AB SO LUT E LY B R I T I S H E D U C AT I ON | H O N G KO N G E D I T I O N
AU T U M N • W I N T E R 2 01 9
UNDER PRESSURE Homework: who needs it?
AUTUMN • WINTER 2019
To the TEST
WHEN SHOULD ASSESSMENT START?
HONG KONG EDITION
HOW TO CHOOSE A BOARDING SCHOOL
T- L EV E L S ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
BUSINESS MINDS ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURSHIP
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Grammar School State Day and Boarding School for Boys Aged 11 to 18 Coeducational Sixth Form
Founded in 1472 we are one of the UK’s top grammar schools for boys. Exceptional value for money with free tuition. Fees for boarding are only one third of the fees of independent schools. Excellent location with a direct train to London in under 2 ½ hours.
“Top state school for boys in the North West” Sunday Times
Thirteen Oxford and Cambridge offers in 2019 LRGS.indd 1
“Sixth Form provision is outstanding. Standards are exceptionally and consistently high” Ofsted
Academic excellence 75% of A-level students achieved grade A*-B in 2019. Teamwork, leadership and confidence are developed outside the classroom through music, sport, drama and over 100 clubs and societies.
Happy pupils are successful pupils and we are fully committed to the well-being and development of each child in our care.
Home from home
“Outstanding for Boarding” Ofsted 2017
Welcoming girls for boarding from 2020.
To arrange your visit call Emma Jones on +44 1524 580632 or EJones@lrgs.org.uk www.lrgs.org.uk @LRGSLancaster
CONTE N AUTUMN • WINTER 2019
What’s going on in the world of education
25 CHOOSING WISELY
Christ’s Hospital’s Andrew Wines on what to look for in a British boarding shcool
24 TESTING TIMES
Lisa Freedman looks at the benefits of pre-testing ahead of Common Entrance
30 THE HOMEWORK QUESTION Is it worth it? Debating the merits of homework for prep-aged children
32 BOTTOM OF THE CLASS What to do when it’s your child? By Libby Norman
35 HOUSE RULES
Stonyhurst College explains its horizontal boarding system
41 DRESS CODE
What makes a good uniform?
50 TALKING POINT
How to encourage entrepreneurship? Eight schools explain their differing approaches
54 HORSE PLAY
Equestrian activity can have enormous educational benefit
The business of fashion at Heathfield School
64 POT LUCK
Inspiring work by ceramics students at Mayfield School
74 TALKING BUSINESS
What qualifications are best for business? The team at Gabbitas answer your questions
4 | B R I T I S H E D U C AT I O N | AUTUMN • WINTER 2019
92 ACTING EDITOR
EDITOR I A L ASSISTA NT
EDITOR I A L INTER N
GROUP A DV ERTISING M A NAGER
SPECI A LIST CONSULTA NT
GROUP SA LES DIR ECTOR
COMMERCI A L DIR ECTOR
A RT DIR ECTOR
MID-W EIGHT DESIGNER
M A R KETING M A NAGER
FINA NCE DIR ECTOR
Jerrie Koleci DIR ECTORS
54 79 ON THE LEVEL
Barnaby Lenon explains the new T-levels
Greg Hughes, Alexandra Hunter, James Fuschillo PUBLISHING DIR ECTOR
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@AB SOLUTELY_EDU ‘AB SOLUTELY EDUCATION’
83 SETTLING IN
Queen Ethelburga’s on helping foreign pupils with their big move to UK boarding
84 UK EDUCATION EXPO Hong Kong
s c h o o l’ s o u t
93 THE MAKING OF ME
How Robin Stevens’ schooldays at Cheltenham Ladies College inspired her crime novels
l a s t wo r d
98 LOUISE NORTH
60 seconds with the head of Framlingham College
F RO NT COV E R Pupils at Christ’s Hospital, a coeducational independent boarding school founded in 1552. Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 0LJ 01403 211293, christs-hospital.org.uk
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We l c o m e
ur school-leavers are facing ever-changing challenges as they leave the world of education. With traditional career paths increasingly becoming things of the past, a school’s task of preparing pupils for life is harder and harder to define. What skills will they need? What type of workplaces will they find themselves faced with? So many unknown factors are at play, yet schools must find ways to prepare pupils for all eventualities. Whatever the future holds, it is clear that the skills held by successful entrepreneurs – skills such as innovative thinking, charisma, creativity, originality and courage, to name a few – are ones that will always give people advantages in
creating and marketing a new chocolate bar in a fun exercise designed to teach skills including time management, budgeting and profitability. What Year 9 child could fail to be interested in chocolate? Meanwhile, Francis Holland invited Jenny Campbell from Dragon’s Den to work with girls on their entrepreneurship programme and at Beaudesert Park, they start them young, with lots of career-based roleplay and a Dragons Den Challenge day for prep-aged tots. We focus on these and other examples in our Talking Point feature on page 48. Also on the subject of preparing for the future, we have Barnaby Lenon enthusing about the new T-levels, which are aiming to bridge the eternal gap between academic and vocational study. Homework, a topic that can polarise parents and teachers, is another key
“THERE'S NO SINGLE ROUTE TO NURTURING ENTREPRENEURSHIP” life. It’s clear too, that without these skills, the next generation is going to struggle in an unpredictable job market. Michael Doherty of Canford School has aptly dubbed them ‘career chameleons’. So we have themed this issue around concepts of business and entrepreneurship, and invited schools and educational experts to contribute their thoughts on how these skills can be taught. There’s no single route to nurturing entrepreneurship. Pupils can be encouraged to be flexible in their thinking, commercial in their mindset and proactive in their behaviour in countless different ways. At Cranleigh, for instance, the Year 9s are tasked with
theme of this issue. Traditionalists often take the view that it helps to consolidate skills that have been taught in the classroom. But nightly battles (that end with parents picking up the pencil to get it done) leave others questioning when is the right age for children to start, if at all. On page 30, we find out that the research as to whether it benefits preparatory school children is somewhat inconclusive. If you're looking for a British education for your children, this issue is for you. We hope you enjoy it.
Pendle Harte ACTING EDITOR
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THE KEY TO YOUR FUTURE
• A B S O L U T E LY E D U C AT I O N ’ S •
CON T R IBU TOR S
Kent College Canterbury
Education consultant and journalist
A Canadian by birth, Lisa Freedman remains fascinated by the bizarre intricacy of the English education system, and is currently completing a PhD in the History of Education at UCL. She is the Founder and Managing Director of education consultancy At the School Gates. On page 28, she writes about the emergence of Pre-Tests and how this has affected the traditional Common Entrance exam.
Chairman, Independent Schools Council
Barnaby Lenon taught at Eton for 12 years, was the deputy head of Highgate School, head of Trinity School Croydon and head of Harrow for 12 years. He then helped establish the London Academy of Excellence in East London, one of the most successful state Sixth Form Academies, where he is Chairman of Governors. He is also chairman of the Independent Schools Council and writes about new qualifications T-levels on page 79.
Find out more at our SENIOR SCHOOL OPEN MORNING 28th September 9am - 12.30pm
SIXTH FORM OPEN EVENING 18th November 6pm - 9pm
Framlingham College in Suffolk is an independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 3-18, and Louise North has been Principal there since June 2018. Prior to that, she was Deputy Head at Stonyhurst College and Senior Deputy Head at Oakham School, to name a few of the prestigious establishments under her teaching belt. British Education interviews her on page 98.
Book your place online at kentcollege.com or Call 01227 763231
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Principal, Framlingham College
09/09/2019 17:19 03/10/2019 17:32
Transformation through education An independent full boarding school for boys and girls aged 11 – 18. If you want a school with the ‘wow’ factor in abundance, look no further than Christ’s Hospital. Full boarding school 20 miles from London Gatwick Equal mix of boys and girls 7 day a week programme Low percentage of international boarders
T: 01403 246 555 E: email@example.com Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 0LJ www.christs-hospital.org.uk Registered Charity No. 1120090
S221-S230 Old Wing, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
19 - 20 OCT 2019 11am - 6pm
A total of 27 leading UK boarding schools and colleges will participate in this year’s event and this is a perfect opportunity to meet with senior staff from a range of excellent institutions and make your right choice of school. Academic Asia continues to provide a very personal service and interviews and assessments can be arranged on both days. Please do bring along an original and a copy of students’ school reports and achievement certiﬁcates from the last two years and some passport-size photos. Participating Schools:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Ardingly College Ashville College Bede’s Senior School Bedford School Berkhamsted School Cardiff Sixth Form College Cheltenham College Christ’s Hospital City of London Freemen’s School Colchester Royal Grammar School* Cranbrook School* Gordonstoun Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools Lancaster Royal Grammar School*
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Loughborough Grammar School Monkton Combe School Queen’s College RMS (The Royal Masonic School for Girls) Royal Russell School Ryde School Sherborne School and Sherborne Girls St George’s School, Ascot The Stephen Perse Foundation Stonyhurst College Strathallan School Taunton School and Taunton School International 27 Whitgift School
*State School - applicants must be British or European Union passport holders, or have the right of abode in the UK
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We l c o m e
n 2020 Academic Asia will celebrate a very special anniversary. The company was established in 1980 and over the last 40 years it has provided families with the best possible advice as to which UK boarding schools they should consider for their sons and daughters. What were the values that families were looking for all those years ago compared to their reasons nowadays for continuing to send their children halfway round the world to be educated? A parent in Hong Kong will always strive to provide the best education for their children and 15 years ago, for example, one of the main considerations for choosing the UK, was so that their children’s English would be improved, which would help them gain the top results. Achieving the best possible academic results and gaining a place at a prestigious university remains the aim of most families. Nowadays, however, parents know that it is not just top grades that will secure
account for a much higher proportion of the overall numbers in a school’s boarding community. In some schools it must be very difficult for staff to insist that international students only speak English, particularly in the evenings and at weekends, when the number of British students is greatly reduced. What families in Hong Kong now have, more than ever, is choice. Although many will still aim for the best schools in the UK, they now have a wider range of very good options in Hong Kong itself. In addition to the well-established and successful local schools, there are now a number of excellent international schools that offer both A-level and the International Baccalaureate. Harrow School opened the first satellite in 2012 and there are now a number of British schools opening partner schools, including several preparatory schools. The number of British boarders in UK schools has declined over a number of years now and this trend has increased the number of schools that are now actively
“NOWADAYS, PARENTS KNOW THAT IT'S NOT JUST TOP GRADES THAT WILL SECURE A PLACE AT OXFORD OR CAMBRIDGE FOR THEIR CHILD” a place for their son or daughter at, say, Oxford or Cambridge. Higher education is now open to more students than ever before so as well as good grades, students must now be able to demonstrate passion for their chosen subject in their personal statement and be confident enough to be able to articulate their interests at interview. In recent years, concern has been expressed by some Hong Kong families that their children’s spoken English has not improved as quickly as they had hoped and this may well be a consequence of the everincreasing number of international pupils who now
recruiting international pupils to maintain their boarding communities. This does, of course, mean that international families have an even wider range of schools to choose from in the UK. UK boarding schools cannot afford to be complacent about their ability to recruit students from the Hong Kong market – although there is still a strong feeling that British is best!
MANAGING DIRECTOR ACADEMIC ASIA
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Up Front THE LATEST SCHOOL NEWS P . 14
St Nicholas School encourages sport and physical activity for active learning and development. Here, two prep gymnasts show off their skills.
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Gamers' Glor y
R I S I N G STA R
More than 100 students gathered at Cambridge Regional College this weekend to compete in FXP Festival, a games design and development competition for young people in East Anglia. Winners included teams from West Suffolk College, North Cambridge Academy, Parkside Community College and Stephen Perse Foundation.
Albie Marber, a student at Portland Place School, has showcased his admirable acting abilities while starring in the newly released biographical drama film, Tolkien. Albie commenced his professional career at the age of 11, during which he has taken on a plethora of diverse roles from acting as the ‘young’ Tommy Cooper in ITV’s Tommy Cooper, and more recently assuming roles in Amazon Prime series Outlander and ITV's Trauma.
“Albie commenced his professional career at the age of 11”
PROUD PA R T N E R S H I P
As part of Forest School’s ongoing commitment to strengthening Forest and its community through collaboration, the school is delighted to announce that it is the proud partner of Hackney Empire’s Creative Futures programme reaching 4,000 disadvantaged young people every year.
Malvern College has reinforced its close links with an investment to Abberley Hall, a significant feeder school which will secure a bright future for the two schools. Both Headmasters believe this will put them in a stronger position to deal with the demands of a rapidly changing market sector.
LO N G LO S T Deep in the grounds of Beaudesert Park School in Gloucestershire, a forgotten Victorian lake has been brought back to vibrant life. After decades of being cordoned off, the lake has been beautifully restored. Dragonflies, newts and butterflies have already taken up residence, and from September pupils will be exploring the new nature haven.
“I think private school children on the margins are no longer going to get in [to Oxbridge]. I think that is perfectly ﬁne, even if you are a pupil at my own school.” R I C H A R N C A I R N S O N FA I R AC C E S S T O OX B R I D G E , S U N DAY T I M E S
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UP FRONT / NEWS By ABBIE SCHOFIELD
Career Guidance King Edward’s Witley has appointed Moira Davies as the Head of Careers and Higher Education. Having previously worked at schools in Zimbabwe and Mauritius, she has been running her own business as an independent Career Coach since returning to the UK.
B R AV E D O G Britain’s bravest police dog Finn, who was stabbed in the line of duty, visited Heathfield School, Ascot, with Finn’s Law campaigner and owner PC Dave Wardell. PC Wardell discussed with students aged 11-18 life in the police force, the role of police animals, facing adversity and the importance of perseverance and resilience.
SKY’S THE LIMIT Repton School’s 1st XI football captain Matthew Bowman has signed a professional two-year contract with Dunfermline Athletic FC. The club currently plays in the Scottish Championships after being promoted in 2016. Matthew was part of Middlesbrough and Hull City’s youth academy before he joined Repton School to combine studying for his A-levels with an excellent football programme.
P L AY O N Cheam School has announced that its recently established Foundation is now funding its first dedicated music bursary for a child aged 8-13. The Cheam Foundation was launched in 2019 in order to offer life-changing bursaries to as wide a cross-section of children as possible.
Farming and Food The Food, Farming and Environment competition, managed by leading education charity LEAF Education, saw teenagers from six schools from across the UK take part in a broad range of activities designed to give them hands-on experience with the science and technology used in farming.
“Teaching children about healthy eating is just as important as teaching them English and Maths” T H E G R E AT B R I T I S H B A K E O F F ' S P R U E L E I T H
SOMETHING THEY SAID
“We need to start exciting girls and young women about technology subjects as early as possible.” TO N I S C U L L I O N I N T E S D I S C U S S E S T H E G E N D E R I M BA L A N C E I N T EC H
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Developing Remarkable People Since 1541
A Day and Boarding School offering outstanding academic teaching and pastoral care Boys â€˘ Girls â€˘ Sixth 30 mins from London Euston 40 mins from London Heathrow berkhamsted.com NBERK.indd 1
UP FRONT / NEWS By ABBIE SCHOFIELD
R eal Talking
Taunton School has been recognised for its environmental achievement with a Green Award in the Independent Schools of the Year Awards. It was awarded following the success of the ‘Zero to Landfill’ campaign, where it became the first Somerset school to recycle all its waste.
Pupils from Kings Monkton School in Cardiff debated peers at a public school in New Delhi, India. The Skype debate was centred around issues of abortion, LGBTQ+ rights and Trump’s wall. It was the second in a series of debates between the two schools.
R ecord Breaking Sixth Form students at ArtsEd celebrated the school’s best ever results in BTECs with a superb 100% Triple Distinction and above, with 85% achieving Triple Distinction. A-levels also saw a 100% pass rate with 30% of all A-level results at A*/A, and overall 78% of all results were A*-B, which is their highest figure on record.
Oakfield Preparatory School in Dulwich have started the new school year in sustainable fashion. They have implemented Meat-Free Mondays across all their school lunches for Years 2-6. Moyra Thompson, Acting Head, said, “Our catering is fantastic and it’s important our decisions both in the classroom and lunch hall are going to help our local community and the planet."
ART SUCCESS Student Mia Dyson from Blackheath High School has had her artwork selected to be displayed at the Royal Academy of Arts in their summer exhibition. From over 6,000 works submitted, two of Mia’s pieces were selected to be amongst the 329 that form the prestigious online exhibition. Another piece of Mia’s was chosen to be exhibited in the Royal Academy itself as part of the inaugural Young Artists’ Summer Show.
SONGS OF PRAISE
New Head Cumnor House in Sussex has announced Fergus Llewellyn as their new Headmaster with effect from July 2020. Fergus is currently the Headmaster of the renowned St Andrew's Prep School in Turi, Kenya, where he has been since August 2015. Prior to that, he was at Cheltenham College for 10 years, serving as Housemaster and Head of English and Drama.
Francis Holland School were finalists at the BBC Songs of Praise Young Choir of the Year 2019. Their incredibly talented Senior Chamber Choir, comprised of 27 girls from Years 9 to 13, stunned judges and viewers with their heartfelt performance of Doerksen’s ‘Faithful One’ and were heavily praised for their technical assurance, expressive nuance and confidence.
“I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained” WA LT D I S N E Y
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EXCELLENT ISI inspection 2018
Every Heathﬁeld girl has an irrepressible spirit. Uniquely hers, it drives her passion, voice and character. As well as providing an excellent academic education and top-class pastoral care, Heathﬁeld identiﬁes your daughter’s distinctive strengths and encourages her to live her ambitions, embrace her spirit and talent so that she develops as the best possible version of herself. Live life like a Heathﬁeld girl.
We hold termly open mornings. To book your place, please email registrar@heathﬁeldschool.net
Boarding and Day for Girls 11-18
heathﬁeldschool.net | +44 (0) 1344 898343
UP FRONT / NEWS By ABBIE SCHOFIELD
Emmanuel Jal – a former child soldier, TIME magazine figure of the year and spokesperson for Amnesty International and UNESCO – spoke to and performed for pupils from schools across the Borough of Southwark at Dulwich College this term. He delivered a message of encouragement and an invitation to pupils to understand and empathise with different perspectives.
The Board of Governors are delighted to announce the appointment of Ben Evans as Headmaster of Windlesham House School on the retirement of Richard Foster in summer 2020. Ben is currently Head at Edge Grove School, where he has been since September 2012, and has previously worked as Head of the British School Colombo (Junior) and as Deputy Head at Bramdean College, Exeter. Ben will be joined by his wife, Alex, who is looking forward to playing a full role in school life, and their two boys. They look forward to the opportunity to continue Windlesham’s development as one of the country’s top coeducational boarding schools.
W E L L D E S E RV E D Gresham’s School has awarded two places to talented and deserving Year 11 students from eastern England, Shahd Abdelrahman and Jasmine Loades. Gresham also welcomed alumnus Sir James Dyson's donation of £18.75 million to enable a new centre for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
Graduating In Style Departing Year 13 and Year 14 students from DLD College London are the only students to ever to have their Graduation Ceremony at the Houses of Parliament. The students processed across Westminster Bridge to the ceremony along with a police escort to obtain awards for all their exceptional achievements.
S H I N E AT SHAKESPEARE Pupils from Falcons School for Girls have improved their arts abilities during a Drama and Music workshop at the RHACC Theatre in Richmond. Budding young actresses in Year 5 and 6 from the Putney-based school joined the boys from Falcons Prep to explore the iconic Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” NELSON MANDELA
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Mayﬁeld AN INDEPENDENT BOARDING AND DAY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS AGED 11 TO 18
OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC RESULTS • SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE EXTENSIVE CO-CURRICULAR PROGRAMME EXEMPLARY PASTORAL CARE & NURTURING ENVIRONMENT STATE OF THE ART EQUESTRIAN CENTRE SET IN THE BEAUTIFUL SUSSEX COUNTRYSIDE FLEXI, WEEKLY AND FULL BOARDING OPTIONS EASY ACCESS TO HEATHROW & GATWICK AIRPORTS 50 MINUTES FROM CENTRAL LONDON BY TRAIN MINIBUS SERVICE ACROSS SUSSEX AND KENT
Open Mornings TUESDAY 5 TH NOVEMBER 2019 FRIDAY 20 TH MARCH 2020 TUESDAY 21 ST APRIL 2020 WWW.MAYFIELDGIRLS.ORG
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TO ARRANGE A VISIT PLEASE CONTACT OUR REGISTRAR, MRS SHIRLEY COPPARD, REGISTRAR@MAYFIELDGIRLS.ORG
03/10/2019 17:15 16:08 02/10/2019
UP FRONT / NEWS By ABBIE SCHOFIELD
E L I M I N AT I O N OF FEE
CA P T U R I N G C R OY D O N The Whitgift Foundation is thrilled to announce the 30 shortlisted images taken by local children for the Capturing Croydon photography competition. The shortlist has been selected from 146 schoolchildren for a chance to win top photography prizes. The competition inspires children to explore Croydon’s urban landscape.
“The shortlist has been selected from 146 schoolchildren”
As part of a focused effort to reduce financial barriers for students and schools to participate in its unique programmes, the International Baccalaureate has announced that it is eliminating the $172/£138 'candidate registration' fee that students traditionally pay. In May 2019 more than 77,800 students participated in exams, an 8% increase compared to the previous year.
NEW APPOINTMENT E N E R GY I N SCHOOL Samsung has announced its initiative 'Energy in School' which will impact more than 20 schools around the UK. The initiative is in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy, My Utility Genius Commercial and Lancaster University, teachers and students taking part in the initiative will learn how the Internet of Things can be used to help reduce energy consumption and the carbon footprint of their school.
To p St o r y
The Governors of Bishop’s Stortford College are delighted to announce the appointment of Kathy Crewe-Read as their next Head. Only the 10th Head to be appointed in the 150 year history of the College, Mrs Crewe-Read will be joining the College on 1st September 2020. Kathy Crewe-Read has enjoyed a very successful career in education, working in multiple very successful schools.
A H E A D STA R T
I N T E R N AT I O N A L NEWS Brighton College, in partnership with leading global schools group Cognita, is delighted to announce the plan to open a new international school in Singapore in September 2020.
Millfield Prep School has appointed Mike Jory as Head of Millfield Pre-Prep, beginning in September 2019. Mike will bring a lot of experience from his 15 years in education and in various roles.
BREXIT Brexit is the 2019 Children’s Word of the Year by Oxford University Press for BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show 500 Words competition.
SOMETHING THEY SAID
“Education is a holistic process and a focus on test results represents a narrow measure of achievement. ” TA N YA B Y R O N C H A M P I O N S E M O T I O N A L I N T E L L I G E N C E OV E R T H E O B S E S S I O N W I T H I Q
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UP FRONT / NEWS By ABBIE SCHOFIELD
Carpe Diem Duolingo – the world's number one way to learn a language – is launching a Latin course created in partnership with the renowned Paideia Institute. Learning Latin is thought to improve children’s ability to learn other Romance languages such as French or Italian and, according to Mary Beard, is essential for studying Classics. The linguistic app is available on iOS, Android and at duolingo.com.
“Learning Latin is thought to improve children's ability to learn French”
NEW HILDEN HEAD
This academic year, Sherfield School, in Sherfield-on-Loddon, Hook, are excited to introduce an exciting new enrichment programme to pupils and parents. The ethos of enrichment at Sherfield centres around the school’s motto Ad vitam paramus, or AVP, meaning ‘Preparing for life’. The AVP Diploma will broaden and deepen the curriculum, giving children the opportunity to develop new skills such as problem solving, creativity, critical thinking and people management.
Mr Malcolm Gough has been named as the new Head of Hilden Grange School in Tonbridge. Mr Gough was previously Executive Head of Benedict House and Wickham Court schools, Head of Sutton Valence Preparatory school and Director of Studies at Somerhill, where he oversaw the academic provision at Yardley Court, Derwent Lodge and Somerhill Pre-Preparatory school. His first job in teaching, after arriving from South Africa in 1989, was at Winchester House where he was a Housemaster, Head of History, Head of Hockey and Director of Studies.
Gold Rush The summer of 2019 was golden for recent Pangbourne College leaver, Dan Atkins, as he won gold medals at the Junior World and European sprint canoeing championships. He started with a K1 Junior Men 200m gold at the Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint European Championships in Czech Republic and followed this by winning the World Junior Championship in the 200m sprint event at the Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championship in Romania.
To p St o r y
N U R S E RY N E W S Annette Elstob has taken up her post as the new Head of Rolfe’s Nursery School, the Ofsted ‘outstanding’ Notting Hill nursery. Miss Elstob gained a BA Hons Performing Arts in 2009 and completed her PGCE in Primary education, with a specialist focus on Early Years, at the University of East London, Stratford.
B R A I N CA N D O L I ST E N U P Dauntsey’s School has announced an impressive line-up of speakers for their renowned Mercers’ Lecture Series. The Mercers’ Lectures are central to encouraging pupils to engage with the outside world and think beyond the confines of their academic curriculum.
Queen Anne’s School has released a BrainCanDo revision guide to help students dive deeper into the science of the learning brain. BrainCanDo, a cognitive psychology and educational neuroscience research centre, was set up six years ago by Queen Anne’s Headmistress Julia Harrington and working on some fascinating projects since. Find out more about the BrainCanDo revision guide at qas.org.uk
SOMETHING THEY SAID
“If they know Stormzy lyrics, they can memorise poetry” S A R A H L E D G E R O N W H Y S T U D E N T S S H O U L D L E A R N Q U O TAT I O N S F O R E X A M S
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UP FRON T / FOCUS
Christ's Hospital pupils
Christ’s Hospital on things to consider when choosing a UK boarding school ANDREW WINES
or parents living outside the UK, choosing the right boarding school for your child can be a daunting task. With so many factors to consider, from wellbeing to logistics, it can be difficult to navigate the huge volume of information available. Here at Christ’s Hospital, we believe parents should consider the following.
“Christ’s Hospital has the highest diversity of any UK independent school”
TYPE OF BOARDING
Families need to decide which sort of boarding is the best fit for them - weekly, flexi or full boarding. For the majority of international students, full boarding will be the best option. Christ’s Hospital offers a full programme of activities seven days a week, including academic learning, sports, music and arts clubs, so that your child is always stimulated. Students also benefit from staff living on site so that support is available 24/7. Of the 900 students at Christ’s Hospital, 830 are boarders, so international students always feel part of a big community.
takes. 88% of students at Christ’s Hospital are British, meaning international pupils are more likely to fully immerse themselves in the experience of a British public school education. Christ’s Hospital also has the highest diversity of any UK independent school; our pupils come from all parts of society, meaning they spend time with people from different backgrounds giving them essential life experience.
For international students, a school’s proximity to transport links is an important factor. For example, where is the nearest airport or train station? Is it easy to travel to London? Christ’s Hospital is just 20 minutes from London Gatwick airport, 45 minutes from London Heathrow airport and 60 minutes from central London, meaning for our international students, home is never too far away.
Last but not least, parents should consider a school’s academic results and in what kind of environment their child will flourish, in both their schooling and personal lives. Christ’s Hospital students are consistently amongst the top performing in the country at GCSE and Sixth Form and we offer both A-level and the IB. 98% of our students go on to top universities in the UK and overseas. We are also the only school in the world where live ensemble music is performed every day. The transition to boarding school can be an overwhelming time for families. Here at Christ’s Hospital, we support parents and pupils every step of the way.
MIX OF PUPILS
As the only coeducational full-boarding school in the south of England, Christ’s Hospital is exactly 50% male and 50% female and equality is of the utmost importance. Parents should also research how many international students a school
ANDREW WINES Director of Admissions Christ’s Hospital AUTUMN • WINTER 2019 | B R I T I S H E D U C AT I O N | 25
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Prep ALL ABOUT PRE-TESTING P . 28 SHOULD CHILDREN GET HOMEWORK? P . 30
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RIGHT AND BELOW Young students preparing for pre-tests
TIMES The Founder of At the School Gates on the emergence of a whole new sector LISA FREEDMAN
hen JCT Jennings arrived at his prep school aged 10 years, 2 months and 3 days, all he had to worry about was whether he was allowed to wear his vest for games or play conkers in the Assembly Hall. But Anthony Buckeridge’s fictional hero lived in the 1950s. Today he’d already have missed the deadline to register for pre-testing. Pre-testing, the system of early examination and interview intended to sort out who’s going to which public school, now generally takes place at the beginning of Year 6. Many prep-school headmasters are concerned that this make-or-break trial can distort the rhythm of what once was a rather more cloudless youth. "The current regime has to be managed carefully or it can skew the whole prepschool experience," says Tom Burden, Headmaster of The Pilgrims’ School in Winchester, which sends about half its pupils onto Winchester and Eton. "The challenge is to make the education we provide sufficiently exciting for childhood not to be defined by testing." Until fairly recently, most senior boarding schools admitted pupils primarily on the basis of Common Entrance, the broadranging set of examinations sat in the summer term of Year 8. In 2001, however, Eton, looking for an un-coachable means to
edit its lengthy applicant list, introduced a computerised aptitude test, which boys sat in the academic year in which they turned eleven. Since then, most public schools have instituted something along similar lines. "Schools like Eton did have to manage numbers," says Martin Harris, Headmaster of Cheam School, a co-educational prep school in Berkshire. "Others, you feel, decided to do it because they thought, 'we don’t do that, so we’d better'." Nowadays, most of the leading public schools have adopted the ‘ISEB Common PreTest’, a multiple-choice online assessment, which gauges competence in English and Maths alongside IQ (in the form of Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning). The tests last just two and half hours and most pupils sit them in the comfort of their prep school, but it’s not the tests themselves which cause distress, but their inconclusive outcome. "Some boys, of course, have a measure of success and get offers from several schools," says Tom Bunbury, Headmaster of Papplewick Prep School in Ascot, currently Tatler magazine’s UK Prep School of the Year. "But large numbers of boys have to cope with failure or uncertainty as they’re put on a waiting list. They’re often not clear about where they’re going until Year 8, which is not helpful for the children whose confidence we’re trying to build." The reason for this ongoing ambiguity is that those with several offers are often willing to pay multiple deposits to defer making a final decision, an approach
Bunbury views with some sympathy. "If you consider parents ultimately have to pay the best part of £200,000 in fees, risking £1,500 to £2,000 is rather good insurance." However, most heads agree that the current mode of selection, while working to the benefit of the most able, does not necessarily do justice to every child. "Though we’ve found the ISEB Pre-Test pretty reliable," says Burden, "it’s more problematic for the late developers. It can be dangerous to pigeonhole boys early on."
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PR EP / PR E-TESTING
“Most prep schools have been forced to adapt their curriculum in response to pre-testing requirements”
Secondary schools are, of course, aware of this pitfall, and some, such as Harrow and Wellington College, specifically hold back places to offer in Years 7 and 8, carefully liaising with prep schools to monitor progress. "I’ve been really impressed by the way senior schools keep in touch," says Burden. "You do, of course, have to provide evidence that scores have surged." Most prep schools have been forced to adapt their curriculum in response to pre-testing requirements. Some merely insert an extra ‘club’ to address the dull-butdemanding hoops of Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. For others, such as Papplewick, it's timetable preparation. "We do three periods a week for four terms," says Bunbury. "Specific preparation gets the best performance on the day and helps improve the middle-ground boys. We never did it in the past, so it’s a minor sadness." Then there’s the interview. "The Interview is a tough old thing," says Bunbury, of
a process which nowadays can go well beyond 'what’s your favourite book?'. "I feel sometimes schools overestimate what 10 and 11 year-old boys are like. A whole industry has grown up in London to prepare them." Papplewick does not coach for the interview, relying instead on their wellrounded curriculum, and heads agree that the rich prep school formula of games, music and extra-curricular involvement is still appreciated by those that stand in judgement. "They may want to know that applicants have the skills to cope academically, but they’re looking for the whole package," says Burden. "The reason they’re taking them is that they’re an exciting person to know." A further negative of a testing system carried out two years prior to the end of schooling is the impact it can have on motivation. "Secondary schools complain about unconditional offers at university, so there’s a huge irony here," says Martin Harris, who believes Common Entrance
occurred at just the right moment. "Common Entrance is a little bit of stress at the pinnacle of your education. It makes you ready for your senior school, rather than having a huge spike in stress when you should just be enjoying yourself." The Pilgrims’ School has chosen to ensure the older rhythm remains in place. "We are absolutely committed to Common Entrance," says Tom Burden. "It polishes the academic side off nicely, and even if boys are not going somewhere that requires it, we think it best they sit the exam. We want them to be confident with the academic demands that will be put on them." If pre-testing is not necessarily the right answer, what’s the solution? Some feel the system could be streamlined to make it less intrusive. "In an ideal world, testing would take place in the first term of Year 7, with interviews in the second term, so removing double booking" says Bunbury. Others, believe an earlier deadline for parental commitment – say, Christmas of Year 8 – would clarify stressful ambiguity. No one, however, imagines change will occur any time soon. "There’s no great will to collaborate," says Bunbury. "We’re stuck with it and have to make the best of it."
D R . LI S A F R E E D M A N MD, Education Consultancy attheschoolgates.co.uk AUTUMN • WINTER 2019 | B R I T I S H E D U C AT I O N | 29
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S OLO STUDY
What is the right age to start homework and should children be doing it at all?
A L L I M AG E S F E R M L I V I N G
C A R LY G L E N D I N N I N G
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PREP / HOMEWORK
omework can be an emotive subject. For some, that feeling of Sunday night dread (when you’d left it to the last possible moment) never properly leaves us. Still creeping up in waves of panic like an irrational fear, or returning to us in nightmares. For others, one too many excuses about peckish dogs brings back memories sparking guilt or regret. When our own children start school, the nightmares can quickly turn into nightly battles that often end with us picking up the pencil in order to get it done. Attention spans are short after a long day at school and homework takes time away from family life. In this country homework commonly starts in reception, taking the form of reading. From Year 1 and into Year 2, children are usually expected to complete one to two tasks per week. But parents are questioning if this is too early and ultimately if homework is necessary at all. It’s a hot topic at the moment due to a new framework that was introduced in the state system in September. Ofsted has said its inspectors will not assess how homework is being done because schools should decide whether or not they set it for their students. This marks a huge departure in the inspection regime, which previously looked at homework as part of the way it approached the teaching, learning, and assessment of children. Independent schools are of course free to set their own policies about homework and the approach is varied. Queen’s Gate Junior School in South Kensington takes the view that homework can be of value, if it’s set in a constructive way. Mr James Denchfield, director of the school says: “It befalls good schools not only
“For some, that feeling of Sunday night dread (when you'd left it to the last possible moment) never properly leaves us” to teach well but also to nurture essential learning skills, such as independence, selfmotivation and retention of information,” he continues “homework is at its most beneficial when it asks pupils not just to review what they have learnt but to understand why they have learnt it, as they make the leap from specific task to general rule. Well-conceived, purposeful tasks, which draw on pupils’ creativity and demand lateral thinking are the most satisfying to undertake and are the ones which leave the greatest impression in children’s minds.” The King Alfred School in Golders Green, north-west London takes a more progressive stance.
Head of Lower School, Karen Thomas says: “At The King Alfred School we’ve chosen not to set homework for our Lower School students in order to remove undue pressure for our children and their families. Using enquiry as our main pedagogical approach we create enough exciting opportunities in the school day to trigger their curiosity and open the door to learning both in and out of school. We like to keep parents fully informed as to what is happening in the classrooms in order to enable rich conversations at home. Our oldest students have home learning projects in order to prepare them for their transition to the Upper School which is AUTUMN • WINTER 2019 | B R I T I S H E D U C AT I O N | 31
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PREP / HOMEWORK
“Ofsted's 2018 report stated that homework is a 'huge stress' for families in the UK” something they themselves requested.” Ofsted’s 2018 report stated that homework is a “huge stress” for families in the UK. Of the parents they collected feedback from, a third felt that it is not helpful for primary school-age children – an opinion that was at the centre of a high profile Twitter debate at the end of 2018. The fray in question started when comedian Rob Delaney wrote: “Why do they give seven-year-olds so much homework in the UK and how do I stop this?” Football presenter Gary Lineker typed back, agreeing that children “should be allowed to play and enjoy home life with their
parents without the divisiveness of work they have plenty of time to do at school.” However, Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan weighed in with the opposite opinion. He wrote: “As a nation, we’re falling so far behind educational standards of countries like China, it’s embarrassing.” The consensus around the world is indeed varied. In Finland, a country that consistently tops global education rankings, children start school at age seven and the homework they receive is minimal, and in some schools, they don’t get any at all. In the New York private system (a city famed for being enslaved to
the rat race) homework also starts much later. Most schools begin with play-based learning, only bringing homework into the equation at third or fourth grade. But this is not the case in other highpressured societies. Having previously taught in London, Sophie Helsby is a Grade 1 teacher in an independent school on the outskirts of Tokyo. She feels that the parents in Japan put too much focus on their child’s future success. She says: “In the school I work in, we have to set homework weekly. The parents actually want it and they always ask for more,” she continues, “we do enough at school to support their learning and we want kids to come to school energised and well-rested. I always tell parents that their children need time at home to relax and play, but they don’t really understand that here.” Academic results are of course a huge factor for parents when they are looking for a school that will be best suited for their child. But thought about whether homework contributes to higher success rates for younger children tends to vary. A 2001 meta-study by the National Foundation for Educational Research concluded that there was “a positive relationship between time spent and outcomes at secondary level” but “evidence at primary level is inconsistent”. Conor Heaven, a former teacher and Digital Learning Leader at TT Education argues that while homework can have “zero impact”, there’s a difference between homework and home learning. He says: “even from the youngest ages, the one most important thing that should happen every week without fail is reading,” he continues “there are primary schools that have got rid of homework completely. They have seen that they don’t gain any value from it, but reading absolutely would still carry on in this scenario.” Like or loathe the idea of homework, one thing for sure is the importance of books for young learners. Not only does it help with language acquisition and literacy skills, but it expands children’s imaginations and their understanding of the world. And bedtime stories may just be the antidote to those nightmares about hungry dogs. AUTUMN • WINTER 2019 | B R I T I S H E D U C AT I O N | 33
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