Absolutely Education Summer 2021

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Magic words SUMMER 2021

Cressida Cowell on reading for joy

Join the


Inspired learning after class

Do our exams pass the test? Expert views from the front line

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


Dwayne Fields

Explorer, TV presenter and naturalist

After spending his early years in rural Jamaica, Dwayne Fields came to London. It was a countryto-city culture shock, but he retained a love of wild places. In the Making of Me, he describes schooldays that never satisfied his curiosity to learn, the journey he took afterwards and his work planning an expedition to Antarctica for underprivileged young people.

Cressida Cowell

Author, illustrator and Children's Laureate

Author and illustrator Cressida Cowell is renowned both for her imaginary kingdoms that children can't resist and for her work championing the printed word. In this issue, she talks about the things we need to do to get children reading for pleasure, and the magical childhood that inspired both her love affair with books and her future career.

Leo Winkley

Headmaster of Shrewsbury School

Born into a teaching family, Leo Winkley attended Cranleigh as a boarder and studied Theology at Oxford. Before beginning his UK career, he had a spell teaching English as a Foreign Language in France – and helping to restore a château. In 2018, he took on the top role at Shrewsbury – named Independent School of the Year 2020. In this issue, he talks about the school's approach to community partnerships.

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We l c o m e

From the



t’s not often that I wish I were back at school – I confess – but talking to sports teachers and leaders for our Sport for All feature (from page 52), I couldn’t help but wish I’d had the benefit of their guidance. I was, frankly, not first team material, not even useful in the reserves, but the cumulative effect on all of us girls “whose names were never called” (in the immortal words of Janis Ian) was to decide the effort of trying wasn’t actually worth it. How different now, with competitions at every level to raise young people’s game and give them the pleasures of teamwork and trying hard. There are even activities chosen to tune into young people’s passions, all adding to a driving ambition in

have a boy-girl take on this at all. She said: “The girls do not see the sports as ‘boys’ sports’ – they see them as sports they enjoy playing with their peers and can be good at”. This is certainly something that we need to support, and who knows how much girls and women might enrich and improve sporting culture if they get something closer to equal airtime. In the spirit of adventure, we take a look at the happenings that go on beyond the curriculum at school clubs (page 34). We have discovered a creative hotbed of wild and wacky activities that inspire young people – from beekeepers to braniacs, there’s a club for all. Of course, the fun is all a part of the broader learning journey, and the value is immense in teaching some of the essentials for life – not least ideas

“HOW DIFFERENT SCHOOL SPORTS ARE NOW, WITH COMPETITIONS AT EVERY LEVEL” our independent schools to help all young people enjoy playing sport. We also talked to sports leaders working with girls for Girls on Top (page 60). There’s no need to reprise the alarming drop-off levels in sport engagement among teenage females, but it just could be that the traditional men’s sports are one route to keeping interest alive. Speaking to Kathryn (Kat) McGonigle, Director of Sports at Oxford High School, as background for the feature, it became clear that girls don’t

around democracy and responsibility. Also in the spirit of adventure, we had the pleasure of talking to Dwayne Fields for Making of Me (page 86) a man I first encountered almost a decade ago when I heard him enthuse a group of college students. He was and is inspiring and proves that the learning never has to stop. In that spirit, enjoy your summer.

Libby Norman EDITOR

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

16 LASTING LEGACY The brilliant history and aims of the DofE Award scheme


20 IN CONVERSATION WITH MARK BAILEY The former High Master of St Paul's discusses his new role with Dukes Education

28 GREEN STRENGTH A community gardening scheme that grew from the Grenfell Tower fire


34 JOIN THE CLUB Wild and wonderful goings on at independent school clubs and societies

43 AUDITION SUCCESS The directors of Music and Theatre at Uppingham on preparing for scholarships

16 senior

52 SPORT FOR ALL We take a look at the evolving world of school sport

59 KINDNESS CULTURE The Head of Shrewsbury on community partnerships



Advice from a mental health trainer to help families deal with issues raised by #MeToo

Football, cricket and rugby are cool for girls – so what's the state of play?

64 ARE EXAMS FIT FOR PURPOSE? Perspectives on the health of the nation's public exams from school insiders

68 A PARENTS' GUIDE TO ONLINE SCHOOLS What remote schools provide for pupils



74 AGONY AUNT Gabbitas experts answer your questions on separating siblings, moving school and UKiset

77 MEDICINE CHOICES The Dean of St. George's University in Grenada on applying to international medical school


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Alexandra Hunter  M A NAGING DIR ECTOR

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34 school's out


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Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell on reading for joy

84 TOP SUMMER BOOKS From empowerment guides to brilliant time-travel adventure

86 MAKING OF ME: DWAYNE FIELDS The naturalist and explorer on his childhood in Jamaica and London

98 LAST WORD Oakham Headmaster Henry Price talks about his educational philosophy



MILLFIELD SCHOOL Butleigh Road, Street, BA16 0YD 01458 442291 millfieldschool.com

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Dig ital Patron

ECONOMICS AWA R D Framlingham College Year 12 pupil Anna-Sophia Heine has been awarded a prestigious economics summer internship at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Anna-Sophia, an international pupil from Munich, will spend a week discussing economic principles and the recent challenges of the pandemic with professional economists. She says: “We will be hearing from economists from all over the world".

“Anna-Sophia has earned one of only 120 places on the prestigious Institute of Economic Affairs' summer internship scheme”


Cottesmore School has appointed Priya Lakhani OBE as Digital Patron to support digital learning. Lakhani is Founder and CEO of edtech specialist Century Tech. Head Tom Rogerson says: “Cottesmore has the privilege of enjoying not only her entrepreneurial spirit, but her vision for technology’s role in education”.

H E Y H AY !

Play cur tailed

Hay Festival’s Programme for Schools was held remotely as prelude to the festival and you can access all materials. Events ranged from science explorations with Robert Winston to a conversation with author Patience Agbabi. Debates and creative writing workshops for 16+ students are also accessible via hayfestival.org/schools

Children are not allowed to play outside on their own until they are nearly 11, almost two years’ later than their parents’ generation, according to the British Children’s Play Survey. The survey suggests absence of adventurous play can affect both physical and mental health. One expert described this as “a gradual, creeping lockdown over at least a generation”.

V I R T UA L MEDICINE Year 12 students at Oxford High School who want to study medicine organised a Virtual Medicine Day as a way to gain insights into this career path in a year when traditional work experience has not been available. The event attracted some 500 pupils from across the GDST and local schools.

“We mistake being able to get lots of information from everywhere very quickly with actually getting knowledge” M A R G A R E T M AC M I L L A N

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Junior lead Kate Bevan becomes the new Head at Notting Hill & Ealing High’s Junior School in September 2021. Previous roles include St Margaret’s, Danes Hill School and Ibstock Place – where she spent two years as head of the junior school. She succeeds Silvana Silva, who is retiring.

NEW HEAD Kelly Gray will be the new Headteacher of Bassett House School, taking up the role in September. Previously Deputy Head at Ecole Jacques Prevert in Brook Green, she also spent seven years as Head of Thomas’s Kensington. Bassett House is located in Notting Hill and joined Dukes Education in February 2020.


Cumnor House Sussex has made two senior appointments. Michael Matthews joins as Deputy Head Pastoral, while Bruno Shovelton joins as Deputy Head Academic, both beginning in September. Headmaster Fergus Llewellyn says: “They bring a wealth of experience, enthusiasm, vision and warmth with them”.

All boarding independent Winchester College has announced it will admit girls into the Sixth Form. The announcement, which was made as part of the school's ‘Winchester College in the 21st Century’ plan, also includes the introduction of female and male sixth form day pupils from 2022. There is a consultation period, with the proposed admission date for the first cohort of female boarders in 2024.

Ar tsEd addition ArtsEd has appointed Sharon D Clarke MBE (pictured with ArtsEd alumna Olivia Hibbert) as a Vice President. Nominated for multiple Oliviers over the years, Clarke picked up her most recent Best Actress award in 2020 for her portrayal of Linda Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

“There are always twenty excellent reasons for doing nothing for every one reason for starting anything” HRH PRINCE PHILIP


“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them” R AY B R A D B U R Y

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Mar vellous Moonrakers Dauntsey’s is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Moonrakers programme of Friday afternoon activities for Year 3 pupils. These include kayaking, cycling and expeditions, and culminate in a five-day Moonrakers Camp in North Wales. There, adventures include a river crossing challenge – a tradition since Moonrakers’ earliest days.

UNIVERSITY PREP Taunton School has seen its first cohort of international students complete a course preparing them for places at leading UK and international universities. Tricey Agbolu from Ghana, Paul Paclot from France and Jarry Wang from Hong Kong have passed the International Foundation Year (IFY) course launched by the Somerset school last year. The three have now received offers from universities in the UK and Canada.

“Students leaving Dauntsey's often talk about their own Moonrakers experiences as a high point of school life”


UCAS choices

Wellington College Debating Team took the English-Speaking Union’s (ESU) Mace back to Berkshire after winning England’s largest schools debating competition. Arthur Grigg, Anjali Darling, Atticus Christie-Miller and Charlotte Grigg won the debate arguing against the motion 'This House regrets the romanticisation of motherhood'.

A fifth of students block degree choices by choosing the wrong subjects at school, reports UCAS as one of the key findings from a survey published in March. Two in five believe they would have made better choices if they had more guidance. More than a quarter would make different GCSE choices and around a third would opt for different post-16 choices.

S M A R T WO R K Impington Village College, Cambridgeshire is representing East of England and NE London for ‘System Leaders – Workload Reduction Toolkit Refresh’, a Department for Education project. The aim of the project is to identify and reduce workload that gives teachers less teaching and learning time and resources.

“We now live in a world where the only thing to have is success, but failure is marvellous. It’s fertiliser" RUPERT EVERET

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Government Grilling


ACS Cobham students had an opportunity to debate current issues, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The event was moderated and led by the school’s Model United Nations team and included tough questions about Brexit and the pandemic.

Oxfordshire prep school Moulsford has begun building a new pre-prep, due to open in autumn 2022. The expansion will accommodate pre-school (age 3) up to Year 2 and provide more space for the existing prep, which is located across the road. The new pre-prep, led by Sabrina McMann, will be co-ed while the prep remains boys only.


Saint Felix School in Southwold, Suffolk announced a partnership with Inspired Learning Group (ILG). The co-ed through school for day pupils and boarders, which is led by James Harrison, says the partnership means extensive investment that will go towards improving facilities and professional development opportunities.

Elaine Purves will succeed Julia Harrington as the next Head of Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, joining in January 2022. She is current Head at St. John’s International School in Belgium and has previously led Rossall School and Ipswich High School. An experienced ISI Team Inspector and a Council of International Schools Evaluator, she began her career as a teacher of modern languages.

R ock on Pupils at Horris Hill Prep are preparing to inaugurate the school’s new theatre with their first major musical production this year, School of Rock. The David Brownlow Theatre, funded by current parents and alumni together with the Greenham Trust and David Brownlow Foundation, seats over 150.

“Ability may get you to the top but it’s character that keeps you there” ST EV I E WO N D E R


“I don’t like speaking about the female side of it but I hope it inspires and helps girls if they want to continue in sport or go down this road” R AC H A E L B L AC K M O R E

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100 challenge

Giving back Gordon’s School near Woking in Surrey has been named a finalist in the Goldsmiths’ Community Engagement Awards and was also finalist in the Boarding School Association’s (BSA) Awards in Best Community Work category. These national award nominations recognise the efforts made by the school in helping the wider community.

Captain Tom 100 was a special school assembly hosted at the end of April across the nation to raise funds and celebrate what would have been Captain Sir Tom Moore’s 101st birthday. UK schools were invited to tune in and take part in the 100 challenge. The event was organised by The Captain Tom Foundation in collaboration with London Marathon Events.

“Find out more about the Captain Tom 100 challenges young people successfully achieved at #CaptainTom100”

Online explorers Pupils at Ursuline Prep in Ilford have been learning how to stay safe online with ‘Be Internet Legends’ 3D Internaut trophy kits from Google UK. Each kit contains a 3D model that has to be assembled by the pupils. In order to do this, they complete an online quiz that gives insights into areas such as cyber-bullying, online security and social media.

Felsted School is running free art masterclasses online, accessible to all ages. The masterclasses highlight four different techniques with accompanying video and written resources. Topics comprise Land Art, How to illustrate like Quentin Blake, Tonal Studies and Nature Printing. They are delivered by the heads of Art in prep and senior Sarah Mitchell and Elizabeth Jackson. Access the classes at felsted.org/art

R U G BY H E R O Old Oakhamian Hamish Watson (2005-10) has been called up to play for the British and Irish Lions in their forthcoming tour of South Africa. He made his mark during the Six Nations, playing for Scotland – also winning ‘Guinness Six Nations player of the tournament’. Hamish got on the path to professional rugby at Oakham when he was selected to represent the U18 Scottish Exiles.

New role Kit Thompson – lead at the Unicorn School in Kew – will join Orchard House prep in Chiswick as Headmaster in September. His previous teaching roles include Twyford in Winchester. He succeeds Maria Edward, who is retiring. Aatif Hassan, Founder & Chair of Dukes Education, says: “Kit’s strong educational ethos and commitment to the highest standards of pastoral care make him an excellent fit”.

“The greatest challenge for women athletes today is the lack of options they have to play sport, and the lack of investment in sport” M A R TA V I E R A DA S I LVA

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The Best of Both Worlds Wells is a vibrant city surrounded by stunning countryside.

We’ve got it all!

Co-educational day and boarding school Nursery - Pre-Prep - Prep - Senior - Sixth Form

Find out more: http://wells.cathedral.school/relocating Or contact admissions@wells.cathedral.school The Liberty, Wells, Somerset BA5 2ST

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Among the many touching tributes to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was the outpouring of warmth about the DofE Award scheme, which began life in 1956 and continues to change lives LIBBY NORMAN

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UP FRONT / ROOTS LEFT DofE Award students, including at Gordon’s School, Surrey. Also shown, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visiting Gordon’s


he Duke of Edinburgh's Award (or the DofE as it is almost universally known) is a life-changing journey for many young people. The outpouring of warmth from its fans – many of whom had been on the DofE Award journey themselves – made it clear what a huge legacy Prince Philip leaves behind in this regard. The statistics bear this out, with over 6.7 million participants and 3.1 million awards achieved in the UK since its inception. DofE has global reach now, with programmes run in more than 130 countries and territories worldwide. Internationally, there were around 1,800 young people embarking on their DofE journey every day in 2017, and with something like 1.3 million worldwide participants in that year. In some places, it is known by different names, but the general framework has stood the test of time and works for young people in all settings and circumstances. It started small, although the ambition was big. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award began life in 1956, with the challenge to young people to: "attain standards of achievement and endeavour in a wide variety of active interests". A less formal description of the DofE's overarching aim, given somewhat later by HRH himself, puts it rather more succinctly and rather well: "It's what I like to describe as a do-it-yourself growing up kit". The Duke of Edinburgh was influenced in the idea by Kurt Hahn, a German-Jewish emigre to the UK, pioneering educator and founder of Gordenstoun. (Hahn, incidentally, was also one of instigators of Outward Bound.) As a former pupil at Gordenstoun, and one who had thrived in an environment

where students were encouraged to test and challenge themselves, Prince Philip could see the benefits of encouraging physical activity, service and leadership training. Lord John Hunt – the Army colonel who had led the first successful ascent of Everest in 1953 – was the first Director tasked with designing and bringing the programme to life. The original design consisted of four sections: rescue & public service, expeditions, pursuits & projects and fitness. Initially, it was known as the 'DofE for boys', but within a year it was announced that girls would be invited to participate. Three years on, the scheme became a charitable trust and the International DofE Award was established in 1988. Over the years, DofE has become a mainstay within independent schools across the land, with universal appreciation of both its testing nature and its ability to bring out the best in all young people and build their confidence for life. And here the focus is on 'all' because the elements that make up the scheme play to different strengths. The athletically minded may love the expeditions and physical challenges, but equal value is placed on volunteering and building skills. It is also

incredibly adaptable to suit the individual. Today DofE Awards schemes in state schools and academies outnumber those in the independent sector. Schemes are run by employers and endorsed by many more – including Google, Burberry and ITV – as a marker of a young person's transferable 'soft skills'. Schemes have been tailored to suit young people with disabilities – in 2014 ao.com employee Melissa Dempsey became the first person from a business running the scheme to complete the Expedition section using a wheelchair. Over 725,000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds did their DofE in 2019/20. Notably, the scheme has been made available to those in Young Offenders' Institutions, enabling young people who have lost their way to develop skills and self-confidence – and take back control over the direction of their life. After the announcement of The Duke of Edinburgh's death, DofE participants and Award holders from across the UK helped launch a new fund in his memory. The Living Legacy Fund is designed to give a million more young people the opportunity to achieve a DofE Award. CEO of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Ruth Marvel explains it thus: " We are also focused on engaging those young people who face greater disadvantage as our impact research shows these young people have most to gain from a DofE experience". Find out more about The Duke of Edinburgh's Award's Living Legacy Fund at dofe.org


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ABOVE A science lesson at Knightsbridge School


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In conversation with

MARK BAILEY As former High Master of St Paul's, Professor Mark Bailey brings top-flight experience to his new role at Dukes Education. Absolutely Education finds out more LIBBY NORMAN


rofessor Mark Bailey became Managing Director at Dukes Education last November, tasked with day-to-day running of a number of its schools. Here was interesting news for anyone with more than a passing interest in the world of independent education. As High Master of St Paul's from 2011-2020, Bailey held one of the top 'premiership' roles. Prior to that, and also for around a decade, he successfully steered hallowed Leeds Grammar through the choppy waters of a merger with the city's beloved girls' high to create The Grammar School at Leeds. Throughout a top-flight career in independent schools, he stayed true to his first love – medieval history – and he's no

dabbler. Having found his muse during his schooldays he went on to obtain a First in Economic History at Durham and then a PhD at Cambridge, where he stayed on as a lecturer and Fellow of two colleges (Caius and Corpus Christi) before heading to Leeds Grammar. He joined UEA in 2010 and, unusually, stayed in post throughout his tenure at St Paul's – he remains there still as Visiting Professor of Later Medieval History. In 2018-19, Bailey was James Ford Lecturer in British History at the University of Oxford (previous incumbents have included V.S. Galbraith and A.J.P Taylor) and he's just published a book on the Black Death. With all of that, Bailey's Wikipedia page leads on the rugby. He was capped seven times and played for the Barbarians. He could have been a cricketer, having played both sports exceptionally well during his time at Ipswich School and beyond. So, the CV has everything you could want from an

inspiring educator and school leader. What it doesn't reveal is Bailey's dry Yorkshire humour and self-deprecating spin. He really doesn't warm to my summation that he's a heavy hitter, preferring to describe his career as: "stumbling my way through". At Dukes Education, as one of four managing directors, he's bringing all this experience to an innovative group stewarding some of the most distinctive independent schools in Britain. His appointment grew out of a conversation with Dukes' founder and chairman Aatif Hassan while he was at St Paul's. School. Governor roles followed and then he joined as Chair of the Dukes Advisory Board in 2018. He becomes an MD at an interesting time because the Dukes family is expanding – now numbering 12 schools in London and five outside the capital. Three London schools joined the fold in March. Then there are the nurseries under the 'Little SUMMER 2021 | A B S OLUT E LY E D U C AT I O N | 21

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ABOVE AND BELOW Sancton Wood School in Cambridge is a co-ed for children aged from 1 to 16

Dukes' umbrella and the summer schools and consultancies offering guidance with university applications and career pathways. Inevitably, the big question is what attracted him to this new leadership role. "Dukes is really interesting," he says First up, he finds the story behind Dukes "compelling". It was started by Aatif Hassan after he founded Cavendish Education (separate, and now numbering 11 schools for young people with dyslexia and autism). Bailey likes the flat structure of Dukes, the warmth of the team but – most of all – he likes the ambition of what they are doing. "Dukes is in it for the long term. It is backed by private investors, and there are a number of stereotypes associated with that, but the reality is that Aatif has an unusually eclectic background. He's a former British Army Paratrooper. He is also dyslexic and

he started Cavendish Education with a particular purpose. It is values led and quality led and he wanted to bring the same things into mainstream education through Dukes." There are other points of difference about Dukes, he says, not least that it is underpinned by the pensions might of USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme). "USS looks for long-term growth and believes in education, so Dukes' institutional backers are not that conventional and they are in it for the long term," says Bailey. "Dukes are also in it for the long term. What they do is identify a great brand, a school that has earned a really good reputation." This has been central to the whole approach. At first glance, the schools appear disparate geographically and culturally – from Sancton Wood in Cambridge to

Knightsbridge School to Cardiff Sixth Form College. Look again and you see a linking thread. For instance, Knightsbridge is ranked among the top preps in the country, Cardiff 's exceptional results make it a 'destination school' for overseas students and locals alike. Then consider Hampstead Fine Arts College's reputation for fostering creativity and Eaton Square's success in growing from a small prep into a highly regarded allthrough school for over 600 pupils. "With Dukes' approach, there's always the question: 'what can we add?'" says Bailey. "We have a very strong leadership programme, also expertise in getting the back and middle office support services absolutely right. We bring skills in marketing, skills in safeguarding – all that slightly hidden


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but important stuff that takes up increasing amounts of time and specialist knowledge for all independent schools." Bailey sees the back office "stuff" as a key issue for the whole education sector. "The pressures of being a headteacher have increased dramatically over the past 20 years," he says. "You are increasingly the CEO of a very complex organisation." It's something Bailey understands from experience. His own respite was to down his (virtual) mortar board and put on his historian hat. "When I had time for me in the holidays it was just straight into medieval history," he says. For parents questioning the welldocumented school fee inflation of recent decades, compliance is one huge factor. But Bailey says there are other drivers – notably swelling pensions obligations. Also, salaries come into play because schools compete on the open market for talent. "If you want a top mathematician or physicist to put in front of really bright kids you go to top universities or to the City and you pay attractive salaries." Compliance, pensions obligations, salary inflation, and now Covid. Unsurprisingly, the medieval historian has the long view on this. "Pandemics accelerate or intensify existing tendencies," says Bailey. "The independent sector in terms of pupil numbers hasn't changed very much, but the tendency is towards fewer bigger schools – they can control costs because there's an economy of

TOP Mark Bailey RIGHT Knightsbridge School pupils

scale." This, of course, has parallels to what Dukes Education is able to do for its family of schools. "At Dukes, we're all working for the same thing – to take some of that back-office load and enable our schools to do what they do best," says Bailey. He is extremely optimistic about the long-term future of UK independent schools and says the international appeal is clear – temperate climate, transport links, stability, culture and the ability to buy into high-quality education. "London and the south-east have always been attractive for people globally who can work in any number of cities". So what about the many parents up and down the land who want the best for their child? During

his years at the helm, Bailey says what parents want from a school has remained constant. He says it comes down to three core elements: "values, results, culture". Timing is all and Bailey's book reappraising the Black Death, published in February and based on his Ford lectures, has attracted – if not a groundswell – significantly more interest than he expected. Back to the self-deprecating humour: "There would normally be zero interest in it outside of about ten university departments. Because of this there is zero plus one". That “plus one” included a guest spot on the Knickerbocker Club's 'author of the month' slot. When the call came it was not, as he originally suspected, a mate pulling his leg but an invitation from one of New York's most exclusive gentlemen's clubs. "Before Covid, telling people you were writing about the Black Death was a conversation killer. But now people are curious and ask about parallels. Thankfully, I can tell them there are very few," he says. After the Black Death: Economy, society, and the law in fourteenth-century England, by Mark Bailey, is published by Oxford University Press. SUMMER 2021 | A B S OLUT E LY E D U C AT I O N | 23

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LEFT & RIGHT Emanuel pupils work with pupils at local schools, bringing mutual benefits

Community STRENGTH

Emanuel School's Stuart Turner and Lisa Irwin describe its partnerships with local schools, benefiting the whole local community


manuel School has a long tradition of supporting charitable causes and helping others in the community. When the school was established by Lady Anne Dacre in 1594, her primary aim was to educate 10 girls and 10 boys for free. Now, nearly 430 years later, pupils have numerous opportunities to learn the value of helping others and the school is well on its way to fulfilling its target of providing 43 fully-funded places for aspirational boys and girls by 2024, regardless of financial circumstance. Meanwhile, our pupils have regular opportunities to learn the value of personal fulfilment in helping others through our many partnership initiatives. Primary Ambitions, the school’s flagship outreach programme, is central to this work. Every Friday afternoon, Lower Sixth students mentor, teach or coach Year 6

pupils from local primaries. While our Sixth Formers are supervised by Emanuel staff, the emphasis is on them leading and running each session. This includes facilitating handson experiments in the science labs, helping younger pupils to write a script and make a film – even experiencing Latin and Roman life through activities, gladiator costumes included. Groups consist of up to 15 children from 19 local primary schools, which have been carefully selected so that Emanuel can deliver the maximum benefit to those who need it most. Since the scheme began in September 2019, over 1,400 Year 6 pupils in our local community have taken part. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the real difficulties faced by many vulnerable families in our local community. At Emanuel, we have continued to run existing initiatives in adapted formats and brought forwards new plans to try and bridge the gap. Primary Ambitions continued to operate through a ‘lessons in a box’ initiative, in which our

Sixth Formers put together engaging learning resources. Our ‘meals-in-a-bag’ appeal, funded by many generous parents, students and staff, saw our catering department put together over 11,000 meals with accompanying menu cards. A significant community effort also went into providing 260 laptops and Chromebooks and 4,400 books to partner schools. We have just launched our ‘Ascent’ programme, Saturday morning sessions for local Year 5 children who are failing to meet national standards in literacy and maths. Curriculum-linked sessions in core subjects and interactive sessions in science, sport and the arts will be taught by Emanuel staff and supported by Emanuel students. Our Saturday summer school will enable local children to catch up, to solidify knowledge and skills, and build confidence. Further initiatives for GCSE revision clinics and a Sixth Form tuition and university coaching schemes are in the pipeline. Due to the community network around Emanuel and the wisdom and advice from our partner schools, we continue to do everything we can to boost social mobility in the area and drive our founder’s aims in the 21st century.

ST UA R T T U R N E R Deputy Head Emanuel School emanuel.org.uk SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 25

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EMPATHY BOOST Damian Todres of Wells Cathedral School says that Drama may hold the key to unlocking both learners' empathy and their ability to rise to the challenges of tomorrow


onsider the experience of being a child in the 21st century: tentatively exploring ‘who I am’ through the glaring lens of relentless social media feeds, with the emotional burdens of connectivity, commentary and unprecedented self-comparison. Add to this the worries of climate change, perpetual political upheaval and the arrival of a game-changing global pandemic. How can our young people be better prepared to cope in such a world? An indication of this direction of travel can be seen in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, where we see employers prioritising 'creativity' and 'emotional intelligence' as capabilities they wish to see in their recruits. And here we come back to an old idea: Aristotle’s concept of ‘phronesis’, or ‘practical wisdom’. This is intelligence gathered from practical action and creativity that ultimately informs how to ‘be' in the world. Concerned with not only the 'head' (what to know), but crucially with the 'hand' (how to act), as well as with the 'heart' (how to feel). If the question is how we provide opportunities to facilitate practical wisdom and emotional intelligence in our schools, I

“Drama utilises the universality of human experience to imaginatively uncover shared connections – developing perspectives between 'self' and 'other”

ABOVE Showtime at Wells Cathedral School

believe that Drama is a compelling answer. Through characters from other times and places, Drama utilises human experience to imaginatively uncover shared emotional and personal connections. It is able to further develop perspectives between 'self' and 'other' due to its inherently social and collaborative modes of working. Empathic thinking and behaviour are encouraged through a consideration of multiple perspectives. During this iterative process, creativity and imagination help to establish a transformative space of possibility that supports far-reaching benefits such as kindness, healing and understanding – qualities that are transferable to the wider life of the child. Drama is a discipline that explicitly teaches what many consider to be one of the most urgent capacities in education: empathy. Originating from the German philosophical term Einfühlung ('feeling into') and the Greek root pathos, it is the ability to move beyond ourselves in order to meaningfully understand the

feelings and experiences of others. This facility to empathise holds profound value and arguably enables the skills of collaboration, people management and negotiation necessary to be a success in modern life. The late and much-lamented educationalist Ken Robinson made an urgent call for empathy – he believed that many of the problems our children face are rooted in failures of empathy. Learning how to ‘feel into’ is a way to facilitate the development of an agile, resourceful and resilient adult. As a Drama teacher, this concern has led me to pursue my own research which focuses on enabling pupils to develop their capacity to imagine the world of another. It is a competency that may help them to adapt and thrive together in the modern world.

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GREEN Strength

Grow2Know emerged from a community gardening project after the Grenfell Tower fire. Its mission is to create a green legacy for the North Kensington community and for young people everywhere


he impact of the Grenfell Tower fire will be felt for generations to come, but in all the grief and anger that surrounds the events of June 2017, there are stories of hope and community resilience. Grow2Know is one among them, and it grew from a simple need to do something positive in the aftermath of the fire. Grow2Know co-founder Tayshan Hayden-Smith can still clearly describe what life felt like in the days and weeks after the fire. “I had been living beneath Grenfell Tower all my life – I have many memories around it growing up. After the fire the community went into shock. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves,” he says. Inevitably, with the national and international press descending in

the immediate aftermath, there was confusion. “You have the community and then you have the whole world,” says Hayden-Smith. He says many in the community turned to art as a means of processing raw emotions, with projects offered locally – including at the Maxilla (Maxilla Hall Social Club). He tried it himself with his son and nephew but it wasn’t the right fit. Then something unexpected happened. “We saw this barren, neglected patch of land and we just decided that was something we were drawn towards.” Tending it and improving it began as the smallest of actions. Hayden-Smith says: “I wouldn’t even call it a decision. It wasn’t as if we sat down and decided: ‘let’s do up this space’. We just went in there and thought ‘oh, this feels good’ – it was our art”. From there, in an organic process, this small patch of common

ground morphed into an informal community project. Local plant shops and nurseries donated plants and the local community started to join in. It was, says Hayden-Smith, a lovely moment during an adverse time to realise what was happening. “Residents and community members would either come past and share a smile or share a conversation and it just brought light to a lot of people’s day. Then you would get some people that would offer their time. They would jump in for five minutes and that would turn into ten, and then all of a sudden they were spending the day with you in this space.” What was also life-affirming was the wide range of people who started to join in. “There were completely different backgrounds and demographics,” says HaydenSmith. He describes the garden as being without barriers, with the majority of helpers being quite young

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ALL IMAGES The Grow2Know team have attracted support from across the community – with all age groups joining in

“You can link anything in life to horticulture so why is it not at the forefront of our education?”

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ALL IMAGES Grow2Know's Morley Heart Gardens is both a memorial garden and a place to socialise and relax

– late teens and twenties initially. Then some community elders got involved, also younger children when the project spread to an area behind the Maxilla. “Every week there would be a different group of people.” There was no formal structure or overarching master plan to these activities – and Hayden-Smith says this made for a conflict-free zone, with a shared activity that pulled down potential barriers between strangers and age groups. “One thing about gardens is that it’s hard to have conflict in that space – when you plant a plant, what can you argue about!” If the project to beautify the spaces close to Grenfell Tower brought positivity to people’s lives in the aftermath of the fire, it also sparked something stronger – the desire to build on what they had already created. Grow2Know was established in 2020 as a means of building a more permanent legacy in order to honour those lost at Grenfell. “It’s important that people remember what Grow2Know grew from – the 72 people we lost that night in June 2017,” says Hayden-Smith. Launched as a

“One thing about gardens is that it's hard to have conflict in that space – what can you argue about?”

non-profit, its board of directors comprises Hayden-Smith, with horticultural might from garden designer and TV presenter Danny Clarke (AKA The Black Gardener) and agriculturist and chef Ali Yellop. Advisors include the renowned and nine times Chelsea Gold winning garden designer Cleve West. The plan is to green up areas of the city, but the brief is far wider. Grow2Know believe that they can use gardening as a platform to enable communities and their young people to thrive. The team also want to promote horticulture – showing its possibilities to the community and encouraging them to have a relationship with plant and produce growing and the land itself. HaydenSmith says that lockdown has profoundly changed our relationship to green spaces, but it taps into a host of existing issues – from food security and green infrastructure to a better environment to foster mental and physical health. “You can link anything in life to horticulture, so why is it not at the forefront of our education? Why is it not at the forefront of our conversation when we talk about our environment?” Projects so far include a small garden at Morley College, a local further education provider. It was built with “the smallest budget” and incorporated a tree planted earlier in honour of Grenfell Tower victims. The brief was to create a space that felt more like a memorial garden, but also a place to relax and socialise

or contemplate in the sunshine. Despite the small budget Morley Heart Gardens is now transformed into a welcoming retreat with a permanent reminder of its purpose via artist Carrie Reichardt’s stunning mosaic-dressed wall. The next and much bigger plan is to create a garden for Chelsea Flower Show – sponsorship permitting. It will be called the Mangrove Garden, in honour of the Mangrove Nine – local heroes who mounted a landmark court challenge against the police in 1970 that highlighted racial injustice. Through the garden the team at Grow2Know hope to bring resources back to the local community and also educate young people about an important Black history and civil rights milestone for London and the UK. More than that, they would like to open up the possibilities of gardening to young people from all backgrounds and all environments. “If children see people who look like them doing something amazing, then hopefully they will take some inspiration from that,” says Hayden-Smith. “We need to educate our young people so that they can come up with solutions to the problems we’re facing, and also come at things from a more creative standpoint. Greening up London is very much part of that – if we can do it here, where it’s so built up, we can do it anywhere.” Visit grow2know.org.uk

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the CLUB

From drama to beekeeping, science to DJ skills, our independent schools are full of brilliant clubs to take learning further. We set out to find out more about what’s on offer and why clubs are so important

BELOW Club fun at Eaton Square Schools

Eaton Square Schools

RIGHT St Columba’s pupils enjoy exploring


here are a total of 51 clubs (at last count) at Eaton Square Schools, with a dizzying array of activities to keep young people engaged with learning and help their social development. “Music Technology / DJ Club is probably our most novel offering, but there really is something for everyone,” says Eaton Square Prep School Headmistress Trish Watt. Sports enthusiasts can join ballet, karate, fitness fun and athletics – or fine-tune their skills in sports they already play and love. Creative clubs are also popular, with drama and drawing clubs giving children the opportunity to take classroom interests further. “We run a host of academically-focused clubs, such as Maths Brain Builders, Coding and STEM and – for the more able learner – invitation-only Think Clubs, which stretch the children and get them to think outside of the box,” says Trish Watt. Club settings are a useful way to help children build exceptional skills in a different way – the school’s Scholars’ Classes help prepare for senior school scholarships, while elite squads aim higher in swimming or chess. Busy

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“Clubs are a great way of instilling the lifelong values of ownership, service and empathy” working families appreciate the daily Homework Club – a quiet space to help children get work done so home becomes about quality time. When it comes to deciding on a new club, children set the agenda. “It all starts at the all-important Student Council Meeting,” says Trish Watt. “Our Student Council Representatives – a pupil from each class – speak to other children from the wider student body and share ideas in their weekly meetings. If a new club has been suggested and we feel it has traction, we will add it to the roster.” Eaton Square believes a thriving club scene brings multiple pupil benefits. “Prep school is all about discovery. It’s about discovering who you are, what you like and what you are good at. Clubs allow children to do that in the most remarkable way,” says Trish Watt. As children grow, there tends to be a narrower selection of activities – largely because they have now found the things they love and are busy honing their talents. This, too, enables young people’s social and emotional development. “This early taste of democracy and playing an active role in a wider community is of great value. Clubs are a good way of instilling the lifelong values of ownership, service and empathy – all of which happily coincide with our own School values.”

specialist clubs in areas such as fencing and golf. Arts and crafts sit comfortably alongside construction and Warhammer. Logical thinkers stretch their minds in science, computer or brainiac clubs, and with a plethora of drama – including a LAMDA club – and specialist music clubs. “The Bell choirs are a unique part of the school, and they perform regularly in school concerts and annually at the College Carol Service in St Albans Cathedral,” says Mark Turpin. In the Senior School, clubs focus on sporting, cultural, academic and pastoral aspects. “There are over 60 clubs to get involved with, and the cornerstone of extra-curricular clubs and student formation is the SHAPE programme – the weekly clubs timetable covering service, House, academic, practical and extra-curricular activities,” says Joe Tatham, Assistant Head for Student Formation. Pupils are closely involved in the

creation of new clubs – LAMDA and Science Crest Award being two recent examples where students have been initiators. “With girls joining the school over the next few years as the school moves to co-education, new sports and clubs will be driven by what these first girls are interested in,” says Joe Tatham. He adds that clubs give the older pupils the opportunity to take on leadership and mentorship roles. The school also sees the benefits they bring in forming and fostering friendships and links across the wider Columban community. “The extracurricular activities that students take part in are what they often remember about their time at the school and enjoy reminiscing about at alumni reunions many years later.” Ultimately, says Joe Tatham, extracurricular clubs build confidence. “The children stretch themselves and experience the pride of learning something new, overcoming fears and sharing the camaraderie of friends. This is the essence of adventurous learning.”

St Columba’s College


t St Columba’s College, St Albans, there are over 35 clubs in the prep alone. “The programme of activities changes each term so that children can try different clubs throughout the year, and every child can find something to enjoy and be challenged by,” says Mark Turpin, the prep’s ExtraCurricular Activities Co-ordinator Traditional school sports are a big part of the mix, along with SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 35

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Taunton School


here are 133 clubs happening every week in and around Taunton School at the moment, and in non Covid times over 185 were counted across prep and senior schools. Deputy Head Co-Curricular Hayley Mortimer says these are divided into different areas, including academic support, enrichment, CCF and outdoor education. There is plenty of dance, drama, music, sport and a host of student-led societies – Dungeons and Dragons has just returned to the school club fold. Taunton has an enviable location on the Devon coast, so among the delights the school can offer include Open Water/Long Distance Swim Club and the prep school Eco-Club – apple pressing, juice making and beekeeping activities are included. A uniquely homegrown invention – The Lisk History Society – remembers a former teacher and noted historian at the school with an array of activities, including an annual parade. There’s a very democratic approach to how clubs are established and run. “Students are involved at every step of the process,” says Hayley Mortimer. “The programme is very dynamic and is constantly evolving, and developing every term based on current trends, or socio-cultural issues.” Senior students run many

ABOVE Taunton School swimmers BELOW Taking to the stage at ACS Egham

clubs, with staff support, and also volunteer to assist with the prep school’s co-curricular programme. Hayley Mortimer adds that clubs are vital to the life of the school and the whole co-curricular programme is dynamic, evolving to meet the needs of students and world events. “You can react to global events, support current social-cultural news and allow the co-curricular river to ebb and flow in whichever direction it takes.” One huge benefit of clubs, from the school’s perspective, is their ability to give lifelong passions the opportunity to emerge – and help young people develop their personalities and leadership strengths. Hayley Mortimer lists confidence, creativity, accountability and perseverance as among the benefits a culture of school clubs enables. “The biggest benefit is that this is how a student ‘shapes’ their whole profile within a school community and our co-curricular activities enable an individualised programme for each of them to find their own path.”

ACS International School Egham


t ACS International School Egham, there are over 100 co-curricular opportunities offered to the population of around 500 students. “We mainly split these

into three categories: Challenge, Service and Play,” says Jamie Johnston, Director of Co-Curriculum and Athletics. Challenge clubs give students the opportunity to develop a new skill or enhance existing ones, for example, competitive sports and drama. Service is where students have the opportunity to give back, develop as individuals and build skills required to complete the Creativity, Activity Service component of the IB Diploma. Last year, students developed a whole production of Alice in Wonderland, updating the children’s classic to highlight modern issues – from loss of innocence to the #MeToo movement. “The entire production was student led. I supported them, but it truly was down to the students’ own initiative,” says Sarah Garlick, ACS Egham’s, Head of Theatre & Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) co-ordinator. Jamie Johnston says that creative play is an area that has come into particular focus. The school has introduced ‘free play’ sports clubs where students participate, but have no pressure to compete. He believes the absence of competition with other teams and schools caused by Covid has actually helped some sports to grow in popularity. He says: “Girls football, in particular, has boomed”. Students regularly suggest ideas for clubs and activities. “We do get some unusual requests – whether that’s Marching Band, or Quidditch!” While the decision rests on both staffing and sustainability, the freedom is, says Jamie Johnston, vital. “Playing outdoors is so important for helping children to develop their relationship with the world around them. Clubs can offer an important solution to

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ABOVE AND BELOW Clubs are a vibrant part of the mix at University College School (UCS)

this problem; parents feel confident that their children are in the safe hands of the school and that they are ‘doing’ something. Meanwhile, children have the chance to explore and discover more about themselves.” He believes that post Covid we need to recognise and enhance such opportunities. “Nature walks, ‘maker’ clubs, photography, rock band, disc golf and even kite-flying all give young people a sense of freedom which – let’s be honest – has never been more needed!”

University College School (UCS)


lubs are a fundamental ingredient of school life at UCS in Hampstead. “We were delighted that so much of our co-curricular programme ran throughout lockdown. Some clubs actually became more popular!” says UCS Assistant Head and Director of Partnerships Edd Roberts. With over 100 to choose from, almost every pupil is involved. “The actual clubs vary from year to year and are determined by the pupils themselves. If there isn’t one which suits their interests

they are encouraged to set one up – supported by a teacher of course,” says Edd Roberts. This approach is designed to enable clubs and societies to accurately reflect current interests and help pupils to develop leadership skills. One good example of this is Gender Politics Club. Set up by a pupil five years ago for the sixth form, it has expanded so all pupils can attend an age-specific weekly session. “The discussions are usually led by the pupils and they thrive given this extra responsibility,” says Edd Roberts. The school has seen a huge growth in STEM discussion groups, which generally take place before school. “The Pyrotechnics Club is a well-established society and their annual demonstration talks for younger pupils are unforgettable,” he adds. The UCS Robotics Club, started in 2014, remains popular – perhaps unsurprisingly since pupils still remember the success of the 2015 group, which won a national competition and then spent a week in Kentucky competing against schools from all over the world. Drama and music offer rich opportunities and, once again, pupils are encouraged to set up a group if they spot a gap that needs filling. The salsa band inaugurated by a pupil raised £7,000 for charity by hosting a 2019 concert. There’s also a funk band that Edd Roberts describes as

“remarkable”. Sport has a key role, as you’d expect, with clubs ranging from Futsal to Fives, and there’s an active USC Sustainability Group that has made remarkable strides over the past few years in reducing the school’s impact on the environment in every area – from transport to energy supply. “This group have exemplified all the benefits that a club or a society can bring,” says Edd Roberts. “It contains pupils of all ages across the school, but all contribute fully and learn from each other. The impact this has made on our school community has been tremendous.”

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An affordable Independent Education


07/05/2021 13:32


students assessing which projects can be funded before sending their nominations through to Alistair Osborne. Solid life skills come into play at Whitgift before a new club is even established! For the Whitgift staff, the cocurricular programme is about creating extra excitement around learning and enrichment, fostering wellbeing, building creativity, curiosity and innovation and making the most of every day. “Our students learn to focus on their current interests and we also encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and develop new passions. Things that start by being something done for fun and enjoyment can often lead to success when they work hard and apply dedication to the task at hand – and it is always a pleasure to see the boys grow in confidence and capability.” says Alistair Osborne.

LEFT AND BELOW Whitgift boys can enjoy everything from apiary to a wide range of sports

Whitgift School


warded Independent Boys’ School of the Year 2020, Whitgift School places a huge emphasis on its cocurricular opportunities – with 100+ clubs and activities on offer alongside its academic programme. The school offers plenty of creative outlets in drama, debating and music, as well as STEAM, sport and subject enrichment to enable pupils to take their learning and enthusiasms beyond the classroom. There’s also active education and enrichment on offer, notably CCF and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

More unusual activities on offer include the Apiarian Society, where pupils tend beehives in the school grounds and do their bit for the planet. There’s also a Cooking Club for those who want to learn another useful practical skill for life. Alistair Osborne, the Assistant Head – Co-curricular & Admissions, formulates a plan each year in collaboration with heads of department, but the student voice is central and the agenda is always pupil focused. A student-led group committee discusses new ideas for clubs and activities and, if financial or technical support is required, they can put forward a business proposal to Whitgift’s Grants Awarding Body (GAB). While GAB has oversight on finances, this is a pupil-inspired initiative, with two Sixth Form

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Audition success Uppingham School's music and drama Heads discuss how best to help your children succeed with music and theatre scholarship auditions


t is natural for parents to want to nurture and encourage the talents and passions of their child as they progress to senior schools. Scholarships can be part of this journey and there are a number of key steps which can be taken to help guide a child through the music or drama audition process so that they feel prepared and able to flourish in a new environment. For many parents, the scholarship process is not only an excellent way for their child to gain recognition for their abilities, but also to identify the support schools offer by way of nurturing, encouraging, and growing a child’s talents as part of their wider educational experience. Understanding the criteria that the adjudicating panel will be using to make their scholarship decisions is essential in giving your child the best chance of success. For example, alongside requirements such as a grade level on their instrument of choice, the panel may also be looking for a good working knowledge of historical aspects of the pieces your child will be performing. Knowing such details in advance of the audition will help you to prepare your son or daughter effectively. Schools offering music and drama scholarships will often have an accompanying booklet or information pack

“Set positive, yet realistic expectations for your child – many scholarship auditions will consist of several different stages throughout the day”

which will detail the eligibility criteria for candidates, alongside key information such as what the panel will be looking for and the expectations of a Scholar at the school. It is a good idea to read this in detail so that both you and your child feel you have all the necessary information required to have the best experience possible. Scholarship auditions can be very daunting for a child. However, as a performer the scholarship process can be an excellent opportunity for children to learn coping methods for nerves and empower them to thrive in an audition environment. It also provides more live performance experience to support their portfolio. Practice relaxation methods with them such as deep breathing or how to take a quiet moment to collect themselves before entering the audition so that they feel calm and ready to do their best, but also remind ABOVE A pupil at Uppingham School

them that it is perfectly natural to be nervous. Set positive, yet realistic expectations for your child – many scholarship auditions will consist of several different stages throughout the day, and if your child knows what to expect from each of these stages they will feel more at ease. Most auditions for musicians and actors will require the child to bring one or two pieces to recite or play in front of a small panel, so selecting pieces in which they are fluent – and pieces they have performed in public before – usually gives children confidence to do their very best on the audition day. Many scholarship auditions also include an interview, and it may help your child to consider how they may answer key questions. However, as parents, it is important to remember that schools will greatly value the child who is able to show flexibility and independence of thought in their responses in an interview. While scholarship auditions can be an intimidating and nerve-wracking process for pupils and parents alike, it is important to remember that the school seeking talented Scholars through this process is there to support your child every step of the way and help them to succeed.

A N D R E W K E N N E DY Director of Music

C L A R E H AY E S Artistic Director (Theatre) Uppingham School SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 43


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The Headmaster of York House Prep in Hertfordshire discusses the impact and importance of including ‘Type Two Fun’ in young people’s education

he word ‘adventure’ conjures up all kinds of ideas, from mountains and sea kayaking to building shelters and lighting campfires. All are splendid examples of what some might call ‘Type Two Fun’. Type One Fun for a child might be sitting under a duvet playing on a games console. It is fun, for sure, but it isn’t particularly memorable. Ironically, Type Two Fun is sometimes not fun at all at the time. It could mean climbing a mountain in galeforce winds. The interesting thing is, when you ask a pupil a week or two later what the

“Adventure can absolutely form part of every area of academic study – the build, the lull, the shock, the pause, the reveal”

a way that indoor ones are not. I ask every teacher, outside of the very worst weather of the year, to take at least one lesson outside each week. Our outdoor classroom gives those who like a familiar structure a base. There is not just joy and variety out there, but also memorable educational experiences. The maths teacher who takes a class into the woods and asks them to form 2D shapes using sticks will find the children, months later, still have perfect recall of that lesson. While it is important to ‘scaffold’ adventurous experiences and ensure that the teaching is robust, we must also allow lessons to be broadened and even diverted by something experience was like, they ABOVE A pupil at York that happens in the moment. It could make answer: “It was wicked! House Prep School the whole session far more interesting. I’ll never forget that day”. If you can put in place the right supervision Adventure can also and training, there is very little you cannot be delivered in the do. Our Outdoor Education Exceptional classroom through experiments, storytelling Performers group holds a ‘camp out’ in or role play. Adventure is about exploration January and it is risk assessed to go ahead and the unknown, which can form part down to temperatures of -3 of every area of academic degrees. Pupils and parents study – the build, the lull, value the fact that these are the shock, the pause, the experiences beyond the norm. reveal. Using the curriculum The more you look at the to encourage children to ideas behind these adventures appreciate the value and joy in education – Type Two Fun in science, sport, art, music, – the more you want to ask, ‘If drama and outdoor education, education is not adventurous, will help them to enjoy and why not?’ The child who is experience adventure, as will JON GRAY enjoying an adventurous co-curricular activities. Headmaster curriculum will, by happy Outdoor experiences York House Prep School coincidence, also be doing are memorable, from an their very best at school. adventure-led perspective, in SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 45

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Let's talk


With the ramifications of Everyone’s Invited and #MeToo still playing out, how do we help children navigate the minefield of sex, love and consent? Mental health trainer, parent and former teacher Clare Davis gives her advice

What do we need to do better to protect girls and boys? Start communicating with children from a young age. I spoke with several sexual abuse survivors as part of our Mental Health Chats series on podcast and YouTube and they shared their thoughts on this matter. One of them, Nina Malone, who was sexually abused by older children from the age of six, talked about the importance of language and helping children to express themselves. Nina advises adults to use the correct words with children, rather than euphemisms. We should speak openly with children about body parts, particularly those which should be private, and talk about consent in an age-appropriate way. How, where and when do we talk about sex and relationships? Talk about it as much as possible. Lead by example and show your children what a loving relationship is. Let them know that sex is about developing a relationship through love, not about abusing and forcing yourself onto someone. One place I talk to my children is in the car, where I find they have my full attention. Pick the time and the

place. Help them realise what love is. It’s helpful if schools reinforce themes around love and relationships, including this in tutor time and assemblies. How do we discuss consent? We let children know that no one has the right to touch them, anywhere, without their consent. They shouldn’t have to hug people they don’t want to or do things which make them physically uncomfortable. As teachers and educators, we need to encourage children from a young age to trust their instincts and not simply do things out of politeness. Nina Malone described how she was a victim of multiple assaults and believes it was partly because she did not trust her own judgement and did not want to make a scene. Boys and girls are taught about consent in schools, but not necessarily how to apply it. Boys, in particular, may think persistence – sometimes to the point of coercion – is acceptable. It’s important to learn about respect and kindness – knowing that taking advantage of someone because they are drunk, afraid or somehow vulnerable – is not right. We also need to teach young people that a split-second decision and momentary fun

can have serious consequences, from a lifetime of regret to a criminal charge. Are parents under-informed about children’s early access to and use of porn? My eyes were opened when I attended a talk at my children’s secondary school. The world of technology has moved so SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 47


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Upton House School Based in the heart of Windsor, Upton House is a thriving Nursery, Pre-Prep and Prep School for boys and girls aged 2-11 years. Self-esteem and happiness, we believe, are paramount to each child’s success and we pride ourselves on developing confident and happy children with a love of learning.

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much, many parents may not be aware of all the changes which have taken place. It’s not like buying pornographic magazines from the top shelf – it’s so much easier to fake your age online and find sites where girls and women are treated very badly. There are also video games which allow players to indulge in gratuitous and violent sex acts. This may lead

“We need to teach young people that a split-second decision and momentary fun can have serious consequences”

some children to think this is normal, acceptable behaviour. It is an issue that we are discussing more and more on the Mental Health Chats series. There is a lack of regulation on many platforms and when it comes to exposure to graphic material, young people find they ‘can’t get away from it.’

ABOVE Open discussion of feelings, relationships and respect helps to protect young people

How do we discuss sexual abuse? Children may be at greater risk today as they can be groomed online. But wherever it happens, a big theme that came out of our Mental Health Chats was young people’s fear of speaking out. One interviewee, Derek Bell, who was sexually abused by his coach during the 1970s, kept the abuse secret for decades. But he waived his right to anonymity in 2016. His abuser, George Ormond, was jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of a string of sexual assaults on young boys over a 25-year period.

It is secrecy that allows such abuse to continue. For this reason, it’s vital to create an environment of openness where children feel able to speak out. As both Derek and Nina pointed out in our interviews, perpetrators can be quite charming. We must teach young people the signs to look out for – from someone using their position to get you to do something you do not want to do to excessive gift giving. On a personal note, I wish I’d spoken about sex and consent with my own children when they were much younger, including possible ways to respond in difficult circumstances. It’s time we opened up these conversations with our children. To access Clare Davis’ mental health chats, visit mentalhealthchats.co.uk SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 49


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With team and individual sports firmly back on the curriculum, we look at the good work independent schools are doing to foster a love of games in all their pupils, and build partnerships and networks well beyond the school gates

port is uniquely placed to develop a huge variety of skills in young people. As well as well-documented health and wellbeing benefits, increasingly it is being seen as a way to develop skills for life – notably resilience, perseverance and deeper understanding of the importance of teamwork and cooperation. When it comes to developing young people's skills for life, there are also benefits on all sides in widened access beyond the school gates. Partnerships have long been a strong element here, enabling independents to hold true to their charitable aims. But they also give young people a broader horizon – a taste of networks as an intrinsic part of life. We spoke to five schools to find out how they develop their culture of sport for all.

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urst’s sports programme strives to be as inclusive as possible and we are fortunate to have a campus and facilities which allow for a broad range of activity,” says Director of Sport Rob Kift. With a strong tradition in athletics and major team games, there are also lots of individual options, from golf and equestrian to dance and pilates. “Guided choice is our watch word with most encouraged to play team sport for no other reason than to help them develop those skills and qualities which working as part of a team engender,” he adds. “That said, there is no compulsion – many find some of the more individual sports more suitable.” The school hosts many tournaments, as well as county training and holiday sports camps. Sporting open days draw in local schools and facilities are hired by community clubs. “Our outreach programme sees our more qualified coaches head into local state schools and prep schools,” adds Rob Kift. Hurst is an academy school for Sussex cricket, an RFU coach education centre, a hub for Surrey Storm netball and a central venue for Sussex Hockey. Another aspect of Hurst’s community approach is the Sussex Independent Schools Diamond league, a series of athletics meets.

RIGHT AND LEFT Rugby is a key sport at Hurst and it is also an RFU coach education centre

“We reflect our environment and change, chameleon-like, to meet the developing sporting landscape while retaining our core sporting foundations”

“We provide teams for all levels of ability and interest,” says Rob Kift. Pupils have a rich diet of games via the curriculum, but also activity time that enables them to try or refine other sports. “We try to reflect our environment and change, chameleon-like, to meet the developing sporting landscape while retaining our core sporting foundations,” he adds. Girls’ cricket and football sit comfortably alongside hockey and netball. Triathlon, trail running, spin classes and CrossFit have all earned fans, alongside urban and adventure sports – skateboarding, and mountain biking included. Rob Kift says that inclusion is a challenge for all society. “Body image and fear of failure are often limiters,

and it is vitally important to build confidence from an early age.” When it comes to enthusing both sexes in sport, he says that there’s no question that high-profile sporting events raise participation. “During lockdown, the promotion of netball and women’s football on TV has led to a boom in interest.” He says schools need to take the long view in order to encourage a sports mindset. “Sport and physical activity need to be habit-forming and seen as a part of a daily and weekly routine. The pandemic has, in a perverse way, drawn more attention to physical and mental wellbeing simply because we have been restricted from doing many of those daily activities which we often take for granted.” SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 53

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“Close games are our target across every year group and at every level to give every pupil a positive experience of competitive sport”

ABOVE Classic sports remain part of the diverse mix at Pangbourne BELOW The school consults girls to ensure sports kit gets their approval



ith a site extending to 230 acres, Pangbourne in Berkshire is able to offer plenty of ways for young people to get into sport. For younger pupils, the focus is on breadth. “As they get older we allow them to make choices,” says Sam Hewick, Director of Sport. “They may choose a non-competitive option, however, team games are popular.” Beyond the school gates, Pangbourne works with a range of schools. There are coaching afternoons lead by sixth form pupils and last year’s publicaccess sports seminars proved to be very popular – some are set to continue in the post-Covid world. Traditional independent school sports remain strong, but with varied delivery – for instance, touch and mixed contact rugby are offered

alongside more conventional contact rugby. The school also responds to real-world passions among pupils. “We have introduced football to reflect some of the demands from the boys. We are keen to strike a balance between hockey and football, and allow excellent opportunities for both,” says Head of Boys Games Alex Hawthorn. “Within one games session a week pupils can choose something different, this includes trail running and girls' football and rugby,” adds Sam Hawick. Weight training for boys is popular, and girls only weightlifting sessions have become a hit too. He adds that one important element is staging. “Close games’ are our target across every year group and at every level to give every pupil a positive experience of competitive sport.” They find that, with one or two points, goals or tries in it, students are much more likely to remain enthusiastic. Enabling students to have positive experiences is also central to coaching. “Previously poor experiences can lead to a

disengagement, and it is important to try and change this,” says Sam Hewick. This is especially true for girls – who are more likely to ‘disengage’. Head of Girls Games Pip Sanders says keeping involvement going can be influenced by something as simple as adapted sports kit that is comfortable and doesn’t add to self-consciousness. “I work very closely with all the girls to review this. We have found this can be a big factor in retaining girls in physical activity and sport.” Similarly, the Pangbourne sports team ensure that the culture enables students to try really hard without embarrassment. “We try and make girls and boys feel comfortable taking part in exercise together,” adds Pip Sanders. “This would include being sweaty in front of each other and making that acceptable. Essentially, it’s about making exercise cool!”

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ABOVE St Catherine's, Bramley is a top UK school for sport



irls’ sport may not always get the exposure it deserves, but St Catherine’s School, Bramley aims to redress that – the Surrey girls’ school was placed in the top five independents for sport in 2019. Despite this exceptional ranking, the focus is on sport for all, with traditional pursuits sitting alongside activities such as dance and fitness. “Once the girls reach U4 (Year 9), we also offer a rotational range of sports activities, including indoor hockey, football, trampolining, dance and aerobics, which is tailored to the preferences of each cohort,” says Head of Sport Nancy Moore. The range is increased to enable everyone to ‘find’ their sports. Teams are there for every ability level and the school finds that there’s great camaraderie and support – inspiring the less athletic to stay engaged. To encourage sport to ‘stick’, even as academic studies grow in importance in the sixth form, the team support girls in developing coaching roles –

BELOW Sydenham High says girls need to see sport as fun and for life

useful life skills that also enhance a CV. It’s also about building teamwork, responsibility and the belief that sport is a lifelong activity. The school helps to make sport available to the wider community – local schools use its swimming facilities and sports holiday camps run through the holidays, supported by staff. Girls are also encouraged to look beyond the curriculum, joining clubs to grow and develop new skills. Each member of the teaching team works to develop a specific sport, and there’s plenty of high-level prowess among St Catherine's teachers. For instance, yoga was delivered by St Catherine’s RS teacher during lockdown (she also happens to be a qualified yoga instructor) and sessions have continued because of their popularity. Girls are also encouraged to share the sports they enjoy – Ultimate Frisbee is now a regular activity. Cricket has also been reintroduced. “It has proved to be hugely popular and we now have six teams per year group which is more than any of our local schools!” says Nancy Moore. Football is being developed to tap into girls’ enthusiasm. “We are always looking for more opportunities to offer the girls and work incredibly hard to make things happen,” adds Nancy Moore.

t Sydenham High School, the approach is all about encouraging girls to see sport as something that is fun, inclusive and for life. Headmistress Katharine Woodcock also leads on the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Sports Matters Committee so has particular insight into the ways sport can be made more appealing. The approach is to inspire students to try new things. “This is so important with sport,” says Katharine Woodcock. “It is important to us that every pupil feels that they have a chance of proving themselves, of showing ability and potential and are encouraged to get involved and have a go.” The range of sports is broad – from cricket and football to dance and rowing – and with curricular and extra-curricular programmes. “As pupils progress up the school, we are looking to expand the offering

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“To encourage sport to ‘stick’, even as academic studies grow in importance, St Catherine's support girls in developing coaching roles” to provide the opportunity to try activities traditionally available in fitness centres, such as yoga, pilates or spinning,” adds Director of Sport Jenny Matthews. Activities continue beyond the school gates, with a wide range of fixtures with local schools, as well as events such as the London Youth Games and county tournaments. The school sports ground has hosted sports days with a local school partner and there are strong links with a local boys’ school through Sydenham’s rowing programme. More unusual sports include Ultimate Frisbee and trampolining – both available through clubs – and there is encouraging uptake of both cricket and football. These sit comfortably alongside traditional games. Katharine Woodcock says that when it comes to imbuing a lifelong love of physical activity, schools have a key role to play. “We need to expand what ‘sport’ means to young people, away from just the traditional netball and hockey teams and being purely selection based. Even in these traditional games at Sydenham High, pupils at all levels represent the school.”

RIGHT Swimmers at Millfield School BELOW Hockey at Sydenham High School



illfield has an international reputation for fostering sports high achievers and the approach at the Somerset school is to help children to find the thing they are passionate about. The school’s Discover Brilliance programme lets them try everything on the school menu – and there’s plenty to whet their appetites. “We believe in a multi-sport development experience and avoid early specialisation. To do that, we provide a diverse range of sports and activities from the traditional rugby, hockey, netball to the non-traditional freestyle gymnastics, mixed martial arts,” says the school's Director of Sport Dr Scott Drawer. Millfield opens up facilities for local community use – from swimming clubs to camps, festivals, IAPS netball and football training. One problem Millfield faces – as does every school – is making space to deliver all the new and exciting

activities that are buzzing on social media or TV. Often a new teacher will arrive with a unique skillset, and that’s when pilot sessions and clubs are established to test the waters. Among the recent trials have been parkour and freestyle gymnastics and a mixed martial arts programme is also on the cards. Another element that is being expanded is outdoor adventure, including paddle boarding and surfing. Girls' rugby is already on the list – and growing in popularity among Millfield students. While many students who attend Millfield may love sport, it’s certainly not a prerequisite. “Not everyone loves sport, and we recognise that. The key thing for us is that students are active and that does not necessarily have to be through organised coach sport. There are opportunities for everyone, including yoga, pilates and gym sessions if the students prefer,” says Scott Drawer. “The key thing is to ensure the sporting experience is engaging, enjoyable and fun and this means different things to different people, so we like to keep sport challenging, developmental and motivational. Friendship groups are so important in this process so it’s important to have flexible and dynamic schedules to keep young people connected.” SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 57

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Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate An Excellent rated (ISI) school welcoming children aged 3 months to 19 years. The No.1 performing independent secondary school in the North of England (QE College). Sunday Times Schools Guide 2020

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Kindness culture The Headmaster of Shrewsbury School discusses its successes in the Independent School of the Year Awards


s the place where Charles Darwin learned his schoolboy science, Shrewsbury School has always looked to evolve to meet the challenges of the times. Founded in 1552, it has a deep heritage and strong sense of tradition, yet it also endeavours to remain light-footed and forward-looking. We work with schools and other education settings, health and social care organisations, community groups and charities, locally in Shrewsbury, across Shropshire and throughout the UK. Our culture of kindness, which has a long history at the school, enables pupils to develop an experienced understanding of social responsibility. It is the big, traditional, all-in boarding school with a twinkle in its eye. Fully co-educational, with over 800 pupils from the age of 13-18, 80 per cent of whom are full boarders, we champion

“There is genuine mutual benefit in the two-way partnerships in which we engage. Our pupils and staff make a difference – and they make connections” the individual but also promote a strong sense of social responsibility. Our school motto – “If right within, worry not” – focuses on the internal virtues and character strengths that shape and guide a lifetime. Shrewsbury deals in ‘whole person education’ – an education for life. To be awarded Independent School of the Year 2020, and be named joint winners in the Community Outreach category, is a tremendous honour and a timely validation

of the work we do. There are over All Salopians are involved in ABOVE Shrewsbury 1,300 independent schools up and volunteering and community School pupils down the land, and I know just how service. They participate in much excellent work is done by the fundraising, whether individually, in sector to extend opportunities. groups or through house or wholeDelighted as we are to receive these school activities. Aid is provided for a local awards, it has only fuelled our collective hospital and care homes, the local food bank appetite to do more. This activity is not and conservation projects. There is also work window-dressing. We do it because it is in local schools, as well as fundraising for at the heart of our identity as a school several charities. Students are encouraged that educates children to contribute to lead their own initiatives to broaden positively to the world around them. engagement with our local communities. Community outreach has always been These projects are central to what we part of our essence and during call our ‘Culture of Kindness’. current times we have worked There is genuine mutual benefit to share and collaborate with in the two-way partnerships in our local community. Our which we engage. Our pupils relationship with The Shewsy, and staff make a difference – our youth club in Everton, and they make connections is stronger than ever in its that shape our outlook on life. 118th year. Benefiting the The true purpose of education local community is a vital is not the accumulation of goal, but we also want our certificates; it is about the LEO WINKLEY pupils to leave with a deep development of values to Headmaster sense of social responsibility lead a good life. As our motto Shrewsbury School to make change happen. says: “If right within...”. SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 59

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“The advent of TV coverage of women playing traditional male sports has opened up a whole load of role models for young girls”

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LEFT US captain Megan Rapinoe celebrates a goal with the team during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup match against Thailand at Stade Auguste Delaune, France

Girls on TOP

Traditional male sports are finding favour among girls, but there’s more work required to level the playing field



arlier this year, an Oxford High School Year 11 student called Apolline wrote a letter to a national newspaper questioning why the men’s Six Nations Rugby had gone ahead – despite Covid-19 restrictions – whereas the women’s competition was delayed and shortened. She asked: “Is this so called ‘sporting equality’ that clubs, teams and associations claim to have just for show? Before Covid-19 we were led to believe that sporting women were starting to have better opportunities”. Apolline made a fair point. She noted the disparities in sponsorship and financial rewards, adding: “It is not an excuse for the inequality”. The Six Nations disparity was spotted and remarked upon by many others who care about women’s progress in what were traditionally men’s games. There’s a growing fan base for all these ‘trad’ men’s sports among girls – rugby most certainly, but football and cricket too. They are gaining traction because they are the big crowd pullers, the hero team

sports. So why wouldn’t girls want to play them? Alexis Williamson-Jones, Director of Sport at Sutton High School and Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Consultant Teacher for Sport and PE, has seen the change coming over the past ten years. “I’ve been teaching PE for 22 years and when I first came to into it not many girls would play those traditional sports associated with boys.” The shift is, she believes, down to the influences (and influencers) girls are exposed to now, but also because of grassroots development in the girls’ game. “We always say 'if you can’t see it you can’t be it'. If you don’t have a role model that’s there, how do you know that you can do that,” she says. “The advent of more TV coverage of women playing traditional male sports has opened up a whole load of role models for young girls to be empowered by – it becomes a circle that grows the sport.” Men’s sport still dominates the airwaves, but the women playing these sports – the female heroes – are hugely influential not least because they show a potential pathway. Girls recognise that they might play for school, local team, elite women’s squad or even country. The arrival of female SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 61

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“Our attitude is simple: gender in sport doesn’t matter, what counts is the player’s interest, skill level and enthusiasm”

pundits has also helped, even though there are too many men who struggle to take female pundits, let alone players, seriously. Williamson-Jones cites the impact of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in helping to shift perceptions in a positive way. She says both the play and the belief and stewardship of Phil Neville helped convince many doubters. “That summer we definitely saw a reaction in positivity, in the way it influenced girls to play football. That’s because it was given airtime and kudos more in line with the men’s game.” She has no doubt that it will continue to grow in importance – especially since so many more schools are putting football on the timetable. Williamson-Jones adds that there are important influencers beyond TV. Parents, friends and teachers are vital in influencing girls’ choices. But females also need competition – and a route to the highest levels if they are really good. This is one reason why GDST has established a Select Cricket Team (with a Select Football Team to follow next year) so that girls from across its 25 schools can aim higher. It’s a ‘build it and they will come’ approach, and one that is already proven at national level in cricket. “The sports that got themselves organised the quickest have seen the most benefit. So, for example, cricket got its female pathway sorted really quickly and that’s why they have so many women coming through and so many young girls playing cricket,” says Williamson-Jones. Co-ed preps are also helping to prepare the ground for the next generation of female players. Sandroyd School in Wiltshire recently announced a full transition to co-ed cricket teams to enable its boys and girls to share the field. With an even

ABOVE Sandroyd has gone co-ed on cricket to level the field BELOW Female footballers at York House School

split between the sexes, it makes sense on many levels. Sandroyd’s Head of Girls Games Faith Golding knows a thing or two about taking sport to elite level as she’s a former Commonwealth Games’ Gymnast and she says it’s the logical thing to do. “Our attitude is simple: gender in sport doesn’t matter, what counts is the player’s interest, skill level and enthusiasm.” Like Williamson-Jones, Golding sees the importance of pathways. “Every child at Sandroyd is given the opportunity to play sport with their friends in a competitive environment. Mixed teams demonstrate to our children that they are all equal, they all need to be treated with the same respect, and they all have the same opportunities. It helps everyone understand their selfworth; it also allows us to field the strongest possible competitive teams,” she says. York House Prep in Hertfordshire is also taking girls’ participation in traditional male sports seriously. It began with football, then cricket and now it also offers rugby. “The girls at York House are passionate about their sport and have taken to these more traditional male sports with great positivity,

resilience and intense enthusiasm,” says Head of Girls Games Rhiannon Burr. She sees clear evidence that giving airtime to women’s sport works, citing the Lionesses’ success in France in the 2019 World Cup, after which the Women’s FA reported an increase of more than 850,000 females participating in football. She says: “Increased female sports coverage, leads to increased female participation, resulting in a greater pool of potential female athletes for our National Governing Bodies to support through their elite pathways”. Burr adds that change has to happen across the board. “Ultimately, it is a collective responsibility to ensure equality and representation in sport.” Last word goes to Oxford High student Apolline, who was inspired to write to the papers about the state of play with women’s rugby. Her letter adds: “I am supported to explore all possibilities within sport. Yet as soon as I look out to the wider sporting community, I realise just how much is wrong within the sporting world... more attention to this issue would be a step closer to resolving it”.

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04/06/2021 07/04/2021 10:13 09:09

“The change that does need to happen is that GCSE, A level and BTEC should become separate from Government interference”

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Are exams fit for


Like the first cuckoo of spring, debate about public exams signals summer. But the past year has raised even more questions. We get perspectives from experts on the education front line



Sevenoaks School adopted the IB Diploma over 40 years ago, going exclusively IB post-16 some 15 years ago


ummer means that perennial topic raises its head again – public examinations. Parents and teachers everywhere are forced to consider, sometimes wearily, the debate over how we’re testing, why we’re testing and whether the results current tests produce are worth the paper they’re written on. The past year has thrown up even more issues – and a much broader debate – since Covid stopped normal assessment processes at 16 and 18. What is certain is that this debate has some way to run, but in the meantime we asked three school insiders to give their perspectives on the current public examinations landscape.

“My view is that qualifications are fit for purpose in the UK. The chaos of the public exam debacle of 2020 brought into sharp relief the difficulty of trying to find a fair way of awarding grades in the absence of externally marked assessment, be that examination or coursework. The arrangements for 2021 remain very complicated and difficult, putting even more pressure on schools. My overarching view is that external awarding bodies serve a valid purpose; they offer high-quality qualifications that are marked anonymously and objectively, and are not subject to parental pressure or teacher assessment. It is true that there are, from time to time, inconsistencies in the marking of public exams in this country. However, exam boards do have the hierarchy of markers, with senior examiners checking work and overseeing appeals, and I think mechanisms for reviewing marking are effective overall. In the vast majority of cases, I know that most schools think a fair grade was awarded. One of the biggest challenges for GCSE, A level, BTEC and other qualifications overseen by the UK Government is that these qualifications are too often tampered, particularly when there is a change of Government or a new Secretary of State for Education who wants to make their own mark. Michael Gove’s reforms, in his time as Secretary of State for Education, were

far too radical and ambitious, and left the sector reeling for several years with further amendments since. Ideally, the Department of Education would be a separate branch of Government that is apolitical, where the people in charge are specialists in education rather than Government ministers who, by definition, have a limited tenure. Changes are too often motivated by politics or pressure from the press, rather than what is good for education. The significant advantage of the IB Diploma Programme is that it is run by a non-profit external body, the IBO, and is not subject to the whims of Government. On the contrary, it is taught in more than 150 countries and has changed very little since it was first established more than 50 years ago. Of course, during the pandemic and in the absence of exams, the IBO has also had to think quickly about how to award qualifications and have had their own challenges. The qualifications of GSCE, A level and IB that are offered across the UK are all very well respected by universities and employers. They offer a fair benchmark at these age points and are passports for the next stage of education. We have learned in the pandemic of the difficulty of awarding fair grades in a transparent process without public exams, and for many people in education a return to normality in the next academic year will be a great relief. I do not think it is the time to throw out any qualifications. The change that does need to happen is that GCSE, A level and BTEC should become separate from Government interference in the same way the IB Diploma is.” SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 65


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“The advantage of the UK system is that it provides for both breadth and specialism, and also for students to change their pathway”



Dr Kevin Stannard of the Girls’ Day School Trust previously worked with Cambridge University’s international exams board “The debate about A levels and its alternatives is fundamentally different from that about GCSEs. It makes sense to have some sort of school-leaving qualification, externally verified, that signals a young person’s readiness to progress to the next stage. The problem with A level is that it is being made to serve two very different – even conflicting – functions: as a general schoolleaving certificate for some young people; and as a sorting mechanism for entry to selective universities. Maybe these should be separated, with the sorting (and the attendant need for slicing and dicing in terms of grades) left to the universities themselves. One anomaly of A level is its timing – with results coming after university application and hence the need to issue conditional offers. The move to post-qualification application should be a priority, for the sake of fairness and fitness for purpose. Another anomaly (compared with other countries) is A level’s reductiveness – forcing most students to narrow down to three subjects at an unusually early age. This connects it with the problem with GCSE: without the need to jettison subjects at sixteen, there would be no need for high-stakes exams in those subjects at that point. GCSE exists because many students once left school at sixteen. The school-leaving age is now higher, and this battery of high-stakes tests remains as a relic of past times. Not only does it not serve a useful purpose, it actually forces education out of shape. Time that could be spent teaching is taken up with testing; teaching itself is

LEFT A pupil at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate RIGHT Jesse Elzinga, Headmaster at Sevenoaks School

focused on test-prep rather than expansive exploration; and the vast amount spent on administering the exam system diverts funds from resourcing schools properly. The cancellation of exams last year, revealed the GCSE system as resembling the emperor’s new clothes: GCSEs were awarded on the basis of teachers’ judgements, and it arguably made next to no difference to students’ trajectories.”



QE offers its students both A levels and BTEC exam options “A levels remain one of the world’s leading qualifications for pre-university study. Nationally and internationally, they are recognised by universities and employers as a high-quality, reliable opportunity for students to show what they are capable of achieving. As they are administered and assessed independently by examination boards, the results continue to retain a high level of integrity. In my view, BTECs also provide

outstanding preparation for university, as well as for future employment. Key to their success is their ability to offer an academically rigorous alternative at the same time as developing practical, realworld skills. Not all students are able to demonstrate their abilities and strengths through end-of-course examinations alone. GCSEs provide structure and focus for students who would otherwise be very inexperienced in the demands of public examinations. They allow students to demonstrate ability across a wide range of subjects and at different levels, and the recent move to introduce Grades 7-9 allows for greater differentiation of ability. Where GCSEs would benefit from future review is in the range of options available in English, mathematics, and the sciences to broaden choice. The UK system provides for both breadth and specialism, and also for students to change their pathway. For some, the ability to specialise early is of great advantage in today’s competitive university and jobs markets. For others, the flexibility of the UK education system allows for experimentation, choice and wide-ranging skills development.”

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Small classes and live lessons guided by expert teachers.

Preparing your child for the world’s top universities, and beyond.

Personalised learning that fits around your family’s schedule, wherever you are.

Applications open for September 2021.

HSO.indd 1 Schools Online Ad 210x297mm V2.indd 1 B0281 Harrow

PEUK B0281 Image: ©cavan images

Harrow School Online is a fully online A Level school for young people aged 16 - 18. The first school of its kind, combining the traditions and academic excellence of Harrow School with proven technology and teaching practices for the 21st century.

www.harrowschoolonline.org 04/06/2021 15:35 10:22 24/03/2021

A parents' guide to

ONLINE SCHOOLS Online schools are not new, but Covid has encouraged many families to take another look. Here's our guide to key players


he Good Schools Guide reported that Google searches using the term ‘online school’ rose by over 600% between summer 2019 and 2020. Online schools are nothing new, but two things have thrust them into the spotlight recently: first is Covid, and second is the enabling power of technology (and better connectivity in our homes). Improved technology makes online schooling a viable possibility for many more families. Traditionally, families choose an online school for specific reasons. There are families outside the UK who still want their child to benefit from the British system. For others, there is a physical/time constraint – their child is an elite sportsperson, actor or musician, for instance. The third group choose

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“There are elite young athletes and performers, children of families outside the UK and students who just do better at an online school”

LEFT Online school is now an interactive 'whole school' experience

research and planning, both for technology and approach. The school offers a specified syllabus of Pearson Edexcel International A-level courses in Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Economics and Spanish. There’s also the opportunity to take the EPQ. The ‘super-curriculum’ programme includes taught electives on a wide range of subjects. ENTRY: Sixth Form, so typically 16-18 APPLICATION PROCESS: Three stage,

this option because their child is unable or reluctant to attend physical school for health/wellbeing reasons or simply does much better with a different mode of learning. Whatever the reason, there are some excellent and well-established specialists in the mix. Here’s a round-up of four key players.

Harrow School Online


hallowed British school, Harrow School Online brings together the traditions and academic might behind its name, using online teaching approaches. It is focusing for now on sixth-form learning. Harrow Online’s first co-ed cohort started in September 2020, but the school has been a long time in

beginning with application form and written personal statement, plus proof of English proficiency level if not first language. There is an entrance test and academic interview in each subject applied for. The final stage is an interview with the Principal. FEES: Typically £5,250 per term for full-time enrolment. Bursaries and scholarships available. Includes exam fees. GOOD TO KNOW: Pupils study from home at a time and pace that suits them, joining live lessons with teachers, in small class sizes with peers across the world. The school operates within the structure of a complete school programme, with Houses, extracurricular activities and a Success Coach to help keep pupils on track. Expectations are high and so is support for Harrow School Online students – for both character development and grades. Exams take place in approved Pearson Edexcel test centres worldwide. IT SAYS: “We bring the Harrow experience to our pupils in their homes, developing the motivation, skills and determination of our pupils through an education that involves high levels of academic achievement, a diverse range of co-curricular opportunities and a House system that support pupils in their online education.” MORE INFORMATION: harrowschoolonline.org



stablished in 2005 (making it a pioneer of online school), InterHigh offers live and recorded lessons taught by experienced UK teachers and following independent school standards. Its model of delivery and technology are designed to foster students’ involvement in new concepts and it places great store on immersive, experiential learning and what it describes as 21stcentury skills – including empathy, resilience, international mindedness and digital literacy. This is done via subject teaching and extracurricular curriculum, plus its masterclass recordings with subject-matter experts.

ENTRY: Ages 7 – 19. Non-selective and with rolling admissions. Spoken and written English essential as that’s the language of instruction. APPLICATION PROCESS: Online registration form, with enrolment typically within 48 hours. Rolling and annual contracts available. Also offers ‘Learning on Demand’ bespoke programmes and a summer programme. FEES: Typically £2,750-£5,750 annual fee, depending on age and subjects taken. Excludes exam fees. GOOD TO KNOW: There are progression talks in the year leading up to GCSE and A levels. Support offered through one-to-one tutoring and tutor groups. In 2019, of the InterHigh graduates who applied to university, 47% went to Russell Group Universities. Next year InterHigh launches a ‘virtual campus’ with further enhancements to tried and tested social elements that enhance the student experience. IT SAYS: “InterHigh celebrates the career paths and learning journeys of each student and recognises that each student is as unique as the career and learning journey they choose.” MORE INFORMATION: interhigh.co.uk

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OPEN EVENTS 202 1 -2 2

St Catherine’s, Bramley GSA Day & Boarding School since 1885 | 4 - 18 years | Guildford GU5 0DF | www.stcatherines.info



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Tuesday 21st September 2021 Wednesday 13th October 2021 Friday 12th November 2021 Friday 4th February 2022 Thursday 10th March 2022 Wednesday 4th May 2022

Tuesday 28th September 2021 Thursday 21st October 2021 Tuesday 23rd November 2021 Wednesday 26th January 2022 Friday 11th March 2022 Thursday 5th May 2022

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To book your place, visit our website and complete the online booking form www.stcatherines.info/bookingform

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02/06/2021 12:57


Minerva’s Virtual Academy


ounded by Minerva Tutors, the homeschooling and tutor agency, Minerva’s Virtual Academy opened its virtual doors in October 2020 for secondary students up to 16. In 2022 a sixth form will open to teach A levels. Pupils here follow the British curriculum, learning at their own pace through a mixture of live group lessons, one-to-one sessions and online modules – all with the support of a personal mentor. They join after-school clubs and attend weekly assemblies. Every pupil joins at least one club and there are termly virtual talks by inspirational speakers for parents and pupils, plus optional in-person meet ups.

ENTRY: Secondary level for

Pearson Online Academy UK

virtual meeting with the admissions team and access for a trial of the platform. The next stage is enrolment, which includes a virtual meeting with the Head of Education FEES: Typically £6,500 per year, with monthly or termly plans available. Excludes exam fees. GOOD TO KNOW: Pupils attend live subject lessons, giving them the chance to work collaboratively with their peers. World Changer Projects are led by tutors with special interests and experiences or with external organisations. Weekly Assemblies are about celebrating successes and sharing stories. Weekly wellbeing sessions are designed to develop resilience and mindfulness. IT SAYS: “Our school is built upon four pillars: Virtual Learning Platform, Mentoring, Collaborative Learning and Community. This allows us to deliver a highly effective, personalised education. Our class sizes are limited to 20 pupils.”


giant in the education field, Pearson Online Academy UK brings a wealth of wisdom to the fields of both edtech and pedagogy for online learning. Its educational programmes have been specifically designed for digital learning and combine independent study and LiveLesson sessions. It is designed for ambitious students who want a high-quality personalised British education that can fit around their lifestyle. Exams take place in approved Pearson Edexcel test centres worldwide.

ENTRY: Secondary level for ages 14-18. APPLICATION PROCESS: Applications

ages 12-16. 16+ from 2022. APPLICATION PROCESS: Online

‘register interest’ form prior to a

MORE INFORMATION: minervavirtual.com

ABOVE Coaching and personal tutors help students stay engaged

are accepted throughout the school year via an online application form, with dedicated admissions advisors to help with the admissions process. Applicants have an ‘Admissions account’ to upload documents. Upon approval, students receive their offer letter and enrolment is complete. FEES: Typically £5,950 per academic year, with fees paid in advance of each term. Excludes exam fees. GOOD TO KNOW: The Academy prepares students for Pearson Edexcel International GCSE and A levels, which are accepted worldwide. There’s a high degree of interactivity between pupils and teachers and everyone has a Success Coach, who helps develop academic, personal and social skills through fortnightly one-to-one coaching sessions and small group workshops. The school schedule also includes support for college and test preparation and career planning. IT SAYS: “Our students are as unique as their physical location, with many of them coming to us with needs and expectations beyond what their local school provides. Some of our students travel a lot, others are athletes or performers who need flexibility to pursue their craft , and others come to us looking for more challenging courses.” MORE INFORMATION: pearsononlineacademy.com

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14/01/2021 11:52




Flexible future Finding new ways of educating students, whenever and wherever, better meets the needs of global families, says the Head of Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill


here’s little doubt the pandemic has changed education forever. Of course, the traditional school model will continue to predominate, with students and teachers meeting on campus for in-person learning. But the need for COVID-19 lockdowns and online instruction during the crisis demonstrated the vulnerability of face-to-face education during emergencies and the necessity – and difficulty – of replicating it remotely. The lesson for the future is that schools must continually innovate to deliver their missions by whatever means during turbulent times. Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill navigated the 2020 and winter

“The best schools aren’t waiting for the next crisis, but preparing now for a world in which students and families need flexible approaches to learning”

League and French Classes Préparatoires. With young people from 45 countries and teachers and staff of 29 different nationalities, there is a strong focus on the needs of individual students within a vibrant international environment. The educational ethos combines traditional disciplines with initiative, exploration, critical thinking, teamwork, and individual development. Students learn to be curious and open, to ABOVE ask tough questions, Pupils at Lycée and to express their Churchill ideas with confidence. Since the pandemic, Lycée Churchill has facilitated additional forms of off-campus 2021 shutdowns thanks to technology, learning. “LIL Remote LIL” is aimed at culture, and community. Since its 2015 students who cannot come to the school for founding, the school has made smart use short periods of time (usually due to travel of digital tools to enhance education and quarantines), enabling them to stay abreast streamline administration. That solid of their peers while isolating at home. The technical base, overlayed with dedicated pioneering “LIL Online” is a full remote staff, engaged parents and a collaborative education and virtual classroom programme framework, smoothed the transition to for students who cannot or do not want to learning from home. Students followed attend school in person. The school also predictable schedules, with lessons delivered helps students aged 16 and above who wish by live video and plenty of opportunity for to study in London but whose families online group interaction. The approach cannot be there by providing was to lead by example. extra support services. Located on a five-acre In unpredictable times, campus in north London, the last thing parents want to Lycée Churchill is a co-ed worry about is the continuity independent and bilingual of their children’s education. school serving 850 students The best schools aren’t waiting aged 3 to 18. It offers both the for the next crisis to happen English-language IB Diploma but instead preparing now and the French baccalauréat. for a world in which students With 100% pass rates on MIREILLE RABATÉ and their families need flexible tough French exams and Founding Head of School approaches to learning. The matriculation of graduates Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill legacy of the pandemic will to top universities, such as require nothing less. Cambridge, McGill, US Ivy SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 73

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QUESTION TIME The experts at Gabbitas Education answer your questions


Our two sons are very close in age and also very competitive. Teachers have suggested it might be a good idea to choose separate senior schools. Can your school placement team advise on what we need to consider in making the decision?


It is lovely for siblings to have a ‘shared education’, able to reminisce over the breakfast table about the funny mannerisms of the Latin teacher or the quality of the food in the canteen, but unfortunately sometimes the same school is not the right option. Children have a great sense of


“There is more to the UKiset than just testing a student’s aptitude – your daughter will learn valuable skills”

ABOVE Siblings may do better at different schools

identity and fundamental ‘fairness’, meaning that rivalry can easily be started when one is performing better than the other academically (or socially). This is obviously not healthy and should be avoided to the best of everyone’s ability. When choosing different schools for siblings, it should be a considered and sensitive decision. It is imperative to analyse the schools properly to ensure that both are on level ground and so avoid any potential issues of unfairness that might arise. For instance, if one school has family ties – perhaps a parent or grandparent attended – it would be perhaps best to avoid it. Logistics are another factor.

The first person your sons will look for when they score a try or take a bow is you, so it is important that both schools are within similar distance to home. This is also something to keep in mind if you are looking at boarding; you do not want one son feeling that he has been sent further away than his sibling and therefore sees you less. I would advise that you also try to make sure that both schools are on a similar level when it comes to academics, sport, drama, and co-curricular activities. Children should be proud of their school. If a child is happy, they are confident, and when confident they will thrive as an individual and reach their academic potential.

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I’ve been told that as my daughter wants to attend a UK independent school, it would be a good idea to take UKiset so her knowledge and potential can be accurately assessed. Can you explain more about the UKiset process and how schools use it?


The UK Independent School Entry Test (UKiset) is a standardised assessment that effectively compares international students with their counterparts who have been in the British curriculum all their lives. As well as helping schools understand a student’s level of English, the resulting report generated by the assessment provides credible information on how a student like your daughter may perform within the school environment, as well as her aptitude for certain subjects. Many people like UKiset as the process is a relatively simple one. Registration is quick and easy and once the test has been taken students can choose to send their report to up to five different British independent schools (or if they prefer, to none at all). As well as having test centres across the globe, UKiset are now offering online invigilation, meaning that your daughter can take the test without having to organise travel, which of course has been made

more difficult due to the pandemic. Note that there is more to the UKiset than just testing a student’s aptitude. When preparing to take the test, your daughter will learn valuable skills. These will help ready her for other school entrance exams, as well as assisting her with achieving academic success in the independent school system. It is important to remember that each school will have different requirements and benchmarks for their applicants, however there is no doubt that a UKiset report will only serve to strengthen your daughter’s applications. It will also give you a good insight into her current academic level, and this will give you the chance to help her improve in any areas needed. At Gabbitas we have recently launched our accredited UKiset Prep service, helping to prepare students for the test with targeted tutoring. If you’d like to find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact us.



My daughter is unhappy at school and this is now reflected in her behaviour and progress. We're looking to move her but are concerned about how current school reports will impact future school choices. How best should we go about finding a school where she will be welcomed and have a chance to thrive?


Unfavourable school reports are an issue that many parents face, and it can be daunting to get to the bottom of the reasons why. It is especially frustrating when they can interfere with attempts to enter a new school, where the child may perform better. It is important to treat this as an opportunity to use the problem to your advantage, and consequently help your daughter achieve her academic potential whilst also being happy. My advice is to first talk to your daughter in an effort to establish why this is happening. Tell her that you recognise that she is unhappy, and you are thinking of changing her school. It could encourage her to talk about the issues she faces. Knowing these issues is beneficial for you too, as it will allow you to approach new schools more easily. In some cases, it can be better to get an objective outsider to talk to her, as conversations between parent and child – especially relating to this subject matter – can be emotionally charged and therefore inconclusive. Regarding finding the best school for your daughter, you should undoubtedly look for somewhere with great pastoral care, as your daughter may be entering at an unusual point of entry. It’s also a case of analysing current issues; is the current school boarding? Maybe try looking at day schools closer to home. Is it a big school? Perhaps your daughter may prefer a smaller and more intimate learning space. Think about her subjects. If your daughter is sitting her A levels, schools understand that sometimes the wrong subjects are chosen, or perhaps she might be better suited to the IB? If she is studying GCSEs, there may be a subject she is more passionate about – use this to your advantage when talking to schools. Approaching the next school can be a tricky process, so it can be very useful to seek impartial advice on next steps and also help liaising with schools.



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LEFT St. George's University, Grenada

Medicine CHOICES The Dean of Admissions at St. George's University in Grenada on what to think about if your child is considering an international medical school


s a parent, you’ve been able to guide your child through a lot of firsts. It was pretty easy teaching them things like how to tie shoelaces, but as your child has grown into an adult looking to attend an international medical school, their new challenges are becoming more complicated. Many parents looking at international education options have found themselves navigating the medical school application and selection process right alongside their child. These are the key elements you and your child will need to think through when comparing medical schools.


Many physicians will tell you the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 is the most important test they took during medical school. This is why it’s essential that young people who want to study medicine in an international setting verify that the institutions they are considering adequately prepare students for this exam series. Keep in mind that,

according to performance data released by USMLE, 97% of examinees from US and Canadian schools taking Step 1 for the first time in 2019 passed. That’s a quality standard you would want to see from international schools as well.


You’ve probably known of several great medical schools for most of your life. These schools have created that name recognition by developing a history of educating successful graduates. A successful alumni network is another great measure of a successful medical school. For example, St. George’s University has contributed over 18,000 physicians to the global physician workforce, with students, graduates, and faculty from over 150 countries. They have practiced in over 50 countries and in every state in the US.

practice one day. They may have a better chance of securing a residency in that area if they’re able to meet physicians through volunteer work or clinical rotations. Medical schools with multiple locations may also appeal due to the international perspectives they offer. St. George’s University offers the unique opportunity for students to begin their medical education in Grenada, the United Kingdom or India. The three paths feature the same curriculum and provide a strong foundation. The final two years give the option of clinical rotations in either the US or the UK.


While entry requirements and residency placements are important, students shouldn’t forget about their interests. Some medical schools offer opportunities to further certain passions through organizations, events, and more. Fees are probably on your mind – and your child’s. While cost alone shouldn’t determine where your child attends school, it’s certainly worth considering. Keep in mind that when it comes to medical school, you really do get what you pay for. Finally, if your child receives the good news that they’ve been accepted into medical school, be sure to celebrate their achievement.


Gaining acceptance to a quality medical school is tough. That said, your child can certainly keep location in mind if they have multiple options. Location also comes into play later on. Perhaps your child already knows where they want to

B O B RYA N Dean of Admissions St. George’s University, Grenada SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 77


04/06/2021 11:36

ts e si bl re aila SE av C G on s ti op The Moat Sixth Form is a dyslexia and SpLD specialist Sixth Form with a focus on whole school SEN support. Providing an academic and nurturing environment for pupils with both unique learning profiles and learning difficulties. A-Level, BTECs alongside GCSE resits at its core with a built in work experience programme for all pupils. Visit www.moatsixthform.org.uk for full course list and more information

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04/06/2021 11:36



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As Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell champions reading for the pure joy of it. She talks to Absolutely Education about her own magical childhood and the power of words on page LIBBY NORMAN


ressida Cowell MBE needs no introduction to her vast global army of readers, transported into magical universes via her bestselling series’ The Wizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon. She is also champion of younger readers everywhere as the 11th Waterstones Children’s Laureate – a role given to a distinguished author or illustrator every two years. Cowell has the distinction of being both writer and illustrator. Her 2019 tenure – extended to 2022 due to Covid – is an opportunity for her to continue her good work. She is, quite simply, passionate about getting young people into reading – and

her passion is infectious. Her Laureate’s Charter sets out exactly what we need to do, declaring first and foremost that every child has the right to: ‘Read for the joy of it’. What she believes in is the discoveries – the connections – created by the books children love. “Words are the pathways of thoughts,” she says. “The more interesting and complicated, and the wider the vocabulary of the child, the more interesting the thought paths they can take. So that’s why we want to get them reading because they unconsciously absorb, in the form of joyful stories, so many words, so many connections.” This joy of reading – and of finding connections – is something that Cowell experienced in her own childhood, split between London and a remote Scottish island

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LEFT Cressida Cowell’s childhood included magical family holidays in Sussex (pictured) and a remote Hebridean island

“MY STORIES ARE ALL FANTASY STORIES, BUT THEY DEAL WITH PROBLEMS MODERN CHILDREN FIND VERY RECOGNISABLE” in the Inner Hebrides. It’s a childhood that sounds delightfully Famous Five from the outside, but she says J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is a better match. “The Darlings’ house always felt like our London house, and then Peter Pan comes along and they go to this magical island Neverland. I identified with Peter Pan very much – it’s a touchstone book because it felt very much like my childhood,” she says. On the island, the family were without television or, indeed, electricity (before they built a house, they camped), so entertainment was self-generated. “In many ways it was a classic 1970s childhood,” says Cowell. “In all 1970s childhoods there was an element of freedom – we were just told to come back when we were hungry.” It sounds idyllic, and what harm could small children possibly

come to on their own on an uninhabited island? Actually, in true Famous Five fashion, it had its perils. “Scrambling over rocks, exploring caves, going out on our own in rubber dinghies,” she says. “When I look back, climbing the cliffs and investigating the caves completely unsupervised was incredibly dangerous!” There were more practical and necessary activities when adults were involved. “Catching food and making food was a big deal – this was often cooked on a barbecue or open fire.” Cowell was head of entertainment, tasked with keeping the younger cousins and siblings amused – a role she threw herself into. “I put on plays, I was very bossy. I had to be because otherwise they wouldn’t listen to what I said. I made up the scripts, I designed the costumes – there was a lot of imaginative life in which I was in charge,” she says. Again, this sounds delightfully innocent in a very 1970s way, although, as she points out, this style of childhood has a far longer history. “Really I’m talking for all of human history – it’s how it was until now!” Books featured heavily throughout Cressida Cowell’s childhood. “I was mad about books,” she says. On the island you could only read what could be carried on the boat. But what got left on the island was often revisited. “There were a lot of

books left on the island – spotty, damp books that I read and reread,” she adds. When children’s fiction ran out she read what was left. “I was reading Dickens and other adult books way younger than normal.” As part of her role as ‘Ents Officer’, Cressida Cowell would read aloud, and she can still recall the sense of power this gave her. “When I was about nine or ten I had a book I absolutely loved called The Ogre Downstairs. I remember reading it to my little siblings and cousins,” she says. “And I remember the feeling when they got so excited – ‘read me another chapter, don’t stop there’ – or I made them laugh. I think that was the ‘oh wow’ moment, the beginnings of me wanting to do what I do now.” Secondhand bookshops and libraries were a source of endless discovery. “Like a lot of children in the 1970s, we went to the library once a week – that’s just what you did. They were like sweetshops, and so well stocked back then.” She remains convinced of the importance of libraries, both as a route to get children reading – and to help them find the authors and the genres that inspire them to carry on. “In order to create a reader, we need to give children opportunities to try things and find what books they love.” Like her childhood, Cowell’s schooling was split between city and country. She attended St Paul’s, moving on to Marlborough because she wanted art in the mix at A level. St Paul’s had said she might be better off doing Latin. She proved them very wrong, since her Art and History of Art A levels meant that after studying English Literature at Oxford she got into Central Saint Martins (then plain Saint Martins) and then University of Brighton to study illustration. “I use every single part of my education now,” she says. She is critical of the attitude, still prevalent in some sectors, that creative subjects are lesser subjects. “I think that’s not very

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A B OV E AND RIGHT Trained as an illustrator, Cressida Cowell believes pictures are a vital tool for drawing children in to books

forward thinking,” she says. “To treat arts subjects – art in particular – as if they are on the edge rather than at the beating heart of our economy, as well as part of happy, wise and thoughtful lives, seems strange.” When it comes to the value of art in engaging young readers, Cressida Cowell has no doubts at all. “We are competing against the best screen ever.” She believes children’s visual literacy now runs so far ahead that illustrations have become more important than ever. “They are a way in for highly intelligent children who look at a book and find it a bit baffling. And especially if children have a learning difficulty, books can make them feel stupid – and how can you love something that makes you feel stupid?” Cressida Cowell has personal insight into learning difficulties. Her sister is dyslexic so she has a profound sense of how this can affect children’s sense of themselves. “So often, and I thought this with my sister, children were written off.” While things have improved since the 1970s, it’s no coincidence that dyslexia features in Cowell’s stories. In The Wizards of Once, Wish is dyslexic – it is important that she is the writer of the story. While Cowell wasn’t dyslexic, she was, she says, “profoundly disorganised” –

something that meant she was often in trouble. “I was very well meaning, but I couldn’t do things that other children seemed to find easy. I couldn’t get my homework in on time, I didn’t know what the homework was. I didn’t know where my books were. I was in a constant state of bewilderment!” Again, this chimes with her approach to characters in her stories. “My heroes don’t fit in in different ways. Wish is dyslexic. With Xar, the other hero of The Wizards of Once, his inability to fit in results in defiance. These are behaviours children develop because they struggle to fit in. Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon is a child who is bullied. My stories are all fantasy stories, but they deal with problems modern children find very recognisable.” Both The Wizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon draw on Cowell’s most familiar childhood landscapes – not only the Scottish island of secret caves and rugged cliffs just made for dragons, but the Sussex countryside where many happy holidays were spent at her grandparents’ house on the South Downs. Writing for her young fan base, she has described that Sussex landscape as the place where you could almost imagine bumping into a Roman soldier. She has no doubts about why battles



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between good and evil continue to be among the most treasured elements of children’s fiction. “They are the most important things that we should all be thinking about and talking about. That’s also what has attracted many adults to children’s literature – we know in our hearts that we’re all still struggling to work out what makes a hero, what is our responsibility to our family, to our loved ones, to our wider tribe and the whole world.” Here, she says, younger readers have a very clear vision: “Children are interested in the truly important things in life”. Beyond helping their development as people, Cowell sees reading as the gateway to so much more for children – which is why she takes her role as Children’s Laureate so seriously. “The two key factors in a child’s later economic success, let alone their happiness, their educational success and all the other things, are parental involvement

in education and reading for the joy of it. And that’s the really key thing – for the joy of it – not because somebody says so,” she says. “Children who read for the joy of it are just imbibing words. They are just taking them on without having to have a spelling test or an explanation of what that word means.” Cressida Cowell writes about magical places, but she is as intrigued – both as author and Children’s Laureate – by the magic created when children discover reading for joy. “There are three magical powers that reading brings out in children – intelligence, creativity and empathy. Intelligence is the words. Creativity, often through illustration, is the jumping off point for them to create their own worlds. And the empathy is inside a child’s head – they are that hero with magic powers.”

C R E S S I DA C OW E L L The Wizards of Once, Never and Forever, is now available in paperback (Hodder Children's Books, £7.99). Find out more at cressidacowell.co.uk SUMMER 2021 | A B S OLUT E LY E D U C AT I O N | 83


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TOP SUMMER M U ST READ From a confidence-building journal and tales to help young people overcome shyness and feeling blue to a powerful girl penguin and a brilliant time traveller, here's our pick of great summer reads



MEND A FRIEND b y Karl Newson Illustrated by Clara Anganuzzi STUDIO PRE SS BOOKS , £6.99


arl Newson's touching picture book explores how different people react in difficult times. With simple but poetic text, it gives even very young children insights into friendship and empathy. The book explores differences between people, the nature of friendship – why some friendships are there forever and others don't stay the course. Clara Anganuzzi's illustrations are comforting and evocative, and there's extra poignancy in a story that was inspired by the author's own experience of dark times during illness – and the friends and supporters who helped mend him.


The Dare to be You Journal by Matthew Syed W RE N & RO O K, £7.99

Matthew Syed is well known for his work as a motivational speaker and journalist, but the former table tennis champion has branched out to help children have confidence to be themselves – this book is a follow on to the hugely successful You are Awesome. Once again, it has brilliant illustrations by Toby Triumph and the easy-to-follow format is full of good advice – from how to get an extension on your maths homework and what to do if life deals you lemons to how to start a cascade of kindness.

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Editor's pick

b y Lucy Freegard PAVILION CHILDREN'S £6.99

Poppy the Penguin has performing in her veins, since she comes from a long line of circus stars. But with the expectations of her family to manage, her hardest job is not giving up the greasepaint, it's telling her Mum that she wasn't born to perform and would far rather organise the show. This sweet and funny story, written and illustrated by Lucy Freegard, parodies The Greatest Showman, while also introducing themes of overcoming lack of confidence and managing the adult world's expectations of who we are born to be.





b y Valerie Wilding Illustrated by Pauline Reeves

b y Lize Meddings

WREN & ROOK, £12 .99

In a year when the Queen celebrated her 95th birthday, this book offers an insight into her incredible life. It is beautifully illustrated by Pauline Reeves and with a lot of detail about royal traditions, the abdication, wartime work and the journey to the throne. The combination of history, fascinating facts (for instance, an album of her pets) and events that reshaped British history make this a book that will also inspire young readers to find out more about our history and civic life.


L 9+



b y Patience Agbabi CANONGATE , £6.99

The second book in Patience Agbabi's acclaimed Leap Cycle, The Time-Thief has all the verve and excitement of the first, and with the same fluidity of prose (Agbabi is also an acclaimed poet). Elle goes back in time to find the Infinity-Glass stolen from the Museum of the Past – the only way she can clear her Leapling friend's name. Along the way she meets Samuel Johnson, new friends and supporters and an old enemy out to destroy her. It's a gripping read.

ize Meddings' graphic novel is a fresh way of conveying messages about fitting in, feeling sad and finding school pressure and life in general a bit too much. In short, it tackles the isolating nature of teen and pre-teen depression. The novel starts at a low point, but the sad ghost (representing the invisibility lonely people feel) meets more ghosts, learns coping strategies and recognises that they are not alone. Lize Meddings' Sad Ghost Club is on Instagram – with half a million likeminded members – so there's solidarity within a story well told.

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M A K ING of Me

Dwayne Fields TV presenter, explorer and naturalist Dwayne Fields FRGS talks about a childhood in Jamaica and London and his lifelong passion for the wild world

What was school like for you? My school experience in Jamaica was very happy – I remember I loved learning – but my first experiences over here were very scary because there was no common ground. I made some really good friends and didn't struggle in terms of feeling bullied – beyond the first couple of months when my accent was different and I didn't know which TV characters to talk about. But those early experiences of feeling out of place stayed with me. Even in secondary school I had a level of mistrust of people. Every day I would plot a route from Stoke Newington to Arnos Grove avoiding certain bus stops because that's where other schools congregated and they'd pick on me. Did you love school or hate it? Neither. School was just something I had to go through. I tried to take part in everything but I never stuck to anything. I wasn't an ignorant student – and I


Where did you go to school? I first went to infant school in rural Jamaica, and then I moved to London at age six. My first school was in Palmers Green, and then I went to the school next door St Michael at Bowes. My secondary school was in Arnos Grove, even though my Mum and I lived in Stokey (Stoke Newington).

don't want to blame anyone – but I just always felt like there was no support. Of course, through my studies much later on I discovered I am dyslexic. There were some things culturally that I found difficult. There was never any room for debate with teachers. I can remember getting into arguments about whether cockroaches could fly and whether you could make coal. I'd seen cockroaches fly and people making charcoal in Jamaica with my own eyes. I'm a respectful person – I was raised in Jamaica by a great

grandmother who never raised her voice and only ever showed disdain in a look – but teachers would take discussion and questions as troublemaking. I learned to stay away from questions and debates. What were your favourite subjects and activities? Geography and sciences were my favourite subjects. I also loved anything to do with technology. I came from a world that is very resourceful, so I was very hands-on as a kid and


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experiments, like putting magnesium in acid, and then he'd say 'stand back' as things started to fizz. He seemed a bit of an oddball, a bit like me, and he made things interesting so I'd take time to listen. He was energetic and passionate about what he was doing. He genuinely was one of the teachers who was going to make a difference to someone's life, even if it wasn't to mine. Where was your favourite place / space at school and what did you do there? In the beginning I tried to do all the things other children did, like hang out in the corner of the playground. But then I realised I just liked being in the open, especially near the playing fields. I just always wanted to be near something wild, something green.

Dwayne Fields

would take apart things like remote controls and then repurpose them. Later, I went on to study electromechanical engineering at college and had an apprenticeship with London Underground for three years. Then when I went to work in banking I realised I was contemplating issues all the time. I discovered a real interest in psychology and went on to study for a psychology degree with international development and business management.

Who were your favourite or most memorable teachers? There were not many who stood out and made a difference to me. But one who did was Miss Dimitri, my very first teacher in the UK. I think she was just more sensitive, perhaps because she was dealing with younger people. I also remember my chemistry teacher Mr McGee. He carried things around in his pockets, like a rock that he'd tell you was giving off radiation but it wouldn't harm you. He'd do these

What beliefs did your time at school instil in you? Much of what I've learned has been by myself. I don't want it to sound like I don't believe in school – but I think there are many kids like me who didn't have their full potential tapped into. I enjoyed school more than I didn't. But the things that send you rushing there – a great lesson, a great teacher or whatever – I can't remember rushing there for any of those things. I just remember the journey there was tough, sitting in classrooms was tough, trying to have an opinion was tough. One of my biggest issues, still today, is that most teachers would go straight into teacher-student mode with no human interaction. I work with young people now – including as a UK mountain leader – and I think it's a huge privilege. And there's nothing that pleases me more than walking into a group and finding out how they all are and helping to improve their day just by taking a moment at the start to talk with them. What was your proudest school moment? It was in primary school – this is going to sound really silly. We were doing a play with Mr Jeffreys and he let us decide what it should be. We were going round the class deciding. Someone suggested Three Little Pigs and then I put my hand up and said: 'what about instead of a wolf we have a crocodile?'. He said: 'oh, that's a great idea and I think you should be the crocodile'. I remember painting the box and drawing the teeth on and I was that crocodile. And when everyone clapped at the end of the play I felt like I was on cloud nine – best moment ever! SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 87

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Registered charity 1101358

Where are the skills your child will need to resolve global conflict? Well, negotiation skills are embedded in the curriculum at Sevenoaks School, so in theory we need look no further. Our alumni certainly go on to achieve extraordinary things; equipped as they are with the skills they need to change the waiting world. Stephen Hale for example, mastered negotiation at Sevenoaks. He left to work with Friends of the Earth and

Oxfam, amongst others. Now he has an OBE and is CEO at Refugee Action, a UK charity that supports people fleeing war. It’s worth considering then, that many of the skills your child may need to make a significant impact, can be acquired here at Sevenoaks.


Every day at Sevenoaks, students practise negotiation, service provision, team working, critical thinking, creative thinking and complex problem solving; essential skills our alumni will use to excel at jobs which have yet to be invented and to reshape their world.

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“I WAS THAT CROCODILE AND WHEN EVERYONE CLAPPED AT THE END OF THE PLAY I WAS ON CLOUD NINE" had this strong sense I'd broken a cardinal rule. But I walked home with this baby squirrel – there's still a picture of me with that squirrel somewhere. I've always had a way with animals. Even when I went to the North Pole this baby muskox decided I was its mum – for days it followed me around.

Dwayne Fields and explorer companions

What was the most trouble you got into at school? I never did anything to get into really big trouble. I just put my head down and tried to get through. There were times when I was a bit naughty. I used to climb over the school walls when we weren't officially old enough to leave the school premises. I would go and buy sweets and then sell them to the other kids when I got back! Were you ever too cool for school? Far from it. I never missed school and I was never ever late. My uniform was always on point. In Jamaica you can't present yourself scruffily and that stayed with me. It's interesting how important I believed timing was. When I was in year 8 or 9 I lost my bus pass money. Mum told me I'd better walk. I used my lunch money that day and left home 90 minutes early and walked. After that, I stopped using bus pass money for the most part and walked to and from school instead – I was always on time. What is your most vivid school memory, looking back now? I had watched a TV programme. It was David Attenborough on the life of insects.

I've always liked insects so I thought: 'I'm going to use this as a conduit to make friends – this is the one new thing I can share with them'. I went into the school garden and gathered a handful of woodlice and centipedes and other creepy crawlies. I ran over the school playground to a group that I wanted to be my friends. When I opened my hands they all screamed and pointed and called me nasty. I've never felt so alone as in that moment! When did your interest in the natural world begin? In Jamaica. My great grandmother, great aunt and I were in a small rural community of seven or eight houses and around every house was woodland and fields. This is where I knew the world around me and was confident and capable. I was free and could explore. I remember I climbed a tree one day and stuck my hand in a hole and pulled out a parrot and that became my pet. At one stage I had a parrot, a dog, a cat, and a pig following me around. When I came to London, I climbed a tree to get to a squirrel's nest because I'd never seen squirrels before. A crowd began to gather below me and when I came down I

What other key influences / passions shaped you when you were growing up? In Jamaica I remember loving learning things – even now I'm very much a fun facts person – but we didn't have any books in the house so it wasn't easy to carry on learning after school. Then when I came to London, we had this set of encyclopaedias and I remember the wonder of reading and drawing and copying and learning things. And when I was about seven I discovered a book called How to Do Just About Everything and I lived in that book. Just about everything I could think about doing was contained in there! What projects and challenges are coming up next for you? As part of #WeTwo Foundation, Phoebe Smith and I are fundraising to take 10 young people from across the UK to Antarctica – a mix of backgrounds, but young people who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity. It's going to be the world's first carbon negative trip. They don't have to pay a penny but they do have to offset all the carbon the trip produces and then they have to share their experiences with their peers. We will give them all the tools they need going forward and we want them to be ambassadors and leaders in conveying the experience. We are asking youth workers, friends and family to nominate young people who should join us. It's an exciting project, and an important one. Once we've got to a certain point in life it's our responsibility to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help others along. It's our responsibility to share knowledge across the whole community. Otherwise, what are we doing here? How would you sum up your school days in five words? A difficult time well spent. For more about the #WeToo Foundation trip, visit teamwetwo.com SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 89

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An independent, co-educational boarding and day school for 11-18s

“The quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent.” ISI Inspection Report November 2019

Book now for our Open Mornings:

Whole College: Saturday 18 September Year 7: Saturday 16 October DAY, PART AND WEEKLY BOARDING PLACES AVAILABLE

Contact the Admissions Team: admissions@pangbourne.com 0118 976 7415




your future

FIND OUT MORE www.queensgate.org.uk South Kensington · 5-minute walk Gloucester Road · 6-minute walk

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“Part of the fun of exploring is getting a little lost and this is the place to do it as it’s jam-packed with beautiful villages”



Tucked away in the hills outside Siena in the heart of 'Chiantishire', Villa Cignano is a cosy base for families to make the most of Tuscany's stunning scenery, fine produce and perfect towns and villages R AC H E L W E B B


f you want a rustic and authentic home from home for exploring Chianti (or, as it's fondly known by visitors and locals alike, 'Chiantishire'), Villa Cignano ticks all boxes. This traditional stone-built villa has views to die for, an infinity pool at the end of the garden, a choice of barbecues and plenty of space to spread out and live the rustic Tuscan life. The emphasis here is on cosy – homely, not precious – with cool stone floors and simple furnishings. There’s a huge table just made for family get-togethers, well-loved sofa and easy chairs and a useful stack of local guidebooks on the antique dresser. The kitchen is a proper functioning space, with everything you need to rustle up both simple family meals and feasts. We are a party of four (although there's space for two more when the downstairs level is opened up) and with two double bedrooms and two bathrooms all on one level, there is room to spread out and still keep tabs on everyone. Having been hopeless enough to forget to pre-order shopping supplies and then miss the supermarket after a travel delay, we are delighted to arrive and find breakfast supplies. Better still, there's also a supper of homemade pasta bake ready to warm and with plenty of delicious local crusty bread and a bottle of wine. As we dine around the huge table on this most welcome late-night meal, we can’t get over how thoughtful our villa hosts Gianni and Rossana have been. It turns out to be the first of many hospitable touches. SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 91


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“Our in-villa chef’s crowd-pleasing meal includes perfect fried chicken and the most exquisite homemade ice cream” Waking early the next morning, nothing quite prepares us for the delights of the terrace. The villa sits at the brow of a hill in one of the most unspoilt and rural parts of Chianti – you will never tire of the views from the breakfast table. From the shaded terrace outside the house we look out over a vista dotted with olive groves. Traditional stone houses are tucked away in neighbouring hills and through the trees to the right of the house we can even glimpse the outskirts of Siena, some ten miles away. We have a choice of places to lounge – there’s this terrace, a shaded loggia by the infinity pool and a third lounging area offering views to the vineyard next door. The villa has been painstakingly restored, maintaining its authentic thick stone walls and traditional shuttered windows, so cool in the day and cosy at night, while the gardens

offer plenty of space for junior explorers to let off steam. The one golden rule here is to always keep the gates at the top of the private drive shut – while nearly all nature is allowed free rein, wild boar are not. The boar’s head on the wall of the living room is a daily reminder that they have very large tusks that can grub through a garden in no time at all. There’s plenty of more welcome wildlife in the garden – even a cuckoo who serenades us from the same tree at every breakfast. The children are fascinated by tiny lizards that sunbathe on the old stone walls and dart into the bushes whenever we pass by. We stock up on essential supplies from the tiny local village Vagliagli, as well as making a couple of forays to the exceptionally wellstocked supermarket on the outskirts of Siena. This turns into a week of slow food without tears – simple salads made from divine local produce and plenty of space to flex those barbecue muscles. Gianni and Rossana are on hand with advice on everything from the best local butcher (Mr Cesare) to the finest local wineries. We are even urged to pick the rosemary that grows with abandon in the rocks and the fennel that pops up in the lawn. Our hosts live in a property down the hillside and are extraordinarily welcoming, but children are their most precious guests so we never worry that ours are making a noise as they romp round our garden. Sightseeing in this quarter of Tuscany is a slow and leisurely affair. We head off in our rental car, usually with no particular schedule. Part of the fun of exploring is getting a little lost and this is the place to do it as it’s jam-packed with beautiful

villages. Castellina in Chianti turns out to be a highlight – with mighty fortifications that are fascinating to explore. The city of Siena is a manageable size and a gorgeous spot where we while away a happy ice creamfuelled afternoon. Tuscany Now & More had helpfully supplied a guide to 43 must-see towns and villages, but we find the thought of sitting on our sunny terrace way too alluring to manage more than a handful on the list. On one evening, an in-villa chef cooks us a fantastic and crowd-pleasing meal of panzanella salad, followed by Pici all'aglione (a rustic tomato and garlic sauce with hand-rolled pici pasta from Siena). Main course is perfect fried chicken with courgette pies and the finale is generous portions of the most exquisite homemade ice cream. An adults-only pleasure is our wine tasting, also booked through Tuscany Now & More and this turns into a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the treasures from the abundant regional wineries. Our Master of Wine Valentina Mazzetti is a brilliant communicator and she teaches us more in three hours than I thought possible. Assessing the ‘legs’ of wine is a most pleasant way to spend a long and balmy evening on our terrace while the children sleep soundly after a happy day of playing in the mellow Chianti sunshine.

T U S CA N Y N OW & M O R E offers Villa Cignano for seven days from £1,686 for four people and £1,947 for six people. It also offers in-villa options such as private chefs, babysitting and guided excursions. t u scanynowandmore.com SUMMER 2021 | A B S O LU T E LY E D U C AT I O N | 93


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#BeYouBeSibford #VirtualSibford


+44 (0)1295 781200


admissions@sibfordschool.co.uk Sibford Ferris, Banbury, OX15 5QL

Sibford School in Oxfordshire offers inspiring education to pupils aged 3-18.

Visit sibfordschool.co.uk/events to book your place on on upcoming open event or access our virtual open event online today.

Hawkesdown House School

A Preparatory & Nursery School for boys and girls aged 2-11, Kensington W8 Please contact the School Office to arrange a private tour with the Headmistress

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

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Alleyn’s School



Co-educational excellence in a caring community for children aged 11-18. We offer means-tested bursaries worth up to 100% of fees, as well as a range of scholarships. Visit www.alleyns.org.uk for further details and Open Event dates. 020 8557 1500 Townley Road, Dulwich SE22 8SU

PRIVATE TOURS NOW AVAILABLE Contact us to arrange a visit

My husband and I were very impressed by the school ” “during our visit. We believe the ethos of the school and its teaching philosophy would be a perfect place for our son to thrive, grow and develop. Private Tour - May 2021

Register here: www.lyndhursthouse.co.uk/tour 0207 435 4936 office@lyndhursthouse.co.uk 24 Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead, London, NW3 5NW

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seconds with

Henry Price The Headmaster of Oakham School discusses his background and educational philosophy

What is your background? I was educated at Cumnor House Sussex Prep School, followed by Eton College, and went on to study Classics at Oxford University. I moved straight into teaching at Sydney Grammar School and am now in my second Headship here at Oakham School, via Sherborne, Rugby and Wellington School.

children now aged between 9 and 16, I feel that even more strongly.

What excites you most about your working day? The best days are when I am directly involved with pupils; I am currently having all of Year 12 round to the Head’s House for breakfast or an evening snack and hot drink/hot chocolate, but my weekly meetings with the Decem (Senior Prefects), watching concerts, plays and Saturday matches all give great joy. I still love teaching Classics, but it is also exciting when there is a conversation or a decision where I can add value and make a positive impact not just for a pupil, but a colleague or the School more broadly. How would you describe your educational philosophy? Our key role is to care for children and help them grow up. Pastoral care

"We must remember that school days are precious in themselves, not just a preparation for the future"

What sets Oakham School apart? As we celebrate 20 years of the IB Diploma and 50 years of co-education, Oakham stands apart as a great and grounded school with a balance of tradition and innovation. There is a remarkable breadth and depth of opportunity in and out of the classroom, with the introduction of the IB Middle Years Programme in Years 7-9, combined with GCSE, A level, BTEC, and the IB Diploma as pupils move through the School. The key to success, however, is that all of this is underpinned by a commitment to pastoral care, which runs deep in the DNA of the School.

and support are the starting point and we build the learning, in and out of the classroom, on top of this. We must remember that school days are precious in themselves, not just a preparation for the future, and it is a great joy working with parents to guide and support teenagers through these pivotal years. I hope that they will emerge with the values, skills and knowledge to take the next steps and be successful and fulfilled in their lives, not to mention having made great friends and memories.

What makes a great student? One who contributes, who cares in the broadest sense and who shows courage. Great students seize opportunities and get stuck in; they are warm, fun and friendly to pupils and adults; they are not afraid to work, to try new things and to be themselves, but also really understand, respect and appreciate the people around them.

Can you tell us about one pivotal moment in your teaching career? I think the pivotal moment for me was becoming a parent. When the first of my four children was born, I felt a deeper connection to my professional role and better understood the responsibility and position of trust I have in educating other people’s children. With my

What makes a great school environment? A great school environment has a sense of purpose, a sense of values and genuine care for all who are part of the community. Above all, it's a place where pupils can find a pathway that suits and inspires them, and where families can feel a sense of connection and belonging.

A B OV E Henry Price

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not uniform

When it comes to a good education, one size does not necessarily fit all. At MPW, one of the UK’s best known names in fifth and sixth-form education, we offer a distinctive alternative to traditional schools. A levels and GCSEs in over 45 subjects Personal tutors providing individual academic and pastoral support

Strong teaching and outstanding pastoral care.

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DISCOVER MPW Book your interview and personal tour

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Call 020 7835 1355, email london@mpw.ac.uk or visit our website www.mpw.ac.uk

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