Absolutely Education Autumn/Winter 2021

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Giving Back Pupil power and



Smart teaching and learning in action

community spirit

Z E S T. L O N D O N

Enterprise RULES

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Help find their

own superb

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A traditional heart.

A modern mind. Founded in 1867, we’ve always done things differently at Eastbourne College. We’re proud of our heritage, but always looking forward. Progressive and innovative. Empowering our pupils to question the answers and find their own path in life. Set in idyllic coastal surroundings, this is a place that truly makes a lasting impression.

Why Eastbourne College? • Holistic approach to learning, nurturing success in and out of the classroom

• Over 91% A*-C at GCSE and over 94% A*-C at A-Level

• We sit in the top 4% of schools nationally

for academic ‘value added’ which means on average our pupils achieve one grade above their predicted grade

• Diverse and exciting co-curriculum, offering everything from Art to Zumba

• Strong support network where pupils feel at home from day one

• Flexible, family-friendly for both boarders and day pupils and those that need a combination of the two

Learn more at Learn more at eastbourne-college.co.uk eastbourne-college.co.uk

Independently minded Since 1867

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


Tim Peake

Astronaut, pilot and author

Major Tim Peake is a homegrown hero – the first British European Space Agency astronaut. But, as he likes to tell young people, he did not have the starriest school grades and developed the skills he needed by another route. In this issue, he talks about how we help young people succeed and his collaboration with Steve Cole for stratospheric space and time adventure Swarm Rising.

Aimee Kimbell

Principal, Riverside Nursery Schools and Little Dukes Training Academy

After studying Classical Civilisation at the University of Birmingham, Aimee Kimbell taught in Hong Kong before specialising in Early Years – and discovering the Montessori approach. In this issue she talks about the vital importance of Early Years in setting the foundations for a healthy and happy adult life.

Jess French

Vet, author and children's presenter

CBeebies Minibeast Adventure presenter, author and vet Jess French went to a variety of schools in Norfolk (including Norwich School) and was passionate about wildlife and animals from her earliest years. In Making of Me, she describes jam-packed schooldays, her love of all creatures great and small, a successful campaign to build a school wildlife garden and one particularly brilliant music and drama teacher.


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


Gyles Brandreth Author, broadcaster, entertainer

Gyles Brandreth is a polymath extraordinaire whose love of the spoken and written word – and remarkable ability to talk for at least a minute without repetition or deviation – is justly celebrated. In this issue, he talks to us about his lifelong love of poems and the spoken word and his initiative to pass that love on, and to build connections between young and old, through Poetry Together.

Samantha Price Headmistress, Benenden School

After reading History of Art with European History at Edinburgh University, Samantha Price worked in marketing for Tate Britain. She moved on to teaching, becoming Head of Godolphin in 2010 and taking up her current post in 2014. In this issue, she talks about Benenden's work to develop the entrepreneurial spirit of its pupils and foster skills for careers and life.

Brian Schofield

Head of Upper Sixth, Hurst College

Brian Schofield studied at Pembroke College Oxford and then Sussex before working for almost a decade as an editor at The Sunday Times. He joined Hurst College in 2011 and heads the Politics department and Upper Sixth. In this issue, he talks about shifting perspectives on university among young people, and the things they need to consider before tearing up the UCAS guide.


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The Best of Both Worlds Wells is a vibrant city surrounded by stunning countryside.

We’ve got it all!

Co-educational day and boarding school Nursery - Pre-Prep - Prep - Senior - Sixth Form

Find out more: http://wells.cathedral.school/relocating Or contact admissions@wells.cathedral.school The Liberty, Wells, Somerset BA5 2ST

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Open Days

Embracing an innovative, modern approach whilst keeping traditional values at its core, Kew House School takes an exciting stance on 21st century education. th November 1st/7 (9.30am/care, 9.30am) With state-of-the-art facilities, a broad curriculum and excellent pastoral st Kew House is a place where you would want to be – a place November 15thof /21learning (7.00pm/ 9.30am) and discovery, laughter and friendship. November 29th (9.30am) Please go to the website for open event dates and to book your place: kewhouseschool.com/openevents T: 0208 742 2038 E: info@kewhouseschool.com W: www.kewhouseschool.com An independent co-educational senior school for students aged 11-18 in West London

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We l c o m e

From the



ven with the best of intentions, what we inflict on the young can have unintended consequences. In this issue, Rose Hardy of Habs Girls talks frankly about climate anxiety (page 75) and draws a parallel between today and the incessant 1980s talk of impending nuclear apocalypse. This triggered a vivid recollection of a draughty village hall where our youth club was shown a docudrama called The War Game by well-meaning and earnest adults. The horrors of that grim hour have, thankfully, receded but the memory of a group of us walking home in the dark silently, each wondering when the world was going to end, has not. Rose Hardy’s point is, of course, an excellent one. Educators have a duty of care to

Suffolk to meet its Principal Louise North and find a school brimming with fresh ideas for making learning relevant, individual and inspiring in the 21st century (from page 32). We also caught up with Steven Winter of Maida Vale School to find out more about this new addition’s contemporary learning approaches and strong focus on pastoral life (page 96). The inimitable Gyles Brandreth spoke to us about Poetry Together, his brilliant initiative – supported by Dukes Education – to bring old and young together for tea and poems (page 44). And another personal hero, astronaut Major Tim Peake, talked to us about his own less than stratospheric schooldays, his mission to help young people broaden their learning horizons and his new journey into children’s fiction (page 140). This is a time when many of us are looking forward to the pleasures of renewing friendships, seeing family and experiencing

“EDUCATORS MUST STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN VITAL INFORMATION AND POSITIVE MESSAGES” strike the right balance between vital information and positive messages. They must give young people reasons to feel their future is one of opportunity and their stake in tomorrow is worth fighting for. While these are low notes to open on, the current running through this issue is one of optimism. In the many opinions we’ve gathered from school leaders, there are exciting themes emerging centred round entrepreneurship, creativity and agility in learning choices. In that vein, it was a huge pleasure to visit Framlingham College in

togetherness – and feeling grateful for all of the above. In this issue, we spoke to schools about how they develop students’ ability to consider community and wider society and understand the importance of giving back (page 50). The really good news is that there is no shortage of kindness and philanthropic spirit among our young people – and they are more than ready and able to help to make the world a better place in the years to come.

Libby Norman EDITOR

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

28 PIONEER OF PROGRESS Queen's Gate's pioneering history of educating girls and young women


32 A FRESH VISION We pay a visit to Framlingham College and find a place with big ideas

44 PERFECT POETRY Gyles Brandreth's scheme to get old and young together to read poetry out loud



28 senior

How schools are teaching young people about the value of community



Leading independents share their approaches to giving young people skills for tomorrow's jobs

Giving young people positive perspectives on the big issue

105 TEENAGE SLEEP New thinking says teens need a lie in



Why we need more male teachers

Gabbitas experts answer your questions

120 WHY STUDY GEOGRAPHY? Two subject specialists give us their elevator pitch and explain why Geography is so cool

S c h o o l l e av e r




From online learning to gap years that count, we explore options in uncertain times

132 TOMORROW'S ENTREPRENEURS How Eastbourne College is nurturing enterprise

135 PATHS TO SUCCESS Why we need to reappraise our approach to vocational qualifications


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Nicola Owens 


James Fuschillo 


Pawel Kuba 


Mike Roberts Sam Scott 


Rebecca Noonan 


Jerrie Koleci 


Alexandra Hvid  DIR ECTOR S

Craig Davies, Leah Day, James Fuschillo  NON-E X ECU TI V E DIR ECTOR

Alexandra Hunter 


Sherif Shaltout

50 BOOKs

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140 ROCKET MAN British astronaut Major Tim Peake talks life, the universe and books

146 TOP AUTUMN BOOKS Great reads for the dark nights ahead

School's out

152 MAKING OF ME Vet, TV presenter and author Jess French

178 LAST WORD The new Head of Wells Cathedral School Junior School Jody Wells talks about his educational philosophy



FRAMLINGHAM COLLEGE College Road, Framlingham, Suffolk IP13 9EY 01728 723789 framlinghamcollege.co.uk Photo: Millie Pilkington

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50 yea rs co - ed Oakham School marked a major milestone by celebrating 50 years of co-education with an event for alumni. Old Oakhamians (OOs) returned to celebrate with a chapel service and afternoon tea. The school is also celebrating 20 years of offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.

KENT COLLEGE LEAD Mark Turnbull has been appointed Head of Kent College, Canterbury and will take up his new role in January. He has been Head of Giggleswick School for the past seven years and before that was Deputy at Eastbourne College. His first teaching role was at Sevenoaks School, where he became Head of Boarding. He succeeds Dr David Lamper, who is retiring.

“Mark Turnbull joins Kent College, Canterbury next January”

Eton academies


Eton College has signed a partnership agreement with Star Academies to open three selective sixth form colleges. The proposal is for these to be in the Midlands and North. Some teaching will be delivered virtually by its staff, and pupils will be able to attend an Eton summer school.

Southbank International School ’s Hampstead Campus has gained recognition as an Apple Distinguished School for the second time. The programme, recognising innovative use of technology in teaching , is by invitation only. Southbank is one of only 41 UK schools with this status .


"We should be able to acknowledge difference while being fully inclusive... the whole premise of inclusiveness is difference" CH I MAMAN DA NGOZI ADICH I E


The terms 'batter' and 'batters' have been introduced by the MCC at Lord's to reinforce cricket as an inclusive game. Women's cricket has seen tremendous growth over the past few years – including in schools – and the 2017 World Cup Final at Lord's was held in front of capacity crowds.

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Get muddy The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is reminding families of the benefits of children getting their hands dirty this autumn. Recommended activities include sensory tests to find out your soil type, making a wormery and collecting vegetable seeds. schoolgardening.rhs.org

NEW BUILD OPENING St Dunstan’s College in south London has officially opened its new Junior School, STEM Block and Sixth Form Centre. Guests of honour were Nobel Prize winner Sir Martin Evans and Chairman of Barclays, Nigel Higgins – both former pupils. The £25 million facilities will soon be joined by a new outdoor space, The Plaza, and a large theatre.

M U S I C S TA R S King's Ely Year 11 student Lauren Booth achieved the highest Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) exam result in school history – a 49/50 Distinction in her ARSM Diploma flute exam. Classmate Sophie Hillier achieved 47/50 Distinction. Both Lauren and Sophie have been playing since starting taster sessions in Year 2 at King's Ely Acremont Pre-prep.

V I R T UA L T E AC H I N G Following a successful pilot, Cognita Tutoring is now launching online tuition. Lessons will be delivered by teachers via edtech learning platform CENTURY. Tailor-made sessions will be offered one-to-one or to small groups. Video feedback to parents is provided and initial subjects offered are English, Maths and Science for Year 3 through to Year 11.

Queen's Head "My own role models are people who have a moral compass... Don’t confuse role models with heroes"

Julian Noad has joined Queen's College, Taunton as Headmaster. Head of Oswestry School in Shropshire for the past seven years, prior to that he was Deputy at Rydal Penrhos and a teacher and housemaster at Clifton College in Bristol.



"The notion that information is enough... that you don't have to think, you just have to get more information, gets very dangerous" E DWA R D D E B O N O



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A co-educational independent school for 11-18 year olds

who you are matters

“Maida Vale School will be modern and innovative yet reflect many of the traditions and values established over thirty years at our schools.” - Gardener Schools Group

Book an open event by visiting www.maidavaleschool.com/openevents www.maidavaleschool.com t. 020 4511 6000

e. admissions@maidavaleschool.com

Maida Vale School, 18 Saltram Crescent, London W9 3HR

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Swim champs

HORRIS HILL A R R I VA L Horris Hill School has appointed Dr Steve Bailey as Headmaster. He joins from Westminster Under School, having previously also headed up Twyford School and taught at Winchester College. He is the Chair of the Safeguarding and Child Protection Association and a member of the Executive Committee of the Boarding Schools’ Association. Horris Hill, which sits on the Berkshire/Hampshire border, recently joined the Forfar Education group.

Two Taunton Prep School students have been selected to attend the first phase of the Swim England National Development Programme. Evie Linden and Ronan Hill, both Year 8 pupils from Taunton, will take part in online and in person training camps. The school offers swimming as part of its weekly timetable from Nursery up, with clubs and many other training opportunities.


EX AM SUCCES S Advanced Placement (AP) students at ACS International School Cobham recently celebrated their exam results, with onward destinations including University of California, Fashion Institute of Technology and Boston University. Originating in the US, AP is recognised by universities worldwide and ACS Cobham offers College Board AP courses. This year, 195 Grade 12 students took a total of 433 AP exams across 30 subjects.

Wellington College has announced an agreement with the Unison Group to establish schools in India, with the first located in Pune, Maharashtra. Wellington College International (WCI) has six schools currently in China and Thailand educating over 5,000 students. Wellington College International Pune will be a coeducational day and boarding school for ages 2-18.

M I L E PA R T N E R S The Daily Mile has entered a partnership with England Athletics and other home nations' athletics bodies. Sport ambassadors, including Olympic and Paralympic athletes, will work to inspire young people to join The Daily Mile community, which was created eight years ago by headteacher Elaine Wyllie.

Top Story

Dukes expands Dukes Education has bought landmark Kneller Hall in Twickenham and plans are already in motion to transform the former MOD music site into a state-of-the-art Senior for Radnor House. In addition, it has announced that the four popular Clapham preps and seniors within the Northwood Schools group and the 10 west London nurseries that make up The Kindergartens will join the Dukes family.

B I R T H DAY PA R T Y In September, Prince’s Gardens Preparatory School marked its first birthday with a party to thank all those who were involved in realising the vision to create a beautifully equipped school in four elegant Victorian townhouses. Cognita CEO Frank Maassen joined Prince's Gardens Headmistress Alison Melrose to lead the celebration.


"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world" ALBERT EINSTEIN

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PE star

AIR SUPPORT Felsted School pupils were busy over summer supporting the Air Ambulance. Toby and Tegid, both 15, were inspired to run, swim and cycle the combined distances of these Olympic events, raising over £2,500 for Essex & Herts. Meanwhile, Lucinda, 9, led a pop-up coffee and cake fundraiser for Northern Ireland, raising over £600.

Cottesmore School in West Sussex welcomed Joe Wicks, who came to visit as part of a tour to launch his children’s picture book The Burpee Bears. Cottesmore’s Pre-prep and Prep children enjoyed an energetic ‘Burpee Bear’ workout, followed by a story read by Wicks. There was also a spirited Q&A session. Principal of Pre-prep Lottie Rogerson said: “The children have been incredibly excited about meeting Joe Wicks”.

“Joe Wicks was enthusiastically greeted by Cottesmore pupils, who were all looking forward to their workout”

Phizzical boost Olympic sprinter Adam Gemili is collaborating with app myphizz, launched to combat sedentary behaviour and developed by four teachers turned entrepreneurs. Using a live leaderboard, children set their own challenges, comparing results with friends, their class and even nationally. Teachers can access a dashboard to monitor activity levels. Trialled in schools, it works across devices.

Two Bedford School students custom-designed Team GB Rugby 7s star Dan Bibby’s Maui-themed rugby boots worn in the final against Argentina at the Tokyo Olympics. Henry Cudjoe and Alex Edun set up ‘YBK’ (Your Best Kicks) as part of a school Business Studies project and have been running at a profit for around a year. During the final, the boots were shown in close-ups twice and pictured on social media.

Avocado smash Three years after winning a Design Museum Competition, the Avogo avocado stone tool designed by Brighton College pupils Pietro Pignatti and Matias Paz Linares continues to be a smash hit. The duo have been supported by the College’s DT department since they pitched the idea as a social entrepreneurship project.

New deputies Cumnor House Sussex has appointed Michael Matthews as Deputy Head Pastoral and Bruno Shovelton as Deputy Head Academic. They have joined the Senior Leadership Team working alongside Headmaster Fergus Llewellyn. Matthews joins from Farleigh School, where he has been Deputy Head Pastoral for the past four years. Shovelton joins from Dragon School, Oxford where he was Head of Staff Development and Appraisal.

GREEN CLASS Putney High School received a Gold Medal for its Biophilic Classroom at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This showcased part of the school’s ‘Breathe’ campaign, demonstrating the impact of plants and nature on student wellbeing. Headmistress Suzie Longstaff worked with architects, specialist suppliers and many green-fingered students and staff.

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else” J U DY G A R L A N D

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Enr ichment menu

DA I LY A R R I VA L S Benenden School has welcomed a small number of day boarders – pupils who attend daily rather than boarding – in Years 9 and 12. It marks the first time since the school opened in 1923 that it has offered anything other than full boarding. It is also the final all-girls' boarding school to move away from full board only. Headmistress Samantha Price said it was an exciting move, and a response to requests over many years from local families.

Quilting v ictor y Quilters at Hazlegrove Prep School in Somerset have enjoyed success at The Festival of Quilts with their entry, 'The World We Live In'. They entered for the first time in 2019 and came third, so this year they decided to improve and were awarded second place. Created in the school's DT classes, the quilt is now on display in the school, having been exhibited at the NEC over the summer.

S TA F F B O O S T Consilium Academies, a trust with nine schools across the north of England, has launched its Centre for Professional Learning (CFPL). Designed to provide development opportunities, notably it will be open to staff in any role, not just teachers. There will be a mixture of in-person and online training bookable at any time. Around 40 per cent of its staff work in support roles.

Q UA L I T Y M A R K Cumnor House School Kindergarten and Pre-School has been awarded an Early Years Quality Mark. This national accreditation is for settings that promote and support the development of young children in communication, language and early mathematical skills by providing investigative learning opportunities. Positive partnerships with families and effective evaluation are also required to receive the Mark, which lasts for three years before re-assessment.

DLD College London, launched its enrichment calendar with a whole-school Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) Fair. Held in the college's Grand Atrium, it gave students the opportunity to discover clubs, societies and meets – over 50 all, ranging from boxing, football and fencing to Law, Herodotus and Graphic Animation. The school, which offers on-site boarding in the heart of central London, has also given co-curricular activities a designated slot in the timetable.

NEW APPOINTMENT Aldwickbury School in Harpenden has a new Headmaster, Paul Symes. He is only the fifth Head in the boys' prep and pre-prep's 70+year history. His predecessor Vernon Hales was Head for some 18 years. Joining from Belmont Prep in London, Symes' arrival coincides with the start of a project to create a new £3.75m sports complex.

“Aldwickbury is adding a £3.75m sports complex”

A r tistic mer it The UK has been ranked the second most artistic country in Europe in a new survey – pipped to the post by the Netherlands. The survey, from creative portal Design Bundles, looked at number of art schools, colleges and universities; spending on cultural services; number of art students; value of cultural exports and popular museums. The UK scored particularly highly for cultural exports – calculated as worth €307 for every UK resident.


"You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over" RICHARD BRANSON

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School PRIZES Recognition for the "brilliant" Barton Science Centre at Tonbridge, plus a Diana Award for a Wellington pupil TO N B R I D G E P R I Z E – AND EXHIBITION

ABOVE Tonbridge's Barton Science Centre offers superb facilities

Tonbridge School in Kent has received a RIBA Award, with judges commending its "brilliant” Barton Science Centre. The state-of-the-art building was among the winners in the RIBA South East Awards, which celebrate UK architecture. The winning regional projects go on to compete for national awards. RIBA judges found that the purpose of the centre, “To inspire a new generation of young scientists”, had been achieved and added that it “delivered the very best teaching spaces on every level”. Features include an interactive periodic table, a roof garden, a giant TV wall, three libraries – also an observation hive for studying bees. While the new Barton Science Centre is attracting attention, so too the School's Old Big Gallery – hosting an exhibition

BELOW Inspiring Wellington College pupil Ishan Kapur

by a distinguished former pupil. 'From Tonbridge to Tate' focuses on the work of Royal Academician Anthony Whishaw. He made his name in the vibrant 1950s and '60s Chelsea art scene, having attended Tonbridge as a boarder. Now 91, he still paints daily. The exhibition runs until November and has attracted many art fans, notably designer and sculptor Nicole Farhi and playwright Sir David Hare.


Ishan Kapur has won a Diana Award for his work raising funds to give digital devices to underprivileged pupils in India. Ishan, a boarder at Wellington College is from New Delhi, India and has been recognised for his work with the Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama New Delhi. After volunteering to help a local school access uniforms for marginalised girls, Ishan then set an inspirational example by helping others in education – including tribal communities and children of migrant construction workers in his neighbourhood. He devised and delivered an ambitious campaign to fundraise £5,000 and collect almost 100 laptops and tablets for teachers and students, whilst also ensuring everyone had an online connection to access learning. Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Award has the support of both her sons, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex. It is the third time a pupil from Wellington College has won this prestigious Award, and the second, consecutive, year. In 2020, pupil Lottie Leach was recognised for making a significant impact as a mental health activist. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 27

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Pioneer of

PROGRESS Marking its 130th birthday, Queen’s Gate is a school with a rich and remarkable history – and a long tradition of being in the vanguard of educating girls and young women LIBBY NORMAN

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n the 1860s The Taunton Commission had reached the conclusion that the sexes had equal mental capacity. Despite that, education opportunities for girls remained severely limited in the decades that followed, so this was a time of female education pioneers Miss Eleanor Beatrice Wyatt was one of them, deciding to establish Queen’s Gate School for girls in 1891 (later she would go on to establish Heathfield School). She opened the school in her parents’ home in Stanhope Gardens, moving it round the corner to 132 Queen’s Gate a year later. Among the traditions that began in those earliest days is The Log – the school magazine was started in 1896 and is still going strong. Another tradition is no school uniform – a rarity among schools then and now, although girls have always had a dress code. Beatrice Wyatt’s successor was Annabel Douglas, who expanded the lease into 133 Queen’s Gate. Under her tenure the school thrived. Her strong North American connections attracted new pupils from across the Atlantic and that cosmopolitan quality has remained. The school’s South Kensington location put it in prime position for pupils to benefit from the cultural riches of London’s great museums – located just down the road – so it was among the very first to make all London a classroom. Douglas founded the Queen’s Gate Debating Society in 1902 – another tradition still going strong. Girls began sitting public examinations at the turn of the 20th Century and in 1903 the first student was accepted to Newnham College, Cambridge. As you’d expect, there were some Suffragettes among the cohort. One of the most notable was Lavender Guthrie, who joined the WSU as soon as she turned 18. Arrested first for breaking windows at the National Liberal Club and then for smashing the windows of Garrard jewellers in Mayfair, she was sent down to Holloway. She came to a sad end and her mother said at her inquest that she: “was not quite a normal girl. She studied very hard and had ideas of Socialism and giving her life and her all to her more unfortunate sisters”. Queen’s Gate girls and old girls TOP did their bit during the Great

“Queen’s Gate has always been ahead of the times, but it has never lost its original character – nor its pride in this individuality”

War – some as nurses. Jane Trefusis Forbes left school and volunteered for the Women’s Volunteer Reserve in 1916, later becoming first director of the WAAF. In her last entry in The Log, Miss Douglas noted: “Our private affairs, other than tragic, seem very trivial now”. In 1919, Miss Spalding became Principal and bought No. 131 to give more space for the Junior School. She also added a modern science laboratory. Four years on, the school held its first Queen’s Gate election – fitting given the recent enfranchisement of some women; school elections are still held today. Queen’s Gate was recognised by the University of London in 1927, meaning pupils could sit their London Matriculation on the premises. World War II meant disruption – the school was evacuated to Berkshire after an invitation from the Headmistress of Downe House. All the school basements were commandeered by the London Auxiliary Fire Brigade, but one former pupil kept watch. The Sub-Commander of the Women’s Section housed in No. 131 was an Old Girl. The school was damaged by bombing raids but was Queen’s Gate Principal refurbished and back to work by Rosalynd Kamaryc October 1945. The extraordinary Miss Spalding – in service for 43 LEFT Queen’s Gate students years – retired in 1951, the same year outside the school as the Festival of Britain. Staff hosted a cocktail party in her honour, while the Old Girls Association held a dance. A new decade, and a new Principal in Mrs Johnston, meant a new House system for the Seniors. The syllabus expanded still further under her successor Mrs Sée, who arrived at the dawn of the 1960s and introduced Chemistry, Biology, Economics and History of Art to A-level options. During the Swinging Sixties, in common with all Londoners, Queen’s Gate girls enjoyed the thriving cultural scene. At some point during

these liberating times the front doors were painted purple. Lulu Guinness (1976-78), who was attracted to the school for its exceptional teaching in art and art history later recalled those purple doors in an interview in The Log. The arrival of Mrs Newnham as Principal in 1971 meant expansion of specialist classrooms and science labs. Student and parent needs were changing and she made the decision to close the boarding house to make space for teaching facilities. Queen’s Gate was now a day school for pupils aged 4-18. Under the stewardship of Angela Holyoak, the school continued to increase in size and its reputation also flourished. Its centenary in 1991 was marked by a special service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, followed by a ball – held, fittingly, down the road at the Natural History Museum. Expansion didn’t stop at 100. In fact, in 2006 Queen’s Gate acquired Nos. 125 and 126 Queen’s Gate to accommodate the growing Junior School and new science labs. This enabled part of 131 to become a dedicated Sixth Form Centre, with enhanced teaching and learning facilities to create today’s truly 21st-century learning spaces. Throughout its 130-year history Queen’s Gate has been ahead of the times, but it has never lost its character – nor its pride in this individuality. The spirit of independence that was there from the start has helped generations of alumni carve their own paths in the Arts, in business, science and public life. From the Redgrave sisters to Tilda Swinton, Kelly Hoppen and Nigella Lawson. HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall is an Old Girl too – and returned to open new science labs in 2016. Thanks to the many international students who have chosen Queen’s Gate, there’s also an extraordinary Old Girls’ network around the globe. In fact, as Principal Rosalynd Kamaryc puts it, “Wherever you go in the world you bump into a Queen’s Gate Girl.”

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A fresh

VISION Absolutely Education visits Framlingham College, a place with a reputation for delivering a well-rounded education, and now with a fresh and exciting vision for the road ahead

ABOVE Science in action at Framlingham College




hen you arrive at Framlingham College you can’t but be impressed. The imposing VictorianGothic main building is set within 85-acre grounds overlooking the town’s medieval castle. There’s excellent boarding and day provision, an outstanding record for hockey, a forward-looking and nurturing co-ed culture – even a salt tang in the air from the famous beaches a few miles up the road. It has earned the reputation of a super-reliable choice in ‘sleepy Suffolk’. While Framlingham’s recently arrived Principal Louise North is happy to celebrate the College’s strengths, she is raising its game with Vision 2025 – along the way updating perceptions about what College and county offer. Suffolk’s image in popular imagination is slow-lane picturesque but there’s more, including a rich vein of independent mindedness. London is commutable, but

so too are Cambridge and Norwich – this part of the world firmly resists becoming a satellite of the capital. International trade shaped the county’s architectural character, and lavish medieval buildings signal the prosperity that brought. Today, the county’s enterprise culture means a proliferation of small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. It has always been the haunt of creatives, from Constable to Maggi Hambling and Britten to thoroughly modern stadium-filler Ed Sheeran. The area’s – and the College’s – creative bent was the first thing that struck Louise North when she took up her post in September 2019, having moved down from Rutland, where she was Oakham’s Senior Deputy Head. She’d had a range of senior roles at other excellent rural independents, including Marlborough and Stonyhurst, before that. Nonetheless, Framlingham College and its locale feel different. “There is a creativity here that I’ve never picked up anywhere else that I’ve lived,” she says. “I don’t know whether it’s being near the sea – big skies, lots of green, Benjamin Britten, AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 33


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Aldeburgh and Snape.” One key fact about the school jumped out: some 60% of the parent body are small business owners and entrepreneurs. “That is huge,” she says. “The influence they have on their children and our community is significant. They want to be involved – to help develop our children so they are ready for the world.” Here then are two points covered off by Vision 2025. Creativity and entrepreneurship are central to Framlingham College’s mission for the years ahead. This is not blue-sky thinking – it’s big-sky thinking – maximising the existing school and regional strengths, and also focusing on areas where potential is there to be tapped. “It is about investing in people and in a culture – a vibrant learning culture I call it. Our vision is for a place where you look forward to your learning and where we celebrate overtly achievement in any sort in learning,” she says.

When she first arrived, her sense was that there was such a culture of kindness that this had led to an awkwardness around success. Achievements – be they academic, creative or sporting – were not marked in case anyone who hadn’t done so well (or tried so hard) felt left out. “There was little celebration of any sort, which I knew needed to change,” she says. “Expectations needed to be lifted. Aspiration and ambition were words that were never used.” One way that mindset was shifted was through a wholesale review of pupil assessment. This included communication to parents about progress, goals and the rest. “Kindness is at the centre of everything we do – of course it is – but also we have high expectations of ourselves and our pupils. When we combine the two, it becomes a powerful thing. So, we’ve looked


ABOVE The Sixth Form Centre offers inspiring study and collaboration spaces

at how we report; what we say in our reports; how we manage parents’ evenings.” The reform of pupil assessment includes empowering teaching staff to speak up when they see that a pupil could do better, surpass their own expectations. Other parent-teacher communication channels have been revitalised. A new Head of Careers has brought inspiring ideas and beefed-up valuable conduits such as the local parents’ Business Club. Entrepreneurial days and parent speakers are firmly in the mix of ideas presented to young people. The forwardthinking and business-savvy culture has also been reflected in the introduction of Business Studies as an option at GCSE (it’s already an A-level and BTEC choice). This dovetails perfectly with the College’s individual pathways – another cornerstone of Vision 2025. Summer 2020’s




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Year 13 cohort – North’s first – included two students who went off to Oxford and they and other universitybound students were, quite rightly, celebrated. But so too were the students who headed off to pursue filmmaking, chose world-class Swiss hospitality training or landed a plum contract in the music business. Of this last student North notes: “A bright young man, but if he had gone down the university route it would have been square peg round hole”. She says her ideas on education have evolved. “In previous schools it’s been a more linear path – A levels or IB and then straight into university. This is an opportunity for me to develop a culture of education that I believe in completely, which is that every child has their own path. We are really lucky and privileged that we can nurture them and take them on that journey.” Framlingham has distinct advantages when it comes to individual care. It is small enough (just over 650 pupils) to feel personal and it is a through school. The Prep is located just down the road at Brandeston Hall, another wonderful building set in 23 acres. It is divided into Lower and Upper Prep and also includes a



ABOVE Louise North joined as Principal in autumn 2019

state-of-the-art Early Years building. Pupils “Parents go and see the Prep and then they at the Prep access Senior facilities regularly come to see me, even though their children for lessons, events and specialist teaching. are really quite young, because they want Strengthening the links between Prep to know who’s going to be there to see their and Senior teaching is another move since child through the rest of their education.” North’s arrival. Previously the two halves of Some 90% of Framlingham Prep pupils the school operated fairly separately, but all move on to Senior years. This brings that changed with the arrival of Jonathan benefits in familiarity and coherence. “We Egan as Head of Framlingham College Prep. talk about a spine of skills, embedding that “We talk about seamless education from 3 to in everything we do from when they join 18 and that is what it has to be,” says North. the Prep school all the way through Senior She says it is important for young people’s years. So, they can collaborate when they’re attainment and self-confidence, and 3, they can collaborate when they’re it is increasingly important to 17; they can problem solve when parents seeking continuity. they’re 5, they can problem solve ABOVE The College is in a when they are 15. It’s making spectacular setting sure that in all the teaching we do, our young people are LEFT The Houses are cosy social learning those skills.” North has spaces for day pupils confidence that these are the and boarders elements that make children truly career (and life) ready. “A computer is never going to be able to empathise or be creative in the way a human brain can, so we have got to develop good human beings who leave us ready to do all of that.” The College has streamlined the path for students who progress from Prep to Senior – or join at Senior level – by dropping Common Entrance in favour of the WRAT assessment based on potential and learning style. That has the great benefit of refocusing learning in Prep years. “We’re overhauling our years 7, 8, 9. Those can be the lost years if you’re not careful. Schools and children can obsess with passing Common Entrance, then Year 9 becomes a something of a lost year before they get into GCSEs. For us, these three years are now all AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 35

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LEFT Music is a vibrant part of College life BELOW Design Technology inspires creative and business ventures


about linking the subjects through themes and getting our children to understand the context within which they’re learning.” Whatever ignites Framlingham College pupils’ passions and sparks those connections, there’s space here to make it happen. The Gothic main building has been cleverly updated over the years. Prince Albert’s statue still stands sentinel opposite the entrance (originally the school was known as ‘Albert Memorial Middle Class College for Boys’), but inside there’s an ultra-modern and light-filled central atrium known as Paul’s Court. This is where everything from break time to exhibitions to school events happens and it links through to the beautiful original chapel and galleried dining room. Music of every variety is catered for here – with a Steinway Model B in the chapel and a modern suite of recording, production and practice facilities. Musicians have had notable successes nationally and internationally, and with Snape and Sheeran just down the road, enthusiasm and participation are high. Art and Design & Technology are both strong suits and the facilities and sophistication of work are impressive. Girls, along with boys, get stuck into DT, be it on the lathes, CAM or other specialist kit. Sports facilities are also exceptional by anyone’s lights (as is Framlingham’s reputation). It’s the girls who are current U18s National Champions in hockey. It helps that their coach and College Senior

Deputy Head Susan Wessels is a former South Africa hockey captain and two-times Olympian. She is one of many role-model coaches and the school nurtures student talent in everything from tennis and golf to swimming. While there are sports Scholars (including a fair few who make it to US universities on scholarships), competitive matches happen here for every level of ability. The all-weather pitches have sophisticated video surveillance and live feed – perfect for parents who can’t make the sidelines, while students have access to analysis tools that can make all the difference to technique, teamwork and the next match-day result. This is just one example of the smart use of technology throughout Framlingham. Pupils’ own devices are used extensively and it is a Microsoft Showcase School – that technology-enabled approach was tested in North’s first school year. She says Covid brought its own challenges,

but no dimming of the Vision 2025 plan, even though her second term ended with a “crazy Easter Egg hunt” (a time-honoured College eccentricity) before virtual school kicked in. “Covid has been extraordinary for everybody, obviously, but it is what it is. We still had children who needed to be educated.” The pastoral care – the kindness – so often remarked upon here has been needed throughout this time and beyond. North remains acutely aware of the effects on pupils starved of peer-group company and the buzz of being in school. “The actual joy that you could sense when they came back to school was wonderful,” she says. One lynchpin of that pastoral care is the House system – seven in all (four for boys and three for girls) and safe, homely and nurturing spaces for day pupils and boarders alike. Every Wednesday is House Night (sporting, fun, creative) and the annual House Dinner is a dress-up event. Having boarders adds a 24/7 quality to



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ABOVE Boarders have a home from home


RIGHT Hockey success is a great tradition at Framlingham

benefit day pupils too. Many pupils take up the modern flexi and occasional boarding options offered alongside full boarding. International pupils represent some 15 per cent of the cohort, and with 19 nationalities in the mix. Among the most striking things about Framlingham College is how very co-ed it feels. The school went mixed sex early (1976) and today is pretty much an even split. “This feels more co-ed than any other school I’ve worked in. Why that is I don’t know, but I’ve had new staff say the same thing,” says North. Perhaps it is notable that Framlingham College was the first HMC co-ed to have a female Principal in Gwen Randall. Whatever the reason, the culture feels balanced. “Your gender is not an issue. In everything that we do it’s completely equal.”

BELOW Prep pupils have their own space down the road at Brandeston Hall

Visit the Sixth Form Centre and once you get over the setting – a brilliant light-filled glass construction with communal workspaces, quiet study areas, comfy sofas and views down to the main school – you see preparation in action for students’ onward destinations. Calm and collegiate, it is precisely the kind of environment Sixth Formers might hope for at a hip modern workplace. And whether they aspire to university or another path, there’s no doubt that this is their space – with on-tap guidance and careers advice – and it’s empowering. For those students who are on the Sixth Form Scholars programme (and this has been overhauled to provide more “stretch” with the arrival of Alex Boyd-Williams as Head of Sixth Form), there are routes in all curriculum areas. Be they Scholars or future entrepreneurs, Vision 2025 is all about recognising that success comes in many shapes in the 21st century. “All those traditional routes are still valid, but many young people are learning a lot earlier what it is they want to do. And they can see a way to go and get it much more quickly.” For Louise North, the future is about shining a light on all those possibilities and equipping young people with the tools they need. She says that when you get a school culture right, great results follow. But, ultimately, Vision 2025 also recognises that there must be an education goal beyond exam certificates. “The end game for all of us at Framlingham College is producing young adults who are ready for their adult world – global citizens ready to take on whatever uncertainty is out there.”

At a Glance Framlingham College FOUNDED: 1864 by public subscription HEAD: Louise North, since September 2019 GENDER: Co-educational NUMBER OF PUPILS: 668 (159 in Sixth Form) DAY OR BOARDING: Day. Boarding Year 3 – Year 13 AGES: 3-18 POINTS OF ENTRY: Nursery (3), Reception (4+), Year 3 (7+), 7 (11+), 9 (13+) and 12 (16+). ADMISSIONS: Selection through entrance test, school references, interviews and reports. RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Church of England / Interdenominational FEES: Prep: Day, per term – £3,165£5,508; Boarding, per year – £16,524 (flexi/occasional available). Senior: Day, per term – from £7214; Boarding, per term – £9,267-11,226. ADDRESS: Framlingham College, College Road, Framlingham, Suffolk IP13 9EY; framlinghamcollege.co.uk

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STRONG START The Principal of Riverside Nurseries and Little Dukes Training Academy says if we get early years right everything else will look after itself


know how important early years education is. I have seen first-hand how children flourish and grow in the right surroundings, and with the right support. But a good early years education does so much more than help a child to grow in the here and now – it is sowing the seeds for the adult that this child will become. A child’s first years have an extraordinary impact on the rest of their life and the foundations of a healthy, happy adult life are laid in our nursery classrooms. Neurological research in the past few decades has proven that our experience in early childhood – from pregnancy up to five years old – has implications for our development that go far beyond our physical abilities. Indeed, investing in the early years doesn’t just make sense for parents, it is one of the best ways to ensure the long-term health, wellbeing and happiness of us all. As the Duchess of Cambridge, an early years champion, recently said: “The early years are not simply about how we raise our children. They are about the society we will become". There are various approaches to early years education – I discovered Montessori 15 years ago and my belief in its childcentred approach has strengthened ever since. I believe that Montessori not only offers the best possible outcomes for young children but that, with the right training, a Montessori guide can change a child’s future. So, I am pleased that early years

"The foundations of a healthy, happy adult life are laid in our nursery classrooms"


RIGHT Aimee Kimbell and a pupil at Riverside Nurseries

education – in no small part due to the efforts of The Duchess of Cambridge – is finally getting the attention that it deserves. From this September, the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework is being introduced. The changes that have been made to this statutory framework reflect the Government’s recognition of how important early years education is. There is, for example, an emphasis on the need for a clear curriculum (which Montessori settings have). Priority has also been given to a thorough developmental assessment at two years of age to ensure early intervention occurs should any delays be found. This is particularly important, given the impact of Covid on lost learning. What's more, there is more space for professional judgements to be made, highlighting the need for the educators working with this age group to be thoroughly knowledgeable about the developmental stages and how to best support children through them. We are introducing our own changes

this autumn. Little Dukes, the nursery arm of Dukes Education, has just opened the Little Dukes Training Academy (LDTA) in south-west London. This will offer a range of early years training courses – including the first training for Montessori guides to care for children from birth up to age three. There is a very simple reason why we have opened LDTA. We want to attract and train the very best people and we want to foster and encourage educators who will establish a gold standard of early years education. We believe it is that important. By training early years educators ourselves, we ensure that we have the very best staff. More than that, we ensure the best possible nursery teaching and provision for Little Dukes – both now and in years to come. The foundations of a healthy, happy adult life are laid in our nursery classrooms. Children's futures – and our future as a society – can be shaped by what we do today. I truly believe we have the power to make that difference. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 41


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An affordable Independent Education


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Open to business Faith Hagerty, Head of More House School in Knightsbridge, evaluates the value of facilitating opportunities for young people to be entrepreneurs


or many of us, the mechanics of business have been brought centre stage by the reality show, The Apprentice, which doesn’t perhaps present the entrepreneur in the best light. Do we want our young people to believe that the most vital characteristics of a successful entrepreneur are to be tough talking, backstabbing and fiercely competitive? The last point is perhaps an important one, but at the heart of successful business is surely humans and how well we communicate with each other. Alan Sugar himself puts it down to self-belief, calling it a ‘critical skill for business success’. This, amongst other things, is what we have a duty to cultivate in our students, whether they are budding entrepreneurs or not. Self-confidence and a skilled use of persuasion are vital when it comes to selling in any form – be that pitching ideas, raising investment or selling to the public. Understanding our audience is key, whether that is simply knowing their spending habits, or delving into more complex psychological factors that make them tick. All of these skills are drawn out in the study of English Language, Maths, Business and Psychology, but creative ‘free’ thinking is surely where it's at, bearing in mind that this is where the big ideas come from. Does this not mean that any learner, in terms of the traditional measures of ability, could – with the right encouragement – have ‘that’ idea? That thought is a wonderful leveller. Being exposed to entrepreneurial experiences during our formative years

makes it much more likely that we the school’s new holiday club ABOVE will see starting up a business as provision for 10 to 13 year olds. Faith Hagerty and More House a viable career choice. Startups They were given a brief and then School pupils are a vital driver of growth and the pupils took the lead on project innovation, but there is always a management, finance, marketing, balance between risk and reward social media management and and we, of course, risk less in our youth as parent communication. They came away we have less to lose. We generally become with a real-life understanding of how more risk averse as we age, so logically any to build profit margins, as well as the entrepreneurial programme will be more experience of managing a business initiative effective the younger the participants. from conception through to fruition. To At More House, opportunities are cultivate creative thinking, we also offer carved out in order to develop these Enrichment and City Curriculum projects entrepreneurial skills. This summer, across the school, as well as our Life Skills Lower Sixth students were given the Programme, which gives sixth form pupils responsibility of launching More Summer, an additional pathway alongside A levels. As we see AI become a key player in the development of new businesses today, behind that technology will still be the entrepreneurs making things happen. Exposure to entrepreneurial ventures within the structures of our schools is surely what we need when preparing our young people to be the ethical leaders of tomorrow.

“Exposure to entrepreneurial ventures is surely what we need when preparing our young people to be the ethical leaders of tomorrow”

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LEFT Gyles Brandreth – Poetry Together was inspired by his findings on laterlife memory and early brain development

PERFECT POETRY Gyles Brandreth talks to Absolutely Education about the Poetry Together initiative – bringing old and young together through the spoken word



yles Brandreth's way with words is legendary. Just a Minute and other much-loved radio and TV shows sit alongside books, speaking engagements, and so much more. Now, he is a man on an important mission to share a multigenerational event called Poetry Together. It all started some five years back when Gyles Brandreth was researching human memory for a radio programme. He went to speak to a professor in the Memory Lab at Cambridge University. There he found out not only that learning things by heart is excellent for the older brain, but also that babies and small children who regularly hear poems and rhymes are quicker to speak, to read and to write. The seeds were sown and, after Gyles Brandreth's programme aired, he continued

to think on. He recalled his own schooldays and the power of group poetry readings – an activity so satisfying it must be worth reviving. To get this revival off the ground meant, as he puts it: "Persuading old people in care homes and young people in schools to learn the same poem by heart and then get together and perform their poems". Brilliant, but there's more: "Over tea and cake – tea and cake's the important bit ". This, then, is his annual celebration of rhythm and rhyme. Poetry Together is now in its third year. It has been helped along by Aatif Hassan, Founder and Chairman of Dukes Education, who got behind the idea after Gyles Brandreth discussed it with him at a school prize-giving. Now Dukes Education is a high-profile supporter. There has also been a big helping hand from Dame Judi Dench. The two of them were inspired by the directive, right at the start of the pandemic, to time washing your hands to a poem but AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 45


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A Passion for Life & Learning Open Morning 2 October 2021

Online Open Events throughout September & October Booking required for all events: www.jags.org.uk 100% bursaries available from Year 7 entry

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LEFT & BELOW HRH The Duchess of Cornwall attended the tea party held at Eaton Square Senior School

thought the nation could improve upon 'Happy Birthday'. "We did 'The Owl and the Pussy-cat' together while washing our hands. It's exactly the right length. It went viral – me and Judi Dench at her kitchen sink, with lots of spuds," says Brandreth. After people watched and downloaded, many also looked up Poetry Together and that swelled support. "We now have people across the Commonwealth and across the world. There are people from America and Canada, India and Jamaica, so Poetry Together has become international." There have been many special moments. He recalls a moving reading at the very first event when a Chelsea Pensioner and a 15-year-old pupil from a local Pimlico school read a Siegfried Sassoon war poem: "There wasn't a dry eye in the house". There was also a wonderful reading of Hilaire Belloc's 'Matilda' by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and a young group from Knightsbridge School. She'd learned the poem as a child and re-learned it for the Poetry Together Nationwide Tea Party held at Eaton Square Senior School in Mayfair (it's hoped she may attend a party this year). At that same Eaton Square Senior gathering – which brought together five schools and their care home partners – there were poems read in Welsh and Polish too. It all added

up to a truly memorable tea party. Even last year, during the very worst of lockdown times, Poetry Together participation grew – much to Gyles Brandreth's surprise. "Our hearts sank last year – we thought, 'this finishes it'. Far from it, as it turned out people wanted to perform their poems on Zoom, so we had virtual tea parties." He believes there is a rediscovery of poetry – reading it and writing it – partly because of lockdown but also because this is something that brings us so much pleasure and comfort. "There is such a great tradition of spoken poetry around the world." As a lifelong poetry lover, he'd be hardpressed to pick just one poem. After all, this is a man who met both C. S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot as a boy. Eliot even encouraged by him to memorise 'Macavity: The Mystery Cat', so that would have to be on his list, along with anything by Shakespeare and, of course, 'The Owl and the Pussy-cat'. He also has enormous fondness for Derek Mahon's 'Everything is going to be All Right'. Whatever people's poetry choices, this year's event is a golden opportunity to share them. "We have tea parties taking place all over the UK – and across the world. They

can happen anywhere and the point about Poetry Together is it is fun and it is relaxed. Language is power, and for young people especially, learning something by heart and then speaking it out loud helps with their confidence. For everyone, poetry is just generally a great and good thing."

Poetry Together events run until the end of November. A celebratory tea party with very special guests takes place during early November. Participation is free. To register and receive a Poetry Together Kit, visit poetrytogether.com/register



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T BACK Supporting community is a key element of school life, giving young people the opportunity to learn about their own place in the world. Five schools tell us how they develop a culture of giving back

he spirit of giving is a strong element of life at Berkhamsted, the family of six schools for pupils aged 3 to 18. There are regular whole school events such as MUFTI days and Christmas services. “Students make suggestions for charities and we oversee this to get a good diversity of causes,” says the school’s Community Services Co-ordinator Kathryn Tomlin. She works closely with School Chaplain Jane Markby and there is a lot of input from young people too. “Each House has a charity to support and they raise funds and awareness,” says Jane Markby “This is determined by the students in that house. Individuals might want to raise funds for a charity special to them and school supports them in this.”

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Berkhamsted sees huge value in this style of action. “It impacts positively on mental health to think of others,” says Kathryn Tomlin. Then there is the “steep learning curve” of organisational and communication skills developed, along with an awareness of big-picture issues. “Our annual shoebox appeals allows for a really practical way of showing they care,” adds Jane Markby. “Organising or buying the components for the boxes and wrapping them up is a great activity that is really relished – by the Sixth Form in particular.” Many students are already volunteering outside school – for instance for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – and around a quarter of Sixth Formers make a regular commitment, with others dedicating time for short-term and one-off events. “Our approach is that volunteering is as valuable as academic study – promoted as part of the school value of serving others,” says Kathryn Tomlin. And there are a whole host of causes supported by Berkhamsted’s Sixth Formers, from a ‘play a thon’ of live music on the high street in aid of mental health charities to sleeping out in support of a local night shelter. For other year groups, there are opportunities too. One of the most high-profile and warmly received is the annual senior citizens’ tea party. With 200 guests and 100 plus student volunteers, it’s a wonderful opportunity to mingle with another generation. The inter-house bake-off for this party produces “outstanding” baking talent, says Kathryn Tomlin, while the party is hugely enjoyed by pupils. “They love talking to the senior citizens – even those who are apprehensive at first come away having had a great afternoon.”



ituated in the Dorset countryside, Clayesmore offers a through education for pupils aged 2-18. Here, there is a strong sense of the importance of making a difference. The LEX programme – the school’s initiative to provide a rounded education – has a ‘Service & Contribution’ pillar with Social Action Group module. This tasks students to look for needs in the community, country or globally that can be addressed through fundraising or organising a campaign. In the Sixth Form, ACE (Action, Community, Environment) forms part of the co-curricular programme and encourages students to get involved with volunteering and

fundraising for the local community. An active group of students who are passionate about social enterprise have formed the Charity Committee to identify worthy causes and raise funds to support them. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and CCF also deliver community support as an intrinsic part of their activities. The school say that pupils are taught early on in the Prep school that charitable giving and volunteering are an important part of being a valuable and global citizen. Pupils in turn relish the opportunity to help and many initiatives end up being pupil-led, rather than school-led. The sense of making a difference and being empowered to help in tangible ways becomes a valuable lesson. Clayesmore pupils take away the understanding that they don’t need to accept the status quo and be a passive bystander, but can make a real difference by taking action.

RIGHT Pupils at Clayesmore

FACI N G PAG E Berkhamsted’s annual senior citizens tea party is a highlight

“Pupils take away the idea that they don’t need to accept the status quo and be a passive bystander but can make a real difference by taking action” AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 51

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“It is humbling for the children when they realise how much they take for granted – such as having a safe bed indoors at night”


ABOVE Broader volunteering activities are a mainstay at Cranleigh

BELOW Running for charity at Cranleigh



t Cranleigh, a day and boarding school for pupils aged 13 to 18, there is plenty of opportunity for young people to develop their social awareness. “Our eight boarding Houses choose a different charity to support each year and the pupils have a choice in that,” says Bex Barker, Housemistress of South House. This becomes an opportunity for them to learn more in the process. “Choosing and learning all about the cause, via visits and activities, helps the pupils to get invested in the areas they are supporting. It’s incredibly important that they really understand the cause and get actively involved in supporting it, rather than just donating money,” adds Bex Barker. She says that Cranleigh places extra value on these initiatives – even beyond the positive impact on the

causes supported – for the way they build young people’s inner strength and insight. “Pupils are helped to recognise their privilege and live lives of service to ensure they give back. Supporting good causes at school is a big part of that, and actively volunteering helps them to gain a better understanding.” These opportunities are varied. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a strong element within the school, but there are also initiatives such as its Voluntary Action on Wednesday afternoons. Here, pupils work with, for example, local charities and primary schools. Bex Barker adds that Cranleigh pupils are always quick to offer their help. This is a prosperous part of the country, making it all the more important to the school that young people look beyond local horizons. “It is humbling for pupils when they realise how much they take for granted – such as having enough toilets at school, a safe bed indoors at night,” she adds. “And it is also empowering for them to be part of the solution to these challenges.”


t St Edmund’s School, there is a strong tradition of giving back – as rooted as the school’s long history and close affiliations with Canterbury Cathedral. This begins in pupils’ younger years. “We support charities through our House System,” says Head of Junior School Andrew De Silva. “Through the House system the children play a central role in deciding which charities will be supported and the form this will take. In recent years the school community has donated money to good causes including the Pilgrims Hospice, Kent Air Ambulance and Kent Animal Rescue.” There is no shortage of fundraising ideas, either. In recent years these have included raffles and book fairs, but also the less conventional whole school talent shows. “We are also fortunate to have such an amazing group of parents and guardians to

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LEFT The spirit of giving is embedded at St Edmund’s

BELOW The strong House system at St Edmund’s gives children agency in causes they support

support our efforts; in particular, our St Edmund’s Associations (PTA),” adds Andrew De Silva. Even in the last academic year, they raised in excess of £10,000. The spirit of giving is integral to the school’s educational approach. “We have a duty to ensure that our pupils support those in need, not just because of the fundamental importance of being global citizens, but also as these events develop a range of transferable skills,” says Andrew De Silva. “Enabling our pupils to actively support others through charitable giving encourages a connection to the community,” This fits in with the school’s holistic approach to education, in which thinking and learning skills are supported by the development of young people’s emotional intelligence. “Providing opportunities for our pupils to support charitable organisations is a catalyst to foster these traits, particularly empathy, teamwork and resilience.” So important is this element that St Edmund’s Junior School is enhancing its giving back opportunities still further through the curriculum.



One of the school’s most recent fundraising efforts was for the local St Christopher’s Hospice. The whole school decided to collectively run 1,000 km in a day. The fundraising target of £1,000 was achieved even before they began running, so they decided to up the ante by doubling the monetary target. From 7.30am that morning staff and parents were out on the Astroturf in the pouring rain and had smashed 100 km by the time registration was finished. Head Katharine Woodcock was one of those who managed 10km even before starting her day. By the end of it, pupils and staff had managed 1,505 km collectively and raised over £3,000 for the hospice. It was even recognised on JustGiving as one of the top 5% of fundraisers that month. Pride in the achievement of everybody helps to cement shared values of giving back – students, staff and families were all out together in the pouring rain. The school actively encourages students to participate in initiatives that embrace community and wider society. From the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – a mainstay of school charitable work – to the school’s bespoke Active Citizens Programme for sixth formers, pupils undertake

t Sydenham High School GDST, the aim is to ensure that pupils develop a strong moral compass as well as academic strength. Underpinning this is an approach that instils a clear sense of global responsibility. “This is a school that prides itself on being part of the local community and as a result pupils feel that it is vital that they give back and help towards local causes as often as they can,” says Sydenham High School Headmistress Katharine Woodcock. “More often than not, the school’s charitable contributions and direction are initiated and led by the pupils themselves. This not only inherently makes pupils more involved but expands the scope and possibilities of what they can do with the support of the school.” AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 53

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“Pupils are all involved in voting for how funds will be spent and are also able to pitch to the Trustees on behalf of a chosen charity”

volunteering as part of these projects. While local is vital to Sydenham High School’s giving back activities and fundraisers, pupils and staff also look much further afield and Katharine Woodcock says it’s vital to give young people a global perspective. One such global initiative is focused round a biannual trip to Sydenham’s sister school in Nepal. The whole-school community have helped with rebuilding the school after the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake – working alongside their chosen charity In Your Hands – and continue to support the school through different activities. “I look at the pupils here and feel so positive about their ability not only to cope with whatever the future holds but also to actively engage with current affairs and issues that are important to them and the world,” says Katharine Woodcock. “They are future confident, possess a true sense of self, recognise only too clearly what is right and wrong and are open minded, switched on and genuinely care,” she adds.

RIGHT Social enterprise at Dragon School, Oxford

BELOW Sydenham High School’s sister school in Nepal



t Dragon School in Oxford, there’s a core mission is to inspire a sense of social and environmental responsibility, right from Reception through to Year 8. Philanthropy is a key part of learning, with a framework of activities, spanning partnerships with local schools, charity activity, presentations and fundraising events. “Pupil voice is essential in ensuring the children are invested in projects. Whether it is through voting to support a chosen charity, suggesting ideas for fundraising events, communicating their experiences with the rest of the school through assemblies or making decisions in meetings about social and environmental issues,” says Director of Social and Environmental Impact Ellie King. In the younger years, Changemaker Champions are elected to be spokespersons for their form, and as they move further up, elected Environmental Ambassadors identify, select and support causes each year. The Dragon Christmas Charity Sale is a major annual fundraiser that also becomes an opportunity for fun and ingenious philanthropic

endeavour. It raises thousands each year. Stalls are run by children and families and pupils are all involved in voting for how the funds will be spent. The many opportunities to be active in charitable initiatives are integral to QUEST, the school’s Saturday morning enrichment programme. Children create cards, letters and small gifts to send to seriously ill children across the UK, in association with the charity PostPals. There are also local and wider community causes, and also a Parent Volunteer Programme, supporting reading, speech and language, maths and music skills in local schools. In 2020 the school developed a partnership with local charity Oxford Mutual Aid. Every Friday Dragon’s Chef James Blackwell and his team in the school kitchen make 250 nutritious, reheatable and tasty meals to be delivered to households across the city. Children and families also support this cause by visiting the local foodbank to help prepare parcels, as well as collecting and wrapping presents for Christmas. With all these activities, the spirit of giving back is fostered for the long term. “Our hope is that we can inspire our Young Dragons to grow up as active citizens who recognise their responsibility and the positive contribution they can make to local, national and global causes,” says Dragon School Head Emma Goldsmith.

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Future success

A Year 6 curriculum delivering skills for future success also fosters curiosity for the journey into Key Stage 3 and beyond, says the Head of Middle School at Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate (QE)


t Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate (QE), our mission is for all members of our community to aspire to the Hill Standard: ‘To be the best that I can with the gifts that I have’. At King’s Magna, the middle school of QE’s four-school model, we harness this through an innovative curriculum. This has been designed to support the transition between primary education at Chapter House, our Preparatory school, and the demands of GCSEs and beyond in our two senior schools. In a difference from the traditional school model, where children stay in primary education until the end of Year 6, here at QE students join King’s Magna in Year 6 and stay with us until Year 9. Many

“Students are ready for a challenge, so our curriculum is designed by subject specialists and primary age teachers”

students using SAT testing. Students are instead assessed formally at three points during the year using standardised and moderated 'common evaluation tasks'. These track progress and identify what they could do to improve further. This allows us to focus on delivering those skills that the students need to be successful in Key Stage 3 and beyond. The breadth of opportunities in King’s Magna from Year 6 ABOVE is varied, standing Pupils at QE Middle School alongside the school King’s Magna curriculum. Students have access to over 100 clubs, as well as a varied trip programme. Our co-curricular activities students are ready for a new challenge at span five key categories: Creativity, Culture, the end of Year 5, so we have developed Community, Leadership and Health and a curriculum for this transitional year, Exercise. Students are challenged to with content designed in partnership take advantage of these opportunities, between secondary school subject which lead towards the King’s Magna specialists and primary age teachers. Enrichment Award. Participation in 10 The core curriculum consists of English, different activities from across the different maths, science, personal development, categories leads to the coveted Gold history and geography. In addition, students Enrichment Award at the end of each year. have specialist teaching in art, music, This all-encompassing, holistic approach drama, computing, design technology, to developing the whole student, which is languages and PE. They personalise at the heart of everything we their curriculum with two do here at QE, is designed to optional enrichment options ensure a creative, vibrant and within the timetabled day, caring school environment covering areas of the creative throughout King’s Magna. arts and sport beyond the We see it as vitally traditional curriculum. The important to equip our whole approach is designed to students with the skills and foster curiosity, also placing knowledge they need to emphasis on skills for future move seamlessly on to our success, such as critical STEVEN TURNER College or Faculty at the end thinking, collaboration, digital Head of Year 9, also ensuring they skills and entrepreneurship. King's Magna Middle can grow into their teenage Importantly, we have decided School, QE years with confidence. not to assess our Year 6 AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 57


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Small and mighty The Headmaster of Perrott Hill Prep explains why he thinks the school’s size is one of the key secrets of its success.


ur Somerset school has won multiple awards over the past few years, including Pre-Prep of the Year in 2019 and the BSA Supporting Junior Boarders Award in 2020. There’s no denying that the last 24 months have been tough on the whole independent sector, with travel restrictions, lockdowns and the low-level threat of (whisper it) remote learning creating an unprecedented level of uncertainty among parents. At Perrott Hill, we’ve emerged with an even greater belief in the power and strength of small schools. Small schools enable a family atmosphere where every staff member knows every child and every child benefits from subjectspecialist teaching. Our Director of Sport teaches from Nursery to Year 8, as does our Director of Music, Head of Art and Head of

“A smaller size gives our senior pupils the chance to take on positions of responsibility” French. Such connections extend across the whole school community. Here, Mr White in maintenance runs a carpentry club; parents and former parents run activities such as pinhole photography and textiles. Socially, children know one another and make friendships across year groups. One thing about such connections is the impact on all concerned. One former pupil summed up what this means: “I spent my activities sessions volunteering in PrePrep, reading to the children and helping

with playtime. It was a formative all-rounder award to Radley, a ABOVE experience and one which improved rugby scholarship to Millfield, an Pupils at Perrott my patience and communication academic scholarship to Canford Hill Prep skills. It also made me realise the and art scholarships to Harrow, experience of being looked after Marlborough and Sherborne. by your peers is precious". A smaller size allows senior Smaller schools can often take a more pupils the chance to take on positions of tailored approach to education, and this can responsibility, and this in turn develops give children the encouragement to find their character and social confidence. As well passions at an early age. Sometimes, there as the obvious Head Boy, Head Girl and can be changes made to assist with this. Prefect, there are other roles: Head We recently added a bagpipes Chorister, captains of sport, teacher to our peripatetic staff Captain of the Tinker Lab, – a few years back the same heads of houses, boarding thing happened with the harp. prefects. The list goes on. If a spark is ignited in a Small can be mighty, especially child, there is the flexibility if you believe, as we do, that it to nurture this – whether means scope for every child it’s in STEM clubs, book to shine within the range of clubs or athletics. The responsibilities on offer. It is success of this ‘something incredibly rewarding to see ALEX MCCULLOUGH for everyone’ approach pupils at age 12 or 13 step up Headmaster can be seen as children – especially those who might Perrott Hill progress. Our scholarships be forgotten or overlooked Prep School in recent years include an in a larger school. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 59


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TIME TO THINK Karen Thomas of The King Alfred Lower School on the importance of giving children agency and making their learning relevant, inspiring and fun


ow, more than ever before, it feels like time to pause and consider both what and how we teach the children in our schools. We have the responsibility and the privilege to ensure that each child’s school experience goes much deeper than their acquisition of facts and figures. Our role is to foster a real joy and understanding of the learning process and to equip them with the tools and strategies that will help them successfully navigate a future unknown. With high stakes end-of-year testing replaced by a suite of child-friendly, rigorous and significantly more informative alternatives, there is a different sense of purpose to the primary years at King Alfred School. Time is made to analyse the attributes of successful learners.

"Children are revelling in the excitement of new discoveries, the fun of getting things right and wrong" Commitment, curiosity, courage and compassion are celebrated and nurtured across the school. Children are helped to recognise when they are in a state of flow and they learn to embrace productive struggle. We make moments to be mindful, to stop the noise of the day and create space to breathe – understanding that these moments will create a readiness for our next lesson. The metacognitive layer of learning is compelling. Motivation levels are high. We find that our children are reveling in the excitement of new discoveries, the fun of

ABOVE Pupils at King Alfred School

getting things right and wrong, sharing solvers (What could we do about it?). Our what they know with others, tracking student activists have crafted playground XXXXXX their progress and defining new goals or xxxx agreements and class contracts, written to areas of interest. There is excitement as their MPs, organised food bank collections they evidence their progress to share with and shared concerns about pollution with parents, peers and teachers in studentperformances for year groups. Traditional led conferences where successes can be topics are now underpinned by deeper celebrated and new goals established. conceptual understandings – a World War II As our children gain more agency in their topic helps us explore conflict, while finding learning, they develop a greater knowledge out about the Romans teaches us about of the potential impact of their effort and governance. The concepts are timeless and actions. This, in turn, grows understanding transferable, helping us to make sense of the that they can make a difference. This present and guiding our future decisions. concept is structured The convergence of the across the curriculum as we what and the how has enriched consider how best to look learning for us all, setting an after ourselves, others, and exciting pace and elevating the world around us. Topics expectations of what can have been revised to become be achieved. Best of all, we enquiries that run throughout are having fun. The school the year and pick up on is buzzing with questions, aspects of the UN Sustainable reflections, ideas and laughter. Development Goals. Now, more than ever before, KAREN THOMAS We challenge children to these feel like some of the most Head of The King be problem finders (Does this important things we can offer Alfred Lower School seem fair?) as well as problem our children in school. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 61


08/10/2021 10:12

Devonshire House Preparatory School

Outstanding prep and pre-prep in Hampstead, with its own nursery Please contact us for a place on one of the Open Mornings Thursday 20th & 27th January 2022 Tel: 020 7435 1916 Email: enquiries@dhprep.co.uk Website: www.devonshirehouseschool.co.uk DHS.indd 1

08/10/2021 10:37





The Headmaster of Cottesmore discusses technology in education, and the importance of pupil agency and entrepreneurialism


t Cottesmore the children do not have phones. They are always talking, always engaging, face-to-face and in real time. They build camps and dens in the school grounds and they all play sport daily. This is where we start the Cottesmore journey, but there is another important aspect to modern life – the screens in our hands and on our desks. Do we surf the digital wave, or do we stand on the beach and watch as it crashes towards us? Of course, the answer lies in balance and discipline. With a rise in screen time, smart phones, Zoom lessons and social media, the digital age has well and truly landed. Over the last 18 months, schools have harnessed these technologies with

“The key is to value both technology and tradition in equal measure and to strive for a balance”

with technology. We are delighted and honoured to have Ms Lakhani join our community as ‘Digital Patron’. With the experience she brings, we are enjoying not only her entrepreneurial spirit, but also her innate understanding of the powerful partnership between technology and education. Fundamentally, the role of all schools is to create and curate an ABOVE ideas-led environment, Pupils at Lycée where children feel Churchill confident to explore ABOVE Pupil at their own passions. This Cottesmore means arming children with the confidence to have a positive input on their education. Our Councils provide huge speed and a positive attitude towards children with an opportunity to implement change has never been more important. change across various elements of school life, The key is to value both technology and including the Boarding, School, Safeguarding, tradition in equal measure and to strive Kindness, Food and Charity Councils. for a balance between implementation of Pupil agency and entrepreneurialism technology and typical childhood activities. are concepts that are only going to become While Cottesmore has always strived to more important. Our Cottesmore Talks liberate children from dependency on screens were conceived three years ago to introduce – as our approach to mobile phones indicates children to the concept of entrepreneurship – children’s screen education is important. and to understanding how individual Here, it takes place during ICT lessons and aspirations can dictate and coding club and we have an inspire the professional journey. award-winning robotics team. The children have been inspired The recent collaboration by all of our guest speakers with Priya Lakhani OBE, and have embraced the candid founding CEO of edtech nature of these sessions. company Century Tech, All eyes at Cottesmore indicates our commitment to are on the future, but it is digital-based learning. This important that we are mindful platform has been a huge of the present and the people success, enabling teachers to TOM ROGERSON around us. A good education better understand each child’s Headmaster Cottesmore School teaches us to have a firm grip learning journey and enhance on both at the same time. their working relationship AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 63

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Understanding HYPERMOBILITY Hypermobility can have a profound impact on children, but a new School Toolkit aims to raise awareness among educators so they can deliver the right support LIBBY NORMAN

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Hypermobility markers


ypermobility is a term many are familiar with – the common phrase for the most obvious manifestation used to be 'double jointed'. Many children are very supple and can appear hypermobile, but that flexible or 'bendy' body that is a distinct advantage for aspiring ballet dancers and athletes may sometimes be a marker of hypermobility syndromes – a group of conditions that can affect connective tissues throughout the body. It's important to note that hypermobility is relatively common (often estimated at around one in ten of the population) and is not of itself a cause for concern. Where it is associated with repeated pain, fatigue, and other ongoing or intermittent health issues, this may indicate Joint

Hypermobility syndrome (JHS) or EhlersDanlos syndromes, including (hEDS). These are still considered rare conditions, but some researchers suspect they may be under-recognised and reported. This is where a new School Toolkit comes in. Jane Green, an educationalist and adviser on Autism and Hypermobility Syndromes, is lead on the School Toolkit – she also has hEDS herself. Educators are the primary target because they are on the 'front line' with young people day to day, making them well-placed to spot issues and provide support. Funders of the toolkit for schools include The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Peter Harrison Foundation and The Ehlers-Danlos Support UK, and it has been developed in collaboration with the Hypermobility Syndromes Association. Flexibility of joints – including the ability to bend thumbs right back to the elbow or

Conditions and symptoms that may be an indicator of hypermobility syndromes include: Severe tiredness/lack of concentration • Persistent widespread pain • Blood pressure regulation (dizziness, sweating, fainting) • Stomach, bowel and bladder problems • Joint dislocations/frequent sprains • Frequent bruising / scarring /skin fragility.

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08/10/2021 12:45

All children can achieve The Moat School is an independent dyslexia specialist school Mainstream in structure and specialist in nature The Moat Supports pupils aged 9-18 to reach their full potential

The Moat is now taking admissions for years 5 and 6 and will be hosting an Open Morning on 24th November 2021 For more information contact admissions@moatschool.org.uk @Moatschool @TheMoatSchool

The Moat School, Bishops Avenue, Fulham, London, SW6 6EG Tel: 0207 610 9018 www.moatschool.org.uk

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“THERE IS HIGHER INCIDENCE AMONG GIRLS AND THESE CONDITIONS ARE OFTEN HERITABLE” touch the ground with palms flat and knees straight – is a visible sign of hypermobility. Both thumb bending and toe touching are among tests used in assessment. But hypermobility can affect connective tissues inside the body. "People with these conditions have connective tissues that are defective, but each person can present differently, from being asymptomatic to severely disabled," says Jane Green. One of the key issues for young people with a potential diagnosis of hEDS or JHS is the sheer diversity of possible symptoms, but, says Green, there are some markers that warrant further investigation. "There are many common symptoms, including dislocations, sprains without previous trauma, pain, tiredness, dizziness, stomach issues, bowel and bladder problems, temperature issues, anxiety, clumsiness and allergies." For younger children, there can be specific challenges visible in early years. "Laxity of core muscles and ligaments

often means that it is challenging to hold a pen," says Green. "It is uncommon for many children to actually get a diagnosis at this age, so they are often left to just try and manage, as are their parents." Of course, nearly all young children have very 'bendy' bodies and all develop skills at their own pace. But useful things to know are that there is a higher recorded incidence of hypermobility syndromes among girls (often presenting most strongly from early adolescence) and that hypermobility syndromes are often heritable. Heritability means, says Green, that parents do not always see their child's issues as unusual; perhaps they experienced similar 'growing pains' themselves. She has given talks where suddenly the penny has dropped for a parent who recalls experiencing pain, fatigue or other mysterious symptoms they are now investigating in their own child. She has a profound insight into the impacts on children who don't get a timely

diagnosis, having only received her own formal diagnosis of hEDS at the age of 53. "As a long-term hEDS sufferer, I often experienced pains, including migraines, viral illnesses, and stomach issues like bloating and spasms when I was growing up," she says. "At secondary school, I failed entrance exams and I was placed in the bottom sets. I did not reach attainment levels or often attend school as I was either unwell or unmotivated, so I left early with a couple of qualifications." While she went on to have a successful career, Green says hypermobility syndromes – and particularly the absence of a diagnosis – negatively impacts lives. A key issue can be the struggle to be believed. "Sometimes, because symptoms are disbelieved, especially as they can appear ‘out of the blue’, the effects of trauma can build up from a young age." She also says this can damage the whole family, since parents or carers may be accused AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 67


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of being over-fussy or neglectful – even of intentionally harming their own child. Green suspects there are children who slip through the net completely and drop out of mainstream education. "I saw this as an Assistant Headteacher/ Lead for Autism Education," she says. "There seemed to be a lot of home-educated pupils who were autistic, neurodivergent, anxious, dyspraxic or had unspecified ‘health problems'." She suspects there's a pattern of symptoms at play across our schools that are being missed because educators have not been made aware of the markers and clues that could indicate hypermobility syndromes. This is where the School Toolkit hopes to effect change, improving school outcomes and children's wellbeing. Green says it's long overdue. "It is aimed at schools UK wide and includes information about how education staff can identify some of the most common ways symptomatic hypermobility can impact pupils’ functional and academic participation. It links to how reasonable adjustments can be made and how understanding hypermobility can affect a person’s life physically, emotionally, socially and mentally." She believes that increasing awareness among educators and SEND specialists, alongside a growing body of research – although more is needed – may also help. In particular, Green hopes we may start to gather more information on potential links or co-occurrences between symptomatic hypermobility and other conditions – from fibromyalgia to CFS/ ME to sensory processing differences. "It is not only important, but essential that pupils are supported by some knowledge, understanding and belief," says Jane Green. Effective management may mean, for instance, that children discover earlier which sports are beneficial and which may not be a good fit with

hEDS or JHS. It also means they and their teachers can find workarounds for some of the symptoms that inhibit their attendance or enjoyment of school or stop them from studying and participating at the same pace as everyone else. "Given the right support and management, children with hypermobility syndromes can go on to excel at school," she adds.

F U R T H E R A DV I C E Access the School Toolkit at theschooltoolkit.org. To find out more about hypermobility visit Ehlers-Danlos Support UK ehlers-danlos.org and Hypermobility Syndromes Association hypermobility.org

About hypermobility syndromes Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are a group of heritable disorders of connective tissues, of which hEDS is by far the most common. Prevalence of hEDS has been estimated at 1 in 5,000, however some research suggests it remains under-reported. There is no specific genetic test for hEDS, so diagnosis is via medical examination. Joint hypermobility syndrome is a term used to cover a range of symptomatic hypermobility conditions. These include hEDS, and also cEDS, Stickler and Marfan syndromes.



08/10/2021 12:47

A leading independent prep school in South Somerset, offering excellence in education for 3-13 year olds

“Academic results are undeniably impressive” The Good Schools Guide

To find out more about our awardwinning day and boarding school near Crewkerne in South Somerset, please contact our Admissions Registrar on admissions@perrotthill.com or call 01460 72051. Perrott Hill Nor th Perrott Somerset TA18 7SL

www.perrotthill.com @perrotthill /perrotthillschool



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08/10/2021 11:38


INQUIRING MINDS The Primary Years Programme Coordinator at Southbank International School says that the IB system teaches both learning skills and values for life FLORA WINTER


he International Baccalaureate curriculum teaches young people aged 3-18 how to develop specific characteristics that are representative of being ‘a good learner’ and ‘a good person’. At the same time, it aims to develop specific skillsets – recognising that young people need to be able to collaborate, negotiate, problem solve, be creative and become critical thinkers. Right from the start, the IB aims to foster curiosity and encourage young people to ask questions. In doing so, we identify common threads and an understanding of how young people approach different subjects, teaching them to be able to share their thinking, to ask questions and to problem solve together. For the youngest children at Southbank International School there is a big focus on how they can help one another improve. In grade 1 (age 6-7), students participate in a ‘Unit of Inquiry’ on how to express themselves in various contexts. Working in small groups, they develop questions, BELOW allocate roles so they Pupils at know who will take Southbank responsibility for each International School aspect, and then they

“Everything we teach is underpinned by a sense of community – essential to children developing an understanding of their role in society” present their findings to the rest of the school and to parents. Every year the children learn from one another, critiquing their work and making improvements along the way. We also have specific units of inquiry looking at ourselves and our cultural identity. It is the school’s belief that understanding ourselves helps us to understand others better, which is something that our parent community support through participation in events, sharing cultural practices and elements of their home life in different languages. Among the many advantages of being a school in central London is that there are so many opportunities for students to go out and explore different parts of the city, and for people to present new ideas and perspectives to them. We see London as our classroom and this helps children to develop an understanding of the world around them, consider alternative perspectives and see the world through more than just their own eyes. A core element of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is encouraging children to take ‘Action’. We talk about five different types of action in response to learning: Participation and being involved in the community (in the classroom and beyond); Advocacy (individually or as a group); Social Justice (taking action for positive change); Lifestyle Changes

(healthy eating or keeping fit); and Social Entrepreneurship (locally and nationally). This is further supported through linking back to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, demonstrating to students the relevance of what they are learning. One example was the ‘Gratitude Project’ last year, when the school council worked with the PTA to raise money for North London Food Banks. Smaller things happen daily too. For instance, some children undertook a unitive inquiry on pollution. Noticing parents were leaving their vehicles running at

drop-off, they made signs reminding drivers to switch their engines off. Everything we teach is underpinned by a sense of community, which is essential to children developing an understanding of their role in society. They are taught to take responsibility for something beyond themselves. It could be as simple as caring for a plant, helping a friend who is upset or putting things away tidily. These are the sorts of attributes we believe children need to develop, learning at a micro level from a very young age and then applying the same principles to life as they progress through the school and beyond. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 71


08/10/2021 11:34

SECURE YOUR PLACE FOR OUR UPCOMING OPEN MORNINGS Wednesday 20th October Tuesday 2nd November (Doors open at 9.30am)

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Whole picture The Headmaster of York House discusses how we inspire our young people to see the whole picture, playing their part locally and globally


ewind a couple of decades and there was far less emphasis on children’s need to become global citizens – whilst overseas travel was not rare, it felt like a real adventure. Children today travel (at least, before the pandemic they did) easily and inexpensively to a much greater range of nations. It’s sometimes hard to believe that not so very long ago, communication with those overseas, meant talking over the phone and writing letters. Tech devices and the internet mean that children are able to gain instant access to resources, so building greater

“They may not be able to do anything about emissions in another country, but children can certainly plant new trees in their gardens or on their school site”

provide reassurance and guidance to the wider community, especially during difficult times. Encouraging the school council to engage with communities, sending older pupils to assist in local primaries or help out with practical support such as litter picking all help to give something back. Going into the first lockdown, we wrote to all of the neighbours of the school saying that we were here to help them if they were scared or alone ABOVE or simply needed practical Pupils at York House School help. This kind of gesture cost next to nothing financially but provided great value at a time when people really needed to feel supported. understanding of the world around us Children are changing the way they is easier. The curriculum, of course, still think about their local area. Something that features knowledge of the world, especially comes across strongly through the lens of in subjects like geography and science sustainability is the importance of ‘Doing where topics such as the environment are, No Harm’. That is immediately related to thankfully, centre stage. Children learn about the environment, but it also goes to areas the co2 emissions of various large nations of vexation such as traffic and the aesthetic and may well be conversant with important landscape. There is no doubt that over the themes such as the Paris Agreement. Seeing last year schools have had all too much individuals, including Greta Thunberg, interaction with global problems. These are plays a part in their geopolitical landscape. complex, rapidly evolving issues with no It is important that this admirably broad template to work from to find canvas still attracts brush a solution. The pace of change strokes from the children doesn’t lessen either and that viewing it. They may not be makes it vital that schools able to do anything directly recognise that, alongside about emissions in another other organisations, they will country, but they almost face much greater demands certainly can plant new trees in to be part of the solution – their gardens or on their school globally and locally – and the site. The expectations of local paradigm of how to respond communities from institutions JON GRAY is key. As Shackleton said, (including schools) and their Headmaster “Difficulties are only something leaders have never been higher. York House School to overcome, after all”. Schools are looked upon to AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 73

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CLIMATE ANXIETY Rose Hardy, Headmistress of Habs Girls in Elstree, considers how we help young people to navigate their fears and anxieties about climate change – and respond positively ourselves


ven a child who doesn’t watch or read the news cannot fail to be aware of the climate change that is happening all over the planet. Our children are global citizens and observers of the modern world. From the earliest days we have taught children about the weather, about the impact of the natural world, storms, fire and floods. Whether it be recent forest fires in Russia and Spain, the extinction of species, recycling campaigns, sustainability or the impact of what we eat,

climate change information is all around us and children are all-consumed by it. Over the last few years children have been exposed to young climate activists such as Greta Thunberg, student strikes, Extinction Rebellion and multiple protests, so climate change is very accessible to young people today. Over the last decade or so, the environmental agenda has become a curriculum staple in our schools, and rightly so. We are educating the future generations of society and it is important that they are aware of the potential challenges our planet faces as a result of how we live.

Most schools are openly playing up climate action, with eco councils and eco prefects becoming the norm within school communities. Yet over-consumption of the environmental agenda also brings with it a darker reality. Climate anxiety is growing amongst children and there is a palpable sense of apprehension, burden and fears about the future. In some cases, there are even deeper feelings of hopelessness and despair. In a similar way that politicians and the media during the 1980s fuelled children’s fears with the prospect of nuclear oblivion, the same sense of panic and fear around individual safety that stems from predictions of a future of uncertainty and destruction are consuming many young people’s minds today. The question is, how can we retain the importance of climate change without resorting to fear, scaremongering and negativity? Climate education needs to be inspiring; it needs to challenge. As schools, we need to look to channel anxieties into actions that are both empowering and encouraging. At a recent school freshers' fair, it was striking to witness just how many young students were signing up for environmental clubs and campaigns focused on climate change. There is a big appetite out there for creating a better, safer world – as educators, we need to capitalise on that positivity. Sadly, there are enough mental health issues within our younger generations today and feeding a culture of nihilism could lead to destructive behaviours that manifest in many negative ways.

"There is a big appetite out there for creating a better, safer world – as educators we need to capitalise on that positivity" AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 75


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RIGHT Climate change news is all around us BOTTOM Rose Hardy with pupils from Habs Girls

"There is a palpable sense of apprehension, burden and fears about the future – in some cases, hopelessness and despair" ‘WHAT IS THE POINT IF THE ICE CAPS ARE MELTING?’

The ‘extreme’ environment approach usually leads to conclusions that if the damage is done then there is no point in trying. It is concerning to learn that some young people are so affected by climate change that they are even questioning the feasibility or the security of having their own children in the future. After all, they reason, why bring a new human being into a world that has such a bleak future? Again, this comes back to how we communicate the impact of climate change to our children. We must continue to push the importance of making changes to the way we live and consume, but in a way that is supportive, invigorating and useful. Most schools are already looking at ways to strengthen climate education within the PSHE curriculum to ensure that we are inspiring rather than reeling off statistics. There is a post-Covid curriculum agenda here too, one that uses the last 18 months to educate children on important topics such as: What is a sustainable way to spend money? How can we live more sustainably at university? What credit options should we avoid or consider and how can we create financial security and wellbeing in the future?


Inspirational speakers in school can be very useful too, sharing experiences of those who have made a difference and are focused on giving back rather than on impending doom. We also need to consider the age group we are educating. For younger children, fears are more related to things they can readily grasp such as physical safety or animal extinction. For older children and teens, the focus might be more on how the world will be impacted by the global movement of the population, for instance.

For parents, it is important not to brush off the impact of climate change. We grew up in a different generation, but we must acknowledge the current generation's worries and reassure our children about the future. This means taking the whole agenda seriously – whether that is your child going vegan to support the environment, buying secondhand fashion or taking part in a local community recycling project. Our children will hopefully be the last generation to suffer such climate anxiety, but these things matter. As with so many issues, to fully understand and participate in meaningful conversations with the young, we must continually re-educate ourselves too.

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ROLE MODELS Susie Byers, Head of Broomfield House School, says that we need more male teachers in our classrooms to help boys learn about respecting women


have often wondered why there is such an imbalance between male and female teachers in our schools. Across the UK, in both independent and state schools, you will find this gender disparity, with women often outnumbering men, particularly in our prep and primary settings. In my 25 years as a teacher, I am yet to understand all the reasons for this gulf, but in light of #MeToo and Everyone’s Invited, it is something we must urgently address. For how do we guide our students into becoming young adults who respect each other, regardless of gender, if we can’t show it to them in their younger years? Role models matter – after all, you cannot be what you cannot see – particularly in those crucial younger years when attitudes are formed. Boys and girls need to be taught by men and women, and they need to see these same adults interacting with each other, respectfully, calmly and equally. BELOW Our young men – yes, Pupils and teacher at Broomfield young women, too, but House School the spotlight is on boys

“Boys listen to female teachers, but men can often connect with them in a more meaningful way – as coach, mentor and sounding board”

right now – need to know how to conduct themselves. When does playground rough and tumble, particularly when directed at girls, become unwelcome? I have also heard boys describe their dad as the boss who goes to work, and their mum as the one who ‘just stays at home’. At 10 or 11 years old, as hormones kick in, boys can sometimes egg each other to behave in unthinking or inappropriate ways. If we see any such behaviour, we will, of course, step in and guide our boys. But it is particularly helpful at this age for boys to have male teachers, and crucial that they see how these teachers behave towards their female colleagues. Pre-teen

boys need good role models to signpost how to regulate their own behaviour and navigate the teenage years ahead. At Broomfield House School, we have a good ratio of male to female teachers. They range from our Year 1 TA and our Y3 and Y5 class teachers to our Y6 TA maths lead with QTS, our PE Teacher with LTA status and our Academic Deputy Head and Head of School. But we are not resting on our laurels. Like everyone, we were appalled by some of the Everyone’s Invited testimonies and have since rolled out a number of Respect Lessons for all of our Year 6 children, using our male teachers to talk to boys on a very real level. Our boys listen to their female teachers, but men can often connect with them in a more meaningful way – acting as coach, mentor and sounding board. We are, admittedly, a well-resourced school, but that doesn’t mean this shouldn’t be a nationwide expectation. It’s too important to the next generation for us to fail at this. We have an amazing team, but this year I have been particularly proud of our male teachers. They have given something to our boys that is intangible yet powerful. When I lay my head on the pillow at night, I know we have done all we can to ensure our boys leave Broomfield with the knowledge and skills to treat the opposite sex with the respect they deserve.

S U S I E BY E R S Headteacher Broomfield House School AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 79


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Where every pupil creates their own story.

With our ambitious learning culture, a focus on every individual and a breadth and blend of opportunities, we help every child to discover and develop their talents to create their own life-story. Our size, structure and ethos mean that our entire focus is on understanding, guiding and inspiring each child individually – so they can find their own voice, their confidence, self-belief and aspiration, discover their own talents, challenge themselves to achieve more than they thought possible and reach their full potential. There is no typical Framlinghamian, no singular path that we take: we are academics, actors, musicians, expeditioners, sports people, innovators, scientists, ruminators, decision makers, story tellers, teammates, artists, fun lovers, nurturers and thought provokers. Often we are many things within one. But, we are all individual with our own story.

Scan the QR code to see our film, ‘Let’s See Who You Are’. Call us on 01728 723789 or email admissions@framlinghamcollege.co.uk

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The days of silos for subjects are over, and schools are finding new ways to deliver STEM and creative subjects and take learning further – from real-world skills in CAD to generating brilliant business ideas. Absolutely Education catches up with five leading independents to find out how

Brighton College

BELOW Real-world exhibit at Brighton College’s new School of Science and Sport


ith recent accolades including ‘School of the Decade’ from The Sunday Times and ‘Top in STEM’ from The Week, Brighton College is focused on delivering exceptional facilities as well as teaching. Long known for its inspired work in developing creative skills, it has added the new School of Science and Sport – a futuristic and bold design by Dutch firm OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), led by principal architect Ellen van Loon. The futuristic design is all about light, cutting-edge energy conservation technology and 21st-century teaching and learning spaces. The school says one aim of the building was to move subject teaching away from the silo mentality – students enjoy the inside track on sports activities, but also brilliant views to other departments. This new building joins the recently added Yeoh Building, with its Creative Learning Centre, and the new Music School offering state-of-the-art recording facilities and large recital hall. Science and technology facilities in the School of Science and Sport

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RIGHT Learning through discovery at Cumnor House Sussex

include 18 university-standard labs, breakout spaces for shared research, discussion and workshops and a cinema-style auditorium where students and their teachers can hook up to science departments across the globe. As a break from science and tech, pupils can head to the gym or sports hall, take a swim or take a turn round the running track. Facilities at Brighton Collee are designed to inspire self-directed learning – also replicating the kind of approaches pupils can expect when they head on to university or further study – but this is also a learning hub for the local area so that students can engage with partner schools to share resources, learning and ideas. Brighton College is also rich in ‘club culture’, with 100 plus societies and meets for students to share ideas in STEM, Arts and creativity. With everything from coding, dissection and robotics cubs to DT and art activities, these extracurricular and enrichment activities take place in designated activity slots, enabling individual passions and interests to thrive both inside and outside the curriculum.

Cumnor House Sussex


t Cumnor House Sussex, the approach to STEM is broad and designed to inspire, with subjects integrated into wider teaching and learning. The annual Science Week forms a highlight of the school calendar for everyone. Another hotly anticipated event is the Year 8 summer project. This has seen a wealth of brilliant STEM-focused admissions, including self-built computers, upcycled furniture and animations. The school emphasises 21st-century key skills. For instance, coding is introduced in Year 3, while engineering, scientific concepts and computational thinking start in Preprep – initially introduced through play and developed as children build skills and understanding. The STEM building, The Peake,

“The Year 8 summer project has seen a wealth of brilliant STEM-focused admissions, including self-built computers, upcycled furniture and animations” opened in 2017. This houses three science labs and a dedicated Design Technology workshop to enable children to start to imagine, invent and prototype. It is not only used by the school’s pupils, but also by primary school pupils and teachers in the local area. Bespoke, carefully designed and a hive of activity, it’s the place where children are taught the innovation process. They gain sophisticated creative and ‘maker’ skills in a fun and inspiring way – growing in confidence along the way – as they are taught about resistant materials, graphics, electronics and computer aided design and manufacture using a laser. The team here work with the children to foster real enthusiasm and a ‘can-do’ attitude. “We try to work with real life problems and make projects as relevant as possible for today’s world, with an element of sustainability in mind. Innovation and intuitive thinking are crucial to our approach, but

we don’t lose sight of traditional skills. We run an open-door policy and pupils can access the department whenever staff are available,” says Head of Design Technology Tori Bramly. A new project-based learning module for Year 7 and Year 8 pupils involves group work where they take on challenges through the process of action, inquiry and reflection. Children are encouraged to work through real-life scenarios – many with a marketing, fundraising and communications angle. Technical exploration happens all year round, but a highlight is the school’s annual go-kart project. This requires teamwork to build a working kart, putting scientific and mathematical knowledge to the test and culminating in a competitive race. This June’s meet saw Cumnor take the fastest kart around Goodwood at their Green Power Event. The go-kart project is now being more closely integrated with the science curriculum, and with a new Rocket Car Challenge as a precursor event. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 83


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Mayfield School


t Mayfield School in East Sussex, there is a strong emphasis on developing skills that will set girls on the right path into careers – be they budding entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists or creatives. “All girls enjoy regular talks from old girls who run their own businesses, the Year 12 students enjoy a series of practical workshops from Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge each spring, and Year 8 pupils take part in an annual Mayfield Young Entrepreneur Challenge,” says Amanda Glubb, Mayfield’s Head of Careers. The Mayfield Young Entrepreneur Challenge is a highlight, running over five weeks. It’s inspiring and demanding, as business groups of up to eight girls are loaned £10 as initial start-up capital. They then have to decide what product or service to offer – undertaking research for their market or audience – create a logo, plan a sales and marketing campaign, and manage the finances. Every person in the group contributes to the company, whether through designing packaging, sales and marketing, or keeping track of costs and sales on a spreadsheet. At the end of the five weeks, the loan is repaid and the profit is distributed among the ‘business owners’, often with a donation also being made to a charity of their choice. Another area where Mayfield is seeking to give its students an edge

ABOVE Mayfield School robotics BELOW Mayfield gives students innovation challenges

is the Year 9 subject called Innovate. It has been introduced to raise girls’ awareness of a variety of different technologies and develop appreciation of how they could be deployed in an ethical and purposeful way. Over the course of the academic year, girls complete three projects. The first is a prototype electronic device that could, even in a small way, help to tackle the challenges presented by climate change or environmental disaster. After learning how to use BBC Micro:bit and an array of external sensors/outputs, they choose their problem and find an innovative solution. “Girls have impressed staff with their completed projects which demonstrate both creativity and ingenuity in reaching solutions to real-world problems. Previous projects have included automatic forest fire detection systems, sea level/temperature monitoring stations, a clean-up station for turtles caught in oil-spills and even a robotic ‘fish’ designed to ‘eat’ plastic waste in the ocean,” says David

Warren, Mayfield School Head of History and Innovation Coordinator. The second Innovate project is designed to encourage a creative response to a real-world issue and is focused around using 3D design and manufacturing to produce a device to help somebody with a disability. The final project centres around robotics and driverless car technology. Once again, girls are encouraged to be independent in completing each challenge, with the more confident using text-based Python language in their work. “Girls have certainly enjoyed this fresh approach to technology in the classroom and in the future, it is hoped that the Innovate curriculum can be brought into the Lower School,” says David Warren. Girls in Year 7 and 8 already have the option to join Junior Tech Club where previous designs have included the creation of mini drones and robots. There’s also an active school STEM club with Raspberry Pi micro-computers so pupils can develop their own brilliant projects and technical innovations.

“Girls have impressed staff with their completed projects which demonstrate both creativity and ingenuity in reaching solutions to real-world problems” AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 85


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ABOVE Getting stuck in to DT challenges at Northwood Schools

Northwood Schools


t Northwood Schools – which consists of Broomwood Hall Lower and Upper, Northcote Lodge and Northwood Senior – there’s an approach right from the start that instils the skills for creative problem solving and entrepreneurship. Located in leafy south-west London (and now part of Dukes Education), the four schools’ benefit from space and excellent technology resources. At prep level, every pupil has their own iPad and at senior level individual laptops enable independent working and research. Even Northwood’s pre-prep children are regular users of technology to problem solve, code and create. Film school starts at age 6, with children having the opportunity to create their own movies using using stop start animation. There is also creative use of tech to help children get a creative edge. For instance, at Northcote Lodge VR headsets have transported boys from

the comfort of their classrooms to the Jurassic period, Everest Basecamp and a funfair roller-coaster ride. Play can also help develop technical and creative skills – Northwood is a past regional winner of Lego League. There’s also an annual science fair where boys come up with an original question or invention, undertake scientific enquiry and then deliver a presentation about their findings. CAD is introduced early on, with Tinkercad used to help children develop concepts, prototypes and models. Scientific questioning is also developed throughout the curriculum and through clubs. One of the most popular at Northwood Senior is Dissection Club – enabling pupils as young as 11 and 12 to actively learn how to dissect and see for themselves how things work. As

with science, computing and IT skills are developed to give young people confidence in programming and then developing and testing their ideas. “Everything we do is about developing the skills to be an entrepreneur,” says Adele Crabtree, Director of the Arts at Broomwood Hall and Head of DT at Northwood Senior. “Design helps to build resilience, problem-solving skills and teamwork – some of the critical skills that employers look for in all workplaces, not just design workplaces,” she adds. The emphasis at the school goes beyond ‘maker doer’ approaches to consider the whole landscape of innovation and technical thinking. “We ensure that pupils understand the importance of using Design to explore ideas – not just produce results.”

“Design helps us to build resilience, problem-solving skills and teamwork – some of the critical skills that employers look for in all workplaces” AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 87


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innovation setting, including running effective meetings and conflict management. The dedicated careers advice and support means that students here are encouraged to ‘think outside the box’. They are given plenty of expert advice on both university and other options – including sponsored degrees, degree apprenticeships and other training programmes that are becoming increasingly important options to consider. A strong network of alumni, parents and supporters are on hand to give advice on careers in STEM, preparing for interview and developing a strong CV. QAS girls currently at university also lend their support, coming back to give talks and the inside track on what to expect. There are also STEM and careers trips and a full programme of external guest speakers, including university lecturers, authors and mathematicians. Queen Anne’s has a strong track record in developing students who go on to careers with a technical or innovation focus. As well as helping to develop career-ready skills at Sixth Form, the school also ensures students have the opportunity to compete in rewarding (and CV enhancing) events throughout their education, including the UKMT Intermediate Mathematical Challenge and the British Biology Olympiad.

LEFT & BELOW Queen Anne’s School focuses on innovative technical approaches

Queen Anne’s School


aversham day and boarding girls’ senior Queen Anne’s School has a strong reputation for sciences and technical learning, and it is also a Microsoft Showcase School – this is the third year running it has received the award. The school incorporates extensive digital teaching and learning in its approach. “We developed the infrastructure, pedagogy and skills to embark on our 1:1 scheme in 2019 after having supported bring-your-own-device

for some time. Since then, the school has grown from strengthto-strength with digital thinking at the forefront. The Queen Anne’s staff have shown great dedication to continuing their journey as digital educators over the last 18 months, with 24 teachers having achieved Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert status,” says Assistant Head - Digital Thomas Lange. This, of course, proved to be a boon during remote schooling, when Queen Anne’s was able to carry on smoothly thanks to its technical capacity. At Sixth Form level, Queen Anne’s offers a bespoke professional-standard leadership programme that focuses on emotional intelligence and covers essential areas in any business or

“At Sixth Form level, Queen Anne’s offers a professional-standard leadership programme that focuses on emotional intelligence” AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 89


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Exam review? The Head of Wellington College asks if it's time to consider whether final exams are the best and fairest way to measure student attainment


ellington College introduced the IB Diploma as an alternative to A levels in 2008, but only in 2019 did we reach our goal of a 50/50 split in pupils studying the two curricula in Sixth Form. This parity is great news for students, who have a choice between two different but equally thriving academic routes. It also means we can reflect from direct experience on two different ways of assessing young people, a hot topic given media commentary on this year’s teacherassessed GCSE and A-level results. Those in favour of keeping the all-ornothing terminal examination, which characterises most A levels, argue persuasively that this is the only way to ensure equity across a system, providing an objective comparative measure across a national cohort. When examinations were cancelled for a second time in January, however, this high-stakes option was left exposed – particularly with the absence of a Plan B. Cue significant levels of stress and anxiety for young people as they waited two months before hearing details about how TAGs and baskets of evidence would work. Many critics of terminal assessments already cite mental health arguments

“I can’t help feeling that this would be an opportunity missed – that there are different ways of assessing young people without compromising standards”

these do not count for 100% of the final grade. In addition, there are Internal Assessments (IAs) – IB coursework – internally marked but externally moderated to ensure consistency of standards. Depending on the subject, the IA may account for 20-40% of the final grade. The Extended Essay (an independent and cross-disciplinary research project) is a compulsory part of the ‘Core’ of the IB ABOVE Diploma as is Theory Pupils at of Knowledge, which Wellington College is assessed not by examination but via an oral presentation and essay. Finally, the unique Creativity, Activity when proposing alternative models: is it and Service (CAS) element of the Diploma fair, they say, to give only one opportunity is recorded through student reflection, to students to prove what knowledge and with evidence required of different learning skills they have developed throughout outcomes. Final grades are therefore their course of study? Others argue that calculated through the aggregation of all exams are, by their very nature, stressful elements, many of which are completed and and this is a good thing – it teaches young assessed throughout the course, as well as people to deal with pressure. But even traditional end-of-course examinations. Simon Lebus, the interim chief regulator of As we recover from the challenges of Ofqual, commented, “Exams are a bit like a the past 18 months, I understand why snapshot… whereas teacher assessment… some teachers simply want to return to allows teachers to observe student the familiarity and certainty of the old way performance over a much longer period… of doing things. But I can’t from that point of view, we can help feeling that this would be feel satisfied that it’s likely to an opportunity missed, and give a much more accurate our experience has certainly and substantial reflection been that the IB Diploma of what their students are offers compelling evidence capable of achieving". that there are different ways As a contrast, the of assessing young people, structure of assessment in blending written and oral the IB Diploma is a blend work, and examinations of different elements and JAMES DAHL with continuous assessment, this is why many pupils are Master without compromising drawn to it. Yes, there are Wellington College standards or fairness. terminal examinations, but AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 91

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Bright sparks

The Head Master of Dauntsey’s discusses the importance of both class and extra-curricular in igniting children’s passions and developing strengths for future life


n estimated 65% of children entering primary schools today will work in jobs that don’t currently exist, according to the Universities UK report ‘Solving Future Skills Challenges’. It follows, therefore, that schools should not just equip children with exam certificates, but also life skills which enable them to embrace new opportunities and be resilient when their chosen path doesn’t unfold quite as they had planned. A significant part of developing those skills is helping each pupil find an interest or a talent where they can excel, and a good school will see this as its mission. Teachers can easily identify the more confident pupils, the sporty ones, the maths

“Teachers can easily identify the confident pupils, but it’s just as important to identify the ones who have not yet discovered their ‘spark’”

ABOVE Pupils at Dauntsey’s

geniuses, the musical ones who sing as they or dinghy sailing. They develop teamwork pass along the corridors, and those who are and leadership skills, whilst stretching first to volunteer or ask a question. But it’s themselves mentally as well as physically. equally important to identify the quieter The activities themselves are only part ones who are more cautious and have not of the picture. Everyone works with people yet discovered their ‘spark’. On the sports outside their normal social circle, creating field, these pupils may not be selected for the new teams and forming new relationships. top teams. On stage, they may not be picked Group dynamics change and the results can for a leading role. In social situations, some be surprising to both pupils and teachers. may find themselves on the edge. Any good After a few sessions, vital life skills such as school should seek to ensure that every pupil communication, co-operation, listening to has the opportunity to develop and shine. others, sensitivity and tolerance of different It’s not all about achievements in the ideas are learnt and new friends made. classroom, although for some a particular Working with others towards a common subject – or teacher – will provide that goal teaches young people how a team lightbulb moment. Extra-curricular operates, how to lead and how to follow. A activities can play a vital good school will educate their role. Our pioneering pupils, but an excellent school ‘Moonrakers’ adventure will develop the whole person education programme for all – helping each individual find Third Formers (Year 9) has somewhere or something in a far-reaching impact. Pupils which they can excel. Finding spend an afternoon a week on that spark helps each boy outdoor activities throughout and girl develop a deeper the year. They might be understanding of how they kayaking, learning self-defence function and this, in turn, MARK LASCELLES or orienteering, mountain brings greater self-esteem and a Head Master Dauntsey’s biking, cooking outdoors, renewed energy and confidence crossing a river, rock climbing in their own abilities. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 93

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BUSINESS BRAINS Oakham School Headmaster Henry Price discusses why entrepreneurship is on the rise and explores how the school is responding to this trend


ith the wealth of opportunities that we offer our pupils both inside and outside the classroom, we are always seeking new and innovative ways to equip our girls and boys with the skills to succeed in life, whatever career path they may choose. In a year that sees us celebrate 20 years of offering the IB Diploma alongside A levels, providing a strong academic education for our pupils remains at the heart of everything we do. However, as we witness a rise in entrepreneurship across the country, we recognise this as an opportunity to nurture new skills in our pupils that may help them after leaving school or university. Despite the barriers of the pandemic and the closed high streets across the UK, 2020 was termed the ‘Year of the Start-Ups’ with 770,000 new businesses being formed (May 2021 data from Tyl). Entrepreneurs used various methods to make and sell their products during lockdown and made a good contribution to the UK economy.

“What all entrepreneurs have in common is the drive and passion to succeed and these are qualities that we strive to nurture” We have recently launched the Freddie Groome Enterprise Activity, which is in memory of late Old Oakhamian Freddie and encapsulates his joy and passion for enterprise. Generously supported by Freddie’s father, John Groome, the new programme is available to Year 12 students and will see them work together to set up

ABOVE Pupils at Oakham School

and run a small business. Throughout the that we strive to nurture in our pupils. scheme, pupils will demonstrate a range We encourage our pupils to show courage of enterprising skills such as teamwork, and contribution from the earliest age by communication and leadership. The offering them a range of experiences to course will finish with a market to sell the help them discover where their interests products that each business makes, as well lie. The Freddie Groome Enterprise as an awards ceremony on Speech Day. Activity will be a welcome addition to our A great number of Oakham School alumni range of enrichment opportunities. have already gone on to set up successful Additionally, when they leave us, our businesses, a recent example being pupils have access to our careers Hub, which PrOganic, a mobile milkmaid service run by gives them the chance to be mentored by Jess Armitage. After leaving Oakham, Jess other former pupils using the Old Oakhamian studied Business Management (OO) Club Network. This has at Reading University and helped many of our alumni to now has a highly successful acquire the necessary skills to business providing Rutland make it in their chosen fields. residents with delicious Most importantly, our aim fresh, organic, pasteurised, is to ensure that by the time unhomogenised milk vended they leave us, Oakhamians are into reusable glass bottles. well rounded and confident What I believe all young adults, equipped with entrepreneurs have in common the vital abilities and values HENRY PRICE is the drive and passion to succeed at university, Headmaster to succeed in their chosen in the world of work, and Oakham School field and these are qualities in their wider lives. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 95


08/10/2021 13:51

FRESH THINKING Welcoming its first cohort in September 2020, Maida Vale School is a fresh addition to the London learning landscape. We find out more about its approach LIBBY NORMAN


n the face of it, 2020 was not an auspicious time to start anything new, yet that's precisely what Maida Vale School did. The co-ed independent secondary located in Saltram Crescent – an enclave of Victorian villas between Maida Vale, Kensal Town and Queens Park stations – opened its sunshine-yellow doors to 50 pupils last September. For Founding Headmaster Steven Winter, the pandemic meant a few supply issues back in the early months of 2020 when contractors were readying the school, but nothing to push well-laid plans off course. On the plus side, the team had a heads-up on what was likely to unfold. "We set up the school from day one to be able to go into remote learning," he says. "Any lessons that had to be learnt were learnt before the school opened." This meant Maida Vale pupils were ready to rise to the challenge of digital. "They bought into our remote learning incredibly well," says Winter. When school was physically open, the size of cohort relative to the space helped. "In many ways we could act more normally than many other schools," he says. And there's been an abundance of goodwill. "There's been that camaraderie that comes with being

part of a new community." This includes parents as well as staff and pupils. "We were all much more forgiving of each other because we all understood that we were living in a slightly odd situation." It helped that Maida Vale School had been a long time in the making and with a clear strategy for putting down strong roots. It's also gained strength from being part of the family-owned Gardener Schools Group – joining three well-established schools in London. So that begs the question, why this location? Winter says one good reason was the number of pupils at sister secondary Kew House travelling from this part of London. "There isn't an independent co-ed senior TOP Redesign made full school within two to three use of the building's miles of us so we are serving a light-filled spaces community that would really ABOVE like their children to go co-ed." School canteen and and Kew Green preps Already, the geographic parent cafe are hubs have a guaranteed place at range of its cohort is becoming Maida Vale or Kew House clear. "We're starting to see provided that their individual our catchment area define itself – learning needs can be met. Willesden and Harlesden to the west, The four Gardener Schools Heads are the Kensals and Queen's Park to the north close knit and collegiate – for instance, and to the east of us St John's Wood and Steven Winter and Will Williams over at Hampstead. Also, pupils are coming from Kew House talk several times each week – Notting Hill to the west." Local feeder so that perspectives and ideas get shared. schools have been very supportive. In April Parents will spot that all four schools Gardener Schools Group announced to sport the same vibrant blue within their parents that it now offers through school. uniform (although each uniform has its This means pupils at Ravenscourt Park

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own unique identity). What they might not realise is that Maria Gardener, the Group's founder and Director of Education, still teaches a lesson in both senior schools every week. Winter says this helps to "root her experience" from a pupil perspective, adding: "I think that's something that says a great deal about the Group". Maida Vale started small deliberately – the 50 pupils that joined in years 7, 8 and 9 swelled to 66 by the end of the first school year. This September there were 120 pupils enrolled. It is all part of a strategy to grow the school and its culture from the ground up. The first sixth form entry is not until 2023 and it will be managed to avoid overwhelming those students who have

journeyed through the school. "While we will allow some sixth form entry in 2023, it won't be large," says Winter. Ultimately, the school will have a roll of approximately 600. No doubt the 16+ cohort considering Maida Vale will be attracted by the Independent Learning Centre and Sixth Form Terrace. But the whole Victorian building has been remodelled to offer 21st-century learning spaces. Previously it was a college building (originally built as Paddington Technical Institute) and those large rooms, high ceilings and big windows were crying out for bold architectural thinking. Now there are multiple science labs and music suites, along with computer lab, CAD/CAM, art, design and food

technology rooms. There is a terrific theatre (Wizard of Oz, became a wholeschool production and was a highlight of the first school year). There are also dance and fitness studios, Astroturf pitch, basketball court and breakout zones. Another thing that feels distinctly modern is the open-door policy for parents, with a swish Parent Café, along with a programme of friends' events, workshops and talks. Building a sense of togetherness is integral to the school ethos – community responsibility is one its pastoral values (along with mutual respect, tolerance and compassion). The school also sets out its stall on learning values (resilience, creativity & problem solving, supporting



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& inspiring others and reflection) and these twin sets of principles provide clear language applied to every endeavour. "Values led education is nothing new – it's a big thing in the States – but it was a great opportunity for us to do it really well and to do it in a way that would see young people through the challenges of global living," says Winter. So why are front-and-centre school values so important? "We've then got a shared language that we can use all the time," he says. "Pupils understand their role in that language, and they understand their role in our community." Winter has seen values-led approaches at work, and he's made them work. While at Felsted he was 'loaned' to Richmond Park Academy and says he learned a lot there about leadership. Most recently, he was Deputy at Bethany School in Kent – rated among the top 0.5% RIGHT nationally for pupil progress Steven Winter with at A level by the time he left – Maida Vale School pupils and his time there taught him BELOW that good pastoral care and The school offers six hours of lessons a day and less progress go hand in hand. "If homework you put all the procedures in day. There are six hours place – tracking strategies, and of lessons – as opposed to so on – and you make sure pastoral the typical five – thanks to a care is really effective, then pupils know timetable built round four 90-minute they are supported and can really fly." lessons a day. This saves a lot of time When it comes to the curriculum, between lessons (the school has calculated perhaps the most innovative approach at about an hour a day) but also gives time Maida Vale is in the design of the school for more rounded learning journeys.

"There's time to really explore subjects, to focus and question, but also time to consolidate and make sure that before that you've left that lesson you've fully understood. It has not just been a drive by." When it comes to homework, it's shorter (and much sweeter for pupils), with 40 minutes a night for the youngest. Winter reassures those parents who think more is better when it comes to homework. "I say to them: 'What I really want for years 7 and 8 is that they buy into our enrichment'." Young people enjoy the full gamut of clubs – from sports, languages and drama to coding, cooking and classical guitar. The emphasis on extracurricular ties in perfectly with a school ethos of nurturing not hothousing. "What do we want for young people? We want them to be able to build really good relationships, to find things they are really passionate about and to go out into the world knowing what work-life balance looks like," says Steven Winter. "What more could you ask for?"

M A I DA VA L E S C H O O L maidavaleschool.com



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08/10/2021 15:14


MAKING IT REAL The Head of St Margaret's School discusses the value of presenting the right role models as a way to reassure young people and give them self-belief


chools and parents are acutely aware of the reported rise in mental illness among young people. Our young have been significantly impacted by both the uncertainty and the adversity of the current time. It is also apparent that the last 18 months have amplified teenage anxieties and self-doubt. Even though the road ahead looks brighter, uncertainty remains around exams, university education, career prospects, travel and social gatherings. For adults, managing this level of uncertainty is stressful enough, but for our young people, it is harder. During school closures, it was important to help young learners to focus on the promise on the horizon. In school, we found that organising sessions about university and careers helped – events were very well attended. This became particularly evident where recent leavers or alumni shared their personal experiences. Hearing from likeminded young people helps students to visualise the ‘normal’ or ordinary paths taken, despite challenging times. Young people are desperate for social time, so meeting with other young, inspirational people has never been more important. Devices and phones have played a huge part in young people’s lives – in some cases, it has been the only way they can connect. I suspect

“Role models demonstrate what can be achieved by the human spirit, as well as the importance of having the support of others around you”

ABOVE Students at St Margaret's School

much of what we are seeing now around the overuse of mobile phones is a direct response to that imbalance. Teenagers have also been bombarded with imagery of ‘perfection’ and ‘filters’ during isolation. In recent weeks, we have found that introducing what we call 'ordinary extraordinary people' into our school community and allowing them to share their challenging experiences and milestones has been incredibly powerful – a positive source of inspiration. Paralympian and MBE Claire Harvey gave a speech to us recently. She reflected on the fact that her entire career and direction was impacted by a life-changing accident. The impact of this, and how she went on to be part of the 2012 Paralympic Volleyball Team, really highlighted how we can all overcome challenges. Role models like this strike a chord with young people. Their openness and their vulnerability demonstrate what can be achieved by the human spirit. In recent weeks, through many conversations with teenagers, I have seen

the power of involving them in a new or bigger challenge. A task where you have to overcome doubt is time consuming, it requires help and it distracts from whatever else might be troubling you. Ultimately, this is about helping young people see the importance of working collaboratively, being there for others and taking reassurance that other people face trials. Meeting 'ordinary extraordinary' role models, our young people also witness a breathtaking level of courage which they identify with and can often relate to on another level. It is often the case that 'ordinary' people are the most relatable – both capable and vulnerable. These people are the role models to present to our young people right now because young people desperately need to feel that being ‘normal’ is enough.

LARA PÉCHARD Head St Margaret's School AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 101


08/10/2021 14:05

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

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08/10/2021 15:08


SOCIAL STRENGTHS The Deputy Head of Emanuel School talks about its social entrepreneurship classes and longstanding work to support the local and wider community


manuel School has a long tradition of community involvement through supporting charitable causes and outreach projects in Wandsworth and further afield. In support of that ethos, this term has seen the launch of our social entrepreneurship lessons for pupils in Year 8. The aim is to encourage young people to enact meaningful change through the creation of a product or service that is financially viable. In weekly lessons, pupils learn more about approaches taken by groups to develop non-profit solutions to social or environmental issues. They hear from guest speakers and develop, plan and organise a marketing campaign for a business idea that solves an issue. The course begins with the ‘hackathon’, an introduction to an entrepreneurial way of thinking. This is a ‘design sprint event’, in which pupils work together to brainstorm solutions to challenging issues. Pupils also attend lessons focusing on the qualities of leadership and teamwork to foster a constructive approach to creative thinking. Working together, they think of ideas for a product or service that has the potential to alleviate issues relating to the environment – or they find solutions to issues facing

“The course begins with a 'hackathon', an introduction to entrepreneurial thinking. There's also a ‘design sprint' event to brainstorm solutions to challenging issues”

ABOVE Pupils at Emanuel School

our partner school in Tamil Nadu, India. Throughout the Spring Term, pupils build upon their ideas to create a business plan, involving market research to develop a branding, pricing, and funding structure. During the course of this, they learn about the theory behind establishing business objectives and mission statements, as well as basic financial principles. Over the Easter break, they undertake fundraising to support the development of their plans. After learning about marketing strategies, they work with the drama and film departments to develop an advertising campaign and ‘pitch’ their business plan. Our Primary Ambitions programme, launched in September 2019, is a core part of outreach work at Emanuel. Every Friday afternoon, our Lower Sixth students mentor, teach or coach local Year 6 pupils by providing opportunities in the arts, STEM, academic subjects and sport. This year, it will see us provide 5,400 pupil enrichment hours to 1,080 pupils. We are also proud of Ascent, a summer catch-up programme led by pupils and staff which has helped close the gap for pupils

within our community who were hardest hit by school closure and disruption to faceto-face learning. This is supported by our halfterm GCSE booster sessions for local partner schools. During the lockdown, our meals-ina-bag appeal provided 235 vulnerable families at 12 partner primary schools with a total of 940 meals. Through Duke of Edinburgh, our pupils volunteer with Regeneration Rise, a local community centre for elderly people, as well as the Spires charity, which helps homeless people in London. We have more initiatives to come in the form of a further summer school, revision clinics and plans for a Sixth Form and university coaching scheme. At Emanuel, we do this work to boost social mobility in the area and develop an altruistic character and attitude within pupils – one that will see them making worthy contributions to their communities long after they have left school.

S T UA R T T U R N E R Deputy Head Emanuel School AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 103


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TEENAGE SLEEP The average teenager may be sleep deprived – research suggests we should stop treating lie-ins as sloth and start working with young people's body clocks


ast year Bedales announced it was giving its teenage pupils an extra hour in bed, if they chose, by starting school an hour later. If you didn't spot the story, which made the national press, you missed what could be part of a pretty radical rethink on adolescent sleepers. For, let's face it, teenagers snoring under the duvet have long been the butt of sit-com jokes and adult exasperation. While some parents


are sympathetic (perhaps remembering their own dreamy lie-ins), others have tended to the view that 'slugabeds' are a prime example of adolescent laziness and lamentable timekeeping. This criticism is misjudged and Bedales made its decision to test a new schoolday approach because it was following the science. There are some interesting findings to suggest what is going on when young people struggle to wake with the larks. Principal among these is that teenage Circadian rhythms – our biological schedule

of sleepiness and wakefulness – really are different. What Bedales found is that the rhythms shift progressively later during adolescent years. That means teens have a biological impulse to go to sleep later at night and also sleep later in the morning. Not only that, but it's the last phase of sleep that may be most important for memory consolidation. Young people forced out of bed too early will not have had an opportunity to transfer memories across to long-term storage – in other words, yesterday's school lessons may not sink in.

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Bedales is far from alone in honing in on teenagers' need for more and better sleep. Magdalen College School (MCS) in Oxford focused on this for its World Mental Health Day activities earlier this year, enlisting the help of Natalie Pennicotte-Collier, a sleep therapist who coaches clients ranging from Team GB athletes to business executives. "Increasingly, when pupils come to us to talk about mental health concerns, among our first questions is: how are they sleeping? It’s so easy to overlook. So rather than spending another day off timetable discussing study skills, we decided to get to the root of the problem and use World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to look at sleep and rest," says MCS Master Helen Pike. Meanwhile, Canford School has introduced a Sleep Education Programme. Joint Head of Wellbeing at the Dorset School Melissa Clinton commented in June that, "Sleep is a vital area of health that is often neglected. The Japanese government have said sleep problems/ insomnia is the most serious social refractory disease of the 21st century. Research shows increased evidence for

“The Japanese government have said sleep problems/insomnia is the most serious social refractory disease of the 21st century” a non-pharmacological approach, with a focus on addressing the behavioural and cognitive approach through education". Canford's programme is being delivered to day pupils and boarders by designated staff members and the school matron. It has received assistance from The Sleep Charity – including useful tools to assist with staff training. Canford sees education in the science (and practice) of sleep as an important way to help young people regulate their sleep and waking times, and thus improve their wellbeing, ability to concentrate and mood. They say it also helps young people to deal with emotional control and to maintain a better diet. A better mood and healthy diet will also impact physical fitness. In 2017, a long-term study carried out at a UK state school and led by researchers from Open University found that beginning the school day at 10am rather than 8.30am reduced illness rates for teenagers by over half. Students also got significantly better grades. All this information is fine, but not if

teenagers themselves don't buy into it. Helen Pike says that MCS had a mixed response at first. "There was an initial scepticism that something as simple as getting more sleep could have a tangible impact on their wellbeing, and on their performance. Most recognised that they are not routinely getting enough sleep though, with distraction from smartphones a common culprit." But by the end of the day, students had absorbed the science and MCS plans to repeat a dedicated day of focusing on this area – also expanding it to run parallel sessions for parents. Meanwhile, at Bedales the great sleep experiment of starting the day later has been continued into this school year – last year, with all its disruptions, was never going to be a thorough test. The new schedule gives some autonomy to students – recognising that some are naturally early risers – with compulsory activities starting a full hour later so that young people can either join optional school activities or have that extra hour of rest.

Even after three months in the last school year student responses were positive, with 69% of Upper Sixth students reporting getting eight hours plus sleep, as opposed to just 17% prior to the change. Over 90% of students gave feedback saying that they had benefited from the change. One student – clearly a naturally later riser – noted with enthusiasm unusual in one of this age: 'Love it. I don't have to feel tired all day anymore. Best change ever made throughout my time at the school'.

SLEEP FACTS The NHS recommends 8-10 hours' sleep for the 14 to 17 age range • Regular sleep routines promote good sleep • Avoid napping in the day • Bedrooms should be dark, quiet, cool – ideally, tech free • Increased physical activity promotes better rest.

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08/10/2021 15:58

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08/10/2021 15:16




Enterprise COUNTS Samantha Price, Headmistress of Benenden School, discusses the importance of developing entrepreneurship in our schools


xam results are, of course, an important barometer of any school’s success – but if a student leaves their school only with a set of strong results, that school hasn’t done its job properly. Modern employers look for employees who are highly skilled, but they also want new recruits who are confident, full of ideas and who will think critically. This means that young people need to arrive in the workplace with the necessary experience to solve problems, and they also need to be prepared to take risks. This is why we place such importance on teaching our students entrepreneurial skills. Earlier this year we teamed up with a renowned entrepreneur, and Benenden alumnus, to launch a pioneering new enterprise award. Amber Atherton, who

“The entries for the inaugural Atherton Award were incredibly impressive and included a 13-year-old girl who started her own micro-bakery”

ABOVE Atherton Award presentation LEFT Amber Atherton

founded an online jewellery business while Indeed, we take entrepreneurship at Benenden in the Noughties, relocated so seriously that it is embedded into to Silicon Valley with her next software the curriculum. Our Professional Skills venture. Now she is hoping to inspire the next Programme teaches our Sixth Form students generation of female entrepreneurs in the UK. skills they will need to thrive beyond the She is aiming to roll out her award to school gates. It includes skills for professional schools across the country and started life, from coding to delivering a pitch to with Benenden in the Summer Term. reading complex financial information. Along The entries that were submitted for the the way, students also learn life essentials inaugural Atherton Award were incredibly such as negotiating a tenancy agreement, impressive and wide ranging in scope. Those setting up and managing household bills and vying for the prize of £500 and one-to-one tackling cookery, DIY and car maintenance. mentoring included a 15-year-old student A crucial part of this Professional Skills who founded her own company selling handProgramme is the Enterprise Challenge, in block printed wrap skirts and a 13-year-old which all our Sixth Formers plan, launch and girl who started her own micro-bakery. run a business. This project gives our students The eventual winner experience of developing was a Sixth Former who marketing plans, managing costs, was honoured for her work dealing with supply chains and launching a non-profit customer service and working organisation called STEM in teams. In other words, it in Africa (SIA), which ensures they are ready for the serves disadvantaged modern workplace and builds communities in Nigeria. those skills that will help them Such activity – and indeed to thrive in any entrepreneurial Amber herself – are great setting. We believe that this SAMANTHA PRICE examples of the entrepreneurial professional development of Headmistress Benenden School spirit we are delighted to young people should be the main have here at Benenden. aim of a modern school. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 109

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THE NEXT GAMECHANGER The Assistant Head Academic at Merchiston Castle reflects on the value of Entrepreneurial Education – both for developing broad skills and for finding the next Steve Jobs


raditionally, entrepreneurial life stories tend to stress the role of hard knocks over school study on the road to success. Think Steve Jobs in the '70s, dropping out of Reed College in his first year to seek enlightenment in the ashrams of South Asia, before returning to California – initially, they say, still in his kaftan and beads – to found Apple in his parents' garage. Yet university-level and, increasingly, school-level Entrepreneurial Education is now seen as a key strategy to prepare the next generation for BELOW the challenges ahead. A pupil at Merchiston Castle There are compelling School political and economic

“Our learners are acquiring transferable problem-solving skills which they can apply across their learning and lives” grounds for this: across the world, as economies transform, governments have identified entrepreneurship's stress on problem-solving, creative thinking and a can-do mindset as a way to prepare young people to perform and, better yet, create jobs that do not yet exist. As an internationally facing boarding school with strong links to global business, here at Merchiston Castle we have been particularly keen to build this aspect of our offering. Taught in school as an academic discipline with a rich experiential element, Entrepreneurship has quickly grown into one of our most popular Sixth Form options, where pupils can earn an A-level equivalent BTEC qualification over two years. The course is lively, stretching and fun to teach. Units of study include the Entrepreneurial Mindset, Strategies to Raise Finance, Devising a Marketing Plan for a new product and Enterprise Leadership skills. The programme also requires learners to model entrepreneurial skills through their work while learning, with the support of their teachers, how to engage responsibly with project risk. To research the Entrepreneurial Mindset, for example, learners are grouped according to their individual interest.

This year we have teams focusing on property and finance, sports management and luxury products. Each group has approached relevant entrepreneurs from our extensive alumni body, asking them to be case studies. We have been blown away by the generosity of these individuals with their time and it is great to see the satisfaction the pupils derive from the real-world aspects of this process. And of course, throughout, our learners are also acquiring transferable problemsolving skills which they can apply across their learning and lives, whether that means taking an iterative approach to their academic studies and next-step progressions or driving the development of a growth mindset more broadly, At Merchiston, we see Entrepreneurial Education as an exciting and important field for school leaders to consider, both in developing our young people and fostering positive attitudes to entrepreneurship. As we think of the challenges of our day – rebuilding after the pandemic, innovating our way beyond the Climate Crisis or, here in the UK, levelling up and forging a path post-EU – it is a safe bet that this field will only continue to grow. The next Steve Jobs, in other words, might not be quite so quick to swap his books for his backpack.

FRASER NEWHAM Assistant Head Academic Merchiston Castle School AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 111


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Community focus The Headmaster of Kew House School talks about the opportunities to renew community spirit in the school year ahead


f all the lessons we have learnt from the past year, the importance of the role played by schools in community cannot be overlooked. Timely as they were, the renewed statutory responsibilities within the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) guidance and the spotlight shone by Everyone’s Invited played a significant part in focusing school leaders on their role in creating inclusive and supportive whole-school communities. Being the new Head of a thriving London day school in September 2020, it was clear to me that Kew House School (KHS) had an open, calm, supportive community of staff, pupils and parents. Unfortunately, my first meeting before INSET was: “The One Where We Talk Bubbles” (apologies to Friends aficionados). The construction of our “Covid mitigation strategy”, as in

“Our approach for the new school year is to make sure that we can give opportunity to all age groups to learn from each other” other schools, created necessary divisions within the school. Staggered arrival times, break times and tutor periods did their job in reducing pupil absence, until of course we all went – very successfully – online. Teams for lessons and Zoom for assemblies cannot ever replace the soft learning that occurs vicariously as pupils go about their school day; listening, watching, laughing, playing. The challenge now is to reinvigorate the community by re-establishing the links that generate those wonderful occasions that we remember most from our school days. Our approach for the school year

is to make sure that we can give Read’, encouraging pupils, parents ABOVE Pupils at Kew opportunity to all age groups to learn and staff to have a common focus, House School from each other. There are three also shows this innovation. Finally, strands to our strategy. Firstly, we as community is built on belonging are a school that takes great pride in and sharing, we are looking its Personal Tutor (PT) system, arranged forward to seeing all our parents on site, at vertically from Years 7 to 13. Often our Year the side of sports pitches and by the river, 11 pupils miss out on opportunities to lead being both supportive and supported. their groups, whilst for many Sixth Form Our school’s ethos embeds community students focus on their post-18 pathway in its founding principles. Having a Parent becomes all too consuming. Thus, we have Café onsite is a tangible expression of our created Sixth Form PT groups to give them desire to be an open institution. There is support as a cohort. The House system one further factor that we value very highly will also evolve so that it provides greater at KHS – pupil voice. A pupil community opportunities for pupils to whose response to the participate in events, from disclosures from Everyone’s sports to any of the nearly 100 Invited was to engage staff clubs we have on offer at KHS. with creative ideas to support Our second approach is RSE for the younger years, to remove the year-group is one that demonstrates barriers that often stifle an embedded sense of whole-school community. community responsibility. We welcome the traditional This foundation gives curriculum areas of music me hope that with care, WILL WILLIAMS and drama, which allow year fun and sensitivity we Headmaster groups to work collaboratively. will, as a school, “build Kew House School Our ‘Whole School Summer back even better”. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 113

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Question TIME The experts at Gabbitas Education have the answers



ANASTASIA HATVANY Senior Education Consultant and SEN Specialist

We're looking to place my daughter in a UK boarding school next September, but as we are living overseas we're not really sure how to manage the process of shortlisting and visiting schools. What would you advise? One of the first things you need to establish before you start looking at new schools is your daughter’s academic level. You want a school where your daughter will sit comfortably amongst her peers. Prospective boarding schools will also want to know what your daughter can offer



“Universities don't demand months of work experience under candidates’ belts, just enough to show an interest and an aptitude for veterinary”

to them – both in terms of academics and extracurricular. At boarding schools, children become totally immersed in their surroundings, and what they give, they get back tenfold. With this in mind, look at the school and see what they offer to the child: will your daughter be able to get involved with school life? As you’re abroad, I’d advise you to look at full-boarding options, as everyone tends to stay in during the weekends. Even if there is the occasional quiet weekend, Saturdays will still comprise of lessons in the morning and sports fixtures in the afternoon, and many schools are keen to keep weekends as busy and as purposeful as weekdays. Visits and open days are imperative. Do go on these if you are able to, as they are the best way to gauge a school’s atmosphere and ethos. You’ll also get to see how pupils interact with one another and engage with their teachers, and in turn see how the staff interact with parents. Many schools are now offering in-person tours, so try and go for an open day, and then afterwards schedule a private visit. Having said this, Zoom is still a very good way to view a school and there are plenty of excellent virtual open days. Look at reviews, listen to word of mouth, but most importantly have confidence in yourself as a parent – you will know in your gut if a school is right for your daughter.


Is it a good idea to move my daughter to a new school for sixth form? She's said that she might like 'a change of scene' at 16, but we're not sure how easy it will be to make the transition – both academically and socially. If you’re looking to move your daughter for sixth form, ideally you need to have started shortlisting schools by the end of year 10. Schools tend to close their registrations by the end of September, and by the very latest, the end of October, as many of their candidate assessments take place during October. Many children – whether they joined their current school at 11 or 13 – can find the change refreshing, but please bear in mind that this needs to be a very considered decision as she is at a critical age. The process will not only take up valuable time that she could use for GCSE revision, but she will also be leaving behind friends and a structure that she has been used to for at least three years. Remember, too, that competition is often tough for sixth form places, and some schools will have a limited number of spaces; rejection can be disheartening. Your daughter’s current teachers and pastoral staff know her academic ability and level of wellbeing, so be sure to consult them for their thoughts on the matter. Ask your daughter her reasons for a scene change; for example, is she looking


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SARAH OSHUNWILLIAMS Client Account Manager

My son has his heart set on going to veterinary school but knows he needs to prove aptitude as well as academic ability. What can he do to improve his chances? The methods of improving your chances of acceptance to veterinary school are very similar to those of getting into professions like medicine or law; work experience is essential. Besides academic ability, he will need to prove his enthusiasm for the field and should try volunteering or shadowing as many vets and animal practices as he can. Many


for a change in curriculum or is she looking for a better cultural fit? If you’re thinking of moving her from a day to a boarding school, this is often an excellent stepping stone for higher education. She’s likely to develop better organisational skills and grow in independence, all in the comfort of a school safety net – meaning moving to university won’t come as such a shock. Alternatively, she may be wanting to move closer to home with less school structure. Many children grow out of the school bubble before higher education, and flourish when working more independently. Overall, I would urge you to research what is out there and bring your daughter onboard the decisionmaking process. She will be able to give you a better idea of what she believes she is missing and this should help shape the final decision.


universities understand that sometimes it’s hard for certain candidates to gain experience, so they do not demand months of work under candidates’ belts, just enough to show an interest and an aptitude for veterinary. Work experience will also help your son to be sure that this is the field he’d like to pursue, as it can be a gruelling process preparing for this career. His time at university will be comprised of many exams, laboratory-based anatomy and a lot of contact hours, so it is imperative that he is prepared for the training. Research is equally important. There are currently only 10 veterinary schools in the UK, so make sure to research the benefits of each course. Additionally, prospective students can only apply to 4 of those 10, and as you’re aware, each school has very competitive entry procedures. Regarding how he might prove his academic ability, consider employing a tutor. Many agencies – like Gabbitas – have tutors who are experts in their chosen field and specialise in veterinary school applications. This will also help him prepare for any interviews he has, and to know what to expect from the course. A tutor can also be useful in helping him revise for his exams, to ensure that he meets his offer.

“Moving from a day to a boarding school is often an excellent stepping stone for higher education, helping students develop better organisational skills and grow in independence” AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 117


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LEFT & RIGHT Pupils at Lycée Churchill


PATHWAYS First choice for international families, Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill balances academic rigour with a caring culture


ith 100% success in all exams and graduates admitted to the most sought-after universities in the world, Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill offers a balance between academic rigour and innovation. Its guiding philosophy places the needs of each child at the heart of the educational experience, welcoming every student into a dynamic and caring international community. All the graduating class in 2021 passed with excellent marks. In IB Diploma, the average grade is 35.8/45 – well above the world average of 33.02/45 – and 88% of French Baccalaureat students passed with honours. This included over 40% with highest honours. The school has also been classified as Outstanding by Ofsted for secondary education and student wellbeing. Teaching in a single language can tie students to a national curriculum

and restrict their future options, but Lycée Churchill offers programmes that open global educational avenues. With a co-ed, non-selective and bilingual setting on a leafy two-hectare campus in North London, Lycée Churchill accommodates 850 students aged 3 to 18. The school offers two bilingual programmes, both aiming to develop every child into a forwardthinking, principled, and joyful world citizen. Language immersion begins at 3 years old. Classes are taught jointly by native speakers of French and English – like two parents in a multilingual household. This natural and organic approach to bilingualism is carried out by early-learning specialists in a nurturing and family-like environment. In the Primary years, instruction is half in English, half in French from Year 1/GSM to Year 6/CM2. Frenchspeaking and English-speaking teachers also coordinate with speciality teachers in subjects such as PE, language, and music. In Secondary, families choose between the French bilingual programme accredited by

the French department for education, leading to the Baccalauréat, or an international track taught in English and leading to the IB Diploma. The only constant is that education remains bilingual, steeped in the supportive atmosphere for which the Lycée is known. With students from 45 countries and teachers of 29 different nations, the Lycée offers a truly international environment where the diversity of families from around the world encourages dialogue. The modern teaching ethos combines traditional disciplines with initiative, exploration, critical thinking, teamwork, and personal development.

“The school teaches students aged three to 18 and offers two bilingual programmes” Lycée Churchill takes full advantage of the latest educational technologies, which are integrated into education and school life. This solid digital foundation proved to be a major asset during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the Lycée pivoted seamlessly to online learning. The Lycée now offers distance education programmes and virtual classes, a real boon for families moving between assignments or looking for quality education from a remote setting.

To book a private tour of Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill or register to attend a forthcoming virtual open day, visit lyceeinternational.london. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 119


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ALICE MOLLISON James Allen's Girls' School, Assistant Head, Head of Teaching & Learning and Geography teacher. She studied at Edinburgh University and her favourite topic is glaciation. She was once snowed in while camping on Tien Shan glacier in Kazakhstan and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

We may have GPS, but the world still needs expert explorers, researchers, mappers, data gatherers and problem solvers. Two experts in the field give their elevator pitch – explaining why Geography is so cool and where studying it can take you

VICTORIA BURTON St Edmund's Canterbury, Head of Geography. She studied for her degree at Newcastle University and is most fond of Physical Geography. She becomes "disproportionately excited" about glaciers and has a soft spot for the late health professor and data visualisation developer Hans Rosling.

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GEOGRAPHY FAST FACTS What makes Geography so brilliant? AM: The physical and human world of today is constantly changing. It is crucial for current and future generations to understand these trends and flows so that purposeful actions and decisions can be made. Geography is the subject that helps make sense of all aspects of the world. VB: Geography is everything that has gone before and everything that is to come. It unlocks secrets and solves puzzles. It makes you ask and answer questions, find patterns, identify problems, work solutions. With every news item – from questions of immigration to climate change to Covid patterns – geographers are quietly sitting in the background of every decision that matters. Who gets the aid, where to build that stadium, how to find those survivors? It is in all times and all places. What made you choose it? AM: I loved having the opportunity to study a really broad subject, which incorporated fields such as geology, ecology and economics. And the trips are, of course, always fun! VB: I like a map.

FAMOUS GEOGRAPHY STUDENTS Michael Jordan, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, Theresa May *HOT SPOTS FOR DEGREES St Andrews, London School of Economics, Glasgow, Durham, UCL WHERE GEOGRAPHERS HANG OUT Royal Geographical Society, founded 1830 and with headquarters in South Kensington. Find London, regional and online events at rgs.org *Source: Guardian The best UK universities 2021. Note: Cambridge and Oxford ranked (1, 3) but with no student satisfaction ratings.

Transferable skills and knowledge acquired? AM: Geography helps you to develop excellent decision making and research skills, use statistics to make sense of data and use computers to collect, present and analyse information. You'll be studying global trade one day and the science of earthquakes the next. VB: Geographers are literate, numerate, computer skilled, team players, independent learners, researchers, analysts, scientists,

"Geographers are literate, numerate, computer skilled... and often look splendid in corduroy" problem solvers, creative thinkers and often look splendid in corduroy. What pathways does it open? AM: At A level, its breadth means it complements any subject combination. Contemporary research and themes regularly filter down from universities and become part of Geography at school, particularly in human geography. A huge range of doors will be opened with a Geography degree, from being a geoscientist designing a wind farm, to working in finance or law, to marketing. I worked in advertising before training to be a teacher. VB: Far more than you might imagine. Very few of us are teachers. Most become urban designers, political analysts, peace negotiators, MPs, (Prime Ministers!), economists, accountants, vulcanologists, software designers, vets, doctors, epidemiologists... 2 things students might not realise Geography covers AM: Themes such as human rights and diversity help young people to further their understanding of issues at a local and global scale. VB: Piracy and Mars landings – Geography is brilliant. . . AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 121

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PATHWAYS With the conventional pathways of gap year and/or university altered by the pandemic, what about other options? We look at some CV-enhancing possibilities


chool students have been short-changed by the pandemic. It is, arguably, even harder for those about to embark upon the traditional journey – that mind-expanding gap year or well-lit path into the pleasurable whirlwind of university study and social life. This is complicated by the question of finances, since the past 18 months have made some of us question whether university offers ‘bang for buck’. Some students have decided to defer, while others about to embark on A levels are considering if this will be enough to get them where they want to go – especially since graduate jobs are not as available (or as stable), as they used to be, and the burden of student debt is high. Challenges are also opportunities and we’ve considered some alternative options for 16+ and 18+ students that can provide new skills (or top up your CV), bring fresh career options – and deliver cultural exchange and adventure.

ONLINE LEARNING At one time online schools were largely the preserve of UK students living abroad, elite athletes or young actors and musicians. But with so much of 2020 schooling delivered

remotely, many more students have discovered that this is a style of learning that works for them. Rapid evolution of technology and major investment from key education players are helping online move mainstream, making this a definite option for young people who want a different route. Pearson Online Academy UK Global has been designed to be flexible and its combination of sophisticated tech and long-established education expertise make it a good option for both GCSE and A levels. Courses prepare students for Pearson Edexcel International exams, which take place at dedicated test centres in the UK and worldwide. While the majority of enrolment takes place for students aged 14-18, there is the option for students who are slightly older to enrol. Teaching and learning are personalised – just like admissions – so Pearson Online Academy UK Global will consider applicants on a case-by-case basis. There’s plenty of flexibility. For instance, students taking (or about to embark on) their A levels can study an extra subject here. This is useful for those who want to be stretched, to take a subject not offered by their school or who want to keep options open with an extra qualification. Similarly, the 18+ student who has decided on a change of direction and wants an

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LEFT Studying online is a convenient route to top up your skills and boost your CV

additional ‘top up’ GCSE or A level to smooth the path to the next level of study can choose to get that qualification here. Students who are fully enrolled at Pearson Online Academy UK Global for GCSE or A-level study benefit from lots of extras – for instance, a Success Coach for fortnightly one-to-one coaching sessions and small group workshops and guidance on university preparation and careers planning. Fees are very competitive for independent schooling (from £5,950 full-time per academic year, excluding exam fees). While a single A level or GCSE doesn’t provide all the immersive extras of full time (with fees adjusted accordingly), there is still personalised approach and you’ll have a dedicated admissions advisor on hand to provide one-to-one

guidance and help you find the right path. Applications are accepted throughout the year. Harrow School Online also offers a route for students looking for an alternative to traditional ‘physical’ school, and with the bonus of British qualifications gained from an independent with a worldwide reputation. The online school’s first cohort joined in 2020 and its academic programme

is specialist, with A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Economics and Spanish. There’s also the opportunity to take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). For fulltime students, classes and added value include a ‘super-curriculum’ programme of electives, plus academic competitions, guest lectures and additional academic

“Gaining qualifications via online teaching is, by default, a way to stand out from the crowd. For one thing, it shows ‘gumption’ to plot this alternative route” AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 125


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RIGHT Gap year adventures are still out there – you can even earn UCAS points

study options. In other words, this is an academic programme that includes lots of mind-expanding and CV-enhancing stuff. Full-time students are expected to commit at least 25 hours a week to study – but many will do a lot more as the programme is designed to foster individual study skills and a love of learning. The typical timetable blends fixed timetabled lessons (6-10 pupils typically in a class) with flexible self-study, homework, electives and extracurricular. Harrow School Online pupils have houses – just like pupils at the school – so the social and enrichment elements are present too. There’s lots of one-to-one time and students have a Career Coach to advise them. Full-time fees are typically £5,250 a term full-time, including exams. Part-time students are generally studying or having individual tuition elsewhere and then study one or two A levels. It’s ideal if you, for instance, want to take a fourth A level and benefit from the expertise of the school’s teaching. It’s also pretty international – a bonus for anyone who loves cultural exchange opportunities. For applicants to all courses, there’s a three-stage process and the school considers each application on merit. It is worth noting that gaining qualifications from Harrow School Online or Pearson Online Academy UK Global – or via online teaching generally – is, by default, a way to stand out from the crowd. For one thing, it shows ‘gumption’ to plot this alternative route. It also shows selfmotivation, determination and discipline – all vital for successful achievement at university and likely to mark you out to employers as a candidate to consider.

ukglobal.pearsononlineacademy.com harrowschoolonline.org

GAP YEAR LEARNING The pandemic has been a disaster for students planning gap year adventures – or so you might think. In fact, the opportunities are still out there for students willing to think outside the box, take a risk and look to the long term. There’s certainly an incentive for many students to go for a gap year rather than head straight to university in the current uncertain climate. “Covid pushed a lot of students into an ‘accidental’ gap year, since the idea of starting a university experience via Zoom wasn’t particularly appealing for many recent school graduates,” says Alia Pialtos, COO at gap year review and information site Go Overseas and Board Member of the Gap Year Association. Brian Schofield, Head of Upper Sixth at Hurst College, has suggested that in the future students will need to treat university more like work (see page 131), and the same could be said of gap years. While future employers might appreciate your independent spirit, travel in and of itself is not particularly unusual these days – so not a USP on anyone’s CV. Where it comes into its own is in giving you pause between school and the next stage, while also adding useful skills. The

“Around 118,000 people in England are studying for a first degree through an FE college – around a quarter of those are under 21” trick here is in defining what it is you want to do and why you want to do it, says Alia Pialtos of Go Overseas. “The most impactful gap years have always had a strong sense of intentionality, even if the intention is to explore the world through travel! While defining the value of taking a gap year can be a very personal process, gap years have been significant drivers for value creation in regards to soft skills – intercultural communication, resilience, creativity, confidence, problem solving, etc.” Add in an element of paid work or unpaid volunteering – or gaining a AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 127


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ABOVE Volunteering gap years can give you career skills

particular qualification – and the gap year morphs into something rather more “impactful” and potentially useful for careers. For instance, Alia Pialtos says that au pair jobs and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualifications have remained popular throughout the pandemic among young people. TEFL is a good example, as qualifications can be used abroad, in the UK at a language school or teaching English online. Pialtos adds that limited travel opportunities have made young people seek both domestic and virtual gap year options over the past 18 months or so. Looking slightly longer term, there’s no doubt that borders are starting to open up and many of the more traditional areas of gap year activity will start to flourish again. Projects Abroad, a long-established social enterprise and organiser of international volunteering and internships, is busy planning its 2022 schedule of opportunities in 25 countries – and if you can’t go to the destination you planned, there’s a full refund policy. It’s also running trips right now, and for countries with Red List restrictions, students get exemption to travel for volunteer work. Volunteering and internship opportunities, run for students from 15+ through university and include specialist areas such as veterinary, medicine & healthcare and engineering. These can be valuable CV builders, helping prove resourcefulness, interest and aptitude for specific pathways. There’s even a new

RIGHT FE colleges offer a huge range of courses

International Diploma in Volunteering available through Projects Abroad that can earn you 16 UCAS points.

gooverseas.com projects-abroad.co.uk

COLLEGE OPPORTUNITIES Further Education (FE) colleges are often neglected in the search for places – or courses – to add the right qualifications and experience. This is an opportunity missed, since there are over 230 colleges in England alone (this includes sixth form, art and land-based colleges). There are opportunities to study or (subject to vetting) retake GCSEs and A levels, take BTECs, apprenticeships and other vocational courses. Part-time and evening courses may be offered too, useful if you want to ‘shoehorn’ in an additional qualification to boost your CV or chances of being selected onto a university

course. FE colleges also offer higher qualifications. In fact, the Association of Colleges says that around 118,000 people are studying for a first degree through an FE college – around a quarter of those are under 21. Prices for college degrees can reduce your student debt burden (typical costs can be around £5,500 PA). Some FE colleges have specific strengths in areas such as art, music production, vocational medical qualifications, engineering, film and photography. There is a diversity among the student cohort at colleges – age, stage and background. If you like the idea of an educational setting where you will be mixing with people returning to learning, overseas students and your own age group, this option is worth exploring. UCAS is a good starting point on courses and pathways and, if you’re looking at local colleges seek out opinions from current/ recent students, speak to careers advisors and take a look at recent Ofsted reports.

“There’s even a new International Diploma in Volunteering available that can earn you 16 UCAS points”

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RETHINKING CHOICES The Head of Upper Sixth at Hurst College considers the post-18 landscape and what young people need to consider when it comes to university alternatives


he young man’s voice was confident and clear over the murmur of a busy office. “I've no regrets whatsoever. I always knew this was the right thing for me, it's just a natural fit. I'm already training up new recruits and I should be leading my own team in a couple of years. The office is in Battersea, so I'm living in a flat share in Balham. It’s all worked out brilliantly.” I couldn't fail but be impressed with this Hurst alumnus, making headway (and a decent salary) in a technology recruitment consultancy firm – particularly as he had only just turned 19. Could you have wandered into an office and started work straight out of school? Perhaps you did, and remain sceptical about the British middle-class BELOW obsession with the A careers event at Hurst College expensive rite of passage

"University remains a marvellous adventure, but must be treated more like work" that is university. I, for one, certainly needed uni, as a time to grow up and to gain a sense of direction, having a lot of fun in the process. But young people are increasingly aware that university is not for everyone; nor is it always tremendous value for money. Schools need to respond to this shift, dedicating time and resources to researching alternative next steps, while being cautious not to sacrifice any pupil’s precious future to faddism. At Hurst, our research into university alternatives has thrown up several reasons to be cautious about burning your UCAS guidebook too hastily. First, there’s not as much choice of reputable alternative pathways as you might think. Degree apprenticeships are a thing of wonder; another alumnus recently started work at a surveying firm in Canary Wharf within weeks of his A-level results, and will have a degree in surveying, debt free, by the time he’s 23. They are also fairly rare. In 2019-20 only 13,400 young people started a degree apprenticeship – around the same number as started at Manchester University. Secondly, university is less exposed to the slings and arrows of economic fortune. We recently had a student lose his hard-won apprenticeship pilot spot – cancelled with a week’s notice for obvious viral reasons (he got a place to read Physics at Nottingham instead, and I’m sure he’ll reach take-off eventually). And finally, as my young friend in the

Battersea recruitment consultancy put it: “Skipping uni and heading straight into work is only for people with a really clear idea of what they want to do. Work is not the best place to ‘find yourself’". There are clearly two trends at work. The first is the shift away from university as a default option. The second is towards more uni – the increasing likelihood that students will gain a sense of direction during their undergraduate years, but only gain their first professional job after a career-orientated Masters. Parents may not be delighted to hear this, but we are becoming more European in this regard – Batchelors, then Masters, then finally a paycheck. My best advice is to stop seeing the choice as so binary. University remains a marvellous adventure, but must be treated more like work – securing internships, taking up the offer of a year in industry, maybe starting a micro-business before you leave. If young people want to miss uni out altogether, they need plenty of specialist guidance. Those who choose the UCAS path also need to know it no longer automatically leads to professional employment. As is so often the case, we have to accept that the relative simplicity of our salad days is not so accessible to the young people we watch over today.

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ABOVE Eastbourne College, East Sussex

Tomorrow's entrepreneurs Tom Lawson, Headmaster of Eastbourne College discusses two aspects of the school's approach to developing entrepreneurship in its pupils

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he enterprise paradox is an obvious one. Good schools have always imparted knowledge with the authority of their curriculum and teachers. So budding entrepreneurs have traditionally needed to break the shackles of top-down teaching by leaving school or dropping out of university to pursue their disruptive, maybe lucrative, original ideas. The best schools, of course, have worked hard to counter this with an openness to their pupils’ passions – a determination not to stifle imagination and daring. We know we have entrepreneurs among the pupils at Eastbourne College, not least because of the progress of our Young Enterprise team two years ago in winning local, area and regional titles. However, the lockdowns put all that enterprise on hold. Below are two ways in which the College is supporting pupils to develop skills they will need as entrepreneurs. I have chosen these examples as a deliberate contrast – one very structured and taught (so within the wheelhouse of schools’ traditional method) and one that is pupil-led, organic, and exciting for its unpredictability.


Each year we enjoy guiding a group of self-selected and very motivated pupils through the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment’s (CISI) Fundamentals of Financial Services Qualification. This is not a course for those who want to find the secret to a quick buck on the advice of someone on TikTok who opines on ‘crypto’ prospects while seated on the bonnet of a rented Ferrari. Those that thrive – and thrive they do – are those with an entrepreneurial spirit who appreciate

LEFT & RIGHT Eastbourne pupils enjoy the rewards and challenges of enterprise BELOW Eastbourne Head Tom Lawson

“Sir Tim Smit was so inspired by the engagement and commitment of our young people that he began to consider bringing Eden to Eastbourne” that finance is a vital (and inevitable) part of developing ideas and opportunities in any industry. They recognise that it is just part of what they need to know if they are to be a responsible and informed commercial citizen in the future. In that context, it is always reassuring to see the ready acceptance they have of the importance of integrity and ethics in protecting a systemically important industry. The training they receive is something which, perhaps, previous generations could have benefited from.


Way back in 2018, College pupils, and the maintained-school partners we support through the Eastbourne Schools Partnership, met to explore the idea that our town’s young people had to make Eastbourne a more vibrant place to be. The project kicked off with a creative consultation where young people shared their perceptions of the town, heard by professionals working across different sectors, to work together on creative solutions. Individual schools then focused on developing specific ideas, returned for an interim meeting and advice session and a final presentation

to local industry and Council leaders. This entrepreneurial initiative grabbed the attention of Eastbourne Borough Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and Lord and Lady Lucas. Sir Tim Smit from the Eden Project was so inspired that he began to consider bringing Eden to Eastbourne. A working party of young people from across the Partnership are now highly engaged with this vision to revitalise the town’s green arteries and will continue to act as advisers. As both these examples show, there is a tremendous range of methods to encourage enterprise and life skills in schools. All you need is a bit of disruptive thinking of your own and excellent, willing staff. Trust me, young people will rise to the challenge.

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For example, it takes only 40 minutes by train to get from the traffic and pollution of London’s Charing Cross Station to the open air of Tonbridge. Our beautiful and historic campus has some of the finest facilities of any school in the country, from award-winning academic buildings to 150 acres of superblymaintained playing fields. Here there is space to think, to grow, to thrive, to breathe.

Arrange a visit: admissions@tonbridge-school.org tonbridge-school.co.uk

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Paths to success Candida Cave, Principal of Hampstead Fine Arts College, says it’s time to end our snobbery over vocational qualifications


hy are people so negative about BTECs? Over the years, BTEC diplomas and GNVQ (General National Vocational Qualification) have struggled to compete with the status afforded by A levels. Indeed, a common dismissal of the GNVQ was that it really stood for 'Generally Not Very Qualified'. This snobbery is something peculiar to the UK and has never been the case in European education, where academic and vocational courses are accorded a similar degree of respect. It is important to be clear, a BTEC qualification is not a lesser achievement, but it does require a different sets of skills and suits some students much better than others. Its method of continuous assessment requires consistent hard work and high levels of organisation, and the vital element of tailored work experience needs a committed and a mature approach. The government is now further muddying the waters by announcing it is scrapping the majority of BTECs in 2023 in favour of T Levels without yet clarifying which BTECs are to have their funding withdrawn. Whatever these courses are called, it is likely they will both suffer from the same lingering misconception that a vocational qualification means a less rigorous education.

“Education should be a preparation for life, we must not only accept but celebrate the fact that young people benefit from a variety of options post GCSE”

ABOVE Students at Hampstead Fine Arts College

If we take the view that education should to. We are following this approach from be a preparation for life, with students September 2022 by introducing two being helped to achieve fulfilment in both new courses to complement existing A their home life and future career, we must levels and our well-established Portfolio not only accept but celebrate the fact that Course in Art & Design. The first is in the young people benefit from a variety of Performing Arts, which will work extremely options post GCSE. Traditional A levels may well when taken with a supplementary be perfect for future doctors, lawyers and A level. For example, an aspiring actor academics, but not necessarily for designers, can take A-level English alongside this actors, filmmakers and musicians. For course and achieve the equivalent of many, a fusion of academic teaching and three A levels. The second new course, practical experience is far more rewarding Film, Music and Television Production, and worthwhile. BTEC creates its own is specifically designed for students who exciting windows of opportunity. With want to work in these industries. a Level 3 BTEC, students So, what is in a name? have the choice of a degree Rather a lot it seems. At course at university, drama Hampstead Fine Arts, we school or music college, or will be launching these as can enter the industry of the Performing Arts and their choice already confident Film & Television courses. in its working practices. Assessment and external The third qualification quality assurance will come option for students is a through the BTEC system, CANDIDA CAVE combination of A level and while commitment to the best Principal BTEC courses, which is kind of educational experience Hampstead what an increasing number for our students will continue Fine Arts College of schools are transitioning to come from us. AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 135


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International mindset The Dean of the School of Medicine at St. George’s University, Grenada, discusses the value of an international medical training programme


ducational institutions have to prepare their medical students to face the realities of their professional world. Global perspectives play a vital role in helping students achieve their fullest potential in terms of academic excellence and transferable skills. The exposure to diverse faculty and peers in the setting of an international university shapes the cognitive and interpersonal skills of students and breaks down the barriers that might exist in a less diverse setting. The educational environment is enhanced and enriched by a true blend of voices and experiences from across all cultures. When studying in an international environment, medical students become exposed and comfortable with powerful multicultural experiences that change preconceived perspectives and build maturity. These students are equipped with the assets, tools, and flexibility to provide better patient

“Medical students become comfortable with multicultural experiences and build maturity” care by thinking outside of the box – an important skill in the ever-changing medical field. Students attending an international medical school abroad will also become more familiar with the local health concerns, which may differ significantly from the ones they are used to seeing in their home country. At St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine we have believed in a global


ABOVE Teaching at St. George's University, Grenada

outlook towards medical education since our founding in 1976, when we pioneered the concept of international medical education. To this day, we are a medical school with a worldwide mission. SGU draws students, graduates, and faculty from more than 150 countries and has contributed over 19,000 physicians to the global physician workforce. This long history is supported by implementing a curriculum that is built on fostering diversity, and one that is taught across the globe. Students at SGU have the opportunity to start their studies in Grenada, the UK or India, and from there can complete clinical rotations at one of over 70 affiliated hospitals in the US and UK. Working and learning in these different healthcare systems provides a unique perspective on conventional problems being faced in medicine nowadays. By creating an inclusive support network – with international students and faculty being the majority, not the minority – universities instill these international beliefs

and offer an invaluable sense of comfort to their students. The process of moving abroad to study can be more relaxed when students are sharing the experience with peers in the same position and are supported by faculty that are also away from home. As each new cohort of future doctors starts at St. George’s University, they are surrounded by likeminded individuals who have chosen to broaden their horizons with an international education. These students will set the precedent for our future generations of doctors and join our network of graduates who have practiced in more than 50 countries, making them perfectly poised veterans in this rapidly changing world. The job of a doctor is not only to treat people but to help make society a better place with an understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion. International medical schools that fully embrace a global approach to health and education empower students to strive for this throughout their careers. This attitude enables students to be better students, and ultimately, better doctors.

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WIZARD READ Follow the yellow brick road with MinaLima. Page 146

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Rocket MAN

Tim Peake is a hero to any UK boy or girl who dreams of space, and now he’s branched out into children’s fiction. Absolutely Education meets a real-life astronaut LIBBY NORMAN


im Peake needs very little introduction. He is the first British European Space Agency astronaut. He’s also the sixth person born in the UK to make it to the International Space Station and the seventh UK-born astronaut to go into space. He’s our own homegrown rocket man. He’s still on the ESA list (so could return), but since he touched down he’s made it part of his mission to inspire young people about the future possibilities of space. Now, he’s published his first foray into fiction. A collaboration with bestselling author Steve Cole, Swarm Rising is a nail-biting adventure through time and space to save our planet. The most striking thing about Tim Peake is how modest he is – you could say he’s grounded. He is also very frank about his own circuitous journey into space. He says: “Mine

is a really encouraging story to tell”. And it is, because on paper he didn’t have the potential for such an elite field. He believes it’s good for young people to know his wasn’t a smooth run-in to astronaut training school. “I think it’s important to try and relieve some of that burden that sometimes teenagers feel – that their entire future rests on some exams you do when you are 17 years old. I say to people, ‘look, I got a C, a D and an E at A level. I left school at 18 and I went and joined the Army’ – I think young people find it encouraging to hear that.” Major Tim Peake did shine in the Army as a pilot, clocking up 17 years’ service after leaving Sandhurst and some 3,000 flying hours. “Ultimately, I did need a degree. I got my degree in Flight Dynamics when I was 33, and I was back in evening school doing Mathematics in my early 30s to get myself up to standard.” This is, of course, inspiring stuff because Tim Peake gets the issues today’s young people face. “There’s an awful lot of

stress and pressure on teenagers these days to do their exams, know the right things, think about the future. And sometimes you can just relax, just do what you’re passionate about. Yes, work hard, but if things don’t work out the way you hope when you’re 17 or 18 it doesn’t mean that you can’t go on and achieve what you want to achieve. There are always different ways of doing things, different routes to take.” This is one reason he is Ambassador for both the Prince’s Trust and the Scouts – believing that the work they do is one way in which young people find that different route, discover their talents. “I felt that I was very fortunate when I was growing up. I was at a state school and I was given opportunities. The school had a Cadet Force and there was a Scout group I could join. It’s these kinds of opportunities that we only really have because we’ve got brilliant volunteers who are prepared to dedicate time and effort into helping young people.”


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Tim Peake is mindful, too, of the inequalities – always there, but in sharper relief since the pandemic – with access to the spaces outside classrooms where young people find their strengths. “Organisations like the Prince’s Trust and the Scouts, who work across the board in all areas of the UK, give young people of different ages the ability to be able to say, ‘I’m going to do this – I’m going to get outside’.” The outdoors aspect is vital, but so too is the teamwork and challenge on offer. “When I talk to people about being an astronaut, they talk about the selection process. I say to them, ‘do you realise that in terms of academic qualifications that was literally just a line on the application form?’. Then there was a year of selection process, which was all about soft skills. It was all about communication, teamwork, leadership, followership, personality, character. And this is all stuff that you don’t necessarily learn in the classroom. It’s stuff that you might learn on the sports pitch, or you might learn it outdoors doing adventurous activities.” That period of selection that Tim Peake is talking about (and he was one of six selected from 8,000 applicants), was a test indeed. There were the academic, fitness and interview hurdles, but also a protracted spell living in cave systems in Sardinia. This was the stuff that was designed to replicate the isolated conditions and teamwork space missions require. Of course, it’s one thing living in a cave with support available should things go wrong, quite another to be in space when

the worst happens. Fear is something Tim Peake gets asked about a lot. “People say: ‘were you not afraid at any stage?’ and it’s an important question,” he says. “You’re only afraid when you don’t have options. Things go wrong all the time – it’s part of life. If you’re prepared for things to go wrong, then you no longer feel afraid of that situation because you’re almost expecting it to happen. You’ve got a little toolbox as you go through life that you keep adding to and that toolbox gives you skills to be able to deal with situations as they crop up. Our job as astronauts is to try and have a good enough toolbox to give us options for when things go wrong.” That “toolbox” is clearly something that set him apart as a candidate, but he sees a bigger issue here for young people. “We have gone through a period of being quite risk averse and I think it’s important to maintain perspective

Forest S chool

on that and to accept that life is all about taking risk. It’s about managing risks and it’s about understanding risks so that you can do things that push you out of your comfort zone, because that’s what builds resilience,” he says. “You don’t do things in a foolhardy way, you do them in such a way that you’ve analysed the risk and you’ve mitigated it. You’re prepared to do things as safely as possible, but you’re still going to go out there and have fun and take a bit of risk.” As a child, he watched the Shuttle launch and the Mir Space Station being built, and then Helen Sharman head into space on a commercial flight, but never dreamed he would have the opportunity. “Like most Brits I grew up thinking that’s something we’ll watch other people doing,” he says. What’s different today is that young people do have opportunities – and that’s something that gives him heart. “Anybody today can think of applying. We have a European Space Agency selection programme running and we’ve had 2,000 Brits apply out of a 20,000 total – so 10 per cent of applicants have been Brits. It was really quite strict in terms of applicant requirements. They needed a Master’s in Education and with specific knowledge in sciences, languages, and so on. So that’s 2,000 really high-calibre British applicants, which is great to see.” There remains no doubt that children dream big, and they are never short of questions – also never afraid to ask questions adults are too embarrassed to ask. “Aliens definitely crop up a lot. So do human functions. Young people are always

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“I LOVE THE FACT THAT CHILDREN CAN HAVE IDEAS, THEY CAN EXPLORE IDEAS – AND SPACE ALLOWS THEM TO DO THAT” interested in how they would live in space,” he says. “I love the way young people have the ability to be less restricted about asking questions like that because they just put themselves in that environment.” And if you’re wondering, Tim Peake does believe that alien life is a burning question worth asking. “I always say, ‘well, that’s a really intelligent question because some of the best brains on the planet right now are trying to answer that’. We’ve got radio telescopes listening out for signals from space. We’ve got rovers scouring Mars looking for signs of microbial life, past or even present. So it has to, I think, statistically. We had the Kepler space telescope operating for nine years looking for other planets just in the Milky Way that were in the Goldilocks Zone – that region where water can exist as liquid water – and we found over 2,000 planets. And actually, astronomers have now used much more data than that and they reckon there are 40 billion habitable planets just in our Milky Way.” This brings us neatly on to Swarm Rising,

which presents a scenario just brimming with ideas to inspire young minds to think about alien life forms, other worlds. “The paradox that’s interesting is, well, if it is out there, why do we still know nothing about it? This is where Steve Cole and I had so much fun with Swarm Rising. Some of the problems are just the vastness of space in terms of time and distance. At the moment we think that the speed of light is a limiting factor. But if you can travel at the speed of light – don’t think about travelling there as organic flesh and blood, think about travelling there as a digital intelligence, a digital signal – then it opens up a whole different ball game. So that’s where the inspiration came from.” It was, he says, a liberating experience to look at space from a fictional perspective. “Up until now I’ve been writing very factual books and I want to be technically as accurate as I can be in what I’m writing. Fiction is great because you can let your imagination run wild and explore different concepts and ideas and have fun.” The idea for Swarm Rising had been brewing for some time, but there

was input from others, notably his own sons, aged 12 and nine. “I had lots and lots of input from my two boys,” he says. “On long car journeys I’d be bouncing ideas off them.” He says discussions about space are a great equaliser. “You can just let your imagination run wild and, frankly, no adult can tell you no, that’s not so. It’s a great leveller – nobody knows the answers to these questions yet and that’s why it’s so wonderful to interact with children and young adults about it,” he says. “I love the fact that they can have ideas, they can explore ideas – and space allows them to do that.” His collaboration with Steve Cole (whose credits include Astrosaurs and Dr Who novels) is also a brilliant springboard. “He’s been so wonderful to work with. It’s great having someone likeminded who’s prepared to have a bit of fun with science fiction but also keep it really grounded – and with some really good values about artificial intelligence, about our environment, about what it means to be human.” Their sequel (Swarm Enemies) is underway, so the gripping narrative of hive minds and digital travel will continue. Back in the real (not digital) universe, Tim Peake knows that the biggest question of all from every child, is what it feels like to lift off from earth. His answer? “It’s incredibly exciting. The ride is insane. It’s just sheer power – high adrenaline, a lot of fun, g-forces, acceleration. And then when that’s over, when the engines cut out and everything goes quiet and still, you look out and you’re in orbit. It’s absolutely mesmerising – unbelievable.”

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From a classic odyssey retold and an exploration of trees, to mazes and labyrinths, myths and monsters of Ancient Greece and a comic tale of weird witches, here's our pick of great autumn reads



by L. Frank Baum Illustrated by MinaLima HARPER DE SIGN, £25


his landmark story (with even more iconic film) has been reimagined in a beautiful edition illustrated by design studio MinaLima – these are the creatives who built the graphic universe in Harry Potter films. The story remains as charming as ever, while the extraordinary artwork – with interactive elements including an unfolding and pop-up yellow brick road – are there to entice a new generation of readers. It's most definitely a collector's treasure, the eighth children's classic in this Harper Design series.


The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes by Silke Vry Illustrated by Finn Dean P RE STE L , £14 .99

This mind-expanding book is all about paths that get you lost or help you find yourself. Tracing the long history of labyrinths and mazes and covering some famous examples, it also looks at the symbolism associated with them. Author Silke Vry is an archaeologist and art historian, so the book is packed with fun facts and details (such as escape plans for any maze), while also challenging readers to think about why these puzzles of the landscape and our mind exist.

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Editor's pick

by Jess Kidd CANONGATE , £6.99

A deliciously comical story, Everyday Magic is the debut children's book from award-winning writer Jess Kidd, and it opens with a belly laugh. Who, after all, can resist Alfie Blackstack, the orphaned hero whose zookeeper mother died in a tragic dare involving dancing in a lion's cage wrapped in pork sausages? When his ornithologist father meets a similarly avoidable fate, Alfie is shipped off to Little Snoddington to live with his aunts, who just happen to be witches. He finds a friend and ally in fearless Calypso Fagan from the travelling circus. When Calypso's sister Nova disappears, the race is on to rescue her and also stop the next witch war.





by David Melling

by Eva Ibbotson Illustrations by Katie Hickey

NOSY CROW, £9.99

This picture book, written and illustrated by David Melling is all about a cute puppy who loves just about any messy and mucky dog activity going but hates everything about life in his new coat. With fun drawings supported by clear and simple text, it introduces young readers to lots of new words. All ends well as Ruffles – with the encouragement of his puppy pal Ruby – learns to love the coat that keeps him warm and dry. This is the first in a series that introduces an irresistible character, richly drawn.




A FIELD GUIDE TO LEAFLINGS by Owen Churcher & Niamh Sharkey TEMPLAR, £12 .99

This collaboration between design tutor Owen Churcher and former Children's Laureate of Ireland Niamh Sharkey is a wonderful non-fiction find that packs in a lot of nature information as well as introducing us to the magical leaflings. Each leafling has a distinct character and role – Hiroki prepares the branches for blossom while Flann minds the web of roots that connect the copse or forest. This is an absorbing and brilliantly designed book to spark imagination and curiosity about the wonderful (and global) world of trees.

elebrating the 20th anniversary of Austrianborn British novelist Eva Ibbotson's bestselling book, this lavish new hardback edition contains glorious colour illustrations by Katie Hickey. The original book won multiple prizes and commendations at the time of publication and so this is well worth revisiting or gifting. The plot remains evergreen, as orphan Maia journeys up the Amazon in search of distant relatives who will be loving and fun to be around. They aren't, but a mysterious boy she meets takes her on a journey into a beautiful new world.

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Myths, Monsters & Mayhem in


Ancient Greece b y James Davies BIG PICTURE PRE SS , £14.99

If you have a child who wants to know more about the Greek gods, ID the ancient mythical and deadly creatures or head off to the underworld, this is the book to give them. The format blends comic strip-style storytelling with digestible factual pages and it's a combination that packs in a lot of information in a pleasingly easy-toread format. We particularly love the comic-strip treatment of the Perseus and Medusa story and the useful map of the real places where Greek myths were set.




by Mitch Johnson

by Martin Brown

O RIO N, £7.9 9




The illustrator of the Horrible Histories series has turned his hand to writing too – and with the bonus of lovely pictures – in this heart-warming large-font tale about a little girl and her pet cave bear who go on an incredible adventure down the mountain. Nell's runaway mission is in order to save her bear from being given away by her tribe, and in the journey that ensues the friends overcome trials and danger in order to stay together.



LOG PRINCESS by Tom Gauld TEMPLAR, £12 .99

This modern fairytale written and illustrated by renowned cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld tells a charming story about the family bond between brother and sister. When the log princess goes missing, her wooden robot brother goes on an epic journey to bring her back. The combination of ancient and modern elements – our heroine and hero were created by a witch and an inventor – make this a fresh take on comfortingly traditional lines.

he author of Kick has delivered a dystopian and pretty hard-hitting adventure based around one girl's discovery of the secret recipe to the world's most popular and addictive fizzy drink (known as Mac-Tonic), washed up on a beach in California. With the shelves empty of everyone's favourite pop, the Great Thirst begins. A pop 'addict' herself, Queenie de la Cruz is swept up in rollercoaster action and adventure, as she is hunted by people who will stop at nothing to get that secret recipe back. This is a book that tackles big social themes – dysfunctional families, corporate greed, environment, poverty, addiction – but the message and the resolution are satisfying.

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Achievement in all its forms is alive and kicking in every part of their school day. - Tatler Schools Guide 2021

Registered Charity No. 312038

They mean what they say about encouraging talent! - Good Schools Guide

PRIOR’S FIELD - THE PLACE TO ACHIEVE! 11+, 13+ and 16+ entry, Situated in rural Surrey since 1902 Contact admissions@priorsfieldschool.com to book your place at our virtual Open Event and discover why Prior’s Field is the place to achieve. +44 (0) 1483 810551 www.priorsfieldschool.com

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M A K ING of Me

Dr Jess French The vet, author and CBeebies Minibeast Adventure presenter Jess French talks about eventful schooldays in Norfolk and her passion for challenges

Where did you go to school and when? Norfolk in the '90s. What was school like for you? I went to quite a few different schools, so I got to experience a whole spectrum of different education settings. I was really fortunate to attend the local middle school, which provided an extraordinary array of extracurricular activities, all spear-headed by one industrious teacher. Did you love or hate it? I mostly loved it. At the end of Year 1, when we were finishing for the summer holidays, I cried and refused to leave the classroom. My teacher had to carry me out. I have always loved learning but sometimes the social side of it was tricky, especially moving schools a lot as I was always the new kid. What were your favourite subjects / activities? English and biology were my favourite subjects, but I was really lucky to go to a couple of great schools which offered loads of opportunities and I loved acting,

playing music and getting involved in sports such as netball and athletics too. Who was your favourite or most memorable teacher? I had an amazing music and drama teacher called Mr Bailey. He would write

original plays for us to act out and he ran several musical clubs and bands. Playing in his marching band took us all over the country and even around the world. We worked really hard, but he taught us that hard work pays off and we often won national music competitions. Looking back on all the sacrifices he must have made to give us the opportunities that he did, I am way more grateful now than I ever was at the time. He was very inspiring. Where was your favourite place / space at school? I campaigned for us to build a wildlife garden at my middle school. I loved hanging out in there once it was done – almost as much as I enjoyed the process of making it! What beliefs do you think school instilled in you? Hard work pays off and I’m tougher than I realise. What was your proudest school moment? I was a very hard-working and



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been surrounded by nature. My parents are both really interested in animals and the natural world, so a love for wildlife, pets and the planet were all instilled in me from a young age.

Jess French, vet, author and CBeebies presenter

What other key influences shaped you when you were growing up? I loved the performing arts and was regularly found performing on stage in one form or another. What projects and challenges are coming up next for you? I am currently writing five books, which will come out over the next 18 months. I’m juggling that with looking after my young family, our menagerie of pets and other secret projects that I can’t mention yet! Sum up your school days in three words? Jam-packed, turbulent, lucky.

conscientious child – I represented my school and county quite a few times for sports, debating, acting and poetry. I don’t remember feeling that proud at the time though, I was mostly looking for the next challenge and trying to do more. Perhaps I should have given myself a bit more of a break in retrospect! What was the most trouble you got into? I was really well behaved until sixth form. I’m not sure I had ever been in trouble before lower sixth. After that I was regularly in trouble for wearing my uniform wrong, being late or not turning up. Those were tricky years for me.

Were you ever too cool for school? I definitely wasn’t a cool kid. I was usually digging about in the dirt in search of creepy crawlies. In some of my schools I was ignored because of this, in others I was picked on. What is your most vivid school memory, looking back now? I can still remember some of my lines for the plays that Mr Bailey wrote for us. I can also remember the feeling of performing them on stage. When and how did your interest in animals and the natural world begin? For as long as I can remember I have

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RIGHT Equine therapy helps young people to grow in confidence and enjoy the sensory benefits of being around horses


Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre has been promoting equine therapy for over 30 years. Absolutely Education pays a visit BY PENDLE HARTE


ister Mary Joy Langdon has always sensed that horses have intuition. Before equine therapy was a thing, she recognised that being around horses can be spiritually enriching – and as part of a religious order dedicated to educating children, she is on a mission. Riding a horse, and looking after horses, can have wide-ranging benefits, particularly for children with disabilities, and at the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre she runs a pioneering programme of activities that make an enormous difference to young people's lives. “I know from experience, because horses helped me,” she says. It’s a tough schedule. The pony centre is staffed by Mary Joy and one other trainer, plus a fleet of volunteers. From 7.30am to the end of the school day, school groups come to ride and groom horses, to learn stable management and to practice on the mechanical horse. After school there are clubs and riding lessons for individuals, and pony parties at weekends. There’s a strong sense of activity and Mary Joy is a forceful presence, giving instruction and being involved with every individual. The centre clearly revolves around her vision.

Mary Joy Langdon grew up with horses in Sussex, becoming a qualified coach and riding at point-to-point events before she gave it up to follow her calling and join what she calls “a small international congregation”. In other words, she became a nun. “I had given up horses to enter religious life,” she says. She is part of the Sisters of the Infant Jesus, a Catholic institution founded in France in 1666 with the aim of educating underpriviliged schoolchildren, and this defines her vocation here in Wormwood Scrubs, at the centre she founded in 1989. Her career has been varied, even taking in a spell of about seven years as a firefighter (when the drought of 1976 inspired her to sign up and become the first operational female firefighter in Sussex) before she returned to horses in the context of her calling. “My aim was to set up a small community riding school for people with special educational needs,” she says, “because I could always see the value of what horses could do for people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities.” She wasn’t academic at school and believes that now she would have been diagnosed with ‘severe dyslexia’. “Horses can help children learn and develop. Riding can be

“Riding can be the catalyst for beginning to achieve in all areas and horses can help people’s self-esteem”

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the catalyst for beginning to achieve in all areas and horses can help people’s selfesteem. I know from experience, because horses helped me. I liken horses to dolphins, for their intuition and the way that personal contact with them can be enriching and spiritual.” One of her horses in particular, she says, has the power to make anyone visiting its stable come out feeling strengthened. Children come to the centre not just with physical or learning disabilities but also with severe psychological damage. For this group, she says, “time spent with

ponies is supportive and positive.” Sister Mary Joy believes that there’s greater need for places like this now than there was even 30 years ago. “Even if we had five centres there wouldn’t be enough. There are so many damaged children,” she says. How is the centre funded? “By a miracle, I’d say.” Money is an ongoing struggle, although a loyal following is energetic in organising events and fundraisers. A recent Zoom race night raised £5,000 and a sponsored walk took place over the summer. One unlikely fan was Lucian Freud, who

would quietly come to draw horses, initially unrecognised by Mary Joy. Indeed, when she noticed him, she gave him a beginners’ guide to drawing horses. They became friends and in 2019 she auctioned a sketch of his for £40,000, parting with it reluctantly to raise vital funds for the centre. It’s a place that makes an enormous difference to lots of lives and Sister Mary Joy is an impressive character, working intuitively and tirelessly for young people. wormwoodscrubsponycentre.org AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 155


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©2021 All rights reserved Young Soles. Photography by Gemma Booth.

AU T U M N 2021 WITH


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J BOARD RULES Gaming may be in, but old-school board games have been going through a renaissance. We check out some brand new arrivals and old favourites

ust when we thought the world had gone entirely digital, games of the old-fashioned board and dice, chips and pieces variety are having a moment. You might almost say a renaissance. These old-school activities that used to while away a rainy day and enliven Christmas holidays came out of the cupboard during lockdown. In fact, the figures are staggering and show we also yearned for familiar friends. Sales of board games went up by 240% during the first official lockdown, according to research from NPD Group. We were rehooked on classics, with old-time Monopoly the best-seller, along with Cluedo, Scrabbble and card games such as Uno. Jigsaw sales were up, in fact there wasn't an area of traditional 'gaming' that didn't see a spike. There's every reason for parents to encourage board games at any time. Apart from the obvious benefit of getting children away from screens, they are social, can be adapted to nearly every age group and subtly but effectively improve numeracy, spelling, creative thinking, playing by rules – also, very possibly, sleight of hand and skills of deception. One thing that's good to know is that tabletop games development is a UK strength, just like video games development. Indeed, Edge Hill University offers games development internships with Crooked Dice through its Creative Writing course, so this could even become a careerbuilding pastime. Here are some of our favourites to keep the family entertained during the cold dark months ahead.

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RICHARD OSMAN'S HOUSE OF GAMES Based on the unofficial quizmaster general's hit BBC2 show, House of Games tests general knowledge, relentlessly – everything from spelling and anagrams to trivia knowledge and emoji recognition. Every generation can learn something new and its links to a popular TV programme makes it a winning formula for younger players. The game format is question cards, but there's also a buzzer and winners' trophy. Recommended for age 12+ and suitable for 3+ players. From £24.99 at Prezzybox.

RIGHT Lifelines at the ready for would-be millionaires

BELOW Test your savvy with House of Games



You have to be of a certain age to remember when this was the mustsee Saturday night event. But it's back, and the game's combination of tricky questions make it a good option for challenging family fun. Released ready for the Christmas rush, it gives you the chance to win a virtual million and lifelines are accessed by your mobile device. More than 700 questions mean there's something to test everyone.

Jigsaws are a bit of a Marmite invention, but they can be entirely solitary or a group activity. Also, if you have the space, completing them can take place over days. Children develop skill and patience and a sense of achievement when it's done. Our pick would be Carnovsky Animals Jigsaw, which has jazzed up the format by making it interactive and 3D. It comes with three pairs of specs, each of which makes the puzzle reveal entirely different animals. Even better, you can scan the QR code on the box to turn your phone into a viewing lens.

Recommended for age 14+ and suitable for 2+ players. From £29.99 at Smyths Games.


Recommended for age 8+ and suitable for 1+ players. From £14.99 at Find Me A Gift.

Another offshoot of a TV show (this time hosted by Greg Davies), Taskmaster veers towards the absurd and is great fun for younger players. As with the show, to win you have a go at completing silly tasks, such as getting an egg as high as possible without breaking it. The format includes a game board, task cards and scoreboard, playing pieces and trophy. There's also a downloadable taskmaster timer app and you can get exclusive video assignments. Recommended for age 8+ and suitable for 3+ players. From £20 at John Lewis.

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catchers Learning to surf as a family is a challenge, but a fun one. Absolutely Education heads to North Devon’s Saunton Sands WORDS PENDLE HARTE

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hen people get the surfing bug, it eclipses everything else. Friends of ours from London felt the pull of the sea so strongly that within a year of riding their first wave, they had bought a caravan in North Devon and were driving down at every available opportunity. Another year on and they had sold up, left London and moved permanently to be near the water. They even refurbished their new coastal home with surfing in mind, modifying the garage to include surfboard and wetsuit storage and installing an outdoor shower. That’s how addictive surfing can be. And while we were ready to be taken by it, we weren’t quite ready for the reality of it. Our destination is Saunton Sands, a beach known for its surf and particularly its suitability for beginners. None of us has ever surfed before and there are four of us – two adults and two children, aged 12 and 9. We arrive late on Friday night and our first lesson is scheduled for Saturday

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morning. Arriving in the dark means that while we’re impressed with the spot, it’s not until the next day that we are blown away by the amazing view. The owner of Chalet Saunton is a bit like our London friends in that he has designed the building with surfing practicalities as a priority. Between the beach and the house is a surf shelter for boards and wetsuits, and a shower. Nobody wants to trail sand into their house, and nobody wants to be cold, especially not anyone who has opted for the luxurious surroundings of Chalet Saunton. The house is divided into six apartments and a penthouse, all of them spacious and with spectacular views of the beach. In fact, when the sun comes up, it’s possibly the best beach view we’ve ever seen, and Saunton Sands is certainly one of the UK’s most spectacular beaches in terms of its sheer size, soft sand and reliable surf. The chalet’s interiors are minimal, tastefully muted in shades of grey and neutral, with acres of space and no superfluous furniture or decoration, yet very well equipped in terms of ABOVE practicality, comfort and tech. Saunton Sands is perfect In the kitchen, for instance, for beginner surfers there’s an integrated wine BELOW cooler, a nespresso machine Chalet Saunton is a cosy complete with electric retreat after beach time milk frother and a welcome hamper of local produce (plus surfing, for all its compelling avocados). The living room has a qualities, is exhausting. At least vast smart TV, a Sonos speaker and it is for us beginners. Our group lots of sofa space; there are impressive lesson lasts two hours, during which we power showers and underfloor heating go to battle with the waves and, on the throughout. whole, lose. Inevitably the children are So all of this means that after our first better at it than we are, and standing up surfing lesson – Walking on Waves runs for more than a split second eludes me. classes on the chalet’s doorstep – we can Our instructors are vigilant and instill us recover in warmth and comfort. Because with lots of enthusiasm and a good sense what our friends hadn’t told us is that of what we are trying to do – and the addictive pull lies in the constant sense that the next wave will be the one. After the session we are all desperate to return, but immediately we head for the comfort of the chalet’s hot showers, fluffy towels and sofas. There is no better way to spend a post-surf evening in October than fish and chips in front of the television, with full sea views in the distance. When we return it will be summer, and we’ll drink in the views from the vast terrace.

What our friends hadn’t told us is that surfing, for all its compelling qualities, is exhausting

C H A L E T S AU N TO N Book a stay at Chalet Saunton from £350 per night in a three-bedroom apartment (sleeps six) on a self-catering basis. This includes a welcome hamper of local produce, in addition to amenities by British organic skincare brand ila apothecary. chaletsaunton.com; 01271 890 514 walking-on-waves.com

How far is too far for a weekend? North Devon is definitely pushing it as a weekend destination for the south-east. Only the most dedicated surfers will brave it with any regularity. For the rest of us, the four or even five hour drive is something we dread, especially when you’re looking at Friday evening traffic and especially when you have children in the car. The only variable we have control over, and the thing that can make the drive bearable, is the actual car. We took a spanking new second-generation Volvo V60 for the ride and comfort levels were off the scale. Not only is the space and upholstery especially generous for passengers but driving this is a delight, and almost entirely effortless. Special programs verge on the fully automated – parking, for instance, (useful in Devon) is something that can be done for you by pressing P for Park Assist, which triggers a scan search for a space before a skilful parallel park. A variety of driving modes allows you to pick your preferences. When the surf calls, the V60 definitely offers a sweeter ride.

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GO WILD Whether or not you have the weather, Gwel an Mor is an excellent Cornish family destination



ne of life’s greatest happinesses is when your trip to Cornwall coincides with a heatwave. The long tidal beach at Portreath is a wonderful place to spread out on the sand, or coast a wave on a bodyboard. It’s a popular spot but less crowded than some of Cornwall’s hotspots and it’s easily worth the punishing drive.

At first, Gwel an Mor resort strikes us as alpine – clusters of wooden chalets with pitched roofs and cheery yellow painted window frames remind us of Switzerland, but we’re not staying in the main site. Slightly set apart is the newer Residence Collection, whose single-storey, wood-clad lodges are spacious and slightly futuristic, not Swiss

so much as maybe virtual reality. Our wide decked terrace faces a wide open field and isn’t overlooked by anyone – immediately we throw open the bi-fold doors and the place is filled with sunlight. While Gwel an Mor, like most places, is better in the sunshine, it’s not absolutely necessary – and of course you’re quite likely not to have great weather. No matter – they have thought of that. The interior is comfortable, complete with wood burner, squishy sofas and large television for when you’re indoors, and a bubbling sunken hot tub on the decking that makes the terrace useable in all weathers. And if you have small children to entertain on a rainy day, there’s a vast soft play barn with its own Clip’n’Climb franchise as well an indoor pool and an extensive programme of activities, including archery and fishing. We’re signed up for Meet the Animals at

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97 x 65 cm. Priced at £420 each (inc. UK sales tax).

Private commissions are also welcome.


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RIGHT Lodges are secluded, light filled and spacious BELOW Meet the Animals is a real highlight

10am on Sunday and I’m expecting a few bunnies, maybe goats, probably chickens. We are slightly surprised to find adults with no children among the group, but when we get to the end of the tour, we are amazed to discover that two hours have passed. This is no ordinary hamster-handling exercise. Gary is a real animal-whisperer,

a charismatic fount of knowledge and enthusiasm about everything to do with animals – he’s less keen on the people who fail to look after them properly. We start with pygmy goats before meeting an emu (“she’s so attached to me that she won’t eat when I’m here”) and some exotic chickens; then there are reindeer (it’s not even Christmas) and inside the barn ferrets and a weasel, rats and a snake, which we are all invited to hold. Gary’s menagerie is lovingly maintained, to the extent that it includes animals not usually thought of as tame or domesticated. Before we see the foxes we are told to keep our voices down and not to frighten them. Yes, there are foxes – and under Gary’s expert guidance, we are all able to stroke them, hand-feed them and even – this is no joke – to be kissed by them. We bend our faces and Mr Fox reaches out his nose and actually kisses us. For those of us used to the mangy zombie foxes that skulk around London back gardens, it’s a revelation. No wonder fox fur coats used to be so popular, someone points out – the softness is amazing. After the foxes, we admire a whiter-than-white fluffy barn owl, which swoops over our heads and lands on its special glove. It’s a short walk down a dreamy rustic path (lined with bluebells in spring) to the beach, and a popular, unreconstructed beach cafe occupies the premium spot and serves up hearty burgers and chips. Dinner

“It’s hard to think of anywhere that caters better to families, with every detail taken care of – comfort for adults and entertainment for tots to teens” at Gwel an Mor’s Terrace restaurant is more refined while remaining acceptable for children of all dietary persuasions (the kids’ menu is pitched just right). We enjoy seafood linguini and fish and chips, and the next day we order takeaway pizza to our lodge, after a lengthy massage at the relaxing spa. It’s hard to think of anywhere that caters better to families, with every detail taken care of – comfort for adults and entertainment for tots to teens. Don’t let the drive put you off.

GWEL AN MOR LUXU RY R E SO RT Feadon Lane, Portreath, Cornwall TR16 4PE 01209 842 354 gwelanmor.com AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 167

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FOOD SKILLS Leith’s School of Food and Wine offers classes for children of all ages. We sent a student to test its teaching PENDLE HARTE

“Classes for every level include more ambitious classes for children with a serious interest in cooking”


obody wants their child to be the one that arrives at university not knowing how to boil an egg. While some children seem to absorb kitchen skills by osmosis, others manage to bypass them entirely. In my house we have both. There's a 12 year-old who can comfortably produce not only cookies and bakes but also actual dinner, and takes an active interest in salad dressings and the espresso machine – and an otherwise competent 15 year-old who still has to ask how to turn the oven on. Brilliantly, Leith's cookery school has devised classes for both, covering all levels and designed for children up to the age of 16. There are more obvious ones for smaller children, focusing on cakes and biscuits, but there are also ambitious ones for children already showing an interest in producing serious food. We enrolled the foodie 12 year-old in a holiday session focusing on street food for teenagers. Although she was willing, she wasn't exactly delighted, expecting it to be babyish. But as it turned out, she was the youngest one there, and several of the others had been attending sessions in the previous days. They were keen cooks. The menu was impressive and global: Korean beef bulgogi involved marinating steak (freezing it for 15 minutes first, to firm it

up, and slicing it thinly) then stir-frying it quickly. Pork and ginger spring rolls in lettuce wraps required lots of chopping of vegetables, soaking noodles and frying pork mince before the tricky part – carefully constructing the lettuce wraps. Chickpea flatbreads were a simple recipe and one that we will return to: essentially flour, tinned chickpeas, water, yeast and spices. There's a focus on basic kitchen skills – being careful with heat and knives, for instance, and separating raw meat from cooked. Participants come away with a certificate and recipe sheet at the end. Courses running this autumn include Italian cookers for teenaagers and a plantfocused session with Jenny Chandler. New courses are added regularly; check online for details. leiths.com AUTUMN / WINTER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 169

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www.monktoncombeschool.com @MonktonBath

“You truly get the feeling that your child, not just the results they get, is the most important thing to everyone at the school” Current parent

Thinks Differently Where learning comes to life... Open Mornings Senior School, ages 13-18: Saturday 2nd October Prep School, ages 2-13: Saturday 9th October Academic excellence achieved through a journey of self-discovery An independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 2-18 years near Bath

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An independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 7-13 near Godalming in rural Surrey.

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United Kingdom School of the Decade THE SUNDAY TIMES


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The forward-thinking independent school creating caring, ambitious and well-educated boys and girls.

“My entire family fell in love with Queen’s. The school is simply beautiful with a huge range of facilities. The staff are so helpful and friendly and are always keen to answer any questions or worries we may have.”

Extensive range of co-curricular activities

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A range of scholarships available

Day, Weekly and Flexi boarding places

No academic lessons on Saturday mornings

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570 seat theatre – the largest in the region Contact our friendly admissions team 01823 340830 admissions@queenscollege.org.uk www.queenscollege.org.uk NURSERY • PRE-PREP • PREP • SENIOR • SIXTH FORM

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REALISING POTENTIAL Book Your School Visit Today


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Independent co-ed day school for 2-11 years in the heart of Wiltshire

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Leading the way. The Cumnor Way.

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seconds with

Jody Wells The new Head of Wells Cathedral School Junior School discusses his background and educational philosophy

What is your background? It was a gap year in North Devon that first ignited my passion for teaching. Though sponsored by the Army’s Logistic Corp through university, it was a wonderful QTS year at Wells Cathedral Junior School that cemented my decision to enter the profession. As a former boarder at Stamford School, it was a natural and easy progression into a boarding role at Wells. From here, I moved to All Hallows School in Somerset and then to a Deputy Headship, followed by Headship, at Forres Sandle Manor School in Hampshire. What excites you most about your role? First and foremost, I cannot wait to reacquaint myself with the school that is so dear to my heart. There has always been a fantastic sense of community and family at Wells Cathedral Junior School and the broader school as a whole. I am thrilled to be heading back into the classroom, and have the odd chance to coach sport again. Wells is a unique school. Working with the children to help them succeed and find happiness is nothing but a privilege. What is your academic philosophy? Education should not only equip children with a curiosity for the world around them, but also instil a love of learning that is matched by a balance of high ambition and integrity. Alongside academic development, I believe in the development of transferable skills such as communication, collaboration, leadership, initiative and tenacity. Can you tell us about one pivotal moment in your career? It was chatting to a parent over a cup of tea at parents evening early on in my career. Her son, a reasonable U10 sportsman but abject day dreamer, had not made the A team and I was asked why. My response, along the lines of 'If he worked a bit harder maybe he would get into the team', was met with 'Maybe if you put him in the team, he would work a bit harder'. This stopped me in my tracks. I just hadn’t ever thought about it like that before. He got his chance

A B OV E Jody Wells

and ended his school career as captain of a county championship-winning hockey team and an A-team player in all sports. What is Wells Cathedral School’s approach and what sets it apart? Wells aims to provide its children with an environment in which they feel secure and comfortable to be curious, to explore and to dream. Our aim is to

“Great schools are all about the people. A school should be a happy place where children feel valued, respected and cared for”

support children to discover their passions and talents, and ultimately themselves. What sets Wells Cathedral School apart is more than its position as a traditional educational establishment, it is a feeling, a sense of wonder created by a combination of the beautiful location, the breadth of opportunity and the sense of community. What makes a great student? A sense of curiosity, a hunger to learn and a willingness to burn one’s fingers in the pursuit of this all play their part, but above all of this, being respectful, honest and kind. What makes a great school? Great schools are all about the people. A school should be a happy place where children feel valued, respected and cared for. It should be an environment where children are taught by those with passion for their subject and a desire to instil a similar love in their charges. An environment where they are challenged, but in a way that excites them and that encourages them to value those challenges, and the mistakes along the way.

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not uniform

When it comes to a good education, one size does not necessarily fit all. At MPW, one of the UK’s best known names in fifth and sixth-form education, we offer a distinctive alternative to traditional schools. A levels and GCSEs in over 45 subjects Personal tutors providing individual academic and pastoral support Oxbridge-style tutorial groups with nine students or fewer Excellent results and progression to top tier universities Best in class inspection reports from the ISI and Ofsted

MPW allows you to excel both academically and personally. Pastoral support coupled with personalised lessons and the continuous assistance from all members of staff have made my experience extraordinary and have shaped my future in the best way possible!

Polina (MPW London) achieved A*A*A*A* at A level. Now reading Accounting and Finance at King’s College.

OPEN DAY Contact us to book your place and find out more

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