AB SO LUT E LY B R I T I S H E D U C AT I ON | S I N G A P O R E E D I T I O N
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AUTUMN • WINTER 2019
UNDER PRESSURE Homework: who needs it?
To the TEST
WHEN SHOULD ASSESSMENT START?
HOW TO CHOOSE A BOARDING SCHOOL
BUSINESS MINDS ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURSHIP
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Mayﬁeld AN INDEPENDENT BOARDING AND DAY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS AGED 11 TO 18
“THE QUALITY OF THE PUPILS’ ACADEMIC AND OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS IS EXCELLENT”
“ONE OF THE FINEST SCHOOLS IN THE LAND”
INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS INSPECTORATE
SET IN THE BEAUTIFUL AND EASILY ACCESSIBLE SUSSEX COUNTRYSIDE
TUESDAY 5 TH NOVEMBER 2019 FRIDAY 20 TH MARCH 2020 TUESDAY 21 ST APRIL 2020
FOR GIRLS IN YEARS 10 AND 11 SATURDAY 7 TH DECEMBER 2019
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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, visit us on an Open Morning. To reserve a place or to book an individual visit, please email email@example.com. We look forward to welcoming you.
FACILITIES INCLUDE • Equestrian Centre on-site with facilities for up to 28 horses • Olympic sized indoor and outdoor sand schools • Heated indoor swimming pool • Tennis Academy • Fitness Suite and Dance Studio • Concert Hall • State-of-the-art Sixth Form Centre • Weekly bus service to and from Central London • Close proximity to London airports
TO ARRANGE A VISIT OR RESERVE A PLACE ON THE CERAMICS MASTERCLASS, PLEASE CONTACT OUR REGISTRAR, MRS SHIRLEY COPPARD, REGISTRAR@MAYFIELDGIRLS.ORG
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CONTE N AUTUMN • WINTER 2019
What’s going on in the world of education
25 TEAM SPIRIT
The Head of PE and Games at St Nicholas Preparatory School on the joy of sport
28 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
35 HOUSE RULES
Stonyhurst College explains its horizontal boarding system
36 BOTTOM OF THE CLASS What to do when it’s your child? By Libby Norman
41 DRESS CODE
What makes a good uniform?
48 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 ASK A PARENT
Why send your child to school in the UK?
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 EXTRA CURRICULAR
How British schools make non-academic activities count
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
All the exhibitors in Singapore and Malaysia
s c h o o l’ s o u t
92 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 Prior’s Field School, an independent boarding school for girls in Surrey. Priorsfield Road, Godalming, Surrey GU7 2RH 01483 810551, priorsfieldschool.com
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Merchiston Ab Ed Ads x4 kinds Sep19 OL.qxp_Layout 1 13/09/2019 17:06 Page 1
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
in countless different ways. At Cranleigh, for instance, the Year 9s are tasked with 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. Homework, a topic that can polarise parents and teachers, is another key theme of this issue. Traditionalists often take the view that it helps to consolidate
“THERE'S NO SINGLE ROUTE TO NURTURING ENTREPRENEURSHIP” that will always give people advantages in 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
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 THE KEY TO YOUR THE KEYFUTURE TO YOUR FUTURE YOUR THE KEYFUTURE TO YOURCollege FUTURE Kent Kent Canterbury Kent College College Canterbury Canterbury Kent College Canterbury
• A B S O L U T E LY E D U C AT I O N ’ S •
CON T R IBU TOR S
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.
Stephanie Cheah Founder, BESSA
During her own teenage years at a boarding school, Stephanie met many fellow students who were in unsuitable schools due to lack of prior research from parents. She went on to become a successful education consultant, specialising in advising families looking for a British boarding experience. She then founded the British Education Schools Show in Asia, which you can find out more about on page 84.
Find out more at our Find out more at our Find out more at MORNING our SENIOR SCHOOL OPEN SENIOR SCHOOL OPEN MORNING 28thFind September 9am - 12.30pm out more at our SENIOR SCHOOL OPEN MORNING 28th September 9am - 12.30pm 28th September 9am - 12.30pm
SIXTHSCHOOL FORM OPEN EVENING SENIOR OPEN MORNING 18th November 6pm 9pm SIXTH FORM OPEN 28th September 9am -EVENING 12.30pm SIXTH FORM OPEN EVENING 18th November 6pm - 9pm 18th November 6pm - 9pm
SIXTH OPENonline EVENING Book FORM your place at 18th your November - 9pmat Book place6pm online kentcollege.com or at Book your place online kentcollege.com or Call 01227 763231 kentcollege.com or at Book your place online Call 01227 763231 Call 01227 763231 kentcollege.com or Call 01227 763231
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Principal, Framlingham College
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.
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King William's College is one of the most successful International Baccalaureate schools in the British Isles. We provide excellent teaching and friendly boarding, in a beautiful and safe environment. The Isle of Man has been named the safest place to live in the British Isles and 3rd in the world!* We are non selective and have an enviable academic record, with students going on to leading universities around the world.
An Island Education for a Global Future! • Exam results are well above the UK average. • Only one hour flight time from London. • Small and friendly, with approximately 370 students. • The boarding community represents 20% of the College population. • Approximately 14% of our students are international. • Beautiful setting, 200 metres from the beach.
To find out more visit our website www.kwc.im email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 1624 820110
KING WILLIAM’S COLLEGE ISLE OF MAN *Data and research provider STC
We l c o m e
BESSA A very warm welcome to BESSA, The British Education and Schools Show in Asia
British education continues to be highly respected around the world. UK schools offer robust standards of teaching and internationally recognised qualifications that enable students to access the very best tertiary institutions. Parents like the well-rounded education their children receive through extra-curricular activities and value the long history of traditions at British schools that help in forming life-long bonds. All over Asia, there has been a sharp rise in the opening of British curriculum schools, particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Thailand. Many of these schools draw on their UK parents for guidance on academic structure, ethos and educational pedagogy. They are popular with parents looking for a British-based education, but many wish to add the dimension of boarding to foster independence and a global facet to their children’s growth, and access the wealth of expertise that is found in UK-based schools. At BESSA, we bring a selection of the best British
boarding schools to your doorstep in Asia. We want to help you in making well-informed decisions, and have curated a unique group of participating schools, each with their distinct yet diverse qualities. The speaker programme is designed to touch on topics that overseas families are interested to learn more about. Is my child more suited to A-levels or IB? How can students deliver on their academic potential? Learn how attending a top UK school prepares you for university, and get some tips on the application process. Please take your time to meet the school admission directors at BESSA, and speak to some current students or parents that may be mingling around too. They will be very happy to share their experiences with you. A final word of thanks to all the schools for flying in from the UK to take part in the show, to our event partners and to the British High Commission. The success of BESSA would not be possible without your unwavering support. Warmest wishes,
Stephanie Cheah FOUNDER, BESSA
“AT BESSA, WE BRING A SELECTION OF THE BEST BOARDING SCHOOLS TO YOUR DOOR IN ASIA TO HELP YOU MAKE DECISIONS”
The British Education and Schools Show in Asia BESSA is the only curated forum for families in Singapore and Malaysia looking at some of the most prestigious schools in British education.
See page 84 for full show details; for more information please visit bessa.asia email@example.com
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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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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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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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A leading boarding school for boys aged 12 to 18 years in Ireland • A small school of 250 students, with small class sizes (12 to 16) • A caring community oﬀering personal pastoral care for your son • The highest educational standards in our broad and diverse curriculum, with students achieving the equivalent of three A* grades in the Irish Leaving Certiﬁcate • Situated in 500 acres of parkland in the heart of Munster • 40 minutes from Shannon Airport and two hours from Dublin Airport
Every Day is an Open Day at Glenstal Abbey School Book your visit now at Glenstal.openapply.com
Glenstal Abbey School, Murroe, Co. Limerick, Ireland +353 61 621044 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.glenstal.com
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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Prep ALL ABOUT PRE-TESTING P . 28 SHOULD CHILDREN GET HOMEWORK? P . 30
SPORTS AT ST NICHOLAS PREP SCHOOL
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PR EP / INSIDER
PLAY BALL The Head of PE and Games at St Nicholas Preparatory School on the joy of sport DA N WO O D
have been fortunate to experience a lot of sport throughout my life, from professional sport to recreational activities. Teaching primary school pupils at St Nicholas Prep reminds PE teachers like me of what it was like to be young and how we developed our skills. Whilst the training sessions, after-school clubs and PE lessons were all-important, it was the little things that really helped me to develop my coordination and confidence. I remember my parents giving me three small juggling balls to play with when we were on holiday one year. I practised every day until I could conquer the art of juggling all three at once, and then continued this daily practice until the age of 15 or so. Impressive or not, all that practice significantly developed my coordination, control and patience – the confidence that I gained as a result was huge. All this must have been rather annoying for my parents, who endured the constant juggling and the football being kicked against a wall in the back garden. Yet they knew that I loved sports, and thankfully they could see the benefits in my determination, for example my handwriting improved and using a knife and fork became easier. We should not underestimate the positive impact that sport has on us, not only in terms of physical fitness, but also in supporting everyday life and bringing us joy.
“Challenging yourself physically at a young age develops overall conﬁdence”
ABOVE Dan with sporty St Nicholas students
3 THINGS FOR PARENTS TO REMEMBER You can never start sports too early – dexterity becomes coordination, then confidence • Balance on-screen activities with good old-fashioned analogue play • Join in with that game of catch or kick-around – it’s good for you, too!
However much children love screens and electronic games, it’s important to remember that challenging yourself physically at a young age develops overall confidence. Mastering a simple skill like catching enables a child to then move on to explore more difficult competences. I see this regularly in PE lessons with primary pupils, where even the smallest physical achievement can bring huge smiles to their faces.
DA N WO O D Head of PE and Games St Nicholas Preparatory School AUTUMN • WINTER 2019 | B R I T I S H E D U C AT I O N | 27
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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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“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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