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Their Education, Their Way, Online


EDITORS Libby Norman Pendle Harte





SENIOR DESIGNERS Mike Roberts Suzette Scoble






Hughes, Alexandra Hunter, James Fuschillo


AUTUMN 2022 UPFRONT 11 ACADEMIC ASIA A welcome from Battie Fung 12 SCHOOLNEWS What's going on in the world of education FOCUS 20 MARYMOUNT The London International school with a fully global outlook PREP 41 SETTLE IN Houseparents at Gordons on helping children settle Marymount London INDEPENDENT SCHOOL GAMES Super Sports BRITISH HONG KONG EDITION MARYMOUNT INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL George Road, Surrey KT2 7PE +44 (0)20 8949 0571 FRONT COVER For advertising enquiries please call +44 (0) 20 7704 0588 or email: Subscriptions are available simply by emailing info@zest-media.com20 44 58 ZEST MEDIA PUBLICATIONS LTD ZEST-MEDIA.COM Zest Media Publications Ltd . cannot accept responsibility for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts and photographs. While every care is taken, prices and details are subject to change and Zest Media Publications Ltd. take no responsibility for omissions or errors. We reserve the right to publish and edit any letters.All rights reserved. @ABSOLUTELYEDU ABSOLUTELY-EDUCATION.CO.UK AUTUMN 2022 | BRITISH EDUCATION 82 SENIOR 44 COMMUNICATION Reacting to post-pandemic changes 58 FANTASTIC GAMES How schools encourage the sporting spirit 72 WHY STUDY DT? How the subject opens a variety of career doors 82 60 SECONDS... With the Headmaster of Hall School Wimbledon 72
Welcoming day students from 3 months to 19 years and boarders from Year 3 “To be the best that I can, with the gi s that I have.” | | 01423 333330 | York YO26 9SS Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate Set in more than 220 acres of beautiful North Yorkshire countryside “You cannot help but be impressed by the sheer ambition of QE. Facilities are spectacular, sta committed and clearly able, students delightful.” e Good Schools Guide Call to arrange a private tour or join us at our next Open Day on 26 November

From the EDITOR

One of the challenges post-pandemic is helping young people to communicate e ectively. This has become a theme running through our autumn issue since it a ects every age and stage. For the earliest years, there has been far less exposure to the social situations that build key skills, an area we explore in Speech Delay (page 34). In Generation Communication (page 44) we find out how

schools ensure teamwork, face-to-face meeting points and fruitful connections for a generation raised with technology and, of recent times, left isolated within it.

For our cover and Focus feature we have explored the fully global approach of Marymount International School London, and it was a pleasure to talk to Headmistress Margaret Giblin (from page 20) and find out more about her plans. The cohort at Marymount London truly is international – something like 40 countries and over 50 nationalities

Welcome Libby Norman EDITOR

if you count students’ primary, secondary and sometimes third passports. The majority are day pupils, but when it comes to boarders, there’s a real geographic spread but no one dominant group, which the school sees as important.

Sport is another great opportunity for young people to learn together. We look at some of the less well-known competitive arenas in which independent schools excel in Fantastic Sports (page 58). I’m fascinated by the drive and passion demonstrated to take any sport to elite level, and it’s good to be reminded that there are many more routes to sporting achievement than those

traditional team games. In that spirit, we’ve taken a look at the wonderful world of quidditch (page 64), a game imagined by J.K. Rowling and then given real-world structure and organisation by students around the globe. The rules are – I confess – somewhat ba ing to the uninitiated, but the enthusiasm and sporting spirit of its players and fans are pure magic.



Chris Ramsey Headmaster, Whitgi School

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

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

Nicolas Hewlett

Headmaster, St Dunstan's College

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

Amanda Jayne Head of Physics and STEM Leader, Hurst College
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Hong Kong is starting to OPEN UPAGAIN

Iam delighted to be able to write to you in a much more positive way –we are all, at last, starting to think about being able to travel again now that the quarantine periods and restrictions that we have all lived with for the last two years because of COVID are being reduced. Indeed, at the time of writing, we are expecting there to be further reductions in the not too distant future.

UK boarding school representatives cannot wait to start travelling again to meet with their international families and alumni around the world –for many it is nearly three years

restrictions if the number of confirmed cases were to increase over the winter.

In the last education guide, we started our series of articles highlighting the choices that Hong Kong families have with regard to the type of school they are considering for their children – single sex or coeducation – and we had a very interesting article from the Headmaster of boys-only Bedford School, Mr James Hodgson. In this edition, we are going to highlight coeducation and I am delighted to introduce Mr Michael Punt, the new Head of Bromsgrove School which is a coeducational school in the

since they last boarded a plane. As we start another academic year, here at Academic Asia we have processed a good volume of applications for 2023 and beyond, and this is a reassuring indication that many Hong Kong families still look to the UK when planning their children’s education. With restrictions continuing to ease, we will need to wait and see if this makes any di erence to reported COVID cases over the coming months and whether the Hong Kong Government will go back to tighter

Midlands. Mr Punt took up his new position at Bromsgrove this term, having previously been the Headmaster at Chigwell School in Essex.

I hope you enjoy Mr Punt’s article and here’s to a happy, healthy and successful academic year for all young people around the world.


The King’s School, Canterbury alumna Annabel Steadman (2005-10) has published her fi rst novel, Skandar And The Unicorn Thief, and now fi nds herself on the New York Times Best Seller List. Already published in 38 different languages and tipped as the most exciting arrival since Harry Potter, this the fi rst of a planned fi ve-book series.

School partnership

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

Summer study

A er the challenges of the pandemic, Oxford Summer Courses celebrated its best summer ever. In July and August 2022 they hosted almost 2,000 students from more than 50 different nationalities on courses in Oxford, Cambridge and London. Students range in age from 9-24 and study over 40 different subjects.


In the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s fi nal expedition – and with the discovery of Endurance – Dulwich College has been welcoming many more visitors to see James Caird, the boat used to secure rescue for the crew. Visits are available during term times every Friday. Email College reception.


Harrow School Online pupils have celebrated great success with their A Levels this year. 70% of pupils achieved an A* and 98% of awarded grades were graded A* to B. The pupils studied exclusively online from their own homes throughout sixth form, proving that online study can hold its own.

“I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life”
“Steadman's book is being tipped as the most exciting arrival since Harry Potter”

Head arrival

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


Chapel singers

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


Bromsgrove continues to be lauded for its extra-curricular activities, particularly sport. Ranked in the top six of all UK independent schools for the last six years, not in one particular sport but across 26 sports. In addition to 280 sports teams, pupils have 104 other activities to choose from each week.



Warwick School has launched a brand-new Wellbeing Hub in the very heart of the school –this new space offers themed quiet rooms, a multi-faith prayer room, and access to pastoral staff. The school's vision is to be "the most inspiring, rounded and caring boys’ school in the UK". Applications for boys boarding are welcome at ages 13+, 14+, and 16+.

Sixth Form pupils from The Leys School, Cambridge are regional winners of ‘Youth Speaks’, the Rotary Club youth public speaking competition. Ellie M, Sienna H and Georgia D delivered a presentation on the theme: why marriage is outdated, beating strong teams from St Albans’ Girls School and Stamford High School.
“I just found it very di cult to talk, so singing was like freedom for me; freedom from this oversensitive, over-shy kid to suddenly let go”
Applications 13AUTUMN 2022 | BRITISH EDUCATION


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

Girls’ gambit

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


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


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


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

Boarding prize

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



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

Top Story


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

Reception welcome

Conifers Prep in Midhurst, West Sussex has welcomed Fiona Allan as Reception class teacher. Having previously taught in Surrey and also Hong Kong, Allan studied to be a teacher at Exeter, where she received the Ted Wragg Award.

“My aim is to foster a love of learning and curiosity about the world by having a fun and focused classroom,” she says.


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


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

School buzz

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


Millfi eld fencers have competed internationally at the African Zonal Championships. They included Upper Sixth student Kelsey Woname and her Year 9 brother Kaden Woname. Kelsey led the Ghanaian team for the fourth time, fi nishing eighth in the U20 Women’s Sabre. Kaden competed in the U15 category and was placed second.

In the swing

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

“Millfield students also competed in the Asian Zonal Championships”

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A global OUTLOOK

Head up the drive of Marymount International School London and you could almost believe you had stepped back in time. It sits on a private estate close to Coombe Hill Golf Club and the delightful Edwardian main building harks back to an age when fine architecture and pride in craft prevailed. The sevenacre campus with spectacularly well-tended gardens is a calm oasis. Yet Kingston upon Thames is just down the road, it’s close to the London ‘villages’ of Richmond, Wimbledon and Putney, and with superb road and rail links to central London (just 20 minutes away) and Heathrow.

The setting is Surrey idyll, but there’s a resolutely forward-looking approach in the education provided here. Marymount was the very first all-girls’ school in the UK to adopt the International Baccalaureate

(IB) curriculum back in 1979. This is something it remains, justifiably, proud of. The school o ers both the IB Diploma and the innovative Middle Years Programme.

Marymount London was established in the mid 1950s by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM), a pioneering Catholic order focused on education. It is part of a network encompassing nine countries and three continents, with sister schools spanning Paris, New York, Rio and other world cities. The school welcomes all faiths and none, but Headmistress Margaret Giblin sees the RSHM element as its bedrock. “I say to the students that it’s our anchor and it’s our guide because it roots us in why the schools were formed.

“I find Mother Butler, who founded Marymount Schools, quite inspirational. She set up the first school in the early 1900s and she wanted holistic education. She talked about physical, academic, moral and spiritual

British Education visits Marymount International School London, a place that blends a truly global education with strong community traditions that set girls on course for bright futures ABOVE Marymount girls are part of a global RSHM community

learning. She was preparing women for a changing society. At that time, many were establishing churches, but Mother Butler was setting up schools. As an order, they are very progressive and very community oriented.”

Margaret Giblin knows whereof she speaks – Theology is one of her teaching subjects (the other is English). She has also seen the Marymount community spirit at work, having started as Headmistress here in January 2021 – in the maelstrom of Covid.

“The community here is so welcoming to the students, and I also felt very welcomed as an incoming Head and a new member of sta .” And this despite the fact that she had her first two weeks all mapped out – down to cookies and hot chocolate for her tutor groups – when the government decision was made, two days before the start of term, not to reopen schools. “But what can you do? I put my assembly online, I had virtual hot chocolate and cookies with

all the students – it was an interesting way to begin!”

Giblin was new to this role, but arrived as a seasoned school leader, having trained in Ireland and taught there on both sides of the border. She’s covered both state and independent sectors in her time and came to Marymount from Woldingham, where she had what she calls a “boomerang” tenure – teaching there first in the early Noughties and then returning in 2012. Second time around, she

covered a range of roles culminating in Senior Deputy Head. She’s grateful for this breadth. “I’ve seen all facets of school life, which puts you in good stead to relate to people,” she says.

She says it also helped that she was on the teaching roster in those early days. “I had Grade 6 RE, and that was really lovely. For that period of time that you are in the classroom you’re just Mrs Giblin their RE teacher.” Head duties in the last school year – with routine but important inspections and accreditations to prepare for – made a timetabled slot impractical, so she became “super sub”, ready to cover absences and unforeseen events. “Any time there was an opportunity, I taught,” she says. “I think every teacher goes into teaching because they love it.”

The cohort at Marymount International School London truly is international – something like 40 countries and over 50 nationalities if you count students’ primary, secondary and sometimes third passports. The majority are day pupils. Some are so local that they walk to school, while others catch one of the school buses that travel in from London and Surrey environs. “Day pupils are London based and they are locally based, but they are coming from international backgrounds oftentimes. Many have dual nationality – they may have one parent who is British

ABOVE Chapel is part of daily life at Marymount RIGHT Popular sports here include soccer (football) RIGHT Science investigation in action

and one who is another nationality. But I think it’s more than just being international, there’s an international mindedness here,” says Giblin.

When it comes to boarders, there’s a real geographic spread but no one dominant group, which the school sees as important. “What you want it to feel like is a genuinely diverse community where all are welcome. It’s all about coming together as a community, so we are really fortunate that we have such a breadth.” In the school’s light-filled and welcoming Dining Hall you see an important element of how breadth is celebrated, with a smorgasbord of imaginative and healthy choices inspired by all continents. Food is savoured here, and no need to forgo home comforts.

Boarders live in halls overlooking the gardens. There’s a homely but modern feel, with comfortable twin rooms and social spaces. The recently added kitchen and dining areas are “absolutely loved” by the girls, o ering a useful taster of university-style independence.

The boarding is organised in grade-specific corridors, but with a strong sense of integration – between age groups, but also boarders and day pupils – thanks to the House structure that blends them. While day pupils often invite boarders over for sleepovers, at Marymount it works the other way too. “I think that’s really lovely – it is their home. Our Head and Deputy Head of Boarding really work to foster that.”

Marymount o ers options to match modern family life. Fiveday and seven-day boarding remain extremely popular, and flexi is also firmly in the mix.

There are many advantages in boarding – not least ease of access to facilities and fixtures after hours – but every pupil here enjoys a wealth of educational spaces. Marymount’s new STEAM centre brings interdisciplinary and digital learning to life, while wonderful Visual Arts facilities include a kiln and potter’s wheel, but also laser cutter, 3D printers and Adobe software. Performing Arts are a strong suit too, and Drama and music happen throughout the year in the auditorium and other spaces, with exciting o -campus events and

ABOVE Marymount London has an idyllic sevenacre campus

enrichment opportunities locally and internationally. There’s also a great mirrored dance studio, and the subject has become so popular that the school is o ering Dance within the IB Diploma for the first time this year. Giblin says that she’s excited to see what the cohort here who “live and breathe dance” will achieve.

There’s a well equipped new sports hall, plus outdoor pitches and courts where team games are played – volleyball, soccer (football), badminton and basketball among them. Wimbledon is ten-minutes away, so tennis is, of course, a mainstay. School teams (Marymount Aces) compete weekly in the London Schools

Sports Association against rival international schools in London and Surrey, and Varsity teams have the opportunity to travel across Europe for fixtures. There’s also the RSHM Sports Festival each year – a friendly three-day tournament among network schools. Local opportunities to represent the school range from golf tournaments to swimming meets.

There’s a strong sense of community evident in everything at Marymount London, and never more so than in the IB structure. Open-minded enquiry and group and individual project work are central principles, and the impressively stocked Library is a hub for embedding this approach

from the Middle Years Programme onwards. Collaborative lessons between teachers and librarian help students hone sophisticated information-gathering skills and there are a huge number of books and periodicals (covering nine languages).

Margaret Giblin believes some “myth busting” is needed about the Middle Years Programme as it is not as well understood as the Diploma. She and her team have been engaging with prep schools they work with to help them understand more about the foundation it provides.

“There’s a skillset embedded in IB – the attitude to learning, the self-regulation, the independence,

ABOVE The Library is a hub for collaborative study and individual research

the curiosity, the balance,” she says. “By the time learners come to the Diploma they’ve acquired that instinctive approach because it has been so repeated and so supported in the Middle Years journey.” One thing that Giblin loves about the IB route – and she speaks with deep experience of di erent pathways – is the spirit of enquiry it engenders. Also, as she puts it, “this sense of being comfortable with not knowing the answer because part of the education journey is in finding that”. Results speak for themselves, with a consistent average IB Diploma score of 37 points. This puts Marymount into the top 15% of IB schools worldwide. A third of the class of 2022 scored 40 points and above. Also, and this shows the international nature of the cohort, a third of graduates took the Bilingual IB Diploma. “We

are really fortunate that the core academics here are really strong, and they have to be. That’s every school’s bread and butter – you have to be getting it right in the classroom.”

Small class sizes support high achievement, but the focus is always on developing students’ curiosity. The enrichment programme, led by Specialist Learning Director Dr Sandra Forrest, o ers support and stretch to suit individual needs and interests. This feeds into the holistic approach that Giblin sees as central to the school’s ethos. Students are encouraged to think independently and also look outwards in academic and other areas – for example, studentled initiatives for Kingston Foodbank and for a sister school in Zambia. Whatever they are planning, there’s feedback and encouragement from the sta . “We are always saying to the students ‘so what other areas are there for you to explore?’”

Underpinning all of this is the RSHM bedrock – Margaret Giblin believes it is the extra ingredient that gives the Marymount London community strength and purpose. “We’re a very tight community, but a community that is both inward and outward facing. I think our students are superb at keeping that vision – where do we fit in the world and what di erence can we make here and more widely?” she says. “And there’s a lot of laughter here. We work hard and we laugh a lot – there’s a real joy in learning.”

At a Glance

Marymount International School London

FOUNDED: 1955, by the Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSHM)

HEAD: Margaret Giblin, since January 2021

GENDER: Girls’ school

NUMBER OF PUPILS: 250 DAY OR BOARDING: Day and boarding AGES: 11-18

POINTS OF ENTRY: Most popular points are Grade 6 (Year 7) and Grade 11 (Year 12), accept in-year applications for admission too

ADMISSIONS: Assessment, references from current teachers, reports and interview

RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Catholic FEES: School fees £27,250pa; full boarding and school fees £46,130pa; flexi and 5-day boarding options available

ADDRESS: Marymount International School London, George Road, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey KT2 7PE

LEFT Headmistress Margaret Giblin ABOVE Performing arts are a school strength RIGHT The lush gardens o er space and calm

Since 1918, when women were granted a somewhat limited power to vote, the majority of policy and law has continued to be written by men and naturally reflects their bias. To level the playing field and ensure fair representation in politics and the working world, we need to give girls the tools to voice their opinions and break the bias.

Gender bias starts young – girls are told to sit nicely and behave while boys are encouraged to be noisy and boisterous. This has parallels in the adult world too; vocal women are labelled ‘bossy’ or ‘shrill’, whereas vocal men are just ‘determined to get their point across’.

The more opportunity, support and guidance young women have to share their ideas, the more expert they will become in the future – whether that’s holding discussions in departmental meetings, representing

discussion, debate and public speaking.

Our Speaker’s Corner is an opportunity for students to speak publicly about a topic they feel passionate about for two minutes without questions, sharing their opinion and declaiming about it – rather like Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. The topic that resonates most with the students is then used for our School Debate in the Summer Term, when opinions and ideas are challenged and debated.

speaking out or seeing themselves in top jobs – and that was the theme of this year's International Women's Day, with the hashtag #breakthebias. Of course, we need to be sure we are building the skills, knowledge and understanding that enable informed decisions.

an organisation or speaking in Parliament. Alongside the necessary qualifications, communication skills and what the individual brings to the job are the essentials for success.

At Heathfield we recognise the importance of building confidence, communication skills and an open-minded approach to new experiences. We want our students to be critical thinkers who can discuss and view issues from di erent perspectives. To ensure they are informed about politics and current issues, our Careers and Outreach department hosts various programmes to promote

Later in the Michaelmas Term, in celebration of Parliament Week, we host a ‘Question Time’ with a student panel taking topical questions from the audience, which includes local politicians from the three main political parties.

We also have a Speaker Programme to introduce new ideas and broaden experiences for our students as they learn about the world of work. Professionals are invited to come and speak about their work and experience, and the students start to develop their networking skills.

We still need to overcome the barriers that prevent girls and women from

We need our young people to think critically and raise their voices so their thoughts and opinions are heard. We must also teach them to first look at their own assumptions, to bring the bias to the fore and question it. To achieve equality, there can be no automatic assumptions.

“The more opportunity and guidance young women have to share their ideas, the more expert they will become in the future”
Rushi Millns of Heathfield School on how we overcome bias, giving girls the confidence to speak up and aim for the top in public life
RUSHI MILLNS FRSA Director of Careers and Outreach Heathfield School, Ascot ABOVE Heathfield School pupils


There are many excellent schools who pride themselves on the breadth of their o ering, and for some young people these schools are an excellent choice, providing a wide range of activities and choice all under one roof. They are the ideal choice for a young person who has eclectic interests or isn’t really sure yet where their future lies.

However, for those who already show passion or talent in one area, a specialist education – one where the school and the students together are more tightly focused on exploring and developing their particular interest – may be more rewarding. Specialist schools are not a new idea: there have been specialist music and dance schools, not to mention choir schools, for as long as we’ve had schools. What a specialist environment o ers is two important things. First it creates an environment where every aspect of school life is geared around the delivery of that specialism. The curriculum can be adapted, timings are adjusted, resourcing can be targeted – all to ensure that the best possible provision in that particular specialism is achieved. Secondly it brings together people who share the same passions and interests, who can bounce o each other and spur each other on to greatness. In a specialist environment students can find their tribe, people who are as passionate about their interests as they are.

While many will be aware of specialist options around music, dance and drama, they may be less aware that options exist for other specialisms. The National Mathematics and Science College, for example, is an elite specialist STEM Sixth Form College, taking people with real potential in maths and science and enabling them to take that as far as they can, preparing them to be the people who will be at the top of their game in their universities and who will go on to be at the top of their game in careers afterwards. NatMatSci (as we are known) is focused on creating an environment where passionate students can take their highly specialist interests and pursue them as far as they can go, regularly achieving successes in many national and international competitions, as well as some of the best A-level results in the UK.

What makes it special, as a college, is the way in which everyone’s love for science

and maths pulls them together, creating a community of like-minded individuals all pushing each other to achieve their best. If you were to walk around the College, you would find the place alive with conversations about mathematics and science; students and sta excitedly gathered around whiteboards in groups of twos or threes, challenging themselves to tackle di cult problems in their free time; and looking for new opportunities to engage with each other and cross boundaries.

If your child is passionate about Maths and Science and wants to see how far they can push themselves, then there is nowhere better to be than at NatMatSci. Here they will be part of a committed and engaged family of people who share the same interests and passions as you, and together we will be able to pursue them as far as they can go.

“Passionate students can take their highly specialist interests as far as they can go”
It is time to consider the benefits of a specialist education
ABOVE & BELOW Pupils at NatMaSci
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If schools do not allow their pupils to become active agents in strategic thinking, we risk an ever-polarised society where the young feel disenfranchised from authority, generationally dislocated and where issues that matter to them become locked in an echo chamber of bitterness and injustice.

Like many Heads in our sector forced to navigate the necessary self-questioning presented through the challenges posed first by the Black Lives Matter movement and then latterly by Everyone’s Invited – having soul-searched and questioned the very core of my educational belief and educational purpose – I felt strongly that we were not advocating enough of a role for children in the decision-making of the school.

That is not to say that we do not have a well-meaning pupil parliament, annual pupil surveys, working groups and an active prefect body – we do all of that – but I felt

on reflection that these things were at risk of providing little more than lip service. How we can improve catering and the cocurricular programme is all very well and good, but do children have a say in the very culture they help to cement and of which they are both custodians and beneficiaries?

My mind was drawn to a presentation I was asked to give to the Barclays Spectrum group. This is a significant network of employees representing the LGBTQ+ community from across the Barclays group and their task is to formulate and

take ownership of a strategy for improving equality, inclusion and diversity within the group. I was taken by this idea, as it had the benefit of coming directly from within. It had cultural clout because the employees themselves were shaping their lived environment. I started to think about whether something similar could be achieved in a school setting and the idea of the St Dunstan’s Diapason was born.

The first thing most people ask me is what does Diapason mean, which is a good question. It means a burst of harmony, or the entire scope and range of a thing. It seemed to me a very appropriate term for what we were trying to achieve. The Diapason is structured around five ‘pillars’ – Race,

Sex and Gender, Religion and Belief, Sexual Orientation and Disability. Each has a nominated pupil and sta lead who work with the broader pupil and sta community to formulate a strategy for action. I chair and resource the group. We meet once a half-term and the purpose is clear – we want to make sure that our community is founded on deep principles of equality and that we are actively showcasing the very great benefits that diversity brings.

The Diapason liaise with governors, speak with parents, and support the pastoral team in finding solutions to problems when they arise. Although still in its infancy, we have had great success. Fundamental change to our curriculum, driven by the pupils themselves, sits alongside more concrete changes – for example, this summer we are building our first multi-faith prayer room. Their list of actions is significant, and this is a lively and sometimes challenging group to manage. We do not always agree, but at least we are talking. Sta and pupils from across the school organisation bring together di erent views and ideas into one forum where everyone is heard. This allows meaningful change to be driven by those in direct receipt of the culture that is created here at St Dunstan's.

NICHOLAS HEWLETT Headmaster St Dunstan's College
The Head of St Dunstan's College discusses its 'Diapason', a working group designed to include the student voice in every aspect of school life
"Diapason means a burst of harmony – an appropriate term for what we were trying to achieve"
ABOVE Pupils at St Dunstan's with Nicholas Hewlett
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Speech DELAY

There isn’t a parent on the planet who doesn’t worry at some point if their child is on track. Milestones are monitored and alarm bells ring when other children appear to have key skills your child is struggling with. Children do, of course, develop at di erent paces. But on top of existing concerns about the impact of screen use in early years, now we have nearly two years of intermittent lockdowns to contend with. This is raising concerns among experts as well as parents about speech, language and communication skills – especially for our youngest learners. Trips on the bus, exposure to family members and visits to play settings all help children acquire language. It’s not just speaking that matters, but understanding what others say.

Speech therapist Amy Loxley, a Lead Speech & Language Advisor for the children’s communication charity I CAN, believes lockdown deprived children of many of the usual routes for developing communication. “Even that requirement to stay close to home and have limited contact with others has deprived children of a range of social experiences,” she says. “This is the range of experiences you have in early life where you’re exposed to new words.”

There’s now some evidence to support the idea that this has led to an increase in speech and language issues. “I CAN undertook some research last year, published in a report called ‘Speaking up for the COVID generation’. We found in that research that there are 1.5m children in the UK who are at risk of not being able to speak and understand language at an age-appropriate level,” says Amy Loxley. Certainly, referrals for communication di culties have increased – noted by both the Department for Education and speech therapists.

I CAN develops intervention programmes used in mainstream schools, as well as running two specialist schools for children with complex language di culties. A lot of their work with mainstream schools centres on Developmental Language Delay (DLD). This is a condition unconnected with any other conditions that can cause lifelong issues speaking and understanding others. “It a ects 7.6% of children – another way of looking at that is two in every class of 30 – so is actually quite common,” says Amy Loxley. The other key group that I CAN works with is children who have language di culties due to environmental factors – in other words, the setting they are in. This group is much larger in areas of disadvantage. “One in ten children across

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

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


One of the big questions for parents is: do I need to seek help? While no one wants a label on their child, the fundamental building blocks need to be in place.

“Language skills underly all skills, so even when children learn to read and write, that’s based on them understanding and using spoken language,” says Amy Loxley.

I CAN runs a free phone advice service where parents can talk to a speech and language therapist. Typically, parents ring for advice because they have noticed that their child uses less words or simpler words and sentences than their peers. It could be that a child’s speech sounds jumbled or muddled up, so that it’s hard to understand.

Less commonly, parents may recognise their child is having trouble understanding what is said to them – often this isn’t spotted so early. It might be trouble following an instruction, for instance, or a teacher reporting that the child doesn’t listen in class or isn’t getting work done when asked.

The issue here can become complicated by how adults view this failure to do what’s asked.

“Sometimes that’s interpreted as something else – people think it’s a behaviour problem, when it’s actually the child not understanding language.”


If parents are worried and believe they may need expert support, the team at I CAN can explain the steps for getting a speech therapy referral via the NHS or privately. Usually, the first recommended step is approaches to try at home. They include going a bit slower when you are talking and making comments rather than asking questions – a technique to open up dialogue without putting undue pressure on a child. “Children do pick up on that feeling when parents are particularly anxious or worried and are trying to get them to do something,” says Amy Loxley.

Although lockdown hasn’t helped any of our children, the good news is that parents can make a real di erence to build both speech and understanding. Chatting and playing are vital, says Amy Loxley, also a

really good way to spot potential issues. Taking time and choosing the right language level are vital, which means choosing simple, age-appropriate words and keeping things light and open. “It’s about talking with children rather than talking to them – you’re trying to get them into a backand-forth interaction,” says Amy Loxley.

As to screen time – that other great worry – expert guidance suggests that the less children have in early years the better. TV (or other device) is never a substitute for the learning provided by good oldfashioned play and interaction. That said, children love screen time, and so watching an age-appropriate programme with your child and discussing what’s going on with them is a way to make this an active experience that builds communication skills.

The other great route that helps children get into speaking and understanding language is books, using the same sharing approach. “Parents don’t always have to read all the words in the book. They can even just talk about the pictures and about what the child is interested in,” says Amy Loxley. “Relate things in the book back to their experiences – it’s all about drawing those connections for your child.”

For more guidance and support about speech, language and communication, visit I CAN’s talking point for parents at

“There are 1.5m children at risk of not being able to speak and understand language at an age-appropriate level”
ABOVE A first practical step for parents concerned about speech delay can be to try some simple techniques at home


Making the choice and managing the entrance to Senior school can seem complex for parents familiar with the UK system – even more so for families who are moving (or returning) to the UK. The first important step is not to panic. Your priority should be to find a fantastic school for your children – and the good news is there are plenty of excellent choices. A good school will not only actively prepare your child academically and emotionally for every transition but will also support your family throughout the educational journey. Here’s a checklist of areas we suggest parents focus on.

Decide what it is you are looking for in a senior school

Do you prefer a single sex environment or a co-educational one? Perhaps you are open to all. Are you looking for a boarding school or a day school? While traditionally there was a tendency to look at the league tables and start from there, what is equally if not more important is the ‘value added’. This is a great measure of a school’s determination and ability to get the best out of children and help them to thrive. Also decide what values are important to you as a family. This is particularly important at a boarding school, as your child will spend a great deal of time there and the values and ethos should replicate your own.

Carry out research

While nothing quite compares to visiting a school in person, since the pandemic – when schools couldn’t host physical visits – many o er website tours that give great insights into what the school is all about. The best capture the life of a school. This is useful starting point to focus your search and set of criteria before narrowing down. Visiting schools in person (or via one-to-one virtual appointments if physical visits are impossible) is the next step. This will provide a clearer sense of the atmosphere and culture. It’s also an opportunity to meet key members of sta who will tell you more about the inner workings of school life.

Don’t be surprised if your criteria change

Many parents I see will have an idea of the type of education or school they envisage for their child. Sometimes this is based on their own experiences, or it might be reputational and based on what they have heard.

Sometimes it is purely down to the stats. But education has moved on considerably since we were at school, and it is important to stay open-minded – the first and foremost priority is to find a senior school where your child will thrive, not simply survive. It is very common for families to end their search in a very di erent place to where it started. I have parents who only wanted day school but ended up pursuing a boarding route and families who took a risk on a newer school versus more established ones. Time and again, parents will say ‘we never thought to consider that school, but it turned out to be exactly what we were looking for’.

ABOVE & LEFT Pupils at Broomswood Hall Upper School
“The first and foremost priority is to find a senior school where your child will thrive, not simply survive”
Louisa McCa erty, Head of Broomwood Hall Upper School discusses how parents can ensure the application and transition to Senior years goes smoothly
LOUISA MCCAFFERTY Head Broomwood Hall Upper School


Arrange a personal tour by calling 01283 559200 or email

A perfectly balanced education in the heart of England

Co-educational | 3 - 18 | Boarding and Day


Boarding schools have come a long way since those tales of cold showers and huge dormitories. Dedicated sta now guide students as they navigate social interactions, mental-health issues and meeting the high expectations of school, all the while being away from home for the first time.

Today’s students often describe boarding as ‘one big sleepover’, a ‘home from home’. Secure and friendly, it is where they not only flourish academically, but learn tolerance, resilience, discipline and independence – and make lifelong friends. Free time is packed with activities. They can enjoy the company of hundreds of others – with older students becoming sibling figures.

At Gordon’s – recently named TES Boarding School of the Year – Year 7 boarders are accommodated in Woolwich House, with us as Houseparents. Settling in new charges

time), an action supported by the vast majority of our parents. The reasoning behind their removal is to encourage friendships. It’s easy for children to sit in a corner with their phone if they’re feeling self-conscious, but without one they are making friends and learning how to gel with those in their house. Phone usage is gradually increased but often, once these much sought-after privileges arrive, they are ignored in favour of spending time playing with friends.

and allows them to focus on their academics and sports. Similarly, if they are active rather than passive – be it looking for ‘lost items’ or keeping their dormitories tidy – they are solving problems for themselves and are in control. This, in turn, gives them confidence.

begins months before students’ arrival. During in-person meetings or Zoom calls, we glean as much information as we can about each child so they can be helped to settle in quickly. For their part, parents are urged to prepare their children before they arrive by increasing their independence, reducing their dependence on mobiles and encouraging them in practical tasks and chores such as making their own bed.

Mobile phones are limited in the junior house and removed from students for their first three weeks (although children may use the house phone to phone home during this

In the early stages, the children are kept busy. Playing rounders or ‘capture the flag’ means they’re building relationships through play and are less likely to dwell on home. However, homesickness is always going to crop up – usually at bedtime. Then they come downstairs and are soon on the sofa talking it through with a warm drink. They also support each other in their bunk beds – that is how they develop those lasting friendship bonds.

Each new boarder is assigned a buddy from a year above, to guide them through their first year and on to their senior boarding houses. Independence and organisation are encouraged from the start – if they can get that sorted in their first year, it will be easier in the long run

A bell wakes them up for the first half of their first term, but after that they are given an alarm clock and become responsible for waking themselves up. They are all ready for their senior houses at the end of the year, looking forward to more independence and with the skills and maturity to deal with the next stage of their boarding journey.

“During meetings, we glean as much information as we can about each child so they can be helped to settle in quickly”
Sam and Daisy Cooper, Houseparents at Gordon’s School (TES Boarding School of the Year), describe ways in which they help first-time prep boarders settle in and thrive
ABOVE Social time at Gordon’s School

GENERATION Communication

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

ABOVE ArtsEd students

UCS, Hampstead

UCS in Hampstead follows four Learning Values of responsibility, relationships, resilience and resourcefulness. There’s a big emphasis on encouraging pupils to listen to one another and be bold in sharing their thoughts and opinions. “Our pupils’ willingness to question and challenge, and engage in clubs, societies and community projects, creates such a stimulating atmosphere,” says the school’s Director of Wellbeing Bimba Kumarasinghe.

Within the co-curricular framework pupils are given support to take ownership. With 70-plus pupil-led clubs and societies, including debating, Model United Nations, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise, a spirit of enquiry feeds into the fabric of the school. Students run these clubs for peers and younger age groups, also stepping up to responsibilities such as House Captains. They also drive the annual Community Action fundraising initiative – and are very good at it. A recent example of this is a pupil-led fundraiser for Ukraine, which raised £5,000 in less than a month. “Through being involved in co-curricular activities, pupils acquire new skills but also develop character and discipline and appreciate the importance of camaraderie,” says Headmaster Mark Beard. Developing empathy and listening skills is critical to building a strong moral

sense, and UCS works for an “unambiguous culture of equality” in which the student body is closely involved. Pupils are encouraged in this through teaching and mentoring younger children, both at UCS and at local partner schools. In particular, Sixth Form students play a key role in ‘paying it forward’ by helping younger pupils. “There are numerous mentoring schemes and our peer education project trains Sixth Formers to teach lessons on wellbeing and mental health to Year 7s,” says Deputy Head Pastoral Andrew Wilkes. This, alongside their input into fundraising (organising events and choosing charities) helps to build a culture of service – also an understanding of the bigger issues. The spirit of looking after others is, says Headmaster Mark Beard, a critical element in developing outward-looking young people. “We foster social responsibility alongside respect for the individual. Pupils are taught humanity, understanding and empathy.” Here too, the element of broadening young people’s horizons –showing them life beyond their small circle – helps to foster the kind of communication skills needed for their futures. “Varied experience beyond the classroom serves to nurture and champion creativity, aspiration and individual talents,” says UCS Assistant Head Co-Curricular Jessica Lewis.

Queen’s College, Taunton

At Queen’s College, Taunton the focus is on creating a culture in which students are comfortable in class settings and able to communicate and share freely. This is helped by both the small class sizes and the structure of teaching and learning. “Every pupil is provided with a chance to communicate in every lesson,” says Head of College Julian Noad. “Collaborative activities are carefully structured to ensure that each pupil plays their part in expressing ideas, responding to others’ views, and taking the opportunity to lead.”

Within the wider curriculum, there are plenty of opportunities to mix and share, with performing arts opportunities a priority and sports and outdoor education used to develop ‘people skills’ and leadership potential. There’s lots of focus on fun, but also using these platforms to develop young people’s strengths. Alongside the benefits drama brings in building confidence, other forums include Model United Nations, debating, academic societies and discussion platforms such as Book Club.

Queen’s College’s Debating Society is a particularly useful means of helping students develop listening skills and

ABOVE One-to-one time at Queen’s College, Taunton BELOW Mentoring is encouraged at UCS

empathy, ensuring an atmosphere where pupil contributions are welcomed and acknowledge by their peers. “The ultimate ambition for many pupils is prefectship, with its opportunity to ‘give back’ and earn genuine leadership and people skills,” says Julian Noad. Mentoring is also encouraged, where there is a pastoral or academic need, while PHSE sessions encourage informal discussions and discovery opportunities.

Formal and semi-formal settings can also be a valuable way of giving young people confidence and the weekly ‘tea parties’ with the Head and his wife, plus Sixth Form dinner parties at the Head’s House, o er a means to support confident communication. Students often lead visitors round the school, support social events at the school and take the lead on charity initiatives.

Boarding here has a vertical approach, in which students get to know pupils from their House of di erent years. This, says the College, encourages interaction with di erent age groups, peer leadership and also team working. There is also a strong role for young people in looking out for each other – Queen’s College runs a highly successful ‘Talkabout’ group to help those who need support interacting with others.

More House

More House in Knightsbridge sees confident communication as a top priority. Girls are encouraged to speak up in and out of class. Head Faith Hagerty says that the traditional ‘hands up’ approach does not serve every child well so the school uses di erentiated questioning to encourage whole-class participation.

An in-house specialist in Speech and Language Therapy works with specific pupils, as recommended by the SENCo or other teaching sta , and this nurturing work helps everyone to develop key skills in questioning, listening and conversing. Whole year group singing facilitates pupils finding their voice, while LAMDA lessons o er individual pupils or small groups the opportunity to explore voice through character. The school’s Debate Club also provides a platform for developing skills in clarity of expression and use of language. Variety is key here, since a non-competitive environment helps some pupils while others thrive in a more public forum.

As a Catholic school, More House talks openly about love, and this naturally leads on to discussions around the importance of

empathy. Pupils are encouraged to practise e ective listening, and this is modelled by sta – the school believes young people must feel listened to in order to be good listeners.Leadership opportunities are o ered that go beyond the scope of everyday school life. More Holidays, the school’s programme of holiday courses, involves sixth formers in areas from finance to marketing and operations. Students are also invited to assist in the delivery of courses for younger children, developing workshop ideas and leading a variety of games and activities. They also liaise with parents, which requires excellent communication skills. This initiative gives pupils of all learning profiles a chance to shine.

There are, of course, ongoing concerns since the pandemic, but More House sees this as a problem with a solution. “What we are seeing is a generation of young people who have missed out on growing up around their peers,”, says Head Faith Hagerty. The school has worked closely with pupils to address this, using opportunities such as the co-curricular programme, concerts and productions so that pupils mix freely outside of their own year group. “We must help our young people to value their own worth more than their online presence,” adds Faith Hagerty.

“At UCS there’s a big emphasis on encouraging pupils to listen to one another, value each other’s input and be bold in sharing thoughts and opinions”
“At More House, pupils are encouraged to practise effective listening, and this is modelled by staff – young people must feel listened to in order to be good listeners”
ABOVE A student at More House BELOW Queen’s College, Taunton students

Cumnor House, Sussex

At Cumnor House, Sussex, a co-ed day and flexible boarding prep close to Haywards Heath, the sta place real importance on building close relationships with pupils and their families. This is a vital formative stage, so it’s all about understanding how children learn best and how to provide both challenges and support. The team say that strong relationships provide an environment of safety and security, giving children the confidence to try new things.

The school believes it is important not to see the extra-curricular and the academic as discrete because, done well, they are intrinsically linked and bring education to life.The focus here is on an individualised approach that sets the right goals for pupils, no matter where their strengths and weaknesses lie, as well as teaching the importance of community and the role everyone plays within the Cumnor community.

The school motto, ‘Aim High, Be Kind, Dare to be Di erent’ permeates every aspect of school life and is constantly reinforced through lessons, assemblies and interactions. Pupils have timetabled Wellbeing lessons each week – a safe space to discuss what constitutes a healthy relationship and what it takes to be a true friend.

In Wellbeing lessons and ICT, significant time is spent helping children look at the way they engage and communicate online – an even more important element

of education in the wake of lockdown when children experienced extensive screen time and isolation from peers. Parent seminars support the work with children, some led by sta and others by external speakers. The Cumnor approach is that instilling healthy online habits and open communication at home are crucial at this stage – children’s experience of being online should be positive, formative and shared.

Enabling children to connect with traditional childhood freedoms is also intrinsic to the Cumnor approach. The school’s 65-acre site provides plenty of opportunities to embrace outdoor learning – from alfresco drama and time in the Reading Garden to scientific exploration in the Woodpeckers, its school in the woods. Outdoor learning is used to teach skills and values such as cooperation, problem solving, risk taking and leadership. There are also the unforgettable pleasures of just being together having fun – lighting fires, den building and toasting marshmallows.

Emanuel School “A

t Emanuel, the importance of the relationship between students and members of sta is emphasised, whether that be with a form tutor, subject teacher, head of year or member of senior sta ,” says Deputy Head Pastoral Ravi Kothakota. The Battersea co-ed encourages students to speak up on both school and wider societal issues. “Students need to know they feel heard and listened to on issues that relate directly or matter to them. We place a significant focus on ensuring all students are provided with opportunities to express themselves,” he adds.

There are lots of opportunities for students here to make a mark. Assembly presentations, Drama lessons and regular plays and performances give a creative outlet. There are also public speaking competitions, weekly form discussions, debating clubs – even a film club for aspiring directors, actors and presenters.

“Learning to communicate effectively through whatever medium is an essential skill and we spend significant time on this at Emanuel”
ABOVE Cumnor House, Sussex pupils

Alongside the school council and nutrition review groups – which include representatives from all year groups –there are groups where pupils can formally discuss gender equality and mutual respect, race and diversity and LGBTQ+ matters. These provide platforms for pupils to drive tangible change, and this year an impact video including each pupil voice group was shared across the school community.

Emanuel’s House system provides opportunities for pupils to mix across year groups, with the oldest pupils supporting and mentoring the youngest. Students can be appointed to leadership positions,

achieve awards (House colours) and take part in a range of hotly contested competitions. Team sports are, of course, vital to the life of the school, with large numbers of students taking part in competitive fixtures. “Our co-ed House sport competitions ensure that girls and boys learn how to communicate with each other as part of team activities and not just within the classroom,” says Ravi Kothakota.

Emanuel places great emphasis on respect across the community. “Learning to communicate e ectively through whatever medium is an essential skill and we spend significant time on this as part of our Life Education programme.” The goal here is to prepare students for the modern world. “The role we play as a school is encouraging young people to connect away from their screens, while simultaneously introducing them to the many possibilities that technology presents,” adds Ravi Kothakota. Sixth Formers recently watched the film I am Gen Z, exploring the impact of social media. Many have volunteered for a school trial and will be reporting back – the goal being to shape an approach where agency in use of mobile phones is emphasised.


Young people at ArtsEd need less encouragement to express themselves than in most other schools, since this is an independent with a stellar reputation for training stage and screen talent. Students are here to pursue their love of performance. “All ArtsEd students are driven by a passion to express themselves, be it through drama, music or dance,” says Head of Day School & Sixth Form, Matthew Bulmer.

He says this is a setting which inspires communication between students. “The performing arts – and I think sport is another good example – force young people to engage with one another physically and emotionally.” Without this dynamic learning in class, it would be impossible, in his view, to excel. “Rehearsal and performance builds a natural confidence in students and helps to develop their listening and empathy skills. This does not make them immune to moments of anxiety or doubt, nor does it mean that they are impervious to the temptations of social media, but their immersion in the performing arts gives them both the resilience to deal with di cult situations and the desire to focus on the moment.”

One area where some may lack confidence when they arrive is in more traditionally academic subjects, but the confidence and creativity nurtured in vocational lessons gets carried across into all areas, helping them to exceed their own and others’ expectations. “A creative education allows young people to develop the skills necessary to thrive in the modern world,” says Matthew Bulmer. “The mobile phone isn’t going anywhere soon, but through the healthy, creative interactions that are a daily part of ArtsEd life for our students, it can become an extra to the day-to-day, not a lifestyle choice.”

“At ArtsEd, exposure to rehearsal and performance builds a natural confidence in students and helps develop listening and empathy skills ”
Emanuel School
pupil voice RIGHT ArtsEd students develop empathy skills LEFT Emanuel champions mutual respect


The competition for places at the best universities is more intense than ever. Even the brightest students can find themselves in a battle to make their application stand out. They may find themselves competing for fewer places on the most competitive courses due to deferrals from the pandemic, a changing demographic and a constantly changing political landscape of university admissions policy.

One fact remains unchanged: exam results matter. The typical o er of a place to study Law at Cambridge or Medicine at Oxford is A*AA, though many of the recipients of such o ers will get even higher grades. Only one in five applicants to Oxford or Cambridge on average secure a place; for some courses the success rate is much lower still and almost all applications come from students expecting top grades. Excellent grades open up the possibility of a student’s application to a top university being taken seriously. However, this year in England alone, over 8,500 students got 3 or more A* grades at A Level. In other words, though high grades enable application to these prestigious courses, they are not enough on their own. So, if you are a parent of an academically able child, what should you be looking for in a school to help set them on a path to realizing their ambitions?

It is natural for parents to seek out the schools with the best A Level results, and there is good sense in this. But beware: league tables based on exam results in isolation can be misleading because they are based

on di ering numbers of students doing di erent suites of subjects and courses in very di erent environments. Consider schools with outstanding results, but it is only in asking what else they do that you will find the right school for your – unique – child.

A growing number of universities require students to sit entrance tests or additional papers. Schools should o er dedicated support for students in preparing for these. Beyond these, however, universities look for subject knowledge and passion combined with the ability to demonstrate personal skills that allow them to thrive at their institution. Students who can demonstrate their ability to balance a busy portfolio of interests, who work well under pressure and in teams are at a strong advantage. A key factor is a student’s ability and willingness to think beyond the scope of a single discipline. How broad are their intellectual interests, and how well are they able to make and discuss connections between ideas? It is the true polymaths that dazzle admissions teams.

Choosing a school to support your child’s wider intellectual and social development is key. At Concord we have a sophisticated

super-curriculum: a wide range of societies and activities linked to students’ studies and career interests which look around and beyond the exam syllabus. We encourage students to take a lead in organising and running these. A prospective medical student here can discuss ethics on one evening, debate international relations the next, help organise a charitable campaign the next, and then relax with the piano, the football team or even the crochet club the next. Such variety provides them with the tools to live healthy balanced lives and enables them to succeed in their ambitions.

For a parent, beyond the wish to provide every opportunity for a child to fulfil their potential is a need to know that they are cared for as they do so. Choosing an environment that is safe and caring, where your child will be known and supported, where their wellbeing is of the highest importance will give them the chance to succeed. So don’t settle for anything less than the best in a school.


Dr Michael Truss is Principal of Concord College and formerly a Teaching Fellow and college tutor at Durham University and a research fellow in Astrophysics at the University of St Andrews.

Aiming for top universities in the UK is about more than just results, says Dr Michael Truss of Concord College
ABOVE Concord College
“Though high grades enable application to prestigious courses, they are not enough on their own”
Colchester Royal Grammar School 6 Lexden Road, Colchester, CO3 3ND 01206 509 100 Year 12 co-ed Sixth Form boarding places available for September 2023 £4,975 per term, xed for two years Compassion - Respect - Generosity - Support In 2022, CRGS achieved 86% A*/A at A level and 30 Oxbridge o ers 26 Medicine o ers 152 Russell Group o ers e Sunday Times East Anglia State Secondary School of the Decade

Time to connect

Almost everyone working in schools will have been feeling a sense of positivity around the ‘great return’.

When schools closed in March 2020, I naively thought this would be short-term, but after the trickle-back of that summer, the ‘bubbled’ term of the autumn, the second, depressing lockdown of January 2021 and the spring return, this academic year has felt increasingly normal.

Most schools will recognise the problems lockdowns caused, too: increased anxiety, especially amongst already-vulnerable groups; frustration and even anger at the loss of activity and ‘milestone’ events; social atomisation and, above all, the damage (to be frank) caused by months of online learning. This online environment created a whole set of issues in a new

group work on Teams or Zoom does not work. And as much as it was a relief to be back in school, teachers keeping their distance at the front and students in rows did not make for great oracy or articulacy. Students need to be able to take part in discussion more than ever, so prioritising group work has been vital. For our youngest students, we ran some ‘collapsed days’ in the summer, with Model United Nations, Global Citizenship discussions and debating… they found it hard, but we needed this impetus.

the most enjoyable and I think most valuable way I can possibly have spent my mornings. It links, too, to my third strand. I am never sure about Student Voice: schools are not democracies. But ensuring the students have a vehicle for having a say is increasingly vital. The success of my tutor group visits has led us to empower prefects to develop their own programme of drop-ins with groups of younger students built around specific themes.

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

Secondly, it has been so important to reconnect in person informally. Most Heads are good at Assemblies, and most of us developed some skill in online Assemblies, but nothing replicates the connection with an audience.

With large gatherings still olimits, I and my senior teams took to visiting tutor groups informally, to take questions, hear views, say what was on our minds. This has been

Finally, all this underlines the importance for students of setting out an argument. One benefit of all that time at home is that some of our students have found interests to research and even become expert in. We should harness that enthusiasm and find ways to validate and publish the o -beat, the quirky, the unusual. The pandemic has taken its toll, for sure, but schools can rebuild, and we can discover hidden gems too!

CHRIS RAMSEY Head master Whitgi School
Chris Ramsey, Headmaster of Whitgift, discusses the challenges and benefits of rebuilding group work and communication in our schools after many months of online learning
“Students need to be able to take part in discussion, so prioritising group work has been vital”
ABOVE Whitgift students



OOver the last 29 years I have worked in three schools and at the start of this month, I joined my fourth, Bromsgrove School. The first two were day schools, originally for boys only, but they went on to become fully coeducational through a remarkably smooth and positive process.

The third was a well-established coeducational school, predominantly day pupils with some boarders from a wide variety of countries and Bromsgrove is a large boarding/ day school with students from 57 nationalities o ering a fantastic choice of co-curricular and curricular options, including both A level and the International Baccalaureate. There really is something here for everyone.

A great strength of the UK independent school sector is the choice on o er. Although fundamentally all have the same objective, to educate the pupils in their care, the way in which they do so varies from school to school, giving families the opportunity to

choose the one which suits the needs of their child best.

If schools are di erent, so too are our pupils and, like many heads recently, I have been speaking about the benefits of di erence. Imagine how much pupils can learn from each other in a school with 57 nationalities. Added to this, pupils and indeed sta , have di erent experiences, di erent interests, talents, personalities… perhaps as many di erences as there are people in this remarkably cohesive but busy and diverse community. In the best schools, I would suggest, there are opportunities for individuals to grow themselves as a result of better understanding others who are not the same as them. Even better still, is when pupils heed the advice of Tim Berners-Lee, and learn to enjoy and respect each other’s di erences. Why is this approach important and why is it relevant to education? Primarily, the answer depends on the core purpose of our schools. If we exist to educate in the broadest sense, to prepare the young people to flourish in the world beyond school and to lead fulfilled lives which enrich the

No school has ever looked back after switching to co-ed – because it just works, says the headmaster of Bromsgrove
ABOVE Pupils at Bromsgrove BELOW Michael Punt

lives of others, then we must prepare them to live and work with those who are di erent from themselves in this increasingly interconnected global world. Bromsgrove School has been described as a model of harmonious co-existence, with pupils from a wide range of backgrounds busily thriving alongside others who are not the same as them.

It would seem strange, therefore, to separate pupils who are thriving together because of their gender. Likewise, many of us would be reluctant to limit the availability of a first class education to 50% of the population. Indeed, having recognised the advantages of becoming coeducational, very few schools subsequently decide to revert to being

all-boys or all-girls. Coeducation works; it makes for a happy, natural and mature environment in which pupils, male and female, get along comfortably and purposefully, learning with and from each other, with role models provided by young men and women. Within a mixed school, there is still space for the quirky individual, the more sensitive girl or boy, the child who has interests outside the mainstream and the one who has a razor-sharp focus on the purely academic. The range of co-curricular opportunities is at least as great and pastoral care is equally, if not more, focussed on supporting the needs of the individual.

The world needs schools that prepare young people for the world.

If the young people we educate learn to treat those who are not the same as them with respect, understanding and kindness, they will be better placed to make that world better. Happy and successful coeducational schools in which boys and girls learn and grow together provide a strong preparation for the relationships, both social and professional, which they will form as part of fulfilled lives. All children deserve the best education, both girls and boys; the best for most, I believe, is when girls and boys are educated together.



The best answer to the question of what makes any school or college special is ‘our pupils’. Every school exists for the pupils and with the intention of empowering them to fulfil their potential in a thousand diverse ways. Similarly, when we ask the young people in our care what enriches their lives, they answer (as well as super sta , of course) that it is their friends. In boarding schools especially, children grow into adults in the company of their peers. It is with them that they collaborate on group work in lessons, compare essays during revision, climb mountains, win cups, debate and explore. They look up to the sixth form and every junior pupil entering the school knows that they are a sixth former in waiting. Creating an environment in which we can celebrate the strengths and support the weaknesses of every pupil is at the heart of the business of every school community.

With this in mind, we have learned the value of seeking out the voices and views of young people. Hearing their views in their own words helps us to shape and mould our institution so that it is dynamic and responsive to the people who comprise it.

Peer support programmes flourish in schools and colleges across the globe. Peer support, or support among equals, occurs naturally in every school; in houses, on sports teams, in theatres, cloisters and dining halls. Much of peer support is about encouraging and enabling each other to get involved, face fears and try new things. It can be about collectively showing resilience as exams approach or meeting challenges as a community. Sometimes it is about listening.

Young people share their worries with peers, and receive advice. It says so much that is good about a school, when we can trust students to support and advise one another and to seek further help when

they need it. Whether in the face of the di culties that being far from home for the first time can bring, or specific troubles like bullying or bereavement, young people have astonishing capacity to show each other compassion. Their sensitivity can restore positivity and sense of belonging.

By embracing and formalising these mentoring relationships, not only can we nurture and support those who best look after each other, but we can grow as professionals too. Training for peer mentors can incorporate guidance on listening skills, promoting change, diversity and

inclusion. Every time a new group of pupils undertakes training, the discussion that ensues enlightens the sta involved about the nuances of the pupil’s perspectives on their school lives. There is the opportunity to learn a great deal about the ways in which our pupils perceive the world of the college, and the di culties they might encounter here.

What we learn from the pupils keeps us as sta alert and mindful. Since the best thing about every school should be its pupils, we continue to encourage and empower them to bring out the best in each other.

ABOVE Pupils at Glenalmond College
“In boarding schools especially, children grow into adults in the company of their peers”
How sta at Glenalmond College seek out the views and voices of young people
SABINA STAZIKER Head of Peer Support Glenalmond College



Independent schools go way beyond the classic team sports, to bring on the champions, and also help every pupil find their sporting spirit

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

In the foreword to the 2014 Ofsted report ‘Going the extra mile: Excellence in competitive school sport’, the then Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw namechecked Alan Wilkinson, PE teacher to a keen would-be footballer called Mo Farah. Wilshaw noted that it was Wilkinson who steered the Olympic legend away from the beautiful game based on a hunch that the lad would go much further on the running track.

No one can have any doubt of the positive influence that a steer in the right direction has on potential elite sportsmen and sportswomen, but the Ofsted report was highlighting the broad opportunities independent schools o er, how this impacts whole-school

culture as well as sporting success – and also considering how all schools might improve sporting achievement.

The tendency still when we talk about school sport is to think of the classic team games – rugby, hockey, netball, cricket, and so on. While these remain core, the menu of sports opportunities in independent schools is far richer and broader, and ultimately feeds into success at national and international events. Sports directors recognise that not everyone is a natural for mainstream team games, and it could be the individual tests and endurance challenges – or the less usual team sports – that ignite a student's enthusiasm.

A drive for excellence is really important here, but so too the fun factor. For instance, Brighton College makes full use of its beach access by hosting the annual Independent

School Beach Volleyball Competition. O season, the school hones team skills in its double-height sports hall, but once the summer comes, students head down to Sussex’s most famous seafront for proper play. Brighton is deadly serious in its endeavours – the school is current Independent School champion. The College also has highly active sports clubs in fencing (one female pupil was recently selected for the U17 GB squad in Cade Sabre) and in water polo, where it regularly competes in tournaments.

Dulwich College may not be on the waterfront, but its students also love water polo. Boys are introduced to it as a lunchtime club in Years 5 and 6 – provided they can swim well in deep water – and it’s become a really popular sport, with six friendlies against local opponents each


year. When they get to senior school, there’s the opportunity to compete in all age groups within the Schools League and the English Schools Swimming Association national event. Teams are coached by former international competitors and have been on overseas tours. As it happens, Team GB remains one of the most successful competitors in Olympic Water Polo historically, but the last time we carried home gold was 1920, so there’s plenty for young people to play for.

Like Brighton College, Dulwich also has form in fencing. Recently, it celebrated the achievements of Old Alleynian Oliver Lam-Watson, who was part of the silver and bronze-medal winning GB wheelchair fencing teams at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh honoured a win in the Olympic arena even

more recently. Merchistonians Hammy McMillan and Grant Hardie won silver for curling at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Notably, the women’s curling team led by Eve Muirhead (alumna of the independent Morrison’s Academy in Crie ) brought home gold. These were the only two medals for the nation from Beijing, and so all the more likely to generate interest and enthusiasm for the sport of curling among young people over the next few years.

Merchiston has a great tradition in another Scottish sporting invention, with a highly regarded Golf Academy that enables talented players to pursue their sport without compromising on their education. The school approach is broad – it has a winning reputation in many individual and team sports – and with a clear focus on bringing on all the talents. It is fortunate in its facilities and location, so sailing (at a club on the Firth of Forth) and shooting on its own range and within the grounds are both popular. These are two sports in which Team GB has an excellent track record at international events.

Sports sta at Merchiston and every school work hard to bring on the most able and rightly celebrate each win by a student or former student, but it’s a lesser, albeit vital, part of their remit. All research points to the same thing – if students leave school with an enjoyment of physical activity, they are more likely to stay active into middle and later life.

Medals apart, this is why the rich diet of sports and the quest for excellence in many competitive arenas is a positive thing. After all, most young people hang up their rugby boots and hockey stick when they leave school. But a spot of sailing or beach volleyball on holiday or a round of golf or clay pigeon shooting at the weekend is there to be enjoyed for many years to come.

“O season, Brighton College hones team skills in its double-height sports hall, but once the sun comes out, students head down to Sussex’s most famous seafront”
ABOVE Fencing at Brighton College LEFT Water polo is a Dulwich College strength LEFT Merchiston o ers a rich choice of sports, including shooting

With our warm and welcoming boarding community at the heart of the school, Kingswood offers an exceptional education of depth and breadth. Full, weekly or flexi boarding available, with our pastoral team providing a safe, nurturing and exciting experience for pupils. Visit us to find out more.

Outstanding facilities, an all-round education and endless opportunities await you atThe Duke ofYork’s Royal Military School. Our a ordable full boarding school, open to 11–18-year-olds, significantly out performed GCSE national attainment (2022). Students benefit from excellent teaching, a comprehensive curriculum and breadth of activities beyond the classroom; developing strong character and diverse life skills. Begin your journey as a Dukie today.

A co-educational independent school for nine months – 18 years in Bath A co-educational boarding school for students aged 11-18
Looking forward with confidence Looking back with pride


At the start of every academic year, teachers spend time going through their class lists for the coming year identifying boarders with SEND or medical needs, but I wonder how many teachers also mark international boarders on their class lists? While we should not be treating them as significantly di erent from their classmates, international boarders do have significantly di erent needs from day pupils, so teachers should know who in their class is boarding. Boarders are, by their very nature, living away from home, sometimes for the first time, sometimes thousands of miles from family. Homesickness is real and, indeed, so is culture shock, but it isn’t just these aspects of boarding which we need to be aware of in order to support boarders. Many boarders come from other cultures, so UK boarding schools should not expect them to suddenly ‘become British’ on arrival – pop them in a uniform, feed them a roast every Sunday, and they’ll fit in, right? In fact, di erent cultures have di erent customs, ways of being and thinking – also di erent

concepts of shame – and it is important we spend time understanding this.

Some boarders have poor mental health. This may be for several reasons, but often the source of the issue involves family – parental pressure or the inherent need a young person feels to ‘prove themself’ or make the family proud. In many cases, there will be real barriers when it comes to accessing available support. Boarders often don’t wish to engage with school support services, preferring online and mother-tongue counselling. Usually, they will then pay inordinate rates for insu cient remote support, typically without telling their school. Post-pandemic, it is more crucial than ever that we encourage boarders to access appropriate support within and outside the protective environment of their school.

Normalising support is of paramount importance. Signposting boarders to the counsellor, independent person, house sta , medical centre, and external agencies through as many methods as possible can help them to begin to consider accessing support where they feel they need to do so.

It is never useful to attempt to convince a boarder to access support – much better to coach them in the direction of making their own decision to take that critical first step.

I find the ‘Care / Understand / Help’ model of pastoral care helpful in such cases. I have no doubt that boarding sta care deeply about their young people, and they’re very able to identify issues and to signpost boarders towards

support. However, it is worth focusing on the ‘Understand’ part of the process.

Spending time with boarders to talk about their home cultures and identify underlying issues ultimately helps the young people find appropriate support. Not all people in a period of crisis need professional counselling, and it is too easy to simply refer the problem on.

Boarding sta are not mental health professionals, nor should they be expected to be. However, when they spend a little more time listening to and understanding a boarding student, not only will the young person gain more, but these moments of truth often become the most important and rewarding moments for anyone lucky enough to be working in boarding.

“Post-pandemic, it is more crucial than ever that we encourage boarders to access appropriate support”
The Vice Principal (Boarding) at MPW London on why we must consider the specific needs of international boarders in order to deliver the right pastoral support
JOHN J TAYLOR Vice Principal (Boarding), MPW London BELOW Students at MPW London

Wizard PLAY

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

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

century sporting ideals around inclusivity, quidditch would be a good place to start.

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

Chile, Australia, Argentina, Turkey and several European countries. There are emerging and associate members spanning the globe, from Japan and Pakistan to Uganda and Vietnam. As a full member, QUK participates in rule making and changing – ensuring the game works as it continues to grow.

Beck Throup, QUK Media Director, began playing the sport while she was at University of Bristol and believes the secret of its growth is the community spirit involved. "It's a well-loved sport – a small


community of a few hundred players in the UK, but it's such a tight community," she says. It may be diminutive but it's gathering momentum and QUK recently hosted its national championships involving a community league for the first time, alongside the university league.

When you consider that a full team complement is 21 players (due to the number of substitutions), you get the sense of what an inclusive activity this can be. Also, and this is vital, it's mixed sex and with scope for every body type. "There's no stereotypical quidditch player. I'm five foot two and then you've got six-foot rugby lads – you've got so many di erent ways of playing the game and so many tactics involved that it always ends up fairly evenly matched. The only thing that tends to a ect the outcome is if one team doesn't have its full roster of 21 players."

Throup was drawn in, like a lot of people, by the idea of playing a game she'd read about. "I did love the Harry Potter books and I met the captain of the quidditch team at a party and I promised I'd come to training – and about a year later I showed up!" She enjoys the fact that this is a game

of equals. "That's important to us to a degree where it's actually in the international rule book. We have a Gender Rule, where you can only have four people of any one gender on the pitch at any one time. Referees and o cials are made aware of all the players on each team's gender for when they are subbing on and o ." This ensures a balance of weight and strength or, as Throup puts it: "You don't have a team of seven rugby lads on the pitch at any time".

QUK is building a youth outreach programme to work with younger players – including through schools who want to organise games or taster sessions. There are also, curiously, a fair few enquiries from stag and hen parties who want something di erent. "There's a lot of goodwill," says Throup. "Even when people retire from play a lot of them stick around in the community and volunteer, as well as coming to tournaments. These volunteers are essential to running the sport."

Watch a game in play, and you can see why people stick around – there's a lot happening on the pitch. "It's essentially a cross between rugby, dodgeball and wrestling," says Beck Throup. "It's great fun to watch." There's enough complexity in quidditch to keep those who love rules in clover, while those who don't will still find it thrilling, if mystifying. With seven

players on each team in play at any time, the aim is to outscore opponents by getting the qua e (a volleyball) through one of three opposition hoops. Each team defends their own hoops with tackles and bludgers (dodgeballs). The game ends when the winning team has a legal catch on the snitch (a neutral player, who enters play 15 minutes in wearing what is e ectively a tennis ball in a sock attached to the back of their shorts) or when one team has a 30-point lead. You can understand why students love it: fast, fun and a bit wacky – you play while holding what is e ectively a broom handle between your legs in homage to the fictional game. While quidditch is, at 17 years old, a newcomer, it's looking ahead. One current discussion centres on whether the name should be changed. "As we're moving away from 'oh there's that sport in the Harry Potter books', it will be interesting to see where we go," says Beck Throup. A two-year goal for QUK is to get quidditch recognised here as a sport. So, next stop the Olympics? Beck Throup believes there's a fair way to go yet. But then again, 30 years ago no one would have bet on skateboarding or BMX earning Olympic stripes. For quidditch fans everywhere, there's everything to play for – and they're also having a wizard time.

“There's a lot happening on the pitch in quidditch – It's essentially a cross between rugby, dodgeball and wrestling”
ABOVE Warwick vs Oxford at the national championships BELOW Liverpool and Manchester fight it out at the hoop


Explore an award-winning education for your son.

Visit or get in touch with our Admissions Team for an informal conversation at

Boarding and day for boys aged 7-18

Bedford School is part of the Harpur Trust

Co-ed confidence

Communication is an essential instrument when it comes to developing confident and compassionate young adults. In striving to equip our boarding and day pupils with the skills they need to thrive in life, one of the most important things we can teach them is how to be good communicators themselves.

We communicate in every aspect of our lives, with everything from talking to our friends about our weekend plans to asking for help on a question we do not understand. At Oakham, we provide an education where pupils learn to think for themselves and develop their own strong moral compass. In doing so, they are shown how to practise care and empathy, develop the courage to stand up for what is right, and listen to one another.

Co-education and the diversity of ideas

experiences of how learning in this environment has helped them to develop into more confident adults.

and opinions shared among the sexes plays a vital role in this. It not only allows girls and boys to live, work and grow up side by side, but also to learn from each other whilst appreciating their strengths and weaknesses, and enjoying each other’s company.

As one of the first independent schools in the UK to become fully co-educational in 1971, we have seen countless benefits and successes from this legacy. Throughout the milestone celebrations, we have witnessed many Old Oakhamians and sta , as well as current pupils, share their

To quote the then Headmaster John Buchanan himself: “A school should be co-educational, because education must prepare for life”. For me, this is an absolutely vital message, as co-education gives pupils a truly rounded education, with boys and girls living and learning together, and then taking that learning with them. Given the fact that men and women are constantly in contact with one another throughout all stages of their lives, it’s important that they have the communication tools to build professional and personal relationships and be confident in doing so.

Looking back at when co-education was introduced, Old Oakhamian Jonathan Stevens (’79), said: “Whilst it was a very di erent time, with shyness and cultural di erences

to overcome, this awkwardness certainly didn’t last long, and everyone adjusted very quickly. We were all very proud to be part of a forward-thinking School".

As we delve into the history of the School, it is also important that we keep a focus on what lies ahead and consider how co-education can benefit future pupils. Outstanding pastoral care and a well-rounded, crosscurricular education shapes pupils into confident, grounded and responsible adults. Reflecting on her own experience of co-education, current Year 13 pupil Grace commented on the benefits that come from this environment. “I think that it’s refreshing to be able to meet with di erent people with di erent perspectives in order to achieve a truly collaborative environment, in which you can experience what everyone has to o er.”

HENRY PRICE Headmaster Oakham School
Oakham School Headmaster Henry Price discusses how a co-educational environment can help pupils develop as confident communicators
“Co-education gives pupils a rounded education, with boys and girls living and learning together”
ABOVE Students at Oakham School


Starting a business is always a gamble, but when you're bringing new food concepts to market it takes vision to step o the 'safe' path. We catch up with two entrepreneurs who have done just that

RIGHT Uppingham alumna Freya Twigden (pictured left) developed Fix8 because of her passion for kombucha

The UK needs more entrepreneurs and food o ers a rich diet of possibilities. But it’s also one of the toughest markets to enter. Take the journey of Uppingham alumna Freya Twigden, creator of the kombucha drink brand Fix8. While she describes her food innovation as a “happy accident”, it took rather more than her modest description would suggest to bring it to our shelves.

Freya moved on from Uppingham to study Politics at Edinburgh and envisaged she would head down a similar professional route to her peers and siblings. With her four-year degree pathway there was

a year abroad. There was Georgetown, Washington on the menu (she describes that as dream spot for every Politics student), but she waivered when Shanghai was also o ered. Shanghai won and the Fix8 story started. “I had a lot of free time in Shanghai and became interested in Chinese medicine,” says Freya. She was introduced to a home-brewed version of kombucha – often described in the Far East as the tea of immortality – by her Chinese doctor. She quickly became hooked. Returning to the UK, Freya couldn’t find anything approaching this drink

she so loved and began to do her own research. While her friends were watching Netflix she was reading manuals about fermentation. It became something of a joke as she always had things brewing under her desk. Indeed, it was a friend who first suggested she should really take her homebrew further. Travel followed on from university and the research continued – including an informative spell working

“Now Fix8 is arriving in Waitrose stores, a pretty good outcome from an under-the-desk kombucha experiment”

in a pickle shop in Berkeley, California.

Freya describes the Fix8 journey as “one foot in front of the other”, and also says she had no idea at the outset of the hard work involved in getting to market. “But I was passionate about the drink and that gave me the energy to move forward.” This story has a pretty amazing outcome for, after a fair bit of pivoting on business direction (launching in the chiller cabinet in glass bottles then switching to ambient cans, for example), Fix8 began to gain traction. It has expanded from independent delis and restaurants to Whole Foods Market and Ocado. Now Fix8 is arriving in Waitrose stores – by anyone’s lights that’s a pretty good outcome from an under-the-desk brew experiment.

Freya Twigden is not resting on her laurels. She has more delicious and healthy products planned next year. Her advice to

other would-be entrepreneurs is that there is no formula for success. She does say you need to believe in your product and have a combination of: “passion and persistence”. Thomas Constant, an alumnus of Hurst College, is another food entrepreneur to watch – although The Bug Factory products are currently for a non human food market. His exploration of insect food sources started out as a project at Loughborough University, where he was studying Industrial Design & Technology. He was thinking about protein insecurity and wanted to work up ideas for empowering individuals to grow their own insect protein at home.

After he graduated and returned from travelling Thomas says he applied for lots and lots of jobs. By coincidence, on the very day he was o ered a great role at a

design agency in Surrey, an opportunity came up to return to Loughborough’s Business Incubator, be paid a grant and pursue his ideas. He headed to Loughborough.

Like Freya Twigden, Thomas’s concept went through di erent stages. Initially, he thought about bugs for human consumption, but soon concluded we aren’t yet ready (although mealworms are, apparently, delicious grilled or fried). He decided instead to tap into pet lovers’ quest for the very best – his bugs are fresh, nutritious, sustainable and loved by wild birds, poultry, reptiles and fish.

The prototype trays were made by him –3D printed in a small room, an exercise he describes as very hot and very hard work – and Kickstarter funding helped test them. Now he and his small team are bringing The Bug Factory products to a much bigger market. Every aspect of the products has been designed to be sustainable in a closed loop system. The mealworm growing pods are made and distributed in Britain using plastics recycled from old fridges and freezers. The mealworms grow in abundance, their frass (excrement) makes a superb plant food, and the units are small enough to stow just about anywhere and be topped up with your vegetable and fruit leftovers.

Like Freya Twigden, Thomas Constant recalls watching peers climb on a solid career ladder with a twinge or two – he says it caused a certain amount of “self-pressure”. He counts himself lucky to have had such support from those around him, including family.

He does point to one clear advantage of embarking on the bold entrepreneur’s path fresh from school and university. “There are very few other times in your life when you can take these risks.” and

“The Bug Factory taps into pet lovers’ quest for the best, with fresh and nutritious protein loved by wild birds, poultry, reptiles and fish”
ABOVE The Bug Factory began life as a university project BELOW Hurst alumnus Thomas Constant


Design Technology


Northwood Senior

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

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


Framlingham College

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


What makes Design Technology so brilliant?

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

JB: It is the most liberating, empowering subject – students gain more than just making skills, they also develop creative thinking skills, genuine autonomy, and ownership of their learning journey.

What made you choose it?

AC: The opportunity came, and I grabbed it with both hands. DT is creative, technical, challenging. Seeing a pupil’s ideas coming to life and guiding them is hugely rewarding.

JB: I love the freedom and variety. Every lesson brings new challenges and ideas – all to be solved or realised by exploring and experimenting. A studio of ten to 15 students all working on completely di erent projects is so engaging.

And transferable skills and knowledge?

AC: Skills of problem-solving, collaboration and evaluation. Knowledge of material


properties or technology can be learnt along the way. A flexible mindset and the ability to see opportunities in the ‘mistakes’.

JB: Students practise the design process –the ability to identify problems, research, plan, create and reflect. This translates well in any area of study or industry and enables them to apply their skills with creativity and confidence in other contexts.

What pathways does it open?

AC: There are too many to list here. As a STEM subject they can move into design, engineering, or CAD (computer aided design). Careers are as diverse as fashion designer,


The RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is meeting point for designers, makers and problem solvers.

rocket scientist, branding designer, architect. packaging or furniture designer and structural engineer. The broader importance of DT lies in helping pupils to think laterally and creatively and work in teams –important skills for the modern workplace irrespective of what you end up doing.

JB: Design is everywhere, now more than ever. Equipped with creative skills and selfe cacy, pupils are advantaged in careers ranging from engineering and architecture, to design for film and TV and UX.

Two things students might not realise Design Technologycovers

AC: GCSE DT is not just ‘making.' A large proportion is theory, where you can apply knowledge from other STEM subjects – and you don’t need to be able to draw! If you can get your ideas across to engage someone else, then that’s all you need. Computers and Visualisers are used in industry to help with this.

JB: The Climate Crisis and social issues like inclusion – Design Technology graduates will be the ones to solve these problems in the future, I hope!

3 FAMOUS DESIGN GRADUATES: Sir James Dyson, Jony Ive, Stella McCartney 5 STUDY HOTSPOTS: Royal College of Art, UAL, Dundee, Plymouth, Loughborough
“Careers are as diverse as fashion designer, rocket scientist, branding designer, architect. packaging or furniture designer and structural engineer”


Recently, there was an article by the BBC on how physics is seen as a maledominated industry. As a female teacher working in STEM, it is shocking to think that in today’s world there is still such a gender divide in our schools and in the profession itself.

I am sure many will think back to their time in science lessons, and most will recall that their teachers were male. Thankfully, I am proud to say that this is not the case in my current role as Head of Physics at Royal Hospital School – where 50% of the subjects are led by women.

However, the BBC article certainly highlights the lack of female representation in science and will make many women reflect on what it truly means to be a female working in STEM. For me, it is important to use my role to face this lack of representation and push the next generation to see science as genderless.

For those schools looking to increase this figure, it is imperative to have a topdown approach to gender-stereotyped subjects, with strong female teachers promoting the message that STEM subjects are for everyone. It is also important for male teachers to be champions of women in science to create a unified and inclusive message.

There is also a huge absence of women scientists within the national curriculum and this is something that can be changed. We want to see Curie, Meitner, Johnson, Burnell and Somerville named to ensure some gender balance, and this is something as teachers we can start mentioning within the classroom.

It is also important to face these topics head on with the next generation of talent and debate the implications of the number of women going into science and other STEM subjects.

The overwhelming majority of Year 11 physics pupils at Royal Hospital School feel that the BBC article was a true reflection of their perception of the subject – and that’s despite having female physics teachers standing in front of them. Some pupils said they had found a love for the subject and wanted to continue the subject at A level, hoping to be part of the change. Others spoke

openly about how they felt they would be perceived as ‘di erent’ if they chose to study physics and maths further, which was why they had decided to go with other subjects for A level.

The debates we have in the classroom are incredibly important, as the sector has notably faced challenges in the uptake of women in STEM subjects. By understanding the viewpoints of pupils and responding with positive examples, we can open their eyes to how they can help change that stereotype. This, in turn, will help create the next generation of talent in science.

If STEM teachers can become unified and work to counteract the messages from wider society by raising awareness of the achievements of female scientists with students – also creating more positive role models for girls to aspire to in the future – then surely we stand a good chance of changing these shocking statistics.

“It is imperative to have strong female teachers promoting the message that STEM subjects are for everyone”
The Head of Physics at Royal Hospital School on why we need more female STEM teachers and role models to inspire girls and young women
KERRIE FINLEY Head of Physics Royal Hospital School
ABOVE Pupils at Royal Hospital School
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Sporting SUCCESS

For every school in the land, there are challenges in getting sports education right. On the one hand, competitiveness and sporting success, and on the other ingraining the habits of healthy activity in all young people by delivering sports they love enough to continue after school. St Columba’s College in St Albans has a third – its transition to full co-education means sport here now encompasses stretch and challenge (and fun) for boys and girls aged 4 to 18.

Every challenge is also an opportunity and, with a substantial investment programme in facilities, there are exciting times ahead. Director of Sport Ed Lowe says: “Our vision here at St Columba’s is to provide a variety of opportunities that engage pupils of all abilities and interests”. The aim is to spread the net wide at first, with a broader range of sports o ered for the youngest age groups, before delivering extra choices and specialism opportunities as they grow. A love of physical activity is key, as is engagement with competitive

sports. “Whilst prioritising the experience, rather than solely the outcome, we hope to also develop positive personal characteristics and values that form the basis of a flourishing student,” adds Lowe.

The upgraded fitness suite and cardio area works for everyone. Lowe describes the facilities as “inspirational” both for pupils wanting to develop fitness and strength for a sports advantage and those who simply enjoy this as a healthy recreation activity. Even bigger news is the ambitious sports pitch building programme, which is transformational. Currently under construction, the stunning new sports spaces include a 4G artificial grass pitch match facility for year-round rugby, football and other field-based sports. There’s also a sand dressed multi-use games area (MUGA), where students can enjoy everything from netball in the winter to tennis in the summer. “The final piece of the jigsaw is a grass pitch suitable for sports such as football and rugby as well as the summer sports,” says Lowe.

While St Columba’s plays all the traditional independent school sports, it is also widely known for basketball – a legacy

With its move to co-education and substantial investment in new facilities, St Columba’s College is looking forward to bright sporting times ahead
ABOVE Co-ed games ensure fun for everyone BELOW Basketball is a key sport at St Columba's

of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the US-based religious order that refounded the College in the 1950s. This authentic slice of American sporting tradition thrives here in historic St Albans. “County titles are won with regularity (usually by multiple age groups each year) and previous national titles adorn the trophy cabinet.

St Columba’s College can rightly claim to be the most successful independent school in the England Basketball competitions,” says Lowe. Swimming is another strength, with talented individual swimmers over the years and recent success in qualifying for national relay finals, both for girls and boys.

St Columba’s is keen to continue its strengths, but that is underpinned with a strong belief in o ering diverse opportunities in team and solo challenges. Fencing, climbing and golf are in the mix – and with notable national-level players. Cross-country is doing very well under the tutelage of sports sta who are former internationals in athletics. Table tennis is growing in popularity and new sports, including spikeball and touckball, have joined the menu of PE options. Lowe says

it’s about inspiring “maximum engagement” among boys and girls.

The girls are, of course, key to all of this, and the sports teaching sta have included traditional and non-traditional options here. “Netball will form half of the winter programme alongside football. With football being the fastest growing participation sport in the UK for women, it is the progressive choice that will bring both engagement and, hopefully, competitive success in the future,” says Ed Lowe. “Similarly, the summer sport options of athletics, cricket, and tennis will harness the expertise in the department and allow for a range of experiences.”

The team are proud that the PE programme they are developing shows no gender bias and are keen to develop as many mixed opportunities as possible. This includes co-ed sports, which Lowe

sees as adding an extra dimension. “In picking football as a focus winter sport and having cricket as a summer sport there are possibilities for boys and girls to play competitively all the way through the College.”

There are high hopes for co-ed success in athletics – including in some of the combined competitions now available.

“This includes the Combined Overall District Athletics trophy,” says Lowe. “It was donated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in the 1990s with the view that St Columba’s could never win it given that we didn’t have girls at the time!”

Now that would be a prize that everyone at St Columba’s would like to see carried home for the trophy cabinet.

“There are possibilities for boys and girls to play competitively all the way through the College”
RIGHT New facilities under construction enable a wide variety of team sports all year round

Minding our LANGUAGES

Modern foreign languages are in decline as a subject choice, but not all schools are following that curve.

British Education spoke to three independents that go out of their way to inspire and develop young linguists

Language teaching at Tonbridge

By most measures, language teaching in the UK is in a parlous state. Half of Year 10 students were not studying a second language in 2021. While Brexit may sometimes gets blamed, this is part of a long-term decline. Applicants for GCSEs in modern foreign languages have dropped by over 40% since 2003. So why don’t more young people learn to communicate in another tongue? There is a perception that languages are hard subjects, so perhaps young people don’t want to risk lower grades. There may also be some confusion about their ‘relevance’ and application to future careers.

Thankfully, independent schools have a far better track record, with approaches that are designed to inspire and motivate young people. We spoke to three schools that are making modern foreign languages a passport to success.

The Leys School

Located in Cambridge – among the UK’s most multilingual cities – The Leys School takes language learning seriously. While French, German and Spanish are on the curriculum, the possibilities don’t stop there. “We also o er the opportunity to learn other languages – for example Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Russian – either via a native-speaking tutor or independently,” says Head of Modern Foreign Languages Maxine Wyatt.

At The Leys, there are specialist language classrooms as well as a fully equipped

language lab, plus tools for independent learning. “Our modern web-based software, Sanako Connect, enables face-toface, remote and hybrid teaching,” adds Wyatt. This software enables pupil self-evaluation and assists speaking and pronunciation. Native-speaking Language Assistants are on hand throughout the language learning journey to help pupils hone their speech and understanding. Recognising the need to inspire young people with the broader possibilities, The Leys ensures added-value experiences. There’s are trips to France, Germany and Spain. While there, students enjoy an immersive range of extras in the target language – including cooking, sport activities, city tours and museum trails Maxine Wyatt says young people relish the horizon-broadening potential and see the value and impact of what they are doing as going beyond speaking another tongue. “Leysian pupils are fully aware of the importance and value of language learning. Every opportunity is taken to discuss national, European and global issues in the target language,” she says. “Talks and debates by outside speakers and in-school experts are also developed.”

James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS)

At JAGS in Dulwich, building engagement is seen as critical. Head of Modern Foreign Languages Cristina Sanchez says it comes down to pupils having a sense of the value of languages for their futures, as well as a perception that these are subjects in which they can have autonomy and self-e cacy.

The school o ers GCSE and A level in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. It also supports bilingual pupils adding qualifications in their home languages – currently these include Chinese, Portuguese, Turkish and Gujarati. Beyond the broad choice, it’s the sense of excitement that sets students up to succeed. “Language learning carries on beyond the classroom walls, with a diverse programme of extra-curricular activities and enrichment programmes,” says Sanchez. “The atmosphere in the classroom induces language learning in a supportive, low-anxiety context, where learners can take risks and make mistakes.”

Classroom environments support varied learning styles, with audio-visual equipment and interactive games a part of each lesson. Pupils can also access digital subscriptions to keep them on top of grammar, vocabulary, spelling, listening skills and syntax. “Students can work autonomously in the areas of the curriculum that they believe needs more practice.”

Co-curricular activities are championed, with residential trips, cultural events and workshops, as well as collaborations with other schools. “The list is long, but the

ABOVE Testing understanding at JAGS BELOW Learning at The Leys School
“Every opportunity is taken to discuss national, European and global issues in the target language”

impact is the same: a boost in motivation and a celebration of the wealth and richness of cultural diversity in our school community and beyond,” says Sanchez.

She adds that JAGS girls understand the wider impact, seeing languages as a skill for life as well as career. “Multiculturality is the norm in cosmopolitan cities, with diversity and inclusion at the heart of many institutions and companies,” says Sanchez.

The added bonus, she says, is that learning languages helps other skills, too. “Learning a foreign language strengthens literacy, analytical skills, public speaking, critical thinking, and cultural understanding. An added bonus is that once you have learnt one foreign language, the subsequent ones are faster and easier to learn”.

Tonbridge School

Tonbridge School bucks every national trend for modern languages and has been described as having one of the best departments in the country. The school notes that its Modern Languages Department sits: ‘physically and spiritually at the heart of the school’. Traditionally, the second most popular degree chosen by Tonbridge leavers is languages or languages in combination with another subject.

The Department is led by Will Law, also Head of French. He is frank about the broader challenges modern languages face in the current UK climate. “Students are increasingly interested in, perhaps obsessed by, a sense of utility. They are looking for routes that will allow them to get jobs, make money, be successful, and that’s understandable.”

The school o ers French, German, Spanish and Mandarin as its key choices but supports students interested in other languages. Italian, Japanese and Russian tutors visit regularly to give lessons and Tonbridge also works to assist other student language interests when they arise.

Alongside all the traditional and modern language teaching tools and aids, Will Law says the department puts as much into the mix as it can to broaden the context. “We deliberately try and stu the topic that we teach full of cultural insights,” he says.

This might include informal studies of films, stories and short texts. They also encourage boys to delve deeper culturally as watchers and listeners, be it sports reports, news or documentaries. “It’s guided by and curated by their own curiosities and interests.”

Tonbridge parents are hugely supportive – often expressing regret about their own failure to continue studying languages –and many boys go on to A level and degree level. (Students here have an impressive track record of acceptance to Oxford and Cambridge modern languages courses.)

A gamechanger for Tonbridge has been introducing additional Sixth Form programmes alongside A level. This means boys struggling with subject choices –for instance, deciding they must focus on sciences – no longer need say adieu to languages. The French DELF, and equivalent courses in all four curriculum languages, count on UCAS forms and can be used in conjunction with an application for a variety of combination degrees. These are also practical qualifications, recognised by business the world over – so rewarding and a boost for the CV. This programme means that, for instance, one third of students starting A levels at Tonbridge this year are continuing with a language – an impressive statistic.

As you’d expect, Will Law and team still work hard to encourage potential linguists to see taking languages to A level and beyond as a life and careerenhancing option. “The transferable skills wrapped up in learning languages are useful in broader contexts,” says Law. “In very few other subjects will they have to construct essays with so much precision and attention to detail.” Then, too, there is the value of languages beyond what they teach formally. “We’ve got quite good at helping boys to illuminate that pathway through their studies. The boys know that if they’re interested, and they stick at modern languages, there’s considerable pay o subsequently – and for their whole life, not just their studies.”

RIGHT Using technology for learning at JAGS LEFT Quick language test at Tonbridge School Will Law, Tonbridge’s Head of Modern Languages
“Learning a foreign language strengthens literacy, analytical skills, public speaking, critical thinking, and cultural understanding”
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Andrew Hammond

What is your background?

I have worked in education for 25 years and have served in both the independent and maintained sectors. My roles have included Headteacher, Deputy Head, Director of Studies, Housemaster, Head of English and class teacher. I have also served as a Common Entrance setter for the ISEB and as English Leader for the IAPS. Prior to joining Hall School Wimbledon (HSW), I was Senior Director of Learning & Community at Discovery Education, leading on professional development.

Outside school life, I have written over 30 titles for various educational publishers and regularly speak on creativity and character education. In my spare time I write fiction.

What excites you most about your role at Hall School Wimbledon?

HSW is a school that aligns with the values I have espoused all my teaching career: namely that we must look at the whole child in front of us and concern ourselves with their personal development as much as their academic attainment. At HSW, we value health and self-worth above everything because we know it leads to self-discipline, which in turn leads to students reaching their potential.

School is the arrivals lounge for life,

and we need to equip pupils with all the tools they need. One component of that is their academic education, but that is just one component – which is why viewing the whole child is so important

What is your academic philosophy?

I believe that rather than asking ‘How smart are you?’ it is important to ask ‘How are you smart?’. HSW pupils make up a lively community of budding scientists, artists, dancers, authors, musicians and athletes and we work hard to enable every child to find their ‘element’ and to feel valued for who they are and the unique contribution they bring to the school. Many pupils will discover talents at HSW which they never knew they had, such is the privilege and pleasure of working here.

What is Hall School Wimbledon’s approach and what sets it apart?

We are proudly co-educational, multicultural and non-selective and I believe

it is our pastoral care and emphasis on health and wellbeing that defines us. I have always believed the mark of an excellent school is the nature of the relationships between sta and students – and here at HSW we pride ourselves on the good humour and care that exists between everyone in the building.

What makes a great student?

For me, great students have a spirit of adventure, a thirst for knowledge and a kind and caring outlook.

From your experience, what makes a great school environment?

A supportive school culture makes for a great school environment. At HSW, our ethos and values are focused on the health and self-worth of everyone in our community. This ensures our culture is kind and caring, enabling our students to feel happy and valued and able to reach their full potential.

The Headmaster of Hall School Wimbledon (HSW) on his background and educational approach
RIGHT Andrew Hammond
“Rather than asking ‘How smart are you?’ it is important to ask ‘How are you smart?’ –we work hard to enable every child to fi nd their ‘element’ at HSW”
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