Absolutely Education Spring 2021

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Focus on


Books & Beyond SPRING 2021

21st-century school libraries

ARTS IMPACT why creativity counts right now



An author’s take on dyslexia


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EXCELLENT ISI inspection 2018

Every Heathfield girl has an irrepressible spirit. Uniquely hers, it drives her passion, voice and character. As well as providing an excellent academic education and top-class pastoral care, Heathfield identifies your daughter’s distinctive strengths and encourages her to live her ambitions, embrace her spirit and talent so that she develops as the best possible version of herself. Live life like a Heathfield girl.

OPEN MORNINGS Saturday 6 March 9.45am to 12 noon Saturday 8 May 9.45am to 12 noon To book, email admissions@heathfieldschool.net

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• A B S O L U T E LY E D U C AT I O N ’ S •


Sally Gardner

Author and dyslexia Ambassador

Carnegie Medal-winner Sally Gardner started reading at age 14 ( Wuthering Heights), and after that nothing could stop her. She had a successful career in theatre design before becoming an even more successful writer. Now an Ambassador for the British Dyslexia Association, she talks about her experience and how we change perceptions – and life chances – for the many people who struggle with reading.

James Dahl

Master of Wellington College

Appointed Head of Wellington in September 2019, James Dahl read Classics at Cambridge. He started his teaching career at Brighton College, becoming Head of Classics at just 23, and then joined Wellington after a spell as a Housemaster at Repton School. In this issue he talks about why he believes that independent schools have a duty to remain true to their founding principles.

Isabella Pappas Actress and ArtsEd alumnus

Isabella Pappas had an idyllic childhood in Italy with no TV, just classic movie DVDs, and a family who mostly spoke no English. This didn't stop her acting – in fact, she put on a show for her aunties and uncles every night after dinner. Studying in London, her talent was swiftly recognised and the roles followed. In The Making of Me, she talks about her love of acting and writing and the best of times in schools where it was fine to make lots of noise.

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We l c o m e

From the



hat is the glue that binds schools together? It’s a question that tasks all parents when they look for the right place for their child but is especially salient right now, at a time when many physical ties – daily rituals, meeting points, the chance to cheer on the home team – are so absent. We set out to pin down school spirit by talking to a group of leading independents. Their answers (from page 30) are thought-provoking, and also a reminder that successful schools are so much more than physical places. Sevenoaks, our Focus lead article for this issue (page 22), has school spirit in spades, so it was a pleasure late last year to tour its campus and meet new

know their worth in brightening our lives, but talking on page 61 about enabling creative freedom at a time of such (necessary) social restrictions, Headmistress of Sydenham Katharine Woodcock summed it up as the need young people have to express: “how this period has made them feel”. We also check in to school libraries – an essential part of the monumental effort schools are undertaking to keep lessons and learning on track. We spoke to library leads (page 52) to find out about a world that – pre Covid – was already curating mountains of information to balance the twin demands of digital and print. The technology is remarkable, but there remains a kind of magic to the work that they do introducing eager young minds to a world of books. Of course, some children are deprived of the opportunity – through absence of books

“SUCCESSFUL SCHOOLS ARE ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN PHYSICAL PLACES” Headmaster Jesse Elzinga. One thing that remains firmly front and centre there is a spirit of innovation. The new Head talked about how we ensure that schools work with, and help to build and sustain, communities around them – in other words, giving back. This is also a key theme picked up by the many other school leaders who have contributed to this issue and only looks set to grow in importance in the months to come. Another key talking point this issue is the value of the arts at this time. We all

or through an inability to navigate print on page. Sally Gardner, the Carnegie Medal winner and author talks to us (page 62) about her career. She has dyslexia and did not read a book herself until she was 14. Her message is simple: we need to work harder on behalf of young people who are, for whatever reason, reluctant readers. Spoken or written, we must help them find their words.

Libby Norman EDITOR

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10 SCHOOL NEWS What's going on in the world of education

16 GOING GLOBAL Four decades of Southbank International School


22 A LIBERAL TRADITION The forward-thinking approach of Sevenoaks School

30 SCHOOL SPIRIT The many ingredients that build and maintain a school community



Inside the new Maida Vale School

MOBO Award winner YolanDa Brown talks about her work getting children into music





Falcons School for Girls and Peregrines Nursery is looking forward to a bright school year

We step inside 21st-century school libraries to find paper and digital combining to inspire young minds

62 READING RIGHTS Author and dyslexia Ambassador Sally Gardner on writing, reading and what needs to change

72 AGONY AUNT Gabbitas experts answer your questions on gifted & talented children and personal tutors




Are we preparing young people for the job challenges that lie ahead in a tough market?

83 GOING HIGHER The Moat Sixth Form on successfully opening a SEN 16+ provision in the most testing of years

91 DAY IN THE LIFE: REPTON The Head Girl and Head Boy share their days


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ArtsEd alumnus and talented actress Isabella Pappas on her brilliant school days

96 TOP SPRING BOOKS From a classic adventure and journeys into space to a really useful guide to senior school

99 MIND GAMES New journals and games to help young people find the words to describe their feelings

114 LAST WORD Meet the new Headmistress of Heathfield School



SEVENOAKS SCHOOL Sevenoaks School, High Street, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1HU 01732 455133 sevenoaksschool.org

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Oman opening

H E A LT H Y G OA L S Young people should get a 20 per cent discount on healthier food choices in restaurants and shops, says campaign group Bite Back 2030. Set up in 2019 by Jamie Oliver, and with an active youth board, the group has put forward other proposals, including ‘youth pods’ with wi-fi and healthy food as an alternative meeting point to fast-food restaurants and an influencerled campaign to make water young people’s go-to drink.

Cheltenham College is set to open a school in Muscat, Oman – the first British co-ed independent to establish a base in the country. Located on a 45,000sq m site, the purposebuilt Cheltenham Muscat will welcome boys and girls in 2021/22. Senior Deputy Head Crispin Dawson will become Founding Head of the new school, which is locally owned.

“Bite Back 2030 is calling for healthy food discounts and meeting points for young people ”


Literacy suppor t

The Heads of Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls and The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School have announced a 'single campus plan'. While both schools will continue to maintain singlesex education, the 10-year plan includes a co-curricular programme and co-teaching across the Elstree site they share in at least one A-level subject.

Literacy charity Driver Youth Trust has highlighted issues schools and young people face in accessing support. Its report, ‘Hide and Seek: where are all the specialists?’, recommends an agreed definition for specialist teachers, a single accrediting body and an identifiable qualification with single register of specialist teachers.

STA R T U R N S ArtsEd marked the year’s pupil achievements with a virtual prize -giving ceremony. Alongside pupil performances, star alumni popped by to help host the show. They included iconic ballerina Darcey Bussell, Charlie’s Angel star Ella Balinska and West End heroes Danny Mac and Isaac Gryn.

“Culture is this ongoing thing that needs to be nurtured, because there is no such thing as a quick, arty fix” P H O E B E WA L L E R - B R I D G E

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Dukes lead Professor Mark Bailey has become Managing Director at Dukes Education. Formerly High Master of St Paul’s and Head of Leeds Grammar, he has chaired Dukes Advisory Board since 2018 and will lead day-to-day running of the family of schools in central London and Cambridge.

R U G BY ALLIANCE Gordon’s School has joined forces with Harlequins, offering a pathway for its most promising rugby players aged between 16 and 18 years old. Pupils will be able to train in an environment similar to that of a professional rugby club, while continuing their education at the Surrey co-ed school.

B E AU B E AT Beaudesert Park School in Gloucestershire went viral online with its whole-school Jerusalema Dance Challenge. The school version has performances from every year group, as well as teachers and support staff. Headmaster Chris Searson showed he’s no dancefloor slouch with a spirited solo on the Performing Arts Centre roof. The full video is on YouTube.

DRESDEN VISIT Linguist Immy Cheney, a sixthform pupil at The Leys, Cambridge, won the Dresden Trust scholarship 2020, spending four weeks on a cultural and educational visit to the city. The prize is awarded by The Dresden Trust to pupils from schools in the Youthbridge Scheme. “Much of my visit was spent tracing the impacts of the war and evidence of reconciliation,” says Immy.

The voice Bedford School pupil Alexander Olleson has been named BBC Young Chorister of the Year. Alexander, 14, joined the school last September on a music scholarship but took his first singing steps via his local church choir, aged seven. "I wasn’t as nervous as I might have been," he says of the competition.

“People who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane’... are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been” KAMALA HARRIS


“When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free” C H A R L E S E VA N S H U G H E S

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Girls welcome

S H O P LO CA L Bredon has opened a farm shop and café for parents, with plans to open to the public as soon as possible. Profits are being donated to charity, and pupils are helping to sell local products to support small businesses. Bredon students have also upcycled and made items for sale themselves. The dyslexia-friendly boarding and day school has lots of produce to work with, thanks to its Gloucestershire location and on-site farm.

St Columba’s College in St Albans welcomed its first girls this January, as the school officially goes co-educational. The first girls started remote learning in Reception and there will also be mixed classes in Year 1, Year 2 and the Lower Sixth Form from September 2021 – part of a a phased transition to full co-education.

“Bredon students have upcycled and made products to sell in their new farm shop, with profits going to support charities ”


Travel talk

Shrewsbury School has been awarded Independent School of the Year 2020, also receiving the Community Outreach prize at a virtual awards ceremony held recently. Shrewsbury Headmaster Leo Winkley says the school is delighted, adding: “We are particularly pleased also to have received the award for Community Outreach”.

The outdoor learning sector has been lobbying the DofE to save residential school trips impacted by Covid-19. Sector surveys estimate that each day since the crisis began over 70,000 under 18s have been missing out on outdoor learning. Updated reports sent to the DofE in December included information on impacts to a sector that supports 15,000 jobs.

ROCK LEGEND A statue of Mary Anning is just 14% from its crowdfunding target, thanks to Lyme Regis, Dorset schoolgirl Evie Swire's campaign. As reported in Ab Ed Summer 2020, Evie began campaigning for a statue so that the palaeontologist is celebrated in her home town. First sketches are complete; find out more at maryanningrocks.co.uk

“Music is an element that should be part and parcel of every child’s life via the education system” V I C TO R I A WO O D

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Fashion for ward King’s Ely Sixth Form pupil Namo Sajarattanachote is among the finalists in the RECO Young Designer Competition, Thailand. Sponsored by Indorama Ventures, the international upcycling fashion design contest raises awareness through creative reuse of polyester ‘waste’.

G O O D I E B OX E S Woodford Green, London prep Bancroft’s held a foodbox appeal, with pupils and their families collecting and making up boxes for more than 120 local households. Each box was carefully packed to feed either a family of four or a person living alone for a fortnight, helping them through the Christmas period.


Millfield is among pilot schools introducing Rambert Grades, contemporary dance training and education to develop emergent talent. Director of Dance and Drama Rhian Fox was among the first trained to teach the new syllabus. She will be working with the school’s dance coach Robert Guy to start the programme later this year.

At Hazelgrove Prep, over 120 children, their families, plus some loyal dogs, raised over £5,000 completing the National Three Peaks Stair Summits Challenge for BBC Children in Need. These ranged from 753 solo ascents of the Somerset school’s main staircase in 24 hours, to teams of two, three or four scaling all three ‘peaks’ in three days. Competitions ran alongside to add to the challenge – from Best Wildlife Photo to Most Stylish Summiteer.

S occer score DLD College, Westminster welcomed Sol Campbell to open its new sports pitch. He met students and staff, also speaking to DLD’s 1st XI. Campbell has agreed to support a DLD Football Programme, beginning in September, that will provide a game-changing qualification.

“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else” E LO N M U S K


“Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself” G E O R G E B E R N A R D S H AW

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Show on!

Student share St Clare’s Oxford has been running a successful student-led campaign via its Share and Care charity, building and delivering Winter Crisis boxes of vital supplies for Oxford’s homeless community. Their efforts have seen them shortlisted for an ISA Award for ‘Outstanding Local Community Involvement’.

Stars of stage and screen applauded Oakham School’s actors when they brought back live theatre by staging Decky Does a Bronco in December. Messages of support were shared with audiences before each show from Oakham’s theatrical alumni, including actors Greg Hicks and Richard Hope, theatre star Katie Hall, and director Thomas Hescott.

“Oakham theatrical alumni cheered on a return to the stage, sending their messages of support”

Time team Falcons School for Girls has marked the pandemic with a time capsule. Pupils came up with the idea as a way of honouring the challenges of lockdown life. The capsule includes Falcons tartan face masks, hand sanitiser, string to represent social distancing, diary entries, photos of Zoom lessons, newspaper articles – and also pasta and toilet roll.

Cambridge college Impington has added handball to its scholarship programme, offering an opportunity to train with specialist coaches while gaining an IB qualification. The international state sixth form college scholarship is in partnership with Cambridge Handball Club. Successful students will have specialist training and participate in regional matches. Handball is popular across Europe, especially in countries such as Germany, France and Spain.

C O O L M OV E S Dauntsey’s came up with a smart solution to continuing dance lessons, taking them outside. This cool (sometimes breezy) approach enabled the popular classes to continue as non-contact sessions with mixed age groups. Dance is on the curriculum for all First and Second formers, and has grown dramatically in popularity at the Wiltshire school.

Sky call Royal Observatory Greenwich has launched Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 competition. With a closing date of Friday 5 March, there are categories for younger entrants, including Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year. Winning entries will be displayed at the National Maritime Museum.

“Poets are the sense, philosophers the intelligence of humanity” SAMUEL BECKETT

Kind spirits Cameron Vale School pupils raised almost £900 for The Childhood Trust, selling school tote bags designed by the children, essential supplies and also donating in return for wearing their favourite Christmas jumpers for the day. The co-ed prep for children aged 4 plus recently added The Chelsea Nursery, offering wraparound care for children from 2 plus.

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Eaton House Schools

Where Bright Minds Excel

If you want your child to have a happy, confident and ambitious start to their education, choose Eaton House Schools, with single sex sites in Belgravia and Clapham for boys and girls aged 4-13 and co-educational nurseries featuring an advanced early years + curriculum. • Eaton House Belgravia School is a Westminster and St Paul’s 7+ and 8+ feeder, with 30% of boys receiving offers in 2020, together with a range of other top schools, including Eaton House Belgravia Prep School. • Eaton House The Manor Boys’ School in Clapham has sent generations of boys to Eton, Westminster, St Paul’s, Winchester, Harrow and others, many with scholarships. Boys recently won a St Paul’s John Colet Academic Scholarship and a Dulwich College Academic Scholarship, amongst others. • Eaton House The Manor Girls’ School in Clapham is outstanding academically, with girls winning 10 scholarships and an exhibition in 2020, including academic scholarships to Wycombe Abbey, JAGS, Alleyns and St Mary’s Ascot, and 44 scholarships from 2017-2020 in academics, art, music and sport. • The Good Schools Guide 2020 praises the ‘excellent and nurturing staff’ who ensure that every child is treated as an individual whose talents are noticed and encouraged.

Be a part of the Eaton House success story To learn more about our advanced 4+ curriculum contact our Head of Admissions Miss Sam Feilding, on 020 3917 5050 or book a virtual information session on www.eatonhouseschools.com.

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ABOVE Southbank now caters to every age from early years to 16+

Going Global

Marking its 40th birthday in 2020, Southbank International School's founding vision has seen it lead the way on teaching approach and delivery of world-class qualifications LIBBY NORMAN

outhbank International School marked its 40th birthday in 2020. Now a flourishing member of the Cognita Group, and with three campuses across five central-London sites, it started out small – but the founding vision has always been global and resolutely forward thinking. The school opened its doors in 1979 with a few dozen students in a former primary school near Waterloo Station. Its founder Milton Toubkin – with cofounders David Tucker, John and Susan Marberry and Stephen Bailey – envisaged a democratic and forward-thinking setting that used all London as a classroom and enabled a truly individual curriculum. Milton Toubkin, a seasoned educator and previously principal of international schools in Geneva and London, had been greatly influenced by the book The School Without Walls: Philadelphia's Parkway Program, by Professor John Bremer and Michael von Moschzisker. This charted the success of an approach that tapped into a city's rich arts, cultural and business resources. "I thought then that of all the cities in the world London was best suited to that style of education," he recalls. The concept of a 'school without walls' meant that the school building need not be so large – useful, says Milton Toubkin, because they started with a good idea but extremely limited funds. The team tapped into a wealth of resources and academic goodwill in those early days. Southbank

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LEFT Theatre at Southbank International School RIGHT School founder Milton Toubkin

Polytechnic (now Southbank University) gave the school access to science and language labs; music classes took place in the City Lit. They even taught classes in empty spaces at the National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall. Early positive publicity for the school's modern approach came when BBC1's Nationwide currentaffairs programme followed a group of students for the day. A national audience watched them learning their way around London, including an inspired history session in the British Museum by one of the school's teachers – coincidentally also a lecturer at the Museum. Internationalism was core and the original name – American International School – was chosen partly because the founders envisaged that the majority of the cohort would be drawn from US families resident in London. In fact, there was an influx from all points of the compass, with particularly strong cohorts from Iran and Scandinavia. Within two years, the school became known as Southbank International School. In keeping with its democratic founding principles, students helped choose the new name – indeed, students, parents and staff all had a say in one of the school's regular 'Town Meeting' open forums. The new name coincided with a move to a new site on the South Bank. The next major milestone for Southbank International School was the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in 1984. While the IB Diploma is respected and widely studied in the UK today, in 1984 this was

“By 2018, once diminutive Southbank was offering education from its central London campuses to some 800 students from more than 70 countries” a radical departure. Milton Toubkin says that some of the staff had initial concerns about moving away from a British-based curriculum, but were reassured after a personal visit by the then Director General of the IB. "IB Diploma fitted right into our purpose as an international school," Milton Toubkin adds. Just over a decade later, Southbank would become the first UK school to offer all three IB programmes, from primary level through to 16+. Southbank's cohort grew exponentially, meeting the capital's demand for the kind of international education it provided. Its Notting Hill campus opened in 1988, with a primary school opening four years later. This was followed by the opening of a purpose-built Hampstead campus for primary years in 1995. With the Noughties came two further additions, one in Portland Place and another in Conway

Street, Fitzrovia. The most recent campus opening, Cleveland Street in 2018, enabled Southbank to welcome over 800 students from more than 70 countries. Provision from age 3 to 19 means students are able to progress through the school from nursery steps to stepping out into the world. Down the years, the IB has remained a cornerstone of Southbank's success, and with consistently impressive results. Last year saw a 100% pass rate, with 63 candidates reaching an average score of 36.6. Results tell only part of the story, since the very international nature of the cohort means students forge all kinds of bonds across the globe – whether they stay throughout their school career or relocate to a distant part of the world. Wherever they travel, Southbank alumni go equipped with a truly international education and London friendships made in this forward-thinking 'school without walls'. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 17


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TRUE COLOURS It is right that independent schools remain true to their founding principles during this time of crisis and beyond, says Wellington College's James Dahl


ublic service and charitable intent were central to the foundation of many independent schools: Epsom to provide for the orphans of medical families; Latymer Upper to educate ‘eight poore boyes’ from Hammersmith; Winchester and Eton to do likewise for 70 poor scholars. My school, Wellington College, was established to look after the orphaned sons of soldiers. Fast-forward to the present day and these schools have developed into establishments where most parents pay fees, but which remain committed to their original charitable foundations and social responsibilities. In recent decades we have aimed to use our resources for wider educational benefit. Wellington runs the Prince Albert Foundation, which provides full bursaries for children from low-income families, and our Wheeler Programme creates additional opportunities to enhance the studies of over 100 children on an

“The sector will continue to offer support to those in society who have suffered the most. Morally, it is the right thing to do” ongoing basis. Like us, many independent schools have meaningful two-way partnerships with local state schools. However, never has the need for this work been stronger than during the recent crisis. While most schools have done a remarkable job of educating the children of key workers and delivering remote education, it has been the children of lowincome families who have been hit hardest

children from lowincome backgrounds. Marcus Rashford has shone a spotlight on food poverty and independent schools have been involved in similar projects. Fettes College helped supply over 31,000 meals for vulnerable children in Edinburgh and my school funded food packages for low-income families at the Wellington Academy, one of our partner schools in Wiltshire. Recently, ABOVE Wellington College Wellington College Educational Grants function has given two local Academy by the pandemic. As the attainment gap Trusts £100,000 each to support local has widened, so independent schools have children from disadvantaged and low-income sought to alleviate this national crisis. backgrounds. Initiatives have included a EtonX’s free online learning platform two-week summer school and also specific benefitted over 900 state schools, while support packages for SEN students, another strategy has helped with the vulnerable students, and students in exam catch-up process itself. Schools such as year groups. We have also provided mentalHampton, Lady Eleanor Holles and KCS health support to re-engage students who Wimbledon delivered courses over the have become ‘lost’ over the past nine months. summer holidays and Wellington teachers As the first vaccines arrive, we all hope delivered many online sessions that 2021 will see the beginning to pupils from partner schools of the end for COVID-19 but to aid this process. Virtual the educational impact of the education, of course, requires virus will be felt across society technology and Highgate for years to come. I am certain, School raised over £60,000 to however, that the independent provide laptops for children sector will continue to offer at local state schools. At support in any way it can to Wellington College, our pupilthose in society who have led 'Donation for Education' suffered the most. Morally, scheme collected over 100 it is the right thing to do and JAMES DAHL laptops from the school resonates completely with why Master community; these have been so many of our schools were Wellington College wiped and redistributed to founded in the first place. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 19


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ABOVE Sevenoaks School's Claridges Lawn is one of many campus green spaces


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A liberal TRADITION Absolutely Education visits Sevenoaks School in Kent, a place with a long tradition of cherishing innovation and academic excellence LIBBY NORMAN


hen you visit Sevenoaks School it looks and feels like the very model of modernity, yet it has a foundation date (1432) that puts it firmly within the super-league of historic English schools. The aura is contemporary – certainly comfortably 21st-century British, with mellow Kentish ragstone set amid smart purpose-built spaces. There are modern sculptures by Old Sennockian Oliver Barratt, an art teacher here whose work has been shown at the Guggenheim, Venice and the Royal Academy. And all of this in a lush 100-acre parkland setting on the fringes of an ancient Kent market town. Despite the old and new juxtapositions, there is no sense of contradiction; this is a school that wears its history lightly. It’s worth remembering that even when it was founded by William Sevenoke – a poor local boy made good who wanted others to have similar life chances – it was progressive by the lights of the time as an entirely secular institution. If there is one tradition the school holds dear, it is the cornerstone of always championing a forward-thinking and liberal approach to education.

That tradition is one that new Headmaster Jesse Elzinga – who took up his role in September 2020 – is more than comfortable with. He’s happy to give specific examples of the ways in which this historic school continues to live up to its liberal vision. First up is the coeducational setting, which Sevenoaks put in place almost 50 years ago – a good few decades ahead of the pack. “A lot of families today believe in co-education, and with good reason. The world is co-educational, the workplace is co-educational; universities are, so schools should be as well. It is the most natural environment for children to grow up in,” he says. The co-ed environment is popular with parents but also works academically, for the school report card is A-star. There’s the ISI Excellent rating for both Pupils’ Achievement and Pupils’ Personal Development and the Sunday Times Secondary School of the Year award twice this century, most recently in 2018. The long list of accolades testifies to a well-rounded education with serious academic mettle. You can’t help but notice the school’s achievements with the International Baccalaureate Diploma – it is consistently ranked among the global leaders for IB achievement.

The IB is Jesse Elzinga’s second example of Sevenoaks’ progressive credentials. The school was a very early adopter of this academic pathway, first offering it over 40 years ago and becoming exclusively IB at 16+ almost 15 years ago. “The IB is the gold standard in education for the 16 to 18 age group. It’s not just the breadth of the curriculum, it’s the coherence. It is balanced, and I haven’t seen another curriculum this sound,” he says. “The school has really flourished because of that. It has become part of our identity and – as with our co-educational approach – it draws people to the school.” Elzinga has deep insight into the IB curriculum in principle and practice, since he helped to introduce it at St Edward’s Oxford (where he was Director of Studies) and also at Whitgift, where he started his teaching career. After St Edward’s, Elzinga moved on to Harrow as Director of Studies and then he became Headmaster of Reading Blue Coat from 2016. There, he presided over the best results in the Berkshire school’s history. Raising academic standards was the headline, but the significant back story is that during his tenure the school also established a development office and stepped up its outreach and partnership programme. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 23

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No coincidence that outreach and partnership is the third element that Elzinga cites as evidence of Sevenoaks School’s liberal and forward-thinking mindset. “We started our voluntary service unit here back in the 1960s,” he says. “What is more, every student has to do 50 hours of service as part of the IB Diploma. I can say definitively that every student that leaves here has already done a large number of hours of meaningful work.” So why is the element of service as part of school life so important? “It’s important that our young people recognise that they are in a position of privilege and with that privilege comes responsibility,” he says. “Research shows that when people get involved in charitable work in their younger years they are much more likely to be involved as an adult. They are much more likely to be a responsible citizen with a social conscience.” When it comes to school partnerships, Sevenoaks doesn’t like the term outreach, with its ‘them and us’ flavour. But it does have a truly comprehensive network of school partnerships and sponsorships across Kent and makes its facilities available to other schools and the wider community – another element of giving something back, of sharing. The school has a Headmaster who views the complexities of the UK education system through a different lens because Jesse Elzinga is American. He comes from a small farming community south of Detroit, where his parents ran an apple orchard. So, as he describes it, a modest background and local high-school education, after which he earned a bursary to Harvard (where he studied Comparative Religion & Philosophy). He points out that being supported as a Harvard student really wasn’t unusual. “It is still the case at Harvard, and at other leading US institutions, that the majority of students are on some sort of financial aid. This has

ABOVE With a 100-acre campus, the school offers exceptional teaching facilities

absolutely influenced my approach to education and my priorities here and at other schools where I’ve worked.” His second scholarship took him onward to Oxford for a postgraduate degree focused on ethical philosophy and he stayed. Now Elzinga is a dual citizen and with a family here. His surname, by the way, is Dutch origin (Friesland) and there’s a Liverpudlian grandmother in the mix. Perhaps here is a fourth example of Sevenoaks’ forward-thinking mindset because its new Headmaster approaches that most well-worn British education debate with refreshing clarity. “Every student who earns a place should be able to come and enjoy our school,” Elzinga says. He believes that independent schools should not apologise for their facilities or high academic standards because they show what a school can be. He also believes – and says that many independent Heads

he meets feel the same – that the whole education sector can change perception by widening access. “For instance, Harvard, a private university, doesn’t get criticised for being an elitist institution but praised for financial packages and transformational opportunities,” he adds. “For me this is partly personal. The vast majority of my education was paid for by the generosity of others.” While Sevenoaks may not be among those schools blessed with huge endowments, it does have a long tradition of generosity, of giving back. This is certainly one that the school stakeholder community of parents and old boys and girls (known as Old Sennockians or, more familiarly, OS) responds to enthusiastically. The school already has many students on more than full bursaries (110%), but the ambition now is to take this further by building an endowment that can offer


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many more means-tested places. “Our aim here at Sevenoaks is to really be that school for the community that our founder wanted us to be,” says Elzinga. The new Headmaster from Detroit already feels right at home in this community. “I don’t sound like I’m from Kent, but I do sound like I’m from Sevenoaks.” By this he means that Sevenoaks town has a distinctly cosmopolitan edge – sitting as it does in prime commuter belt, just over 30-minutes’ train ride from central London and conveniently close to Gatwick. School matches town for its cosmopolitan flavour. “It’s almost the norm here to have lived in another country, to hold a second passport, to speak another language,” says Elzinga. Around a fifth of students at Sevenoaks hold international passports and live abroad, while at Sixth Form level almost a third are from overseas. This remains a key draw for many families. “We’re not an international school but we attract families who like our international perspective.” While boarding is a crucial part of the mix – around 40% – there are some 800 day pupils drawn from in and around the town. As a visitor, it feels almost as if you have arrived at a smart university, rather than a school. There’s a modern campus look and it seems vast (although I’m assured that newbies quickly find their way around), with 30 plus school buildings ranged round its two quadrangles, Jockey’s Platch and the Flat. There are also plenty

ABOVE Art, music and drama flourish at the school BELOW The IB Diploma instils a global outlook and academic rigour

of breakout spaces on its beautifully landscaped lawns. Social time is taken seriously here – Lower School, Middle School and Sixth Form each have their own Common Room. That said, the Sixth Form bagged the best spot, with a light-filled space offering daily newspapers, adjoining quiet study areas and a music system to inspire spirited playlist conversations. The Tutor System is robust, as is wider pastoral care, and Sixth Formers can also opt to train as Peer Mentors – siblingstyle helping hands to younger pupils. The teaching and learning facilities are, as you’d expect, progressive. The Science and Technology Centre is particularly

impressive, with open spaces, central staircases and classrooms with glass walls featuring display shelves – shop-window style – of interesting objects and talkingpoint artefacts. The Visual Arts block shows a high level of creativity and just the right level of messy – always a sign that serious art is in progress. IB Diploma students are given their own dedicated art spaces to work in for the duration, just like professionals, and their artworks get shown not just around the school but in a professional London gallery. The school’s standout public area is The Space, with superb acoustics in the main Pamoja Hall, a smaller Recital Room, a recording studio and a dizzying array of practice and teaching spaces. Sackville Theatre also has a professional feel and is well used for dynamic drama productions – both are huge assets to school and town. Sport is a big deal here, with 43 different timetabled options and extracurricular clubs on offer. The Sennocke Centre offers the kind of facilities you’d expect from an extremely well-appointed city sports club – climbing wall, UVtreated pool, three indoor tennis courts plus gym and fitness spaces. All the main team sports are played in the grounds, and with multiple pitches and outdoor courts. Jesse Elzinga happens to have been a top-flight rower himself – threetime national champion at Harvard and Oxford – and also a cyclist with the distinction of having raced twice against Sir Bradley Wiggins in the British Time Trial Championships (he reminds people SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 25

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he lost convincingly both times). He is still a triathlete and runner and believes that a school’s job is to offer the widest number of fixtures at different levels across the whole range of sports. “Our emphasis is that all the students are involved and hopefully will build lifelong ABOVE habits, appreciating the There are over 40 different sports on offer role that sport and exercise RIGHT plays in a healthy life.” Some 40% of pupils So far, this current academic are boarders year has not allowed for the normal flow of sports fixtures or, come to that, the many arts and social events that punctuate the busy life of the school. This makes the job of an incoming Headmaster more difficult when assist, also opening up opportunities in it comes to getting to know pupils and how we teach and learn in the future. stakeholders – but Elzinga has worked As an example of how far and how hard to overcome the physical challenges. fast, he recalls an early March 2020 He is impressed by the ways in which event he attended for HMC school technology has moved in so quickly to leaders at Apple’s Regent Street headquarters. “This was still at the stage when we didn’t know what was coming. I stood up at the end of the demonstration and said: ‘This is great, I think my teachers are about two or three years away from embracing this sort of technology’. A month later, we were using it!” While the switch to online learning worked well and has received really positive feedback, Sevenoaks’ Headmaster is looking forward to the return of school as it should be. “It will be wonderful for the full range of activities to happen again – to pack out our performance arts spaces, to sing, to have sports fixtures, and for the students to be able to be with each other without wearing a mask.” Jesse Elzinga remains resolutely optimistic about the future – and is a firm believer in young people’s resilience and ability to see clearly the challenges that lie ahead of them. “I said in my first assembly: ‘I am so excited about being here at Sevenoaks, in a place where we discuss what’s going on in society’”, he says. “Our students ABOVE are very bright and they are well Glass-walled informed. I’m confident they are going teaching rooms at the Science and to go on to positions of leadership in Technology Centre society and I do believe they are going to make the world a better place.”

At a Glance

Sevenoaks School FOUNDED: 1432 by William Sevenoke HEAD: Jesse Elzinga, since September 2020 GENDER: Co-educational NUMBER OF PUPILS: 1,163 (468 in Sixth Form) DAY OR BOARDING: Day. Boarding – 13+ and 16+. AGES: 11-18 POINTS OF ENTRY: 11+ (day only), 13+, 16+ (day and boarding) ADMISSIONS: Selection through entrance test, current school references, interviews and reports. RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Non-denominational FEES: Day per term – from £8,097; boarding per term – from £12,930. Sixth Form entry, day per term – from £9,195; boarding per term – from £14,028. ADDRESS: Sevenoaks School, High Street, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1HU; sevenoaksschool.org

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SPORT WINS The Director of Sport at Hurst College discusses its recent sporting achievement award and ongoing work to promote sport for everyone


e were delighted to be named winner of the Sporting Achievement award in the 2020 Independent Schools of the Year Awards. The judges said their decision was due to our focus on recognising the physical and mental value of sport and sharing the benefits with the wider community, including the children of key workers, during lockdown. The physical and mental wellbeing of pupils is central to Hurst’s sports offering, demonstrated by our player welfare programme. Our physiotherapists triage, monitor injuries and support rehabilitation, in conjunction with strength and conditioning coaches. As part of our caring community approach, equal attention is given to those who simply want to participate as to elite performers. The ambition is to create an activity diet that engages all pupils in an enjoyable way, through team sports, individual sports and outdoor pursuits. Our philosophy RIGHT has always been the Hurst College importance of sport BELOW for all, which not only Variety makes sport engaging includes our own

“Our philosophy of sport for all not only includes our own students and staff, but also other schools and organisations”

students and staff, but also other schools and organisations. The creation of the Sussex Independent School Diamond League Athletics Programme is the latest of many initiatives. The college has forged strong links with maintained schools by hosting development days, as well as being a hub for Surrey Storm Netball South and Sussex County Cricket academies, a feeder for the Harlequins Rugby Development Programme and the base for Sussex Hockey. Hurst organises and plays host to regional and national competitions and events in a variety of sports. The Sports Department responded to the unique challenges of remote learning by implementing alternative ways of engagement and delivered a comprehensive

programme, including on-site options for children of key workers. A creative approach continued when pupils returned for the new academic year. We made it a priority for our pupils to be outside as much as possible and this challenged us to be inventive with the options – all based around utilising facilities to their best advantage. The term began with athletics, crosscountry and cricket – cricket continuing throughout the winter months using our new bank of outdoor nets. The requirement for year-group bubbles was overcome with the introduction of temporary facilities such as a golf driving range and a marquee for aerobics and spin classes. All these activities have proved extremely popular and a valuable opportunity for students and houses to come together. With no inter-school fixtures, we have organised more house and intramural fixtures. Most have taken place during our Saturday programme when normally 100 teams across all levels compete – the result of a development programme which has delivered competitive success and important life skills. Collaboration with pupils and parents, as well as a constant desire to improve, underpins any high-quality programme. We have not only strived to establish a reputation for quality, breadth and inclusivity, but also continually work to ensure that each Hurst pupil develops a lifelong love of sport and physical activity.

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Schools are set up for learning – but something just as exciting happens there, with physical and virtual meeting points that build and maintain a sense of community strength. We asked independents to describe their school spirit


chools are more than the individuals who lead or learn, with elements that mould and shape culture and identity remaining down the years. Is it assembly or other time-honoured rituals, clubs and informal meeting points or the things done as a wholeschool community to give back? In truth, it’s many factors that add up to school spirit – the sense of belonging pupils can recall many years down the line. What is certain is that this of all years is a time to reflect on the things that give each school its cohesion, and look forward to a time when the things we have adapted or lost because of Covid-19 will return. We spoke to a group of independents to ask what they value as part of school identity.

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Sinclair House School

coming up with initiatives that give back. “A priority theme at the moment is to ‘save the planet’ and recently School Council launched an initiative for SHS to eventually be ‘plastic-free’,” says Sasha Gibson. Extra-curricular opportunities abound, with everything from chess and song-writing to football, maths enrichment, ‘Rhythm Bugs’ and art. Children are also encouraged to develop entrepreneurial ideas, either individually or in groups, and with a formal Entrepreneurship Week held each Summer Term. This is a serious event, with business plans


t Sinclair House School, the Fulham co-ed prep and nursery for children aged 2 to 11, school spirit is developed through the meeting point of assembly at the start and end of the week. “Our assemblies focus on citizenship, exploration of ‘fundamental British values’, Sinclair House School values and links to our PSHE scheme of work,” says Headmistress Sasha Gibson. Monday morning, assembly gives children the opportunity to explore a value of the week that is then held at the core of school activities in lessons and form time. On Friday afternoons, there is an opportunity for the whole school to reflect on that value and share special moments, as well as celebrating achievements. Each class at Sinclair House holds a class assembly once in the school year. “The Year 6 Leavers’ Assembly is always so impressive, heartwarming and a definite tear-jerker!” Other concerts and plays knit the school together and, in normal times, these are part of the rhythm of the year. “Although we are a small school, the standard and quality of performance is exceptional and reflects the passion our children have towards performing arts.” The School Council is there to reflect the importance of democratic principles and the pupil voice. With two children voted on from each of the year groups, this has a role in making improvements, discussing school events and

and the SHS version of Dragon’s Den. The Give Back ideal is embedded, with the wider school family joining in to raise funds. Charities can be nominated by everyone, but children decide on the winner. This year, the children voted in Save The Children as its whole-school charity for the next two years and have a fundraising schedule across the academic year. In addition, each year group has a local cause to work on. Not just school spirit in action, but a clear way for SHS pupils to act as a cohesive group and make a difference to the wider community.

RIGHT Sinclair House School pupils

LEFT Enrichment helps build firm friendships

“"At Sinclair House, the Leavers’ Assembly is heart-warming and a definite tear-jerker"

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“Each year the community at St Columba's supports a local homelessness charity”

ABOVE Assemblies are part of life at St Columba's

BELOW Pupils enjoy developing their interests

St Columba’s College


t St Columba’s College in St Albans, Mass and assemblies provide opportunities to come together as a community. Staff and students can delve more deeply into social issues and the ‘theme of the week’, building on discussions in tutor groups. “This could include Sixth Formers leading anti-bullying activities, and assemblies on topics such as ‘Black Lives Matter," says Assistant Head for Student Formation, Joseph Tatham. In the Prep School, weekly assemblies and liturgies include awards to celebrate achievements and demonstrations of the school ethos, or a class may produce and share an assembly with the whole school. In normal times, the school would gather at the St Albans Abbey for celebrations

such as the annual Carol Service. Music is an integral part of the school spirit. Regular performances make assemblies and Masses not just a way for the whole school to come together, but a celebration of student talent. Extra-curricular opportunities centre around the SHAPE Programme, which is a framework designed to motivate and reward participation in holistic education. “It encompasses Service, House, Academic, Practical and ExtraCurricular activities, and all our students are encouraged to engage with a programme tailored to their needs and interests,” says Joseph Tatham. Service is crucial to developing school spirit through the ‘3Cs’. “These are the key Columban qualities of Courage, Courtesy and Compassion.” Emphasising giving back starts in the Prep School and each year the community supports many local appeals. Head of Prep Richard McCann says: “Last year the Prep pupils

collected an amazing amount for our Harvest Appeal, with the whole community rising to the challenge.” During lockdown, parents continued to take part in wholecommunity events. Similarly, virtual gatherings played a key part in maintaining a sense of school spirit. This was aided by virtual end-of-year celebrations, including ‘Columba’s Got Talent’ – muchneeded light relief at the end of 2020. The Columban Fayre is usually a highlight of the school year in November. Headmaster David Buxton says: “The Fayre is one of the special days in the College calendar when past and present members of SCC and friends come together, have fun and buy from the stalls”. While in normal times all school events are very well attended, going virtual has widened the net still further, enabling a much broader group to gain insights into the school day. “Alumni from around the world have been able to take part,” adds David Buxton.

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St Edmund’s School

A ABOVE Exciting challenges at Dragon School

BELOW Sporting life at St Edmund's

Dragon School


t Dragon School, Oxford, school spirit is encapsulated in its pioneering initiative Dragon QUEST. This is a bespoke Saturday morning curriculum, introduced last September for Years 4 and 5 and set to run throughout the entire school from September 2021. Designed to be more in tune with family life, and lots of fun, it gives pupils opportunities to develop skills and dare to do something new and exciting as they learn. With activities ranging from cultural outings around Oxford and bike mechanics to farm visits, paddle boarding and first aid, this is designed to take the school spirit beyond the classroom and help young people develop confidence, teamworking and wider understanding. Dragon QUEST Saturday mornings (which around 85% of eligible pupils are already participating in) is made

more exciting by the learning opportunities that have been revealed. “I never cease to be amazed by the talent to be found in the Dragon Common Room,” says the programme’s director Tim Knapp. “The programme is almost exclusively staffed by Dragon teachers, who have hidden talents and qualifications outside of teaching. A few examples of this include a certified archery coach, a calligraphy tutor and a high-intensity interval training instructor.” Participating is, says the team at Dragon School, another good method of building on the already strong school spirit and sits alongside a strong extra-curricular programme of clubs and activities (these range from drama and gardening to textile, sport and language clubs). As 'virtual school' is still able to run both its timetabled and Dragon QUEST activities, the school says pupils are able to carry on engaging with teachers and friends, albeit in a different setting, as well as maintaining that feeling of being part of a likeminded community learning something exciting.

t St Edmund’s, the Canterbury co-ed, the co-curriculum sits at the heart of the School. “It’s what makes our pupils stand out from the crowd and it helps give them confidence and the ability to excel professionally and personally,” says Director of External Relations Victoria Stears. With everything from horse riding to chess, mindfulness to debating, drama and music to sport of every colour, there is plenty of choice. As part of activities, pupils are encouraged to engage with their surrounding communities so that they develop skills of working together and serving. When it comes to the core cocurriculum, it’s definitely inspired by pupils, with new clubs and societies started at their request. More formal pathways, such as CCF and DofE, are also well subscribed. “It is often said of our co-curriculum that it fully embodies what it means to be

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“Assemblies can be lively affairs – pupil-contribution and participation are ‘cool’ in this school!” a St Edmund’s pupil,” says Victoria Stears. “Where else will you find a pupil enjoying climbing and football while being able to make pasta from basic ingredients or design and stitch a deckchair that will be exhibited in The Turner Gallery?” she adds. There are regular whole-school events. “The meditative effects of group silence in our chapel are well known and give pupils the best possible start to the working day.” On the other hand, assemblies can be lively affairs. “The concepts of pupil-contribution and participation are ‘cool’ in this school!” says Victoria Stears. St Edmund's works in partnership with many local schools and pupils also devote one curricular afternoon every two weeks to a Skills and Service programme. Parent-led organisations and events add to the rich mix. Lockdown brought challenges, but also inspiration. “We looked at lockdown as a time when everyone needed to come together to make it work,” says Victoria Stears. “The pandemic has firmed up our belief in what it means to be part of a team – parents, pupils, staff, leaders, other school providers and the Internet – all working together towards common goals.”

RIGHT Assembly at Kent College

BELOW School spirit at St Edmund's

Kent College


t Kent College in Canterbury, a school with a proud heritage of education provided by the Methodist Church, worship stands at the heart of the school ethos. The school's Chaplain the Reverend Dr Paul Glass says: “It’s a spirit which is about warmth, openness, kindness, living on a large map and watching over one another in love". The school has a long history and welcomes all, so worship is designed to be thought-provoking, inspiring, accessible and open. “We work very hard to make sure that pupils of all faiths and none find that our assemblies are a place where they can be challenged, stretched, encouraged and enthused,” adds Dr Glass. In the Senior School, assembly and worship takes place in various forms for all pupils three times a week. In normal times, there is a rich variety of outside

speakers on Fridays, coming to the school to bring a wide range of perspectives and experiences. Every tutor group in the school also designs one chapel service each year, giving the students the opportunity to think through issues and provide ways to convey messages – be it through music, drama or other contributions. Dr Glass notes that issues faced within the school by individuals and groups – as well as broader national and international events – can be tackled within assembly since this provides a space to focus and think things through. Another core aspect of school spirit at Kent College is charitable giving. Often fundraisers and charities visit to educate the school about work they are doing – the school’s Charities’ Committee raises an impressive sum each year, typically over £20,000. At individual level, students work with the wider community – it might be helping younger children with reading, visiting care homes or some other form of support. While lockdown has seen

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BELOW Kent College believes in nurturing a sense of wider community

chapels, like most of school life, head online, the school has seen this as a new opportunity and has even had chapel content filmed and shown by its sister campus in Dubai. “More parents and alumni have joined our gatherings. Students still take part and a wider range of nationally known speakers have been able to provide input,” says Dr Glass. “A good example of this was during Black History Month. Chapel service was led by a black Methodist pastor from Michigan who talked to us about what life is like in the States for black leaders.” While the insights and togetherness continue, everyone at the school is looking forward to a return to school, and Kent College Chapel. “An interesting comment made by a Year 13 pupil at the beginning of this term was that one of the things they missed in lockdown was that sense of the whole school community being able to gather together in Chapel,” says Dr Glass. “That speaks to what an important part it plays in the spirit of school life.”



ulwich College is putting its school spirit into action in a potentially life-changing way, with pupils helping other young people to succeed. The school Chaplain, Reverend Tim Buckler was approached by charity Action Tutoring with the hope that Sixth Form pupils might volunteer as Maths or English tutors to Year 6 children. Traditionally, Action Tutoring works with professionals, graduates and retirees, so the school was proud to be asked. Many children can’t access traditional tutoring, which can be highly effective for pupils

struggling with SATS, or other aspects of study. In all, 14 Upper Sixth Dulwich College students signed up and, after training sessions and DBS checks, they were ready to begin on an online platform created by Action Tutoring. Now upwards of 25 Year 6 children from local primary schools St George’s and St John’s Walworth are testing out their new tutors. Revd. Buckler says: “It is our sincere hope that the sessions will prove useful. For the pupils involved from Dulwich College, the opportunity has been enjoyable and they themselves have also benefited from the experience.”

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Fresh Start

The Headmaster of newly opened Maida Vale School on how its approach enables trust and community spirit in extraordinary times


he Gardener Schools Group opened Maida Vale School last September with pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9. In these extraordinary times, many people have commented on the level of trust that our parents have shown in us by taking the leap of faith for their child to join a new school. For us, it is our approach to values-led education that engenders that trust and means that our pupils will be thoroughly prepared for their lives beyond school. We have five key Pupil Learning Values: creativity, resilience, problem solving, reflection, and supporting and inspiring others. These values underpin all the learning that happens across Maida Vale School. If we have learnt anything from the pandemic, it is that resilience is one of the key values of success. We teach

“Our values-led education means our pupils will be prepared for life

and responding effectively to others. At Maida Vale, most lessons are 90 minutes long. This gives teachers the time to be forwardthinking and varied with lessons plans. Longer lesson times also allow us to incorporate reflection into our curriculum through DIRT (Directed Independent ABOVE Reflection Time) & BELOW and reporting Maida Vale School sessions with Personal Tutors. All students need pupils not just how to keep going when to know how to draw their learning they find things difficult, but also to know together so that they can set targets that they can take a risk and fail. For it for themselves based on their own is our failures that provide us with our reflections and feedback from teachers. greatest learning. We talk to them about Reflection develops resilience, problemthe importance of being experts in failure. solving skills, creativity and the ability Educational psychologist Benjamin to support and inspire others. Bloom listed creativity as the highest of None of this is possible if we, as a thinking skills. By embracing creativity community, do not come together. At and problem-solving, young people are Maida Vale School, every member of staff ready to flourish in an age dominated by has a responsibility for the pastoral care Artificial Intelligence. In every lesson, of every pupil. We work as a community not just the performing and creative arts, to promote our values of respect, our pupils are encouraged to be creative tolerance and compassion – and celebrate and problem solve. We also believe that the moments in the school week when through our performing arts programme, these values are demonstrated via our young people can develop newsletters and on social skills to support and inspire media. It is also important one another. They all study to us that our parents feel drama and music and we fully part of our community. provide a range of wholeThis is enabled through our school and small-ensemble Open-Door Policy, being opportunities for them to able to use the Parent Café perform. In performing, and the fact that there are students develop resilience no false hierarchies. As STEVEN WINTER and self-confidence but, adults, parents and staff are Headmaster more importantly, they on first name terms here Maida Vale School learn the value of listening at Maida Vale School! SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 37


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LEFT & RIGHT Pupils at Dauntsey's learning Art and Design Technology

Creativity COUNTS

Dauntsey’s Head of Art Victoria Rose and Head of DT Alun Pickford on why creative teaching brings a competitive edge


n one of the most watched TED talks of all time, the late Sir Ken Robinson defined creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value”. He argued that our education system has “mined our minds... for a particular commodity” (intellect), while “neglecting the gift of human imagination”. He also suggested that school teaching has traditionally weeded out creativity: “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it”. Robinson’s argument was that creativity is as important as literacy and should be given the same status. His words provide food for thought. Creativity and imagination set you apart in a world where technology is taking over a multitude of roles. The iterative process involved in creative subjects leads pupils to constantly question their work, want to improve or add and try new approaches – a valuable skill in the workplace, and in life. Traditionally, art and related subjects such as Design Technology have been thought of

as less important than courses perceived to be more ‘academic’. Yet the STEAM movement, spearheaded by academics and students at Rhode Island School of Design, sought to bring all five STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) together. Their goal was to educate the world of academia about the importance of creative thinking and visual learning. This is not a new concept – think of Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, a master not only of art but also scientific invention. More recently, Great Britain’s Industrial Revolution made art, science and engineering close and successful companions. The STEAM movement is growing in popularity, but a lingering perception remains that the arts are subjects with less value. The Design Council argues that good design capability can boost Britain’s competitiveness, and we have a world-class reputation for art and design reaching back centuries. But how many have heard of British designer Sir Jonathan Ive? As Chief

Design Officer of Apple, he designed the iPhone, iPad and MacBook. Without this design genius, Apple would be essentially another engineering company. Creativity is the magic ingredient that turned it into the multi-billion-dollar business it is today. In its 2019 report, The Durham Commission on Creativity and Education said that creativity is the driver of economic growth and innovation, stating that our national economy has been boosted by the success of the creative industries in the past ten years. Such success will only continue, the report continues, as long as we can ensure that young people are given the opportunity to experience and develop the skills in art, drama, music, design, craft and digital that are the foundation of the creative industries. The report says that creativity is now among the most sought-after clusters of skills among all employers. If, as Sir Ken Robinson argued, we continue to stifle creativity in our education approach, we do so at our peril. Art and Design Technology should not be seen as an easy option. Creative subjects develop skills across a range of different areas: problem solving, independent thinking, planning, development, organisation, communication and presentation. These are skills for life, not just for a degree course at university.

V I C TO R I A R O S E Head of Art Dauntsey’s School SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 39

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Acting up The Director of Drama at Cranleigh talks about the broader value of producing plays and arts events at all times, and especially during lockdown JON SCOT T


ranleigh has a long history of producing challenging plays and edgy musical productions. As a department we believe that the very best school drama can to help to raise emotional and difficult issues and encourage pupils to address them. Over the last few years, we’ve staged the musical Chicago, the drama Enron about the banking collapse, a play about digital bullying and sexting, and even Punk Rock. The latter incorporated transitional scenes of thrash rock that were a gift to our talented contemporary musicians. Indeed, alongside the music making opportunities, Punk Rock is just about the most challenging play a school can produce, tackling mental health, peer on peer abuse, underage sexual activity, substance misuse and bullying. The powerful performance at Cranleigh was a risk, but one that was wholly worth it for the results. These included interrogation of scenes from the play as part of upper school PSHE lessons and supporting a culture of openness where pupils were given the language to be able to talk about things that concerned them. This culture of pushing boundaries through drama has continued this year.

“Our culture of pushing boundaries through drama has continued, with staff and pupils finding increasingly innovative ways to explore text and performance”

We were fortunate to be supported in being able to carry on lessons throughout lockdown, with staff and pupils finding increasingly innovative ways to explore text and performance with the use of Google, Zoom and film platforms. Over the last term, with real restrictions created by social distancing and sticking within year-group bubbles, we wanted to entertain pupils. We were able to present two productions of a more lighthearted nature – Black Comedy and The Musicians. Both of these productions were really enjoyed by socially distanced audiences of pupils and also streamed for others to enjoy. Lockdown inevitably also highlighted worries for pupils and a need to focus on aspects of mental wellness. This term we’ve explored more film-based drama and we’ve focused it on mental health. Our usual House plays, which need an ABOVE Theatre at Cranleigh

audience and mixed year groups, transitioned into the launch of a House film competition. Our drama studios have just been refurbished, with new high-tech rehearsal spaces and a green screen room to enhance filming technique, so it was a great time to draw more pupils in to try out film. Cranleigh has four boys’ and four girls’ houses, affiliated into pairs, and they worked together to create four brilliant co-ed films tackling social issues. It was so successful that we’ll run this in future years too. Lockdown has definitely created more opportunities for drama, although we miss our audiences and look forward to at least a few performances over the academic year when we can also offer the opportunity for our local community to participate in high-quality arts. We hope to continue to challenge what is possible in theatre and film going forwards, and will continue to ask our audiences, in whatever medium, to question their own thinking and their place in the world.

J O N S COT T Director of Drama Cranleigh School SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 41

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BRIGHT SPARKS At Falcons School and Peregrines Nursery in Putney, children have plenty of space and support to develop creatively. See p. 44.

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“I feel lucky to be in a position where I can lead on changes and initiatives that benefit our pupils”

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LEFT Building emotional intelligence is a priority


Pupils at Falcons School for Girls and Peregrines Nursery have thrived during the pandemic and, with a continued focus on mental and physical wellbeing for 2021, are looking forward to a bright school year C A R LY G L E N D I N N I N G


et in leafy Putney and housed in four grand Edwardian buildings, Falcons School for Girls and Peregrines Nursery was lucky enough to have ample indoor and outdoor space to welcome back their pupils last June after the first lockdown. It was a busy year for the Prep and Nursery, which had a full school inspection just before the pandemic hit. Nonetheless, staff at Falcons embraced online learning, including daily live lessons through an online platform, recorded lessons and additional tasks. Headmistress Sara Williams-Ryan is particularly proud that Falcons pupils did not fall behind in their studies. She says: “Shortly after returning, all Year 1 to Year 5 children sat a standardised assessment and it was reassuring to see that their academic level had not been impacted by lockdown”. Sara Williams-Ryan joined Peregrines Nursery and Falcons School for Girls in 2018 from Emanuel School, where she spent 16 years in senior roles, both academic (Head of the Modern Foreign Languages faculty)

and pastoral (first, Senior Tutor for Girls and then Assistant Head Pastoral). Her own twin daughters attended Emanuel and once they had left for university she decided she wanted a change of direction. Whilst at Emanuel she had become a Governor at Christ Church Primary School and, inspired by its Head, she applied for the position at Falcons. “Here I am three years on, loving every minute of my job.” Much of Falcons’ success during the pandemic so far can be attributed to her hands-on approach. She is very much involved in the day-to-day life of the school, including teaching. She says: “I feel lucky to be in a position where I can lead on changes and initiatives that benefit our pupils and in that way influence for the better their educational and personal outcomes”. The School puts a huge focus on the close links between pupils’ emotional wellbeing and their academic achievements and Williams-Ryan believes that developing a child’s emotional intelligence is as important as teaching them about maths and English. As well as setting clear academic goals, staff focus on high levels of pastoral care – placing utmost importance on knowing the pupils and their families SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 45

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“Teaching follows the Thinking School approach, which encourages children to think critically, creatively and collaboratively”

well and addressing their individual needs. The success of this approach is shown in Falcons’ track record with 11+ results. Pupils have access to a lively curriculum. Alongside the traditional lessons, the school teaches Debating from Year 1, Reasoning from Year 2, Classics from Year 3 and Latin from Year 4. There are specialist teachers working across the year groups to deliver Music, Dance, Drama, Spanish, Art, PE and Coding. Extra-curricular clubs – from street dance to film-making – support pupils’ transition into senior school and help them nurture or discover their passions. Teaching follows the Thinking School approach, which encourages children to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, reflecting on their learning, developing informed opinions and building understanding of the world. Williams-Ryan says Falcons girls gain “study skills and an ability to discuss all sorts of subjects in an articulate, thoughtful manner”. She also believes that girls and boys learn differently. Boys make great friends and coed playdates or activities are organised on a regular basis. However, she adds: “Being a single-sex school enables us to focus on the way girls learn, encouraging our pupils to question and challenge themselves and others, and find their own, unique voice”. Falcons strongly encourages its girls to take risks and not to place limitations on what they can achieve. “No pupil follows a linear learning flight path; dips and highs are normal throughout a child’s education and our role is to support and encourage, and be the children’s champions, never labelling them but guiding instead so they can give their best,” adds Williams-Ryan. The school shares the same ethos and

ABOVE The nursery has a play-based approach to learning BELOW Both school and nursery have access to wonderful grounds

values from Nursery to Year 6. Peregrines Nursery is co-ed and takes a play-based approach to learning with a big emphasis on having fun. Children benefit from the same specialised classes as the rest of the school, which allows them to become familiar with the staff who will teach them as they move up. The Early Years (Nursery and Reception) work as a team, with lots of shared experiences such as forest school, performances and trips. Nursery children are also given opportunities to play with older pupils, whether it is in the Peregrines Garden or at the school’s holiday club. For a London school, Falcons is lucky to have facilities you might not expect at a standalone prep. There is a bespoke science laboratory, a new state-of-the-art IT suite complete with Apple computers and Music Technology software, and a ballet and drama studio with full-length mirrors, a barre and lighting for productions. The school also benefits from ample outside space on both the Pre-prep and Prep side of the road, so that pupils can play in the fresh air. More than an acre of beautifully landscaped gardens include an area for

forest school sessions to take place. Pupils also have access to the sports facilities at Barn Elms Sports Ground. In June last year, much of the first week after the return from lockdown focused on games and socialisation activities in the school’s playgrounds. With remote education leading to increased screen time, physical and mental wellbeing is the School’s number-one target for 2021. “Throughout the year staff and pupils will be engaging in a range of individual, class and whole school mental and physical wellbeing activities, recorded in our personal Falcons Feelgood Journal. In the Spring, we are also launching our newlycreated Wellbeing Hub and introducing our newly-appointed school counsellor,” says Williams-Ryan The phrase ‘feel-good’ pretty much sum up the school spirit. In the face of the pandemic, Sara Williams-Ryan says that pupils have developed their empathy and resilience. She adds that these skills have only strengthened the Falcons community, which places kindness and happiness in a calm environment at its core. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 47

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CHAMPION The MOBO Award-winning saxophonist and broadcaster – and Bancroft’s alumnus – YolanDa Brown talks about her work to get young people making music

Where did you go to school and what inspired you to start making music? I went to Bancroft’s School in Woodford Green. I loved the school and there were lots of extra-curricular activities to get your teeth into. From an early age, my interest in learning an instrument was supported by my parents and at school. I had piano lessons privately, while at school I learnt the drums and then, from 13, the saxophone. I loved that I could apply my music making outside of oneto-one lessons into groups like the wind band and concert band. I was also in a saxophone quartet with three of my close friends – we were called the Sax Pack! Who/what were your key music influences and why the saxophone? I think my primary influence was the wide variety I heard growing up. My Dad has an amazing record collection and I was hearing an eclectic range of music – from soul to classical, rock-and-roll to Latin jazz, opera through to reggae. I couldn’t wait to start making my own music. The saxophone was my first wind instrument and I instantly loved the connection I had with it. Using my breath to create sound was a new experience. Every other instrument I had learnt I was playing on – but the saxophone was my voice. You moved into music after a FirstClass degree, PhD and a potentially star career in management science. So, what gave you the courage to swap paths? I don’t think I ever saw either path as more perilous. I remember not knowing what I wanted to study at university and a family friend asked me what my favourite subjects were. I loved Business, Maths and Spanish, so that’s what let me to study Management Science, which included a year in Oviedo, Spain as part of the Erasmus project. I did take my saxophone to university and to Spain and music was always a great way to meet people, join jam sessions and just enjoy the instrument. I joined a band in the summer before my PhD and it all grew organically from there. Four years later, while teaching undergraduates and reading for my PhD at the University of Kent, I realised that I was spending more time working in music than on campus. I had to make the difficult decision. An encouraging sign was that a couple of months after making the decision, I was awarded an honorary doctorate for my contribution to

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music by the University of East London. That was a moment of confirmation for me that I had made the right choice. With two MOBOs, TV appearances and a phenomenal range of collaborations, what inspired you to reach out to very young audiences? I have always been passionate about music education and offering young musicians and young people the opportunity to learn in a way that resonates with them. On tour I always make sure I hold workshops in local schools (across all ages) and in music schools, based on improvisation and exploring the students’ interests and building around their learning. I am thrilled that my journey has allowed me to build on that year on year. Could you explain more about your philanthropy work and role with Youth Music, BBC Teach and The Prince’s Trust? I think it is very important to give back. I love working with the variety of charities in the different roles that I have, both as an ambassador and patron. It has been a joy to be the Chair of Youth Music (the largest music education charity in the UK) and helping young people have access to musicmaking opportunities. I also launched my charity with businessman and philanthropist James Drake. Called the Drake YolanDa Award, it provides funding for independent and emerging artists for their music careers. Your hit CBeebies show YolanDa’s Band Jam has inspired a new album. Tell us more about the show and the album. Hearing how children around the country are dancing and playing along with their toy instruments and learning about different aspects of music is so heart-warming. We have a great time in the studio when filming, I’m so glad this comes through on screen. I have also loved hearing from teachers, who have said they use the show as a resource for music lessons. The album features some of the favourite songs from series 1 and 2, so families can listen whenever they want to. The music gets you up and moving and introduces some music terms. We have built a music lesson resource for schools around the songs, developed in collaboration with Super and Sony Magic Star, for young music makers to get involved.

ABOVE YolanDa Brown developed her passion for music at school and at home

“It has been a joy to be Chair of Youth Music – the largest music education charity –and help young people have access to more opportunities” Has lockdown altered perceptions about the value of music and sharing music in childhood? Music is very important to our health and well-being. When our everyday life is disrupted and there are lots of changes plus emotions to deal with, music becomes an important escape. It is a way to communicate and connect, change moods and add inspiration. Also, the use of technology to link virtual choirs and stream performances, has been a great way to stay engaged with music. In childhood, the opportunity to be expressive in your own way is so important and that freedom in music should be encouraged.

What is your roadmap for improving music opportunities for young people? I feel the pull to be a part of bringing more music-making opportunities into schools, also enabling young people finding their own voice in music. I am really excited about my ‘Join the Jam’ resource, which provides readymade lesson plans that teachers can bring straight into the classroom. I am also passionate about the music industry providing opportunities for young people to get involved in the industry – from production to live events and the commercial elements of releasing music – to help and support a smoother transition into careers, or simply to gain knowledge.

YolanDa’s Band Jam is out now via Magic Star. yolandabrown.co.uk SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 49

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Where are the skills your child will need to resolve global conflict? Well, negotiation skills are embedded in the curriculum at Sevenoaks School, so in theory we need look no further. Our alumni certainly go on to achieve extraordinary things; equipped as they are with the skills they need to change the waiting world. Stephen Hale for example, mastered negotiation at Sevenoaks. He left to work with Friends of the Earth and

Oxfam, amongst others. Now he has an OBE and is CEO at Refugee Action, a UK charity that supports people fleeing war. It’s worth considering then, that many of the skills your child may need to make a significant impact, can be acquired here at Sevenoaks.


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Once they had a reputation for silence and dusty tomes, but today school libraries play a central role in a digital and remote-learning age. Absolutely Education investigates


chool libraries are sacred, but they certainly aren’t fixed in time. Where once they were home to books and periodicals only, now they have become seats of 21st-century learning – with increasingly large digital resources. In recent times they have had two distinct challenges to manage: counteracting the tendency to see Google as having the answer (not always the right one) and now Covid-19. Both have placed even more emphasis on how schools choose and share information sources. The aim, of course, is to help young people grow into regular reading habits – especially important in their younger years. Just as important is helping them learn not only how to locate answers, but also how to ask the right questions – and keep on asking them. We spoke to school specialists to find out what a 21st-century school library environment is all about.

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and support inquiry-based lessons. Our amazing library team has also worked closely with teachers to create content digitally.” He says the place should not be confused with the function. “The library isn’t a static building full of books – it’s a collaborative source of knowledge ready for our pupils to learn how to access and use in their studies.” It becomes a hub for IB Diploma Extended Essay and EPQ independent research. A physical Click and Collect


t Oakham School in Rutland, the impressively modern Smallbone Library is at the very heart of its provision. Head of Library & Archives Darryl Toerien says that its chief roles are to develop reading understanding, but also familiarity with gathering knowledge. As he puts it, students learn how to: “build knowledge and understanding from information for themselves”. There are plenty of good fictional reads, but some two thirds of books are non-fiction. And beyond board and paper is a rich tapestry of other sources. There are around 25 subscription databases, plus journals, newspapers and magazines. The library also has lots of DVDs – both recreational and informational – which Toerien says are particularly popular with international students. On the ground floor there’s space for an entire class for library-based research or classwork. The school is proud of its seminar room, with Harkness table for lively group discussion, and a larger and wellused classroom means sessions can be held right alongside academic sources. Physical resources are important but, says Darryl Toerien, it’s the qualified staff with specialist knowledge that are most vital. Leo Dudin, Oakham’s Deputy Head Academic, agrees. “Teachers and librarians work together to design

service introduced just ahead of lockdown has proved so popular it is remaining as a regular part of library services. Of course, reading for study and pleasure are both vital. Teaching and library staff continue to devise ways to encourage younger students to read more – from a ‘Scale the Heights’ ladder reading scheme with prizes to the school’s Reading Passport and Reading Wall to encourage pupils to give new books and new genres a go.

RIGHT Oakham says expert staff are key to a great library service

FACI N G PAG E Study time in the Smallbone Library

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“A good school library is a place where pupils can also reflect and take time to pursue their own interests”

=ABOVE Pupils at Sandroyd

BELOW Library events happen around the school



love of reading and libraries is best started young, and at Sandroyd Prep in Salisbury, Wiltshire, the approach is to feed minds by stimulating students’ interests. The library team offer fiction for all year groups (with pupils here aged from 2 to 13) and blend the classics with new and exciting publications and authors. The school also subscribes to lots of magazines, from The Week Junior and First News to BBC History Magazine and Bushcraft. Sandroyd’s Librarian and team assistants are on hand to help with any queries and recommendations and offer specific library areas devoted to fiction and non-fiction books for junior children. The library also offers The Junior Reading

Challenge to encourage pupils to read and then collect points, certificates and rewards. Alongside a world of books and knowledge, Sandroyd uses its library to support life skills, with news quizzes held weekly, mindfulness and meditation sessions at break times and even guided meditation on the Calm app (this is very well attended). Introducing pupils to how the library works is essential, so induction sessions are held every school year and a large team of student librarians keep their peers informed about books, events and happenings around the library. Fun events are also part of the mix here, with regular 'Reading by the campfire' and 'Books, PJs and Hot choc' events. There’s also a Book Café held at break time. Special events during the year include the school’s World Book Week – one day is not enough! The Sandroyd Library has continued to serve its eager readers during remote schooling, with online book clubs each week and a Books

Talk event hosted by students who set a quiz for their peers. During remote learning, the children have continued to read a range of books both online and from their own selections at home. The majority of children have also continued to read using the Accelerated Reader scheme – this has proved to be a boon. E-readers are popular with pupils, although physical books can always be ordered. The school remains committed – both through library and class time – to making reading for pleasure a major priority and says enrichment activities organised by the library and by teachers assist with that goal, as well as helping to ensure young people develop a lifelong attachment to books and a spirit of enquiry.

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H ABOVE Students at Queen's Gate School

BELOW The library at Dauntsey's School



t Queen’s Gate School in South Kensington, a digital library service is just as important as physical resources, so the school offers both in tandem. There are ‘virtual’ libraries for both Junior and Senior School e-learning platforms, allowing girls to access a ‘24/7’ service. Electronic resources are available across the age groups, from Encyclopaedia Britannica to JSTOR to subject-specific platforms. There are also links to e-versions of magazines and newspapers. The already well-developed remote access has proved invaluable in ensuring that pupils can continue to read and research for their studies. As part of the EPQ curriculum, the library team provide comprehensive instruction on the use of electronic databases. Indeed, the team see

knowing how to search a library catalogue as one of the most valuable skills for a successful academic life, so regular library instruction is given from Year 3. The same approach is used for enabling girls to access virtual and e-learning resources and this has, again, been invaluable in keeping the full library service operating, even when access to the physical library has been restricted. The love of reading and knowledge has not been curtailed by circumstances – in fact, the library team report that borrowing has increased by nearly 10% compared to this same time last year. When it comes to reading for pleasure, the students of Queen’s Gate tend to prefer a traditional print book, but the ever-growing e-book and audiobook collections offer other ways to enjoy the written and spoken word. Students heading to the library to study can make free use of its physical electronic devices, with laptops, desktop PC and MAC computers, while the Junior School Library’s iPADs are popular within the library and can also be booked for classroom use.

ead Librarian at Dauntsey’s Lindsay Shaw says the library not only offers a quiet place to study and access networked computers, but also to find specific resources to support learning. “Classes are encouraged to come into the library for lessons and to use the resources around them to complete work,” she adds. There’s a vast array of non-fiction on offer through all subject areas, including reading list-specified texts for A level. The Wiltshire school also provides a rich selection of fiction books at all levels, including graded books for its English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. Lindsay Shaw says the school looks to nurture reading across all abilities and interests. “Pupils are encouraged to request books that are either of interest or support their academic research.” While physical newspapers and

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“With so much digital material available, intelligent curation is essential – It’s important to select the resources which will genuinely enhance learning” RIGHT

magazines have been replaced by digital news sources for now, students love coming to the library to keep up with current affairs. Dauntsey’s also subscribes to many foreign language magazines, some with accompanying CD ROMs to encourage reading and listening skills. Resources also extend to a wide selection of English and foreign language films. Popular in-school initiatives include 'Dauntsey’s Dozen', a selection of (often challenging) mustreads before pupils leave. Reading groups and visiting authors, plus a regular book fair, add to the sense that the library is a place outside the classroom to be enjoyed. Digital resources – already well developed – have stepped up in the past year. “The system has a web portal integrated within Firefly to act as a ‘window’ into the library for all pupils, no matter where they are.” Of course, with so much now available digitally, intelligent curation is essential. “It’s important to select the key resources which will genuinely enhance learning – that’s the key to success,” says Lindsay Shaw.

Pupils at The Mall School, Twickenham

BELOW Library time at Dauntsey's



t The Mall, the Twickenham Prep for boys, the library is a popular place for break time, and with weekly library lessons integrated within English teaching. Boys enjoy seeing the new books that have arrived and, as key stakeholders, they also have a say in what goes on the shelves. They contribute to selecting new titles and write book reviews for their peers. Laptops have become an important feature – particularly valuable for the Accelerated Reader system. Pupils take quizzes on the books they have read and find the next book to read using the AR Book Finder website. Staff say that here technology is a great enabler, teaching the boys to learn to be independent and also encouraging them to read more. The Mall is a supporter of technology as a tool to help with reading. Not only do the pupils use laptops to assess their own reading but they are also encouraged to have

a Kindle at home to make reading even more accessible. This does not mean paper books are out. Indeed, investment in traditional books is seen as key to balancing screen and paper reading time. Events make library a social space, with author visits at each World Book Day. The library is currently being redesigned to reflect The Mall boys’ reading passions and is set to also include areas for research and exploration of themes. While access to physical school, and its library, has been more difficult in recent times, The Mall has devised a safe delivery system of resources to pupils’ homes. Its learning platform also contains other resources that have enabled learning and reading to continue, alongside monitoring progress. The Mall believes the school library is a special place. Reading is for pleasure but it also improves academic skills across the board. While it is central to learning, a good school library is, in the team’s view, a place where pupils can reflect and take time to pursue their own interests – not just in reading but other activities such as chess. Of course, it can also be a quiet place to catch up on homework, read a magazine or return again and again to a favourite author. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 57

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HEAR the NOISE Celebrating all creative forms – from classical to rock and electronic – is inspiring a school music revolution, says Emanuel's Director of Music CHARLES JANZ


t is important to remember the vital role creative subjects play in the academic development of young people. Marvelling at the output of our finest composers, soloists and conductors, we can perhaps forget that their journey to artistic greatness will be rooted in an astonishing creative intelligence. Many music departments offer a broad range of curriculum and co-curricular opportunities – classical, jazz, rock, music technology – but the provision is often unbalanced, with weighting tipped towards classical music. We all wish to expose our pupils to the music of the great classical composers, their compositions being some of the most significant and remarkable achievements in Western civilisation, yet an uneven approach may mean that contemporary music is diminished. At Emanuel, we believe very strongly that if a pupil arrives playing the bass guitar they should benefit from BELOW Modern music the same opportunities in all its forms as a classical is encouraged at Emanuel violinist. We invest

Year 7s write Electronic Dance Music, Year 9s are taught how to re-mix a vocal sample, while GCSE pupils compose a rock song

as much energy in supporting our rock bands as we do with our choirs, orchestras and chamber ensembles. The bands will have termly concerts, external gigs at notable London venues, recording opportunities, workshops with leading specialists and access to the best instruments and technology we can provide to facilitate their development. We are actively invested in nurturing our music scholars, whose specialisms range from the violin and oboe, to the drums and DJ-ing. Only recently, we had representatives in from Fabric Nightclub, the dance music record label CR2 and global leader in DJ equipment

Pioneer DJ to discuss careers in their respective areas of the music industry. Emanuel’s music curriculum has undergone a revolution because we have faith in contemporary music delivering the same fundamentals that classical music does. Within our curriculum, Year 7s learn to write Electronic Dance Music, Year 9s are taught how to re-mix a vocal sample, while GCSE pupils compose a rock song for a professional band who will perform their work. At A level, we use every genre of contemporary music imaginable to teach the most advanced harmony. With this approach, we find our pupils are more engaged in the subject. Increasing numbers are taking Music for GCSE and A level and several pupils have gone on to study the subject at leading universities and conservatoires. What is more, some have emerged from within the pupil body who had been silently immersed in their style of music at home but never had the chance to demonstrate and develop their skills at school. When I see all the pupils in my Year 9 ‘remix class’ successfully harmonise a vocal sample, analyse its harmonic rhythm, compose a syncopated, pentatonic bass line and add polyrhythmic layers of percussion, then I know we’ve made the right choice to broaden and enliven our music offering at Emanuel.

C H A R L E S JA N Z Director of Music Emanuel School SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 59


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Team Strength Pastoral care centred on school clubs, activities and creative freedom are giving pupils a personal survival toolkit, says Sydenham High School GDST Headmistress Katharine Woodcock


n a year that has been all about adhering rigidly to restrictions, how do we ensure that our pupils have the freedom to express themselves, explore ideas and develop skills beyond the curriculum? With health at the forefront of everyone’s mind, keeping pupils’ morale high and building mechanisms for them to check in with themselves and assess their mental fitness as well as physical health become even more critical. Coming to school may be the only semblance of normality for young people who have been forced to change their routines, not see their friends or extended family and cancel weekend activities and clubs. There is no substitute for face-toface teaching but it is about so much more than the grades on paper – the academic and the pastoral aspects of education are inextricably linked. Empowering each and every one of our pupils with a personal toolkit to cope with the day-today challenges and the demands that life throws at them is core to what we do. There is no question that the pandemic has increased anxiety levels for everyone and, with so many unknowns, this has been an incredibly challenging time for young people. Feeling safe has always been paramount but it now includes the

“For young people, opportunities to express how this period has made them feel are invaluable”

developing digital theatre pieces to discuss an aspect of time in lockdown that has impacted them, ready to film as part of a devised piece entitled ‘Opening Up’. Others have relished the opportunity to come together and focus on something different – be it through Gardening Club, Afro-Caribbean Society, Cross Stitch Club or Street Dance. The ability to gather as a school community for live streamed assemblies, including year group ‘takeovers’, has been a cherished part of the school day, where once upon a time it may have been taken for granted. As I supervise lunchtime Chess Club over Google Meet, a gymnast practises her contemporary routine in the Sports Hall, Years 7 and 8 play socially distanced games on ABOVE Pupil art at the Astroturf, Coding Club pupils Sydenham tap away in the Mac Suite and musicians prepare for their ABRSM examinations. I am reminded then comfort of defined ‘bubble’ areas, the of how valuable it is to offer creative outlets wearing of facemasks and hand sanitising to our pupils, whatever their passion. as second nature. As educators within a We have all had to evolve and adapt to the smaller school, we are able to get to know new norms, to embrace new technologies our pupils individually, building a strong and to be even more fearless and creative rapport. It is, however, opportunities to in this time of uncertainty and huge change express how this period has made them and upheaval. Our pupils, however, have feel that are invaluable, taken this all in their stride, alongside the chance to engage embodying our ‘Fear Nothing’ with and explore interests, motto. They continue to talents and passions. impress, continue to lead Our pastoral provision has the way, continue to soak up been further enhanced and the opportunities they have, our co-curricular offer and demonstrating phenomenal school routines have been resilience and determination KATHARINE adapted. Our Body, Mind & along the way. They inspire WOODCOCK Soul enrichment programme me and, right now, I could Headmistress has taken on new importance. not be more proud of each Sydenham High School GDST Year 9 have spent lunchtimes and every one of them. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 61


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Author Sally Gardner has won multiple awards and sold over two million books in 22 languages – she also couldn’t read until she was 14. Now she wants to talk about how we treat the one in ten with dyslexia LIBBY NORMAN

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ally Gardner is a Carnegie and Costa-winning author with a large army of admiring readers. Yet it took her 14 years to finally decipher those mixed and muddled letters on the page and start reading for herself. The first book she read (Wuthering Heights) set her off on course to a rich creative and writing career, but her story didn’t start well. In fact, Sally Gardner got asked to leave so many schools that she ended up at what was then known as a ‘school for maladjusted children’. She was considered unteachable and her parents didn’t see any other options. Here were two high-flying lawyers (her mother was among the first female judges in England) with a daughter who couldn’t even seem to make sense of the printed word. “I loved language. I loved books. I just couldn’t read them,” Gardner says. Today, she can still recall the moment words on page made sense. She describes how she was in a Nissan hut with the other ‘maladjusted’ girls round her. It was chaos, several girls were visibly distressed and the rain was driving down on the roof, making noise levels unbearable. “I just didn’t want to be there,” she says. “Normally I could tell myself a story to get me out of anywhere I was at, but I couldn’t do it. The noise was too great. I remember looking down and seeing this book, The Complete Works of Emily Bronte. I picked it up and started Wuthering Heights.” She’d tried Bronte before but – as with every other novel – given up because she couldn’t make sense of words, especially characters’ names, but this time something different happened. “I started reading it, word by word, with my finger on the words, and suddenly there was total quiet. It was snowing and I was walking with this man trying to find a room for the night. I knew what was happening and I was in the world.”

Being in the creative world never stopped from that point on. Gardner had been promised by her mother that if she managed five O levels she could go to art school. Despite all dire predictions from teachers, she did it and studied at Central Saint Martin’s. She graduated with a First, then became a theatre designer in Newcastle. She had achieved success, but still – in the background – she

“Dyslexia does not stay still – it’s not a quiet, onepitch thing. Get me into a panic and I can barely say my name”

was different. “If anyone had asked me then to describe what dyslexia was, what it felt like, I’d have said ‘it’s an old tin can that follows me round’,” she says. She recalls the moment she confessed her problem to a work colleague – he was baffled by paperwork she was sending him – and he told her she simply had to tell people. That was the moment she decided she had to take control – pick up that tin can and own it. Sally BELOW Gardner does, it must be said, Maggot Moon gathered plaudits have an extraordinarily vivid and prizes way of describing dyslexia. She is widely on record as comparing it to a Rubik’s Cube, saying: “It takes time to work out how to deal with it, but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift”. If Newcastle was her picking up the tin can moment, Sally Gardner found her Rubik’s Cube – her wonderful gift – the day that the contract for her first novel came back. She had created The Little Nut Tree from the perspective of an illustrator and when the contract arrived it described her as ‘author’. She says: “I just couldn’t believe it”. Success built from this, with a critical moment when she was taken under the wing of the “wonderful” editor Judith Elliott. She says that when she told Judith she had terrible dyslexia the editor shot back: ‘You’re a writer, what does that matter’. It was Judith who encouraged her writing talent, but the feeling she wasn’t a proper writer didn’t entirely go away. When people discovered she was a writer with dyslexia they would even question how this could be. “I used to be asked: ‘So how do you write?’. I’d tell them I wrote on a laptop. They would respond: ‘So, you have a ghost writer then?’ Only after Maggot Moon did all of it stop and everyone talked instead about my writing.” They certainly did talk about the writing. This wasn’t Gardner’s first major gong, but for Maggot Moon she was awarded both the Carnegie Medal and a Costa Award – and for a book Gardner had started and then stuck in a drawer. She remembers where she was when she heard about the Carnegie. “I was on a Number 73 bus near the British SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 63

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ts e si bl re aila SE av C G on s ti op The Moat Sixth Form is a dyslexia and SpLD specialist Sixth Form with a focus on whole school SEN support. Providing an academic and nurturing environment for pupils with both unique learning profiles and learning difficulties. A-Level, BTECs alongside GCSE resits at its core with a built in work experience programme for all pupils. Visit www.moatsixthform.org.uk for full course list and more information

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14/01/2021 12:19

SENIOR / R E A DING RIGHT Sally Gardner delights young and young adult readers

Museum. I started crying and this little old lady got out a hankie and said: ‘I do hope it’s not bad news dear’. I was sworn to secrecy so didn’t know what to say to her – I was so embarrassed I had to get off the bus!” In bringing Maggot Moon to life, she was lucky enough to meet Sarah Odedina, then setting up Hot Key Books, and when she said she wanted to buy it the author bravely refused her offer, saying she could decide once the book was finished. This was because she didn’t want a sequel, but a proper ending – even though everybody told her it was the ultimate no-no to kill off heroes in children’s books. Librarians, judges and many readers loved it, although the praise wasn’t universal. “It’s a book that divides people and I think that’s absolutely as it should be,” she says. Gardner had done something else important with Maggot Moon – along with the short chapters, the dystopian feel and the very grown-up ending, it had a version with a dyslexia-friendly font. This outsold the standard-font book – and Gardner recalls how many people told her the book was really easy to read. “I think there is an underlying difficult with reading among lots of people, it just goes undiagnosed, unsung, unnoticed, so I am on a crusade to get every book printed with a dyslexia-friendly font. I think it should be the main font. It’s much easier to read. It’s calmer on the eye, and for a lot of people reading would be easier,” says Gardner. In her new role as Ambassador for the British Dyslexia Association, Sally Gardner intends to be active on a whole range of issues to do with the rights of readers, and “What we are great at doing is thinking out the way the 90 per cent treat the other of the box. People with dyslexia navigate the ten per cent. Gardner would like us to world differently because they are forced to. stop talking about dyslexia as a disability A brick wall is never a brick wall, it’s just: and start to see what dyslexia can 'how do I get through that brick wall?'” be – how people with dyslexia She talks to many readers and can be creative, highly visual reluctant readers and says and solve problems ‘left there is more to be done. “We BELOW brainers’ struggle with. have written off too many Sally Gardner and her illustrator daughter children,” she says. One Lydia Corry have thing she would like is for collaborated for The Tindims of Rubbish Island all children to be tested for dyslexia at age 7, and again at age 11. She says: “Dyslexia does not stay still – it’s not a quiet, one-pitch thing. Get me into a panic and I can barely say my name, even now.” Her relationship with reading is still “complicated”, she says, but when it comes to writing, she has a gift for creating text that entices in even the most reluctant young readers. “I think I’m good at writing for little people because I can see what is complicated in language,” she says. Her latest book The Tindims of Rubbish Island

“There is an underlying difficulty with reading among lots of people, it just goes undiagnosed. Every book should be printed with a dyslexia-friendly font” is a timeless tale about a Borrowers-like group that turn our ocean flotsam and jetsam into treasure. It is a joint project with her illustrator daughter Lydia Corry and was inspired by their walks along the Sussex coast. As ever, it has an immensely readable style and an easy-to-read font. Her advice to parents of children who are reluctant readers is to get them into listening books. “I’ve done most of my reading through my ears,” she says. Her other advice is not to raise hell over tidying bedrooms. Almost Tindim-like, Sally Gardner was a child who had a perpetual struggle seeing the 'stuff' around her – however much her mother begged her to tidy. “Still, if I get things in a real muddle I can’t visually see it. I need someone calm to help me organise!” she says.

To see more about Sally Gardner’s work, visit sallygardner.co.uk. Find out more about the work of the British Dyslexia Association at bdadyslexia.org.uk SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 65

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MUSIC MATTERS The Director of Music at Pangbourne College in Berkshire discusses how it has worked hard to ensure that its students can continue to make music


ast summer, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) undertook research on how the pandemic had affected the provision of music in UK schools. Most of the respondents (75%) were from the state sector. Findings were published last December in a report called ‘The heart of the school is missing: Music education in the COVID-19 crisis’. The report found that 39% of secondary school teachers have seen reduced music provision as a direct result of the pandemic. Furthermore, over a quarter of secondary schools have not continued face-to-face instrumental lessons in the 2020/2021 academic year, while in two thirds of schools, extra-curricular music activities are not continuing at all. This news is incredibly disappointing. As a music teacher of over 30 years, I know only too well how beneficial music education can be for pupils, both academically and psychologically. In terms of academic achievement, it is well documented that learning a musical instrument can contribute to a child’s academic performance. And children’s mental wellbeing has undoubtedly suffered during the pandemic. Anyone who plays an instrument knows that immersing yourself

BELOW Pangbourne College's Chris McDade

“Immersing yourself in music offers a great deal of relief from the pressures of the outside world and helps to reduce stress and anxiety”

in that activity offers a great deal of relief from the pressures of the outside world, and helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Yet many children are being deprived of this outlet. Whether or not your child is a musical prodigy, learning and performing music is a critical part of your child’s wider educational experience; it improves their wellbeing, enriches what they do academically and enhances their other skills. Schools in the independent sector are more fortunate and usually have access to excellent musical facilities, such as specialist teachers and equipment. Pangbourne is no exception. For example, as one of only 20 ‘all Steinway’ schools in the UK, we have three

concert pianos housed in our Recital Hall and Falkland Islands Chapel. We were able to continue our one-to-one lessons during the national lockdown, albeit online. After we reopened in September, we reinstated our individual music lessons, providing over 140 one-to-one lessons in our music centre, every week. Of course, along with all other schools who have maintained their music provision, we have had to work very hard to adapt our teaching and to follow Government guidance at all times. Our ensemble groups have operated in their year group ‘bubbles’. Our Sixth Form Chamber Choir and Big Band ensembles have met weekly and we continued weekly rehearsals for our Marching Band, albeit within guidance. For most musicians, it’s really important to have the opportunity to perform to an audience, and we really want to continue engaging with our local community. So, instead of ‘live’ performances at local and national events, we have shared recorded versions of what we would normally perform live. For example, our pupils delivered beautiful performances for a recorded Service of Remembrance, a College Carol Service and provided Advent music for a collaborative service with other choirs in Pangbourne village. We produced two music ‘showcases’ with recordings by our most advanced musicians, shared with the College community online. Of course, we are still a long way from being back to ‘normal’, but I hope it won’t be too long before all schools throughout the UK can reinstate their musical education. Music is far too valuable to be allowed to disappear from education. In the meantime, at Pangbourne College we will continue to provide a safe environment for our pupils to learn, practice and perform music.

C H R I S M C DA D E Director of Music Pangbourne College SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 67


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Canford School Headmaster Ben Vessey on why he believes schools' role is to prepare young people for a global, and more collaborative, future


he events of 2020 have illustrated more than ever our need to understand and engage with our world in a more informed and active manner. Schools have a duty to prepare their pupils in creative and relevant ways for the world they will step out into. At Canford we have launched a Global Connections Programme based on four core journeys. Our Partnerships Journey explores communities in Argentina, India, Ghana and Cambodia, where Lower Sixth Formers work with those whose lives are very different from their own. This is based on a two-way relationship where all have something to give and are ready to receive from each other. We begin creating awareness of these communities – their culture, their way of life and their region – when pupils join us in the Shells (Year 9), and strands of learning develop as pupils move up through the school. With so much uncertainty surrounding the future world of work, pupils will need to become ‘career chameleons’, likely to have not one but perhaps three or more careers during their working lives. It is important to foster entrepreneurial thinking, and we do this through an Enterprise Journey. Similarly, through a Geopolitical Journey we encourage pupils to analyse and evaluate how countries work (or do not work) together and why and how these

“Recreating experiences of other cultures is a useful and interactive way of helping children learn about our world”

between young people across borders. Language learning is a high priority at Canford and pupils have the opportunity to study not only the more usual languages but in recent years also Mandarin, Russian and a range of other options. Recreating experiences of other cultures is a useful and interactive way of helping children learn about our world. For the past few years, working with an ABOVE outside charity, our Pupils at Sagar School, Rajasthan, Shell pupils have a Canford link recreated a typical school day learning, living and surviving in a relationships have evolved over time. shanty town. We have also introduced crossThe Model United Nations programme, curricular projects such as ‘Propaganda run across the UK and internationally, Live’, where pupils explore the concept of is an excellent means of engaging pupils propaganda, and how it has been used for by offering different perspectives. good or bad over time. They then select a Our International Journey brings a rich prominent figure and plan and deliver a diversity to our school life. Celebrations such campaign to promote their aims and ideas. as Chinese New Year allow pupils to share Our fascinating subjects have included their culture and lifestyles and explain the Barack Obama, David Attenborough, Marcus differences and similarities. Rashford and Nelson Mandela. Advances in technology have Through all these activities, been extremely helpful in this our school mission is to respect. Speakers from around prepare pupils to make a the world can now give talks difference in the world – not on Zoom or Teams and share just to their own lives, but to their experiences. We have the lives of others. By fostering live dialogue between UK and a genuine interest in diversity Ghanaian students, and those of thought, ideas, cultures in link schools in Princeton and experiences, we aim for and Rajasthan. Getting pupils young people to be better BEN VESSEY working directly with peers equipped than any previous Headmaster in other schools builds a generation to build a better and Canford School connected and harmonious link more collaborative world. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 69


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“Bilingual people can not only communicate more widely but also build bridges between societies”

ABOVE Lycée International de Londres


RE AC H The pandemic has underscored our interdependency, says the International Programme Coordinator at Lycée International



he COVID-19 crisis prompted many countries to turn inward and focus on the needs of their own people. But the inexorable trend toward globalisation is bound to re-emerge when the pandemic fades. That’s why we’ve never wavered from our mission to educate students concurrently in at least two languages and to give them the cultural awareness they need to succeed as global citizens in the 21st century. The world is changing quickly and nations are continuing to become more interdependent, whether in trade or in public health. Language learning unlocks access to this emerging world because bilingual people can not only communicate more widely but also build bridges between

societies. Equally important, learning in multiple languages gives students a more nuanced understanding of the material they’re studying because they learn to see it from different perspectives. Isn’t it enough to speak just English these days when it comes to business and entertainment? No, is the answer. Counting on other people to span the gap lessens the opportunity for interpersonal connection and can lead to misunderstandings. What’s more, there are benefits to bilingualism at a personal level that go far beyond international exchange. The students at our school, for instance, have very diverse backgrounds and needs. Some of them have parents from two different countries, say Britain and France. Or maybe their parents are both native French speakers but they grew up in the US or another country, attending school in

English. Mastering both French and English puts them in touch with different sides of their identity, helps them appreciate their background, and boosts their self-esteem. Being bilingual opens yet more doors after graduation. Our students are admitted to universities all over the world — the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and, of course, Britain and France. This is partly due to their language skills, but also because they often have more self-confidence. Their education gives them a greater awareness of the links between languages and cultures, and they are less afraid of engaging with others than students who haven’t had the same opportunity. Furthermore, their ability to tap into sources in different languages helps them develop strong critical-thinking skills and broader understanding of particular topics. That can lead eventually to better career opportunities. Studies have shown that even in the US, people who speak additional languages have preference in hiring. As the job market becomes more global, intercultural understanding and awareness are becoming appreciated as critical components of professional success. To accommodate the myriad needs of our families and community, Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill has crafted curricula that lean more heavily toward French or toward English, including an authorised English-language International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. But in the end, the goal is the same: helping students get ready for a world that needs their talents to move beyond the understandable self-interest of recent times and into greater mutual support and cooperation.

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QUESTION TIME The experts at Gabbitas Education have the answers


My daughter's primary school has suggested she may fall into the 'gifted and talented' category. I'm uncertain what this means, so would it be a good idea to get further advice or look for a school that has expertise in managing her academic and pastoral needs?


The Department of Education and Skills defines those supported by the national programme for gifted and talented education as those with abilities at a significantly higher level to their peers. The word ‘gifted’, is usually associated with academic level, and ‘talented’ refers to other areas such as sport, drama, art or music. At Gabbitas, we are often contacted by anxious parents who say, 'my daughter came out of school in tears today as she was asked to put her hand down and give the other children a chance to answer.' Is it any wonder that a bright child may become disengaged from classwork and start to either switch off or become disheartened?



Scholarships may be available to gifted and talented pupils

Many primary schools have an excellent provision for G&T children, but parents may like to consider the private school option, where class sizes are smaller and, as such, the academic pace is a little faster. If finances are an issue – as they are for so many in the current climate – many private schools offer scholarships in different disciplines. These might include academic, music, the arts, and sport and are offered to pupils who are particularly gifted and talented. Furthermore, these scholarships can also be supplemented with a means-tested bursary, with some schools offering extremely generous bursaries of up to 100% for a particularly talented young person.

“A tutor/mentor is the best of both worlds – a good role model can have an extraordinary impact on a young person’s confidence and wellbeing”

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Every school has a different procedure for scholarships, whether that be attaining the best marks at the academic assessment, an excellent reference from their current school, an impressive interview or more specific assessments in music, all-round ability or sport. Applying for a scholarship is the easy part; applying for a bursary can take considerably longer – and not everyone will be successful – but if your child is happy and thriving at school, the hard work and form filling is a necessary evil. It would be a good idea to seek further advice and explore the options available to ensure that your child achieves their potential.

A good role model can have an extraordinary impact on a young person's confidence and wellbeing. Tutors can help pupils revisit topics and talk through areas that they are unsure about, thereby increasing pupils’ confidence and ensuring they have full understanding of a subject, but also helping them enjoy learning once more. Agencies like Gabbitas can help you find suitable tutors, so please do get in touch with us if you’d like to hear more.

Our child's self-assurance and academic motivation seem at a really low ebb with so much remote school. We are wondering if a tutor could give support to help boost both their learning approach and confidence. What are your thoughts?


In a report by The Lancet, June 2020, the opening paragraph states: ‘Adolescence (the stage between 10 and 24 years) is a period of life characterised by heightened sensitivity to social stimuli and the increased need for peer interaction.’ Is it any wonder that many teenagers and younger children have been finding distance learning extremely challenging? Schools have gone above and beyond to try and engage pupils with their learning and make lessons more accessible and enjoyable but, when much of the fun has been taken out of day-to-day living, sitting in front of a computer to learn can be rather a dry experience. Feeling isolated and lonely is horrible at any age, but even more so as a teenager – and these feelings can be exacerbated when learning online is difficult. It is all too easy to fall behind in class and become demotivated – it becomes a vicious cycle. We have suggested to many families during this difficult time to engage a tutor or a mentor. A tutor/mentor is the best of both worlds. The best tend to be young people, with energy, motivation, leadership qualities, teaching ability and an engaging personality.



We've been put on watch that my job may require a spell overseas in about 12-18 months' time. We know this would be a very bad time to move our older son out of UK education. We don't have a big family support network to call on, so would guardianship be an option and how does this work?


Guardianship (to cover exeat weekends and sometimes half terms for boarders) is obviously a big decision. Schools will normally insist that a guardian be within a maximum journey time from the school of around two hours.


Obviously, many would choose family, but when they do not have any friends or family locally or feel the responsibility may be an unfair burden on them, guardianship agencies (such as Gabbitas) are set up to fill that gap. The agency itself is the ‘guardian’ and can give support and advice on a whole range of issues and act as a central point of contact between the school and parents. Agencies vet and recruit a network of host families to provide support and accommodation to students whose parents are based overseas. The profile of these families varies – from those whose own children have flown the nest to those who still have school-aged children but perhaps want to broaden the family’s horizons. Good agencies visit all applicant host families, carry out vigorous checks and take up several references. To ensure that you are happy with the regular host family for your child, you will usually be sent details of a couple of families for you to choose from and there may also be the chance to visit them and form a direct contact before you depart overseas. As well as linking you up with a host family, the agency will assign a named consultant to your child who can provide ongoing support to you and your child throughout their time at school on a myriad of issues such as buying school uniform, setting up a bank account for pocket money and liaising with boarding and academic staff at the school. Having an agency and a host family support your child means that there is also always 24/7 cover in an emergency and a reserve host can be found if this ever proves necessary. This is often such a fruitful relationship. In our experience, bonds made between host families and students can last long after school life finishes!

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Open Learning The Director of International Baccalaureate at Whitgift says that a broad curriculum and state-of-the-art technology open the way to student achievement EMMA MITCHELL


eing Director of International Baccalaureate at Whitgift is a great privilege. I’m able to combine STEMfocused teaching of Physics with arts-based hobbies, and watch as students negotiate this broad curriculum for themselves – after years of practice! We kick off in the First Form with combined Science lessons and a focus on big ideas and practical skills, before a Second Form move to separate Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Our labs are well-equipped and our expert technicians provide all the specialist equipment that can be imagined – from microscopes and chemicals to probes and data loggers. Mathematics classes are planned to support and challenge every individual, and our Design Technology & Engineering department has teachers on hand during and beyond lesson times. Our teachers in Science and Technology embrace Mathematics and creative thinking as tools to understand real-world problems and design-optimised BELOW solutions. We also STEAM in action at Whitgift School commit an extensive proportion of our

“We encourage students to maintain and develop STEM and Arts interests in parallel – everyone develops a respect for their peers’ topics and approaches”

timetable to Art, Drama and Music, so there is great balance across our provision. We encourage students to maintain and develop both ‘STEM’ and ‘Arts’ interests in parallel – an approach popularly known as STEAM. Our Second Form students undertake ‘Ignite’ research that draws on a range of methods and concludes in creative presentations. Third Form and GCSE year groups are keen attendees at ‘Prism’ events, in which speakers share their perspectives about interdisciplinary themes. During Sixth Form, regardless of whether the IB or A levels are chosen, students participate in introductory epistemology lessons and symposia – and

Extended Essays and Projects mean that everyone develops a respect for their peers’ topics and approaches. Within STEAM areas alone we have Junior Science and DT, Robotics, Astronomy, Drawing, Doctor Who and Animal Club – and our older students lead societies for study of peer-reviewed articles. It’s fair to say our students are bursting with enthusiasm, as well as having the knowledge and skills that come from academic study. Even after five years here, I’m not sure that I’ve witnessed all the technology that our students have access to – and the temporary closure of our site on Haling Park only accelerated our progress. In this fast-moving technological world, an increasing number of our students have access to their own laptops – I suspect that, ten years from now, all schools will view one-to-one devices as a potential resource in every lesson. This speed of access will encourage spontaneous extension work – carrying out simulated experiments, building upon designs and compositions in stages – also ensuring we can assess live progress. It is surely the opportunity to make a choice about study paths, and with full access to technology, that is most transformational for teaching and learning. Our goal at Whitgift is to keep opportunities open, equipping our students to make a valuable contribution – in whatever field they choose – and with the skills they need, on paper and on screen, for success.

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“Exciting times lie ahead for the brilliant Wellington College” — Tatler

Wellington College nurtures a unifying culture of ambition and aspiration; creating an atmosphere which encourages each pupil to believe that anything is possible

Find out more wellingtoncollege.org.uk


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E NTE R P R I S E WINS ABOVE Mayfield School pupils

Agile Thinking

Academic achievements may open the doors to employment, but an agile mindset is just as crucial to success, says Mayfield’s Head of Careers A M A N DA G LU B B


n years to come it will be interesting to see how 2020 is presented. Despite being a year without precedent, many positives have materialised: the speed at which all generations upskilled to maintain communication; team working and academic excellence creating vaccines in record time; and the care and support people have shown each other. People have demonstrated the very skills we need to survive and thrive as humans, but they are also the transferable skills employers look for. When you consider that, fundamentally, the role of schools is to educate and prepare children for the transition into the adult world – which for most is the world of work – it seems strange that careers education does not always get the focus it deserves. Now, more than ever, all young people need to make informed choices about their

future and educators have a duty to ensure their students leave, not only with good qualifications, but career-ready as well. Careers education plays an important role at Mayfield as it complements the school’s aim to develop independent, outward-looking and compassionate young women equipped to, in the words of the School’s foundress, ‘meet the wants of the age’. Pupils are encouraged to be aspirational, to challenge stereotypes, to build on their strengths and to use their skills in the service of others. The soft or transferable skills they develop through co-curricular activities are as important as hard knowledge. Involvement in sport, drama, art shows, musical concerts, Model United Nations conferences, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards or Mayfield’s own ‘Actions not Words’ programme – all help young people to learn about themselves and develop valuable transferable skills.

Mayfield Year 12s Kitty, Zara, Blaize and Baillie, chose the Young Enterprise Company Programme as their Sixth Form Enrichment Activity. They created ‘New Oceans’, a company selling reusable water bottles and environmentally-friendly straws. They sold shares and organised a raffle to raise capital, attending trade fairs and local events to sell products and raise awareness of plastic pollutants. The girls got through to the area final of the Young Enterprise Annual Competition in Brighton and won an award for Best Customer Service.

At Mayfield, careers knowledge and understanding is developed from Year 7 to 13 and beyond, using a collaboration of teachers, parents, alumni, employers, business representatives, UK and overseas universities, and careers professionals. Whether the platform be talks, interview preparation, mentoring, careers guidance meetings, or online careers platforms, our approach is to build an agile mindset. People with an agile mindset – who are open-minded, learning oriented, willing to reflect on strengths and weaknesses, and with a positive attitude towards change – are highly valued by employers, but also possess the skillset for entrepreneurship. Academic or vocational attainment will, as ever, open the employment door, but it is that agile mindset and a set of strong transferable skills that ensure successful progression into the role you want.

A M A N DA G LU B B Head of Careers Mayfield School SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 77

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AIM HIGH High-profile careers are often the least attainable


Are young people realistic about the job pathways that are most likely to be available to them? Absolutely Education spoke to school careers specialists LIBBY NORMAN

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report last year suggested that young people aspire to careers that are the least attainable. The story, reported by the BBC, focused on research by the charity Education and Employers – ‘Disconnected: Career Aspiration and Jobs in the UK’. This found that young people aged 17 and 18 aspire to careers in the most high-profile fields – sport, culture, art, entertainment. These are, of course, fields that offer fewest pathways. The charity findings were pretty stark on the disconnect. It surveyed 7,000 young people and, using Office for National Statistics data, worked out that five times as many young people want these high-profile jobs as there are career opportunities. We want young people to aim high, but it does beg the question: are they being prepared for the challenges that lie ahead? The disconnect looks even starker in a year when there has been

runs a range of events with its partner schools. This includes an annual Careers Fair, where it opens its doors to pupils from across the capital. Careers Specialist Amandeep Jaspal – working alongside Deputy Head (Pupils’ Personal Development and Employability) Louise Shelley – offers guidance at Highgate. She says young people still want to aim high but they do fear getting it wrong. “The young people I’ve worked with – both at Highgate and our partner schools – are not short of aspiration, but I think they can feel overwhelmed by the range of opportunities available to them and the feeling that there is a need to make choices and decisions that they’ll be ‘stuck’ with for life,” she says. For pupils at Highgate, careers advice is offered on a one-to-one basis, with additional support in a pastoral setting from tutors and their Head of House. Messaging is consistent: follow your interests, develop core skills and explore other areas through co-curricular activities. One commonality

well-informed and open to guidance. “We find our students are pretty realistic, whatever their goals,” says Tania Fielden. Practical assistance comes with a whole raft of one-to-one guidance – biometric and aptitude tests and then help with researching careers. Activities at the school assist with this and range from networking events to industry speakers. The team support work placements too, guiding CV creation and holding mock interviews before students are put forward for roles. One thing the careers team are seeing in Hurst students is a pragmatic approach. Jan Leeper says it is especially evident with so many university, placement and gap year plans and dreams on hold, but it was already a sentiment among students. “The job market is especially challenging now, but it was already a challenging market pre-Covid,” she adds. The team have noticed more young people thinking in new and creative ways about career goals – which has to be a good thing. “We always remind

“THERE IS ALWAYS A DIFFICULT PATH TO TREAD IN PROVIDING REALISTIC AND TIMELY INFORMATION WHILE STILL ENCOURAGING YOUNG PEOPLE TO FOLLOW THEIR DREAMS” a desperate blow to all arts and sports, not to mention the host of other fields in which young people traditionally gain employment or work experience. On the other hand, we do have to consider how much we should clip young people’s wings. Think about those tragicomic tales, invariably told by extremely famous / successful people, about the hope-crushing careers advice they received. Funny told years down the line, but no one wants to be that advisor who thwarts the next Elon Musk or Dua Lipa. So, there is always a difficult path to tread in providing realistic and timely information while still encouraging young people to follow their dreams. Thankfully, careers specialists we spoke to do tread that fine line with extreme care. Highgate School, which won Best Careers Programme in 2020/21 at the RateMyApprenticeship Award, also

she sees among young people is a tendency to overlook the assets they already have. “Supporting them with this important process of self-reflection and helping them to appreciate the skills that they do have is key. Young people often underestimate how much they have to offer employers.” At Hurst College, West Sussex, there is a similarly supportive approach to helping young people find their path. There is a dedicated Careers and Higher Education Department, led by Jan Leeper, Head of Careers and Senior Mistress. She works closely with Employment Specialist Tania Fielden and the careers team also includes advisors and dedicated UCAS specialists. One key approach is to start talking about career options early, so that students are considering goals before they start choosing or cutting off study pathways. There is always encouragement to aim high and the team find students are invariably

them it’s a two-way thing,” says Jan Leeper. Recently they have noticed more students thinking about careers as entrepreneurs – some have already dipped a toe in the water – and many are factoring into their choices elements such as flexibility and company social values. We know young people face a very different set of challenges to leavers of even a decade ago. Once rock-solid careers and secure industries don’t look so watertight now, and they are constantly being reminded they may have several careers ahead, but there are reasons to be positive. Highgate School’s Amandeep Jaspal says she has been impressed by young people’s attitudes during recent times. “It has been refreshing for me to see their optimism. Pupils are managing their own expectations of the experiences available to them and they are becoming more flexible and open with their choices.” . SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 79


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Work READY Diana Cree of Lancing College discusses how to support young people in a challenging jobs market and enhance their career opportunities DIANA CREE


mployers have reduced graduate jobs by 12% to cope with the pandemic, according to the latest Institute for Employment Studies (IES) research. This makes it important that schools look even more closely at how they support pupils during their preparation for university and – equally important – for success in the future workplace. Traditionally, many parents thought of an independent school as a springboard for entry to a good university and thereafter entry to the jobs market with relative ease. Today, with ever increasing uncertainty, the role of schools must also be to equip young people with the skills and self-knowledge to take a flexible approach to achieving their career goals. They should be encouraged to make the most of school connections and to use their soft skills to fit confidently into a work environment. At Lancing, success in supporting pupils

“Today, schools must equip young people with the skills and self-knowledge to take a flexible approach to achieving career goals” to reach the universities of their choice is an important part of the final two years. A glance at our ‘destinations’ publication demonstrates that our pupils study an unbelievable range of degrees. Advice to pupils from any visiting university will always be to choose a programme that interests them. Three or four years of self-motivated study is a long time if you have little enthusiasm for the topic! At Lancing, we firmly believe that if pupils are

encouraged study what they are passionate about, they will make the most of their studies and be able to talk confidently to employers. While a degree such as medicine may lead directly into a career, a recent Higher Education Statistics Association (HESA) study found that less than 50% of graduates report that their degree subject was important for their entry into employment. The role of schools, therefore, needs to start early. It means helping pupils understand where their natural career options might lie. Alongside this, schools can help develop the basics in work-ready skills. Pupils at Lancing receive their own personalised Morrisby career profile and specialist careers advice in the Fifth Form, followed by a careers fair covering different careers options. In the Sixth Form, options are explored through Careers in Depth workshops, talks by external speakers, workplace visits, tutor support ABOVE Lancing College students

and links with OL/parent professional networks. This past term alone, over 45 OLs and parents have been involved in supporting pupils under the ‘My Future’ programme. Alongside structured events, house/year group and whole school activities, plus outreach and co-curricular clubs, provide opportunities for pupils to develop their communication, leadership, team working and problem-solving skills – all vital for job applications and success. Outside school, pupils are encouraged to use their holidays to seek out opportunities through work shadowing and work experience. Pupils receive assistance in this through workshops on CV building and, in the Sixth Form, through professional networking alongside one-to-one support from their tutors. Connections don’t stop after Sixth Form – as OLs, our pupils have access to the online portal Lancing Connected, where they can network with over 1,000 former pupils spread around the world and working in a host of different areas.

DIANA CREE Director External Relations and Communications Lancing College SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 81

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GOING HIGHER The Head of the new The Moat Sixth Form for young people with SEN discusses successes, and challenges overcome, in a uniquely testing year for students


hen the idea for The Moat Sixth Form came around, it was 2018. The idea was for a dedicated space where pupils with dyslexia and other associated learning difficulties could not only learn, but also grow into young adults. They would come to us following their GCSE exams and hope to achieve far beyond what they had imagined. Initially, we started as a space for pupils from The Moat School to continue in a more independent setting, but still experience the pastoral support, therapy and counselling that has evolved over the years with our secondary school. As the idea expanded, this has become a Sixth Form for pupils from multiple London Boroughs who have struggled to gain the skills they need to achieve in larger colleges. The small, close-knit teaching team and specialist support staff have created an adult learning environment that is purposeful and supportive, while still being fun and

“Our approach allows for pupils to grow and express themselves in preparation for whatever may come after the Sixth Form” interesting. All the pupils have a diagnosed learning difficulty; the most common to date has been Autism. Our unique nature – as the only Specialist SEN Sixth Form in central London – has meant we have attracted student interest from as far away as Essex. Our opening cohort has experienced the most challenging Year 11 imaginable and had life paused at such a challenging time, as they prepared for exams and transition

ABOVE Pupils at The Moat Sixth Form

away from school life. We have found being able to ask for help and to help others ourselves inundated with potential students – is integral to the ethos of The Moat Sixth who, alongside their special needs, have Form and this is echoed throughout our been experiencing a crisis in confidence curriculum and our enrichment programme. and mental health as a result of the sudden Our approach allows for pupils to grow changes to their plans because of Covid-19. and express themselves in preparation for As we came out of lockdown, we were able whatever may come after the Sixth Form. As to move out the builders and replace them part of our academic offer, we have included with students and parents on physical tours Life Skills lessons, which are focused on of the site – so important for building resilience, preparing these unsettled students to for adulthood and developing help them decide if we could money management skills. be the best place to help them This valuable provision achieve their aspirations. is in partnership with the Recruiting staff was another therapeutic work of Speech key challenge during 2020, and Language Therapists but the experienced core team and Occupational Therapists. who joined us are working to This extra support, in help prepare our students to conjunction with all that take their next steps when our Sixth Form curriculum STEVE PROCTOR it comes to moving on from offers, is giving our students Head of Sixth Form our Sixth Form. The idea of the best of provisions in the The Moat building a community – and most troubling of times. SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 83


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Sporting chances At Gordon’s School there is focus on sport for both wellbeing and the careers-focused soft skills it develops CAROLINE SIMS


here is no doubting the importance of exam grades, but increasingly employers are looking at the soft skills that separate one candidate from another. While the classroom will gain students their place at university or first job, it is the character acquired on the games field or in the school play – the team spirit, ability to get on with others as part of a team and the thirst for success – that will sustain them through life. At Gordon’s, we have a top one per cent place for progress at A levels of all schools in England and Wales. It is telling that the statistic is for progress as the school places such importance on sport and co-curricular activities. All students are given a daily opportunity to play sport or pursue a hobby or interest. This is carried through to Saturday mornings. The school has a higher-than-average number of students completing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and every student joins the Combined Cadet Force in Year 10. We see these opportunities beyond the classroom as vital, not only for our students’ physical and mental wellbeing but also for improving transferable skills and, ultimately, their chances in whatever they decide to do after leaving us. Having the DofE Award on a CV demonstrates commitment, diversity, the ability to handle pressure, time management and a have-a-go attitude. All these elements

“Opportunities beyond the classroom are vital, not only for our students’ wellbeing but also for improving transferable skills”

certainly enhance a student’s employability. And whether it is sport, DofE, CCF, activities beyond the classroom take students out of their comfort zone. They become more confident as they learn new skills and find out more about leadership, perseverance, endurance, teamwork and problem solving. These elements are necessary qualities for their working life, whatever career they choose. Of course, sport is a huge draw, with all major sports represented at Gordon’s, alongside equestrian, golf, karting and cycling. Last September, we welcomed the first clutch of students on the Harlequins DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) programme, a pathway for 16 to 18 year olds looking to pursue a career in rugby. They train in an environment similar to that of a professional rugby club while also continuing their education. Our new sports hall, completed in October, and another all-weather sports pitch enable sportsmen ABOVE Sport for all at Gordon's School, Surrey

and women at the school to compete in even more disciplines – including futsal, badminton, indoor cricket, athletics, football and basketball – whatever the weather. The commitment to sports extends to staff, and many have excelled in their field. The lineup includes Pakistan Olympic Hockey player Muhammad Irfan; former GB hockey player David Mathews; former Wales International and ex-Chelsea player Gareth Hall; former Fiji 7s Skills and Analyst Coach Chris Davies; three times Olympian rowing cox Alan Inns and Surrey Storm netballers Nicole Humphrys and Leah Middleton. Some high-flying students leave Gordon’s for American universities on scholarships and others are set to tread a sporting path in this country, but all our students take part in some form of competitive sport. As Director of Sport Jamie Harrison explains it: “The ethos of the school is to develop the whole child and our sporting infrastructure provides our students with the best coaching, facilities and experiences”. Every one of them is encouraged to have a go at something, adds Jamie Harrison. “The emphasis at Gordon’s is very much ‘why not?’. We see time and again those that would otherwise not attempt competitive sport doing so for their House and enjoying and benefiting from it.”

C A R O LI N E S I M S Careers Lead Gordon’s School, Surrey SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 85

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“At QE, we have risen to the challenge of creating remote learning content that encourages practical skills development”

ABOVE Drama at QE's professional-quality theatre

THEATRE LEARNING The Director of Queen Ethleburga's professionalquality theatre on the ways in which drama helps young people to develop skills for life JUSTINE LANGFORD


he subject name ‘Drama’ really misses the mark when it comes to being representative of all of the skills students learn through theatre. Confidence is grown, communication skills are stretched, and commitment is demonstrated. Young people who engage with subjects in the creative arts, as well as in live performance, develop a huge array of practical skills that can be applied to any career path – from boardroom to ‘treading the boards’. Key traits are developed in problem-solving, creativity, the ability to work cooperatively and independently, respect, resilience, the ability to work under pressure and, of course, a motivated and enthusiastic approach. Alongside these skills, drama and theatre nurtures and

encourages an emotional understanding of human beings and the world around us. The exploration of dramatic texts, characters from different backgrounds, universal themes and social topics, boosts empathy, understanding and an all-round appreciation of everything the world is and has to offer us. We’re incredibly lucky here at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, in that we have a 310-seat on-site professional space in The King’s Theatre. Not only does this enable us to produce numerous large-scale productions each year, but it also allows us to host professional touring theatre, comedy or lectures for our QE community and the local public. Sadly, since the first lockdown last March, the doors of the King’s Theatre have had to remain closed to the public, and this is a layer of our community that we are all

greatly missing. The entire theatre industry has suffered a major blow, but I am hoping that audiences will be chomping at the bit to return when the time is right. The art of storytelling has been around since early man, I don’t think COVID-19 stands a chance at taking it from us. Since the return to campus last August, we have noticed a difference in our young people as a result of the social restrictions during lockdown. We have worked hard to regain their confidence, trust, and willingness to engage in practical and vocal tasks. Through drama we are supporting them to re-build their core communication skills. Now, once again, we have risen to the challenge of creating remote learning content that encourages practical skills development. We have spent time in live lessons and hosting rehearsals through Microsoft Teams. We have filmed social media challenges and even ‘met’ regularly with students online to watch the fantastic programme of digital productions from companies such as the National Theatre. We have been inspired by the creation of digitally accessible work in this innovative industry and have managed to create performance work that we have livestreamed to audiences, really enjoying the simple act of coming together to share creativity. The King’s Theatre at QE is ready to re-launch live theatre on stage when we are able to. We have a passionate and outstandingly creative teaching team, and students whose resilience and enthusiasm is a joy to be around. We have supported each other through 2020 and we can’t wait get back together for live performance, both on site and beyond.

J U S T I N E L A N G FO R D Creative Director of The King's Theatre Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 87

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LEFT Pupils have modern, wellequipped accommodation RIGHT There are superb sports opportunities

Affordability MATTERS

With its all-round education, there is every reason to consider The Duke of York’s Royal Military School, says Principal Alex Foreman


he Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS) has a very simple but ambitious vision of providing an all-round education with an academic focus. The facilities on offer and the breadth of opportunities students can access are exceptional. Something else sets our school apart. As the country’s only state fullboarding school, DOYRMS is open to all students aged 11-18 and offers an affordable option for parents seeking a full-boarding environment. The school is based on an independent-style model, with Saturday morning lessons and co-curricular activities throughout the week and on Saturday afternoons. Its unique status means parents are only required to pay for boarding, with the government paying the education element. Boarding fees are currently £4,999 per term (£14,997 per year). The inclusive school fees cover full-boarding, catering, laundry and over 70 clubs and activities per week.

Students benefit from superb facilities and teachers, which combine to encourage high academic achievement. Official progress figures for GCSE place DOYRMS in the top 2% of schools nationally. Indeed, in recognition of our exceptional academic standards, the school has achieved the SSAT Educational Outcomes Award 2020. Set within 150 acres of Kent countryside near Dover, our students enjoy a unique blend of academic achievement and an active lifestyle focused round sport, music, drama, and a vast activities programme – this includes Combined Cadet Force and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. A £24.9 million refurbishment project at the school in 2014 delivered a new sports centre, high-quality accommodation, teaching blocks and a performing arts centre. All classrooms are large, bright and well resourced, each with a large teaching screen, and all students are issued with a personal laptop. Our sports facilities include an Olympic standard floodlit athletics track, a floodlit all-weather hockey pitch, state-of-the-art strength and

“The Duke of York’s Royal Military School offers excellent facilities and independent-style full boarding at a fraction of the typical cost” conditioning gym suite, dance studio with harlequin floor, a six-lane indoor heated swimming pool and two climbing walls. The school is fortunate to have a wellresourced medical centre on-site and students benefit from a hugely experienced pastoral team of Houseparents, academic tutors and matrons. There is Wi-Fi throughout and regular exeat weekends (although the school always remains open for our students to stay), so that our students can keep in close touch with their parents and family networks. At DOYRMS, this affordability continues at Sixth Form level. Indeed, students can access 80% scholarships if they have at least 8 GCSE passes including English and Mathematics, with grade 8 or above in at least two GCSEs and grade 7 or above in a further three GCSEs. D OY R M S You can now take a virtual tour of DOYRMS to see inside the school, view its facilities and find out what it offers pupils. Visit doyrms.com SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 89


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An Excellent rated (ISI) school welcoming children aged 3 months to 19 years.

Join us on our virtual open day on 13 March 2021. Visit www.qe.org for details.

Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate “To be the best that I can, with the gifts that I have.” www.qe.org | admissions@qe.org | 01423 333330 | York YO26 9SS

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Day in the life Alex and Poppy, Head Boy and Head Girl of Repton, talk us through a day in their lives

Alex 7:00 – Wake up, have some breakfast and prepare for another full-on day at Repton.


– Following Wednesday morning chapel service, it is Maths – always one to get the mind going – followed by another one-hour lesson before break.

10:35 – Break time means

house common room – unless there is a Latin test looming (in which case I am desperately cramming in my study). It’s a great chance to see the boys, get some toast, and watch Premier League Years 1994/95 for the 80th time!


– After two more lessons, it is time for a formal house lunch with all five years plus guests. There is always great conversation and my house, The Priory, certainly has the best food.


– In a busy afternoon, we kick off with 2nd XI football training. Afterwards, you’ll find me in the theatre rehearsing for an upcoming play, in the fives courts unleashing my inner Roald Dahl or in The Grubber with my friends.


– Following tea it is time for Debating Society. Our debates can range from political voting systems to the role of the media to data protection.

7:00 – Prep begins and is

an uninterrupted two-hour slot to catch up on some homework or do some revision.

9:00 – What we’ve been

waiting for all day! In the Priory, it’s our day for indoor football in the sports hall. The anticipation has been building since last week’s encounter, but this is a great laugh with the lads and the best way to finish the day.

Poppy 7:00

– My alarm sounds, and after a shower and breakfast I am ready to leave my boarding house and begin the day.



– My afternoon involves an hour of training in my favourite sport, netball. Then, if I can squeeze it in, a venture to the 1557 café – arguably the finest coffee in Derbyshire.

10:35 – It’s break, and I head

– After dinner, choir starts – an hour of music in the magical Repton Chapel. This is one of my favourite parts of the day, especially when there’s a special service to rehearse for.

– First lesson – Spanish. Immersing myself in the language of this wonderful country, so far from reach, provides a momentary escape from the frosty winter morning.

back to house for an Earl Grey and a digestive biscuit. The girls and I share details of our mornings, with music in the background.



7:00 – Prep begins, and

– Time for lunch! After an hour of Latin, a Tikka Masala awaits me back at the house. Afterwards, I head down to the music school for a ‘Reptiles’ rehearsal – it's the school close harmony group and we tackle a variety of genres, including pop and classical.

tonight there is also a Literary Society meeting at 8:00pm, involving discussions about the historical circumstances of renowned texts in literature.


– And relax. The girls and I reconvene in the common room and browse the TV guide for something to keep us entertained. I unwind and use this time to reflect on another busy day at Repton.

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Here are our 5 top tips for success for students facing teacher’s assessments 1.

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School’s Out THE MAKING OF ME P . 94 MIND GAMES P . 99

MODERN HEROINES David Roberts' illustrations set the tone for fairy stories with a difference in Delightfully Different Fairytales, as familiar heroines carve out their own modern happy endings. See p. 96

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M A K ING of Me

Isabella Pappas With major award nominations under her belt and a key role in Finding Alice, Isabella Pappas talks acting, writing and the best of times at school

Where did you go to school and when? I went to primary school in Italy. Then when I came to London I went to Sylvia Young and on to ArtsEd for A levels. What was school like and did you love it or hate it? It was amazing. I loved it – the best years! It was very loud and I was a really big part of that noise. At both Sylvia Young and ArtsEd everyone was completely comfortable with speaking their mind and being really free and open to listening to others. This is something I've carried with me and I'm really grateful for. What were your favourite subjects / activities? My favourite subjects were English Literature and Drama. With Drama, I really didn't mind what role I played as long as I got to be a part of it. Who were your favourite teachers? At ArtsEd it was Russell Clark and Lizzie Bellamy and at Sylvia Young Besfort Williams and Sonny Ward. Russell, in particular, was the driving force in helping me discover my love of writing, while

Sonny Ward made me fall in love with dancing – he gave me so much confidence. What was your favourite place at school? At primary school, it was definitely the playground. In secondary school, it was the rehearsal studios because you could rent the spaces out and we'd do that at lunchtime and make up dance routines. What beliefs did school instil in you? You have to abandon others' perceptions of you to be able to truthfully tell the story on stage. You have to accept yourself and push your boundaries – in any walk of life but especially in acting. It's important not to have others' perceptions of you lingering in the background. What was your proudest school moment? At ArtsEd I did a drama devising piece. This was my first experience with scriptwriting and working in a group setting on a creative project and It made me realise that as well as wanting to be an actress I really want to write. When we performed

the piece, it went really well. We got a lot of positive feedback and our teachers were nudging us to take it to Edinburgh. We might actually do that in years to come! What was the most trouble you got into at school? I was a really big rule follower. The only thing that would make me break the rules is that I'm also a really big foodie. I would skip to the front of the line at lunch because I was always so hungry and then get caught doing it! Were you ever too cool for school? Oh no, the opposite. I have never been overly confident, but I think I learned to deal with that through performing. What is your most vivid school memory, looking back now? Last year we were putting on plays and my group got The Pillowman, which is a really challenging piece. I was cast as Michael, but I was out filming for the majority of the time we were rehearsing. On one of my first days back my teacher asked the group if they were still OK



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around barefoot. It's funny because then when I got to drama school and we had all these performance exercises where you had to run around being this animal or that animal it felt as if I was being transported right back to childhood!

Isabella Pappas in 'Finding Alice'

with me in the role because of all the time I'd missed. The group all came together in a group hug and said of course they still wanted me to be in the piece – I was part of their family. That's a very vivid memory as it was just so sweet. How did your interest in acting begin? It was my passion from a really young age. I grew up on a farm in Italy in the middle of nowhere with a huge extended family. Every night after dinner they would let me put on a play. I would make my aunts and uncles dress up and I'd put wigs on them, direct them and then act. I grew up speaking Italian, except with my mother, but all the community theatre projects were in English. The way I knew my family really believed in me was that they would come to watch me perform every single time, even

though they needed a translation! They still fly over to see anything I'm in – and get very emotional about it. It would be lovely to play a part in Italian for them. Which actors did you admire and how did they influence you? We didn't have a TV growing up so we watched old films on VHS. I loved Audrey Hepburn, especially in films like Breakfast at Tiffany's. Another favourite was Some Like it Hot – I was really interested in musicals and that seemed to have everything, so it was one of the films that really made me want to act. What other key influences have shaped you? Growing up, I loved being outdoors and spent the majority of time running

When did you first think you might have a successful career acting? I got my first role when I was 11, but I must have auditioned for hundreds of things before that. For me, the moment when I thought 'I can do this' was less about getting a part and more about recovering from rejection. It was learning to separate my acting work from my self-worth and understand that not getting a part is not a reflection on your acting or who you are as a person. You've got a key role in ITV's Finding Alice, playing alongside Keeley Hawes and Joanna Lumley. So what's coming up next? Finding Alice has been an amazing experience, definitely my biggest part to date, and I feel really lucky. I'm waiting on a few projects and I've also been writing plays with my best friend Zoe Brough. There are two plays – one finished and one we have just started – so I'm really excited about that. Writing is a great creative outlet, especially during lockdown. It's a bit like acting through text. Looking back now, how would you sum up your school days? Act, sing, dance – and above all Be Mindful! Finding Alice, a six-part comedy drama, is being shown on ITV from this January SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 95


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TOP SPRING M U ST READ From a reworked children's classic and a thought-provoking guide to space to fairy tales for the modern age and a novel about loss and love, our pick of great spring reads


CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG A d a p t e d b y Peter Bently


HACHET TE , £12 .99

an Fleming's 1960s yarn is brought to life for younger readers in a picture book created by two modern talents – author Peter Bently and illustrator Steve Antony. The narrative is gripping, and with wonderful images that chart the fantastical story of the Pott family's adventures in their flying car. With a dastardly robber captured and a medal presented by the French president, there's a wholly satisfying finale. It's an engaging nostalgia trip that introduces a new audience to the book the James Bond author penned in the early 1960s based on tales he'd dreamed up to entertain his own young son.


There Are Fish Everywhere by Britta Teckentrup BIG PIC TURE P RE SS , £7.9 9

Royal College of Art and St Martin's alumnus Britta Teckentrup has joined forces with author and editor Katie Haworth to create this wonderful picture book – part of a series that looks at more elusive inhabitants of the wild kingdom. The images grab your attention from first to last, but it's a mine of fascinating bite-sized facts, from the epic journeys of Atlantic salmon and tactics fish use to avoid predators to the colourful inhabitants of our coral reefs.

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CLAP WHEN YOU LAND b y Elizabeth Acevedo HOT KEY BOOKS , £7.99

Elizabeth Acevedo is a noted poet as well as author and has once again chosen a verse form for this moving novel about grief, identity and, ultimately, love. Camino and Yahaira are sisters, separated for 16 years, who finally find each other after the death of their father when a plane crashes en route to Dominican Republic. The revelations that follow force them to explore who Papi was and also where they fit in. The book tackles adult themes deftly, in part thanks to its use of twin narrators. There is extra resonance in the original inspiration for the novel – a plane crash in 2001 that continues to have huge resonance for New York's Dominican community.




SPACE EXPLORERS b y Libby Jackson

WREN & ROOK, £14.99

Written by a space-industry insider, this is a compilation of real stories about journeys into the unknown. The timeline begins with Sputnik and ends with a speculative story about the future of space travel. The most engaging stories centre on the quirks of space – Chris Hadfield's unforgettable rendition of 'Space Oddity' and Izzy and Ed, the Raspberry Pi computers coded by children. There's also a chapter on what it takes to be an astronaut.

Editor's pick

b y Lyn Roberts-Maloney PAVILION, £12 .99

T 10+


b y Matthew Burton WREN & ROOK, £7.99

Written by the star of C4's Educating Yorkshire and head of Thornhill Community Academy, this is an accessible guide to surviving the move to secondary school. Burton manages to avoid mollifying, instead favouring a light style that doesn't dodge the key fears – from feeling lost and exams to fitting in. Inspirational quotes and soundbites from the great and the good pepper the text, which offers dip in facts and ideas to explain key rules (uniforms, disciplinary procedures) and survival tactics (ask questions, get support, don't be afraid). There are frank and really useful sections on bullying, the transitions and pitfalls of friendships and finding a way to be true to you.

his new edition brings together three reworked fairy stories, with the oldest first published almost two decades ago. David Roberts' glorious illustrations set them in distinct time periods – the Roaring Twenties for Cinderella, the 1970s for Rapunzel, and the 1950s and 1000 years into the future for Sleeping Beauty. The text created by his sister Lyn Roberts-Maloney rethinks the handsome prince v powerless female narrative and there's a rich vein of humour. Happy endings come with a twist; Sleeping Beauty is rescued by a female friend, Rapunzel sets up as a wig designer, while Cinders makes peace with her dreadful stepsisters.

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LEFT The Positive Doodle Diary helps children process their feelings

Mind GAMES A new crop of games and journals offer fun and useful tools to help even young children get in touch with their feelings and express themselves


ne of the legacies of 2020 is a focus on how we maintain mental health in tough times. Even before the pandemic there was a growing awareness of the risks when feelings stay bottled up. While it can be hard enough for adults to process negative thoughts, children may not be able to understand or name what the feeling is. Games and journals are riding to the rescue here and offer a useful way for young people to make connections with their emotions – also helping adults to be more open. So here are three of our favourite ideas to help start the process.


Founded by a creative team with personal experience of low mental health, The Positive Planner has been designed to encourage everyday positivity through journaling with added mindfulness. There are diaries and books in the collection for adults, but The Positive Doodle Diary is designed especially for children aged from 5 to 10, although younger children may appreciate a bit of adult input to get them started on their diary-keeping journey. It's brilliantly designed, with cheerful graphics and ideas for simple creative activities. These range from colouring in to breathing exercises, as well as prompts and positive reinforcement messages to help them both record their thoughts and absorb confidence-building messages. thepositiveplanners.com


A game designed for all the family to play together, FEELIT! was created by Nadim Saad, a parenting coach and the author behind Kids Don't Come with a Manual. The game can be played multiple ways to

suit the age and stage of players, with Snap, Articulate or Charades as options. Each of the 52 cards lists a feeling with a definition. The cards are colour coded into pleasant and unpleasant emotions. So, in the green and yellow corner we have Loved, Grateful, Hopeful and Proud, while red and blue include Shy, Confused, Angry and Afraid. The thinking behind the cards is that if we can identify and name the emotion, we can start to understand and manage it – in other words, build emotional intelligence and resilience. It's one of a collection of products being designed under The Happy Confident Company umbrella and the website also has some useful tools and exercises for children and families. happyconfident.com


Libbla Kelly describes herself as a nanny, aunt, godmother and stepmother, but she also has a long career in personal training and positive psychology. Wisdom While You Work is a journal that distils some of her understanding of how to turn things around when life is looking less than rosy. The journal is perfect for doodles and note taking and each page has a line of wisdom at the top and an explanation about why it matters. Core values are covered, along with thought-provoking lines about character traits, happiness, positivity and citizenship. The book is already used by schools as part of PSHE, and it's a great gift for stationery -loving teenagers who want to write their thoughts, and hear positive messages and words from the wise. The company has now published a set of revision cards as part of its collection. wisdomwhileyouwork.com SPRING 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 99


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A BOY and his SHADOW Absolutely Education speaks to Aria Ungerer, the daughter of the late artist and writer Tomi Ungerer I n t e r v i e w C A R LY G L E N D I N N I N G

Hi Aria, firstly we want to say we’re so sorry for your loss. Your father was so incredibly talented. Tell us about his last work, Nonstop. What’s it all about? Well, it’s his last book but it’s also a project that he worked on for ten years. He had this idea – he wanted to create a story about a boy and his shadow in which the shadow acts as a guide in difficult situations. Tomi created this beautiful artwork and the whole story but then, about four years ago, he decided to go back to the beginning and start again. What never changed was the first page – including the concept for the artwork and the text. In fact, that text on the first page was rolling around in his brain for a very long time before he started the book. You were heavily involved in the production. What was it like to work with your father? In many ways, I think of us as collaborators really – we worked together on all kinds of projects: books, educational projects, fine art projects, exhibitions, film and television. I consider it to have been an absolute honour to work with him so closely in the last decade of his life and I learned so much from him! Of course, we had a very particular working relationship since we were a father/ daughter team and therefore we both could communicate so freely with each other.

And what was your relationship like growing up? Did he teach you how to draw? My brothers and I grew up mostly without a television, so as well as playing outdoors, reading and drawing were a huge part of our lives. Tomi was definitely not like other dads where we lived in rural Ireland – he loved to work the land but was not a farmer. He tried to instill a love of botany in me – he used to know all the latin names for the plants and we took a lot of walks identifying flowers which he later helped me to press. And he believed in learning practical skills, so he gave me my own toolbox when I was probably around four so that I could go around with him and help him to fix things on the farm. We also spent a lot of time in Canada during the first years of my life and there he and I used to go to the dump every week and root around in the piles of trash looking for treasure. You’d be amazed at how much great stuff people throw away! Even though it was written before the pandemic, the themes in Nonstop couldn’t be more relevant for now. How do you think the book will help children process what’s going on in the world today? Everyone reads and experiences a book in such an individual way so I am always

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ABOVE Tomi Ungerer at work in his studio LEFT

Illustration from Nonstop best instincts, we are loathe to be prescriptive. I do very socialised to see the think it’s beautiful how this shadow self as something book has become so relevant negative, but in this book the to us in Western society now, but shadow is wise and compassionate. I also think that there is a universal In the end, and timeless message in it which would Vasco continues to long for that have been relevant to so many children, connection with his shadow all his life. pandemic or not. I’m thinking for The other striking part of the book for example of children fleeing war zones, me is the relationship between Vasco and who are stateless or who survive natural Poco – I remember when Tomi came up disasters. with Poco and was himself so moved by My reading of the book is very much how strong that need is to have someone focused on two central issues – I see to love and care for. To look after. He the shadow as a call to trust your own

always teared up when he read the lines: "Vasco clutched Poco to his heart. At last he had someone to care for. Just in time." For children nowadays, there is so much to deal with – of course there is the pandemic now, but also, we who have gone before have left the earth and the environment in such a precarious state. This really means that today’s children, the adults of the future, will need to find creative solutions to problems that they have no responsibility for creating. The book doesn’t provide answers but it does provide empathy I think. Vasco and Poco survive because they trust the shadow and


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because they have each other. Poco is saved from impending disaster by Vasco, and Vasco is saved by his love for Poco. I think this book is quite abstract in some ways, which is lovely because there is a lot of space for the reader’s imagination to fill in the gaps or transpose their own experiences onto the story. But I am extremely curious to find out more from children about their own thoughts on the meaning of the book and the ways in which they think it makes sense of the world for them. That is, in fact, the most important thing – not what I think! Your father was never afraid to tackle difficult themes and his work always stood out in the world of children’s books. Where did his inspiration come from? I think that the main source for his inspiration in that regard was his own experience of growing up in a war zone, under Nazi occupation. He always felt that in order for children to be resilient and to thrive, adults should not completely shield them from what is actually going on in the world around them – that it is very important to be honest with children because they are just so smart. And of course, storytelling has always served as a way of both entertaining youngsters but also of preparing them for dealing with the realities of life.

And finally, is there one book of your father’s that you always come back to? What do you think is his most important work and why? That is such a difficult question to answer. As a child I loved Zeralda’s Ogre for the food, No Kiss For Mother for the sheer hilarity and naughtiness and also The Beast of Mr. Racine. I adore Otto too but that came along later in my life. I suppose, since I worked so closely with Tomi on Nonstop, in the future that is probably the book that will be the most important one for me personally. I hope that parents will not shy away from Nonstop – of course it may often seem easier to only read upbeat, happy and sweet books to, or with children, but I think that this story is really just hauntingly beautiful and perfect for the circumstances we find ourselves in now.

ABOVE Tomi Ungerer was prolific as both illustrator and writer, dividing his time between Cork and Strasbourg

Nonstop by Tomi Ungerer is published by Phaidon Press, £12.95


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Creating Individuals

Open Events Friday 5 February 2021 Friday 19 March 2021 Friday 21st May 2021

To book a place at the virtual open event or to book an individual tour, please visit www.parkside-school.co.uk e-mail: admissions@parkside-school.co.uk or call: 01932 862749



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An independent, co-educational boarding and day school for 11-18s

“The quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent.” ISI Inspection Report November 2019


www.pangbourne.com/ virtual-open-day Admissions contact details: DAY, PART AND WEEKLY BOARDING PLACES AVAILABLE

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admissions@pangbourne.com 0118 976 7415 pangbourne.com

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LEARN • CREATE • EXPLORE WHERE WILL YOUR FUTURE TAKE YOU? Top quality boarding provision from age 7, with superb pastoral care Pick-ups available from Bath Spa Train Station Rated ‘excellent’ in all areas of our latest Inspection Report Over 100 co-curricular activities available with a reputation for sport and links to professional clubs Inspirational music, drama and creative arts Scholarships and Bursaries available

BOOK YOUR TOUR ON OUR WEBSITE A WARM WELCOME AWAITS T. 01225 734210 E. admissions@kingswood.bath.sch.uk www.kingswood.bath.sch.uk An Independent Co-educational Boarding & Day School for pupils aged 9 months - 18 years



your future

FIND OUT MORE www.queensgate.org.uk South Kensington · 5-minute walk Gloucester Road · 6-minute walk

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VISIT US: IN PERSON OR ONLINE Meet our Headmaster, David Price, for an individual tour of our welcoming and friendly school. Join us in person (if restrictions allow) or virtually. A successful independent prep school in Twickenham for boys aged 4-11

Contact Ms Alex Penny at admissions@themallschool.org.uk to arrange a convenient date and time. 2020 11+ offers to 20 independent and grammar schools including: Epsom College, Hampton, King’s College School, Kingston Grammar, Latymer Upper, Reed’s, St George’s College, St James, Tiffin and Wilson’s Non-selective for entry at Reception; assessment for other years. Small class sizes with focus on each boy’s potential. Boys make excellent progress by Year 6 compared to national levels We are fully set up for online teaching and learning for boys who are self-isolating Minibus services: Kingston, Sunbury, Richmond, Kew, Chiswick and Osterley Wraparound care: 7.30am to 6.00pm including extensive range of clubs

Bringing out the best in every boy

As featured in

185 Hampton Road, Twickenham TW2 5NQ • 020 8614 1082 admissions@themallschool.org.uk • www.themallschool.org.uk

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Co-educational boarding and day for ages 2-13 Set in 500 acres of parkland Please call to organise an individual visit 01725 530124 www.sandroyd.org/admissions

Absolutely Education Advert - Sandroyd - Half Page - Spring 2021.indd 1

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Hawkesdown House School


The Walnut Tree Nursery For girls & boys from 2 years

27 Edge Street, Kensington, London W8 7PN Telephone: 0207 727 9090 Email: admin@hawkesdown.co.uk www.hawkesdown.co.uk

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DCS Virtual Open day 134mm x 90mm_Layout 1 06/01/2021 16:30 Page 1

DCS Virtual Open Morning Advert 134 x 90 mm (6.1.2021) ABSOLUTELY EDUCATION

VIRTUAL VISITS AND OPEN MORNINGS Dean Close Schools are delighted to invite you to engage with a virtual Open Morning, featuring a virtual tour of the campus, a minute with the Heads, photo galleries and FAQs. Please contact the Admissions Department to register.


Tel: 01242 258044 www.deanclose.org.uk

Co-educational | Day and Boarding | Age 2 - 18

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Alleyn’s School



Alleyn's offers co-educational excellence in a caring community for children aged 11-18. We offer means-tested bursaries worth up to 100% of fees, as well as a range of scholarships.

OPEN DAYS: 8th May, 9th October 2021


Visit www.alleyns.org.uk for details.

A Leading Independent Boarding & Day School For Girls Aged 11-18

020 8557 1500 Townley Road, Dulwich SE22 8SU



01249 857200

stmaryscalne.org Senior production: Nell Gwynn


Take the tour here: www.lyndhursthouse.co.uk/tour

0207 435 4936 office@lyndhursthouse.co.uk 24 Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead, London, NW3 5NW

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Eltham College is a co-educational day school which welcomes girls and boys for entry in Years 3, 7 and Sixth Form. For more information, visit: www.elthamcollege.london

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LET’s DRUM! Established 2001

THE SCHOOL OF RHYTHM ONLINE & IN OUR DRUM STUDIOS! Learn with the best teachers in London! * Face-to-face lessons in our state-of-the-art studios (SE20)! or

* Online tuition in the comfort of your home! *Children from 5 and adults all levels are welcome 7 days/week 10am-10pm! * Trinity College & Rock School Grades 1-8! (100% success - 90% with merit or distinction)

Discover the joy of creation! APPLY NOW AT www.schoolofrhythm.com 07930 415 185 info@schoolofrhythm.com

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Help with School Fees Bursaries and Scholarships


Over 35% of boys are supported with financial awards at Dulwich College

We would warmly welcome applications from academically minded boys. Please contact the Registrar on 020 8299 9263

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seconds with

Sarah Wilson The new Headmistress of Heathfield on her background and educational approach

What is your background? I have come to Heathfield from Cranford House in Oxfordshire, where I was Senior Deputy Head. Prior to that, I was in leadership positions at St Helen and St Katharine, Abingdon. Academically, I have a First-Class Degree in Secondary Education from Brunel and an MA in Educational Leadership and Management. I have recently completed the Executive Leadership Programme at Saïd Business School, Oxford. I also love my sport and sit on the GSA Sport and Wellness Committee as Vice Chair. What excites you most about your new role at Heathfield School? The sense of community and warmth of relationships is so evident – every pupil is known. Staff understand the character of the pupils, as well as their academic interests. The other thing that excites me is the clear commitment to innovation. For example, Heathfield is in the process of building a new Sixth Form Centre and has given pupils the opportunity to be involved by sharing their ideas and, in time, watching those ideas come to fruition. There's a very collegiate approach, with the opportunity for pupils to be involved in so many things. It genuinely is their school.

“Our role is to foster

pupils' positive attitude, their inner confidence and their curiosity. That also means we support them to make their own decisions”

enjoyment and achievement. That really highlighted for me the transformational nature that education can have. It's a sporting example, but you see the same when children achieve in any field. That feeling that you've really made a difference is always a pivotal moment.

A B OV E Sarah Wilson

How would you describe your educational philosophy? It's every pupil achieving the very best that they are able to achieve – which is often more than they think is possible. That achievement may be academic, sport, art, drama or something else they haven't tried yet. Academic outcomes are so important, we know that, but they are influenced by many things both in and out of the classroom. Our role is to foster pupils' positive attitude, their inner confidence and their curiosity. That also means we support them to make their own decisions, so that they are able to make good decisions as adults for their own and others' lives. As teachers, we need to provide support and challenge for every pupil at the right time so they get the very most out of school. Can you tell us about one pivotal moment in your teaching career? When I was a Director of Sport I led a department that achieved significant culture change. In turn, this resulted in a huge increase in pupil participation,

What sets Heathfield's approach apart? I would say it's the attention and support of each child as an individual, with the school community at the heart of education. It's an interesting balance when you can be known and celebrated as an individual but still be part of that community. There is an extraordinarily vibrant atmosphere, so that the pupils are inspired to work hard. They find their own path, and they have the space to do that here, but are also embedded within the community. The sense of belonging really does underpin everything. What makes a great student? For me it's all about attitude. You can achieve great things with curiosity, enthusiasm, kindness and by working hard. What makes a great school environment? It's the culture. Getting that right is a combination of everything. From inspirational teachers and outstanding pastoral care, to diverse opportunities and, of course, staff who go the extra mile. The right culture gives pupils the confidence to get involved and try new things outside their comfort zone. When children feel valued and happy, challenged and supported – and enjoying school life – that's when they flourish and fly.

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