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why science + arts is in vogue





Innovation and invention rule


Giving girls the tools to thrive

Z E S T. L O N D O N

Back to SCHOOL N E W S & V I E W S F R O M TO P I N D E P E N D E N T S

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A MAYFIELD EDUCATION COMBINES ACADEMIC RIGOUR, BREADTH OF OPPORTUNITY AND A STRONG SENSE OF COMMUNITY. The School has an excellent academic record, exceptional pastoral care and an extensive co-curricular programme. Every girl is encouraged and supported to find her strengths and develop them in an inspiring learning environment, which encourages independent critical thinking, determination and resilience. Mayfield girls develop a lifelong love of learning, a range of transferable skills that will prepare them for their futures and friendships that will last a lifetime. Mayfield’s ethos reflects its Catholic foundation and encourages integrity, initiative, respect and a desire to be the best you can be within a vibrant and inclusive community. For the past 150 years, Mayfield has nurtured generations of enterprising, purposeful young women with the skills and confidence to make a positive difference in the world. To experience all that is special about Mayfield, we invite you to visit via our Virtual Open Morning on Saturday 26th September 2020. To register or for further information, please email our Registrar, Mrs Shirley Coppard, at registrar@mayfieldgirls.org. We look forward to welcoming you.

FACILITIES INCLUDE • State-of-the-art Sixth Form Centre • Concert Hall • Tennis Academy • Fitness Suite and Dance Studio • Heated indoor swimming pool • Equestrian Centre on-site with facilities for up to 28 horses • Olympic sized indoor and outdoor sand schools • Extensive daily minibus service covering large areas of Kent and Sussex



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THE WORLD NEEDS NEW THINKING. GET READY. COME AND SEE OUR SAFE, SPACIOUS CAMPUSES. The world has turned upside down but we continue to offer a world class international education that builds each child’s resilience, creativity, self-belief and social connections. Now more than ever we ready our students for a world that demands a new kind of learning – and a new kind of citizen. • Girls and boys aged 2–18 • Day and boarding • International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement Programme (AP) • Safe door to door busing from London and surrounding areas


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


Pamela Butchart Author and teacher

Pamela Butchart grew up in Dundee and combines writing wildly funny children's books with a role as a school philosophy teacher – she developed her passion for her subject as a child. Having first honed her fiction skills using a 'self-help' guide to writing for children, she's a firm believer in lifelong learning. In The Making of Me, she describes her own schooldays, and a vivid imagination that got her into trouble.

Dominic Mott

Head of Senior School, Hurst

Hurstpierpoint College Head of Senior School Dominic Mott was educated at Shrewsbury School and Sandhurst. After a spell in the Royal Green Jackets, he went back to school to read Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge, then worked in business before moving on to a teaching career. In this issue he considers the qualities that add up to a great school, especially in a post-Covid world.

Kay Hutchison

TV and radio content creator and author

Kay Hutchison worked at, among others, the BBC, Channel 4, Disney Channel and Teacher's TV before establishing Belle Media to develop creative content including children's books and audio. In this issue she and her collaborator John Sessions tell us about a new radio series based on the Captain Bobo Books. These were inspired by her father 'Hurricane Hutch', captain of one of the last Clyde steamers.

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Embracing an innovative, modern approach whilst keeping traditional values at its core, Kew House School takes an exciting stance on 21st century education. With state-of-the-art facilities, a broad curriculum and excellent pastoral care, Kew House is a place where you would want to be – a place of learning and discovery, laughter and friendship.

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T: 0208 742 2038 E: info@kewhouseschool.com W: www.kewhouseschool.com An independent co-educational senior school for students aged 11-18 in West London

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We l c o m e

From the



he school year has started. No one is going to pretend it’s like any normal year, but the relief for children of getting back to class, playing field and friends adds a sense of normality. No doubt there are some tests ahead for parents and teachers as they navigate the unfolding situation, but we have every reason to expect that our schools will rise to this challenge just as they have navigated their way through lockdown. We couldn’t let the story of what schools have achieved pass and Lessons from Lockdown (see page 36) looks at some of the modifications and creative solutions they came up with, and what they learned about themselves

the pioneering methods and possibilities of learning ‘in the field’ are hugely enriching and offer potential routes into future careers. We know that tomorrow’s world needs solutions to a whole host of issues – from land stewardship to food supply chains – so it is hard not to be a convert to the idea. We also explore the benefits of STEAM (page 72), a creative approach that fosters links between the traditional silos of sciences, technology and arts. The sparks created by schools when they encourage young people to apply a different way of thinking are incredibly exciting – and also show a spirit of inventiveness that bodes well for the future of innovation. Our School Focus piece on Oakham was an opportunity to go behind the scenes at one of our most historic but forwardthinking independents. Talking to the team

“IT IS HEARTENING TO HEAR ABOUT THE INGENUITY OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE” and their pupils along the way. So much of the Covid-19 story has been told so far in terms of challenges, privations and sadness that it is heartening to hear about the ingenuity and resolute determination of both educators and young people. In Young Farmers (page 48) we take a look at three schools that come with a farm attached. Speaking to those involved in introducing young people to animals, vegetables and all the rest, it was made pretty plain that they are not offering a ‘petting farm’ experience. Far from it, as

there, I was impressed (as I always am) by the extraordinary effort – and talent – that goes in to making a great school tick. Headmaster Henry Price said his job for this year ahead is to ensure: “rhythm, routine and structure – and reassurance”. These words seem to sum up everything we are all aiming for in the school year to come. So let’s hold on to that thought!

Libby Norman EDITOR

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

26 NOBLE HISTORY The rich and fascinating history of London's Emanuel School

30 A FINE BALANCE We turn the spotlight on Oakham School to find out more about life at this leading independent

36 LESSONS FROM LOCKDOWN Six schools tell us what they learned – and the ideas they may develop further – after remote school


48 YOUNG FARMERS Schools with farms attached have much to teach young people

55 SCHOOL FOR LIFE Why St Columba's College is going co-ed

63 56 BRIGHT HORIZONS A new chapter at Cumnor House Sussex

64 GO GIRLS! Positive messages to help young girls conquer their fears at the Mini Mermaid Running Club


72 AHEAD WITH STEAM STEM + Arts can create a real spark among young people – six schools tell us why and how it works

81 FUTURE SCIENCE St Dunstan's College's history of technical and scientific excellence




The Mintridge Foundation's mentorship helps both young people and athletes find their form

90 AGONY AUNT Gabbitas experts answer your questions on education pathways and getting a SEN assessment

95 MASTER CHEFS Cooking stars at St Edmund's School Canterbury


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Greg Hughes, Alexandra Hunter, James Fuschillo  PUBL ISHING DIR ECTOR

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30 school's out


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Patrick Skipworth discusses his new linguistics picture book for young readers

108 THE MAKING OF ME: PAMELA BUTCHART The Dundee author and philosophy teacher on a childhood full of imagination and intrigue

110 RADIO WAVES A magical new radio series about life on a Clyde steamer narrated by John Sessions

130 LAST WORD Meet the new Head of Bishop's Stortford College



OAKHAM SCHOOL Chapel Close, Market Place, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6DT 01572 758500, oakham.rutland.sch.uk

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New head



Ipswich High School has a new Head, Mark Howe. He previously held leadership roles at EF Academy in Devon and a British international school in China. Speaking of his new role, he said: “I am excited to be joining the school at such an exciting time, following its successful transition to co-education and the creation of the school’s first boarding house “.

Bancroft’s School, Redbridge pupil Danielle Amouzou-Akue won the 13-17 age group category in the nationwide Nature on your Doorstep story competition. Danielle’s winning story followed the passage of a nightingale on its migration north. Her prizes have included a pair of binoculars and her story will be published in BBC Wildlife magazine.

“Danielle's winning nature story followed the passage of a nightingale on its migration back to the UK”

T H E M OAT 1 6 +

Media stars

The Moat Sixth Form has opened. Specialising in education for pupils with unique learning profiles and specific learning difficulties, it provides a mainstream setting for A levels and BTEC exams. Part of Cavendish Education, it has Steve Proctor as Head and is located in Beavor Lane, Hammersmith.

Enterprising Bedford School Fifth Formers Gabriel Davis, Harry Hine and Arun Nanda, who would otherwise have been taking their GCSEs, decided to use their time by creating Floreat magazine The first issue covered wide-ranging topics, including corporate tax avoidance, with cover feature about Captain Sir Tom Moore.


“There’s no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes and heroines are or were” NINA SIMONE


Nurturing future green fingers is the aim of an RHS resource that focuses on the breadth of horticulture careers. The industry needs more young talent, but a recent survey found that 28% of people don’t know the many options. Via over 60 short films, The RHS website showcases jobs ranging from arborist to university lecturer.

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Creative boost ACS International School Hillingdon is offering the IB Career-related Programme for students aged 16-19. The students can focus on theatre and/or film, gaining LAMDA qualifications and performance skills, or opt for A-level Theatre. Creative media skills courses are also in the mix.

S I G N P O ST I N G SUPPORT See, Hear, Respond is a partnership of national and local charities offering help for pupils. It is led by Barnardo’s, which found in a recent poll that almost a quarter of children were anxious about heading back to class. Support is available individually and for class groups via trained therapists.

O U T TO B AT Bella Howarth, a pupil at The Perse School in Cambridge, made her 1st XI debut for Essex women’s cricket team at the age of just 15. Bella took up cricket after going each week to High Roding CC to watch her brother train. Initially the only girl, she was chosen to captain the boys’ team and, aged nine, was selected for the Essex girls’ development squad, making her debut for the county U11 team in 2015.

CO-ED LEAD Vikki Meier has become Head of Eltham College Junior School. Formerly Deputy, her role comes at an important milestone as the junior school goes fully co-ed, welcoming the first cohort of girls from Year 3. Eltham College Senior has welcomed girls since the early 1970s, now offering places from Year 7, and aims to be entirely co-ed by 2024.

Vir tual tour Virtual showrounds are the new normal. At Blackheath High School’s first annual virtual open day, on 26th September, visitors will have opportunities to experience taster lessons plus a D&T demonstration.  There’s also a 360-degree tour of  new facilities, after an £18m redevelopment, plus live Q&As.  

“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned” R I C H A R D P. F E Y N M A N


“Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability” SIR KEN ROBINSON

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Fashion feat

G I R L S’ L E A D

Two Queen’s Gate School pupils developed fashion businesses during lockdown. Kild Sneakers is a shoe customisation business, founded by Year 13 pupil Kalina, with original designs painted on to sneakers. Meanwhile, Year 10 pupil Rayya has founded online clothing business Bloom. Both girls’ plan to donate a percentage of future profits to charity.

James Allen’s Girls’ School has welcomed Alex Hutchinson as Headmistress. Previously lead at Woldingham School, she joins JAGS at an exciting time as the school continues to champion girls’ education in a variety of ways, including building further on close ties with local state schools and community groups and extending its bursary provision. 

“Bredon pupil Lauren says her experience as head girl, and school mock interviews, gave her the courage to apply for a CISCO IT apprenticeship ”


Remote study

Former Bredon School Head Girl Lauren has taken up a Cisco IT apprenticeship – one of only 20 places available to UK students on the degreelevel programme. Bredon, a dyslexia-friendly school in the Cavendish Education Group, has an on-site Cisco Academy where Lauren had been studying for four years.

London bilingual school Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill has pioneered LIL Online, a programme that enables home-schooled children and those unable to attend in person the opportunity to experience a full curriculum live and online. Designed for children aged 11+, its classrooms in the “cloud” mirrors campus learning and activities.

CA R E E R S P R I Z E Highgate School’s Careers and Employability team, led by Louise Shelley and Amandeep Jaspal, won Best Careers Programme at the 2020 RateMyApprenticeship Awards. Judges acknowledged Highgate’s focus on helping pupils to develop transferable employability skills via careers advice and events throughout their time at the school.

“It takes a great deal of courage and independence to decide to design your own image instead of the one that society rewards” GERMAINE GREER

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Champion challenge

Identity parade Nearly half of girls and young women regularly use filters to enhance images of themselves before posting on social media and a third say they would delete images that don’t get enough likes or comments. These are among the headline findings of Girlguiding’s 2020 Girls’ Attitudes Survey.

Children at Hazelgrove Prep did not let a lockdown get in the way of their annual sports day, with pupils aged from 2 to 13 competing in a range of activities. They designed their own bonus events – impressive entertainment included Cow Hurdling, Doggy Dash, Bamboo Javelin, Rock Shot Putt, Leek Relay and Pet Agility.

“Hazelgrove Prep sports day events this year included cow hurdling and the doggy dash”

New role Will Williams has taken up the role of Headmaster of co-ed senior Kew House School. With a background in teaching, coaching and managerial roles at, among others Marlborough, St Paul’s and Pangbourne, he’s an Oxford graduate who worked in the City prior to teaching. Retiring Head Mark Hudson remains with Gardner Schools Group as Director of Leadership.

Northampton High School GDST student Kirsten Mbawa, 12, saw her dream of being published come to life after a fundraising campaign. Her sister Aiyven, 10, had also penned her first novel – both having been inspired by the BBC Radio 500 Words campaign. The duo’s Kickstarter campaign bust its £5,000 target, garnering support from around the world. Their novels are available on Amazon and at mbawabooks.co.uk

F I R S T R E S U LT S While GCSEs have proved tricky for all pupils this year, spare a thought for the inaugural cohort of pupils at Eaton Square Senior School. Nonetheless, they achieved memorable results, with over 97% achieving 9-4 grades and over 47% achieving 7 or higher (equivalent to A-A*). “Our inaugural GCSE results reflect the hard work and determination of pupils and staff,” says Head Caroline Townshend.

L ean on us Dallington School pupils became a WhatsApp sensation with a firstFriday-back Flash Mob rendition of Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on Me’. This was organised as a surprise for parents waiting outside the gates by Head of Performing Arts David Woodward, who says everyone is delighted to be back in real school

“The designer’s job is to imagine the world not how it is, but how it should be” SIR TERENCE CONRAN

Greased lightning Pangbourne College drama team left everyone on a high with a hit staging of the classic musical Grease as the last major ‘in person’ event before lockdown. Highlights included a real car on the stage to bring ‘Greased Lightning’ to life. The Reading co-ed has successfully begun the new year and looks forward to more stunning productions.

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Enterprising pupils from Royal High School Bath GDST have used their design-thinking skills to create matching masks for teddies and young children


talented group of Royal High School Bath students set up a business creating matching facemasks for children and their teddy bears. The Year 11 students, Eliza, Eloise, Daisy and Pam, came up with the idea as a way to ease the anxiety of young children in a world where masks are suddenly everywhere. The project came to life as part of the Design Thinking Club run by the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST). The brief set by the club was to work together identifying and solving problems faced by people because of Covid-19. The initial idea came from Eloise, who had already designed and made matching masks for her young cousin and her cousin's favourite doll. She says: "We decided to focus on innovating

a solution to try to overcome the fear that young children are facing. Our solution resulted in our company Teddy And Me". In keeping with design-thinking practice, the girls worked collaboratively, taking on individual responsibilities and making decisions together. Eloise acted as innovator, also managing manufacture, client management, photography and finance. Pam was web designer and general manager, while Daisy handled social networking, marketing and PR. Eliza also worked on advertising and PR, as well as liaison with chosen charity partner Bristol Children's Hospital. She says: "We wanted the Bristol Children’s Hospital to be our charity partner since it is dedicated to caring for children and our new business also aims to protect children and help them through these uncertain times. On a personal note, my brother has severe asthma and so has been to the Children’s Hospital numerous times, so we are very aware of the brilliant work that is done there". All the masks are handmade, with a choice of colourful prints including birds, llamas, toucans, ladybirds and dinosaurs. The girls donate 10% of profits from all sales to Bristol Children’s Hospital. One early supporter has been former Royal High School Bath student and children’s writer Jane-Anne Hodgson who offered to fund a website upgrade for the venture when she read about the girls' brilliant design-thinking initiative.

“We decided to focus on a project to try to overcome the fear that young children are facing”

ABOVE The masks come in vibrant designs to help ease children's anxieties LEFT Team Teddy And Me: Eliza, Pamela, Eloise and Daisy

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HISTORY Emanuel School's rich four-century history provides a fascinating insight into London's growth and the development of a ďŹ rst-class modern education LIBBY NORMAN

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UP FRONT / ROOTS LEFT Emanuel has a long and illustrious history BELOW Today the school offers superb facilities


manuel School can trace its roots back to 1594, with a bequest for £300 – equivalent to over £30,000 today – made by Anne, Lady Dacre, widow of Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre of the South. It specified a property, to be called Emmanuel Hospital in Westminster, as: "a meet and convenient house...for the relief of twenty aged people and for the bringing up of twenty children in virtue and good and laudable arts". Notably, this education was designed to be co-educational from the start and was offered to ten boys and ten girls. Lady Dacre was a lady in waiting of Elizabeth I, and it was a royal decree that ensured her bequest moved into action in 1601 with a charter of incorporation for Emanuel Hospital. This was located close to Palace Street, Westminster – then known as Tothill Fields – but the bequest had only stretched to 20 rooms so at first the building was given over to "aged people" (over 50). While each resident had the option to raise a child and give training in a craft or trade, there is little evidence this happened. By 1736, Emanuel's funding was on a stronger footing and the first pupils were admitted. It was known as Browncoat School – a reference to the uniform – and presided over by Rev. Thomas Bolton. The school day was no picnic. Pupils had to get up at 6am, spend ten hours in the classroom and still find time for chores. The curriculum consisted of the 'three Rs' (reading, writing, maths), with girls replacing maths with needlework. The curriculum and the school expanded in

the 19th century, reflecting the capital's rapid growth and demand for education among its burgeoning middle classes. Merger and reorganisation followed, under a scheme for London's smaller charity schools devised by the Endowed Schools Commission. While girls headed off to what became Grey Coat Hospital, the school governors secured a site for the boys in Wandsworth. Formerly Royal Patriotic Asylum, an orphanage for the sons of Crimean War veterans, this lofty modern building opened its doors in January 1883. Emanuel's stately main building designed by Saxon Snell and gloriously long drive remain recognisable today, although that first intake of 200 boys were also greeted by a pigsty where a staffroom now stands. At first, there was a good mix of boarders, but by 1913 Emanuel had become a day school. As the century progressed, so did facilities. One 20th-century headmaster – appropriately named Mr Broom – did much to modernise, raising both standards and the breadth of education. He also presided over the school evacuation to Petersfield, Hampshire

during WWII and its safe return. By the time he retired in 1953, Emanuel was on a firm footing as a leading London school. After 1970s educational reform, Emanuel moved from its grammar school status to independent – in common with the entire direct grant sector. Notable alumni include inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who has credited his maths teacher Francis Grundy and chemistry teacher Derek Pennell with helping to inspire his career in science. With Elizabeth 1's royal patronage instrumental in enabling the school's foundation, it seemed fitting that her descendant Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1994 to celebrate Emanuel's 400th birthday. Girls were welcomed back in the mid 1990s, returning Emanuel to its co-ed roots. Today, over 1,000 girls and boys benefit from the leafy 12-acre setting, superb 14-acre sports site and high-ceilinged classrooms and lab spaces. While school traditions such as rowing on the Thames are cherished, so too is the pursuit of thoroughly modern academic excellence under Headmaster Robert Milne. The "good and laudable arts" of a well-rounded education, as envisaged by Anne, Lady Dacre, remain central at Emanuel. While previous generations sang her praises in the school song 'Noble Aim', her name lives on in the recently opened Dacre Arts & Humanities Centre. That 16th-century investment in London children's futures has more than paid off, not only benefitting Emanuel pupils but also many young people within the local area via its thriving access and social mobility initiatives.


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Where the sky is the limit… THE HURLINGHAM CLUB, RANELAGH GARDENS, LONDON, SW6 3PR 020 7610 7526 | hurlinghamclub.org.uk/private-events | @hurlinghamvenue

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ABOVE Oakham School – co-ed since 1971



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Absolutely Education visits Oakham School in Rutland and finds a place balancing traditions with the evolving requirements of a first-class education LIBBY NORMAN


his wasn't the first year Henry Price had envisaged when he joined Oakham School as the 31st Headmaster last September – but he has clearly taken it in his stride. It is to his, and the entire Oakham staff's, credit that when the doors closed on that sombre Friday back in March, they swung open again for virtual school the following Monday. It was, says Price, a necessity for the sake of all pupils and parents. "This was about maintaining rhythm, routine and structure – and also reassurance." When it came to providing reassurance and stability to a cohort of 1,000+ young people at a time of crisis, the odds were that Oakham was always going to be leading from the front. It has a longstanding reputation for going above and beyond on pastoral care. Parents talk about it being a kind place – they also mention the all-round nature of the education here. It has never hung its hat on catering only to top-flight academics or super-sporty types. In fact, it does cater for both exceedingly well – as well as offering superb opportunities for

creatives – but letting children explore all the options and become independent learners is its raison d'être. Also worth noting: while parents may sing its praises loudly (becoming positively rhapsodic when music teaching gets mentioned), Oakham is not at all a diva-ish kind of place. Price, who went to Eton and studied Classics at Oxford, is more than comfortable with Oakham's all-rounder reputation. "I'm a classicist and it's often said that is the discipline for the all-rounder – there's the language, the history side, then the arts and architecture." A career teacher (one who still tries to make a bit of space in his busy timetable for teaching budding future classicists), he began at Sydney Grammar School and then went on to Sherborne. At Rugby, where he spent over a decade, he became both Head of Classics and Senior Housemaster. He joined Oakham after five years leading Wellington School in Somerset – a smaller school but with some parallels in the rural setting and strong boarding tradition. Price feels strongly about the worth of boarding, not only for what it brings to pupils and their families in terms of practicality, but also in the breadth of learning opportunities and sense of community it fosters. Certainly, it is placed front and centre here – even

the white liveried minibuses that ferry Oakhamians back to school bear the legend 'boarding and day school'. So, what does boarding bring in today's world? "I will always defend it. It is valuable for young people at any time – and especially after this extended period of being connected only virtually. It gives them the opportunity to be with their peer group, in and out of school, come together and enjoy being in each other's company," says Price. "It also enriches the Oakham experience for everyone, day pupil or boarder, because we are effectively offering 24/7 availability." There is full boarding, always popular, but flexi boarding has become increasingly a part of the Oakham scene over the years. This offers up to five nights a week – a practical solution for pupils (and their families) who like the work and social balance it brings. The school manages this rather cleverly, with two of its eight boarding houses reserved for flexi. This means full boarders always have a full and busy place to go home to while flexi boarders have their own spaces reserved. An entirely separate boarding house is reserved for the youngest pupils (11-13), so they have a cosy retreat, their own social scene with fun activities and an easy transition to Senior boarding. Day pupils are certainly enriched by the AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 31


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many extras boarding brings to Oakham – actually, as one parent told me quietly – they are big beneficiaries. They have access to library and refectory in the early mornings and evenings and even to the school's art and design studios at weekends, perfect for creatives following the muse in their free time. Day and boarder blend naturally in and out of lessons since every pupil belongs to one of the school's 16 houses (a pillar of its pastoral approach). Saturday morning school is maintained, and the work hard, play hard approach means Saturday afternoons are about sports and extracurricular. Multiple weekend matches (up to 45 teams are fielded) happen away or at home on its 40 acres of playing fields – including on the vast and beautifully tended 'Donkey' encircled by boys' and girls' boarding houses – and are a high point of the week socially as well as athletically, enthusiastically supported by parents too. The school mix is all part of the 50:50 principle. Price describes how, when he sought wisdom from former leads prior to taking up his post as Headmaster, this Oakham 'formula' was mentioned. Oakham is just over half boarding; it is half and half

ABOVE Oakham is renowned for sport, with superb teaching and facilities – many alumni play at the highest levels

boys and girls; it draws its cohort pretty evenly from the local area and further afield – so there's the 50:50 balance at work in the school environment. Of boarders, roughly 15 per cent are international, while the rest are a good mix of children of local families and from families further afield. A highly active Old Oakhamians network (known, rather James Bond style, as 'OOs') speaks of a school with long-term, often multi-generational, loyalty. The location, in arguably the prettiest bit of East Midlands farming country, means Oakham feels like a haven, all adding to the sense of being out of London's orbit and accompanying hothouse atmosphere. It is surrounded by the reassuringly mellow bricks of the market town of the same name, with close links between school and town – not 'town and gown' at all. School classical concerts, plays and musicals attract locals as well as parents. The quality is high and it's almost as if Oakham town had its own local theatre company and orchestra. There's also the giving back element in the way Oakham works with local schools – especially on the music side. A driving

force in Rutland Music Hub, its notable successes include a large-scale original performance of Pied Piper in Leicester's De Montfort Hall that brought together over 400 pupils from across the county – all masterminded by the school's brilliant Director of Music Peter Davis. Although miles from the sea, Oakham even has easy access to the waves at Rutland Water (location of much sailing fun and more organised training). On the drive into town, skirting this vast lake, it feels rather like you are entering a secret oasis tucked away off the A1 and M1 that run up the country on either side of this bit of Rutland. The fact that Rutland, the smallest county in the UK, houses two of its leading independent schools – Uppingham and Oakham – is down to one far-sighted 16th century churchman who decided his county needed plenty of wise and educated men. The schools simultaneously share a long history, while having taken different paths. What is notable (radical, even) is that middle-England Oakham School was one of the very first independent secondaries in the country to take the leap away from single sex



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and into co-education. It welcomed its first girls way back in 1971. Forward thinking for the times, especially as it didn't dip a toe in the water with sixth formers but welcomed girls from 11+. The even split between girls and boys has had several decades to settle in, which probably does much to explain the culture here. It certainly isn't his and hers – and not even the merest whiff of boys first. As one example, the girls 1st XI carried off the Independent Schools Football Association Trophy in 2019. It was also females in the lead for an ambitious all-girl production of Hamlet – bold stuff to set any audience thinking a little differently about Shakespeare's troubled Danish prince. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is another area where Oakham was a notable early adopter, introducing it alongside A levels some 20 years ago. Consistently strong results show the success of the school's IB Diploma teaching – topping an average of 36 points for the past five years. The Diploma syllabus, which encourages young people to take more subjects to a higher level and includes an extended essay, is certainly becoming more popular nationally, and Oakham stands firmly behind its value for expanding young people's learning approach. Indeed, it has recently become an IB Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) candidate school for 11+ pupils – meaning pupils benefit from an interdisciplinary approach to learning before they start their GCSEs. On A levels, the school gets solid scores – 78% A*-B in 2020 – and with a good tally of leavers heading off to Oxbridge and

ABOVE Oakham's idyllic campus in the safe market town is a big draw for families

other Russell Group universities, as well as medical and clinical training. There's specialist guidance here on areas such as US applications, plus comprehensive advice from the in-house careers and HE advisory team – the quality of this leavers' support gets very high praise from parents. Deputy Head (Academic) Leo Dudin – a chemistry teacher by training – joined at the start of this year from Uppingham and firmly believes in offering the right pathway for each individual. He also knows the importance of keeping enthusiasm for learning going through the hard yards of public-exam years – high academic standards need to be the goal, but so too does the pastoral side. When he's not leading on academic standards or

has spare time on his hands after developing the school’s remote educational offering, Dudin is looking forward to a spot of sailing coaching for students out on Rutland Water. Pupils getting to know their teachers and tutors outside the confines of the classroom is core to Oakham's approach. Deputy Head (Pastoral and Co-Curricular) Sarah Gomm says it's vital to do pastoral care really well, but becomes imperative with boarding. That is why the team look for teachers who can combine leading in class with supporting young people as a tutor or boarding house supervisor. Gomm has been at Oakham for some two decades (her own children were pupils here) and has extensive experience of tutoring girls and looking after boys' boarding houses – she knows an awful lot about the ups and downs of teenage years. Having a team of caring adults on site keeping a discreet watching brief does work. When it comes to boys, interestingly enough, it can sometimes be girls in their peer group who spot trouble really early and then quietly pass on intel to adults – this shows a high level of pupil trust in the help on offer. There are also regular drop-in visits from the Chaplaincy team and easy access to school nurses and matrons, so plenty of kindly listeners to choose from. The past few years have seen a spate of exceptional new facilities springing up around campus. The Mehra Faculty of Science is ultra-modern and includes a lecture theatre for up to 250, replicating pretty closely the kind of environment young people will find in higher education. The Smallbone Library is vast (2,400sq m) and surely in the running for most impressive school library in Britain. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 33


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It incorporates a seminar room, space for teaching higher level research skills and areas to display art and other 'happenings' on the ground floor. In a pleasingly oldschool touch, total silence is insisted upon on the lofty-ceilinged Upper Library floor. The Jerwood School of Design (named after alumnus John Jerwood ABOVE of the Jerwood Foundation) has There are six drama all the CAD and 3D printing kit productions each year you would expect. Oakham has RIGHT There are multiple very strong links with the design studios, for fine art, and art worlds – all Art staff textiles and ceramics are also practising artists – and a strong track record of sending its creatives on to top schools. What is most impressive here is the sense that this really is the students' 'work in progress' space – half-finished masterpieces, hugely ambitious All the facilities in the world do not make canvases, scribbled designs on scraps, textile a great school (although they most certainly samples; nothing too tidy about it. The help), and Henry Price says the value of almost brand-new Faculty of Social Sciences Oakham is always in its people. The teaching is engaging and quirky with its politics/ has to be exemplary, and so does the support, world events timeline wall (a wall you could but it's also about opening young people's argue about all day), TV screens, world time minds to the excitement of learning. "Our clocks and 'pods' for small huddles, group aim must be to ensure our pupils can develop work and meetings. Best of all is the replica both breadth and depth of experiences while Number 10 Downing Street door that leads they are with us," he says. "Whatever they into the boardroom-style teaching space choose, we want them to get involved." – no dearth of ambition dare enter here! Learning fit for the future is key, but so is Oakham's sense of stability – of everything being back in its rightful place. The rousing weekly chapel service (a fine Oakham tradition down the ages) is one of the things – when it returns – that will be most warmly welcomed. What Price wants for his year two at Oakham is a slow and steady return to school life. Safety is paramount, and so is giving young people back their sense of purpose and joy in learning and in being among their peers – the simple pleasure of being together. Price says: "They have to get back to living in the now and enjoy their time here". There is no doubt that Oakham pupils are in a safe, forward-thinking and fortunate place. Henry Price believes there's a duty of care to teach all Oakhamians (indeed, all independent-school pupils) the responsibilities that come with that good fortune. "I want our young people ABOVE to be aware when they go out into the Music is world. It's about wearing it lightly, but celebrated, with concerts taking it seriously." As ever, you can't for the town help thinking, Oakham will find a way of keeping things in perfect balance.

At a Glance

Oakham School FOUNDED: 1584 by Archdeacon Robert Johnson HEAD: Henry Price, since September 2019 GENDER: Co-ed NUMBER OF PUPILS: 1,044 (392 in Sixth Form) DAY OR BOARDING: Day only in Lower, Middle and Senior. Boarding: Lower School, transitional boarding; Middle and Upper full or flexi boarding. AGES: 10-18 years POINTS OF ENTRY: 10+, 11+, 13+, 14+, 16+ ADMISSIONS: 10-11+, Assessment Day with written paper (also available via exam in home country) plus detailed report from current school; 13-14+, Common Entrance or Oakham Entrance Exam; 16+, minimum four 6/B grades and three 5/C grades IGCSE/GCSE. RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Church of England FEES: Lower School per term – day, from £6,405; boarding, from £7,640. Middle/Upper School per term – day, from £7,225; boarding, from £11,305. ADDRESS: Oakham School, Chapel Close, Market Place, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6DT; oakham.rutland.sch.uk

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from LOCKDOWN A summer term of remote learning challenged everyone, but staff, parents and pupils rose to the task of doing the unthinkable. Six schools describe the lessons they have learned from lockdown


ecent months have been an extraordinary chapter for education and the classes whose public examinations never never happened will certainly never forget this year. There has been – justifiably – much concern over the potential harm to young people of all ages and stages denied 'normal' school life, with all that this entails. But behind the negative stories, a quiet sense that something rather revolutionary happened in Summer Term 2020 is beginning to emerge. Schools around the country managed the unthinkable – shutting their gates but finding ways to ensure both academic continuity and their spirit of community carried on. Plans were brought forward, remote learning ideals became practical necessities and staff and school leaders dug deep to prove the old adage about the 'mother of invention' in delivering pastoral, extra-curricular, sporting and creative provision. Six schools give us their early impressions of the lessons learned from lockdown.

BELOW James Allen’s girls were inventive BELOW RIGHT At Pangbourne, recent IT upgrades were a boon

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“We found that pupils were engaging in dialogue about their learning in a more organic and flexible way”

James Allen’s Girls’ School “Pupils are very resourceful”


t James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich, remote teaching and learning swung rapidly into gear to support some 1,000 pupils aged 4 to 18. While there were inevitable teething problems, inventiveness saved the day. “If anything, this made the outcomes even richer as colleagues and students found creative solutions for common issues,” says JAGS Deputy Head Pastoral Samantha Payne. She describes a period of remarkable agility, especially in the use of technology, and with real enthusiasm from everyone to keep the learning varied and enjoyable. “An added advantage to working online is the ease with which pupils and teachers can share their resources, and the outstanding sense of collegiality that comes as a result of this.” The way in which pupils and teachers have been able to communicate more broadly is certainly something that the school wishes to retain.  Another positive is the way in which pupils of all ages stepped up to this challenge. “It has been evident that our pupils are very resourceful and motivated and, for some, working beyond a traditional classroom but within the context of an interactive online lesson, has enabled them to have more confidence in their own ideas,” says Samantha Payne. In any classroom, young people are influenced by their peers and the work that they see others producing, whereas working online has enabled more creativity and individual approaches. “We have also noticed that those

pupils who may be quieter in lessons ordinarily have blossomed in an online environment” Wellbeing surveys and daily contact with form tutors enabled robust formal pastoral support, but clubs and regular assemblies have also played a pivotal role. Girls responded enthusiastically to extracurricular opportunities – virtual quizzes, sports and baking challenges and music, drama and art events. The JAGS’ Parent Talk programme also flourished. Larger numbers of parents engaged and some noted that it was far easier to join a Zoom event, so the school hopes to continue live-streaming to benefit parents who struggle to attend in person. Counsellors, nurses and chaplain made themselves available to staff and parents, as well as pupils, and this has informed future plans. “Online pastoral support will certainly feed into JAGS’ wellbeing strategy as we face the coming months – and we will adapt and tweak – and embrace good ideas, as ever,” says Samantha Payne.

Pangbourne College “Parent communication and pastoral care are key”


angbourne College in Reading, Berkshire has spent the last few years rolling out a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy across the school. “Originally intended to cater for the increasing use of technology in education, this turned out to be a boon for a rapid transition to online learning. College students and teachers quickly adapted to a normal timetable of lessons conducted via Google Classroom, Meets, Hangouts and Gmail” says the school’s Director of Development Karen Hartshorn. Inevitably, while some pupils thrived on remote learning others

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found the absence of classroom and social routines more difficult. “We were surprised by how quickly and how well nearly everyone adapted,” says Headmaster Thomas Garnier. “We quickly realised that good pastoral care and regular communication with parents were key, as school was suddenly more visible to them and they were more involved in the day-to-day education of their children.” A key part of Pangbourne’s ethos is pastoral care and it reaped the benefits of previous investment in mental health initiatives. For example, the College uses the AS Tracking system, an online assessment tool which monitors student mental health and can identify when an individual needs extra support. Combined with weekly online staff pastoral meetings, this ensured that teachers were able to provide support as and when needed. Peer to peer support also proved invaluable. “We train Sixth Form students to be Peer Mentors,” says Deputy Head Pastoral Caroline Bond. “This enables them to support younger peers and look after their own wellbeing. We ran online peer mentoring sessions during the lockdown, which some of our younger pupils found really helpful.” Pangbourne also held virtual focus groups with parents to understand family expectations for a return to school – and any elements from the lockdown worth keeping. The overwhelming message was ‘back to normal, please’, with parents talking about how much they valued the social interaction, teacher-pupil interaction and co-curricular activity. There were positives which may continue. Parents like the option of online parent-teacher meetings and the increased visibility of lessons and teaching. For times when pupils are unable to be in school, due to illness or circumstances, the College has invested in additional technology to enable hybrid learning and live broadcast of classroom lessons.

Queen’s Gate School “Digital literacy has been enhanced significantly”


n common with other schools, Queen’s Gate rose to the challenge of moving its entire operations online almost overnight. “The management of this change was not in accordance with text-book advice, with limited time for planning and no time at all for pilot schemes – but it had to work and it did,” says Queen’s Gate Principal Rosalynd Kamaryc. The school selected Zoom as its platform, and with a few quick lessons on the basics staff were ready to go. “We always encourage our pupils to take risks in their learning, to enjoy ‘having a go’ at something new and to learn from failure and what a wonderful opportunity we had as staff to lead by example as we learned how to set up meetings, send out invitations, share our screen, annotate and use break-out rooms. It was a steep learning curve, but one which staff embraced,” she adds. Half the lessons were designed to be ‘live’ but it soon became apparent that many more were taking place. “Creativity and ingenuity were evident

in our teachers’ approach to this ‘brave new world’ of remote learning as they discovered new applications and happily shared good practice with their colleagues.” The school timetable of activities continued, with virtual concerts, sports days – also an online charity auction, quizzes, lectures and coffee mornings for parents. Assemblies, house events and prize giving took place, alongside end-of-year assessments. “Pupils and staff rose superbly to the challenge. Certainly, digital literacy was enhanced significantly and I think also the girls’ greater understanding of the appropriate use of technology,” says Rosalynd Kamaryc. GCSE and A-level pupils were particularly affected, so staff created Extend Programmes of taster lessons for the next stage of education, as well as lectures and enrichment opportunities – parents seemed to enjoy joining the lectures too. From the beginning, it was clear that social contact should be offered at every opportunity, so the External Relations team set up an online weekly newsletter. Before the end of term, there was a discussion about what might continue after Lockdown and staff were enthusiastic about continuing Zoom for some meetings, lectures from visiting speakers and collaboration with other schools. “Lockdown was a unique opportunity, but we now look forward to using the best of our experience to enhance the educational opportunities we offer our pupils,” says Rosalynd Kamaryc.

“Digital literacy was enhanced significantly – I think also greater understanding of the appropriate use of technology”

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Southbank “Primary age children have impressed us with their independence”

ABOVE Southbank International children LEFT Queen’s Gate School pupils impressed with their tech skills BELOW Repton found amazing creativity emerging

Repton School “We can support those who need more hours in the day”


epton found positives in online school life, says Deputy Head and Director of Digital Development James Wilton. “For us, Microsoft Teams was the killer app for Lockdown. It was extraordinary how quickly the staff and pupils got behind this.” Perhaps the greatest indicator is in the stats – 203 messages via Teams on 23rd March, as opposed to a daily average of 8,957 messages each day towards the end of summer term. The Derbyshire school took what James Wilton describes as an “arguably risky” decision to adhere to its regular timetable. Every class had its own Team, but also every boarding house, every sport and every single co-curricular activity. Not forgetting Chapel, which had two virtual Team services each week. Lessons were a blend of pre-recorded video, live streaming, interactive presentations and quizzes. Assignments set tasks to complete in the lessons and tried to leave it at that, avoiding

additional ‘homework’ to reduce screen-time and the wellbeing issues that might follow. For overseas pupils and those who could not join live lessons, recordings were stored in Microsoft Stream. Staff found amazing creativity enabled by its learning platforms. “We started to see teachers and pupils unconstrained by what had been done before,” says James Wilton. He cites examples such as pupils filming themselves explaining the inner workings of a PC, building and then photographing 3D models of the human heart and delivering individual vocals for online closeharmony concerts. “We also found that pupils were engaging in dialogue about their learning in a more organic and flexible way; little and often via quick messages rather than awaiting big summative reviews. It was genuinely inspirational.” One key takeaway is the potential flexibility of online learning when it comes to co-curricular activities. “Remote learning showed us we could support those who needed more hours in the day; there is no longer any reason why a Repton pupil can’t participate in learning because they are on a coach to play sport or give a concert. They can learn actively from anywhere, on any device,” says James Wilton. “Perhaps most exciting of all is that great use of technology should give us time back to invest in the things that have an even greater impact.”


t Southbank’s three campuses in London for children aged 3 to 18, technology-enabled teaching held no fears, even for those at Primary level. “Our school community were already used to an integrated technology approach – especially our Hampstead campus, which has an Apple Distinguished status,” says Hampstead Principal Shirley Harwood. Daily ‘live’ teaching and pastoral meetings ensured teachers maintained a finger on the pulse. Another important facet of teaching was the social side and Principal of Southbank’s Kensington campus Siobhan McGrath says here Google Meet proved vital. “It allowed teachers to develop social interaction across a class.” Staff found some things easier using remote learning – for instance, finding out what students could manage independently and when more support or instructions were required. “Some children really impressed us with their creativity and independence,” she adds. While Upper Primary children were able to complete and submit work independently and could ask teachers for a Google meet if they needed help, the youngest children did need extra support. Here short videos and live ‘meets’ proved invaluable.

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LEFT AND BELOW ArtsEd pupils showed their creativity

Artsed “A hefty dose of positivity has meant Staff rose to the challenge, often re-thinking how best to present new material or enable activities to continue. For instance, the Music department found ingenious ways to cut videos so that students could play along virtually with ensemble pieces from their own homes. While school trips were not able to happen, students still managed to travel virtually to broaden their horizons. “I sat in on a conference call between five 11-year-olds and an expert on artificial intelligence in Mumbai. They had prepared all their questions and he had a fantastic time trying to keep up with them!” says Shirley Harwood. While everyone at Southbank has been eager to return to ‘real’ school, some ideas from virtual school could continue. There may be more streamlined online tasks via Google classroom and Seesaw and everyone can see the value of building a digital portfolio of school work. Hosting whole-school community events online has also proved successful. Siobhan McGrath says Southbank parents made the online journey easier. “We have always had a great community and although we were physically apart, this shared experience seemed to make us stronger.”

the show did go on!”


or all schools Lockdown was a test, but for ArtsEd Day School and Sixth Form in Chiswick there was an extra challenge – the logistics of delivering its nationally recognised programme of creative teaching. Its pupils are used to singing, dancing and acting together, so how to create that ensemble spark remotely? Well-laid plans, a switched-on IT team and a hefty dose of positivity ensured that the show did go on during the summer term. “In spite of not being in the same building, let alone the same room, students and staff made full and inventive use of remote platforms, with dance classes, singing lessons and drama sessions continuing right alongside Maths, History, English and the rest

of the full academic curriculum,” says Headteacher Adrian Blake. Here was unfamiliar territory, but the spirit of adventure and sense of assurance that are required for a career in the performing arts were much in evidence in what Adrian Blake describes as a “typically ArtsEd” way. Parents were incredibly positive about the school’s response, with one noting that they couldn’t begin to understand the complexities of moving the whole performance side of school life online. “The smoothness of our transition to a virtual timetable was the result of our excellent teaching staff, our hard-working IT Team, and our dedicated pupils all working together. Regular one-to-one catch-up sessions also ensured the continuation of our pastoral care, and the educational and vocational guidance that is so valuable in enabling pupil achievement.” With Year 13 pupils heading off to leading drama schools, universities and direct into acting work, the graduating class of 2020 have certainly had a crash course in managing performance under pressure – surely experience to stand them, and their fellow pupils, in good stead in their professional futures.

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IBREAK THE MOULD Welcome to a genuine melting pot of cultures and languages. Of students who demonstrate outstanding levels of creativity, individuality, collaboration and personal expression. At Southbank, breaking the mould is not the exception. It’s the norm. Places for 2021 entry are understandably strictly limited Apply today at southbank.org/applynow

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MARKING SUCCESS The Head of Hurst College Senior School considers the markers we might use to compare schools and measure real success in delivering outstanding education


hat makes a great school? Unsurprisingly, for an industry dedicated to learning, academic achievement is frequently prized as the key factor. So how can this be measured? Results in public examinations are a reasonably good indicator, but not the sole metric of a great education. A league table that ranks each school by its GCSE and A-level results would seem to be a pretty sensible place to start. But what if academic achievement isn’t actually what we want to be measuring? What if the real metric here is not the fixed notion of ‘achievement’, but instead the journey implied by ‘progress’? League tables have their place if you are the parent of a highly academic child, but for most parents this single measure simply isn’t what they are signing up for. For those who want their child to do their best, the only metric on which to judge schools is their ‘value added’ data. Put simply, RIGHT this tells you how your Hurst pupils child is likely to fare at BELOW one school compared to Remote school the grades they would

“League tables have their place, but for most parents this single measure simply isn’t what they are signing up for”

achieve if they went to another school. This data, generated by comparing GCSE and A-level results to standardised national baseline figures, is a far more accurate metric of teaching and learning in any given school. It cuts out ruthless academic selection, hot-housing, and questionable practices such as using different exam centre numbers to enter less-able pupils. It values the progress made by every single child, whatever the final outcome. For sure, parents want their children to achieve their very best. However, they also want them to be healthy, happy, rounded young adults. That is not something to measure simply by looking at a league table. To return to the initial question, what makes a great school? Perhaps this year

we might add another metric – a great school is one which can adapt swiftly and effectively to unforeseen circumstances. As with other independent schools, the priority at Hurst back in March was clear: to continue with, as far as was reasonably possible, the full provision of an all-round education. Hurst were fortunate to be ahead of the game in the transition to a cloud-based network. Already 12 months into an 18-month project, it became clear that the final six months would now need to be condensed into just a few weeks. One of the most interesting challenges was to redesign the school day. Slightly shorter lessons and longer gaps between helped to reduce screen time; synchronising Prep and Senior timetables allowed families with siblings in different parts of the college to take lunch together; short tutorial slots allowed for one-on-one support; and some creative timetabling allowed for an earlier finish without losing co-curricular provision. Continuing assemblies, sports sessions, choir and orchestra practices and activities sessions meant the regular rhythms of school life continued. Communication was channelled through daily updates from the Headmaster, Tim Manly. His missives appealed to parents to provide honest feedback, and this proved instrumental in shaping our approach. The feedback was full of praise and sharing this positive response with staff was a crucial factor in maintaining morale during a very difficult time for everyone in the country.

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The Head of Whitgift considers the importance of a return to school and the most pressing leadership tasks ahead

t is becoming commonplace for all of us in education to begin any article these days with ‘these are extraordinary times’, or some variant. Of course, it is true. During the last six months, in (virtual) meeting after (virtual) meeting, Heads have let slip comments about this being the toughest time they can recall, once or twice the most exhilarating, mostly the most uncertain. A word about those Zoom or Teams meetings: school leaders are an opinionated bunch, conferences or meetings being lively and often impassioned arenas for debate. The virtual meeting has often brought out the worst in us – silence or semi-attention; grandstanding; lack of focus – and it has occurred to me more than once that if we’ve only kept a tenuous hold on our professional network during this enforced separation, how much more must our pupils have struggled. Learning is a social activity, and learning remotely opens up gaps, not just between rich and poor but between outspoken and timid, diligent and instinctive, bouncers-off-others and loners. These gaps need urgent redress and at Whitgift our number one priority postlockdown is getting our pupils talking again. Yet young people have coped amazingly well during this torrid period. They have

“Learning is a social activity, and learning remotely opens up gaps – not just between rich and poor but between outspoken and timid”

to lead the young back to a society from which we excluded them. That may sound dramatic, but when schools closed I made what I thought was the most important speech of my career, to each year group in turn, promising that we would get through this. I now realise the speeches we make on our return are even more vital. Just as we sent pupils away with hope, so we must welcome them back with hope. Much of what gives schools like mine their extra life, their quality, may be difficult to manage initially. The challenges around choral singing, team sport, trips – these are all stepped up to organising ABOVE well-documented and real. But we should their learning, they Whitgift pupils have a ‘can do’ attitude. Music is possible, have volunteered in debating is feasible, cricket started on our their local communities, famous ground on Bank Holiday weekend. they’ve connected with I’m proud, as all Heads are, of the way each other. At my school, we had more staff have ploughed through regulations, volunteer sixth formers opting to help thought imaginatively, made things doable. in our summer school for local primary children than we could cope A colleague said to me with. So perhaps Covid, for back in March: ‘this is our all its ravages, gives cause for War’. Dramatic, maybe, but new hope in the young’s ability we’ve had it easy, we babyto manage difficult times. boomers, and now we need Understandably, adults to show our pupils how we appear to be the more nervous can adapt, keep going and sector of the populace as we – above all – not be afraid. embark on the longed-for Caution is appropriate, fear return to school life. Some is not. As I write this, on a CHRIS RAMSEY families have good cause to be murky day, the sun has just Headmaster anxious, of course, as do staff appeared from behind the Whitgift School in many different settings. But clouds. May it shine on all of our job, as I see it, is simple: us in the months to come. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 45

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Young farmers Schools with farms offer children the opportunity to take class outside, build life skills and even further their career ambitions. Three schools tell us what life is like down on their farm LIBBY NORMAN

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LEFT & RIGHT Horseriding and equine care, as well as grow your own opportunities, add to life at The Elms


t may seem an unusual idea – a school that grows its own – but in fact the network of schools with farms across the UK now runs to over 120, according to data from the School Farms Network. These vary in size, scope and location, but the ambition is high. This is about more than connecting children to the land, since active learning is taken outside the classroom. Beyond the obvious things that can be taught when children understand more about animals, the seasons and how crops grow (and grow their own) are deep-rooted lessons as they develop in confidence and responsibility. This may yet be the decade when educators reappraise the real value of introducing young people to their land. Farmers are not getting any younger. Indeed, the average age is edging towards retirement in many countries (here in the UK it's touching 60). Then there's food security, recognised as a tangible threat back in late March when the queues started. Finally, we have climate change and the other big-picture questions that will require farmers of the future with bright minds, scientific knowledge and practical skills. Clearly, there are no easy answers, but schools with space to grow food, nurture animals and deliver land-studies and equine programmes provide a fascinating snapshot of the potential benefits. Here, three schools tell us what they get up to down on their farm.

The Elms


he Elms Prep, on the HerefordshireWorcestershire border is in the heart of farming country and offers a quintessentially English pastoral setting – Sir Edward Elgar once taught here. Alongside an excellent equine centre that gives all children at this day and boarding co-ed the opportunity to ride and interact with ponies, it also has a working farm within its 100-acre grounds where pupils can get back to the land. Farm Manager Paul Smedley is passionate about the benefits, but also clear that this is not a hobby or petting farm. "We are in a fantastic position being able to show children what a real working farm is like," he says. All pupils from Year 2 to Year 8 muck in at their Rural Studies lesson each week. The curriculum covers horticulture (there's an RHS School Allotment on site), animal work and nature & conservation. Paul Smedley taught in prep schools in London and rural settings, but grew up on a farm. He was attracted to this role because it offers something special for children and a different way of teaching. "Some children may

definitely go in to farming later, while others are less interested, but for all of them it offers something special. They can run around and get muddy with the animals. It creates a different atmosphere that feels healthy – I think you see its impact around our school in the laughter and joy of children." The work is physically active and can be competitive. Children garden their own patch and grow produce to eat from seed – there's stiff rivalry between classes when it comes to who grows the most / best. In nature and conservation sessions they learn about the seasons, plant and animal identification, foraging and animal tracking. These lessons stand them in good stead in the classroom, adding to their knowledge across the board, but especially in sciences and geography. It's the animal husbandry side which often creates the biggest spark, as children forge bonds and get closely involved in livestock welfare. "Animals don't judge you," says Paul Smedley. "They are a constant, a safe haven." Children can access the farm outside their Rural Studies lessons – after breakfast, break and free times – and many do, building not just a bond but a strong sense of commitment to a


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Bredon School

particular animal or group of animals. If they want to take this further they can get involved in showing animals. The Elms has had notable success at country shows over the years (Pig of the Year at the 2019 Three Counties Show, for instance!) and has a small but choice herd of Hereford cattle, along with sheep and classic rare-breed pigs. But there's a lot of work getting livestock 'show ready' – a challenge pupils relish. Paul Smedley admits to some trepidation the first time he took his young charges, and their charges, into the ring at a country show – especially since pigs are not known for doing anything they don't want to do – but the young people's pride, and the huge affection and care for the animals and their welfare, shines through at these events. "What we teach the children has got to be fun, and at the right level, but there also has to be a serious side to it," says Paul Smedley. "If a child leaves The Elms having enjoyed the farm and learned about best practice, that's a win for us. But farming is at a crossroads and we need young people to be educated about what farming involves. Tomorrow will be an exciting time to be in agriculture."


redon is one of the bestknown schools with a farm, offering 85 acres of pastoral heaven at its site near Tewksbury, Gloucestershire. The dyslexia-friendly mainstream co-ed for children aged 7-18 offers day and boarding places, and for many pupils and their families, the farm is definitely one of the USPs. Headmaster Nick Oldham says that the pioneering school founded by Colonel Sharp in the early 1960s was always popular with children of the farming community, but has much broader appeal because of the breadth of academic and outdoor opportunities it delivers. Outdoors, children can try their hand at everything from clay pigeon shooting and rock climbing to canoeing or fishing on the River Severn that traverses the grounds. While these pursuits teach independence, initiative, confidence and a whole host of team skills, being involved in the farm brings something more. All children participate in timetabled lessons on the farm up to Year 9. "We offer lessons that are taken outside the classroom," says Nick Oldham. When you are managing the scanning and then lambing for a flock of 120 sheep there is, as he points

out, quite a bit of maths involved. "For children with dyscalculia, maths may happen more naturally when they are involved in considering it in relation to our animals, or how we best manage our crops and grazing land." There are diverse opportunities beyond livestock, polytunnel and field. For instance, Bredon School pupils take great pride in servicing all its lawnmowers and other key equipment of the job – practical mechanics at its best. Those who wish to can take things further by developing skills for onward journeys. The school offers BTEC qualifications in Agriculture, Countryside and Environment or Land Based Studies. Coming from a farming background himself, Nick Oldham is at pains to stress that this aspect of school adds huge value to learning. There is also a business element to running any farm (feeding neatly into the school's thriving Business Studies courses). Beyond that, there are softer skills. "Children at the school know where their food comes from and are involved in the 360-degree cycle of life. That really helps with mindfulness," says Nick Oldham. "Many departing Sixth Form pupils tell us one of the things they will miss most about life here at Bredon is the farm."

BELOW Tending animals at Bredon School

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ABOVE & BELOW Mayfield offers exceptional opportunities with horses, as well as farm studies

Mayfield School


etting close to the land is a big part of life for Mayfield School in rural Sussex. The boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18 has its own superb equine centre that is, quite simply, pony heaven. "We are an academic school, but this is one of a number of things we offer to enrich our girls' lives," says Jill Barker, Director of Equestrian. While most girls do bring their own horses to school, there are loans available for those pupils who don't have their own (yet) and would love the opportunity to muck in. This can be a big part of life for many of them and, while some pupils just want to be able to ride as a stress release or creative outlet, the work involved in looking after ponies and horses takes commitment, as Jill Barker points out. Some do want to take it much further (Mayfield has an exceptional track record in competitions and events), and that really does mean putting in the hours alongside academic and social lives. "They learn a lot. When it comes

to getting up at 4am to ensure you can be there for a competition girls need to decide what they want to do – and 99 times out of 100 the horse wins," says Jill Barker. She believes being involved with all things horsey offers much more than the obvious pleasures of riding. "Girls involved in the School's equestrian side learn how to manage their time very effectively. Most of them continue riding all the way through GCSEs and A levels." There are other benefits too in teamworking and individual responsibility – and robust mental health. "Girls learn about responsibility and having a conscience. They also learn that in competitive events everyone has a good day and a bad day – horses are great levellers." Many girls use the experience gained here to help progress their entry into academic programmes – Jill Barker says it proves very useful for the notoriously tough application process for veterinary college, but also assists with medical school and physiotherapy applications, both of which are also school strengths. "Girls who have

looked after horses learn a lot about their physique and care along the way and that gives insights applicable to other areas. These are years of practical experience you can't buy and you can't get out of a textbook." Equestrian opportunities sit alongside a very popular Farm Studies programme for Year 12 pupils. This initiative is led by Head of Biology and Deputy Head of Sixth Form Rachel Davies and gives students an opportunity for one afternoon a week to experience life on a mixed family plot with arable, cattle and pigs. This teaches skills and knowledge that feed into girls' career interests – from land management or agriculture to veterinary or business. The experience is "very hands on" says Rachel Davies, so girls will help with everything from worming cattle and weighing piglets to discussing the long-range weather forecast, vets' bills or farm economics. It's great work experience to put on the CV, but other girls – especially international students – are keen because they want to experience life on what she describes as a "quintessentially English farm". She cites one Nigerian pupil. "For her it is a completely different experience and she's found a huge enthusiasm and aptitude for being involved in farming," says Rachel Davies. So alongside all the teaching and wellbeing plus points, perhaps the other great benefit in giving young people the opportunity to get back to the land as part of their school studies is that you never know quite where it might lead them.


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School for life

The Headmaster of St Columba’s College in St Albans discusses some of the benefits of mixed-sex schools and explains why they have moved to co-education


ingle-sex versus coeducation has been debated by independent schools for many years now. And certainly, here at St Columba’s, co-education has been a topic of discussion among parents, staff and students since I became Headmaster in 2008. One big advantage to co-education is the positive impact it can have on parents’ lives. For those with children at different schools, the school drop becomes a complicated and time-consuming endeavour every day, and being able to have all your children at one school has a never-ending list of benefits. A mixed environment also provides an ideal transition from school to university life and prepares young people for 21st-century society. It is our responsibility to ensure

“We place great importance on preparing students for the wider world, in which they will be working as part of a diverse, global community” that we equip the next generation of young adults with the resilience and skills needed to thrive and grow in this changing world, and co-education plays a key part in this. For us, after a great deal of research, investigation and deliberation, the decision to move to co-education was ultimately an easy one. From September 2021, we will be welcoming girls into our Lower Prep and Lower Sixth Form. This will be followed by a phased transition, which will mean these

ABOVE first girls are able to stay with the building project in the 1960s to Head of Prep school throughout their educational Richard McCann with expand the school, one in which St Columba’s pupils journey, and which will eventually boys and staff alike wielded see St Columba’s offering education wheelbarrows and brick trowels! to boys and girls from ages 4 to 18. While the College Leadership We are particularly excited about the Team is now composed of laypeople, immediate benefits for our Sixth Formers, this next step in our development pays as we place great importance on preparing tribute to the forward-thinking work the them for the wider world, both at university Brothers did to establish St Columba’s as and beyond, in which they will be working a thriving independent Catholic school. as part of a diverse, global community. Three months after the announcement, When our four founding countless people have asked Brothers arrived from the me why we didn’t do it sooner! US in 1955, they found a The response from the small boys’ school in the Columban community has heart of St Albans, and been overwhelmingly positive. set about establishing St With 89% of our staff having Columba’s College as a unique taught both girls and boys, school within a worldwide co-education certainly won’t community. Moving to be anything new for them. Our co-education feels like the essential vision for the College DAVID BUXTON natural step in continuing remains the same – every Headmaster the Brothers’ legacy and child will be known, valued St Columba’s College looking to the future. They and treasured throughout undertook an ambitious their educational journey.

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“Teaching and learning are vital, but all schools have the task of rebuilding confidence among our children”

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LEFT Sport at Cumnor House Sussex

Bright HORIZONS With a new Headmaster, the return of day and boarding pupils and expanded nursery provision, Cumnor House Sussex is looking forward to a bright school year LIBBY NORMAN


hile everyone has been looking forward to this school year, at Cumnor House Sussex there has been a palpable sense of excitement. The new Headmaster Fergus Llewellyn has taken up his post, the nursery is expanding still further and day and boarding pupils have been welcomed back to the fold. This means access to 60 rolling acres of glorious Sussex countryside and a sense that school life is back – albeit with a fair few extra safety measures in place. For Fergus Llewellyn it’s a new chapter, but familiar ground. His previous post was as Headmaster of the renowned St Andrew’s Prep in Turi, Kenya. While Africa to Sussex is a geographic and cultural change of scene, the two schools share common ground – notably, beautiful rural locations where children have space to grow, strong school traditions and local community ties. “St Andrew’s was a full boarding school with 23 nationalities and part of the IAPS fold, so a British curriculum. Here at Cumnor, we can have up to 50 boarders

across Years 7 and 8 that get to enjoy a similarly rich boarding experience,” says Fergus Llewellyn. He views boarding – be it full, weekly or flexi – as an essential part of the mix at Cumnor, and it’s designed to match modern family life. Certainly, for those parents seeking an idyllic country boarding school within easy reach of London, for local parents who want the extra-curricular opportunities it brings, and for those helping their child have a smooth transition to Senior boarding, this is a popular choice. Fergus Llewellyn was a Housemaster at Cheltenham for a decade before the move to Kenya, so he knows boarding’s benefits. “It brings such a breadth of opportunities for young people.” Of course, day pupils are the larger tranche of pupils at Cumnor, making up a balanced and mixed community. Many are drawn from the surrounding villages, while proximity to Haywards Heath Station also makes this very attractive to families who have relocated or partially relocated from the capital. This has been a recurring theme in recent months, as families reappraise, and Cumnor is well used to supporting transitions to country life. Fergus Llewellyn says he learned a lot AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 57


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his time in Kenya – not least the value placed on education in a country where people have such obvious difficulties on their doorstep. “Children there are taught about the impact they can make, that they can help to shape the continent.” Now he’s back home leading a school that shares a similarly strong ethos. Cumnor tasks its pupils to aim high academically, but also to ‘be kind’ and to ‘dare to be different’ – placing great value on developing independence of thought. “Academic rigour is part of Cumnor, but we also offer breadth of learning and the chance to develop as people. We think of ABOVE ourselves as a place where Cumnor's nursery offers the excitement and wonder exceptional teaching and lots of space of childhood is treasured.” 2017. “The nursery really Since Fergus and did start as a result of parent Tamsyn Llewellyn’s own interest and has been designed three children are also pupils from the outset to match the at Cumnor (in nursery, Year 3 needs of our community,” she says. and Year 6), they are also experiencing Here is wraparound care from 7amlife from the other side of the school gates. 7pm (a relative rarity in rural areas, as “We do wear different lenses as we are parents will know). While many pupils also Mummy and Daddy. It’s really useful move on to Cumnor Pre-prep, there is no to have that different perspective!” requirement to do so. “We have always His youngest, aged three, has just joined been very clear that we want to meet the Cumnor’s nursery, a place that enables needs of our whole community,” she says. children from age 2 and up to access Children benefit from Cumnor’s exceptional facilities and teaching. The specialist teachers and can access nursery opened in 2017 – as a result of swimming and yoga on different days, at parent demand – and has mushroomed no extra charge. Younger children have from 12 children to 40 plus today. The early years specialists to ease them into facilities are now being expanded again self-directed learning and all the pupils and offer free flow access to vast outdoor regularly visit and interact with ‘big school’. play areas and spacious and stimulating “All our children are part of the same teaching and play areas inside. community, whether or not they continue Head of Pre-prep & Nursery Jacqui here. Our aim is to give them the tools to Freeman is a part of the Cumnor ‘family’, deal with future life,” says Jacqui Freeman. having taught here for eight years from Matt Mockridge, the Deputy Headmaster 2006 before returning to become lead in and Bursar, is also an integral part of the

ABOVE Fergus and Tamsyn Llewellyn and family

Cumnor family – indeed, he was a schoolboy here before going on to Marlborough, returning to the fold many years on as a maths and science teacher. He is proud of all that Cumnor offers as a “classic country prep”, and prouder still that it was there for its pupils and parents through the really difficult months from March. “Pastoral care is something we have always taken very seriously here. That, and our strong tutor system, proved invaluable,” he says. The school’s pioneering iSpace Wellbeing programme – developed by Head of Safeguarding Paula Talman – is there for all, embedded within the school fabric, and has more than proved its worth recently. It’s also a foundation of strength for the future. “While life will take a while to get back to normal, we know we will be as close to that as we can be,” he says. Fergus Llewellyn also says the pastoral strength and sense of community of the school is its bedrock. “My predecessor Christian Heinrich left the school in a superb place. Our progressive iSpace programme and the school teams have done a fantastic job. Now we are back together as a school our first jobs are keeping safe and ensuring a sense of community and confidence. Teaching and learning are vital, but all schools also have the task of rebuilding confidence among our children.” AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 59


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“We can help parents with choice and entry to independent schools and international students looking to improve their spoken English” improve their spoken English. We can help British and overseas parents with regards to choice and entry to independent schools. With aspiring and current school leaders, we offer regular coaching as they seek to innovate and make a real difference in their establishment. ABOVE: Motivational Maps provide insights to help students of all ages

Mind mapping

SUCCESS Educational consultants Chris Curl and Emma Burgess of Ask The Head explain how they help young people and organisations


sk The Head was established in order to support young people, as well as schools and universities. It offers educational consultancy, including recruitment of staff and students, and assists young people through mentoring, advice and Motivational Maps. Here, founders Chris Curl and Emma Burgess discuss how they can help students and educational establishments. What are your backgrounds? We are both former teachers and school leaders. Chris taught in a number of schools, including Junior Kings, Canterbury, as well as tutoring at the Institute of Education, London University, and for 16 years was a headmaster. Emma also worked in a number of schools, including St Edmund’s College, Prep School at Ware and Forest School, London. She has held a variety of

roles, including deputy head, champion for the gifted and talented and SENDCo. We are both experienced at motivating aspiring leaders and preparing and supporting children for entrance exams and are trained Motivational Map practitioners. What inspired you to set up Ask The Head? The inspiration came from our passion to enhance a number of different strands of education and a desire to raise standards and see young people benefit. We believe that every student has the right to achieve and that wellbeing and motivation are key factors in this success. Our online educational consultancy means we can now help children, adults and staff teams all over the world. How do you work with schools, parents, young people and leaders? We currently offer assistance for children who attend schools in the UK and international students who wish to

How do Motivational Maps benefit children? Motivational Maps work for every individual – child or adult, underachieving, overachieving or in the middle. They provide insight and greater understanding as to what makes a person tick, information that supports wellbeing and future success. The maps take only 20 minutes to complete and are sat online. We analyse the results and follow this with a written report and verbal feedback. As the maps highlight what really motivates each individual, this gives opportunities to optimise learning and wellbeing. How can Motivational Maps assist after this time of virtual school? Being able to monitor wellbeing and mental health is invaluable and Motivational Maps provide key insights into this area. Essentially, each map measures what the student needs to feel fulfilled, how strong those needs are and the degree to which they are being met by current circumstances. Motivation can change, and generally does over time, whereas strengths, weaknesses and personality are more fixed. It’s about unlocking the power of the subconscious. What benefits might a Motivational Map have for staff teams? The maps are cleverly designed to reveal each person’s key motivators and their level of motivation. The individual feedback that follows for each individual links brilliantly to reviews, CPD needs and other areas of staff and leadership development. The maps work in a corporate setting too, and can be used to map a whole staff or teams within a company, helping to drive productivity and higher levels of achievement. * For educational advice, or further information about Motivational Maps, visit Ask The Head. askthehead.com AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 61


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Welcome RETURN The Headmistress of Eaton Square Prep on the welcome return to school life and the ways in which the whole community are working together


s our boys and girls came back to their familiar buildings, it was more wonderful than ever hearing excitement, echo round Eaton Square’s corridors. On the lead up to their return, no doubt they had mixed emotions. For many it would have been excitement, for others nervousness or even anxiety. All perfectly normal after a summer break but, under the current circumstances, wholly understandable. Many staff, myself included, experienced similar emotions, parents even more so. The build-up to the return, therefore, was navigated with care. Thought was given to how we could instil confidence. None of this would have been possible without a pre-existing strong school community. Collaboration has been a

“It is in this togetherness that we have been able to continue to nurture our young people” crucial element of ensuring that we provide emotional support where needed. Our teachers have embarked upon detailed training programmes, outlining the new protocols to keep everybody safe. This has enabled them to lead the way with confidence. We have offered opportunities to collaborate on risk mitigation. It is in this togetherness that we have been able to continue to nurture our young people, remaining calm and focused on delivering our School values and curriculum. We have also worked hand in hand

with parents, adapting measures Inherent in dealing with a ABOVE Eaton Square Prep on a daily basis. This has, in situation such as this is the School pupils turn, promoted confidence – consideration of mental health. communication has been key. At a time when the promotion of As I sat and wrote my Welcome wellbeing is every bit as important Evening speech, to be delivered to parents as physical health, a renewed approach (over Zoom, of course), I called up last has been taken to our Place2Be offering, year’s speech as a template. Most of opening it up to our much younger pupils. what was on the page no longer applied. Pastorally focused discussions and lessons It struck me then just how monumental have been carefully reimagined and the the last six months have been. Safeguarding Team has expanded. After a Where I previously period of time when children encouraged parents to engage may have been more sedentary, with our extra-curricular our Sports department have provision, I found myself considered ways to keep them advising that they gradually active within the parameters reinstate their child’s diary, of current restrictions. giving them time to settle back Our parents, teachers and, into the school day. Where I most of all, our wonderful pupils had previously promoted our have embarked upon the new visits to local care homes, academic year with gumption. TRISH WATT I found myself discussing The journey ahead is Headmistress the importance of teaching long, but we will navigate Eaton Square Prep the children the ‘Catch it, with success as we continue School Bin it, Kill it’ message. the voyage together. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 63


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ABOVE Mini Mermaid running challenges bring whole communities together

Go girls! Blending positive messages and physical activities, Mini Mermaid Running Club is helping girls build self-esteem, a can-do spirit and the strength to rise to life’s challenges LIBBY NORMAN

ini Mermaid Running Club is not just for running. In fact, running is a small (albeit essential) part of what this girlfocused initiative is all about. Designed for young girls aged 7-11, the club uses a running or walking challenge as the end point of a programme designed to develop mindfulness, confidence and what it calls ‘self-compassion’. So where do the mermaids fit in? Apart from the fact that they are a recognisable and child-centric symbol of freedom, they also represent positivity. Girls are introduced to the mermaid as the truthful voice inside our head that helps us have courage and believe in ourselves. On the other hand, sirens are the muddled voices that swirl around in our head, sapping confidence and telling us we will fail. Anxiety is, as every parent and educator knows, one of the biggest barriers to children’s development and ability to participate. This is something Mini Mermaid Running Club UK’s founder and director Hannah Corne knows all about. Back in 2015, she was an extremely worried parent and it was her own journey to help her daughter that inspired her to establish it. Her daughter, then aged 3, was diagnosed with selective mutism in 2015 after it was picked up by staff at her nursery. “We discovered that our daughter had not spoken at nursery all year,” Hannah

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LEFT Pat on the Back session for Mini Mermaids FAR LEFT Group work builds confidence

says. Her first thought as a parent was: ‘what have we done?’. It was nothing they had done. Selective mutism is a severe anxiety disorder that makes someone freeze and become physically unable to communicate around certain people or in certain social situations. This condition, estimated to affect 1 in 140 young children, is more common in girls than boys. Without management, it may continue into adolescence and beyond so intervention and support is recommended to help children overcome their fears. Hannah started doing her research. She also observed her daughter and realised that her anxiety levels decreased markedly when she was outside playing or riding her bike. This led her to start looking at the relationship between physical activity and wellbeing. Then she discovered Mini Mermaid Running Club, a programme established in California in 2009 by Heidi Boynton in order to build girls’ mental

“Girls are taught not to fear those inner 'siren voices' that tell them not to put their hand up or that nobody likes them or they don’t fit in” and physical well-being and confidence. Correspondence followed and, with Heidi’s blessing and support, Mini Mermaid Running Club UK was established in autumn 2015. Hannah first tested out the scheme at a local school in Leeds. Such was its success that other groups soon followed, and now they number in the hundreds. The mission is to put a club into every primary school in the land. The beauty of Little Mermaid is that it can be organised through schools, through clubs or within communities. While it’s structured to work over 12 sessions, the programme can be adapted to suit the timescale that works best – for instance, designed to suit a shorter time frame or specific school event. “There’s no fancy equipment. It can be done by anyone,” says Hannah. The curriculum is structured to work across age groups,

meaning content can be adapted to tackle the experiences and issues relevant to girls at each age and stage between the ages of 7 and 11. Whatever age they are, children are taught not to fear those inner siren voices that tell them not to put their hand up or that nobody likes them or that they don’t fit in. To do this they harness their mermaid – what Hannah describes as their “inner cheerleader”. There are six core themes in the Mini Mermaid curriculum, beginning with Head (understanding those doubting voices and harnessing your inner strength). After that children move on to Heart, what you think about yourself and your priorities. Then it’s hands, considering communities and how we all help each other. Belly celebrates food and nutrition. Legs and Feet are the final two themes, where girls think about harnessing AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 65


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OPEN DAYS 8th & 14th October 2020, 4th November 2020 9.00 am - 12.00 noon Register online: www.sinclairhouseschool.co.uk/opendays or Email: admissions@sinclairhouseschool.com SINCLAIR.indd 20

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LEFT & BELOW The running challenge is the end point, but the overall goal is to strengthen girls' self-belief

“It’s important to counteract the image-isall culture – amplified on social media – that encourages girls to believe how they look is who they are” strengths and understanding weaknesses and finally set goals for themselves and complete their 5km challenge. The teamwork focus of the club is vital to success. Hannah believes that girls especially are drip fed ideals of perfection from an early age and may judge themselves harshly against others. Girls may also believe that being small and not taking up space is safer and better than standing tall. Mini Mermaid challenges those memes – for instance sessions may start with yoga power poses where girls make themselves as big as they can. Sessions also harness girl group-think in positive ways. One exercise that does this very effectively is ‘pat on the back’, when each girl draws round her hand on a paper plate and passes it around. Everyone in the group is asked to write something positive. “It can be quite amazing to see the effect on a young girl of reading all the positives that people write about her,” says Hannah. Another game that gets its message across (this during the Legs theme) is the ‘guess a metre’ game. Girls are asked to predict how far they can hop. They always underestimate – often quite dramatically. Hannah believes this taps right into lack of faith in their own abilities, and the fear of failure that affects so many girls. Mini Mermaids are each given a journal and invited to record their thoughts throughout the programme. “It’s a tangible

thing that they can take away with them at the end,” says Hannah. Consistent messaging about self-worth and strength sinks in, but Little Mermaid Running Club doesn’t soft soap the trickier stuff. Hannah believes it’s important to counteract the image-is-all culture – amplified on social media – that encourages girls to believe how they look is who they are and how they should feel about themselves. “It’s about giving them the tools to understand the critic and find the cheerleader in themselves. It’s teaching them to be active, however they decide to do that, and it helps them understand that they can do difficult things.” More than that, it helps girls understand that they don’t always have to fit in. They learn that you will always have people who clash and tribes who don’t mix. This is all done in a club setting that encourages girls to support each other and work together, teaching a fair few navigational skills to stand them in good stead socially and in class. “Girls learn something different about each other and themselves,” says Hannah. “It’s teaching them that we all have strengths and weaknesses and it’s OK to have weaknesses and also to celebrate other people’s strengths.” The 5km challenge that rounds off the Mini Mermaid Running Club programme can take place in a local park, on the school field or anywhere children can

run (or walk if they don’t want to run). Parents, siblings and grandparents are encouraged to come and watch and having them there makes this an occasion to celebrate. Hannah says seeing the girls trying hard and having fun can be a catalyst that helps embed permanent change in whole families. One Mini Mermaid who started off incredibly unsure of herself ended up joining Hannah’s local running club in Leeds because she enjoyed the programme so much, with her parents and sister becoming more active too. There are many other stories of how the club has inspired a change of mindset. Teachers report girls putting their hands up in class more, participating in clubs and other school events, even summoning their inner mermaid in order to have another go at a tough mathematical problem. Parents speak about the change in girls’ sense of self-belief and in their body image. “The active side of Mini Mermaids has so many positives to it,” says Hannah. “When we get girls running around in sessions we always ask them afterwards ‘how do you feel now?’. And when they respond that they feel really happy and positive we are showing them the tools to stand them in good stead.” Consistently, the programme teaches the importance of being kind to yourself – and for girls especially, finding that positive inner voice might be the most valuable lesson of all. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 67


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‘ Enjoying childhood and realising our imagination.’ “My favourite thing about Dallington School is that the teachers and students are very friendly and positive, there is a brilliant atmosphere in the classroom” - Johan “I think Dallington teaches you in a way no other school does and I really enjoy that” - Alex Dallington is a family-run co-educational independent school, with a nursery, in the heart of London.

Take a virtual tour and see the Dallington Difference

Headteacher: Maria Blake Proprietor: Abigail Hercules Founders: Evan & Mogg Hercules MBE Email: hercules@dallingtonschool.co.uk Phone: 020 7251 2284 www.dallingtonschool.co.uk

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“Our goal is to teach young people, parents and staff that personal wellbeing is something that demands a significant level of investment”

ABOVE Pupils at Eaton House Schools


MAT T E R S The new Head of Wellness at Eaton House Schools describes its importance and initiatives to ensure it remains central to school life



here’s no question that wellbeing is finding its place on the educational agenda and it is a word that all of us may be hearing about more frequently. However, there may still be some questions about how we harness the promise of what wellbeing will bring. It may be useful to begin by declaring that wellbeing is currently defined as a state of being that involves us feeling comfortable and happy, but the specifics of this comfort or happiness will look very different for each individual. What feeds the levels of wellbeing for one person could be good food and calming yoga, and for another it could be long runs in the wilds of nature or a cosy fire. Most importantly, like any state of being, our wellbeing

fluctuates, changes over time and will depend on internal and external factors. In essence, our wellbeing is a unique aspect of ourselves and it needs a tailored approach. The goal at Eaton House Schools is to teach young people, parents and staff that our personal wellbeing is something that demands a significant level of investment. If we embed this attentiveness towards self-awareness and self-care we all stand a greater chance of enjoying healthy levels of wellbeing day to day.  There will be dips at times, but the ongoing investment ensures we have the resources to thrive during the good times and still function well during more challenging periods. By ignoring our own wellbeing, we relay the message that caring for ourselves is not important. Learning to look after our own wellbeing can be difficult because we often misunderstand – may even assume it is an

act of selfishness. Yet without sufficient focus on our own wellbeing our ability to serve others and do things with energy and enthusiasm becomes more limited. We see it as our responsibility to promote and support the wellbeing of the entire community and curate a provision that is reflective of the dynamic and varied needs of the Eaton House Family. Our online Wellbeing Hub is an ever-changing platform, accessible to everyone, that offers resources on a variety of topics. Our on-site Hub is a comfortable space where people can come to talk through issues, escape the busyness of the day and discuss ideas about how we can work towards our goals. As a new departure, parents, staff and pupils also have the opportunity to chat about everything and anything to do with family and education in a non- judgmental, quiet and dedicated space. This initiative proved very popular over the summer as parents coped with so much that was new in the COVID-19 outbreak. This resource is now permanently available, allowing our whole community to simply talk when needed. Eaton House Schools’ ambition is to foster a culture that encourages us to fulfill our own needs as instinctively as we tend to the needs of those around us. We are always a work in progress but we all need to start somewhere.

A B O UT E ATO N H O U S E SC H OO L S Boys and girls are taught in singlesex schools from the ages of 4-13, on two separate sites in Belgravia and Clapham, with non-selective entry at 4+ allowing pupils to blossom their pace. Students move on to schools such as Westminster, St Paul’s, Eton, Winchester, Tonbridge and Wycombe Abbey, with many scholarship wins. eatonhouseschools.com

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STEM plus Arts equals magic, as children make connections that transform familiar school subjects into something creative, practical and vital for the future of innovation



t Eltham College more than a quarter of timetabled subjects are allocated to core science and with a strong uptake at A level. Alongside the core sciences, the school offers Astronomy at GCSE and students can also study geology right up to A level. The College has appointed its first specialist scientist to direct learning in the Junior School, helping to foster understanding and enthusiasm. Science Week creates links with other subject areas and a lively Science Society encourages students to present on any topic of scientific interest. Here, interdisciplinary subjects take things further. For example, a Visiting Music Teacher presented on the theremin and laser harp and discussed the physics of music. With the Gerald Moore Gallery on site, there are endless opportunities to explore science and creative spheres together. Pupil collaborations here have included exhibitions on artists' interpretations of science, while Science Week this year hosted am 'Environmental

Crisis' exhibition which was a large-scale collaboration between sciences and arts. Referencing the arts within the science curriculum helps students to recognise transferable skills and interdisciplinary links. Those that don't see themselves as pure scientists build skills and interest through related areas – from photography to presentations. Students taking on the First Lego League competition have recognised the value of creative problem-solving as well as dramatic presentation. Co-curricular activities generate enthusiasm outside the classroom. The student-led and organised Rocketry Club met twice a week online during lockdown. Inter-house science activities also inspire – be it the school's Science Society, or GreenPower Club. Design technology (DT) and art have become an essential part of extra-curricular activities, with CAD, laser-cutting and 3D printing helping to put ideas into practice. Peer-group learning and teamwork happens naturally here. In fact, students with practical experience of art and DT are seen as hugely valuable contributors to these science activities. Their knowledge of the aesthetic has also proved critical to the success of school teams taking part in the Galactic Challenge and UK Space Design Competitions – both of which Eltham College won this year.

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ABOVE Experimentation at Dulwich College LEFT In the lab at Eltham College



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ABOVE Exploration at Hazelgrove Prep School LEFT Curiosity at work at Kingswood School, Bath



hile STEAM is now being fostered all the way through our schools, starting them young is the approach used at Kingswood School, Bath, which offers education from nursery years up to 18. By the time children move on to Senior School, they understand the potential overlaps between science and arts subjects and can start to forge their own connections. Every child, from Reception to Year 6, has lessons given by the school's STEAM department. For younger children, the focus is on core skills and knowledge, while from Year 3 onwards lessons take a more cross-curricular approach. Teachers use project-based learning to help children develop skills they can apply to problem-solving situations. Younger children’s lessons are mostly made up of art, DT, computing and outdoor learning, with science also taught as part

of the curriculum. As they progress, science becomes a more discrete lesson. They continue to have art on top of the additional STEM lessons, computing, engineering and DT. Kingswood has dedicated STEAM classrooms – located on the top floor of the new Tudor Brown Innovation Centre. Creative kit includes a kiln – useful for firing everything from dragons to Tudor roses. Much of the science curriculum is practical, with lessons developed out of students' questions. Computing and engineering rooms are joined by a connecting door, encouraging a free flow of ideas and experimentation. Among all the equipment on offer the robots are stars, ranging from basic b-bots to Lego Mindstorms for coding fun. A CNC machine lets them design with plastic, wood or metal while the desktop vacuum formers are very useful for the Year 3 chocolate project. The school, which sits on a huge site surrounded by woodland, has a Secret Garden for nature study and exploration as part of its outdoor learning programme. Leaf identification, roasting marshmallows, making catapults, den building, learning and forging links between science and creativity all happens here.



t Hazelgrove Prep, Somerset, the spark of STEAM is stoked through teaching approaches designed to inspire next-generation engineers, mathematicians, artists and scientists. The curriculum is varied and incorporates the whole range of subjects, with academic and theoretical areas sitting alongside investigative and practical work. Art and DT departments work together to run multiple cross-curricular projects. From the very-useful-to-young-people ideas such as creating skateboards and recycling fashion to the 'wow' stuff such as kinetic art-inspired hanging mobiles. Head of DT Bonnie Barton says: "Hazelgrove children embrace STEAM wholeheartedly in this way. Creating products that they have designed and made themselves is a highly motivating, tangible experience. Children use large laser cutters from Year 3 as well as 3D printers and a CAD embroidery machine that embroiders their designs at the push of a button". Outdoor activities are another way to

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keep children inspired and energised by the possibilities of science + arts. The school holds a festival every year and its recent STEAMFest was filled with drama, including ‘Wonderlab’ investigation stations, animatronic dinosaurs, coding and programming workshops, daily Codebreaker Challenges and a fashion show focusing on upcycling and recycling. Children also worked alongside the e-NABLE Charity in creating a 3D printed hand, learning more its work to create hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device. Bonnie Barton says STEAM is both creative and forward-thinking but, most important, keeps children at Hazelgrove engaged. "Running across the curriculum, children develop a genuine love for a range for subjects."



t Mayfield, the East Sussex boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18, breadth of education remains at the heart of the teaching approach, with STEM and core arts subjects compulsory up to GCSE level. Uptake of sciences remains strong at

RIGHT Blackheath High School girls getting inventive BELOW Art meets the sciences at Mayfield School

A-level stage, too. One key facet of science teaching here is to encourage girls never to think of science as a stereotypically 'male domain', says Head of Biology Rachel Davies. The school focuses on female STEAM Heroes as part of its work to encourage this – from Mme Tussaud to Hedy Lamarr to the even more unsung pioneers, such as computer scientist Sister Mary Kenneth Keller. There is a strong tradition at Mayfield of pupils going on to fields such as veterinary and medical, but that doesn't stop them pursuing their creative interests – or seeing intersections – with the arts. Rachel Davies cites one of their students who, with the aim of being a surgeon, learned loss of manual dexterity is becoming a problem in the surgical field. As a result, she has successfully combined hard sciences with ceramics at A level in order to add to her skillset for her future career. The school's STEM Club is thriving. Rachel Davies says they find all young people have an innate sense when it comes to areas such as coding and robotics. There is a strong practical bent in much of their work, finding solutions to design problems and considering big-picture issues such as the environment. One recent challenge involved a visit from Dyson where the girls ended up putting together their own vacuum cleaner from a pile of components – science and team problem-solving brought vividly to life.

STEAM links are forged throughout the school years by giving pupils opportunities to use technology in their art and design projects. There is also an eminently practical approach in PHSE sessions, where a lot of teambuilding work goes on. When your group is tasked to build a chair out of a cardboard box, with no glue or tape allowed, it's impossible not to think outside the box – also an object lesson in design-thinking approaches that lie at the heart of STEAM!



TEM sits at the heart of Blackheath High School GDST's approach but, says Head of Design & Technology Tim Masters (a trained architect), it does not sit in a silo. "Combining the subjects is essential to have a balanced and rounded view when creative problem solving," he says. The school is fortunate in its location, close to Greenwich Royal Observatory. "We have partnered with Greenwich’s Royal Observatory to study astronomy at GCSE in this world-class scientific location," says Deputy Head Natalie



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SENIOR / FOCUS BELOW Dulwich encourages practical approaches

Argile, who is also a science teacher by training. A recent £18 million investment in school facilities has brought new science labs, but also an Apple Mac Suite, music rooms, music technology lab and art and textile studios. There is, says Natalie Argile, an approach of championing lessons across all fields. Blackheath High believes skills learned in technical and artistic disciplines are complementary and hosts its own STEAM Week. Events have included lectures on creativity and AI and a session on using maths in jewellery design. Every STEAM Week there is a collaborative project between the Music and D&T departments. One notable project was the creation of the 'Musical Boghorn' made from a loo (bought new for musicmaking purposes!). This was played during whole-school assembly – an innovative and unforgettable way to celebrate and develop interdisciplinary thinking. Blackheath High also encourages pupils to go create through co-curricular clubs – from Bamboo Bicycle Making Club to the Edible STEAM Club (think cooking meets chemical reactions). Natalie Argile says that interdisciplinary co-curricular and enrichment activities positively affect the way girls respond to core science and maths lessons. While they love the practical and hands-on elements, thoughtful discussion helps to embed an attitude of critical enquiry. Tim Masters says there is emphasis on understanding the design process – taught as 'PROCESS8'. This sets out a framework that can be applied to anything. "Once the idea is alive it requires developing and solving with the use of technical experimentation to-ing and fro-ing along a cyclic path," he says. In other words, students are learning the design-thinking approach considered so critical to innovation in industry.

BELOW LEFT Art with maths at Blackheath High



aving celebrated its 400th birthday last year, Dulwich College is certainly not resting on its education laurels when it comes to sparking enthusiasm for science and the intersections with the arts. Dr Joseph (Joe) Spence describes this as "no accident" and, when he joined as Master in 2009, he presided over an extension to the science building. Here, there are 18 labs, three preparation rooms and – pride of place – the James Caird Hall exhibition space that enables science to come alive and connections with other fields to be explored. Joe Spence adds that firing the spark is about much more than just great buildings. It's about getting boys to: "experiment in science". This means lots of practical work, assisted by an army (more than 25) specialist teachers. All boys here take three sciences and Maths to GCSE, and many go on to A level. But throughout their time here, the school encourages them to also develop ideas – the connections you make when you look beyond what the textbooks say. "We don't work with two cultures here. Science is at its strongest when it is creative," he adds. The approach does work, since the

school's art students are constantly to be found working in the labs or creating pop-ups in what would be traditionally considered science spaces. Then, too, there are opportunities to bring science right into art lessons – for instance, focusing on dermatology and skin through an artist's lens. Computer Science is also a key strength at Dulwich – with exceptional facilities to develop skills. The problem solving, information management and play available as boys learn more about computing can all feed into other areas. Beyond the syllabus, Dulwich College keeps the STEAM spirit going through a dizzying range of clubs and societies, so that students can pursue their passions beyond the classroom. Free Learning is another pillar of the approach here, giving boys the opportunity to look outside the syllabus and pursue the things that interest them. Dulwich College took learning further during lockdown by launching Thinking About, a series of live online lectures bringing together guest speakers from across arts, humanities and science. The project was in partnership with Southwark Schools' Learning Partnership, which meant Year 11 and above pupils from 13 state and four independent schools put their heads together – a perfect experiment in STEAM power and encouraging young people to think outside the science or arts silo. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 77


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LEFT & RIGHT The creative thread at work at Sydenham High School GDST

Creativity THRIVES

IN RESTRICTED TIMES Katharine Woodcock, Head of Sydenham High School GDST, discusses the impact of the pandemic on creativity and resilience


ver the past few months, education has been forced to adapt quickly to unprecedented and challenging times. A digital transformation in education has taken place which will undoubtedly have a profound and lasting impact for years to come. What has struck us, however, throughout our period of Guided Home Learning are two things: the adaptability and resilience of our pupils, and the thread of creativity which shone through all of their endeavours. Staff and pupils have utilised new software such as Google’s Kami extension to annotate PDF past papers, Flipgrid to upload music pieces, and social media channels for mini sports challenge videos, as well as daily Google Meets to maintain a sense of community. Creativity has

filtered into all subjects, encouraging innovation through the use of items found at home, from making model flowers for plant reproduction in biology to Dia de los Muertos masks in Spanish, to packing for a pilgrimage in RS, to a Year 7 maths class learning fractions through scaling a recipe. Staff, as well as pupils, have been encouraged to enter their creations into our Piece of the Week gallery and PSHE Bingo was a treasure trove of independent learning, from film making to embroidery to random acts of kindness. As a community we came together virtually for our SE26 Charity Challenge, raising £5,475 for NHS Charities Together by participating in sponsored activities on the theme of 26. Staff and pupils also made visors and scrubs. This period has not only revolutionised teaching and learning but it has given renewed vigour to the education of the whole child and the importance of skills beyond those learnt in the classroom.

Our motto 'Fear Nothing' could not have been more apt and the ‘can do’ approach which we instil in our pupils really shone through. Having a growth mindset has proved to be invaluable and has unlocked further potential and talents in so many of our pupils. It is not just in our pupils, but also our teachers, who have been modelling just what can be achieved if you put your mind to it, take that risk, step out of your comfort zone and believe in what you are doing. To this end, our online delivery of lessons became exciting, creative, fearless and, above all, inspiring – which in turn allowed our pupils the opportunity to really dig deep and recognise that there are no barriers to their learning, despite being physically away from school. This new ‘different’ has afforded greater creativity and we have seen some truly remarkable teaching and learning as well as pupil outcomes. Sydenham High School is part of the Girls’ Day School Trust, a family of 25 schools, helping to shape the future of girls’ education. Virtual open events are bookable online this autumn.

K AT H A R I N E WO O D CO C K Headmistresses Sydenham High School 19 Westwood Hill, SE26 020 8557 7000 sydenhamhighschool.gdst.net AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 79

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LEFT Science in action today at St Dunstan's RIGHT A 1900s science class at the school


St Dunstan’s College has ambitious plans with its new STEM facilities, but science was integral from its earliest days BELOW A model of the school's new facilities

“The College regularly received delegations from around the world, who visited to learn more about its scientific teaching”


t Dunstan’s College, in Catford, south London, is about to embark on the most significant redevelopment of its sites since its foundation in 1888. The new project, which will cost around £25 million, will see a new STEM block, alongside a junior school and sixth form centre, built by the summer of 2021. The school, which is today home to nearly 1,000 pupils aged 3 to 18, has had a tradition of investing in STEM subjects since its opening in 1888, and was one of the first schools in the country to build science laboratories and dedicated technology rooms – and to place technical subjects at the core of its curriculum. The archives show that the very first governors wanted St Dunstan’s to ‘be in advance of the present time...[having] special reference to technical education’. Indeed, the job advertisement for the school's first headmaster stated that special attention should be paid to ‘scientific, technical and commercial education, in connection with which excellent laboratories [and] lecture rooms will be provided’.

In most other independent schools, the study of Latin and Greek was predominant at that time, but at St Dunstan’s science was a central tenet of the curriculum. In a report to the governing body, the first headmaster, C. M. Stuart, explained: “The science courses are being made more and more practical, textbooks are less and less used; at present all the boys who have learnt any science at all have learnt it from practical experiments made by themselves”. The success of this approach earned it a reputation as an “education pioneer”, according to historian Nigel Watson. The College regularly received delegations from around the world who visited to learn more about its scientific teaching. This included a visit from members of the German Embassy, who spent two days writing a report on its modern methods. Moving forward 130 years, the STEM centre will include 12 laboratories, six mathematics rooms and three large design technology workshops. “I feel sure that our founders and benefactors would be proud of the innovative new buildings that are being constructed," says Headmaster Nicholas Hewlett. Emma Latham, College Director of Studies and a teacher of science, says the new labs will: “enhance the College’s ability to teach practically, giving students the space to make mistakes safely and truly form their own conclusions”. As the first headmaster C. M. Stuart once put it: “It is not so much what a [child] knows that is important but how he finds it out”. This was forward thinking for the late 19th Century, and remains St Dunstan's College's ethos today. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 81

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Thinking GLOBAL Academic rigour and a caring culture in a bilingual setting give young people a truly global perspective, says the Head of London’s Lycée Winston Churchill


t is often said that we live in a global village, but for parents whose work takes them around the world – especially those who are multilingual or multi-cultural – there is a clear dilemma. They need to find a school that meets the special demands of their children while ensuring a continuum of studies. Whereas a local school teaching in a single language may tie students to a national curriculum, and even restrict their future options in other countries, here at Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill our focus is on equipping students for their onward journey, wherever life takes them. We offer programmes – including the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) – that open global educational avenues. Highly respected for its breadth and depth, the IB multinational certification is recognised by the world’s best universities.

“Our focus is on equipping students for their onward learning journey, wherever life takes them” Lycée Winston Churchill, which was inaugurated in 2015, provides an exciting and internationally focused setting in which to learn. Our co-ed school serves 900 international students aged 3 to 18 and aims to develop every child into a forward-thinking, principled, and joyful world citizen. Our Art Deco building, set in a leafy five-acre campus in north London, gives children the space and calm to nurture their well-being. The school is rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted for sixth form and personal growth and welfare.

students learn to be curious and open, to ask questions, and to express their ideas with confidence. Faculty are empowered by the school’s use of technology, using tools that facilitate different styles of learning and enable both collaboration and selfguided study. The staff play a crucial role, too, in fostering a supportive and energetic culture that develops resilience, responsibility, empathy, and dialogue. The school also now offers distance learning and virtual classroom programmes – a boon in the current climate, but equally important to families who may be relocating between assignments or who seek a We began offering quality education from a remote setting. ABOVE Pupils at Lycée the IBDP in 2019 and, University acceptance rates demonstrate Winston Churchill in preparation for the the success of the school’s pedagogy, with IB Diploma programme students moving on to Russell Group (for students in years universities in the UK, leading Canadian 12 and 13), the Lycée has created the institutions, US Ivy League colleges and English International Programme from French Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes year 7. Meanwhile, for the little ones, the Ecoles. We are proud that every student primary section delivers an immersive in the French bilingual programme passed bilingual curriculum starting at age three. the competitive baccalauréat examinations What sets the school apart is not only its in 2020, 62% with highest honours. remarkable diversity – with There are many highly students from 45 countries reputable IBDP programmes and teachers and staff of 29 in London, but families seeking different nationalities – but out Lycée International de also a forward-thinking Londres Winston Churchill can educational ethos. We believe be assured of an environment in blending traditional that is truly international disciplines with the skills – enabling young people’s young people need for academic achievement, tomorrow’s world: initiative, but also enriching their MIREILLE RABATÉ exploration, critical thinking, cultural knowledge and Founding Head teamwork and a focus on preparing them for higher Lycée International de individual development. study and exciting careers Londres Winston Churchill Rather than memorising facts, anywhere in the world. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 83

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Game Changers The Mintridge Foundation’s blend of team and one-to-one coaching and mentoring has benefits that go way beyond performance on the field


lex Wallace is on a mission to harness sport for good via the Mintridge Foundation. From small roots, this has grown into an organisation with a whole host of individual and team athletes on its books. Acting as mentors – and known as Ambassadors – they help children of every sporting ability, so far reaching some 40,000 young people across the UK. Mintridge has also attracted valuable sponsors in the media and corporate world and founder Alex Wallace has picked up an impressive array of awards. Like many a great idea, Mintridge Foundation has its roots in a personal experience. Alex Wallace was a gifted hockey player. She was tipped to go far and was put forward for the U16 Trials for England Hockey. But then she wasn’t selected and the impact was profound. “I fell out of love with the sport,” she says. But more than that, she began to re-evaluate her own identity and future. “I struggled with my mental health – I was no longer ‘Alex the hockey player’”. She came through, but later realised

“Ambassadors work to help young people believe in their own abilities, sporting or otherwise, encouraging them to have a go without fear of failure” that if she’d had a mentor at that time she would probably have coped with the setback – might even have responded very differently. She started to reflect on the fear of failure that haunts many young people, and also how few role models there are for less well publicised sports. What the Mintridge Foundation aims to do is to address these issues and more. The Foundation matches sporting role models with young people, helping them to build their physical and mental well-being and life skills. Beyond everything else, its role

models work to help young people believe in their own abilities, sporting or otherwise. The roll call of mentors on its books includes individual and team players in over 20 sports – from double Paralympic gold archer Danielle Brown and hockey’s Shona McCallin to wheelchair basketball player (and sports presenter) Jordan JarrettBryan and swimmer Lizzie Simmonds. Whatever the sport, having stars as mentors has a positive effect on young people. Alex says: “It makes them sit up and listen. They are seen as someone quite cool”. Even better when the Ambassador arrives wearing their Team GB tracksuit. While sporting achievement matters, it is equally important that young people relate to the athletes they meet. Mintridge Foundation covers the sports given less airtime on TV and has a great balance of female role models and athletes with disabilities. It also has female Ambassadors in emerging fields – notably rising English rugby talent Zoe Harrison and racing driver Emily Linscott. Alex has always been very careful to reflect diversity and also tap into the challenges young people face. Their role is not to simply turn up, but to devote time and work with the students (alongside their schools and families). “We are very

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ABOVE The Mintridge Foundation offers diverse role models to help young people be inspired by sport

particular in who we want,” she adds. Often these sporting role models are in the early stages or late stages of their career. There is a clear benefit for athletes too. Assisting other young people is a means of giving back and leaving a legacy beyond their own medals and records. It may also help them build their own skills and confidence. Alex remains keenly aware of the importance of helping athletes find their role when they are no longer competing at the highest levels. There are programmes of various levels available, from a single day hosting assembly and workshops to long-term support. The small team will liaise to select the athlete who best fits the programme the school or club wants. A big USP in the Foundation’s work is one-to-one mentorship. Here, a school or club selects one or two students to be mentored. These may be talented athletes or they

may not – the point is that it is tailored to help the individual student. Here, there are some wonderful success stories. One that remains a favourite for Alex is when Lizzie Simmonds helped a primary school pupil. The child could not believe she had been chosen as a mentee by her school and was completely overawed – so much so that she had to get her mother to ask the questions for her during early Skype sessions. But the mentorship continued and, by the end of the programme, this desperately shy child was coming to each session brimming with ideas for things to talk about and questions to ask Lizzie Simmonds. “Her mother told us she cried after the final session because she had enjoyed them so much she didn’t want the mentorship to end,” says Alex. Working across the country with both

state and independent schools, Mintridge Foundation is also helping those young people who may have real potential and here, Alex is sure, there are messages that can be conveyed at the right time to make a difference. “The identity side is huge for athletes, but there has to be a plan B,” she says. Teachers and parents may advise, but hearing first-hand from a professional that schoolwork is still really important for their future career, alongside nutrition and keeping a balance in their lives, may be a game changer in helping young talent to be brilliant but stay grounded. Mintridge Foundation, mintridgefoundation.org.uk AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 85


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Fresh vision The new Principal of Queen Ethelburga’s, near York, discusses the challenges faced by schools and the Collegiate’s vision for the year to come


tarting this academic year as the new Principal of Queen Ethelburga’s has been a very different experience to that which I envisioned when I was first appointed. Having been in education for over 30 years – 17 of those as the head of large UK and international independent schools – I’ve seen change in practice. Yet the challenges facing schools across the UK this September, as we’ve all heard said many times already, have been unprecedented. At Queen Ethelburga’s, we had a headstart because our key worker and Forces boarding students stayed on campus throughout lockdown. We also successfully

“With our key worker and Forces boarding students stayed on campus throughout lockdown, we gained plenty of early experience”

Queen Ethelburga’s benefits from its setting – a highly secure, rural campus set in the stunning North Yorkshire countryside. Our priorities for this coming year are to build on QE’s success story to date. We know that the key to academic excellence is consistency in the quality of teaching, therefore, this will always be the focus for the Collegiate. Continuous improvement is also key. We will be reflecting ABOVE on everything we do QE is located on a stunning and will always seek rural campus feedback from our students, parents and teachers so that we understand our community needs and welcomed our Reception, Year 1 and find ways to meet them. Year 6 cohort in early June. This means we gained plenty of early experience of As we move through this school year, we operating in a controlled lockdown. We will continue to find ways to broaden and took the decision to bring our boarders improve the curriculum and enrichment back two weeks earlier than usual in opportunities we offer so that we ensure August, in order to offer quarantine if we extend students’ learning beyond the necessary, but also to offer a curriculum restraints of the classroom. Recent online preparation programme for the year ahead. teaching experience is already being used QE has complied with, and gone beyond, to update our IT strategy – taking the the measures required by the Government opportunity to develop e-learning still further and is fully committed to the and maximise its impact. BSA School Safe Charter. We Through our academic, have used all our experience pastoral and enrichment to ensure adaptable plans programmes, our focus for the new school year. This remains developing the has included issuing timely personal qualities of our guidance to our students students in order to encourage and parents on the measures leadership, resilience, critical taken to keep the campus thinking and responsibility. as safe as possible while As always, our priorities JEFF SMITH maintaining the welcoming remain safeguarding and Principal and happy atmosphere that the health and wellbeing Queen Ethelburga’s they know and love. In this of all our students and Collegiate regard, our location is ideal; staff at the Collegiate. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 87

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SUPPORT The experts at Bupa Global highlight ways to help children cope with difficult times and feel secure talking about their feelings


he past few months have been disorientating for children, with COVID-19 disrupting every aspect of normal school and family life. According to a study of over 10,000 parents and carers led by the University of Oxford 1, children have experienced a range of emotional difficulties during lockdown, including feeling more unhappy and

anxious. And, of course, the start of a new term can always be a challenge for families as children may struggle to readjust after a period away from classmates, school routines and study. But there are some steps that parents can follow to help their children cope with back-to-school anxiety this school year.

Acknowledge their challenges Bupa Global Lead Physician Dr Naveen Puri suggests that honest and open discussions are crucial to improving wellbeing. “Parents can’t control what happens in the wider world, but they

can control how they communicate with their children about any challenges they are facing. Though it may feel difficult at the time, children will benefit more from honest conversations in an understanding home environment.”

Choose your words A 2019 study by charity Time to Change 2 found that the majority of young people (73%) want to talk about mental health but can’t find the right words. This means it’s important for parents to listen and respond to their concerns without judgement. Consider running through


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evening walk – to open up the conversation and let them express their feelings. “Be sure to let them properly process the chat”, advises Dr Puri. “Let them know they can come back to you later on if needs be.”

Have support in place

the conversation in your head or with a friend beforehand to ensure that you feel comfortable with the topics you are tackling and can keep communication relaxed. If you are at ease, this will help to avoid your child closing down when the subject of how they are feeling is raised.

Talk on neutral ground If you recognise signs of stress and anxiety in your child, then early intervention is key. It is important to raise the topic on neutral ground, so avoid their bedroom or the kitchen table, and find a good time – such as an early

1. Research among 10,000 parents as part of the Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics) survey led by experts at the University of Oxford in 2020 2. Survey of over 2,000 16 to 24-year-olds conducted for mental health campaign Time to Change in October 2019. Calls may be recorded. Bupa Global is a trading name of Bupa Insurance Limited and Bupa Insurance Services Limited. Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Bupa Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Global Virtual Care service is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or by the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Don’t be afraid to get help if your family is struggling to cope. Bupa Global allows customers to make the most of multiple resources for those affected by mental health issues – including its Global Virtual Care service. This service provides confidential access to a global network of doctors, available 24/7, in multiple languages. Bupa Global has a range of health insurance plans, whatever your needs. For families, the Elite Global Health Plan covers two children up to the age of 10 at no additional cost, subject to underwriting.

B U PA G LO B A L For more information, talk to the Private Client team today on 0371 346 1037 or visit bupaglobal.com/withyou AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 89

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QUESTION TIME The experts at Gabbitas Education have the answers


My son is struggling at school and his teachers have flagged up a potential learning difficulty. Can you advise on how we get an independent SEN assessment and guidance on next steps, including (potentially) the right school to help him?


The first thing you should do if you or your son’s teachers have flagged up potential special education needs is to arrange an appointment with the Special Needs Coordinator at your school. It may be suggested that an educational psychologist’s report


independent advice on SEN is key


“If your child is undecided about future direction, it is important to pick GCSEs that will provide a broad and balanced programme that keeps options open”

would help identify strengths and weaknesses and generate suitable recommendations for teachers, parents and other professionals that are used to meet those learning needs. If you are struggling to find an education psychologist contact us and we will be more then happy to recommend some that we have worked with in the past. Before the psychologist's assessment takes place you and your school might be sent a questionnaire to find out more about the situation. You will be asked about your son’s general state of health, how well he can perform certain tasks and what you, as a parent, think needs to change. During the assessment the

educational psychologist will most likely want to observe your child in his learning environment and ask him to take part in a series of tests. These tests might include reading and writing, language development and vocabulary, local reasoning, memory, speed of information processing, organisational skills and approach to learning. After your son has been assessed you will receive a report that not only indicates strengths and weaknesses but also areas of potential improvement. Depending on the severity of learning difficulties, you can work on an action plan drawn up by you and your school that involves special education needs support. If this is not possible with the

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school your son is currently visiting do get in touch with us. We have extensive experience advising families with children who need special help and can also suggest excellent schools where your child will be able to fulfil their potential.


After the last school year's disruptions my daughter is more confused than ever about her GCSE choices. Where should we go for advice and are there any general pointers for keeping study options open for A level and beyond?


Maths, English and Science are core subjects everyone must take when doing their GCSE. English Language is compulsory in all schools, and so is English Literature in most schools. Science may be split into the three separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) or into two combined Science GCSEs. The optional subjects include Modern Foreign Languages, humanities (History, Geography or Religious Studies), Art, Music, Drama, Media Studies, Design & Technology or Computer Science. So, which GCSEs should your daughter take? This is down to a combination of different things, such as your daughter’s interests, plans and which optional subjects your school offers. She will be taking the first steps in shaping her own education.

If she already has a university course in mind, check entry requirements for specific courses at university and work back from there. Medicine, for example, might require Chemistry, Biology and either Maths or Physics. If she only picks Chemistry and either Maths or Physics, her chances of gaining entry will be significantly reduced. If she is undecided about what she would like to do in the future, it is important for her to pick courses that will provide a broad and balanced programme so she keeps her options open. You can get a guide to which GCSE subjects and grades you need for a range of degree courses on Informed Choices and UCAS websites. Perhaps the most important recommendation is for your daughter to choose subjects she thinks she will be good at. This means researching content closely and asking teachers and others who know her well for advice. She shouldn’t be choosing subjects for the wrong reasons – such as following her friends – and it will help her stay motivated if she also enjoys the subjects she studies.



My son's school offers BTEC qualifications, alongside A level, in some of the subjects he's keen on taking. How are these qualifications viewed by universities and employers?


By tradition, A levels are academic qualifications required for university, whereas BTECs are more vocational. However, universities have evolved over the years and are more open to alternative qualifications. One of the main differences between the two qualifications is the method of assessment. BTECs are regularly assessed through coursework and practical assignments, whereas A levels are essay and exam focused. This means BTEC may be more attractive to students who prefer and perform better through an independent, flexible, and practical approach to academic study. BTEC has been around for almost as many years as A levels, and the number of students taking this qualification has risen in recent times. Universities tend to give equal consideration to both qualifications, although every university will have its own requirements. For example, Oxford University considers BTECs as alternative UK qualifications, although in some cases it will require additional qualifications, such as a combination with A levels to make a competitive application. Employers are also becoming more open to considering students with BTEC, as it is considered a more practical qualification that will develop and then assess a student’s time management, problem solving, planning and employability skills. In some instances, it may be a better alternative. For instance, BTEC Business Studies might be more recognised by an employer with job roles in this area. Some employers might also prefer BTEC qualifications in IT-related jobs. Neither higher qualification should make it difficult for a student to enter university or to find a job, so the choice may come down to your son's preferred method of learning and working and what study approach works best to highlight his true potential.




18/09/2020 09:52



Made in

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Cambridge’s only boarding and day school for girls and boys aged 11 - 18

OPEN MORNINGS February April October Small group and individual visits available year round

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The Executive Head of Kent College, Canterbury on the creative spark delivered by STEAM teaching in schools


TEAM is not just about the integration of the Arts with Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Maths, it is an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach which emphasises problem-solving, develops analytical thought and creative innovation – all forecast as key in-demand skills of tomorrow in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018. As the skills demanded of the future workforce shift, we must focus on teaching students how to think and not what to think. Kent College has, for a long time supported essential skills that are less easy to measure in the ‘Ofsted clipboard’ world: teamwork, leadership, creativity, problem-solving, listening, presenting, aiming high and staying positive. We offer bespoke curriculum pathways to help students of all abilities to achieve. We are planning for our learning spaces to reflect this new approach to STEAM learning. In KC Hong Kong and KC Cairo, both due to open in the next couple of years, there are plans to place STEAM subjects under one roof. Glass walls will break down barriers between subjects, with an open environment for collaboration. Similarly, we seek to ‘retrofit’ our historic Canterbury campus with new

through to the finals of the BIEA International STEM Competition, designing drone protocols to protect endangered animal species and using robotics to clean plastic waste from oceans. A project called Jeans Blue was awarded the runnerup prize at the National Science and Engineering Competition Finals. The team investigated ABOVE scaling up the ecoKent College friendly craft method student of extracting indigo dye to an industrial level. There have been other successes. A young KC team won an Innovation Competition with “Matt Master“ magnetic plates and placemats to help the visually impaired, children and elderly people avoid spills. They also came up with the concept of 'slicer' – a chopping board incorporating Braille. Another group featured as finalists in the Antibiotics Unearthed Project, co-ordinated by the Microbiological Society, where soil samples were screened for antibiotics-producing bacteria. Kent College Canterbury highlights the STEAM approach in everyday practice: it was the first Apple 1:1 school in the UK design workshops and art studios, labs – providing every student and learning pods. These with a MacBook so that all will be accompanied by classrooms are enabled for IT spaces for robotics, coding/ and every part of school can programming, digital arts become a space for learning. and entrepreneurship. Early adoption of Google The success of our approach Classroom has allowed for to STEAM can already be “flipped lessons“ and remote seen. Our students were UK learning and revision. All National Winners of the Future this, of course, meant that the Industry Leaders Award for school ‘s students were well work on creating a low-cost DR DAVID LAMPER prepared to continue with artificial limb. Kent College Executive Head scheduled lessons during the was also the only school Kent College lockdown of Spring 2020. internationally with two teams

“As the skills demanded of the future workforce shift we must focus on teaching students how to think and not what to think”

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An Excellent

rated (ISI) school

welcoming children aged 3 months to 19 years.

Call to arrange a

socially distanced

private tour or visit us on our next open day:

10th October 2020 10.30 - 3.30.

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

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Master Chefs St Edmund's School Canterbury's Marie Florence discusses the culinary and creative success of its Leiths Academy course MARIE FLORENCE


e have once again celebrated the achievements of our students who have received the most excellent results in the Leiths School of Food and Wine Introductory Certificate of Food and Wine. Yet a few years back, the numbers taking up Food Technology at GCSE here had dropped significantly and we couldn’t really understand why – especially as food and nutrition was being broadcast on all channels as a fun, creative and exciting career. St Edmund’s wanted to ignite that level of excitement and passion about food in the curriculum and so set about with a few enquiries. Leiths was the first port of call due to its international reputation for teaching keen cooks and aspiring professionals the skills to be a success in the kitchen. We have been recognised as a Leiths Academy for the last five years now and are one of the few schools in Kent to offer this opportunity. Developed around the timetable, our course provides students with a toolbox of skills, allowing them to develop into individual, confident and creative cooks and setting them on course for a lifelong interest in food and the culinary arts. Provenance and seasonality are both important elements of the course, with

“Our course provides students with a toolbox of skills, allowing them to develop into individual, confident and creative cooks”

pupils being taught about the ingredients they use week by week and then using this knowledge to complete menu planning coursework, a group canapé project and practical ‘holiday’ cooking. We always try to source ingredients locally, with a special emphasis on local fish and sustainability. Trips to specialist locations in Canterbury and Rye have reinforced this learning with practical cooking – and eating! Students also cater for numerous events at St Edmund’s. These have included our Open Day breakfast, Governors' Lunch and The Head’s Festival Reception and Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The festival event alone hosts 110 people – and is always sold out – providing a great opportunity to cater for a large-scale function. As well as cooking, our young chefs also spend time with a Master of Wine, tasting various wines and learning how to select wines to compliment different foods and ABOVE St Edmund's School masterchefs

recipes – a day that is understandably much anticipated. They also have a weekly theory lesson to prepare for a subsequent practical session that covers both the theory and practice of cookery. Pupils finish this course with a wealth of experience, new skills and a lifelong love of food and cooking. While it is a rigorous programme of study, it is also accessible and appealing to a broad range of our students – whether they want a season as a chalet girl or boy or plan a career in the industry. Should our students be aiming for a career in food, there are lots of opportunities. Leiths students go on to work in a broad range of areas in the industry. Many set up their own businesses and others choose different creative routes. They might freelance for top caterers, become a food stylist or develop dishes for producers or supermarkets. This early expertise in food might lead on to a career in food writing, media or PR, prestigious private chef work or, of course, opening a restaurant and aiming for a Michelin Star or three!

M A R I E F LO R E N C E Head of Design & Technology St Edmund's School Canterbury AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 95


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A FIRST-CLASS TICKET TO A GLOBAL CAREER Bachelor’s Degree in International Hospitality Business with specializations in: • Luxury Brand Management in Hospitality • International Hotel Development and Finance • International Event Management Summer Programs 2021 We are now taking bookings for our 2021 Summer Programs in Switzerland and the UK. Check our website for dates and details. For more information contact Claire Reid-Warrilow | Director of Undergraduate Recruitment UK and Northern Europe claire.reidwarrilow@sommet-education.com | +44 (0) 743 664 2913 | glion.edu

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17/09/2020 17:10 15:34 25/08/2020



Dr Daniel Glorioso of Pyramidion.uk discusses the value of mentoring, as part of the tutoring process, in helping children to cope with anxieties


entorship is nothing new. Indeed, it can be traced right back to Homer’s Odyssey in the 8th century BCE. It works by fostering wellbeing and mental health in children and young people, inspiring them to develop their imagination and creativity, and guiding them in becoming responsible human beings. Mentors can analyse a student's personal learning process and explain to them how to deal with anxiety caused by, for instance, fear of disappointment or frustration. This process helps them to find a path of improvement and achievement. There are fundamental differences between mentoring and coaching. A coach can be defined as a (qualified) person who gives extra training for short periods of time towards goals with defined plans. In contrast, mentors are advisers respected for their knowledge, wisdom, empathy, integrity and vision of lifelong education and learning. For true mentors, their mentees’ success is the main reward. At Pyramidion, we combine many years of research and tutoring in maths and physics with experience in mentoring, applied to children and young people experiencing academic anxiety and related mental health issues. Here, tutoring is the structure and

"Instead of psychologically overprotecting children, we should trust their resilience and allow them to become protagonists"

mentorship the underlying purpose. From experience, it is crucial that students know that they can reach their mentors when they need help – this enables them to see a wider perspective, enhances their self-confidence and helps them understand that they can control anxiety with time. Through wisdom and empathy, mentors can detect and monitor signs of anxiety and act in a timely way, also working in frequent consultation with parents. In many situations, their input may be the most effective way to reduce issues without resorting to therapy or medication. As children make sense of their world, they naturally develop defence mechanisms to survive independently – part of that is recognising familiar faces and environments as safe. But in recent months schoolchildren have been isolated from friends and teachers under lockdown. Their routines have been suddenly broken in ways unseen for generations, and hence they have lost some of their sense of safety and joyfulness. And although it is natural to feel anxious about the unknown as we all

adapt to new situations, when children turn to us for comfort and guidance, we are here to play our reassuring roles as expected. Each child needs to be appreciated as unique, grow up in calm, loving environments, and – in an ideal world – experience a much less stressful education system. Quite naturally, given recent events, there is increasing anxiety in children and young people. There is fear of being left behind and uncertainty in career prospects. This is added to preexistent worries about many other things – climate change, the environment, consumerism, appearances, and so on. Hopefully, the majority of young people will adapt, however, they fear for their future, feel disillusioned with previous generations, and are challenging adults for what they perceive as a lack of concern and responsibility. In my opinion, instead of psychologically overprotecting children in the current circumstances, expecting things to return to the previous normality, we should trust their resilience and allow them to become protagonists of their own, kindlier world. If we could think positively about how Covid-19 is affecting humankind, we might also see that there is a unique opportunity for change induced at global scale, where adults respect, protect and guide all children and young people, from whom we can learn invaluable lessons.

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27/07/2020 15:14


HOSPITALITY ONLINE The Dean of Practical Arts at Glion on a new remote learning initiative that offers an exciting stepping stone to hospitality degrees


or more than two centuries now Switzerland has been reinforcing its reputation as European home of hospitality. Having been elected Top 3 hospitality and leisure management institute in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020), Glion Institute of Higher Education is understandably popular among international students. They are also attracted by its applied, experiential study method – a handson approach providing invaluable practical experience alongside essential theory. While the demand remains strong, current temporary restrictions on travel for some students means special steps have been put in place to enable them to begin their studies. Glion is part of hospitality education group Sommet Education – along with sister schools Les Roches and Ecole Ducasse. Our “Glion Connect” programme enables students to remotely engage in the first semester before joining campus in January 2021. The study solution delivers a mix of 10 weeks of remote learning and 10 weeks of on-campus studies. While the teaching methods are, necessarily, different to those on campus, both routes provide identical learning outcomes. The whole of the first semester is focused on hospitality’s Practical Arts and equips students with versatile and modern tools so they can acquire both


ABOVE Hospitality training for global careers

“This remote programme equips students with both theoretical and practical knowledge” theoretical and practical knowledge. Delivery of teaching includes videos and teasers, PowerPoint voiceover and materials, live sessions with faculty, ongoing assessments and personalised coaching and mentoring. Students also get a special welcome kit with essentials necessary to participate in wine tastings, pastry classes, cocktail making activities and more. The remote half of the semester covers four modules: Induction, The Art of Gastronomy, The Wine and Bar Universe and Rooms Division and Hotel

Operations. All participating students can also join in extra-curricular activities. The four modules are taught by both Glion and Les Roches faculty and world-renowned experts in Practical Arts, such as Christophe Raoux and Luc Debove (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France and Executive Chef and Executive Pastry Chef respectively at Ecole Ducasse). Once the first remote study period is over, students join us at the home of hospitality. As a group, we are excited to engage with our students, both in person and remotely, accompanying them on this academic adventure leading to a final degree that will be their passport to rewarding global careers.

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every time you submit your CV your statement should be tailored to match the key criteria outlined in the specific job or opportunity.”

2. Build your CV now


S U CC E S S It’s never too early to start your resume, says CVs for Grads founder Sue Alhadeff. Here is her advice for creating a CV that stands out from the crowd


fter a 20+ year career in recruitment, Sue Alhadeff established CVs for Grads because she recognised that young people need specific guidance to build their resumes. After all, it’s harder to compile a CV when you have little workplace experience. “When I started providing this very specialised service, the effects were so immediate and the young people were so grateful that I realised there was a real need for this kind of personalised help,” Sue says. When young people go to CVs for Grads, the first thing that happens is a consultation with Sue Alhadeff so she can match them to the writer on her team who will draw out their skills and experience. Sue follows up with each client and is on hand for a chat or advice long after the CV is drawn up. Referrals and repeat business form the major part of their work – many

“The biggest mistake people make is to be overly long and wordy – a CV should be a single page, with a tailored statement” graduates they helped get their first job come back for further assistance as they progress. Here are Sue’s pointers for building a resume that will stand out.

1. Be concise and tailored

The biggest mistake people make is to be overly long and wordy with their resume. “A CV should be a single page,” Sue says. “It also needs to be relevant. That means

“Start building your CV early,” says Sue. “Employers are looking for evidence of teamwork, leadership and resilience, so participation in clubs, volunteering and drama and music are enjoyable, but also a valuable investment in your future.” Work experience is also a great addition to your CV, but opportunities get snapped up early. “Most summer jobs and taster weeks are advertised in the autumn before, so now is the time to start looking, and fine-tuning your resume,” adds Sue.

3. Build industry-specific skills and knowledge If you have your sights set on a specific career, then you must demonstrate more than a passing interest in how it operates. “You can provide evidence of your interest in multiple ways. Do your research, follow industry influencers and build knowledge so that you can demonstrate a real and sustained interest on paper and at interview,” Sue says. Personal branding is increasingly important; in particular, a wellprepared and engaging LinkedIn profile with photograph is key.

4. Be honest and professional

Embellishment will catch you out, so that week or two of work experience should not be dressed up to sound as if you steered the company. Similarly, while it can be tempting to try and stand out with a quirky hobby or travel experience, this only works if it’s genuine, and you can talk about it in depth. Also think about how including it makes you appear – more interesting or less serious about your application?

5. Know the application process

Be aware that your CV may not be scrutinised by a human eye at initial stages. ATS – applicant tracking system software – filters applicants and is now a big part of the recruitment process. “We have a lot of experience with this type of software and create CVs that pass through the initial stages,” says Sue. “Most importantly, our team are skilled at drawing out the things that make the most of your experience, your skills and your attributes – all the things that employers look for in a CV.” For more information about CVs for Grads, visit cvsforgrads.co.uk AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 101


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Register now

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SEN and university The Head of Careers at Sheffield Girls gives an inside view on disclosing medical or mental health conditions or special needs at application stage


ife is far from normal for any of us at the moment, but for young people living with a physical/mental health condition or a learning issue, leading a ‘normal’ life has always been a challenge. Moving into adulthood, starting with an application to university, is terrain that can feel extremely uncertain. At the point my daughter was applying to university she (and we) had had many years of coping with her OCD, but she was managing it better than she ever had. She was extremely reluctant to mention her condition as she felt this could be a reason to reject her. We supported her decision to keep quiet. Looking back, although we did manage to get support in place when a crisis point was reached, it would have been so much better if we had involved her university from the outset. The help she subsequently received from her university’s Disability Service was crucial in helping her through her degree and successfully out the other side. Informed by this, and my role with the Girls Day School Trust, I have put together a support guide aimed at those with additional needs who are applying to Higher Education. Here are its key messages.

majority of universities use this to finance additional support you might need.

3. Gather evidence

ABOVE Universities are happy to support students

“It is reassuring to know that universities are extremely keen to ensure fair access for all students”

1. Right course and place

Universities offer the same course in very different ways. It takes careful research to uncover the contact hours, styles of assessment and balance of lectures, small-group teaching and practical sessions. Match this with what you know would work best for you. It is equally important to find the right place. While going away to university is often seen as a rite of passage, staying nearer home, closer to trusted medical professionals, family and friends, could be a key consideration. Decide also if a campus university – where everything

you need is on one site - or a city location would work better for you.

If you are intending to claim DSA you will need a letter from a professional who has been working with you. With learning difficulties, universities usually ask for evidence from your school and relevant external organisations. My top tip is to ask your school’s SEND Co-ordinator to give you copies of all documentation accumulated about your condition and support needs. While it can be a daunting process to embark on, it is reassuring to know that universities are extremely keen to ensure fair access for all students. Many young people with physical conditions, mental health conditions or learning difficulties have gained a place at their preferred university, received the support they need, achieved highly and had a wonderful time along the way! Most important of all, every individual is different so be open and honest about what would make a difference and don’t be afraid to ask for more, or different, support if things change after you start your course.

2. Disclose your condition at application The ‘Personal Details’ part of the UCAS application includes a Disability/Special Needs section. This will trigger a contact from your chosen university to explore your individual needs in more detail via a Study Needs Assessment. You should also tick the disability box in your online Student Finance application as the

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School’s Out THE MAKING OF ME P . 108 RADIO WAVES P . 110


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A B OV E AND RIGHT Illustrations by Nicholas Stevenson for 'Literally' BELOW Author Patrick Skipworth

Word UP

Author Patrick Skipworth on 'Literally' his new non-fiction picture book about the global diversity hidden in the English language C A R LY G L E N D I N N I N G

Tell us about ‘Literally’. What made you want to write it? I studied linguistics at university and I’ve always wanted to find a way to make it engaging for younger readers. The etymology of English words seemed a sensible place – there’s something really fun about discovering the unexpected little stories hidden inside our favourite words. I also think it's a great way to develop a love of language. Lots of etymologies start off as standalone facts but then they draw you in to think more broadly about language. When you're young, knowing something your parents or friends don't is a lot of fun, and etymologies can be great for that, too. With that in mind, I started thinking about how words can be connected with illustration, which is really

the core of the book. Nicholas Stevenson, who illustrated 'Literally', was great to have on board because he brought so much enthusiasm and many of his own ideas. We love the way it teaches children about the global diversity hidden in the English language. Why is a multilingual education so important for early-years pupils? Multilingual education can mean something different for students with English as their first language or with English as an additional language (EAL). For all students, there's some evidence that learning a language early on helps throughout their lifetimes with improved cognitive skills across the board. It’s clear that learning a language becomes a lot


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harder as we age, so early years is the ideal time to start. But for a lot of students, studying languages is about more than learning something fun or new because English may not be their first language. For EAL students, who might speak one language at home and see English as their school language, it’s really important that they have a chance to develop and use their own language at school as well. EAL support, such as someone working with a student in their primary language, or encouraging bilingual preschools, is important. Without it, one language, and possibly the student’s development more generally, can suffer – either they will lose some connection to their family or community as their first language is overlooked, or they will struggle more in their English studies. And what about inside the classroom. Do you think we need to change the way we teach linguistics? It’s hard to generalise about how we teach language. For one, teaching across schools differs greatly, with students from different backgrounds, with a range of skills who need varying levels of support. Also, language learning is split over a number of related and all important subjects, each of which has a different purpose. We teach modern languages subjects with the primary aim of being able to read, write in and speak them. None of these really equate to teaching linguistics, but they can all benefit from being informed by linguistic theory and research on language development. A big development since I was at school is the move to systematic synthetic phonics to develop students’ reading skills. This system is better informed by linguistic theory than what I was taught: mostly just learning the spellings of words by rote without connecting them to sound. Phonics is also especially good for EAL students, where it gives a grasp of English

sounds that might be less familiar. Most of all, it’s a great way to help students learn to negotiate the sometimes frighteningly difficult orthographic system we use for writing English, where a single sound can be spelled a myriad of different ways. A teacher friend of mine was asked by a student how they were supposed to look something up in the dictionary if they didn’t know how to spell it – a really good question! Phonics allows you to do that: by pronouncing the word you can work out how it should be spelled. Prioritising approaches to language learning that are informed by linguistic theory and language development research seems a move in a positive direction. Aside from reading together, do you have any creative ideas for parents who want to help with their child’s language development? For early years, building strong phonics skills is fundamental as a basis for developing language and, in particular, reading skills. Schools are often best placed to recommend resources to use at home. There are lots of online games out there, but even playing I spy on the bus is a good way to work on phonics (you could try a mix of letters and sounds: something beginning with ‘E’ and something beginning with the ‘ee’ sound are quite different). When

children write, encourage them to mark words they don’t know how to spell and look them up in the dictionary later. Why not look up the etymology while you’re there – it could be something surprising – maybe the word even comes from another language you speak! Making time for reading is important, both parents reading to children and vice versa. Let kids choose books on topics they are interested in, as long as the writing is engaging and just the right level of challenging. If your child is an EAL student, or a very keen language learner generally, a great resource are dual language books where the text is presented in two languages. And finally, what were the books that really cemented your love of language growing up? I think books that are playful with language are important, especially those that appreciate that a lot of the fun of learning languages comes from how words sound. Classic books like 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' or 'The Gruffalo' are still great examples – but there are fantastic new books coming out all the time as well. Later on, I’m sure reading fantastical books like 'The Hobbit' or the Hungry City Chronicles series (which was a favourite) with all of their invented words played a part. I think as long as you keep reading it's hard to not stay interested in language and words. The key with languages is to get past the 'grammar is boring' approach and start wondering 'why do we talk this way? Isn't that really weird? And really cool too!

PAT R I C K S K I P WO R T H Literally: Amazing Words and Where they Come From. Published by What on Earth Books. £11.99 AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S OLU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 107

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M A K ING of Me

Pamela Butchart The award-winning children's author and philosophy teacher talks about her schooldays in Dundee, and a vivid imagination that got her into trouble Where did you go to school and when? As a younger child I went to St Vincent’s Primary, Dundee in the late '80s and then I went on to St Saviour’s High School, also in Dundee, in the mid '90s. What were your schooldays like? CHAOS. Mostly of my own making! Did you love school or hate it? I loved primary school. It was full of fun, friendship, drama, chaos and toilet ghosts! I found secondary school more difficult. I wore a weird skirt, weird shoes and had pets rats. I didn’t really fit in. What were your favourite subjects at school? Anything to do with dinosaurs or aliens when I was at primary school. In secondary school, philosophy and morality was my favourite subject. And your least favourite? I hated geography. I have a real problem understanding maps and directions (and a rubbish memory – a terrible combination!). Who were your favourite teachers at school and why? My primary school teachers Mrs Ross and Miss Jones. They were kind and fun (and both a little odd). They are the inspiration for the teachers in my books.

Where was your favourite place at school and what did you do there? The primary school toilets. We used to have our secret meetings there. Not very hygienic but loads of fun. What beliefs do you think your time at school instilled in you? Three things. 1. Hard work, determination and self-belief pays off. 2. Being weird is ok and 3. Kindness is everything. What was your proudest school moment? I won a Disney bean bag chair in Primary 4. Everyone applauded and I

got to go up on stage and collect it. I felt like Queen of the World that day. And I’d only bought ONE raffle ticket with ten pence I’d found in the playground! What was your most vivid memory looking back now? The Disney bean bag. It really was the business! What was the most trouble you got into at school? Well...Let’s just say the books I write are all about my time at primary school, with titles such as “My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat!” and “Attack of the Demon Dinner Ladies!” I had a wild imagination,


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– it’s never too late. Except for driving – I’m not convinced I’ll ever pass my test. What’s coming up next for you? I’ve just written the tenth book in my Izzy series of books aimed at 7-10 year olds. The series really took on a life of its own after my book “The Spy Who Loved School Dinners” (illustrated by Thomas Flintham) won the Blue Peter Best Book Award and “My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat!” won The Children’s Book Award. I’m currently writing the eleventh book in the series – I can’t believe it. Any other projects in the pipeline? I’ve written two new Enid Blyton Secret Seven novels for Enid Blyton Entertainment. This was an absolute dream come true (especially because I was a massive Enid Blyton fan as a child and got to write them in my own Secret Seven shed in my garden!). I’ve also just published my very first picture book with my publisher Nosy Crow, which I am very excited about. It’s illustrated by one of my absolute favourite illustrators, Kate Hindley, and it’s called “Jeremy Worried About the Wind”. It’s about a little boy with worries and anxieties. I hope that it will help to open up conversations between parents, carers, teachers and children about their fears and anxieties. How would you sum up your school days in three words? Drama. Chaos. Fun!

Pamela Butchart

which got me into a fair bit of trouble. (I was sent to the head teacher's on more than one occasion for causing a school-wide panic!) Were you ever too cool for school? HA! Pets rats, weird curly hair and often spotted carrying a metal detector. So... NO. Who encouraged and influenced you to become a children’s author? I’d always loved children’s books and

never stopped reading them but never thought I could write my own until my cats (with a little help) got me a “How to Write for Children” self-help book for my birthday. I started reading away and it gave me the confidence to make a start. I started writing the next day and haven’t stopped. As a teacher myself, I’m always amazed at what a little bit of support and encouragement can help people achieve. I’m a firm believer in continued learning

Pamela Butchart's new book, Jeremy, Worried About the Wind, is published by Nosy Crow. £6.99. nosycrow.com AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 109

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Absolutely speaks to creator of radio and book series The Adventures of Captain Bobo, Kay Hutchison – daughter of the real Captain Bobo – and series narrator John Sessions

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What first inspired the Captain Bobo books and radio series? The inspiration was my father, his stories, the ships and the people he worked with. I helped him write his book Hurricane Hutch’s Top 10 Ships of the Clyde and his tales of life on board sometimes made us laugh. My father was Captain ‘Hurricane’ Hutchison, but he also had a less serious nickname ‘Captain Bobo’. We thought how wonderful it would be to share the fun and create a world for children based on his stories. The stories and the radio series are loosely based on real people and events. Can you explain more about the people and places? The places in The Adventures of Captain Bobo are places my father sailed to. And so, the series visits the Outer Hebrides, the Clyde, North Wales, The South Coast and even London. Ship crews spend long hours together, so they have to work as a team and that comes out in the stories. My father was a great storyteller, and growing up he often told us about this character, or that mishap, whether it was someone needing rescuing, animals running off along the pier, cargos getting lost, or summer sailings ‘doon the watter’ from Glasgow with 1,500 passengers on board. How did you go about translating printed words and pictures into an action-packed radio series for children? It’s all about the narrator and creating the sound world with newly composed music and authentic sound effects. Each element helps conjure the atmosphere and helps stimulate the imagination. John Sessions is a unique talent. He brings a real sense of fun to the stories and the different ‘Bobo’ characters. His storytelling is a joy to listen to and it helps that he knows quite a bit about the ships too. Why did you (John Sessions) agree to be the narrator – is there a sense of place and time you can relate to as you grew up in the coastal community of Largs? John Sessions: “I was lucky enough to be old enough to ‘get’ the Clyde, when there was still something of a fleet of steamers.

"I was lucky enough to ‘get’ the Clyde when there was still something of a fleet of steamers – the whole Clydeside world rises up in the Bobo Stories" John Sessions

Yes, the whole Clydeside world rises up in the Bobo stories. I sailed on The Duchess of Montrose, The Duchess of Hamilton, The Jeannie Deans, The Caledonia, The Talisman. The Bobo tales bring back the spirit of that world, all accompanied by the aroma of freshly made pancakes, lavishly laden with strawberry jam.” What are the 21st-century challenges of narrating / voicing for radio and helping a younger audience experience a story through listening? Yes, it’s a very visual world we live in. But the radio series read by someone as talented as John can inspire and develop children’s imagination, and perhaps also provide a great way to introduce children to physical books – the Bobo stories are based on picture books. We’re also producing audiobooks, so the opportunity to listen whilst reading along with the physical book, enjoying the colourful illustrations at the same time, might offer the best of both worlds. Can you explain more about the Gaelic version of the series and the link with the Audio Content Fund? The Audio Content Fund supports independent radio programmes that otherwise might not get made. They recognised in Bobo both a fun children’s story about teamwork and a celebration of our coastal and island communities. Additionally, they liked the idea of us re-telling the series in Gaelic – from the outset something that we were keen on

A B OV E & L E F T Captain Bobo books are illustrated by Matt Rowe BELOW The real Captain Bobo, 'Hurricane' Hutchison BELOW LEFT John Sessions narrates

since many of my father’s sailors were from the Western Isles. Gillebride MacMillan, our Gaelic narrator, produced the most beautiful translations. It’s so important to keep Gaelic alive – it’s a unique part of Scottish history and culture. It’s only with the support of the ACF that we have been able to deliver the series to the quality and standard we wanted to achieve.

K AY H U TC H I S O N Co-author (with R.D. Dikstra) of The Adventures of Captain Bobo and creator of a new radio series based on the books. The 10-part radio series, narrated by John Sessions, is broadcast nationally on Fun Kids radio from this September. AUTUMN / WINTER 2020 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 111

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TOP AUTUMN M U ST READ From getting to grips with the fundamentals of life and exploring your local patch to inspiring poems and great reads for adventure lovers, here is our pick of top reads as the nights draw in



ELEMENTS b y Isabel Thomas a n d Sara Gillingham PHAIDON, £17.95


his visually appealing book brings one of the world’s most recognised scientific concepts to life for a young audience. Exploring the Elements is a comprehensive and thoughtprovoking introduction to the periodic table for budding boffins and designers alike, helping young readers to learn about the components that make up the universe. Thomas seamlessly brings chemistry to inquisitive young minds, also making challenging scientific concepts both relatable and compelling.


Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright! Selected by Fiona Waters NOSY C ROW, £ 25

This wonderful book follows on from Nosy Crow's smash-hit nature anthology. Child pleasers abound and, from the classic title poem by William Blake to Ogden Nash's 'The Ant', this selection celebrates the breadth of the animal kingdom. There's a range of poetic forms and talents, including Inuit songs, haiku and a Dinka poem about a magnificent bull. Britta Teckentrup's illustrations bring this poetic landscape to life, making it a lavish, read-out-loud treasure to return to time and again.

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7+ 4+


Editor's pick

E d i t e d b y Christopher Lloyd BRITANNICA BOOKS , £25

One of the world’s most referenced sources of knowledge, Encyclopedia Britannica returns with a brand new compendium to inspire young minds. The Encyclopedia covers more than 170 topics verified by 100 experts in their fields. A bookshelf essential, it features 1,000 stunning photographs and illustrations alongside hundreds of astonishing facts. Guaranteed to captivate even the most digitally dependent children and bring the joy of learning home for the whole family, and also comfortingly old school for parents!





b y Katie Cottle PAVILION, £6.99

When it comes to eco awareness, starting kids young is key – and most children are born environmentalists. This book’s strong message about protecting the ocean comes with beautiful illustrations and presents beach litter picking as a positive and fun activity. The Blue Giant is the sea itself, asking a small girl for help. Heartbreaking yet optimistic, Katie Cottle's narrative brings a positive message and reinforces the fact that together we can effect change.

b y S.E. Durrant



50 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU'RE 113/4 b y National Trust NOSY CROW, £7.99

This is the perfect time to plan small adventures close to home and 50 Things..., created with the National Trust, is the book to help fire up ideas. While camping outdoors or going barefoot can be saved up for spring, welly wandering, playing conkers, flying a kite and getting to know a tree are just some of the 'must do' challenges. Each is designed to be ticked off and children can take notes, award a prize to their favourite and learn a lot about the simple pleasures of being outdoors.

NOSY CROW, £6.99

ris' grandmother Mimi is a real character, but her memory is all over the place. Blue ribbons round her fingers remind her of things she has to do. Then there's a mystery photograph of a girl called Coral, the one Mimi refers to as 'the lost girl'. This story tackles big issues around the dynamics of family relationships, the process of ageing and young people's sense of where they fit in – but readers are carried along by the strong narrative to a life-affirming ending.

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A day in the life at Aldro...

An independent day and boarding prep school in rural Surrey If you would like to arrange an individual tour, please contact the Admissions OfďŹ ce on 01483 813535 or email: admissions@aldro.org

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9+ 4+

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency


b y L.D Lapinski HACHET TE , £6.99

Flick Hudson happens upon Strangeworlds Travel Agency and then its amazing secret – jump into a suitcase and you are dispatched to another world. It's all fantastic fun until she discovers that there's a city at the centre of this universe of possibilities, Five Lights, which is in danger of collapsing and bringing our own civilisation down with it. A plucky heroine and inventive plot make this a pacy read – and very possibly the first in a classic children's series.





b y Sally Gardner

b y Wilbur Smith a n d Chris Wakling

ZEPHYR, £4.99

PICCA D ILLY, £6.9 9


Author Sally Gardner has joined forces with her artist daughter Lydia Corry for this book, introducing a tiny community who turn our cast-offs into treasure. The concept was inspired by walks along the beach and young readers will love the cast of characters, including Captain Spoon, Mug and Skittle. The dyslexia-friendly font and wonderful illustrations make this a great find for even reluctant young readers.



Designed to help young children cope with the fears that can hold them back, Superheroes Don't Get Scared combines lively rhyming text with Clare Elsom's detail-rich illustrations. The storyline is underpinned with great messages for young children, most especially the fact that everyone – even a superhero – sometimes gets scared. This is a timely addition from Upside Down Books, a new imprint from the mental health-focused publisher Trigger.

ilbur Smith – with the assistance of Chris Wakling – has published the first in what is designed as a series following the fortunes of Jack Courtney. This is an old-fashioned adventure story with a twist, as Jack and friends accompany his parents to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a conference. Those hapless parents go missing and mercenaries, poachers and bandits come into the mix. The plot blends derring-do with environmental themes and a strong sense of place. A rewarding read for children who love bold plots with lots of action.

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www.monktoncombeschool.com @MonktonBath

Thinks Differently Where learning comes to life... Open Mornings Senior School, ages 13-18: Saturday 3rd October, 10am – 1pm Prep School, ages 2-13: Saturday 10th October, 9.30am – 12pm An independent boarding and day school for boys and girls near Bath

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“A splendid school, catering for bright children and those who will seize opportunities.” Good Schools Guide

Autumn Term Virtual Open Events for entry 2021 For details and to register visit: www.bancrofts.org/admissions/open-days/ High Road, Woodford Green, IG8 0RF | 020 8505 4821 | www.bancrofts.org

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Children and youth inspire us with their imagination We owe them the best of our empathy and wisdom



Maths and physics tutorials with mentoring to enhance education and mental health

visit pyramidion.uk PYRAMIDION.indd 1

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

JOIN US FOR OUR 2020 OPEN EVENTS Further details will be available online as we near the event dates

SIXTH FORM: Tuesday 29 September PREP SCHOOL & NURSERY: Date to be confirmed SENIOR SCHOOL: Saturday 3 October

Book your place at www.kingswood.bath.sch.uk An Independent Co-educational Boarding & Day School for pupils aged 9 months - 18 years

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Excellent in all categories Independent Schools Inspectorate November 2019

Where the arts are at the heart of an outstanding education Open Evenings 2020 Virtual Day School Open Evening: Wednesday 7 October 2020 Virtual Sixth Form Open Evening: Tuesday 6 October 2020

London, W4 1LY | 020 8987 6600 artsed.co.uk @ArtsEdLondon

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“I wanted my daughter to be somewhere where she could continue her academic successes, but in a warm and happy environment that’s fun and supportive, and ArtsEd was the answer.” Parent

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Co-educational day and boarding school for 11 – 18 “The quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent.” ISI Inspection Report, November 2019


• Open Morning

Saturday 26 September

• Year 7 Open Morning

Saturday 10 October

• Headmaster’s Breakfast

Tuesday Mornings

BOOK YOUR SPACE: admissions@pangbourne.com • 0118 976 7415 • pangbourne.com

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your future

JUNIOR & SENIOR SCHOOL OPEN EVENTS FIND OUT MORE www.queensgate.org.uk South Kensington · 5-minute walk Gloucester Road · 6-minute walk

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Eltham College is a coeducational day school which welcomes girls and boys for entry in Years 3, 7 and Sixth Form. Visit us at an upcoming digital open event to find out more. Book your place www.elthamcollege.london/ opendays

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Hawkesdown House School


The Walnut Tree Nursery For girls & boys from 2 years

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

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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.

ai et

eb w


se ea







www.whitgift.co.uk Whitgift School | Haling Park | South Croydon | CR2 6YT




admissions@whitgift.co.uk | Telephone: +44 (0)20 8633 9935





Generous bursaries and scholarships are available.

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AN AWARD WINNING CO-EDUCATIONAL BOARDING & DAY SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN AGED 2-13 01725 530124 • www.sandroyd.org Absolutely Education - Sandroyd - Autumn 2020.indd 1

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* We have now re-opened our Penge Studios! * Our popular online lessons will continue.. *Beginners to advanced *Adults and children (from 5) *Preparation for Trinity College & Rock School Grades 1-8


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

Learn with the best teachers in London!

Come Let Off Steam! 0207 435 4936 office@lyndhursthouse.co.uk 24 Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead, London, NW3 5NW

APPLY NOW AT www.schoolofrhythm.com info@schoolofrhythm.com

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IS YOUR CHILD FUTURE READY? CREATIVITY & CODING CAMPS_ Learning to code through creative themes that engage and excite all kinds of curious kids

For children ages 5-12 Locations across London 19th - 30th October 16th - 23rd & 29th - 31st December

For children ages 6-14 19th - 30th October 16th - 23rd & 29th - 31st December



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seconds with

Kathy Crewe-Read The new Head of Bishop’s Stortford College on her educational background and philosophy

What is your background? I joined Bishop’s Stortford College in September 2020 from Wolverhampton Grammar School, where I had been Head since 2013. Prior to that I was Deputy Head at The King’s School, Chester. My background is as a teacher of mathematics and I’m also a school inspector with the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

pleasure! Mathematics continues to bring me satisfaction and teaching it has been a privilege.

What excites you most about your new role at Bishop’s Stortford College? I was drawn to Bishop’s Stortford College primarily by its reputation for unpretentious excellence; I have been impressed by the academic results and facilities for some time. As I get to know the College community more, I find I like its warmth and openness very much, too. The young people in our schools are the next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders and parents – the future of the world will lie in their hands – I find that extremely exciting. What is your academic philosophy? Education must equip young people with the wherewithal to make wise choices and so influence the courses of their own, and others’, lives for the better. Head teachers are in the unique position of creating an atmosphere in which such

“We must equip young people with the intellectual dexterity to adapt to that which is new, and the moral strength to make good decisions”

learning can take place. I find that compelling work. In a world that is changing rapidly for a variety of reasons, the most important calling for us all is to understand what it means to be human, and to live our lives well. Advances in technology will mean that our children’s lives will probably be unrecognisable from our own. We must equip them with the intellectual dexterity to understand and adapt to that which is new, and the moral strength to make good decisions which are of benefit to themselves and society. Young people with these attributes will indeed have confidence for life. A B OV E Kathy Crewe-Read

Can you tell us about one pivotal moment from your career? I utterly loved mathematics as soon as I started learning it and always knew I would go on to teach. My earliest memories of maths are of my primary days, when I would return home from school and beg my father, a university lecturer, to write sums for me to solve for

What is Bishop’s Stortford College’s approach and what sets it apart? The College takes pride in offering breadth and balance, an approach designed to ensure all-round growth – academically, morally, spiritually, ethically and creatively. At its heart though is community – a community of pupils, staff and parents who collectively strive for excellence in all they do, supporting each other along the way. It’s a lovely place to be. What makes a great student? A great student is one who feeds their intellectual curiosity, who is genuinely interested in knowing more, not just about their academic subjects but about the world around them and life in general. That willingness to learn – to understand more and to find answers to questions – makes for a fascinating individual, as well as a great student. From your experience, what makes a great school environment? A great school environment is about more than just well-equipped buildings and great teaching facilities. It is about the people who teach and inspire our young people, who are passionate about their subject and dedicated to sharing their knowledge. It’s also about the outside spaces, fresh air and nature, that will balance time spent in the classroom. A child who is excited and interested to learn and nurtured through their education will develop confidence for life.

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TAILORED 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

Strong teaching and outstanding pastoral care.

Oxbridge-style tutorial groups with nine students or fewer Excellent results and progression to top tier universities Best in class inspection reports from the ISI and Ofsted

VIRTUAL OPEN DAYS Tuesday 10th November at 4:15pm Saturday 28th November at 10am

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The Good Schools Guide

Call now or email london@mpw.ac.uk to book your place.

LONDON 020 7835 1355 | www.mpw.ac.uk

18/09/2020 13:31

A CO-eduCATiONAL iNdepeNdeNT SCHOOL for 11-18 year olds

“Maida Vale School is modern and innovative yet reflects many of the traditions and values established over twenty-five years at our schools.� - Gardener Schools Group

Book an open event to visit us at www.maidavaleschool.com/openevents To begin at 9.30am on the following dates

Monday 28th September 2020, Tuesday 13th October 2020, Tuesday 10th November 2020 & Saturday 21st November 2020

www.maidavaleschool.com t. 020 3196 1860

e. admissions@maidavaleschool.com

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

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28/07/2020 15:33

Profile for Zest Media Group

Absolutely Education Autumn/Winter 2020  

Everything you need to know about independent education. Absolutely Education is a highly respected magazine about private education in the...

Absolutely Education Autumn/Winter 2020  

Everything you need to know about independent education. Absolutely Education is a highly respected magazine about private education in the...