Absolutely Education Summer 2022

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Reaching generation communication •


Language delay in young learners • SUMMER 2022

GREEN ROOM Why nature is top in class •

GREAT READS Summer books


Z E S T. L O N D O N


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• A B S O L U T E LY E D U C AT I O N •


Vikki Stone

Composer, comedian, actress and musician

Vikki Stone went to school in Rugby before attending Wells Cathedral School and the Royal Academy of Music. In this issue, she talks about her musical director role on ITV's Romeo & Duet, the passion for music that began in early childhood and the scholarship that transformed everything by giving her an outlet and a direction.

Rushi Millns

Director of Careers and Outreach, Heathfield School

Rushi Millns FRSA worked in IT and telecoms before teaching. At Heathfield, she heads up the Computing Department and leads on outreach and careers guidance. Having participated in a recent International Women's Day roundtable at 10 Downing Street, in this issue she discusses how we help girls overcome bias and take their rightful place in public and political life.

Nicolas Hewlett

Headmaster, St Dunstan's College

After attending Whitgift School, Nicholas Hewlett spent a gap year in a stockbroking firm before studying Geography at King's College London. During his degree, he sang professionally and, while he had the option to study Opera, he chose a PGCE instead. In this issue, he talks about St Dunstan's 'Diapason' – an initiative to involve pupils in shaping the school's culture of diversity.


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…that she left it too late to apply for Hurtwood House, because it’s simply the best for acting, dancing, singing, film-making – “A utopia for creative minds” – as the Good Schools Guide says. And crucially, this exciting school is equally successful academically. In fact, it’s statistically one of the top co-ed boarding schools in the UK. So, if you’re looking for a really exciting and rewarding change of school at 16 – don’t leave it too late. Contact Cosmo Jackson or visit our website for more information.

T: 01483 279000

E: info@hurtwood.net



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• A B S O L U T E LY E D U C AT I O N •


Clare Milford Haven Author, journalist, Trustee of James' Place

Clare Milford Haven has been writing for the past 30 years, with regular pieces in the national press, as well as an eight-year spell as Social Editor of Tatler. In this issue, she talks about the inspiration behind her book, The Magic Sandcastle, as well as the work of James' Place, the suicide prevention charity she co-founded in memory of her eldest son.

FROM DRONES TO ROCKETS From rocketry to bee-keeping and dozens of activities in between, every boy can discover something that fires their interest beyond the classroom. In this way, not only are enthusiasms formed that can, and often do, last a lifetime, but the impetus to try something new and different is created, perhaps even something that demands the all-important step out of their comfort zone. That is a wonderful preparation for life after school.

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Ben Evans

Headmaster, Windlesham House School

Ben Evans joined Windlesham House School in 2020, with previous Head roles at Edge Grove and The British School in Colombo. In this issue, he discusses if Common Entrance is now fit for purpose and what prep and senior schools might do to improve outcomes, and the educational experience for young people at this vital moment in their school careers.

Amanda Jayne

Head of Physics and STEM Leader, Hurst College

Amanda Jayne studied Engineering at Bath and was in the RAF before becoming Head of Physics at Hurst. In this issue, she looks at perceptions of STEM subjects and suggests we need a major makeover in the way science, technology, engineering and maths careers are promoted to young people and perceived in wider society.

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• A B S O L U T E LY E D U C AT I O N •


Chris Ramsey Headmaster, Whitgift School

Chris Ramsey was educated at Brighton College and Corpus Christi, Cambridge and taught at Shrewsbury and Wellington before becoming Deputy Head at Cranleigh. He led King’s College Taunton and, from 2007-17, King’s Chester, before becoming Headmaster of Whitgift . In this issue, he talks about the challenges and benefits of rebuilding group work and face-to-face communication post pandemic.

Kym Martin

Drama Teacher, Southbank International School

Kym Martin studied at QUT in Queensland and at RADA in London and combines teaching Drama at Southbank International School with artistic direction at a London theatre company. In this issue, she discusses the power of performing arts to deliver skills that last long after the action on the stage, helping to prepare young people for work and life to come.

Here, children remain just that. They experience, they learn, they grow, but they do so within one of the most idyllic environments imaginable.

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Josh Cuthbert

Singer, model and digital creator


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The X Factor and Union J were not even close to the start of Josh Cuthbert's performing career. A natural-born singer, by the age of 13 he'd made it to the West End as part of the London Palladium cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In this issue's Making of Me, he talks frankly about his school days in Berkshire – including how he went from being on report to prefect within a year, thanks to the support and belief of some amazing teachers.

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We l c o m e

From the



ne of the postpandemic challenges for educators is helping young people to communicate effectively. This has become a theme running through our summer issue, for it affects every age and stage. Younger children have had far less exposure to the situations that build key skills, an area we explore in Speech Delay (page 38). We also consider the drama work of Trinity Theatre’s Speech Bubbles programme (page 43). In Generation Communication (page 54), we find out how schools ensure teamwork, face-to-face meeting points and fruitful connections for

And it turned out I have the sort of brain where it’s one thing, music, that I needed”. For our cover and Focus feature we have explored the ‘rounded and grounded’ approach of Repton Prep, and it was a pleasure to talk to Head (Elect) Victoria Harding and find out more about her plans. One of Repton Prep’s many strengths is its amazing setting – and the outdoor learning and enrichment opportunities that it brings are surely the best antidote to the remote and isolating world young people have experienced of late (from page 26). Sport is another opportunity for young people to learn together. We look at some less mainstream competitive arenas in which independent schools excel in Fantastic Games (page 72). I’m fascinated by the drive and passion demonstrated when children

“I’M FASCINATED BY THE PASSION DEMONSTRATED WHEN CHILDREN TAKE A SPORT TO ELITE LEVEL, AND IT’S GOOD TO BE REMINDED THAT THERE ARE MORE ROUTES TO GLORY THAN TRADITIONAL TEAM GAMES” a generation raised with technology and, in recent times, left isolated within it. Some young people need specific communication pathways, so it was fascinating to talk to Vikki Stone, musical director of ITV’s Romeo & Duet and a prodigiously talented composer, writer and performer (page 60). Her passion for music started young and, thanks to a music scholarship to Wells Cathedral School in her teens, it found an outlet. She is quite clear that music education is a necessity, not a luxury, for children like her, saying: “I could have just been dismissed as someone with behavioural problems...

take any sport to elite level, and it’s good to be reminded that there are many more routes to sporting glory (and enjoyment) than those traditional team games. In that spirit, we’ve taken a look at the wonderful world of quidditch (page 78), a game imagined by J.K. Rowling and then given realworld structure by students. The rules are – I confess – somewhat baffling to the uninitiated, but the boundless enthusiasm and sporting spirit of its players and fans are pure magic.

Libby Norman EDITOR

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16 SCHOOL NEWS What’s going on in the world of education

23 LIVE ARTS EVENTS A classic show at Old Buckenham Hall and a new arts festival at Eastbourne College


26 A ROUNDED VISION The incoming Head of Repton Prep describes her educational approach and the school's wider vision

33 PUPIL VOICE St Dunstan’s working group for pupil influence

35 NATIONAL TREASURES Your chance to have your photo in the National Gallery


72 senior

54 GENERATION COMMUNICATION Independents outline how they encourage dialogue and help young people communicate effectively



Speech delay in early learners and sources of support

We meet Vikki Stone, of ITV’s Romeo & Duet, and find out about a life-changing scholarship to Wells

43 DRAMA ESCAPE Speech Bubbles workshops help children act up



St Columba’s College has a bold strategy for co-ed sports, and new facilities to ensure success

Putney High School’s biophilic classroom project is a green win for student wellbeing and clean air

72 FANTASTIC GAMES From beach volleyball to fencing, schools offer much more than the traditional team games

78 WIZARD PLAY Quidditch is a game that now even Muggles play...

81 STEM MAKEOVER Hurst's Amanda Jayne on the trouble with STEM



Burgess Hill Girls describes how it supported boarders during the pandemic

88 WHY STUDY DESIGN TECHNOLOGY Two experts give us their elevator pitch for why DT is a brilliant subject to study


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Libby Norman  EDITOR I A L A SSISTA N T

Rachel Hogg 


Nicola Owens 


Jay Pawagadhi 


Pawel Kuba 


Mike Roberts 


Carmen Graham 


Kai Nicholls 


Jerrie Koleci 


Alexandra Hvid  DIR ECTOR S

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

Alexandra Hunter 


S C H O O L’ s O U T


92 MAGICAL TIMES Clare Milford Haven talks about the inspiration behind her magical children’s book

Sherif Shaltout

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98 SUMMER BOOKS From the life of Leonardo Da Vinci to an exploration of the world’s trees, our pick of summer reads

102 MAKING OF ME Josh Cuthbert of Union J talks about eventful school days in Berkshire and the road to the West End

104 HOLIDAY NANNY GUIDE How to have a good holiday with a nanny on board

122 LAST WORD Hall School Wimbledon Head Andrew Hammond



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IN DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY Explore a different approach to academic excellence for children aged 3–18 years. One that unearths talents, celebrates individuality and helps students go on to the best universities in the world. Places for 2022 entry are strictly limited. Apply now at southbank.org

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School pa r tnership King’s Ely in Cambridgeshire and Fairstead House in Suffolk have announced a partnership. Fairstead House is a nursery and prep in Newmarket, while King’s Ely is a through school in Ely. Respective school Heads Michael Radford and John Attwater have a position on each other’s Senior Leadership Team, with the two schools retaining their individual identities under a single governing body.

S TA R AU T H O R The King’s School, Canterbury alumna Annabel Steadman (2005-10) has published her first novel, Skandar And The Unicorn Thief, and now finds herself on the New York Times Best Seller List. Already published in 38 different languages and tipped as the most exciting arrival since Harry Potter, this the first of a planned five-book series.

New na me From September, The Moat will be renamed Burlington House School and is opening a prep close to the Fulham senior. Part of Cavendish Education, the school was founded in 1998 by parents seeking an environment to support their dyslexic children. Nicola Lovell, Deputy at The Dominie School, will be the new prep's Headteacher.

“Steadman's book is being tipped as the most exciting arrival since Harry Potter”

S H AC K L E TO N ’ S B OAT In the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s final expedition – and with the discovery of Endurance – Dulwich College has been welcoming many more visitors to see James Caird, the boat used to secure rescue for the crew. Visits are available during term times every Friday. Email College reception.

S I LV E R A N N I V E R S A RY Portland Place School is marking 25 years with the installation of a mural created by students with artist Tom Berry and will host a Celebration Day in late June. Two years ago, it added Portland Place Hybrid School, offering blended learning online and onsite for students aged 10-16.

“I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life” MADELEINE ALBRIGHT

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Head a r r iva l Sasha Davies will be the new Headteacher at Kew Green Prep School following Jem Peck’s retirement. Formerly Head of Sinclair House Prep, her appointment coincides with the arrival of the school’s Kew Green Nursery, which opens its doors this September.

Chapel singers

D E B AT I N G CHAMPS Sixth Form pupils from The Leys School, Cambridge are regional winners of ‘Youth Speaks’, the Rotary Club youth public speaking competition. Ellie M, Sienna H and Georgia D delivered a presentation on the theme: why marriage is outdated, beating strong teams from St Albans’ Girls School and Stamford High School.


Tonbridge School Chapel Choir deputised for the Cathedral Choir at St Paul’s Cathedral over the early May Bank Holiday. The choir sang Choral Evensong to a congregation of more than 500. Tonbridge Choirmaster Julian Thomas says: “It was a unique experience for the boys to be making music in such a large space with resonant acoustics “.

Aldenham Foundation has announced the appointment of Andy Kaye as the new Head at St. Hilda’s Prep School for Girls in Bushey, Hertfordshire. He joined as Deputy Head in 2016. He will start his new role in September 2022 and says: “I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed as the new Head of St Hilda’s. It is a wonderful school”.

A R T S H OW MPW London held its annual art exhibition at the end of May. This featured works by the college’s A level and GCSE students. Displays showcased pieces from each area of the department, including textiles, ceramics, photography and graphics, along with paintings and drawings.

“I just found it very difficult to talk, so singing was like freedom for me; freedom from this oversensitive, over-shy kid to suddenly let go” EMELI SANDÉ



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B E AC H B A L L ACS International School Cobham hosted a beach volleyball tournament for independent schools at Barn Elms Sports Centre in May. Not only did students have a ball, but they received top-flight coaching from England stars Joaquin Bello, Javier Bello, Jess Grimson and Daisy Mumby. Lycée Français won the boys’ prize, while Lakenheath High School triumphed in the girls’ event.

Girls’ gambit


Girls and young women from across England played 2004 Global Chess Champion Antoaneta Stefanova in a rapid ‘simul’ tournament in May – the first time since 1979 that a chess champion has visited the UK to play this match style. Stefanova beat 28 out of 29 players, drawing with Emily, 14, from St Albans. The event was organised by chess charity She Plays to Win.

Abingdon House School, which has a strong reputation for the progress students make within its specialist SEN provision, has announced the opening of a new prep school in South Kensington this September. The prep, for students from Year 3 upwards, will support children’s academic and personal development in a mainstreamstyle environment.

E X P LO R E R A S S E M B LY Children at Cameron Vale Prep in Chelsea welcomed historian Dan Snow and Marine Archaeologist Mensun Bound for a special assembly to share stories about the Antarctic expedition earlier this year where they found the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance. “It was a real treat for our children to share in the retelling of the discovery,” says Headteacher Bridget Saul.

EARTH WA R R I O R S Pupils from Knightsbridge School took over the streets in April with a peaceful march to Duke of York Square as part of Earth Day celebrations. The pupils were joined by naturalist Nick Gates and the S.O.S. from the Kids choir, which performed at COP26. As part of the event, the whole KS community were encouraged to make individual pledges to help the planet.

Top Story

Boarding prize Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE) received Boarding Innovation Award at the BSA Supporting Excellence Awards 2022 for its Houseparent Assistant App that helps streamline admin. Lauren Blakeley, Head of Boarding, says: “It has transformed the job of Houseparent here at QE. It allows more time to be spent with the students, which is vitally important to us”.

F LOAT YO U R B OAT Dauntsey’s Lower Sixth took part in a High Pressure Leadership challenge recently. Teams had to design a boat, buy materials (limit £50) and build it before racing it. Some floated better than others, but Head of Adventure Education Sam Moore says the real challenge was in making decisions and seeing the outcome.



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School buzz

NEW CLASS DLD College London is welcoming Year 9 students from September 2023. Taking advantage of the school’s location on the South Bank, the new Year 9 curriculum will include an Urban School Project that uses London as a classroom – all part of a curriculum designed to engage students as they progress towards GCSE and BTEC pathways.

R eception welcome Conifers Prep in Midhurst, West Sussex has welcomed Fiona Allan as Reception class teacher. Having previously taught in Surrey and also Hong Kong, Allan studied to be a teacher at Exeter, where she received the Ted Wragg Award. “My aim is to foster a love of learning and curiosity about the world by having a fun and focused classroom,” she says.

JUNIOR HEAD James Allen’s Girls’ School has appointed Victoria Goodson as the Head of Junior School from September 2022. She succeeds Finola Stack. Goodson will join JAGS from Sydenham High School GDST, where she has been Head of the Prep School since 2019. Prior to that, she was Deputy Head (Lower School) at Newton Prep in Battersea.

WINNING 6 St Catherine’s School, Bramley has won the BSA’s Supporting Excellence Award for The 6 – the school’s new home for Sixth Form day and boarding students. It opened in spring 2021 and was designed by IID Architects, with alumna Helen Whateley (Year of 2008) leading the process. The judges commented on the very impressive facilities and the naming of the spaces after inspirational women.

A bee-friendly garden designed by Joe Swift and shown at RHS Chelsea Flower Show is to be rehomed at St George’s Church of England Primary School in Camberwell. It features a variety of nectar-rich flowers, while an Automated Pollinator Monitoring machine, known as a Polly, will enable the RHS to compare pollinator numbers at the school to other sites in the area.

S I B L I N G S TA R S Millfield fencers have competed internationally at the African Zonal Championships. They included Upper Sixth student Kelsey Woname and her Year 9 brother Kaden Woname. Kelsey led the Ghanaian team for the fourth time, finishing eighth in the U20 Women’s Sabre. Kaden competed in the U15 category and was placed second.

“Millfield students also competed in the Asian Zonal Championships”

In the sw ing Felsted School celebrated music from around the world with the annual ‘Swing into Spring’ concert. This brought together orchestras, choirs and bands from across the school to perform a wide range of music. The concert started with folk tunes from England and Italy, and then took the capacity audience on a music journey through African rhythms and melodies, Caribbean calypso and South American samba.



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Autumn Open Events


1 th & 24th e tember 13th October 3r 12th & 24th November

the Gold Standard in education

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Live ARTS EVENTS A magical production at Old Buckenham Hall and a celebration of the arts – with star appearances – at Eastbourne College WIZARD JOURNEY

Old Buckenham Hall pupils transported their audience all the way to Kansas with an iconic story Summer Term at Old Buckenham Hall School got off to a whirlwind start (and with a pair of sparkly red shoes) with a production of The Wizard of Oz that transported the audience from Suffolk to Kansas. Featuring 42 children from Years 3-8, the show delivered on- and off-stage magic in what is OBH’s 160th anniversary year. The production had state-of-the-art projected animated backdrops, using green screen technology to create the balloon flying away and Aunt Em in the crystal ball. The children also used radio mics on stage and took on backstage roles to support the drama. Having a TOP live orchestra added magic to Old Buckenham Hall’s Wizard Of Oz the occasion. This comprised 12 musicians covering percussion, LEFT & BELOW Circus Creative Arts bass, keyboard, cello, violin,

Festival celebrated alumnus Derek Granger

flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone and trumpet. “This year’s production of The Wizard of Oz was a triumph for all involved. The children showed great determination and commitment,” says David Mitchell, Deputy Head and Director of Music. “I couldn’t be more proud of the children.”


Eastbourne’s new Circus Creative Arts Festival included a Q&A from a very special old boy Eastbourne College welcomed back its oldest living former pupil, Derek Granger, to celebrate his 101st birthday with a Q&A about his remarkable life in drama, as part of its new Circus Creative Arts Festival. The TV drama veteran, best known for producing Brideshead Revisited, returned to take part in a conversation with theatre director and fellow Old Eastbournian David Grindley in front of a live audience. Derek Granger recalled fondly his time as a scriptwriter and producer on Coronation Street in the early 1960s, although Brideshead remains his proudest TV drama achievement. The four-day event featured appearances from a formidable range of other creative talents, including actor Ed Speleers, writer Paul Mayhew-Archer and singer Mark Le Brocq. Funds raised go towards the school’s bursary programme, enabling more children to access an education at Eastbourne College and St Andrew’s Prep. SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 23


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A rounded

VISION With a new Head, Victoria Harding, joining Repton Prep this September, we find out more about her approach and the school’s central place within the wider school family LIBBY NORMAN


epton has always been a destination school, with its UK and international reputation built on academic rigour and that finely balanced approach that turns out wellrounded pupils ready for the world. Its setting adds allure – ‘heart of England’ Derbyshire turf, convenient for key airports and roads but far enough away from cities to provide fresh air and room to grow, all the way from 3 to 18. The setting may be rural idyll, but it’s always been an outward-looking place. Repton was, after all, a pioneer internationally, with schools within the family now numbering seven across the Middle East, China, Malaysia and Europe. Back on Derbyshire home turf, Repton Prep and Repton School inhabit distinct (and equally glorious) sites. The Prep is a newcomer compared to its 16th-century sibling, having been founded by Repton in 1940 and then moving to Foremarke Hall a couple of miles away in 1947. There’s always been a strong tie, cemented in 2020 when

the two schools formally merged under the Repton name. This was to maximise academic and extracurricular opportunities and ensure a cohesive experience for those Prep students and parents who choose the through-school route (and some 90% do). Of course, pupils who choose to go elsewhere are welcomed equally, and equally well prepared for the onward journey. The imminent arrival of Victoria Harding as Head of Repton Prep this September

brings a fresh face at the helm, and much excitement. With good reason, for Harding comes with stellar credentials. She’s a trained musician (Royal Academy of Music) and headed up the music department at Dragon School, Oxford before top leadership roles in London, including Sarum Hall. Repton Prep will be her third headship. She has a teacher’s perspective on what makes the pre-prep and prep stage so rewarding. “I love this age group because you really see such a huge journey for each child, right from the foundation through to when we move them on to their senior school years.” She also appreciates the diverse teaching skillsets. “It affords you a wide range of staff and teaching abilities – those top two year groups, as well as the starting out point.” Since her appointment last December, Harding has been busy getting to know Repton Prep, and also immersing herself in the wider strategic vision of the whole family of schools. What she is not doing is setting anything in stone until she has: “lived and breathed it” for a while. “A huge part of informing my strategies will happen when

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“Through schools offer a consistent approach and that ability to shape education in a way that works for the benefit of the pupils”

ABOVE The school site offers boundless outdoor learning opportunities

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RIGHT At Repton School, some 70% of pupils are boarders BELOW Prep boarding offers flexible options in a family setting

I’m there, speaking to the staff and putting those ideas together with that wider vision.” What Harding can say now is that her main goal is to “refine and improve” rather than lose any elements that give Repton Prep its unique identity. “I’ve been really thinking about the school values: respect, wholeness, truth and excellence. That’s at the heart of what I’m planning; making sure that these are evidenced in all aspects of school life.” Harding counts Repton Prep’s 55-acre setting in Foremarke Hall as one huge USP. “That’s where Repton Prep has a huge appeal, and a huge appeal to me – there is just such opportunity for hands-on learning,” she says. “Lots of schools talk about it, but there is the genuine opportunity to deliver that here.” Hands-on learning is a keystone of what she believes creates a well-balanced curriculum. “I often talk about transferable life skills and using the curriculum to create those, but when you’ve got the space we have, I don’t think you can underestimate the power that brings.” Then there is Repton Prep’s boarding offer, an inextricable part of the culture and life of the school and a key area of focus.

RIGHT Cricket at Repton Prep

“Our ‘rounded, grounded, unbounded’ tag line really does encompass what Repton is about – we want boarding to remain at the heart of that” Repton does boarding extremely well, and the options from Year 3 – before full boarding kicks in at senior level – fit in with family life. Currently, some ten per cent of Prep boarders are full boarders, with more opting for flexible options. There’s a strong local demographic from across the region, alongside full boarders drawn from across the UK and internationally. Weekly boarding (where children go home after school on Saturday) is often used as a stepping-stone for full boarding. Then there’s ‘Home and Away’, where children go home on Wednesdays and Saturdays (although Wednesdays is tuck night after sports fixtures so school often trumps home). Flexi-boarding is also offered; often younger pupils, these boarders have their own boarding house but still get to feast on the award-winning food and tap into the huge number of clubs and extra activities after hours – from girls’ football and Warhammer to backgammon, sailing and chemistry club. It’s no surprise that many children choose to board at Repton Prep, since it offers scope to take full advantage

of every element of its extracurricular smorgasbord, as well as enabling them to throw themselves into teams, rehearsals and all the other after-school activities that are part of a rich school life. Not that day pupils are ever left out. Core to the approach throughout is that day pupils are integrated into the boarding houses in what Repton describes as a ‘one community’ approach. By senior stage around 70% board. Boarding is definitely a key element of Victoria Harding’s strategy. Indeed, she sees it as central to the spirit and pastoral approach here. “I’m sure you know our ‘grounded, rounded, unbounded’ vision, and we need to ensure our outcomes support our commitment to that ideal. It’s such a good tag line because it really does encompass what Repton is about, both as a physical building and what we can offer, and in the spirit of the children. We want boarding to remain at the heart of that.” She sees a particularly essential role in the grounding that Year 7 and 8 boarding delivers. “It’s such a critical time for young people, so we are homing in on what we provide for

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ABOVE Victoria Harding RIGHT Repton Prep is at Foremarke Hall, set in 55-acre grounds

them, and how we use those two years as a springboard.” Young people’s wellbeing is always front of mind for parents and educators, ever more so since the pandemic. This concern is – anecdotally – being reflected in school choices. Parents’ desire to provide stability, and also take the ‘heat’ out of that leap between prep and senior settings is being cited. It’s certainly something that Victoria Harding sees as a factor in decision-making. “Through schools offer that consistent approach throughout and that ability to shape education in a way that works for the benefit of the pupils.” The through-school setting at Repton is not about removing stretch and challenge – far from it – but about providing all of that within a stable environment. The structure of boarding houses across both Repton Prep and Repton helps, as it is one of ‘vertical integration’. With 24/7 pastoral support from house parents within a family setting, this vertical design means familiar faces across age groups, helping pupils to belong, to expand friendship groups and also to learn from each other. It is rather like giving everyone siblings – boarding house families look out for one another. Victoria Harding can’t wait to get started and relishes the learning opportunities at

Repton Prep come September. “Something I’m very big on is outdoor learning and independent learning,” she says. The opportunity to help children catch up on the experiences that are a normal part of life is a priority. “There were all those opportunities children missed during the pandemic to go out and about,” she says. “I’m not talking about lavish school trips, but outings to bring learning to life. “Another key area for me is about community and sustainability, and that outlook of considering who we are as a school and what we do in our community,” she says. “It’s important that the Prep is outward facing and that it remains part of that wider Repton and local community – also helping to deliver all those transferable and handson skills that our young people need.” BELOW Some 90% of Repton Prep pupils go on to Repton School

At a Glance

Repton Prep School Founded: 1940 Head: Victoria Harding, from September 2022 Gender: Co-ed Number of pupils: 400 Day or boarding: Day; Boarding from 7+ Ages: 3-13 Points of entry: 3+, 4+, 11+ and in-year admissions Admissions: Non-selective. Interview and early registration advised Religious affiliation: Church of England, all denominations welcome and many festivals celebrated. Fees: Pre-Prep Boarding, per term – £7,750; Day, per term - £5,662. Prep Boarding, per term – from £8,455; Day, per term – from £6,369. Address: Repton Prep, Milton, Derbyshire DE65 6EJ reptonprep.org.uk

Repton School Founded: 1557 Head: Mark Semmence, since 2019 Gender: Co-ed Number of pupils: 620 Day or boarding: Day; Boarding Ages: 13-18 Points of entry: 13+, 14+, Lower Sixth and occasional in-year admissions Admissions: Non-selective. Interview and early registration advised Religious affiliation: Church of England, all denominations welcome and many festivals celebrated. Fees: Boarding, per term – £12,721; Day, per term – £9,437 Address: Repton, Derbyshire, DE65 6FH repton.org.uk

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Thinking of Relocating? Wells Cathedral School is a co-educational day and boarding school based in the vibrant City of Wells surrounded by Somerset countryside. Nursery - Pre-Prep - Prep - Senior - Sixth Form Direct trains to London from nearby stations of Bath, Bristol and Castle Cary

Book a visit: http://wells.cathedral.school/relocating admissions@wells.cathedral.school


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GIRL POWER Rushi Millns of Heathfield School on how we overcome bias, giving girls the confidence to speak up and aim for the top in public life


ince 1918, when women were granted a somewhat limited power to vote, the majority of policy and law has continued to be written by men and naturally reflects their bias. To level the playing field and ensure fair representation in politics and the working world, we need to give girls the tools to voice their opinions and break the bias. Gender bias starts young – girls are told to sit nicely and behave while boys are encouraged to be noisy and boisterous. This has parallels in the adult world too; vocal women are labelled ‘bossy’ or ‘shrill’, whereas vocal men are just ‘determined to get their point across’. The more opportunity, support and guidance young women have to share their ideas, the more expert they will become in the future – whether that’s holding discussions in departmental meetings, representing

“The more opportunity and guidance young women have to share their ideas, the more expert they will become in the future” an organisation or speaking in Parliament. Alongside the necessary qualifications, communication skills and what the individual brings to the job are the essentials for success. At Heathfield we recognise the importance of building confidence, communication skills and an open-minded approach to new experiences. We want our students to be critical thinkers who can discuss and view issues from different perspectives. To ensure they are informed about politics and current issues, our Careers and Outreach department hosts various programmes to promote

ABOVE Heathfield School pupils

discussion, debate and public speaking. Our Speaker’s Corner is an opportunity for students to speak publicly about a topic they feel passionate about for two minutes without questions, sharing their opinion and declaiming about it – rather like Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. The topic that resonates most with the students is then used for our School Debate in the Summer Term, when opinions and ideas are challenged and debated. Later in the Michaelmas Term, in celebration of Parliament Week, we host a ‘Question Time’ with a student panel taking topical questions from the audience, which includes local politicians from the three main political parties. We also have a Speaker Programme to introduce new ideas and broaden experiences for our students as they learn about the world of work. Professionals are invited to come and speak about their work and experience, and the students start to develop their networking skills. We still need to overcome the barriers that prevent girls and women from

speaking out or seeing themselves in top jobs – and that was the theme of this year's International Women's Day, with the hashtag #breakthebias. Of course, we need to be sure we are building the skills, knowledge and understanding that enable informed decisions. We need our young people to think critically and raise their voices so their thoughts and opinions are heard. We must also teach them to first look at their own assumptions, to bring the bias to the fore and question it. To achieve equality, there can be no automatic assumptions.

R U S H I M I L L N S FR SA Director of Careers and Outreach Heathfield School, Ascot SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 31


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Give your children a head start We all want to give our children the best opportunities in life – and nothing offers that more than a first-class education. But whilst the financial commitment can be daunting, the key to meeting school fees is to start saving as early as possible. We offer a local, friendly service backed by the strength and security of FTSE 100 company, St. James’s Place Wealth Management. Whether you’re considering tax-efficient ways to save for, spread the cost of, or protect funds set aside for school fees, we can provide the guidance you’re looking for. We don’t know what their future holds but offering our children the best possible start in life is priceless. The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds selected and may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than the amount invested.


DIPEN TANNA WEALTH MANAGEMENT Associate Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management

07808 738705 dipen.tanna@sjpp.co.uk www.dipentannawm.co.uk

The Partner Practice is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James's Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the group's wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the group's website www.sjp.co.uk/products. The 'St. James's Place Partnership' and the titles 'Partner' and 'Partner Practice' are marketing terms used to describe St. James's Place representatives.

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Pupil voice The Head of St Dunstan's College discusses its 'Diapason', a working group designed to include the student voice in every aspect of school life


f schools do not allow their pupils to become active agents in strategic thinking, we risk an ever-polarised society where the young feel disenfranchised from authority, generationally dislocated and where issues that matter to them become locked in an echo chamber of bitterness and injustice. Like many Heads in our sector forced to navigate the necessary self-questioning presented through the challenges posed first by the Black Lives Matter movement and then latterly by Everyone’s Invited – having soul-searched and questioned the very core of my educational belief and educational purpose – I felt strongly that we were not advocating enough of a role for children in the decision-making of the school. That is not to say that we do not have a well-meaning pupil parliament, annual pupil surveys, working groups and an active prefect body – we do all of that – but I felt

"Diapason means a burst of harmony – an appropriate term for what we were trying to achieve" on reflection that these things were at risk of providing little more than lip service. How we can improve catering and the cocurricular programme is all very well and good, but do children have a say in the very culture they help to cement and of which they are both custodians and beneficiaries? My mind was drawn to a presentation I was asked to give to the Barclays Spectrum group. This is a significant network of employees representing the LGBTQ+ community from across the Barclays group and their task is to formulate and

Sex and Gender, Religion and Belief, Sexual Orientation and Disability. Each has a nominated pupil and staff lead who work with the broader pupil and staff community to formulate a strategy for action. I chair and resource the group. We meet once a half-term and the purpose is clear – we want to make sure that our community is founded on deep principles of equality and that we are actively showcasing the very great benefits that diversity brings. take ownership of a The Diapason liaise with governors, speak ABOVE Pupils at strategy for improving with parents, and support the pastoral team St Dunstan's with equality, inclusion and in finding solutions to problems when they Nicholas Hewlett diversity within the arise. Although still in its infancy, we have group. I was taken by had great success. Fundamental change this idea, as it had the to our curriculum, driven by the pupils benefit of coming directly from within. It themselves, sits alongside more concrete had cultural clout because the employees changes – for example, this summer we are themselves were shaping their lived building our first multi-faith prayer room. environment. I started to think about Their list of actions is significant, and this whether something similar is a lively and sometimes could be achieved in a school challenging group to manage. setting and the idea of the St We do not always agree, Dunstan’s Diapason was born. but at least we are talking. The first thing most people Staff and pupils from across ask me is what does Diapason the school organisation bring mean, which is a good question. together different views It means a burst of harmony, and ideas into one forum or the entire scope and range where everyone is heard. of a thing. It seemed to me a This allows meaningful NICHOLAS very appropriate term for what change to be driven by HEWLETT we were trying to achieve. those in direct receipt of Headmaster The Diapason is structured the culture that is created St Dunstan's College around five ‘pillars’ – Race, here at St Dunstan's. SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 33


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“A thriving academic school in exquisite surroundings steeped in history, with Under one hour from London via highly motivated pupils who High Speed 1 (St Pancras are hungry to learn” International) www.kings-school.co.uk THE KING'S SCHOOL CANTERBURY.indd 34 Absolutely Education_The King's School_Summer2022.indd 1

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National TREASURES Children and families can win a spot alongside the famous and infamous in a competition from Ancestry and the National Portrait Gallery


amilies up and down the country are being asked to submit their family photos to ‘The Nation’s Family Album’, an initiative from Ancestry and the National Portrait Gallery. Entrants to this landmark competition are being asked to upload family portraits. These will be judged by a panel of experts comprising Royal and family portrait photographer Millie Pilkington (a regular photographer for Absolutely Education) baritone Peter Brathwaite, National Portrait Gallery’s Chief Curator Dr Alison Smith, and family history expert Simon Pearce from Ancestry. Ancestry and National Portrait Gallery have been collaborating to create an online gallery of over 125,000 portraits, ranging from kings and queens to nurses

and architects – and spanning over 400 years of history. This is available to browse for free on Ancestry, and now it wants lots more photos to add to this unique national archive of portraits.

Themes of belonging

The portraits families are being asked to submit need to fit in with the project’s themes, which are: Belonging, Legacy, Connection & Identity. The successful entries will have the opportunity to see their family images and stories included in a digital exhibition, as well as being displayed in the National Portrait Gallery itself when it reopens in 2023 following a major redevelopment. The competition is seeking undiscovered gems – portraits of everyday people of different backgrounds, ages and cultures in the UK. So, this is a great opportunity for children and families to delve through old albums, turn out those suitcases in the attic and even submit current favourites from the mantelpiece. Each person entering may submit up to three portraits.

A national record

Ancestry and National Portrait gallery believe The Nation’s Family Album will become an important record of our collective history, as it will highlight and capture rich and diverse family stories, making it easier for future generations to find out more about their own family history and the nation's history. Photos must be uploaded by Thursday 30 June 2022 and anyone in

the UK may submit a maximum of three images that relate to the key themes. Millie Pilkington says: “Every photograph has a story to tell, but what I look for in particular are images that capture the spirit of the sitter, or the moment, and that provide some kind of ‘biographical’ insight to their personality and background. "The icing on the cake is when these are achieved with nice light in an interesting composition. I’m genuinely excited to discover the multitude of unique and fascinating family history stories within the entries."

H OW TO E N T E R Submissions must be uploaded by Thursday 30 June 2022 • Any person in the UK can submit up to three images • Images should follow the themes: Belonging, Legacy, Connection & Identity • To enter, visit ancestry.co.uk/c/familyalbum

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Parents often wonder if their child’s development is on track, but one of the most problematic areas is speech and language. We find out about sources of support


here isn’t a parent on the planet who doesn’t worry at some point if their child is on track. Milestones are monitored and alarm bells ring when other children appear to have key skills your child is struggling with. Children do, of course, develop at different paces. But on top of existing concerns about the impact of screen use in early years, now we have nearly two years of intermittent lockdowns to contend with. This is raising concerns among experts as well as parents about speech, language and communication skills – especially for our youngest learners. Trips on the bus, exposure to family members and visits to play settings all help children acquire language. It’s not just speaking that matters, but understanding what others say. Speech therapist Amy Loxley, a Lead Speech & Language Advisor for the children’s communication charity I CAN, believes lockdown deprived children of many of the usual routes for developing communication. “Even that requirement to stay close to home and have limited contact with others has deprived children of a range of social experiences,” she says. “This is the range of experiences you have in early life where you’re exposed to new words.”

There’s now some evidence to support the idea that this has led to an increase in speech and language issues. “I CAN undertook some research last year, published in a report called ‘Speaking up for the COVID generation’. We found in that research that there are 1.5m children in the UK who are at risk of not being able to speak and understand language at an age-appropriate level,” says Amy Loxley. Certainly, referrals for communication difficulties have increased – noted by both the Department for Education and speech therapists. I CAN develops intervention programmes used in mainstream schools, as well as running two specialist schools for children with complex language difficulties. A lot of their work with mainstream schools centres on Developmental Language Delay (DLD). This is a condition unconnected with any other conditions that can cause lifelong issues speaking and understanding others. “It affects 7.6% of children – another way of looking at that is two in every class of 30 – so is actually quite common,” says Amy Loxley. The other key group that I CAN works with is children who have language difficulties due to environmental factors – in other words, the setting they are in. This group is much larger in areas of disadvantage. “One in ten children across SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 39


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the UK has a difficulty with speech and language, but that can rise to one in four in areas of disadvantage,” says Amy Loxley.

WARNING SIGNS One of the big questions for parents is: do I need to seek help? While no one wants a label on their child, the fundamental building blocks need to be in place. “Language skills underly all skills, so even when children learn to read and write, that’s based on them understanding and using spoken language,” says Amy Loxley. I CAN runs a free phone advice service where parents can talk to a speech and language therapist. Typically, parents ring for advice because they have noticed that their child uses less words or simpler words and sentences than their peers. It could be that a child’s speech sounds jumbled or muddled up, so that it’s hard to understand. Less commonly, parents may recognise their child is having trouble understanding what is said to them – often this isn’t spotted so early. It might be trouble following an instruction, for instance, or a teacher reporting that the child doesn’t listen in class or isn’t getting work done when asked.

ABOVE A first practical step for parents concerned about speech delay can be to try some simple techniques at home

The issue here can become complicated by how adults view this failure to do what’s asked. “Sometimes that’s interpreted as something else – people think it’s a behaviour problem, when it’s actually the child not understanding language.”

GETTING SUPPORT If parents are worried and believe they may need expert support, the team at I CAN can explain the steps for getting a speech therapy referral via the NHS or privately. Usually, the first recommended step is approaches to try at home. They include going a bit slower when you are talking and making comments rather than asking questions – a technique to open up dialogue without putting undue pressure on a child. “Children do pick up on that feeling when parents are particularly anxious or worried and are trying to get them to do something,” says Amy Loxley. Although lockdown hasn’t helped any of our children, the good news is that parents can make a real difference to build both speech and understanding. Chatting and playing are vital, says Amy Loxley, also a

“There are 1.5m children at risk of not being able to speak and understand language at an age-appropriate level”

really good way to spot potential issues. Taking time and choosing the right language level are vital, which means choosing simple, age-appropriate words and keeping things light and open. “It’s about talking with children rather than talking to them – you’re trying to get them into a backand-forth interaction,” says Amy Loxley. As to screen time – that other great worry – expert guidance suggests that the less children have in early years the better. TV (or other device) is never a substitute for the learning provided by good oldfashioned play and interaction. That said, children love screen time, and so watching an age-appropriate programme with your child and discussing what’s going on with them is a way to make this an active experience that builds communication skills. The other great route that helps children get into speaking and understanding language is books, using the same sharing approach. “Parents don’t always have to read all the words in the book. They can even just talk about the pictures and about what the child is interested in,” says Amy Loxley. “Relate things in the book back to their experiences – it’s all about drawing those connections for your child.” For more guidance and support about speech, language and communication, visit I CAN’s talking point for parents at ican.org.uk

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Kew Green Nursery for children aged 2-4 is opening in September 2022

Kew Green Nursery is part of Kew Green Preparatory School (KGPS) and places will be open to all.

Kew Green Nursery is part of the

 Spacious, light-filled building with ample space for outdoor play  Nursery children will have access to KGPS whole school facilities and specialist teaching  Inquiry-based approach to the Early Years curriculum  Creativity, collaboration, confidence, and communication at the core  Safe, respectful, challenging and stimulating environment  Close-knit community, ‘Open Door’ Policy, and Parent Café  Term time only with automatic entry to KGPS Reception if desired Please contact us for more information or to book a tour of the new site: 85 Kew Green, London, TW9 3AH T: 020 8948 5999 E: info@kewgreennursery.com www.kewgreennursery.com @KewGreenNursery

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ABOVE A Speech Bubbles drama session



Delivered through Trinity Theatre in Tunbridge Wells, Speech Bubbles is an innovative drama programme that helps young children come out of their shells

ason Lower can clearly recall one small and petrified girl. Every time she came to Speech Bubbles she would be in tears or close to it. Then, slowly she became a bit less shy and would talk in whispers in his ear, so quiet he could barely hear her. Over the course of the programme, she found her character – a cat. She just loved cats and would act out the physicality and the movements of a confident feline who was the complete opposite of her. Lower has been delivering Speech Bubbles through Trinity Theatre since 2017 and has witnessed first-hand what

a huge difference it can make to children who are struggling to communicate and fit in. The programme at Trinity Theatre, first devised by London Bubble, has now become a separate charity (Lower is both a practitioner and a trustee). It delivers Speech Bubbles in 23 schools across a part of Kent taking in Sevenoaks District, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells and working with children drawn from Year 1 and Year 2. Children are referred by schools (Kent County Council is a major funder, along with the Brook Trust) and there’s strong support among local school leaders who know what it can do. The children it works with are generally referred by teachers

and a school SENCo. The programme aims to address the needs of those who are not on the top of the list for speech and language therapy or one-to-one support, but nonetheless have speech, language and communication needs. “Some of them might be shy, some might be selectively mute; others might be on the other end of the scale – children who communicate at inappropriate times or talk over others.” Each session for ten students runs for about 40 minutes over 24 weeks. Sessions are led by a Speech Bubbles practitioner and a teaching assistant. What’s very important, says Jason Lower, is the mix of children – the group is chosen so that there’s a combination of communication SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 43


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“You can perform a new character who you really are. That’s where arts and theatre are a really magical opportunity”

can bring. He is autistic and it was his time in youth theatre that he credits with giving him confidence. He became a youth theatre director and arts practitioner and now leads the Creative Engagement ABOVE & RIGHT Children are guided department at Trinity by a Speech Bubbles Theatre. He says drama is practitioner and a TA beneficial to all young people. “You can perform yourself, move to senior school, and it also rather than a version of yourself works extensively with teenagers that you’re not terribly happy with. and young adults. Even so, Lower You can perform a new character who feels Speech Bubbles is extra special, you really are. That’s where arts and offering an intervention that is perfectly theatre are a really magical opportunity.” timed to ensure children can build vital Each Speech Bubbles session starts confidence and communication skills. with a chant that outlines to children “Part of the joy of Speech Bubbles, what the ground rules are, beginning: and part of the joy in prioritising this ‘In Speech Bubbles we do good communication need, is it’s about listening’. Then children put their addressing the need early on,” he says. BELOW names in a bucket and the fun Post pandemic the demand for Speech Sessions develop begins. The drama they create Bubbles’ drama sessions has increased communication skills and let in that 40-minute session is almost threefold among local schools, children play their own invention, built around thanks partly to the advocacy of those things they love to be and act out schools who have seen its transformative – princess, zombie, superhero, cat. effects. While there are Speech Bubbles practitioners in other areas – London and That little girl who found her confidence around Manchester and Salford – Jason by being a cat stayed on for two years Lower would like to it available to many at Speech Bubbles as her teachers felt more children. “We as an organisation that she would benefit. The second year – Speech Bubbles the charity – would proved to be invaluable because she love to spread it out through schools knew the ropes and could even help nationally,” he says. “I think it’s the best others. She remains a quiet child, but thing Trinity Theatre does, and I’m is now much more likely to contribute proud of everything we do.” in class. Trinity Theatre’s youth work doesn’t stop with Year 1 and 2. It has been piloting an exciting drama project * Trinity Theatre trinitytheatre.net called Transitions with children about to * Speech Bubbles speechbubbles.org.uk

needs (not all shy or inclined to dominate) and a mix of year groups. “It’s really important to have a mix – the Year 2s offer leadership and this also makes sure that any classroom dynamic is gone.” So why does drama work so well to help children communicate confidently and appropriately? Lower says it’s the process of getting out of their own skin. “It’s allowing them that escape element – they can escape the pressure of being themselves,” he says. “It’s such a lovely environment because it allows them to come out of their predetermined role – the quiet one, the noisy one. It’s not just about children who have speech and language issues – it’s also allowing children to play.” Jason Lower has good reason to know the lifelong benefits drama

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01/06/2022 15:49


ABOVE Pupils from York House School

VOICING FEELINGS The Head of Pre-Prep at York House School discusses voice as a tool to help children understand and regulate their feelings and empathise with others


s growing numbers of children struggle with mental health issues from a younger age, it is helpful to recognise the power of voice in helping them to regulate their emotions. At York House, we have adopted 'RULER'. This was originally created by Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence as a method to identify and use the five learnable skills of emotional intelligence: Recognising, Understanding, Labelling, Expressing and Regulating. This approach helps to furnish children with strategies that they can call upon when they are not feeling at their best, and is also about encouraging empathy and understanding for other people’s feelings. Embedding an approach like this has made in a significant difference to children's mental wellbeing and also how they interpret and display feelings. Within our pre-prep we use the ‘feeling words curriculum’, which goes a step beyond feelings like sadness, happiness, fear, anger, and so on. This encourages our children to think more deeply about the emotion. We might ask: 'Are you feeling angry or are you actually irritated?', for example. Encouraging children to think beyond the obvious, furnishes them with a wider range

of words that they can use confidently and with maturity to express themselves emotionally in school. Many parents say that having access to a greater range of vocabulary to depict specific emotions helps their child at home too. There are, of course, many other ways that schools can encourage the use of voice to manage emotions. For instance, many schools incorporate animals into day-to-day pastoral provision. From reading dogs to onsite chickens, and even smallholdings or farms on site. Talking to animals is known to help children to communicate how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. Interestingly, animals often reflect the energy that the child brings. If a pupil

“Parents say that having a greater range of vocabulary to depict emotions helps their child at home too”

is noisy the animal will likely back off, whereas if they are calm the animal will approach and seek to interact in a positive way. That interaction brings a sense of calm and purpose to nearly all children and, once they understand how beneficial nurture is for the animals, they can apply that lesson to human interactions as well. 'Talk boxes’ are helpful too. Children are asked to write down their worries and put them inside a private box. This works well for pupils who don’t yet feel confident expressing themselves aloud. So too circle time – where teachers pick a topic for discussion and allow some dedicated time for children to express themselves – reducing worries and helping children to move on positively. Using a variety of methods to nurture voice emotions in school helps pupils to thrive, as does making a commitment to teach emotional intelligence from a young age. These approaches are vital in ensuring our future world is a positive, happy place for today's young children.

M O L LY E N T R I C A N Head of Pre-Prep York House School SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 47


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GREEN TEAM Putney High School's Biophilic Classroom project has produced fascinating findings about nature's ability to enhance both wellbeing and learning


utney High School's Biophilic Classroom study is a first – showing a clear route to improve a sense of wellbeing and even productivity in the classroom through the power of plants. It began in 2019 as part of the school's wider Breathe programme (begun in 2018), which considers a whole raft of areas that feed into wellbeing. "Little did we know how relevant our findings would become," says Headmistress Suzie Longstaff. "What started as a four-month project over the winter to monitor the effects of bringing plants, natural materials and views of nature into the indoor learning environment took on a new relevance with the arrival of spring, as the pandemic confined us in our homes." The study's starting point was a NASA Clean Air Study of 1989, which had looked at how plants contribute to improving air quality. At Putney High, the students used air sensors to complement their research and, for the first time, could identify the exact ratio of plants needed to improve air quality – it's one plant per six cubic metres. The biophilic project resonated not only with the students’ wider interest in the environment cultivated via the Breathe programme, but also tied into science (air quality studies) and art (botanical natural form studies) activities.

During Covid, the project was transferred to the Futures Hub in the school's Sixth Form Centre, where the plants were cared for by staff and students. But by this time, the whole project was blossoming. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) asked the school to share its research in the Discovery Zone of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This had been postponed due to Covid and took place in September 2021, where the school display attracted lots of interest and even picked up a coveted Gold Medal.

Growing the plants had, by this time, become a whole-school affair, with the offspring of the school's original indoor garden being grown and nurtured for Chelsea Flower Show in the Junior School. They were re-housed after the show in the Reception classrooms, so the youngest pupils were also benefiting from the rollout of the project. All this green-fingered industry has honed the students' gardening knowhow and tapped into sustainability ideals – they have watched as plants have produced more plants to extend the calming

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and air-cleansing benefits of indoor nature. The biophilic research has now been used to inform the design of Putney’s Athena Centre for Science, Music, Drama and Debating – opened to students earlier this year and officially launched by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock at the start of May. The ripples of Putney High's work have spread wider. Ahead of RHS Chelsea Flower Show the project was featured on BBC Gardeners' World. “I was incredibly impressed to see the work, and importantly the enthusiasm, that the students of Putney High School demonstrated with their research for improving their environment with plants," said Presenter and Garden Designer Arit Anderson. The school has made its findings available, producing a useful 'Plant Guide for Schools', showcasing

ABOVE & LEFT Putney High School students tend the plants and propagate more

houseplants to grow in both low-light and bright-light indoor environments, plus atmospheric and air-cleansing properties of each plant selected. It has given out more than 10,000 copies so far, suggesting many more schools are tapping into the benefits of using greenery to improve classroom atmosphere and student wellbeing. At Putney High, there's no doubt about the payback in student wellbeing. The impacts of the Biophilic Classroom study were monitored via student surveys, and 78% of students reported feeling healthier, and said that plants have helped to create an environment where everyone feels calmer and more relaxed. "But it has had an even greater impact, helping students and staff to really engage with their

lessons, which of course has had a positive impact on teaching and learning," says Headmistress Suzie Longstaff. "It’s been wonderful to see the whole school engaging with the project, learning about the plants, caring for them and even cultivating them," she adds. With an Ecologist in Residence on the cards for the school, there seems little doubt that students' biophilic investigations are going to be a green benefit for the long term, both for the school and the wider community. "It has started us on a whole sustainability project of 're-wilding' Putney!" says Suzie Longstaff. For Putney High School's 'Plant Guide for Schools', visit putneyhigh.gdst.net



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Common goal The Head of Windlesham House asks if the Common Entrance – that mainstay of the final prep-school years – is fit for purpose in the modern education landscape


ommon Entrance exams have, for many years, provided a structured syllabus for the two final years of prep school, with a full range of examinations being the main form of assessment. With the focus for senior school entrance now shifting to pre-testing in Year 6, children are facing the prospect of assessment and exam preparation – in some cases from as early as Year 5 until they sit their A levels in Year 13. As schools, it must be our aim to achieve more than education for education’s sake if we are to give our children the best possible experience. No one would ever want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but it is essential that we constantly evaluate our teaching and learning to ensure it is still valid for the 21st century. We are preparing children for a very different world today than we were even 20 years ago, yet the two-year programme of Common Entrance study with terminal exams has, in reality, changed very little. We now understand that skills acquisition and creative forms of assessment are as valuable as memorising and regurgitating large volumes of information. This is especially the case when, as happens in many schools, pupils are starting their GCSE studies in Year 9. It is essential to have a solid and rigorous curriculum in place for Years 7 and 8. In many ways, the current programmes of study for Common Entrance are exactly

“Schools need to work together to produce a curriculum that allows pupils to transition seamlessly to Year 9”

ploughing through past paper questions and revision. This time would be better utilised by active learning, exploring, discovery and application. Assessment is essential but an approach needs to be adopted which allows children to think critically, work collaboratively and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in a creative way. This makes education fun and exciting, encouraging enthusiasm and understanding for lifelong learning rather than risking boredom and dread of exams. It is generally understood that the majority of senior schools no longer view Common Entrance as a necessary ABOVE element of entry, and nor Windlesham do they value the exam as a House Prep pupils form of assessment. So if we are serious about providing the best possible education what we need. However, there must be for our pupils, we need greater continuity greater flexibility to incorporate different and progression from Year 8 to Year 9 and learning habits that build independence, more joined up thinking. Prep and senior communication skills, risk taking and oracy. schools need to work together to produce an In turn, this will provide greater academic academically rigorous curriculum that will rigour and ensure children become more allow pupils to transition seamlessly to Year successful and accomplished learners. 9, building on their knowledge, understanding One of the main elements and skills acquisition. of Common Entrance that Likewise, there needs to be render it no longer fit for a system of assessment which purpose is the form of terminal can be moderated but will also assessment. The need to allow academically rigorous prepare for formal written outcomes using creativity and exams may be seen by some as high levels of critical thinking. fittingly rigorous and of great Only then will we achieve a benefit in preparing for GCSEs. system that challenges children However, in reality it means to achieve their potential, while BEN EVANS that much of the teaching is also developing a genuine love Headmaster geared towards passing exams of learning and the essential Windlesham House and a great deal of valuable habits and behaviours of School learning time is devoted to successful learners. SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 51


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T he

Arrange a personal

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01283 559200 or email

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admissions@repton.org.uk Co-educational | 3 - 18 | Boarding and Day

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ABOVE ArtsEd students


Communication This is the social media-savvy, connected generation, but that brings its own problems. Post pandemic, we catch up with leading independents to find out how they manage real dialogue, foster kindness, and also ensure confident teamwork and face-to-face meeting points among their young people

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UCS, Hampstead


CS in Hampstead follows four Learning Values of responsibility, relationships, resilience and resourcefulness. There’s a big emphasis on encouraging pupils to listen to one another and be bold in sharing their thoughts and opinions. “Our pupils’ willingness to question and challenge, and engage in clubs, societies and community projects, creates such a stimulating atmosphere,” says the school’s Director of Wellbeing Bimba Kumarasinghe. Within the co-curricular framework pupils are given support to take ownership. With 70-plus pupil-led clubs and societies, including debating, Model United Nations, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise, a spirit of enquiry feeds into the fabric of the school. Students run these clubs for peers and younger age groups, also stepping up to responsibilities such as House Captains. They also drive the annual Community Action ABOVE One-to-one time at fundraising initiative – and are Queen’s College, Taunton very good at it. A recent example of this is a pupil-led fundraiser BELOW Mentoring is for Ukraine, which raised £5,000 encouraged at UCS in less than a month. “Through sense, and UCS works for being involved in co-curricular an “unambiguous culture of activities, pupils acquire new skills but equality” in which the student also develop character and discipline and body is closely involved. Pupils are appreciate the importance of camaraderie,” encouraged in this through teaching and says Headmaster Mark Beard. mentoring younger children, both at UCS Developing empathy and listening and at local partner schools. In particular, skills is critical to building a strong moral Sixth Form students play a key role in ‘paying it forward’ by helping younger pupils. “There are numerous mentoring schemes and our peer education project trains Sixth Formers to teach lessons on wellbeing and mental health to Year 7s,” says Deputy Head Pastoral Andrew Wilkes. This, alongside their input into fundraising (organising events and choosing charities) helps to build a culture of service – also an understanding of the bigger issues. The spirit of looking after others is, says Headmaster Mark Beard, a critical element in developing outward-looking young people. “We foster social responsibility alongside respect for the individual. Pupils are taught humanity, understanding and empathy.” Here too, the element of broadening young people’s horizons – showing them life beyond their small circle – helps to foster the kind of communication skills needed for their futures. “Varied experience beyond the classroom serves to nurture and champion creativity, aspiration and individual talents,” says UCS Assistant Head Co-Curricular Jessica Lewis.

Queen’s College, Taunton


t Queen’s College, Taunton the focus is on creating a culture in which students are comfortable in class settings and able to communicate and share freely. This is helped by both the small class sizes and the structure of teaching and learning. “Every pupil is provided with a chance to communicate in every lesson,” says Head of College Julian Noad. “Collaborative activities are carefully structured to ensure that each pupil plays their part in expressing ideas, responding to others’ views, and taking the opportunity to lead.” Within the wider curriculum, there are plenty of opportunities to mix and share, with performing arts opportunities a priority and sports and outdoor education used to develop ‘people skills’ and leadership potential. There’s lots of focus on fun, but also using these platforms to develop young people’s strengths. Alongside the benefits drama brings in building confidence, other forums include Model United Nations, debating, academic societies and discussion platforms such as Book Club. Queen’s College’s Debating Society is a particularly useful means of helping students develop listening skills and SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 55


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“At UCS there’s a big emphasis on encouraging pupils to listen to one another, value each other’s input and be bold in sharing thoughts and opinions”

empathy, ensuring an atmosphere where pupil contributions are welcomed and acknowledge by their peers. “The ultimate ambition for many pupils is prefectship, with its opportunity to ‘give back’ and earn genuine leadership and people skills,” says Julian Noad. Mentoring is also encouraged, where there is a pastoral or academic need, while PHSE sessions encourage informal discussions and discovery opportunities. Formal and semi-formal settings can also be a valuable way of giving young people confidence and the weekly ‘tea parties’ with the Head and his wife, plus Sixth Form dinner parties at the Head’s House, offer a means to support confident communication. Students often lead visitors round the school, support social events at the school and take the lead on charity initiatives. Boarding here has a vertical approach, in which students get to know pupils from their House of different years. This, says the College, encourages interaction with different age groups, peer leadership and also team working. There is also a strong role for young people in looking out for each other – Queen’s College runs a highly successful ‘Talkabout’ group to help those who need support interacting with others.

ABOVE A student at More House BELOW Queen’s College, Taunton students

More House


ore House in Knightsbridge sees confident communication as a top priority. Girls are encouraged to speak up in and out of class. Head Faith Hagerty says that the traditional ‘hands up’ approach does not serve every child well so the school uses differentiated questioning to encourage whole-class participation. An in-house specialist in Speech and Language Therapy works with specific pupils, as recommended by the SENCo or other teaching staff, and this nurturing work helps everyone to develop key skills in questioning, listening and conversing. Whole year group singing facilitates pupils finding their voice, while LAMDA lessons offer individual pupils or small groups the opportunity to explore voice through character. The school’s Debate Club also provides a platform for developing skills in clarity of expression and use of language. Variety is key here, since a non-competitive environment helps some pupils while others thrive in a more public forum. As a Catholic school, More House talks openly about love, and this naturally leads on to discussions around the importance of

empathy. Pupils are encouraged to practise effective listening, and this is modelled by staff – the school believes young people must feel listened to in order to be good listeners. Leadership opportunities are offered that go beyond the scope of everyday school life. More Holidays, the school’s programme of holiday courses, involves sixth formers in areas from finance to marketing and operations. Students are also invited to assist in the delivery of courses for younger children, developing workshop ideas and leading a variety of games and activities. They also liaise with parents, which requires excellent communication skills. This initiative gives pupils of all learning profiles a chance to shine. There are, of course, ongoing concerns since the pandemic, but More House sees this as a problem with a solution. “What we are seeing is a generation of young people who have missed out on growing up around their peers,”, says Head Faith Hagerty. The school has worked closely with pupils to address this, using opportunities such as the co-curricular programme, concerts and productions so that pupils mix freely outside of their own year group. “We must help our young people to value their own worth more than their online presence,” adds Faith Hagerty.

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ABOVE Cumnor House, Sussex pupils

Cumnor House, Sussex


t Cumnor House, Sussex, a co-ed day and flexible boarding prep close to Haywards Heath, the staff place real importance on building close relationships with pupils and their families. This is a vital formative stage, so it’s all about understanding how children learn best and how to provide both challenges and support. The team say that strong relationships provide an environment of safety and security, giving children the confidence to try new things. The school believes it is important not to see the extra-curricular and the academic as discrete because, done well, they are intrinsically linked and bring education to life. The focus here is on an individualised approach that sets the right goals for pupils, no matter where their strengths and weaknesses lie, as well as teaching the importance of community and the role everyone plays within the Cumnor community. The school motto, ‘Aim High, Be Kind, Dare to be Different’ permeates every aspect of school life and is constantly reinforced through lessons, assemblies and interactions. Pupils have timetabled Wellbeing lessons each week – a safe space to discuss what constitutes a healthy relationship and what it takes to be a true friend. In Wellbeing lessons and ICT, significant time is spent helping children look at the way they engage and communicate online – an even more important element

“Learning to communicate effectively through whatever medium is an essential skill and we spend significant time on this at Emanuel” of education in the wake of lockdown when children experienced extensive screen time and isolation from peers. Parent seminars support the work with children, some led by staff and others by external speakers. The Cumnor approach is that instilling healthy online habits and open communication at home are crucial at this stage – children’s experience of being online should be positive, formative and shared. Enabling children to connect with traditional childhood freedoms is also intrinsic to the Cumnor approach. The school’s 65-acre site provides plenty of opportunities to embrace outdoor learning – from alfresco drama and time in the Reading Garden to scientific exploration in the Woodpeckers, its school in the woods. Outdoor learning is used to teach skills and values such as cooperation, problem solving, risk taking and leadership. There are also the unforgettable pleasures of just being together having fun – lighting fires, den building and toasting marshmallows.

Emanuel School


t Emanuel, the importance of the relationship between students and members of staff is emphasised, whether that be with a form tutor, subject teacher, head of year or member of senior staff,” says Deputy Head Pastoral Ravi Kothakota. The Battersea co-ed encourages students to speak up on both school and wider societal issues. “Students need to know they feel heard and listened to on issues that relate directly or matter to them. We place a significant focus on ensuring all students are provided with opportunities to express themselves,” he adds. There are lots of opportunities for students here to make a mark. Assembly presentations, Drama lessons and regular plays and performances give a creative outlet. There are also public speaking competitions, weekly form discussions, debating clubs – even a film club for aspiring directors, actors and presenters. SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 57


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SENIOR / COMMUNIC ATION LEFT Emanuel School prioritises pupil voice RIGHT ArtsEd students develop empathy skills


Y “At ArtsEd, exposure to rehearsal and performance builds a natural confidence in students and helps develop listening and empathy skills ” Alongside the school council and nutrition review groups – which include representatives from all year groups – there are groups where pupils can formally discuss gender equality and mutual respect, race and diversity and LGBTQ+ matters. These provide platforms for pupils to drive tangible change, and this year an impact video including each pupil voice group was shared across the school community. Emanuel’s House system provides opportunities for pupils to mix across year groups, with the oldest pupils supporting and mentoring the youngest. Students can be appointed to leadership positions,

LEFT Emanuel champions mutual respect

achieve awards (House colours) and take part in a range of hotly contested competitions. Team sports are, of course, vital to the life of the school, with large numbers of students taking part in competitive fixtures. “Our co-ed House sport competitions ensure that girls and boys learn how to communicate with each other as part of team activities and not just within the classroom,” says Ravi Kothakota. Emanuel places great emphasis on respect across the community. “Learning to communicate effectively through whatever medium is an essential skill and we spend significant time on this as part of our Life Education programme.” The goal here is to prepare students for the modern world. “The role we play as a school is encouraging young people to connect away from their screens, while simultaneously introducing them to the many possibilities that technology presents,” adds Ravi Kothakota. Sixth Formers recently watched the film I am Gen Z, exploring the impact of social media. Many have volunteered for a school trial and will be reporting back – the goal being to shape an approach where agency in use of mobile phones is emphasised.

oung people at ArtsEd need less encouragement to express themselves than in most other schools, since this is an independent with a stellar reputation for training stage and screen talent. Students are here to pursue their love of performance. “All ArtsEd students are driven by a passion to express themselves, be it through drama, music or dance,” says Head of Day School & Sixth Form, Matthew Bulmer. He says this is a setting which inspires communication between students. “The performing arts – and I think sport is another good example – force young people to engage with one another physically and emotionally.” Without this dynamic learning in class, it would be impossible, in his view, to excel. “Rehearsal and performance builds a natural confidence in students and helps to develop their listening and empathy skills. This does not make them immune to moments of anxiety or doubt, nor does it mean that they are impervious to the temptations of social media, but their immersion in the performing arts gives them both the resilience to deal with difficult situations and the desire to focus on the moment.” One area where some may lack confidence when they arrive is in more traditionally academic subjects, but the confidence and creativity nurtured in vocational lessons gets carried across into all areas, helping them to exceed their own and others’ expectations. “A creative education allows young people to develop the skills necessary to thrive in the modern world,” says Matthew Bulmer. “The mobile phone isn’t going anywhere soon, but through the healthy, creative interactions that are a daily part of ArtsEd life for our students, it can become an extra to the day-to-day, not a lifestyle choice.”

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Courage. Courtesy. Compassion.

St Columba's College Co-educational Independent Catholic Day School for ages 4 to 18 in St Albans

Open Morning Saturday 24 Sept

01727 892040 stcolumbascollege.org ST COLUMBAS COLLEGE.indd 59

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LEFT Vikki Stone has built a career in music


We meet Vikki Stone of ITV’s ‘Romeo & Duet’, to find out more about her music career – and the life-changing Wells Cathedral School scholarship that launched it




ikki Stone is bringing live music to the nation every Saturday night on ITV’s new peak-time show Romeo & Duet. This has Oti Mabuse as presenter and sees Stone and her band Vikki and The Heartbeats provide an essential extra element – live music – so contestants can sing their way to a date’s (and the nation’s) heart. With just one short song to tempt an unseen stranger off the balcony, followed by duets for the pairings, Stone’s Musical Director role is critical to the success of these love matches – so, no pressure then. It’s unashamedly crowd-pleasing TV, the kind of classic Saturday night entertainment that three generations can enjoy together. Vikki Stone was involved with the show from the early stages. “Something we hoped might set the show apart was the live band and live music,” she says. This is a real point of difference for a format where

live bands have largely been replaced with highly produced but anonymous backing tracks. What also sets it apart is the female band leader – a first on UK TV. Her band includes another female lead in the “fantastic” guitarist Hattie Moran, a high-energy role model – especially for girls. Stone has good reason to want more female musicians on TV because she had no such guides growing up. There’s an element of good fortune behind the scholarship to Wells Cathedral School that helped launch her musical career. Of course, it also took talent and persistence, and a scholarship system that gave her a break. Stone grew up in Rugby in a family with no musical background. There was, she says, a “terrible” piano in the house (her father had begged this from a local pub) but that was it. Then, at the age of five she rather mysteriously asked for a violin for Christmas – she says it was the only instrument she knew. “So, my mum went into the local music shop to buy a violin and there was a woman SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 61


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ABOVE Vikki and The Heartbeats in ‘Romeo & Duet’, hosted by Oti Mabuse

in there who said, ‘oh, you don’t want a violin, you want a flute’.” By strange coincidence, this woman happened to be a flute teacher. And so it was that Vikki Stone acquired a flute and lessons to go with it. “I’m actually quite glad, as an adult, knowing how difficult a violin is to play. I’m not sure as a family we would have stuck it out.” Her family did stick it out with their flautist daughter – in fact, it became something of a mission. “Getting into music was incredibly expensive and, after I’d hit a certain level, in order to continue with it I had to practice,” says Stone. “There were 138 scales in Grade 8 Flute and we had this system called the scale pot – three tins marked A, B and C. My mum or my grandma, whoever had to do it with me, would pull the scale out of a pot at random and if it was perfect it went into A, if it wasn’t very good it went into B, and if it was dreadful, straight into C. I had to get 138 of these scales into the pot every day.” She passed Grade 8 at a precociously young age but, while music was a passion, the rest of school was a trial. “I did my

GCSE Music a couple of years early and after that I was just bored, absolutely bored. Nothing interested me – I guess I had what you’d describe as behavioural problems.” All that changed when she won a Sixth Form scholarship to Wells Cathedral School. “When I got to Wells, I wasn’t bored. They can teach you things which are catering to your interests – my behavioural problems didn’t exist anymore.” As well as giving endless outlets for all her music-playing talents, Wells offered a subject she had never heard of – Music Technology. She didn’t actually know what she would learn, but it had ‘music’ in the name, so Stone leapt at that too. “It turns out that there I learned about the software I use every day of my life as an adult, as a composer,” she says. “In terms of the skills, it’s more valuable to me than almost anything else.” Stone went from Wells to the Royal Academy of Music. She’s since been given the honour of Associate (ARAM) status, awarded by the Academy for services to the music profession. While her music training was text-book

classical, Stone’s musical taste has always been broader. She was often looked after by her grandma, and it was a regular event to be put in front of the TV to watch VHS tapes of old musicals. “My childcare was Oklahoma, Carousel, My Fair Lady, Oliver!” This knowledge of the more popular end of music has helped no end with a roll call of writing credits spanning musical theatre and comedy. There’s classical work too, including the BBC’s Ten Pieces Special Report, designed to engage young people with classical works and learning, and Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra – that had its premiere at Glastonbury. The populist leaning ‘sneaked in’ while she was at Wells – albeit illicitly. “I was at Wells with Flora Leo, also now a composer, and in the evenings, when were supposed to be practising in our own practice rooms, we’d often sneak into each other’s rooms to write songs together. That’s where both of us were writing what we hoped might be pop songs but they were far too cheesy and much more suited to musical theatre. And both of us are now musical theatre writers.” There’s acting too – and her performing



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she learned influences everything. “ I still apply the same economy of text and the same rules to myself – I learned to not make my writing baggy. This means when I’m writing for other shows, where I can afford other emotions, my writing is better for it.” Stone’s most recent longform show credit was Aladdin at the Lyric Hammersmith. Originally scheduled for 2020, this pantomime finally took to the stage last December and received rave reviews – plus three UK Pantomime Awards, including best script. While much of Stone’s other work has been musicals which, she says, require a lot of “workshopping” to get from concept to stage, writing panto is all about responding to current events and the show was being rewritten almost up to opening night to take in two years of lockdown and politics. “The thing about doing panto in theatre environments is that you get all of the spectacle of a big show. but you get all of the ability, like stand-up, to adapt to what’s going on. I took quite a lot of swipes at politics – I felt it was my PHOTO: DAVID REISS

side can be traced back to childhood engagement with national youth music groups. These included the National Youth Music Theatre Orchestra. “The first three years I got given an on-stage flute-playing role. Then in the fourth year, I had a leading role in the show, and I wasn’t playing the flute – they opened the door! After that, going back to playing flute in an orchestra wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wanted to perform.” Stone’s comic songs in particular have drawn praise – one critic describing her as the: ‘love child of Victoria Wood and Tim Minchin’. Comic songs are definitely a genre in their own right, and she’s happy to be associated with two such masters of the art form. The songs are something she’s honed through the hard yards of comedy experience. “After I left Royal Academy of Music I was auditioning for musicals and just not getting anywhere – a lot of those funny parts are for older women. So, then I decided to take matters into my own hands, which became comedy song writing.” While she’s wowed Edinburgh Festival audiences, she’s also done the really tough audiences and it was this breadth that honed those essential elements of brevity and wit. “Variety clubs and stand-up clubs are very unforgiving environments – if they don’t like you, they heckle you.” The writing style

duty as we’d all been through so much.” She also believes many of us underestimate panto as an art form. “I can’t think of another kind of art that consistently brings in such a diverse audience – backgrounds, ages – for many it’s their only time of going into an art space so if you can give them something that feels accessible, where they don’t feel out of place, the arts scene is all the better. Panto is much harder to do than people think – and lots of the regional arts economy is propped up by it.” While Romeo & Duet is doing its matchmaking best for would-be lovers of the nation, Vikki Stone is already busy with other writing projects. These include three musicals in development, plus a stage adaptation of a “quite famous children’s TV show” set to appear this November. She remains grateful for the Wells Cathedral School scholarship that was such a brilliant launchpad, but also convinced we need more music and arts opportunities in all the nations’ schools. “I think about myself – I could have just been dismissed as someone with behavioural problems and the reason was that there was nothing that engaged me. And it turned out I have the sort of brain where it’s one thing, music, that I needed.” She’s pleased, too, to have the opportunity to showcase her musical prowess as music director and maker to a really broad TV audience – and hopefully inspire the next generation. “People my age, women especially, have had to say, ‘I think I’m allowed to do this?’. I hope that lots of young people watching us can see themselves in many roles now.” SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 63


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ABOVE Co-ed games ensure fun for everyone BELOW Basketball is a key sport at St Columba's


SUCCESS With its move to co-education and substantial investment in new facilities, St Columba’s College is looking forward to bright sporting times ahead


or every school in the land, there are challenges in getting sports education right. On the one hand, competitiveness and sporting success, and on the other ingraining the habits of healthy activity in all young people by delivering sports they love enough to continue after school. St Columba’s College in St Albans has a third – its transition to full co-education means sport here now encompasses stretch and challenge (and fun) for boys and girls aged 4 to 18. Every challenge is also an opportunity and, with a substantial investment programme in facilities, there are exciting times ahead. Director of Sport Ed Lowe says: “Our vision here at St Columba’s is to provide a variety of opportunities that engage pupils of all abilities and interests”. The aim is to spread the net wide at first, with a broader range of sports offered for the youngest age groups, before delivering extra choices and specialism opportunities as they grow. A love of physical activity is key, as is engagement with competitive

sports. “Whilst prioritising the experience, rather than solely the outcome, we hope to also develop positive personal characteristics and values that form the basis of a flourishing student,” adds Lowe. The upgraded fitness suite and cardio area works for everyone. Lowe describes the facilities as “inspirational” both for pupils wanting to develop fitness and strength for a sports advantage and those who simply enjoy this as a healthy recreation activity. Even bigger news is the ambitious sports pitch building programme, which is transformational. Currently under construction, the stunning new sports spaces include a 4G artificial grass pitch match facility for year-round rugby, football and other field-based sports. There’s also a sand dressed multi-use games area (MUGA), where students can enjoy everything from netball in the winter to tennis in the summer. “The final piece of the jigsaw is a grass pitch suitable for sports such as football and rugby as well as the summer sports,” says Lowe. While St Columba’s plays all the traditional independent school sports, it is also widely known for basketball – a legacy

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“There are possibilities for boys and girls to play competitively all the way through the College”

RIGHT New facilities under construction enable a wide variety of team sports all year round

of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the US-based religious order that refounded the College in the 1950s. This authentic slice of American sporting tradition thrives here in historic St Albans. “County titles are won with regularity (usually by multiple age groups each year) and previous national titles adorn the trophy cabinet. St Columba’s College can rightly claim to be the most successful independent school in the England Basketball competitions,” says Lowe. Swimming is another strength, with talented individual swimmers over the years and recent success in qualifying for national relay finals, both for girls and boys. St Columba’s is keen to continue its strengths, but that is underpinned with a strong belief in offering diverse opportunities in team and solo challenges. Fencing, climbing and golf are in the mix – and with notable national-level players. Cross-country is doing very well under the tutelage of sports staff who are former internationals in athletics. Table tennis is growing in popularity and new sports, including spikeball and touckball, have joined the menu of PE options. Lowe says

it’s about inspiring “maximum engagement” among boys and girls. The girls are, of course, key to all of this, and the sports teaching staff have included traditional and non-traditional options here. “Netball will form half of the winter programme alongside football. With football being the fastest growing participation sport in the UK for women, it is the progressive choice that will bring both engagement and, hopefully, competitive success in the future,” says Ed Lowe. “Similarly, the summer sport options of athletics, cricket, and tennis will harness the expertise in the department and allow for a range of experiences.” The team are proud that the PE programme they are developing shows no gender bias and are keen to develop as many mixed opportunities as possible. This includes co-ed sports, which Lowe

sees as adding an extra dimension. “In picking football as a focus winter sport and having cricket as a summer sport there are possibilities for boys and girls to play competitively all the way through the College.” There are high hopes for co-ed success in athletics – including in some of the combined competitions now available. “This includes the Combined Overall District Athletics trophy,” says Lowe. “It was donated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in the 1990s with the view that St Columba’s could never win it given that we didn’t have girls at the time!” Now that would be a prize that everyone at St Columba’s would like to see carried home for the trophy cabinet. SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 65


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OPEN MORNING Saturday 24 September Booking essential. Please register at: pangbourne.com/visit


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Time to connect Chris Ramsey, Headmaster of Whitgift, discusses the challenges and benefits of rebuilding group work and communication in our schools after many months of online learning


lmost everyone working in schools will have been feeling a sense of positivity around the ‘great return’. When schools closed in March 2020, I naively thought this would be short-term, but after the trickle-back of that summer, the ‘bubbled’ term of the autumn, the second, depressing lockdown of January 2021 and the spring return, this academic year has felt increasingly normal. Most schools will recognise the problems lockdowns caused, too: increased anxiety, especially amongst already-vulnerable groups; frustration and even anger at the loss of activity and ‘milestone’ events; social atomisation and, above all, the damage (to be frank) caused by months of online learning. This online environment created a whole set of issues in a new

“Students need to be able to take part in discussion, so prioritising group work has been vital” informality of approach (instant messages to teachers at all hours) and a reliance on online material. For some, there was what I might tactfully term a ‘loss of social skills’. Reminders of codes of behaviour have been the order of the day, but also a serious strategy to reboot communication. This has been one of the most important aims for all schools, I would argue, in the post-Covid months. I think there are four key strands. First, the vital importance of rediscovering group work and discussion. Whatever the EdTech gurus might argue,

ABOVE Whitgift students

group work on Teams or Zoom does the most enjoyable and I think most not work. And as much as it was a relief valuable way I can possibly have spent my to be back in school, teachers keeping mornings. It links, too, to my third strand. their distance at the front and students I am never sure about Student Voice: in rows did not make for great oracy or schools are not democracies. But ensuring articulacy. Students need to be able to the students have a vehicle for having a take part in discussion more than ever, say is increasingly vital. The success of my so prioritising group work has been vital. tutor group visits has led us to empower For our youngest students, we ran some prefects to develop their own programme ‘collapsed days’ in the summer, with of drop-ins with groups of younger Model United Nations, Global Citizenship students built around specific themes. discussions and debating… they found Finally, all this underlines the it hard, but we needed this impetus. importance for students of setting out an Secondly, it has been so argument. One benefit of important to reconnect in all that time at home is that person informally. Most Heads some of our students have are good at Assemblies, and found interests to research most of us developed some and even become expert skill in online Assemblies, in. We should harness that but nothing replicates the enthusiasm and find ways connection with an audience. to validate and publish the With large gatherings still offoff-beat, the quirky, the limits, I and my senior teams unusual. The pandemic took to visiting tutor groups has taken its toll, for sure, CHRIS RAMSEY informally, to take questions, but schools can rebuild, Headmaster hear views, say what was and we can discover Whitgift School on our minds. This has been hidden gems too! SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 67


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DRAMA IN ACTION Southbank International School Drama Teacher Kym Martin on the power of performing arts to deliver skills that last long after the action on the stage KYM MARTIN

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A B OV E Teamwork and discipline are core to the drama process


tudents at Southbank International School recently performed The Addams Family Musical, postponed from February 2021. The musical was a glorious success and was the first time in two years that the whole school community was able to come together. Having been a Drama and Theatre teacher for 27 years, it was one of the most magical experiences I have had in the profession. It also further consolidated my firm belief in the power of performing arts to equip young people with the confidence and life skills for their future, whatever path they choose.


Drama and Theatre provides a platform for exploration and experimentation. That’s the reason a play is called a play – not a ‘work’ – because it enables you to be imaginative, creative and expressive, and crucially, to

LEFT & BELOW The performing arts build self-belief and confidence

take risks and move outside your comfort zone. This links directly to real life, where people are forever having to take risks and embrace change. As human beings we often find change difficult but, in truth, change is the only certain thing in life. In our classes and rehearsal rooms, we embrace change amid the realisation that there is no right or wrong in Drama and Theatre, only choices to make in a creative journey. The performer/audience relationship also plays a key role in helping to develop students’ ability to evaluate and to take on board constructive criticism. As part of the IB Diploma Theatre assessments, students are given feedback from the audience in the form of talkback sessions or as written responses. This active collaboration equips students with the self-confidence to give and receive feedback graciously and – importantly – to consider how to take their work forward. This is an invaluable skill for later in life, as they will inevitably meet people with different perspectives to their own. Through this collaborative relationship and art form we can ask big questions about life and what it means to be human. Building on this, performing arts foster a greater sense of collaboration among young people, helping to teach them that, while they won’t always get on with everyone they work with, they can always problem solve and find ways to work together. This is true not only in the workplace, but in private life and across society as a whole.


Above all else, the performing arts foster confidence and self-belief in young people. I’m always in awe of the way in which students are able to stand up in front of their peers and share their ideas and performance skills. Drama and Theatre demands that they use their whole being as their instrument – intellect, emotions, body and voice. This is an incredibly brave thing to do and takes training to get better at, but something I’ve come to understand is that young people are not often marred

“Drama and Theatre demands that they use their whole being as their instrument – intellect, emotions, body and voice” by the fears that adults tend to accrue as they get older. This self-assurance is bolstered by the safe environment we set up in the drama classroom, a safety net where students feel comfortable, happy and encouraged to try new things. In the 20 years that I have been teaching in the UK, I have had several dozens of DP Theatre students attain places at Russell Group Universities and at US colleges such as NYU, Brown and Vassar. These students have gone on to study a wide range of courses. First-hand feedback from university admissions is that they welcome the breadth of study that taking Theatre at Diploma level can give students and are impressed by the confidence with which Theatre students demonstrate the highly transferable skills that are desirable to these universities. Studying performing arts also fosters discipline and focus, two essential skills for study and for life. With digital innovation accelerating the pace of change at a faster rate than ever before, studying Drama and Theatre places an onus on personal connection and sharing a sense of common humanity which, in simple terms, is nothing short of ‘being human’. So, as the world continues to change and the scholastic focus remains on encouraging digital skills through the study of STEM subjects, let’s not forget the enormous power of performing arts in preparing young people for a brighter future.

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Outdoor learning The Headmistress of Habs Girls says it's time that schools recognised the value and benefits of providing older pupils with outdoor education


ith an increase in forest schools and the benefits of outdoor learning widely reported, getting pupils outside and into the fresh air has become a top priority over the last few years. For early years and primary-age children, schools have risen to the challenge of creating inspiring outdoor education. Unfortunately, from age 11 upwards, the emphasis around outdoor learning seems to tail off or is largely confined to the court or pitch during scheduled PE lessons. This is a great pity, since we already know that young people spend far too much time indoors in front of screens. As schools, we need to be doing as much as possible to stimulate a desire for being outside. When children reach senior school, everything switches to academic progress, exams and

“From age 11 upwards, the emphasis around outdoor learning seems to tail off or is largely confined to the court or pitch” assessments. This simply nurtures the classic stereotype of young people who don’t really want to be outside. It becomes a vicious circle too, because the more we restrict outdoor learning within older age groups at school, the more reluctant they will be to engage with the idea. Outdoor learning is not just about wellbeing or getting out into the fresh air. There is an academic value to learning outside of the classroom. Biology and other

children should be encouraged to think about the RIGHT Habs Girls pupils hyper-local – the changes around them. Schools have a duty to educate older children to become stewards of their own campus. Getting older children and teenagers outside as part of their daily routine, should be happening in the same way that it does for primary school children – and across multiple core subjects. For example, getting pupils involved STEM subjects should be taught outside and enthused about gardening will equip more often with timetabled activities them with the skills to grow and nurture, as part of the curriculum, not simply fostering the values of patience and care a 'nice to have' add-on on a sunny day. in order to achieve good results. It can also From developing horticultural expertise be employed to teach science subjects in to studying and observing geographical practical and visually engaging ways. surroundings, being outside strengthens Taking co-curricular activities a academic development and provides a step further, schools can embrace the multi-sensory learning environment for idea of a school allotment, set up a bird older pupils as well as for younger ones. watching club or build partnerships We are constantly teaching our young with linked charities to give back to people about the impact their local communities of climate change and how through outdoor work. In to take better care of our doing the bare minimum world. That also means around outdoor learning understanding and recording for older children, schools seasonal changes, recognising are essentially sending the local wildlife and identifying message to teenagers, that the plants and trees that grow being outdoors isn’t that on our doorstep. Often, when important. It’s time to redress climate change is discussed, the balance and give muchchildren think of the polar needed focus to outdoor ROSE HARDY ice caps or the extinction of learning – and show the wider Headmistress far-off species. While these benefits of being outside Habs Girls are important considerations, to our young people. SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 71


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RIGHT Brighton College students play beach volleyball on Sussex's most famous seafront


G A ME S Independent schools go way beyond the classic team sports, to bring on the champions, and also help every pupil find their sporting spirit LIBBY NORMAN 72 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | SUMMER 2022


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n the foreword to the 2014 Ofsted report ‘Going the extra mile: Excellence in competitive school sport’, the then Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw namechecked Alan Wilkinson, PE teacher to a keen would-be footballer called Mo Farah. Wilshaw noted that it was Wilkinson who steered the Olympic legend away from the beautiful game based on a hunch that the lad would go much further on the running track. No one can have any doubt of the positive influence that a steer in the right direction has on potential elite sportsmen and sportswomen, but the Ofsted report was highlighting the broad opportunities independent schools offer, how this impacts whole-school

culture as well as sporting success – and also considering how all schools might improve sporting achievement. The tendency still when we talk about school sport is to think of the classic team games – rugby, hockey, netball, cricket, and so on. While these remain core, the menu of sports opportunities in independent schools is far richer and broader, and ultimately feeds into success at national and international events. Sports directors recognise that not everyone is a natural for mainstream team games, and it could be the individual tests and endurance challenges – or the less usual team sports – that ignite a student's enthusiasm. A drive for excellence is really important here, but so too the fun factor. For instance, Brighton College makes full use of its beach access by hosting the annual Independent

School Beach Volleyball Competition. Off season, the school hones team skills in its double-height sports hall, but once the summer comes, students head down to Sussex’s most famous seafront for proper play. Brighton is deadly serious in its endeavours – the school is current Independent School champion. The College also has highly active sports clubs in fencing (one female pupil was recently selected for the U17 GB squad in Cade Sabre) and in water polo, where it regularly competes in tournaments. Dulwich College may not be on the waterfront, but its students also love water polo. Boys are introduced to it as a lunchtime club in Years 5 and 6 – provided they can swim well in deep water – and it’s become a really popular sport, with six friendlies against local opponents each SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 73


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ABOVE Fencing at Brighton College LEFT Water polo is a Dulwich College strength

“Off season, Brighton College hones team skills in its double-height sports hall, but once the sun comes out, students head down to Sussex’s most famous seafront”

year. When they get to senior school, there’s the opportunity to compete in all age groups within the Schools League and the English Schools Swimming Association national event. Teams are coached by former international competitors and have been on overseas tours. As it happens, Team GB remains one of the most successful competitors in Olympic Water Polo historically, but the last time we carried home gold was 1920, so there’s plenty for young people to play for. Like Brighton College, Dulwich also has form in fencing. Recently, it celebrated the achievements of Old Alleynian Oliver Lam-Watson, who was part of the silver and bronze-medal winning GB wheelchair fencing teams at the Tokyo Paralympics. Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh honoured a win in the Olympic arena even

LEFT Merchiston offers a rich choice of sports, including shooting

more recently. Merchistonians Hammy McMillan and Grant Hardie won silver for curling at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Notably, the women’s curling team led by Eve Muirhead (alumna of the independent Morrison’s Academy in Crieff) brought home gold. These were the only two medals for the nation from Beijing, and so all the more likely to generate interest and enthusiasm for the sport of curling among young people over the next few years. Merchiston has a great tradition in another Scottish sporting invention, with a highly regarded Golf Academy that enables talented players to pursue their sport without compromising on their education. The school approach is broad – it has a winning reputation in many individual and team sports – and with a clear focus on bringing on all the talents. It is fortunate in its facilities and location, so sailing (at a club on the Firth of Forth) and shooting on its own range and within the grounds are both popular. These are two sports in which Team GB has an excellent track record at international events. Sports staff at Merchiston and every school work hard to bring on the most able and rightly celebrate each win by a student or former student, but it’s a lesser, albeit vital, part of their remit. All research points to the same thing – if students leave school with an enjoyment of physical activity, they are more likely to stay active into middle and later life. Medals apart, this is why the rich diet of sports and the quest for excellence in many competitive arenas is a positive thing. After all, most young people hang up their rugby boots and hockey stick when they leave school. But a spot of sailing or beach volleyball on holiday or a round of golf or clay pigeon shooting at the weekend is there to be enjoyed for many years to come.

XXXXX 2018 2022 74 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | SUMMER


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Wellbeing Markers


Pangbourne College Assistant Head Caroline Bond outlines the key markers of a school that prioritises children's mental health and wellbeing

ccording to the Mental Health Foundation, depression affects more children today than it ever has. So, how can you be sure that your child’s school is doing all it can to look after young people's mental health and wellbeing? Here are some of the key indicators to look out for. Is there a ‘traffic light’ system to show up pupils struggling with mental health? This system helps pastoral staff to share information on those children who may need extra support. Background information on the child is confidentially shared with staff to ensure that everyone is aware of a particular pupil’s situation. Staff then know which behaviours to look out for and appropriate actions to take. Does the school use tools to flag pupils who are at risk? One example of this is AS Tracking, a social-emotional assessment tool which flags pupils and enables the school to put a plan in place to address the issues facing them. This is an excellent tool for uncovering issues which children may be hiding from those around them. Is there an onsite counselling service? Most schools provide access to counselling services, but an onsite counselling service makes it so much easier for children to get counselling as and when they need it and in a supportive and familiar environment.

“A school needs a culture of care – a setting which is values-led, with an ethos that encourages kindness and respect”

more likely to be able to help your child to take care of their mental health and wellbeing.

What about a peer mentoring programme? Some schools give their Sixth Form students the opportunity to peer mentor the younger pupils, who often feel more comfortable talking through their problems with someone closer to their age. These programmes help to create an ethos of care and kindness in the school. ABOVE Pangbourne College pupils

Can parents get support too? Quite often, parents struggle as much as their child to understand what is happening, let alone how to support them through their difficulties. Tools such as the Wellbeing Hub from TeenTips provide excellent, practical advice on how to support a child, also giving parents useful information to help them understand more about wellbeing and mental health issues. Is there an equal focus on physical health and exercise? According to a joint report from the Education Policy Institute and the Prince's Trust, frequency of exercise is a key factor affecting young people’s mental and emotional health. This shows that a school that encourages sport and other physical activities on a frequent and regular basis, is

Does your child’s school help them build resilience? Prevention is always better than cure, so your child’s school should do as much as possible to help them develop positive strategies to take care of themselves and cope with life’s inevitable ups and downs. Activities which foster a strong sense of resilience – in other words, the ability to face, overcome and ultimately be strengthened by challenges – include the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award and the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) Programme. Is there a culture of care? Finally, and most importantly, a school needs a culture of care. This is a setting which is values-led, with an ethos that encourages kindness and respect, where positive mental health and wellbeing is accepted as an important aspect of school life, and where everyone is encouraged to take part in activities promoting wellbeing. This is most likely to be an environment where a child can flourish. If a school employs all of the above initiatives, it is clearly a place which also values and supports your child’s mental health and wellbeing.

C A R O LI N E B O N D Assistant Head Pupil Mental Health and Wellbeing, Pangbourne College SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 77


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Wizard play A once fictional game is finding a loyal following among students. We catch up with QuidditchUK to find out the state of play


uidditch – that game in Harry Potter that required wizard powers and real broomsticks – has, by some strange magic, become a sport. Not only that, but it's played in some 40 countries and with a set of rules and grassroots approach that make it fast-paced, fun and with a great sense of community. In fact, if you are looking for a case study that ticks boxes for 21st-century


sporting ideals around inclusivity, quidditch would be a good place to start. It emerged when a couple of Vermont college students set out to take the rules from the Harry Potter books and codify them to create a game Muggles could play. This was back in 2005, and since then it has developed structures, nationally and internationally. QuidditchUK (QUK) started out playing to those Vermont rules, but it is now a full member of the International Quidditch Association. Other active nations include Canada, Chile,

Australia, Argentina, Turkey and several European countries. There are emerging and associate members spanning the globe, from Japan and Pakistan to Uganda and Vietnam. As a full member, QUK participates in rule making and changing – ensuring the game works as it continues to grow. Beck Throup, QUK Media Director, began playing the sport while she was at University of Bristol and believes the secret of its growth is the community spirit involved. "It's a well-loved sport – a small

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“There's a lot happening on the pitch in quidditch – It's essentially a cross between rugby, dodgeball and wrestling” community of a few hundred players in the UK, but it's such a tight community," she says. It may be diminutive but it's gathering momentum and QUK recently hosted its national championships involving a community league for the first time, alongside the university league. When you consider that a full team complement is 21 players (due to the number of substitutions), you get the sense of what an inclusive activity this can be. Also, and this is vital, it's mixed sex and with scope for every body type. "There's no stereotypical quidditch player. I'm five foot two and then you've got six-foot rugby lads – you've got so ABOVE many different ways of playing Warwick vs Oxford at the national championships the game and so many tactics involved that it always ends up BELOW fairly evenly matched. The only Liverpool and Manchester fight it out at the hoop thing that tends to affect the outcome is if one team doesn't of equals. "That's important have its full roster of 21 players." to us to a degree where it's Throup was drawn in, like a lot of actually in the international rule people, by the idea of playing a game she'd book. We have a Gender Rule, where you read about. "I did love the Harry Potter can only have four people of any one gender books and I met the captain of the quidditch on the pitch at any one time. Referees and team at a party and I promised I'd come to officials are made aware of all the players training – and about a year later I showed on each team's gender for when they are up!" She enjoys the fact that this is a game subbing on and off." This ensures a balance of weight and strength or, as Throup puts it: "You don't have a team of seven rugby lads on the pitch at any time". QUK is building a youth outreach programme to work with younger players – including through schools who want to organise games or taster sessions. There are also, curiously, a fair few enquiries from stag and hen parties who want something different. "There's a lot of goodwill," says Throup. "Even when people retire from play a lot of them stick around in the community and volunteer, as well as coming to tournaments. These volunteers are essential to running the sport." Watch a game in play, and you can see why people stick around – there's a lot happening on the pitch. "It's essentially a cross between rugby, dodgeball and wrestling," says Beck Throup. "It's great fun to watch." There's enough complexity in quidditch to keep those who love rules in clover, while those who don't will still find it thrilling, if mystifying. With seven

players on each team in play at any time, the aim is to outscore opponents by getting the quaffle (a volleyball) through one of three opposition hoops. Each team defends their own hoops with tackles and bludgers (dodgeballs). The game ends when the winning team has a legal catch on the snitch (a neutral player, who enters play 15 minutes in wearing what is effectively a tennis ball in a sock attached to the back of their shorts) or when one team has a 30-point lead. You can understand why students love it: fast, fun and a bit wacky – you play while holding what is effectively a broom handle between your legs in homage to the fictional game. While quidditch is, at 17 years old, a newcomer, it's looking ahead. One current discussion centres on whether the name should be changed. "As we're moving away from 'oh there's that sport in the Harry Potter books', it will be interesting to see where we go," says Beck Throup. A two-year goal for QUK is to get quidditch recognised here as a sport. So, next stop the Olympics? Beck Throup believes there's a fair way to go yet. But then again, 30 years ago no one would have bet on skateboarding or BMX earning Olympic stripes. For quidditch fans everywhere, there's everything to play for – and they're also having a wizard time. quidditchuk.org SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 79


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The school where wellbeing and finding your ‘thing’ is at the heart of everything we do. Come and meet our Head, Mr Andrew Hammond and tour our wonderful school. Hall School Wimbledon welcomes children from 7-18 years old. We are a proudly non-selective school and offer small class sizes and personalised learning in the heart of Wimbledon.

Limited places available for September 2022 WIMBLEDON HALL S.indd 80

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Hurst College’s STEM Leader Amanda Jayne on why we need a major makeover in the promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths

t’s 20 years since UK engineer, Sir Gareth Roberts, produced his report on UK productivity and economic growth. He identified a significant shortage in the number of young people pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths – and ‘STEM’ subsequently became part of the educational lexicon. Initiatives have been around ever since, so when I introduce myself as the ‘STEM Leader’ at Hurst College, the acronym no longer requires laboriously spelling out – or so you would think. Economic data shows that all developed countries still have a massive shortfall of trained people to meet predicted workforce demands. The UK is facing a well-documented engineering crisis. What is even more worrisome is that we still aren’t rearing a population fully prepared for the world they will live in. No matter what their career choice, they will all need skills to be able to cope with ever-increasing mechanisation, digitisation and artificial intelligence. A STEM focused education addresses these issues, helping students to develop confidence in experimentation and risktaking. Students learn to examine problems and create logical plans to solve them, and in so doing develop critical-thinking skills. They also learn about teamworking, data recording, report writing and presentation. Students with a STEM-focused education are more likely to be motivated to access careers with competitive salaries and rapid career progression. So why do we still need to promote STEM? Studies cite several key reasons, with one of the main ones being the poor perception of technical jobs that

ABOVE & LEFT STEM in action at Hurst College

“We can all play a role in promoting awe and wonder in the pivotal roles that science and engineering play in our daily lives” young people and those who influence them still hold. There’s also a lack of employer engagement with STEM initiatives. A bigger problem is that STEM promotion is everywhere and nowhere, with over 600 organisations involved in supporting engineering education. At Hurst, I have been involved with the Engineering Development Trust, the Big Bang Fair, CREST, Industrial Cadets and STEMnet. After 15 years, I am frustrated that I cannot quite explain how they link together, what they do differently or why there is a need for so many bodies.

So, what’s the solution? From my own experience I can state with confidence that teachers are significant role models. Our attitudes and passion for a subject can motivate and drive students to make career decisions. We can help steer the next generation towards making better informed subject and career choices. Pancurricular teacher training is also required; we can all play a role in promoting awe and wonder in the pivotal roles that science and engineering play in our daily lives. STEM-based industries need to be more active in forging formal links with local education settings. Without doubt, the STEM machine itself needs an overhaul, streamlining its provision and with clearer accessibility to the excellent initiatives it does offer. And finally, that acronym needs to be rescued – moved on from ‘the elephant in the room’ to a respected enterprise designed to safeguard the economic security of our country and better equip us all for modern life.

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Co-ed confidence Oakham School Headmaster Henry Price discusses how a co-educational environment can help pupils develop as confident communicators


ommunication is an essential instrument when it comes to developing confident and compassionate young adults. In striving to equip our boarding and day pupils with the skills they need to thrive in life, one of the most important things we can teach them is how to be good communicators themselves. We communicate in every aspect of our lives, with everything from talking to our friends about our weekend plans to asking for help on a question we do not understand. At Oakham, we provide an education where pupils learn to think for themselves and develop their own strong moral compass. In doing so, they are shown how to practise care and empathy, develop the courage to stand up for what is right, and listen to one another. Co-education and the diversity of ideas

“Co-education gives pupils a rounded education, with boys and girls living and learning together” and opinions shared among the sexes plays a vital role in this. It not only allows girls and boys to live, work and grow up side by side, but also to learn from each other whilst appreciating their strengths and weaknesses, and enjoying each other’s company. As one of the first independent schools in the UK to become fully co-educational in 1971, we have seen countless benefits and successes from this legacy. Throughout the milestone celebrations, we have witnessed many Old Oakhamians and staff, as well as current pupils, share their

experiences of how learning in this to overcome, this awkwardness ABOVE environment has helped them to certainly didn’t last long, and Students at develop into more confident adults. everyone adjusted very quickly. Oakham School To quote the then Headmaster John We were all very proud to be part Buchanan himself: “A school should of a forward-thinking School". be co-educational, because education must As we delve into the history of the School, it prepare for life”. For me, this is an absolutely is also important that we keep a focus on what vital message, as co-education gives pupils lies ahead and consider how co-education a truly rounded education, with boys and can benefit future pupils. Outstanding girls living and learning together, and then pastoral care and a well-rounded, crosstaking that learning with them. Given the curricular education shapes pupils into fact that men and women are confident, grounded and constantly in contact with one responsible adults. Reflecting another throughout all stages on her own experience of of their lives, it’s important that co-education, current Year 13 they have the communication pupil Grace commented on tools to build professional and the benefits that come from personal relationships and this environment. “I think be confident in doing so. that it’s refreshing to be able Looking back at when to meet with different people co-education was introduced, with different perspectives Old Oakhamian Jonathan in order to achieve a truly HENRY PRICE Stevens (’79), said: “Whilst it collaborative environment, Headmaster was a very different time, with in which you can experience Oakham School shyness and cultural differences what everyone has to offer.” SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 83

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FACTS & FIGURES 28 A Level subjects 94 % A* - B at A Level 7 - average class size 88 leadership roles 15 Careers events a year

FACILITIES The 6 - new Sixth Form Centre Sixth Form Library State-of-the-art Auditorium Specialist sports facilities

By the time they leave School, they are able to think critically, have high aspirations and a self -belief that there are few things they cannot achieve. Independent Schools Inspectorate

+44 (0)1483 899609 admissions@stcatherines.info ST CAHTERINES - FILLER AD.indd 84 ST_CATHERINES_FP_ABS_ED_Spring22.indd 1

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Inclusive SPORT Gus Lock, Headmaster of Habs Boys, asks if school sport is delivering all it should and considers how we make it truly inclusive – and for life


chool sport is a wonderful thing. Its benefits to students are obvious and vast, and it has rightly always been a central tenet of a liberal education. Sport builds physical and emotional resilience, leadership and teamwork. For students, it also embeds invaluable qualities such as competitiveness and sportsmanship, respect for oneself and for others, courage, risk-taking, discipline, humility in victory, and grace in defeat. Sport can be a brilliant vehicle for supporting and championing powerful messages about society and provides a necessary balance to academic pressures and screen time. But perhaps above all, sport is an incredible source of fun and friendship, a space where lifelong memories are made. And yet, for all of the benefits it brings, is school sport actually delivering all that it should? The health and fitness of our adult

“For all our commitment to breadth and inclusion, all too often school sport remains the preserve of an athletic elite”

ABOVE Cricket in play at Habs Boys

population has never been worse, with school, coaches or parents more than something close to an 800% rise in obesitythey suit the child’s preferences. related hospital admissions in the last We need to provide choice and breadth, decade alone. The number of adults actively also remembering that none (or very few) participating in football, hockey, rugby and will be playing rugby aged 40. Instead, we can cricket in the UK is in steady decline. The do more to support and promote so-called more sports have professionalised, the more minority sports – often the things more likely exclusive and elitist they have become at all to be played in later life. Hard though it is, levels and, for all our commitment to breadth we need to get past our obsession with filling and inclusion, all too often school sport our trophy cabinets. Being competitive is remains the preserve of an athletic elite. important, but victory and success are not It is imperative that schools understand always the same thing and too many schools and define what success looks like in this and parents still miss the point that it is the context. Surely success must be a physically process, not the outcome, that matters most. literate and engaged adult population, We need to start judging ourselves on very with the desire and self-confidence to clear metrics of participation and retention. continue being physically active? Our goal as schools is always to educate and Our schools need to invest prepare our students for life, in and celebrate all teams. not simply for exams. Judging We need to find ways to listen success is therefore exceedingly to all pupils (not merely the challenging and far more sporting elite): what is it that complex than any league table they have they enjoyed about would suggest. In this quest, the our sports provision and what imperative to embed an inclusive has put them off ? We must approach to sports provision avoid early specialisation and – seeking to ensure young prefigured pathways that seek people remain active, healthy GUS LOCK to impose specific destinations and engaged with sport in later Headmaster Habs Boys on children – destinations life – is perhaps as important that occasionally suit the as anything else schools do. SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 85

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Years 7, 9 and 12 boarding places available. ‘Students who attend the boarding school provision exceed their predicted outcomes and consistently reach, and further, their potential’ OFSTED BOARDING INSPECTION REPORT 2019



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BOARDER SUPPORT A bespoke approach to caring for boarders was never more important than during the pandemic, says Nicola Donson of Burgess Hill Girls


reat pastoral care has always been right at the top of the list for any parent looking at a boarding school for their child, but after the pandemic hit and live teaching stopped many international boarders could not get home. There had never been a greater need for excellent pupil support at boarding schools. At Burgess Hill Girls, where we have 52 boarders, we have always been really proud of how we create a homely, comfortable and safe environment for the girls. Even so, the pandemic – with all the attendant anxiety and stress it brought to pupils – meant we had to revise our strategy to respond to this unique set of boarding circumstances. We knew that the pandemic would not be short-lived. The repercussions for many of our girls were that they would not be seeing their families for long stretches of time. The situation was frightening enough for children around the world anyway, but imagine not being able to have a hug from mum or dad because they were thousands of miles away? We decided to address as many of these anxieties as we could and put together a wellbeing programme for boarders, with sessions on a variety of themes. These included explaining exactly who was there to look after them and listen to their concerns – not just teachers, but school counsellors, form tutors, the school nurse, independent listeners who are not employees of the

“Our Story Club became a chance for pupils to tell stories sharing what life is like where they live with their families”

ABOVE Nicola Donson with Burgess Hill pupils and school dog Jasper

school and even our school dog Jasper. Another session looked at how this situation was an opportunity to learn to take responsibility for yourself when living away from home. Regular activities laid on in the past now became more specifically wellbeing focused. We talked a lot about mental health and how important it is to share worries and concerns with others. This was particularly helpful, I believe, for students who come from cultures where mental health is not as openly discussed as it is here in the UK. Our Story Club, which pre-pandemic was used to help boarders with their English, now became an opportunity for pupils to tell stories from home sharing what life is like where they live with their families. With crafting club and baking club becoming very popular during this time, the ways in which girls could chat about their feelings while doing an activity also increased. When school life resumed, we audited our wellbeing programme to assess its effectiveness. We did this by asking pupils to fill out questionnaires describing how happy,

comfortable and confident they felt. The results students gave were really positive. But what mattered most to us was the impact on our young people, captured in responses such as this one: “Things became more difficult and seemed hard to achieve, especially lessons,” recalls Year 11’s Yashi Chen. “We started remote learning in the boarding house, and in the beginning I thought it was going to be all chaos and difficult to achieve, but the boarding staff made a lot of effort to support us as much as they could,” adds Yashi. “During the weekends, they arranged lots of activities to make sure we were not bored but also had time to relax and hang around with friends. We had opportunities to order Chinese food together and enjoy it together as a big family. In the end, lockdown didn’t seem to be so bad, and everyone had a lot of fun.”

N I CO L A D O N S O N Assistant Head Pastoral and Boarding Burgess Hill Girls SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 87


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Design Technology

ADELE CRABTREE Northwood Senior Adele Crabtree is Director of the Arts at Broomwood Hall and Head of DT at Northwood Senior. She graduated from Canterbury with a degree in 3D Design and worked as a designer for almost a decade in a WPP branding consultancy before turning full circle to inspire the next generation of designers.

Makers, inventors and problem solvers need firm foundations to set them on their way and Design Technology is the subject that opens career doors – from engineering to fashion and product design. Two experts in the field give us their elevator pitch

JAMES BUXTON Framlingham College James Buxton is Director of Design & Technology at Framlingham College. After a BA in Furniture & Product Design at Nottingham Trent University, he worked in the design industry before a PGCE and Master’s in Education at Cambridge. He is most excited by mid-century modern furniture and sustainable design.

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What makes Design Technology so brilliant? AC: Everything in the world that every human interacts with that isn’t organically grown has been designed. A problem is identified, and solutions created. Designs evolve, adapt and improve the world in which we live. This is exactly what each child learns to do in DT.


JB: It is the most liberating, empowering subject – students gain more than just making skills, they also develop creative thinking skills, genuine autonomy, and ownership of their learning journey. What made you choose it? AC: The opportunity came, and I grabbed it with both hands. DT is creative, technical, challenging. Seeing a pupil’s ideas coming to life and guiding them is hugely rewarding. JB: I love the freedom and variety. Every lesson brings new challenges and ideas – all to be solved or realised by exploring and experimenting. A studio of ten to 15 students all working on completely different projects is so engaging. And transferable skills and knowledge? AC: Skills of problem-solving, collaboration and evaluation. Knowledge of material

properties or technology can be learnt along the way. A flexible mindset and the ability to see opportunities in the ‘mistakes’. JB: Students practise the design process – the ability to identify problems, research, plan, create and reflect. This translates well in any area of study or industry and enables them to apply their skills with creativity and confidence in other contexts. What pathways does it open? AC: There are too many to list here. As a STEM subject they can move into design, engineering, or CAD (computer aided design). Careers are as diverse as fashion designer,

3 FAMOUS DESIGN GRADUATES: Sir James Dyson, Jony Ive, Stella McCartney 5 STUDY HOTSPOTS: Royal College of Art, UAL, Dundee, Plymouth, Loughborough WHERE DESIGNERS HANG OUT: The RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is meeting point for designers, makers and problem solvers. thersa.org

“Careers are as diverse as fashion designer, rocket scientist, branding designer, architect. packaging or furniture designer and structural engineer” rocket scientist, branding designer, architect. packaging or furniture designer and structural engineer. The broader importance of DT lies in helping pupils to think laterally and creatively and work in teams – important skills for the modern workplace irrespective of what you end up doing. JB: Design is everywhere, now more than ever. Equipped with creative skills and selfefficacy, pupils are advantaged in careers ranging from engineering and architecture, to design for film and TV and UX. Two things students might not realise Design Technology covers AC: GCSE DT is not just ‘making.' A large proportion is theory, where you can apply knowledge from other STEM subjects – and you don’t need to be able to draw! If you can get your ideas across to engage someone else, then that’s all you need. Computers and Visualisers are used in industry to help with this. JB: The Climate Crisis and social issues like inclusion – Design Technology graduates will be the ones to solve these problems in the future, I hope! SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 89

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TIMES James’ Place co-founder Clare Milford Haven talks about the inspiration behind her new book, capturing the timeless magic of family holidays

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he first thing that strikes you about The Magic Sandcastle is its timeless quality – the visuals and the story both carry the heat haze of halcyon summers. It’s set on Nantucket Island and centres on five children’s days on the beach. There’s a sandcastle building competition, which they win, against all odds, when the tide washes their first wonderful creation away. It’s ‘out of time’ in more than one sense, for Clare Milford Haven wrote it many years ago and then tucked it away. She can’t remember precisely when – the first draft sits on an old computer, the password long forgotten. “I think it was very much a reflection on happier times, shall we say. I’ve been asked if it was about my own childhood, and the answer is: no, not really. I’ve got wonderful memories of my childhood on the beaches on Nantucket. But this was more about when George and I amalgamated our two families, who were very young still, and we took them for many, many years to Nantucket for the summers.” This Nantucket connection was thanks to Milford Haven’s American-born mother. “My Mum, who sadly died a couple of years ago, created this wonderful forum for her grandchildren, having this house on this idyllic island.” Life there followed a regular pattern of favourite and familiar places and routines. “We would get into that old jeep and rattle down, and arrive at the beach carrying – I can’t even tell you – boogie boards, buckets and spades and any kind of toy or sport that could keep the kids fully occupied. It was quite an expedition every day, but they adored it.” She and George had even married on that very same beach in Nantucket a few years earlier – so a place of special memories. The Magic Sandcastle may be inspired by a specific beach, but it could be any stretch of sand where the sun is shining. After all, building sandcastles is a rite of passage for boys and girls everywhere. There is also (as all good children’s books must have) a point to

looked at his work and I said I really want this the story in the way the children overcome a setback and succeed in the end. “I wanted wash effect and these timeless illustrations. “I sent him photos and some images, and kids to think about dreams and fantasy – also never giving up,” says Milford Haven. “Things he interpreted the characters really well.” All five children from Clare and George’s go wrong and you fail sometimes, you get knocked down, but don’t give up. Keep going.” amalgamated family – James, Wenty (Harry), Louisa, Tatiana and Harry – star alongside It was lockdown that inspired her to return her late mother, AKA ‘Granny Annie’. “Dave’s to the story. Milford Haven was introduced done a brilliant job at interpreting what I by friends to Australian publisher Serenity wanted. I didn’t want bright, computerised and the book appeared there late last year, in images – maybe it’s my age – and this reminded time for the Southern Hemisphere summer, me of books from my childhood.” launching in the UK this spring. Another The nostalgic quality has an close friend introduced her to added edge of poignancy because David William Press, who created BELOW The Magic James, ‘Chief Engineer’ of the the lovely illustrations. “We couldn’t Sandcastle captures sandcastles in the book died meet because it was lockdown and I the magic of holidays by suicide in 2006 at the age of in Nantucket 21. It was this dreadful loss that led on to the formation of James’ Place – founded by Milford Haven and James’ father Nick Wentworth-Stanley two years’ later. It supports men who are suicidal and, since the opening of the first James’ Place centre in Liverpool in 2018, men have had a dedicated place they can go to for support and counselling. James had minor surgery, and this was followed by a crisis. Although he sought urgent help for acute anxiety and suicidal thoughts at a walk-in centre, the follow-on call to his GP somehow didn’t happen. “So many things went wrong – it wasn’t joined up. “Just say it was happening this year and James was in London, where we also have a centre now, and he went through the same process and luckily ended up in one of the hospitals that refer to us,” says Milford Haven. “They would have said, I think James, you haven’t got any complex mental health issues. You need to go to James’ Place and here’s the number – and he’d have been able to see somebody within 48 hours.” Since its foundation, James’ Place has saved hundreds of lives. Through all the research Milford Haven has done over the years, she’s realised that men at risk of suicide (and James’ Place is open to any man over 18) need the right sort of setting and support to open

“We would get into that old jeep and rattle down – and arrive at the beach carrying any kind of toy or sport that could keep the kids fully occupied”

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up. “Environment is really important when you’re in a bad headspace. The atmosphere inside James’ Place is very calm, it’s very peaceful. We have a beautiful garden there. People talk about it being like walking into somebody’s home.” She believes pride is at the root of many of the issues men face – they may be conditioned to see expressing guilt, fear, anxiety or other emotions as weakness. “Nearly all the men ABOVE we see are in crisis. They’re in Old photos were used as a starting point a temporary crisis. They don’t

“Nearly all the men we see are in a temporary crisis. They need to do what men find really, really hard, which is to offload, and maybe have a cry”

need to go to secondary care, they need to go and talk to someone. for the characters They need to do what men find LEFT really, really hard, which is to Clare Milford Haven offload, and maybe have a cry.” Nothing can stop the sense of loss and parental guilt – what Clare Milford Haven describes as the: ‘I should have saved him’ feeling – of any parent who has lost a child, but James’ Place is an amazing, and healing, outcome. “We always said if we could save one life it would be meaningful for us. And we have saved a considerable number of lives. In James’ memory, and as a legacy to him, I don’t know what we could do better.” Channelling all the grief and pain into such a positive has also made it much easier to keep James in conversations and in their lives. And now there is another way of

remembering James – within The Magic Sandcastle – surrounded by his siblings and in a place and time they all loved. Clare Milford Haven says the children have been incredibly touched by this book. “He was always the leader of the gang. In all the photos I’ve got of that time, it was always James who was drumming up something naughty to do. I think it’s important for the other kids that they’re all in it together. It’s captured in time and, because James is no longer with us, it’s something that’s immortalised with him.” The Magic Sandcastle is published by Serenity Press (£12.99); serenitypress.org James’ Place has centres in Liverpool and London; jamesplace.org

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Be curious An outstanding, co-educational Prep school for 3-11 year olds where curiosity is stimulated and a love of learning is encouraged

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Discover the many benefits of a Blackheath Prep education at our forthcoming Open Days

Saturday 11 June 2022 Saturday 24 September 2022 Tours also take place every Wednesday during term-time Book your place www.blackheathprep.co.uk/admissions

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Study ZONE Cult’s furniture essentials include hundreds of smart and affordable ideas to create the perfect study and chill zone for children


reating the perfect study space at home for your children can sometimes feel daunting but it doesn’t have to be hard work. The room you chose to make your home study doesn’t have to be the biggest space, filled with expensive furniture. At Cult, we believe that if the room is organised with well-chosen and comfy essentials, this reduces procrastination, inspires productivity and maximises focus. Take our Orson compact desk (£249) – perfect for one and great for a smaller space – this is your first step to promoting a better school-life balance. Functional and stylish, this piece features a streamlined black metal frame with a mango wood body, integrated with a spacious drawer,

helping to keep the workspace light, airy and clutter-free. An ergonomic office chair, like the Emily (from £139), should be your next step in creating a workspace that promotes a healthy lifestyle for kids and teens. With lots of colour choices, this Scandi-inspired chair features a heightadjustable, black metal base on wheels, so they can move seamlessly to study in comfort – and the padded backrest and seat also encourage better posture. The right lighting is essential to avoid eye strain, headaches, even drowsiness. Consider adding a table lamp from our Altra lighting range (from £99) to light up the desk area and darker corners of the room. The metallic circle design creates a sense of space, while the opal glass shade softly diffuses light – ensuring the perfect lighting balance across the room. If staying organised is a chore, then take a look at our Oslo chest of drawers (£399). With

four spacious drawers, it is designed to keep essentials close at hand and may motivate even the untidiest child to file their homework away – as we all know, success starts with organisation! It is vital to take regular breaks from studying. Adding in the option to step away from work for a few minutes creates space to breathe, relax and build a balanced relationship with school and home life. Think about adding a luxurious reading nook with our Effie accent chair (£349). Upholstered in a plush ivory bouclé fabric, this padded and curved design is an invitation to take time out, sit back with a favourite book or catch up with friends. Cult Furniture’s London showroom is the place to find your perfect study zone. Browse affordable designs, while getting inspired by themed areas. There’s also next-day delivery offered on available stock, so you can start the transformation tomorrow!

C U LT F U R N I T U R E 811-813 Wandsworth Road, SW8 3JH. 020 8185 6960 cultfurniture.com SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 97


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From an exploration of trees and the inspiring life of Leonardo Da Vinci to a new edition of a book about the ultimate ‘keel’ hero and a mystery out at sea, here’s our pick of great reads for the summer ahead

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Life of Invention by Jake Williams PAVI LI ON, £1 2 .9 9


he life of Leonardo Da Vinci is a worthy subject for any age group, but Jake Williams combines context and detail to make the story fascinating for younger readers. It begins with an exploration of the man – reminding us that in his lifetime the world’s most celebrated polymath thought of himself as a failure. Then the book covers his achievements, dividing them up into The Natural World, Inventions and Work of Art. It’s an inspiring dip-in guide to encourage further reading and exploration of both his life and his inventiveness.


THE RIDDLE OF THE SEA by Jonne Kramer translated by Laura Watkinson Illustrated by Karl James Mountford P ICCA D ILLY, £7.99

First published in the Netherlands in 2019, and now translated by Laura Watkinson, Jonne Kramer’s debut novel was nominated for several prizes, including the Dutch Children’s Jury Prize. It’s a gripping yarn centred on Ravian’s search for his fisherman father. Troubled by the stories of The Night Raider and fearsome Pirate Bank, he sets out with his trusty seagull friend Marvin. The adventure that follows includes an encounter with a bad-tempered pirate, help from a kind boy and epic battles with storms and giant squid.

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Editor's pick

by Paul Smith illustrated by Sam Usher PAVILION, £12 .99

This is the second book from the iconic British designer Sir Paul Smith detailing the adventures of the famous designer Mr Brown (a monkey) and his assistant Moose. In this story, Moose is put in charge of the office when Rainbow Class schoolchildren come to learn how to be a designer. A madcap trip round London for design inspiration and a mishap with the new-season collection ensue, but all ends well. It’s a fun read, and with delightful illustrations by Sam Usher.




All Around Bustletown: Nighttime

by Cynthia Cliff PRE STEL , £11.99

The Wild Garden centres on two distinct patches of land in Mirren. There’s the orderly community garden and, on the other side of the wall, a lush wilderness of trees, meadows and pond. This is where Jilly, her dog Bleu and her grandfather explore nature and forage, so they are unhappy when the community decide to tame the wild place. But a plan is agreed that encourages the best of both worlds – produce to eat and space for nature. Clear text and evocative illustrations make this a great introduction to gardening and the benefits of working together.

by Rotraut Susanne Berner PRESTEL, £9.99



by Ben Lerwill illustrated by Kaja Kajfež


This fact-packed book tells stories about the world’s trees – from the ancient Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California to the vast Montezuma Cypress in Santa Maria del Tule, Mexico. Travel writer Ben Lerwill brings a globetrotter’s perspective to the most distinctive trees of every region of the planet. There’s also plenty of scientific information – from trees’ ‘family trees’ to the wonders of pollination and collaborative root systems. Illustrations by Kaja Kajfež add detail and a sense of place in a book that will inspire budding botanists and geographers alike.


his new book in the Bustletown series explores life in the busy town after dark. As ever, wonderfully vivid illustrations by Rotraut Susanne Berner bring a whole community to life. The large format size and sturdy boards make it a perfect way to engage toddlers with the world of books, with minimal text but lots to explore in each of the seven illustrations. Each of the scenes can be used to help children identify familiar objects and activities and discuss what’s going on in the pictures.

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Woodland Magic: Fox Cub Rescue

Editor's pick

by Julie Sykes illustrated by Katy Riddell PICCADILLY, £5.99

Julie Sykes, author of the bestselling Unicorn Academy, has returned with the first in the Woodland Magic series. The themes of adventure, children saving the day, animal rescue and nature are surefire winners for young readers while the large font, with whimsical illustrations from Katy Riddell, make this an enticing page turner. With other titles in the pipeline including Deer in Danger and The Stranded Otter, this big-hearted series will definitely earn plenty of fans.



BARRY LOSER: TOTAL WINNER Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take an Evening Stroll by Britta Teckentrup P R E ST EL , £1 0.9 9


his story for young children from Britta Teckentrup has her trademark painterly illustrations and poetic text, and with a gentle and reassuring theme centred on nature and patience. The stroll in the story gets slower and slower as Little Hedgehog dawdles on the way home, insisting on stopping to watch the sun go down and the moon come up. It includes watching fireflies dance, listening to frogs sing and counting stars. A delightful bedtime read with a restful quality that may even encourage sleepiness.

by Jim Smith FARSHORE , £8.99

The tenth-anniversary edition (or ‘10 Years of Loserness’, as the cover puts it) of Jim Smith’s graphic novel is in full colour, and still with the fabulous Keel Gang cast, along with Barry Loser’s drippy classmates such as Anton Mildew and Fay Snoggles, plus pet cat French Fries – who doesn’t like Barry at all. Indeed, our hero has so many human flaws he’s irresistible. The vein of surreal humour and clever asides will attract a new generation of fans – and there’s even a masterclass at the back to help them draw some of the main characters.


EYES THAT SPEAK TO THE STARS by Joanna Ho illustrated by Dung Ho HARPER, £12 .99

This book by Joanna Ho, author of New York Times Best Seller Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, is all about celebrating inclusivity and family bonds – as well as the power within. Joanna Ho is also vice principal of a school in San Francisco, while Dung Ho is a resident of Ho Chi Minh City. Between them, they have created a richly drawn and heartwarming story to reassure any child who gets upset by the idea of looking or feeling different from their peer group.

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Saturday 8th October 2022 (Rishworth and Heathfield Open Morning)

Rishworth is a vibrant independent, co-educational, boarding and day school set in 140 acres of stunning rural countryside. With its own Preparatory School, Heathfield, it offers a continuous education for children from age 3 to 18. As well as specified Open Day events, we are welcoming families to visit us for pre-booked personal tours conducted at your convenience. To find out more or to book an appointment, please call

Scholarships & Bursaries available

Flexi & Weekly Boarding available

01422 822 217

or email


Visit us at www.rishworth-school.co.uk or call 01422 822 217



View our virtual tour

Rishworth, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom HX6 4QA. E: admissions@rishworth-school.co.uk

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M A K ING of Me

Josh Cuthbert The singer, model and digital creator talks about his school days in Berkshire and the road that led to the West End, and on to The X Factor and boy band success with Union J

Where did you go to school and when? I went to Charters School in Sunningdale, Berkshire, starting in 2004. Did you love school or hate it? I loved school. Like most children I had ups and downs. By age 11, I was passionate about singing and music – there are not many kids at that age who are into musical theatre, so I had a bit of grief about that, but overall school was a good experience. I was involved in all the sports clubs and teams and did singing on the side. The school were very supportive of my music. I auditioned for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium when I was 13 and I managed to get into the show. I was in matinee performances every other week and the school liaised with my mum and made it work. What were your favourite subjects / activities there? History and PE – I loved my sports. I didn't really enjoy music at school. I had stage school in London every Saturday and, without sounding disrespectful, I found school music lessons quite boring.

Who were your most memorable teachers and how did they influence you? I had a period where I misbehaved a fair bit. I was showing off to make the girls laugh – trying to be the class clown. Now, when I look back, it makes me cringe. So, teachers found me quite frustrating at times, however there were some who could see my potential. Mr Courtly was one of them. Instead of getting frustrated he tried to help me through my bad behaviour patches. He and a couple of other teachers took the time. That really helped and, because of that, I gave them huge respect and also behaved really well in their lessons.

Where was your favourite place at school? I loved being in the playground and on the Astro pitch, which was always open. Every break I would just play football, and for me that was an escape from the pressure of school and having to get good grades. It was the place I could switch off and have a laugh with my friends. I used to hang out there all the time. What beliefs did your time at school instil in you? I learned that when I put my mind to something, I'm capable of achieving. When GCSEs came about, I actually knuckled down. This was after four years where I was constantly told I was going to fail if I didn't pack in my behaviour and concentrate. When push came to shove, I got some impressive GCSE results and that was a big lesson – it gave me confidence. Obviously, I was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a year, but I was also going to dozens of other auditions during my school days and hearing 'no' left, right and centre. So, GCSEs and my audition experience taught me to never give up on my dreams – that I am good enough.


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as short as possible – until a teacher pointed out that longer ties make people look slimmer and more muscular. I was a typical teenager and I still remember the pressure of trying to look as cool as possible on those non-school uniform days. What is your most vivid school memory, looking back now? It was probably being made a prefect in Year 11. When my name got announced in assembly people said: 'What?'. Then when I went home to tell my mum she couldn't believe it either – not in a nasty way but it showed how much I had knuckled down. My Head of Year who made me a prefect, Mrs Campbell, was brilliant and I've got a lot to thank her for. How did your interest in music begin? I didn't come from a musical family at all, but I used to sing in my bunk bed every night. I got the part of Scrooge in a Year 6 musical and up to that point my family had no idea I could really sing. I can remember the teacher saying to my mum: 'You are in for an absolute treat and surprise tonight – I hope you've brought your tissues'. It was after that performance that I got an agent and began stage school at weekends.


What other key influences shaped you when you were growing up? Football was always a huge passion. I was football mad. When I made it into the school team I was over the moon. I'm a big Chelsea fan – my dad and stepdad both used to take me to matches.

ABOVE Josh Cuthbert

What was your proudest school moment? I always used to audition for school plays. Most lead roles went to Year 11s, and I auditioned in Year 8 and got a part. I was going through a period when I wasn't particularly well behaved, and I didn't get on well with the music teacher directing it, so he told me he didn't want me on the play. The next year, I auditioned again when I was in a lot better headspace. The Head of Music was in charge this time and gave me a lead role in West Side Story. That was a really proud moment, and then when it was staged I remember getting a standing ovation and people saying: 'Blimey, where has he come from?'.

What was the most trouble you got into at school? I was not someone who was aggressive or got into fights, but I was getting bullied by these brothers – one was in my class and the other was two years above. I got really sick of it, and we ended up in a bit of a scrap outside school. I was put on report by my Head of Year, who I really liked a lot and got on well with. That was actually the wake-up call I needed. It felt like I'd got rid of all the boy testosterone in that scrap and after that I knuckled down. Were you ever 'too cool for school'? I probably thought I was, but I definitely wasn't. I used to wear my tie

What projects have you been working on recently? There's been the 10th anniversary reunion show with Union J at the London Palladium. It's the same theatre where it all started with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, so this has felt like full circle. It's very special as my grandma often used to take me to Chitty and would always sit in the same seat. She recently passed and I blocked out her seat for the Union J show – so an emotional night, but brilliant. I'm taking part in the London Marathon this October, running for Stand Up To Cancer. There is also my regular modelling and branding work and various TV appearances – including a show coming out in December. I'm not allowed to say what that is, but I did spend a week filming it in March wearing Christmas jumpers, which felt very strange! How would you sum up your school days in four words? Rollercoaster, proud, challenging, emotional. For more about Union J's Reunion Concert, visit cuffeandtaylor.com SUMMER 2022 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 103

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“For families, a key motivator for hiring a nanny is so that parents can have a holiday themselves”

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NANNY g u i de

It’s not only the super-rich who take a nanny on holiday – so what are the ground rules for hiring vacation childcare? Wo r d s R A C H E L H O G G


ith end-of-term dates rapidly approaching, many parents have thought about packing for the summer holidays. But there may be one more thing you would love to take with you – adding considerably to the luggage allowance – a holiday nanny. While these may once have been for the super-rich, more families are considering this option. We spoke to both nannies on the ‘front line’ and Louise Taylor, consultant and director of long-established London nanny agency Kensington Nannies, to find out more. There are a number of reasons why parents hire nannies to travel on holiday with them, say our insiders, but a key motivator is so

that parents can have a holiday themselves. It’s a great solution for parents who need a little bit of extra support as this can give them the freedom to actually relax, finally – even finish that book or have an uninterrupted meal. The greatest advantage of hiring a holiday nanny over a babysitter is the flexibility to design your own schedule. Holiday nanny jobs are often a divide and conquer situation, particularly where families are made up of younger and older children. Having an extra pair of hands means, for instance, parents might be able to take older children sightseeing or sailing while the nanny stays behind to look after the younger ones. It can be a valuable opportunity for parents to spend one-on-one time with children and ensure everyone’s having fun. You may be thinking, this all sounds great, but how much is it going to cost? The average

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holiday nanny salary depends on the individual, the hours, how many children there are and supply and demand when you book, but around £200 per day for a sole-charge nanny is a typical ballpark. Bear in mind you will also be responsible for paying for everything related to the holiday period, including flights and travel insurance. It adds considerably to the cost of the holiday, but factor in the price of children’s clubs and evening babysitters – and the value of relaxation time for parents – and it can be a viable and flexible extra. Nannysharing between two families is, say our insiders, an increasingly popular choice and can be great if you’re in one hotel or villa, or staying close to another family in one complex. Even with all the benefits help brings, for those who have never done so before the concept of taking a perfect stranger on a holiday can be daunting. So, Louise Taylor and our ‘nanny panel’ have shared their top five tips on holiday nanny etiquette to make this experience as stress-free as possible.


Where friction occurs between nannies and families on holidays it tends to be as a result of the two sides being on what Louise Taylor tactfully describes as, “different pages”. Her advice is to give clear information in advance about what you expect, the holiday schedule, and so on, to ensure a harmonious experience. It’s also really helpful to provide a thorough guide to your family’s rules and routines. “You wouldn’t hire someone to be your secretary and do your filing without showing them how your filing system works, and it’s the same thing with a nanny,” says Louise Taylor.


Because normal routines can vary so significantly on holiday, it is even more important to make sure your nanny is getting the appropriate amount of rest and time off and isn’t accidentally being

“For families, a key motivator for hiring a nanny is so that parents can have a holiday themselves”

A B OV E Nanny and family can have a good trip if you remember key ground rules

overworked or starting to feel taken advantage of. Our insiders all suggest it’s important to agree on hours of work beforehand – a written contract is recommended – and then everyone is on the same page.


Holiday nanny jobs can be lonely, particularly in more rural areas. Our nannies talk about the value of a car or access to public transport (even a lift to the local town during time off) so they can experience a bit of free time alone or meet up with people their own age. “Parents have each other for company, the children have each other, but the nanny has no one,” says Louise Taylor. The more inclusive and understanding you are, the more comfortable your holiday nanny is likely to feel.


With a holiday nanny, you have a duty of care. This means making sure she or he is fed properly and has a comfortable bedroom. It’s usually written into the contract that you provide (and pay for) three meals a day and suitable accommodation. Louise Taylor also recommends asking about any dietary requirements and other food preferences

before you go. Our nannies add that it’s a really good idea to give your nanny an opportunity to do some grocery shopping for themselves.

5. NANNY IS NOT ON HOLIDAY This is the most important piece of nanny etiquette. Very occasionally families believe a nanny should feel grateful – indebted even – to be on their holiday. “Whether they are on duty in Mallorca or London, it makes no difference. Work is work, it’s not their holiday,” says Louise Taylor. Our nanny panel add that expecting a nanny to behave as if she’s lucky to be with you is bad form, however exotic the location.

Ultimately, a nanny can be an invaluable addition to your holiday, ensuring a fun and relaxing experience for the whole family. Louise Taylor’s advice for parents thinking of trying this for the first time is simple: be realistic about how much you can expect one person to do and think about how you would feel if you were in their shoes. Do this and your family escape with a nanny could be the best holiday yet. And just think, you might even be able to catch up on some sleep.” kensington-nannies.co.uk

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HIGH Mountains offer much more than just snow. Summer in the Tirol offers a host of fun-filled activities PENDLE HARTE


t’s hard to think of anything more fun than cycling up a mountain. Especially while barely breaking a sweat. This isn’t an extreme endurance test, and we are not professionals; we have come to the Tirol to experience an excellent network of cycle trails on electric mountain bikes and I can’t imagine anyone not thinking it’s the most fun they’ve ever had. Any ski resort with a bit of nous realised long ago that the seasonal nature of their business was restrictive. Summering in the mountains has always attracted fans of lakes and hiking, but the appeal is niche when compared to the beach. The cleverest mountain areas have upped their game considerably to offer a year-round programme of activities to suit virtually

everyone, and one of the cleverest of them all is Sölden, an alpine resort in the Tyrol’s Otztal Valley, south of Innsbruck and close to the Italian border. Nearby Obergurgl is a popular ski area for British people, but Sölden, home to the skiing World Cup opener, is more popular with Dutch and German skiiers. In the summer it’s quieter but there’s still a lot to be said for it – and not just the low-season rates. There’s the vast beauty of the landscape, the clarity of the air and the enormous range of activities. That includes mountain biking, which is made possible for people of all levels of experience, or none at all. A state-of-the-art new tourist office in town offers a high-tech walk-through taster experience of the region’s highlights, enabling us to plan our activities and routes in detail. Hiking trails take in impressive bridges and

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“There's the vast beauty of the landscape, the clarity of the air and the enormous range of activities”

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“A special Bond museum is built at 3,000 metres”

RIGHT Das central BELOW Sölden cable car

views, as well as dreamy mountain huts that offer hearty meals. For me, the highlight is cycling, and the options are varied. At Bike Republic in town, staff can furnish you with every single bit of kit, whether you’re after an electric or a regular bike. You might want to take it up in the cable car and then follow one of the marked trails down – standing up in the saddle, forefingers only on the brakes, knees bent, hurtling down the path at great speed. Or you might prefer to take an e-bike on a long ride through the valley,

along flat stretches where you can admire the breathtaking scenery, and then simply set the bike to ‘boost’ and speed up the steepest incline with almost no effort at all. Fans of James Bond are also drawn to Sölden. Many Austrian ski resorts have 007 connections, but Sölden has a special Bond museum built at 3,000 metres – the exact location of much of the action in Spectre. And nowhere else has a glass cube structure at its highest peak, housing a restaurant with a Tom Dixon interior and spectacular 360-degree views. We don layers and take the high tech gondola all the way to the top. At 3,000 metres the Ice-Q, the glass structure that so impressed Spectre’s location scouts, is fabulous; next to it is a new concrete bunker that’s home to the museum. It’s a no-expense-spared exhibit focusing on the history of Bond and the creative feats involved in making the films. Enthusiasts will love it, and it’s entertaining for the less obsessed too. The best watersports activities in the area are to be found at Area 47, a large lake near a rapid river where you can try out all the water-based sports you’ve ever heard of, as well as many that you haven’t. So there’s blobbing (hilariously), and canonball, and more slides than we’ve ever seen, some of

them improbably high. There’s a slackline across the lake which we happily fall off repeatedly, a climbing wall from which we can also fall into the water and a restaurant terrace for afterwards (great views over everyone else's watery antics). We spend the whole morning entering and exiting the water by different means before assembling for our rafting afternoon. We are kitted out in full body wetsuits with boots, hats and life vests and given a detailed introductory talk (the instructor is English; most staff here are students who have found the best summer job ever). We set off, 12 of us, all clinging with determination to our paddles – there’s a 50 euro fine for each lost one – and shrieking with laughter as we cascade down the river. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time, or at least since our mountain biking. Das Central is a great place to stay – all wooden chalet-style with a contemporary edge. This is a family-run hotel with friendly staff who know and love the area. Half-board means breakfast and dinner every day, and they seat you at the same table each time, which instantly makes you feel like a regular. Staff wear traditional dirndls and buffet breakfasts are as huge and generous as you can imagine. The hotel can organise a handy Summer Card for the region, giving free or discounted entry to so many things that there’s a weighty booklet to list them all. Ski lifts, swimming pools, mountain bike school, public transport, museums. Still dreaming of the beach? Forget it, and try summer in the mountains instead. Das Central Hotel, Sölden has double rooms from €200 per person / per night, based on two people sharing on a half-board basis. central-soelden.com

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

Private commissions are also welcome.


Our central London gallery All images and text copyright © Pullman Editions Ltd. 2022

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Help with School Fees Bursaries and Scholarships


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

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

Boarding & day school for girls & boys aged 2-13 years

“Delightfully rural, the school is off the beaten track” Good Schools Guide Sandroyd School Rushmore Park, Tollard Royal Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5QD 01725 530 124 admissions@sandroyd.com


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Where originality meets open minds Open Mornings 15 June 22 June 14 September 6 October 19 October



A range of Scholarships available Academic · Art · Performing Arts · Sports · Music · Outdoor Education

Extensive range of co-curricular activities

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Dedicated to sustainability

Outstanding creative and performing arts

570 seat theatre – the largest in the region

Contact our friendly admissions team

01823 340830 admissions@queenscollege.org.uk www.queenscollege.org.uk







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Transforming boys’ lives through education… Whitgift is one of Britain’s finest independent day and boarding schools for boys aged 10 to 18. Set in 45 acres of parkland, we offer pathways for IB and A Levels. To find out more about our School, please visit our website.



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Celebrating 135 years of empowering girls to forge their own path. Visit us to discover more:


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Whether you're after watersports or ruins, Cyprus has it all – plus lots of sunshine and friendly faces too ROB MCGIBBON

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“It’s not every day you meet a living Greek god”


he bald head, cheeky grin and the London accent are big clues, but the famous tattoo across his well-irrigated beer belly quickly gives away the man’s identity. The unmistakable outline of our holiday island beneath the fuzz can belong to only one person: take a bow Stavros Flatley, the legend of Britain’s Got Talent 2009. It’s not every day you meet a living Greek god, but when it comes to Cyprus, Stavros is as close as you can get and he’s here, in his trunks, on a beach in Paphos. Not so much Heracles, the god of sport and saviour of mankind, but Lardus, the god of good living and laughter. He charges €1 for selfies for a local charity and last summer alone he coined in €3,000 from star-struck holidaymakers. Four years ago Stavros - real name Demi Demetriou (“Call me Fatty if you want,” he chuckles) - sold up in London to move back to his motherland and be with his

beloved son and co-dancing hero Lagi. He has set up a beachside water sports business and he is offering me and my 13-year-old son Joseph and our holiday friends a ride of a lifetime – on a giant inflatable sofa. It’s clear that Stavros is a sofa aficionado, so how can we refuse? We are buckled into lifejackets and moments later our intrepid group is whooping with laughter, clinging on for dear life as the sofa hurtles across the waves behind a speedboat. A good slice of cheesy holiday fun is essential and this hits the spot perfectly. Cyprus is not everyone’s most obvious choice for a European break, but I have been coming here on-and-off since the mid 1990s and I can vouch for the warmth of its welcome, the guarantee of its sun and the scope of the offerings. It may lack the sophistication and charm of, say, France or Italy, but it always delivers when you want a relaxing and uncomplicated break. This time we stayed at Athena Beach hotel, a few miles along the coast from the centre of Paphos on the west side of the

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A B OV E Paphos old town

“Athena is a vast family-friendly hotel with a big pool and sweeping views”

island. Athena is a vast family-friendly hotel with large rooms, a big pool and sweeping views across the Med. It’s a firm favourite with Brits and particularly popular with pensioners who go there on bowls tours to use its tournament-quality artificial lawns. My wife, Emma, is an artist and the last thing she wants is daft sofas rides, or sleepy games of bowls. Give her culture, churches and crumbling ruins and she couldn’t be happier. With this in mind, we took a break from our loungers and set off on a pleasant stroll along the esplanade into Paphos central. By the harbour you find the impressive Paphos Castle, which was re-built by the Ottomans around 1592 after the original Byzantine fortification was finally destroyed in an earthquake. A few minutes away is Paphos’ expansive archaeological park that has been a UNESCO World Heritage treasure since 1980. Across nearly 300 hectares, there are ancient ruins of a Roman city with its palaces, fortresses, villas, theatres and tombs. To be honest, Joseph was nonplussed by these old wonders and went for a solo walk to a pretty whitewashed lighthouse overlooking the sea, leaving Emma and me to explore in peace. We walked through the ruins and sighed at the beauty of a series of immaculately preserved mosaics dating from the Hellenistic period (3rd-1st centuries BC) in

a protective building called the House of Dionysus. You tread over raised gangplanks to view intricate mosaics depicting mythology, worship, hunting and geometrical decorations. They are truly stunning. My pick was the one of Phaedra and Hippolytus. Cupid is looking on as an embarrassed Hippolytus reads a love letter from Phaedra, his step-mum. A somewhat complicated love story, all told in fragments of tile. Also on this archaeological site are the Tombs of the Kings, which are monumental underground Roman tombs carved out of stone. They're dark and creepy, but nonetheless fascinating. Not far from here we found a far more welcoming establishment: Hondros Taverna. It dates from 1953 and is billed as the oldest taverna in Paphos. It is certainly the best. We feasted like gods on smokey grilled octopus, succulent kebabs and enormous salads, with wine and beer and even dessert, all for €60. A bargain. There are countless other cultural gems to explore across Cyprus, but there was enough for us in Paphos this time. The rest of the week ebbed and flowed around the beach and pool. We discovered a pretty stretch of coast at Arapis Coral Bay, a 20 minute drive west of the city, which is worth seeking out. One afternoon I took a lesson with the pro at the Elea Golf Academy in the hills overlooking Paphos, and Joseph and I ended the week with the perfect sign off to any sunshine holiday - a water park expedition. Our last day coincided with the first day of the new season at Aphrodite Water Park, a 15 minute amble from our hotel. After a warm up on the gentle flumes, Joseph and I hit the Twister and Kamikaze chutes, followed by an exhilarating ride called Zero Gravity Free Fall. Surely, there can be no better way to prepare for the dreaded journey back to London than the adrenaline burst from a split second of free fall. I love Cyprus because it is sunny, easy and friendly. You can have fun and you might even learn something. Cyprus has got talent. So that’s three YESs from us. Athena Beach Hotel: athena-cbh.com/the-hotel/

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INDULGE YOURSELF Our luxury Eden Spa is a tranquil escape from day to day life where you can relax the mind, revive the body and soothe the soul. Our Spa menu offers a wonderful array of beauty and body treatments. We have three single treatment rooms and a luxury double room for couples. We have partnered with ESPA for our luxury beauty and body treatments, along with Jessica a world leading brand of nail care products for manicures and pedicures.


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visit www.aldro.org or contact admissions@aldro.org to arrange a tour of the school and meet the headmaster.




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

Outstanding facilities, an all-round education and endless opportunities await you at The Duke of York’s Royal Military School. Our full-boarding school, open to 11–18-year-olds, is placed in the top 2% of schools nationally for GCSE progress. Students benefit from excellent teaching delivered by managers and leaders rated Outstanding by Ofsted (2018).

www.doyrms.com | Admissions@doyrms.com | 01304 245023

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60 seconds with

Andrew Hammond The Headmaster of Hall School Wimbledon (HSW) on his background and educational approach

What is your background? I have worked in education for 25 years and have served in both the independent and maintained sectors. My roles have included Headteacher, Deputy Head, Director of Studies, Housemaster, Head of English and class teacher. I have also served as a Common Entrance setter for the ISEB and as English Leader for the IAPS. Prior to joining Hall School Wimbledon (HSW), I was Senior Director of Learning & Community at Discovery Education, leading on professional development. Outside school life, I have written over 30 titles for various educational publishers and regularly speak on creativity and character education. In my spare time I write fiction. What excites you most about your role at Hall School Wimbledon? HSW is a school that aligns with the values I have espoused all my teaching career: namely that we must look at the whole child in front of us and concern ourselves with their personal development as much as their academic attainment. At HSW, we value health and self-worth above everything because we know it leads to self-discipline, which in turn leads to students reaching their potential. School is the arrivals lounge for life,

“Rather than asking ‘How smart are you?’ it is important to ask ‘How are you smart?’ – we work hard to enable every child to find their ‘element’ at HSW”

RIGHT Andrew Hammond

and we need to equip pupils with all the tools they need. One component of that is their academic education, but that is just one component – which is why viewing the whole child is so important What is your academic philosophy? I believe that rather than asking ‘How smart are you?’ it is important to ask ‘How are you smart?’. HSW pupils make up a lively community of budding scientists, artists, dancers, authors, musicians and athletes and we work hard to enable every child to find their ‘element’ and to feel valued for who they are and the unique contribution they bring to the school. Many pupils will discover talents at HSW which they never knew they had, such is the privilege and pleasure of working here. What is Hall School Wimbledon’s approach and what sets it apart? We are proudly co-educational, multicultural and non-selective and I believe

it is our pastoral care and emphasis on health and wellbeing that defines us. I have always believed the mark of an excellent school is the nature of the relationships between staff and students – and here at HSW we pride ourselves on the good humour and care that exists between everyone in the building. What makes a great student? For me, great students have a spirit of adventure, a thirst for knowledge and a kind and caring outlook. From your experience, what makes a great school environment? A supportive school culture makes for a great school environment. At HSW, our ethos and values are focused on the health and self-worth of everyone in our community. This ensures our culture is kind and caring, enabling our students to feel happy and valued and able to reach their full potential.

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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

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DISCOVER MPW Book your interview and personal tour

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