-charged ‘banter’, and actual sexual harassment (of staff as well as students) are too often not followed up, and sometimes just put down to high spirits and ‘boys being boys’. The authors are consistent and clear on the need to call out behaviour that demeans others on account of sex. Each chapter suggests practical ways in which schools can change the culture, and teachers can change the rules of engagement in lessons. Nevertheless, many teachers continue to base their expectations of pupils on prejudicial stereotypes. Research shows that a lot of teachers still see girls as typically hardworking, and are predisposed to give them better marks. On the other hand, some teachers see girls as naturally less good at some subjects, like maths. Gender stereotyping leads to biased judgements that affect pupil outcomes. The authors argue that conforming to stereotype actually benefits girls, because the higher expectations lead to improved outcomes. But for boys, the feedback loop means that low expectations simply reinforce underachievement. This book is an effective antidote to the snake-oil sales pitch that schools and schooling should be gender-blind. Boys and girls benefit from the creation and cultivation of genderconscious classrooms. The needs of both boys and girls are best met not by avoiding gender, but by bringing it to the fore. The challenge is that girls’ and boys’ needs are different in this regard, not because their brains are different, or because they have fundamentally different learning styles, but because society still treats them differently. Boys (and society) would benefit from their being educated in ‘tender masculinity’, and having their stereotypical behaviours moderated and mitigated, as this book proposes. But it is not achieved by teaching boys as if they were girls. Educating girls needs as much thought as educating boys, and is explored in another recent book, Teaching Girls. Boys Don’t Try? begins with a mea culpa about an earlier belief that making education better for girls had gone too far. But the revised version of male disadvantage still rests on an unarticulated assumption that girls are predisposed to succeed at school and so have an advantage. This may be so, which makes it all the more remarkable that in the long run, males overtake females when it comes to career trajectories and remuneration. What boys lose in the sprint, men win in the marathon. We are not just treating boys badly, but girls too, if the emphasis is on rewarding the typical girls’ characteristics of hard work, rule-following and organisation. In How Girls Achieve, Sally Nuamah argues that teaching girls must involve focusing on developing ‘achievement-oriented identities’, namely increasing confidence, developing strategies for dealing with obstacles, and a willingness to transgress them. This is a deliberately gender-conscious agenda. So let’s hear it for the boy(s), and the girls too. Pinkett and Roberts have very effectively made one half of the case for gender consciousness in schools. Kevin Stannard is Director of Innovation and Learning at GDST Other books cited in the article: Peter Kuriloff, Shannon Andrus and Charlotte Jacobs (2017) Teaching Girls: How teachers and parents can reach their brains and hearts. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Sally Nuamah (2019) How Girls Achieve. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University press

Autumn 2019

51


Reviews

Athens or Sparta? Joe Spence reviews… Edward Thring’s Theory, Practice and Legacy: Physical Education in Britain since 1800 by Malcolm Tozer Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019 ISBN 978-1527528185 Malcolm Tozer has been writing about Edward Thring’s influence on schools and about the history of physical education in Britain for some 40 years. This book synthesises much of his own work while incorporating findings from some recent surveys of 19th century public schools, and current research and reflection on the place of Physical Education in the curriculum. Educationalists who enjoy plotting the course of Western pedagogy, and finding that not that much has changed since Socrates, will enjoy Tozer’s playful and often helpful distinguishing of Athenian and Spartan, and Platonic and Aristotelian, approaches to education. Edward Thring was one of a number of Victorian Heads who re-founded their schools, reconstituting ancient foundations that had long since lost sight of their original missions. He turned Uppingham, which he led from 1853 until 1887, from an insignificant country boarding school into one of the great progressive schools of late Victorian England. That the promotion of physical education in the curriculum, while avoiding the cult of athleticism, played its part in his achievement is a major theme of this work. It is a case study of Thring’s Uppingham and of his legacy, notably to the schools of the Head Masters’ Conference, which he founded in 1869. The title and subtitle of the book reveal its author’s major and minor concerns. The first 200 of its 350 pages examine Thring’s work in making Uppingham a school fit for the purpose of teaching English gentlemen how to live a good life and how to rule an empire, albeit Thring was less jingoistic than many of his contemporaries. The progress of physical education in the curriculum is dealt with in the last third of the book, in what Directors of Sport and other PE practitioners may find a relatively cursory manner. Tozer might usefully have raided his own work, notably the collection of essays he edited on Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools, 2012, for excellent 52

Autumn 2019

material on such topics as girls’ games, sport and the disabled, the idea of the sporting school, and the issue of masculinity in the 21st century. Tozer relishes sharing with his readers that Thring went about his work by advocating an holistic education. Accepting the Platonic principle that a soul absorbs its environment, Thring believed that every school should have a library, a workshop, a museum, a gymnasium, swimming baths and a wealth of other sports facilities. In this, as in his promotion of music and art in the curriculum and in his consistent belief that every child matters, Thring is strikingly modern. What marked Thring out from others who looked to use sport to drive their schools forward was the breadth of his PE programme. It encompassed recreational country pursuits, as well as gymnastics, swimming, athletics and games. The importance of games was that they were character forming, inculcating that one should never cheat, funk, lose one’s temper or brag. That is, games and PE encouraged manliness of character, a Victorian objective Tozer has explored through the lens of Thring in other work (The Idea of Manliness, Truro, 2015). An analysis of the impact of Social Darwinism on schools is missing from this volume, but Tozer writes well about the importance of Thring’s reading of John Ruskin, Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott. He writes eloquently too of the influence of F.D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley, though Thring would never be a fully-fledged Christian Socialist, having an aversion to anything that bore the label of socialist once it had been acquired by followers of Marx and other distinctly left-wing thinkers. However, this does not suggest an aversion to all things foreign, and Tozer examines how much Thring was influenced by von Humboldt’s Bildung view of education. It was exposure to German education that, more than anything else, led Thring to an appreciation of the importance of the subjects he brought to the fore at Uppingham and, indeed, led to his employment of German teachers of art, music, modern languages and science as well as physical education. Thring’s influence was widespread. His Theory and Practice of teaching, 1883, sold 25,000 copies in several editions. However, when Tozer examines Thring’s legacy, the tone is cautionary, offering words to the wise as to how the best of educational ideas can have unintended consequences. Tozer indicates that there is a distinction to be made between the work Thring


Reviews did at Uppingham and that of such Head Masters as Charles Vaughan at Harrow and George Cotton at Marlborough, who also used games to turn their schools around. Unlike Thring they succumbed to ‘Athletocracy’ and ‘athletic Philistinism’ with an attendant over-competitiveness in sport, ‘the rule of the bloods’, an arms race for facilities and the employment of professional coaches. The lure of Sparta, more muscular than Christian, took over from the influence of Athens. The rise of the cult of the sporting hero was particularly evident in the traditional and more socially exclusive public schools inspected by the Clarendon Commission in 1861. Tozer enjoys Thring’s differentiating of the vitality of the schools he gathered for the first meeting of HMC with the degenerative conformity of ‘the Clarendon Nine’ resting as they did on antiquated traditions and their status. Tozer has a tendency when dealing with Thring’s legacy to take a Manichaean view of teachers and headmasters, and whether they are aligned with the forces of light or darkness depends on whether they saw things as Thring did. But Thring was not alone in making excellent changes in schools in the late 19th century and wider reference to how others went about this, not least acknowledgement of the work of F.W. Sanderson down the road at Oundle, would have been valuable. For Tozer, when the Head of Bedales wrote, in 1937: ‘We now recognise more clearly that education is concerned with the whole human being’, he was following in the footsteps of Thring, as did those who led schools like Loretto, Gresham’s and Gordonstoun through the inter-war years. The Thringian legacy is also seen to have infused Lawrence Jacks’ Education of the whole man, 1931, and it is noted how often Jacks’ son Maurice, Head Master of Mill Hill, mentioned Thring in Total Education, 1946. There is, rightly, special mention for Thorold Coade who, in his promotion of service (pioneering) and the

creative arts, ensured that Bryanston, of which he was Head Master from 1932 to 1959, anticipated by many years what was to become standard practice in independent schools. By the end of the 20th century, Tozer can record that the quality of PE and sporting achievement was high in most independent schools, with the healthy lifestyle of pupils, their engagement in competitive sports and their contribution to national sporting success being the best evidence of this. However, he is concerned to see PE squeezed out of the timetable in state schools and quotes worrying statistics as to the lack of physical prowess among today’s pupils, whether educated by the state or privately. Lord Coe’s pledge, that the London Olympic Games should improve the nation’s health and well-being, has not being realized, albeit that London 2012 sparked the restoration of an independent and state school partnership forum, in which the author played no small part, the result of which has been the creation of over 600 sports-based partnerships. Edward Thring’s Theory, Practice and Legacy is a timely work that should inspire further studies. The blurb on the back cover suggests Directors of Sport, trainee teachers and historians of education, gender, society and sport should read it. In fact, it has much to say to headteachers and senior leaders too, about the balanced curriculum, about creative pupil leadership and about sport as just one of the co-curricular enterprises that deserve their support. The book made me think afresh about prefectship. How do you establish sound pupil leadership, giving prefects scope to leave a legacy in their schools, without reinstating the worst abuses of ‘the rule of the bloods’? Such a question needs more attention than it can be afforded here, but reading Tozer is stimulating. Like all good authors, when he doesn’t have the answer, he sets the reader the right question. Dr Joseph Spence has been Master of Dulwich College since 2009

HERE

& THERE

Small actions make a big difference in fight against bullying Whether it is verbal, physical, online or in person, bullying has a significant impact on a child’s life well into adulthood. The Anti-Bullying Alliance believes that by making small, simple changes we can break this cycle and create a safe environment for everyone. The theme of Anti-Bullying Week 2019 is ‘Change Starts With Us’, underlining how every-day acts like listening to young people, having a conversation, thinking about the impact of our words, or stopping before hitting ‘like’ on a hurtful social media post, can help to reduce bullying. Following a consultation with over 1,000 children and 200 teachers, school staff and members of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, it emerged that a top priority was giving pupils, staff, parents and other key players, such as government and industry, the tools to prevent and respond to bullying both online and offline. This year, the Anti-Bullying Alliance is expecting widespread support for Anti-Bullying Week, which was celebrated in 80% of schools in 2018. ABA will be working with young people to develop parent tools, films, a social media campaign and a set of free cross-curricular teaching resources to support both primary and secondary schools to embrace the theme. Odd Socks Day will be held once again to mark the first day of Anti-Bullying Week. CBeebies star and Anti-Bullying Alliance patron, Andy Day, and his band Andy and the Odd Socks, are supporting Anti-Bullying Week 2019 and are encouraging students to wear odd socks to school to celebrate what makes us all unique. There will also be Anti-Bullying Week School Staff Awards for those inspiring members of the school workforce, nominated by pupils, who go the extra mile to support pupils and prevent bullying.

Autumn 2019

53


Reviews –

Five characters in search of their author’s alma mater David Warnes reviews… Cradle of Writers by Patrick Humphries, Dulwich College Quatercentenary, London, 2019. ISBN 978-0-9539493-6-6. Our School Stories, by multiple authors, Dulwich College Quatercentenary, London, 2019. ISBN 978-0-9539493-5-9. I always leave the reception-room unlocked. In case I have a client. That morning I had four. Which was four more than in the last month. Four clients and a hangover that had me feeling a small rodent had settled down in my mouth and died happy. The red settee and the two armchairs were occupied, leaving one client standing by the library table. He was tall, stiff and thin, like one of those well-pruned cypress trees they have in tubs on the sidewalk on Sunset Boulevard. Brown hair, greying at the temples and receding faster than the tide on Hermosa Beach. He was wearing an old-fashioned naval uniform. A Hollywood bit player, I guessed. He’d picked up a well-thumbed of the New Yorker and had the puzzled look of a man whose expectation of entertainment has been disappointed. So, not a regular reader of the New Yorker. The sofa was accommodating a woman. It had the capacity to accommodate a man as well, but none of the three had chanced it. She was wearing a lovat tweed skirt, and shoes so sensible they looked as though they’d rather be in Boston. Her expression, hawk-nosed and hard-eyed under a floss of grey hair, suggested that she and the shoes were in full agreement. At least she wasn’t in costume, unlike the sailor and the two characters who had opted for the armchairs. One had come in a scarlet military uniform. He had the muscles to fill it, but his long legs were shifting uneasily across my carpet.

54

Autumn 2019

His dark hair didn’t match an unconvincing blonde moustache, but at this distance there was no way of telling whether the moustache was a home-grown mistake or the work of a less than competent make-up girl at MGM. The other guy – I guessed it was a guy on the basis of his bulk, his costume being the biggest attempt at a cover-up since Teapot Dome – was wearing clovenfooted leather boots, a hairy body suit and a goatish face mask with curly horns. “Did you come together?” I asked. They nodded. “So, what is this? A class action against Warner Brothers?” They shook their heads. “Some beef with Central Casting?” They shook their heads a second time. About as communicative as Trappists in Lent. “OK. Let’s start with names.” I pointed at the navy guy. “Captain Horatio Hornblower”. “And you, lady?” “Agatha Gregson, Bertram’s Aunt Agatha”. Said in a voice that was all sour and no whisky. Bertram had my sympathy, whoever he was. I turned towards the one in regimentals. “Lieutenant Harry Feversham”. The goat needed no prompting. “Our name is Legion”. “So, what brings you here?” “We have but one shared interest” said Aunt Agatha. “Our writers were all educated at Dulwich College.” Of all the shamuses in all the towns in all the world, there had to be a reason they picked me. “That figures” I said, “I guess it’s the one thing we all have in common.” There can be few schools which have shaped such diverse creative talents as C.S. Forester, P.G. Wodehouse, A.E.W. Mason, Dennis Wheatley and Raymond Chandler, a truth entertainingly explored in Cradle of Writers by Patrick Humphries, one of a number of volumes published by the College to mark its Quatercentenary in 2019. More recently, the far from mean streets of SE21 have seen writers as diverse


Reviews – as Graham Swift, Michael Ondaatje, Tom McCarthy and Tom Rob Smith making their way to school. Their work is briefly and perceptively explored in a pendant chapter by the current Master, Dr Joe Spence. Humphries, who has also written the definitive biography of Lonnie Donegan, provides the reader with a brief life of each of his subjects, a colourful sense of the contexts in which they were educated and in which they wrote, and a lively critical appraisal of their work. The volume is illustrated with photographs, reproductions of book jackets and cinema posters. It contains much interesting detail, and it is regrettable that there are no footnotes to enable the reader to explore this more fully, and no index. Two of the writers, Wheatley and Forester, spent little time at Dulwich and loathed it. Mason and Chandler, there for longer, were more appreciative. Wodehouse revelled in his schooldays, revisiting the College frequently until his wartime indiscretions made him an exile. For the rest of his life he pored over the sports reports in The Alleynian, which he had edited in his youth, complaining when he thought them insufficiently detailed. His juvenilia, to be found in its back numbers, showed few signs of incipient comic genius and failed to impress A.H. Gilkes, one of the College’s most distinguished Masters, who wrote of the 18 year-old Pelham that he was ‘a most impractical boy who found difficulties in the most simple things’ with ‘the most distorted ideas about wit and humour’. Few people contrive, as A.E.W. Mason did, to be a prolific author of novels, plays and stories, a Member of Parliament and an Army officer. He lied about his age in order to enlist, and Humphries suggests that the account that he gave to his biographer Roger Lancelyn Green of the secret work that he did for the government in the First World War owed more than a little to his novelist’s imagination. He is chiefly remembered for The Four Feathers, a ripping yarn which has been filmed no fewer than seven times. That his work has fallen out of favour suggests that Oscar Wilde was right when he damned one of Mason’s early efforts as ‘cold, boiled mutton’. Dennis Wheatley endured a miserable year at Dulwich and plotted with a friend to run away to Canada. They got as far as Bromley, and Wheatley was expelled soon afterwards. He turned to writing when the bottom dropped out of the family wine business during the Great Depression. The Forbidden Territory (1933) was an immediate success, and a few years later came The Devil Rides Out, the first of several novels on the theme of Black Magic and, in Humphries’ view, ‘Wheatley’s best’. The crisis of 1940 saw the writer using his imagination to assist the General Staff. He wrote a paper, The Invasion and Conquest of Britain, from the point of view of the German High Command. It advocated the bombing of public schools ‘because these contain Britain’s officer class of tomorrow’. He continued to write best-sellers in the austere decade and a half that followed the war. A man of his time, his novels contain racist and homophobic elements and have fallen out of fashion, but he was, as Humphries acknowledges, ‘on occasion, capable of telling a rattling good yarn’. C.S. Forester was, like Patrick O’Brian (a far subtler writer, with a deeper understanding of the period in which his novels are set), cagey about his personal life and inclined to fictionalise aspects of it. He was born Cecil Lewis Troughton Smith and his childhood in Camberwell was marred by separation from his father, who remained in Egypt, and his mother’s taking to

drink. He attended Alleyn’s School for a while, transferring to Dulwich College in 1915. He hated his brief time there, perhaps because discipline was uncongenial to a sexually precocious teenager who had parted company with his virginity at the age of 13. His earliest literary success was a crime novel, Payment Deferred, published in 1926. The first Hornblower novel, The Happy Return, followed in 1937, by which time Forester had done time in Hollywood as a scriptwriter. Humphries rightly suggests that Hornblower is withdrawn, humourless, and fundamentally unhappy. ‘Quite why the books were so successful remains a mystery’, he wonders. Nevertheless, writers as diverse as Hemingway, Raymond Chandler and Roald Dahl have admired them. Perhaps their attraction lies in the way that their author, schooled in Hollywood, cuts to the chase, a point that Boris Johnson made in a Daily Telegraph article asserting the superiority of Forester’s sea stories to those of Patrick O’Brian and celebrating the enjoyment of ‘those of us who spent their nights with a torch under the bedclothes reading of the salt-spumed scourge of the French fleet’. To P.G. Wodehouse success seemed to come effortlessly. Great events such as the First World War scarcely impinged on him. ‘It was’, Humphries shrewdly observes, ‘as if Wodehouse the man was still inhabited by the boy Pelham’. In agreeing to make wireless broadcasts to America while he was interned in Nazi Germany during the Second World War, Wodehouse displayed the naiveté of an escapist, a man ruefully aware that time and change were sweeping away the privileged milieu of which he wrote. Evelyn Waugh predicted that ‘Mr Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in’. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler might seem to have little in common yet, as David Cannadine suggested, ‘both had an unparalleled ear for dialogue; both effectively deployed humour and both operated under the same moralistic umbrella they would have encountered at Dulwich’. Born in Chicago in 1888, Chandler arrived at Dulwich in 1900 and remained grateful for the four years he spent there, returning for a year as a supply teacher. After war service he moved back to the USA, taking up writing when his career as an accountant was undermined by alcoholism. In Philip Marlowe, the worldweary, cynical but fundamentally decent private investigator, he created an archetype. Plotting was never his strong point. When the film of The Big Sleep was in production, he received a desperate telegram asking ‘Who killed the chauffeur?’ to which, legend has it, he replied ‘Damned if I know’. Despite this, Hollywood beckoned and turbulent creative relationships with Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock resulted in memorable screenplays for Double Indemnity and Strangers on a Train. All five writers left a significant cinematic legacy, and Humphries devotes a chapter to this. The palm is surely shared by Chandler and Forester, whose books inspired two masterpieces, Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep (1946) and John Huston’s The African Queen (1951), the second of which earned Humphrey Bogart a long-overdue Oscar. Forester, Chandler and Wodehouse have deservedly secured an enduring readership, though Chandler is arguably the greatest of the Dulwich quintet. W.H. Auden praised his ‘powerful but extremely depressing books’, suggesting that they ‘should be read and judged, not as escape literature, but as works of art’.

Autumn 2019

55


Reviews That Dulwich continues to be a cradle of writers is evidenced by Our School Stories. Most of the authors, including Simon Brett, are Old Alleynians, though there are also contributions from a current pupil, Jack Probert, and the present Master, Joe Spence. It is a varied and interesting collection, with illustrations by Dulwich pupils. The cast includes Simon Brett’s Mr Glossop, a schoolmaster whose ‘once broad mind narrowed to the dimensions of a catheter’, and David Henry Wilson’s Okonko, the president of an unnamed country where his authority is so absolute that the goalkeeper who has the temerity to save a penalty he has kicked is jailed for five years. He tortures the English language in an effort to get it to reveal

his meaning, reflecting on his years at a public school where they played the oval ball game and from which he was expelled for an assault on his Latin master, ‘a fragrant injustice which pleased me greatly’. Most moving of all are the two nameless soldiers in Alfie Keenan’s How Times Change, for whom ‘there will be no more first times’ because a bursting shell ensures that they will be boys forever. ‘A month later two mothers will read two tear-stained letters over and over, praying each time that the words might be different.’ David Warnes is the author of Russia: A modern history and Chronicle of the Russian Tsars

HERE

& THERE

Young musicians meet Maestro The chance to take part in a masterclass with an internationally renowned conductor was an opportunity not to be missed for young musicians from schools in Bournemouth, Dorchester, Blandford, Ringwood and Winchester. Sir Mark Elder CH CBE, the Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra and former Music Director of English National Opera, hosted two special masterclasses during a recent return visit to his former school, Bryanston near Blandford. Pupils from Thomas Hardye School and St Osmund’s CE Middle School in Dorchester, Ringwood School, Bournemouth School for Girls and Perins School near Winchester joined young music scholars from Bryanston as Sir Mark shared his passion for music and his experience as one of the world’s most respected conductors. As well as dedicated masterclasses for woodwind and strings, he hosted a compelling Q&A session and discussed the career aspirations and opportunities for talented musicians. His visit to the school concluded with a special ‘Desert Island Discs’ evening in a packed Sir Mark Elder Concert Hall where he outlined his life story and time at Bryanston and provided a candid and enlightening insight into the music that holds a special place in his heart. “Musical education for every child, regardless of their background or circumstances, has such an important role to play in the healthy development of young inquisitive minds and in promoting emotional awareness as well as imagination and creativity,” said Sir Mark during his visit to Bryanston. “We need to encourage and nurture today’s young musicians at every opportunity. Their skills and determination will, after all, underpin the continuation, future development and appreciation of music as a source of inspiration, surprise and comfort. It has been wonderful to meet so many talented and enthusiastic young musicians at this formative stage of their musical odyssey. And, for those aspiring to a professional music career, they have every reason to feel confident about the future. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this return to my educational roots and will be watching the progress of many of the young musicians I’ve met today with a great deal of interest.” “Sir Mark’s visit to the school will live long in the memory of everyone he met,” says Stephen Williams, Bryanston’s Director of Music. “His enthusiasm and passion for music is truly infectious and it was a pleasure to see all of the young musicians who attended the masterclasses respond so positively to his warmth and attention to detail. It really was an inspirational experience for youngsters aspiring to a fulfilling life and career in the world of music and we are indebted to Sir Mark for giving so generously of his time. At a time when Music Education is under threat, this visit demonstrated how important music is in the development of rounded, imaginative individuals.” Building on the success of the masterclasses with Sir Mark Elder and the school’s ongoing commitment to The Richard Ely Trust and the Dorset Rural Music School, Bryanston will be hosting an important Music Education Conference in the autumn. With a clear agenda to help stem the continuing erosion of music education in the region and to explore new opportunities for engaging young people in the world of music, teaching staff from both maintained and independent schools across the region will be attending the special event.

56

Autumn 2019


Darcy & Zara, Lady Eleanor Holles’ Collection. Constructed from British cloth, the mid-grey two button fitted jacket with red piping creates a timeless and distinctive look.

schoolblazer.info 01832 280 011


lay P Time to When we pull on our kit we’re all ready to play. Win, lose or draw, we stick together.

We are the #1 sportswear brand for Independent Schools. For kit designed exclusively for you with a simple one-stop online shop, speak to Squadkit.

#countmein

Call: 01832 280011 | info@squadkit.com | www.squadkit.com Exclusively delivered by Schoolblazer

Profile for johncatt

Conference & common room, Volume 56 Number 3 Autumn 2019