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Guide to Independent Schools

March 2014

Stephen Robinson James Delingpole Sophia Martelli


Will Heaven Ross Clark Ysenda Maxtone Graham

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Class distinction
Who can afford private education these days? The fees are so astronomical
as to seem out of reach to even the most upwardly mobile members of the
middle classes. Private schooling is widely considered to have become
another exclusive luxury for the super-rich, like yachts or jet planes. The
reality is different, however. Of the roughly 620,000 private pupils in this
country today, only a fraction are the children of oligarchs and hedgefunders. Most fee-paying parents are normal people with good but not
spectacular incomes who have decided to be less comfortably off for a few
years in order to give their children the best possible start in life.
This guide aims to show that the manifold advantages of a good private
education are still available to those of us not blessed with a great fortune.
On page 11, Will Gore looks at new ways in which elite schools are
becoming more affordable, Anita Belman discusses the state till eight
(and private school thereafter) fad, while Ross Clark examines whether
technology can open up access to high-quality teaching for ever greater
numbers of people.
Sophia Martelli shops around at the Independent Schools Show
and, just in case you thought we had forgotten them, Stephen Robinson
asks what foreign billionaire parents actually expect from a British
school. Theres plenty more, so enjoy reading, and look out for our next
independent schools supplement in September.

Editor

Freddy Gray

Teaching in the cloud Ross Clark

Choosing a university Carola Binney

21

School architecture Lara Prendergast

On discipline Sophia Waugh

24

Drawings

John Jensen
Supplied free
with the 15 March
2014 edition of
The Spectator

Going free Will Heaven

10

The pony goes too Camilla Swift

26

A head speaks Celestria Noel 

12

Take the red pill James Delingpole

28

In search of value Will Gore

14

Boarders with bling Stephen Robinson

30

State till eight Anita Belman

16

Independent Schools Show Sophia Martelli 32

Teacher fashion Ysenda Maxtone Graham

20

A guide to Easter revision courses

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34

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GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS | 15 MARCH 2014

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Teaching without teachers


The e-learning industry claims to be the future. Is it? By Ross Clark

hen I was ten, a box full of laminated cardboard worksheets arrived in


my primary school classroom. This,
our teacher informed us, was a reading laboratory. We were each to take
one of the sheets, read the passage on the front and then
answer the questions. Finally, we were to mark our work
ourselves using the answers on the back, all without any
input from her whatsoever.
I dont know whether she felt threatened by it
she seemed more concerned that we might dog-ear
the worksheets, which would be terribly serious as the
boxful had cost 56, an enormous sum in 1976. But she
might have been terrified to know where it would all
lead. It was an early experiment in teaching without
teachers which would culminate, 40 years later, with
e-learning.

15 MARCH 2014 | GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

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It isnt hard to find evangelists for the concept of


teaching children by computer. In Britain there is the
e-Learning Foundation, a charity which helps schools set
up computer-based teaching programmes as well helping to supply tablets and internet access for children.
There are companies like Cambridge-e, set up by a sixthform college in Cambridge to offer video-conferencing
in subjects such as Latin and AS maths in schools which
lack the right teaching staff. Supplying materials for
e-learning is a massive global industry.
Practising what the e-learning industry preaches, I
took to the internet to find out a bit more. I found a
study led by Dongson Zhang at the University of Maryland which compared the performance of two groups
of students. One lot were taught via traditional lectures,
the other were taught via lectures on a computer which
could be stopped, started and reviewed. There was also

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a text-based forum for students to ask each other questions. In the first test the traditionally taught group
scored 9.24 out of 15 and the e-learning group 10.88.
Against that, I found a study at St Marys Academy
in New Orleans, a private school for girls, predominantly black. They were given a three-week teach-yourself
Microsoft Word course, supported only by a book, followed by three weeks in the classroom. Eighty-four per
cent of them reported that they found it harder to learn
when left by themselves confirming what most of us
already know: that Microsofts manuals might as well be
written in hieroglyphics.
But nothing caught my eye quite so much as the parsimonious Mr Russ S. Hart, principal of Gibault High
School in Waterloo, Illinois, who has hit upon the idea
of teaching children over the internet on snowy days
when they cant get into school. Do that, he says, and
you dont need to make up for lost days at the end of
the school year. Were saving a lot of money, he tells
the US publication Education Week. Because were not
making up the days in May, thats five days were not
sending out buses to pick up students; were not paying
maintenance and janitorial staff those days; heating is
much lower than normal; and were not using all those
supplies, like soap and toilet paper, that we would on a
normal day.
You are not just saving on toilet paper, Mr Hart. Not
having pesky children around the school means fewer
scuff marks on the stairs, less smoking weed behind the
bike sheds, fewer kids being held upside down with their
heads in the lavatories, less risk of the headmasters car
being sprayed with paint stripper, fewer groping opportunities for pederast schoolmasters, and just about every
thing else that can go wrong in a school. In fact, why not
go the whole hog and close the school down altogether
and flog off its site for a bowling alley and drive-thru and
instead just give every child a computer and let them get
on with it?
If you think this is just me being cynical, perhaps you
havent heard of Sugata Mitra and his concept of selforganised learning environments. Mitra is professor of
education and technology at Newcastle University but
previously worked in Delhi, where in the late 1990s he
had the idea of installing a computer in a hole in the
wall in a city slum. A few hours later he returned to find
the local children eagerly tapping away having already
learned the basics of using the installed program, even
though it was in English, not their first language. He
then repeated the experiment in a village 300 miles from
Delhi and got the same result.
He next installed a computer beneath a tree in a
Tamil village in the south of India, installed with software about DNA replication a subject which would
not normally be tackled by children of their age, and
again in a language, English, of which few had any
knowledge. He returned a couple of months later to find
that they appeared to have picked up some of the basics
of the subject.
His argument is that traditional schooling is a product of the British empire and was designed to turn out
people to have an identical way of thinking, but succeeds
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Ideal for virtual environments (and expensive tech conferences): Sugata Mitra

only in closing down the minds of children who, left to


their own devices and given an internet connection,
would happily teach themselves. The role of teaching,
he argues, could be reduced to one of asking the questions which children can then solve.
If I had a Delhi slum on my doorstep, I would go
round there now and see if there were any eight-yearolds capable of setting up an email address on my new
Blackberry, a task which has proved completely beyond
me.
It isnt hard to pick holes in Mitras arguments. If
the British Empire model of schooling was so damaging to childrens minds, why did we have this explosion
in scientific discovery? It is easy to
find entrepreneurs, fashion designers
and the like who failed at school but Not having kids around
succeeded afterwards. Then there was means fewer scuff marks, less
John Gurdon, the Nobel prize-winning
weed-smoking, less risk of the
Cambridge professor who came bottom of the science class at Eton. But heads car being spray-painted
he didnt exactly teach himself.
We are all of course into e-learning
now how do you think I started researching this piece?
The ultimate question for those who preach the case for
extreme e-learning, perhaps, is: would they want to be
operated on by a surgeon who had learned his medicine
entirely on a computer installed beneath a tree?
There is also the issue of social mobility. The idea of
having kids educate themselves at home on their computers runs counter to the evidence from the early academies, where huge improvements in results came about
from extending the school day, keeping children in a disciplined environment rather than sending them back to
do homework in dysfunctional homes.
One thing strikes me about Professor Mitra. I learned
about his work by watching one of his lectures on the
internet. He is a highly skilled speaker, with good timing
and wit. But what was he doing? Talking to an audience
of several hundred people, all sat in rows at a conference in America listening to him intently. It looked an
awful lot like the traditional model of teaching which he
claims to despise.
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Building stories
The last great age of school architecture was Victorian.
But we may be in another, says Lara Prendergast

f you want to study the history of British architecture, take a tour round our independent schools.
Go to Stowe, where you will be introduced to the
world of Palladian architecture. Lancings chapel
is an outstanding example of Gothic Revival. Eton
has a smorgasbord of styles: Baroque, Georgian, Arts
and Crafts, Neoclassicism. Marlborough will give a lesson in the late decorative style. Westminsters abbey is,
well, Westminster Abbey.
Its a point often ignored when the question of charitable status arises, but independent schools look after a
sizeable chunk of our nations physical heritage. Many
schools are custodians not only of generations of children, but centuries of architectural innovations.
For your average 15-year-old boy, this heritage might
not mean much. Playing sport and snogging girls usually
takes preference over an appreciation of a 15th-century
vaulting system. But the impact of great architecture
is often subconscious. Part of the legacy of a school is
the benefits it brings later on, says Dr Niall Hamilton,

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arlboroughs senior admissions


M
tutor. If children are surrounded
by harmonious design, it will leave
a mark. They might not understand
it immediately, but it will almost certainly have a civilising effect.
He refers to Plato, who discusses
in The Republic how the surroundings we choose for our young affect
their upbringing.
Hamilton is an expert on the history of British school architecture. The 19th century was
the golden era of school design, he says. Vast amounts
of money were invested in school buildings. It was the
heroic age of new foundations. Many of these buildings
were designed during the height of the British empire,
with the aim of fostering national pride. Often those
messages still shine through.
British school buildings divide into two types the
appropriated and the purpose-built. And in the 19th century, just as they do today, purpose-built designs relied
on parental donations. Parents who find themselves pestered to pay for a new science block can blame Nathaniel
Woodard the father of modern school fundraising.
The mission he gave to the middle classes was one of
intense educational progression: he founded 11 schools,
including Lancing, Ardingly and Hurstpierpoint.
By the 1890s, the pioneering slowed and for most
of the 20th century, school design suffered. But in the
past 30 years, independent schools have once again
begun to revive enlightened attitudes to design.
guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

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Graces of learning: Lancings Gothic chapel is elegant outside


(above) and in (left). Far left: Papplewick in the January mist

Schools dont have to be old to be inspiring, says


Kevin Stannard, director of innovation and learning for
the Girls Day School Trust. At many of the schools we
run, an old building will be at the heart of it, but there
will be cutting-edge modern design surrounding it. An
example can be seen at the Royal High School in Bath:
a 150-year-old Grade II-listed building has recently been
updated with a state-of-the-art science discovery room.
Many of the schools run by the GDST are encouraging their pupils to involve themselves in the design
process. At Shrewsbury High, we asked the girls to let
us know what they wanted when we were renovating a
new boarding house, says Stannard. The message we
received was that they wanted to preserve the original
architectural features, but create more spaces suited to
both leisure and study. If pupils feel they have creative
input in some way, they respond to the schools design.
A number of independent schools are also commissioning buildings that incorporate the latest research on
sustainability. At South Hampstead High School, a redevelopment will include areas to think, reflect and socialise in and will feature a glass design and a blossoming
green roof. A building committee, comprised of pupils
from all year groups, has given input about how the new
design should look. Stannard describes this as learning sans frontiers. Architecture can be used as a way to
reflect and reinforce an educational vision, he says.
Given that we are witnessing a new era of thoughtful design, blended with the opulent heritage already on
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Going free

at Cardiff Sixth Form College, which


topped the league.
It may not surprise you to hear
that, in September last year, the
Its predicted that 100 independent schools may join the state sector
Kings School became an academy,
merging with a primary school next
in the next decade. By Will Heaven
door. Publicly at least, its reasoning
was to do with social justice: We are
keenly aware of the difficulty that
many parents have in meeting the
school fees, and indeed that many are
heres a mediocre Ricky Gervais film were prevented from choosing Kings in the first place due to
talking two-star reviews called The Inven- the cost. It is now free to attend.
tion of Lying, set in a fictional world where
But it may be that the Kings School simply jumped
everyone blurts out the truth all the time. Ive into the state sector before it was pushed out of business.
just had a sip of this, says a waiter as he puts Were the 10,000 fees justified, with those A-level results?
a cocktail down on Rickys table. We both know that one Hardly. At Emmanuel College, a mixed comprehensive
day youre going to lose your looks, a young man tells his just 12 miles away in Gateshead, 40 per cent of A-levels
date. Its basically just brown sugar water, announces a were A*/A. Eight pupils went on to Oxbridge. Their parTV advert for Coca-Cola. Just imagine, for a moment, the ents didnt pay a penny for it.
same rules applying to an independent school open day.
In the last few years, Im told by the Department for
Teacher: Welcome to Trumpington for our eighth Education, no fewer than 16 independent schools have
open day this year we really are scraping the barrel used the free schools and academies programmes to make
now. What brings you here?
the leap from private to state education. That number
Parent: I didnt really have a choice, did I? The local could rise rapidly. Lord Adonis, the former Labour educomprehensive is a sink school and the grammar down cation secretary, said earlier this year that up to 100 indethe road was closed 25 years ago, so... here we are.
pendent schools may become free in the nextten years.
Teacher: Are you interested in scholarships?
That would represent a massive revolution, affecting tens
Parent: I sure am. I havent had a decent pay rise since of thousands of pupils and their parents.
the credit crunch. Ive thought about setting up a meth lab
One school that has defected makes Michael Gove
but unfortunately chemistry isnt my forte.
particularly proud. Liverpool College, for pupils aged four
And so on. The point is, if parents were forced to tell to 19, was one of the original members of the elite Headthe truth about independent schools, theyd admit that masters Conference of Independent Schools. Again, the
they dont really want to send their children to them, but school which was charging fees of about 10,000 for
felt they had to. Who in their right mind would choose to day pupils claimed that its new academy status was
spend 30,000 a year on their childs education if the state about social justice. It would allow many more pupils
could do it just as well for free?
to enjoy the benefits of a college education. But behind
Were some way off achieving Michael Goves great the scenes, Liverpool College carried out research which
ambition that when you visit a school in England revealed that the number of parents able to afford fees
standards are so high all round that you should not be [in the city] is shrinking and is likely to continue to shrink.
able to tell whether its in the state sector or a fee-paying So it made the jump and the school will consequently
independent but second-rate private schools should grow from 730 to more than 1,100 pupils in the next five
quake in their boots when they hear that kind of thing. If years.
the Education Secretary is successful, parents will soon
Similarly, Queen Elizabeths Grammar School in
have a genuine choice between two roughly equivalent Blackburn has decided to become a free school because,
schools one expensive, one free and theyre going to in the words of the headmaster, the local economy is such
choose the latter. One by one, the second-rate independ- that its becoming increasingly difficult, even for highent schools will have to close. Elite, high-achieving schools earning parents, to afford fees for education. Numbers
are safe, but at places where less than 50 per cent of A-lev- had plunged at the school, which was founded in 1509,
el results are A*/A, theres going to be a tectonic shift.
from 1,200 in 1997 to below 500 in 2012.
The only other choice these schools have is to take the
That is the truth behind this emerging trend. Struggling
if you cant beat em, join em approach. In other words, independent schools are joining the state sector because
the private schools will have to stop charging fees and join of market forces. But in the shape of the academies and
the state sector. And thats already beginning to happen. free schools programmes, theyve got the best possible
Take, for instance, the Kings School in Tynemouth. It safety net: one that should increase pupil numbers for
was a historic private school founded in 1860 but it them, maintain freedom from government interference,
wasnt a truly first-rate one. In the Telegraphs 2013 league and more broadly promote competition in Britains edutable of independent schools A-level results, the Kings cation system. Despite the inevitable whingeing from the
School was at number 279. Of all the results, 31.55 per cent teachers unions, its a godsend for parents.
were at A*/A. Thats not disastrous, but theres a huge gulf
between that and the 93.85 per cent achieved by pupils Will Heaven is a Daily Telegraph journalist.

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guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

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Talking head
Celestria Noel meets Jonathan Forster, the industrious
man in charge of Moreton Hall School

o, if I were a prospective parent, why should


I send Little Lucy here? I ask Jonathan
Forster, principal of Moreton Hall School.
Circumspice! is the gist of his response,
although he doesnt put it like that, since he
is a down-to-earth Yorkshireman, friendly and bespectacled. Bring her here to have a look round, or for a
three-day taster, is what he actually says. Then ask her
what she thinks. He sounds confident that she will want
to come, as well he might 90 per cent of those who
look round do.
The school seems to be celebrating its centenary in
great heart, while similar establishments are closing or
merging. It is girls only, at a time when co-ed is in fashion, and it is a boarding school, when many prefer day
schools. Moreton Hall is quite small, with 410 girls, aged
three to 18, and it is on the Welsh border, a long way
from the prosperous south-east. It could be said to have
less cachet than its more famous rivals. Madonna did
not inquire about sending Lourdes there, as she did with
Cheltenham Ladies College.
Forsters strength has been to turn all the above into
pluses. He is an advocate of single-sex education and has
the results to back it up. The boarding houses are comfortable and well equipped. I do not mean to boast but
150 of the rooms are en suite. What about the facilities
compared with big public schools? It is an arms race and
you can never be complacent. You cannot be careless or
casual. I would never build just to show off. My proudest
boast is that 8 million of investment has been paid for
out of income, without any borrowing. Did I mention he
was a Yorkshireman?
Is he winning the arms race? There is an indoor pool
and excellent art, music and indoor sports complexes
and Astroturf pitches. The tennis courts and huge play-

12 

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ing fields are immaculate Moretons lacrosse team is legendary


and there are stables and a golf
course. However, Forster admits
that he would like a purpose-built
theatre to supplement the hall.
As for the schools small size, it
means that classes do not exceed
15 and everyone knows one another. Older girls mentor younger
ones and there is a genuine family
atmosphere. This goes back to the
founders, the local Lloyd-Williams
family, who started a school for their
friends and relations. It is also still a
liberal foundation, as Miss Bronwen
Lloyd-Williams, known as Auntie Lil,
intended but it is not, says Forster,
flabby. His own style is open and
accessible. I like taking ideas from
the girls.
As for it being off the beaten track, you only have to look at
its 120 acres of oak-studded parkland to see the advantages that
gives. Mind you, Forster insists it is
only semi-rural. It is just 17 minutes to Shrewsbury by
train. Incidentally, for a period in the early 1990s, the
local station was kept open by the girls staffing the ticket
office.
If the pupils cant just walk out and into a town with
pubs and shops, they do have their own shopping mall,
with a bank, chemist, caf and stationer. It is run by
the Lower VI as part of Moreton Enterprises, a proper business with a turnover of 52,000, where the girls
learn to take responsibility. They actually run and own
it and are mentored by old girls and parents.
So what about the location? We have the advantage
of an excellent local catchment area. Most families live
within one and a half hours of the school. He has made
strong links with the local community and is a governor
of two state schools, and Moreton Hall offers a range of
scholarships and bursaries. He believes that girls benefiting from such bursaries add to the school and aid its success. They are often the best and the brightest but once
they are here they become all the same. I have never
heard any girl remarking about background or race or
whether someone has a scholarship.
As for overseas pupils, who have been the financial salvation of so many independent schools, Forster
encourages them but believes in limiting their numbers
to below 10 per cent, as more can risk destroying the
very culture the parents are seeking.
He is also robust about the school not being a hothouse. He does not want to put so much pressure on the
girls that their development as whole people is jeopardised. Moreton Halls broad-based entry means that
the school, which now gets excellent exam results, also
comes at the top of tables in the UK for value added.
A danger at a school like this is that with its relatively isolated community (many staff live on site), it could
guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

12

6/3/14 12:05:05

surrounded but not encircled by a variety of contemporary buildings, some more attractive than others. The
not very beautiful dining room is, however, home to a
remarkable series of proverb-themed murals by the artist Denise Rylance, who in the 1950s was head girl. They
have been written up in World of Interiors and were
shown at the Fine Arts Society in Bond Street as part of
the schools centenary celebrations.
The most ambitious addition is the science building, which includes a medical science facility, a first
for any UK school, never mind a smallish Shropshire
girls school. With close links to
Keele University and the orthopaedic hospital at nearby Gobo- What about the facilities?
wen, itself a centre of excellence, It is an arms race and you
the school has been supported by can never be complacent
the Garfield Weston Foundation,
the Walker Trust and Lord Leverhulmes Charitable Trust. It will be used by students
and local state-school children as well as our pupils. The
focus is on biomedical sciences and we are lucky to have
David Kelly, who is a research biochemist at Glasgow
University, involved.
Forster is warm, engaging, and never lost for words.
The only time he hesitated was when I asked about
famous old girls. He came up with some worthy citizens but no household names. Moreton Hall does not
do celebrity. However, he soon rallied: Weve got some
fantastic girls coming through.

become inward-looking. Forster has actively sought to


counter this by employing staff such as a working writer,
a working artist and a chemistry teacher who came from
industry. In fact, perhaps surprisingly, one of the schools
strong points is how ready its girls are for the real world.
Public speaking and debating are seen as important, and
Forster is big on manners and social skills: They thank
the teachers at the end of every lesson. They can talk to
anyone and make that person feel important. There is
no hiding place out there. They will need to be conversable, unstuffy, humorous. They need to be themselves,
not identikit.
Forster came to the school in 1992 from Scotland,
where he had been head of English at Strathallan. I fell
in love straight away and was offered the job over lunch
and I took it without consulting my wife. The school was
at a low ebb. I knew I wanted it to be good enough academically for what I aspired to for my own daughters.
It would either be three years revitalising the place or
20 years. . . In fact the love affair is still going strong
and will probably see him through to retirement. He is
a pragmatic visionary, full of ideas and not one to look
back. I am still excited and there is so much to do. You
have to keep up. It is a constant challenge. In 2000 the
junior school and nursery opened and more recently
a linked but separate international study centre came
into being.
Forsters headship has been one of building and
expansion. He has left the original Tudor manor house

inspires
We are a leading 1118 boarding & day
school for boys & girls in rural Hertfordshire,
only 20 miles from central London. Come
and see how we encourage our pupils to
use intellectual exploration and practical
ambition to fulfil their potential. We offer
a choice of IB Diploma or A Levels in the
Sixth Form. Our next Open Mornings
are Saturday 29 March 2014 (13+ & 16+)
and Thursday 15 May 2014 (11+).
For further information, or to attend an Open
Morning, you are warmly invited to contact the
Registrar, Iona Hutchinson
01992 706353 registrar@haileybury.com
Haileybury Hertford Herts SG13 7NU
haileybury.com

@HaileyburyUK

www.facebook.com/HaileyburyUK

13

15 MARCH 2014 | GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Celestria noel interview_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

Reg. charity no. 310013

13

6/3/14 12:05:21

Bargain hunt
Will Gore meets the heads who are working to make
an independent education more affordable

hroughout the 1990s and into the 2000s,


my parents put my three siblings and me
through boarding school. With cruel timing,
this roughly coincided with a period in which
school fees rose by 100 per cent. My dad has
always liked a laugh but I now realise that his particularly enthusiastic joking around as we were growing up was
his way of dealing with severe financially related pain.
In the past ten years, school fees have continued to
increase, although the rate of growth is slowing. Figures
from the Independent School Councils 2013 census show
that on average school fees rose by 3.9 per cent compared
to the previous year. This represents the lowest annual
fee rise since 1994, and the census suggests that this demonstrates the commitment of schools to keep fee rises as
low as possible in recognition of the challenging economic climate faced by parents.
However, it will take more than just slowing the rate
of growth to help cash-strapped parents. Boarding schools
now charge an average of 9,204 per term and this huge
cost is starting to drive people away. The census also
found that there was a 1.4 per cent fall in the number of
pupils attending boarding school last year, and despite
the fact that the report offers the mitigation of the context of long-term trends (in other words, boarding going
out of fashion), its surely not too daring to suggest that
finances must be playing their part in the drop-off.
According to Janette Wallis, editor of The Good
Schools Guide, while money might be no object for the
increasing number of overseas parents putting their children through our public schools, many of their British
counterparts in danger of being priced out.
With British parents generally, with professional families of doctors and lawyers, there is a limit to what they
can afford, she says. I received an email recently from
parents who send their children to a private school, a professional family who have been paying and paying but
the straw has finally broken the camels back and they
just cant afford it any more.
Wallis has some sympathy for the predicament that
boarding schools are in. Fierce competition means they
must keep the standards of their teaching, accommodation
and facilities extremely high. Any cut in fees could lead to
falling behind the competition. However, she believes the
penny has dropped that fees must stay under control.
Signs of this penny dropping can be seen not only
in the slowing rate of fee rises but also in the way that
some schools across the independent sector are starting
to offer discounts. St Josephs College in Reading blazed
a trail three years ago when it cut its fees in an attempt

14 

Will Gore_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

to reverse falling pupil numbers, and now other schools


are following its lead. Milton Abbey in Dorset has come
up with a reduced rate for day pupils to attract parents
and pupils from its nearest big towns, Bournemouth and
Poole. Boarding fees for the school are currently 10,400
per term, with the current handful of day places costing
7,800 per term. That latter figure will fall to 5,495 for
the next academic year. Milton Abbey is able to offer this
discount because extra capacity for day pupils has been
created with new buildings.
We could fill those day places at the current rate but
there is a mission now to make it cheaper, says headmaster Magnus Bashaarat. Its about fixing a fee thats
affordable for families where both parents are working.
We have carefully tried to work out what people might be
able to afford month by month. Response to the discount
has, he says, been overwhelmingly positive, with a recent
open day attracting Milton Abbeys biggest ever numbers
for such an event.
As well as addressing the issue of cost, one of the aims
of the initiative is to tackle the point the ISC census raised
about the context of long-term trends in which boarding is not as appealing as it might once have been. As
Bashaarat puts it, its about offering pupils a boarding
experience without the boarding.
Along similar lines, Warminster School in Wiltshire is
also bidding to attract parents who might not be sold on
the idea of full boarding for their children. Rather than
offering discounted day places, they have come up with
cut-price weekly boarding.
guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

14

6/3/14 11:57:41

Schools are
finding new
ways to minimise
financial pain

The schools headmaster, Mark Mortimer, is some


thing of an evangelist for the benefits of boarding. He
admits, though, that increasingly, parents want to see
their children at weekends. Coming up with an attrac
tive offer for weekly boarding will provide them and their
children, he believes, with the best of both worlds.
With the schools discount seeing full boarding fees
cut for the senior school from 8,530 to 5,500 (Year 7
and 8) and 6,900 (Year 9 to sixth form), and from 6,305
to 4,995 for the prep school, Mortimer, like Bashaarat, is
optimistic about bringing parents into the public school
sector who previously couldnt afford it.
He says that around 7 per cent of parents send their
children to independent schools, but that close to 50
per cent of parents would like to do so. A key part of
the Warminster strategy is in attracting new pupils from
London. Wiltshire is not in the middle of nowhere, he
points out.
Despite whats being offered by the likes of War
minster and Milton Abbey, there is still plenty of work to
be done to make the independent sector more affordable
and ensure that its classrooms and playing fields of the
future are filled with more than just bankers offspring
and little Vladimirs.
At present these initiatives are isolated examples, and
there is surely scope for more creative thinking. Paying
fees by monthly instalments is, for example, one innova
tion that could be of help to parents who are struggling
to afford the fees. But at least a start has been made
although about ten years too late for my poor old dad.

22 March, 17 May and 14 June 2014


By appointment only, please call the Registrar

Catholic full boarding, weekly and day school


All girls, ages 11-18
700 acres in Surrey
35 minutes from Central London
100% excellent in every category
ISI Inspection Report 2012

T: 01883 654206
woldinghamschool.co.uk
15

15 March 2014 | guide to independent schools

Will Gore_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

Open Mornings

15

6/3/14 11:57:55

tory school entry points, and the more


ambitious girls prep schools have
started to open matching gateways.
State till eight permits children plenty of time to be prepared for common
entrance and scholarships, as well as
allowing for a full dose of the Hogwarts theme-park experience.
The benefits of going state till
eight appeal not only to privately
educated young British parents, who
can overcome the guilt they feel that
they are unable to pay for their children to have the education their parents lavished on them from day one.
Excellent church primaries are much
sought after by affluent European
The advantages and embarrassments of switching your child
and American expats, delighted with
the support of a parish community as
from state to independent in mid-stream. By Anita Belman
they settle their young children into
strange foreign climes and an even
stranger foreign educationsystem.
tate till eight was first whispered to me by a
The legions of French financiers who have migrated
hedge-fund managers wife, with a breathless here for big jobs, big salaries and not-so-big taxes are
enthusiasm Id only previously heard from her some of the most shameless employers of the state-tillin front of a buy-one-get-one-free offer in the eight strategy. While these bankers would have no probchampagne aisle at Tesco.
lem affording even the most exorbitant private school
State till eight? suggested the overfamiliar estate fees, the notion of paying for anything other than a French
agent, as he showed me and two toddlers around a gross- education is lost in translation; and if little Louis acquires
ly overpriced, small, ugly terraced house looking over two more fluent English than his father in theprocess, so much
notorious council estates, a building site and an outstand- the better.
ing state primary.
No one had prepared me, however, for the anguish of
State till eight, barked the insufferable QC next to me removing my daughter from her wonderful local school,
at dinner, after a long boast that his twins were at Eton where she was not only very content but well enough eduand Wycombe Abbey respectively, both on arguably cated to be in the running for a place at one of the coununnecessary scholarships.
trys leading girls prep schools. Id sheepishly concocted
Everybody, it seems, is state-till-eighting sending intricate lies about the necessity of urgent treatment for
their children to state school until the age of eight, then her nonexistent verrucas to cover up her absence for the
shoving them into private school and so, in turn, am I. prep-school entrance assessment, only to find myself
Soon after our eldest daughter was born, I was convinced amazed and aghast ushering her in alongside two of her
that private education would be too expensive for us. I current classmates mothers, both apparently only conwould not, in early years at least, be swapping juicing tips cerned to discover how many hours of tutoring wed subat the school gates with supermodels, Hollywood royal- jected her to in anticipation of the ordeal.
ty and sporting legends, but contributing my pasta reciThe heads and governors at the countrys leading state
pes to the spiral-bound fundraising cookbook for a new primaries have clocked the state-till-eight fashion, and
schoolroof.
quite understandably dont like it one bit. The better
Yet the lure of private education, so ingrained in the the primary, the keener the upwardly mobile middle classfabric of my expectations, meant moving my daughter into es are to use it as a free prep-rep with a convenient school
the independent sector was inevitable sooner or later.
run. Theres almost an incentive to keep the edges rough,
However, state till eight isnt simply a four-year defer- so you get an honest intake at least, despaired my daughral of the burden of school fees. If the state-till-eight ters marvellous headmistress. My husband and I were the
droves feel smug about the financial relief a cool saving seventh set of parents in her delightful year-three class
of about 60,000 a child for London parents they can to have announced their intention to remove their highfeel warmer and fuzzier still about granting their children achieving, happy child to new, wildly expensive unknown
access, albeit brief, to their local community, before wedg- pastures.
ing them safely into the socio-demographic micro-bracket
The headmistresss frustration pales in comparison to
of the privately educated elite.
the social Siberia I am exiled to at the local school gates,
While a few able children can, and do, move over from where our second daughter only started last September.
the state to the private sector at 11, 13 and 16, thereby sav- State till eight, huffs the hardworking chair of the PTA,
ing their parents an even bigger fortune, it is seven-plus within my earshot. I dont know if Im imagining a batand eight-plus that remain the traditional boys prepara- squeak of envy.

From primary to prep

16 

Anita Belman_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

16

6/3/14 11:56:14

Boarding at Whitgift
One of Britains finest independent
day and boarding schools for boys
excellent academic results
more than 200 Oxbridge entrants in the past ten years

unrivalled sporting success


over 100 national titles in the past five years

professional creative connections


partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

unsurpassed curriculum
IB, Bilingual IB, A Level or BTEC

exciting range of co-curricular activities


80+ diverse clubs and societies, from astronomy to wakeboarding

superb location
close to central London yet situated in beautiful parkland

admissions@whitgift.co.uk
+44 (0)20 8688 9222
www.whitgift.co.uk
Whitgift. An outstanding education.

Whitgift School, Haling Park, South Croydon, CR2 6YT, United Kingdom

Developing outstanding individuals

Using your School Branding System

Some places still available for September 2014


The logo
This is the new logo for all members of the Jesuit Institute group of schools and should be used across
all communications materials within the school to help promote the links with the Jesuit Institute.
It is designed as a unit with the sunburst crest and the lettering. They must be kept as one unit. These
2 elements should never be used in different proportions to those shown below. They can appear
discretely and we would recommend they feature no smaller than 35mm wide.
There are 3 versions of the logo supplied on your CD, including a black version. They are shown
below. The logo should not be used in any other colourway or distorted. However it can be scaled in
proportion.
We have also created an extra logo artwork for use when applied to uniform and is being stitched or
embroidered.

White out of 425U and 1945U


A Co-educational
Catholic Boarding Black
andsolidDay School for 318 year olds
Stonyhurst Clitheroe Lancashire BB7 9PZ
Tel 01254 827073 admissions@stonyhurst.ac.uk

PMS 1945 U red and 425U grey

www.stonyhurst.ac.uk
Logo formats

Colour palette

15 March 2014 | guide to independent schools

The red is the devices predominant colour with the grey as a secondary colour. For ease and economy
most materials created internally could use black. However we do provide a 2 colour version of the for
use in Word/Office applications. The following chart gives the colour specification / breakdown.

(WWSPJH[PVU

EPS

Stationery, brochures, advertising, Litho Printing, Exhibition Panels

supplied formats

C
Red is Pantone 1945
U
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PAN 1945U
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56

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195

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100

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BLACK

JPG

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(supplied RGB)

supplied formats

RGB

6/3/14 13:04:19

Who makes your gowns?


Ysenda Maxtone Graham seeks fashion tips for teachers

eachers are much-gazed-at people. Many of


them are the opposite of vain and would prefer
not to be looked at all day long, but its a hazard of the job. Through lesson after lesson, they
are stared at by children who are always on the
lookout for something to laugh at; at break time they
must cut a dash with their colleagues in the cocktailparty atmosphere of the staff room; on duty in the playground they must stand still in the cold; all day, they must
dodge flicked ink, spilled mince and drying artwork; and
at collection time they are appraised by parents, who
(like their teenaged children) are not immune to crushes. It is not surprising, with all these different demands,
that the general trend in teacher fashion is and always
has been to wear understated, durable and highly protective clothing.
But how have teacher fashions changed in the past
30 years if indeed they have? I rang several schools
to find out and some didnt call me back. I think their
marketing departments decided
that the subject of teacher fashion
Theres no point in splashing even if I sometimes disguised it
out on an 800 suit, because
as teacher dress codes was too
frivolous and was simply designed
schools are still grimy places
to make fun of them.
They were not wholly wrong,
it has to be said. The very thought of these cerebral
beings, guardians of the mark-book, wielders of the red
pen, deciding what to put on in the mornings is somehow intrinsically comic. Some of the most memorable
moments of my school days were those mornings in
early January when the bachelor Latin master entered
the classroom with a new V-neck jersey on: quite obviously a Christmas present from his mother. He looked
rather sheepish and embarrassed about it. It was never
long before a hand went up and someone said, I like
your new jersey, sir!
At a recent show-round for parents at a London
senior school, I was pleased to spot the whole range of
traditional teacher clothing on display: the headmaster
in a well-worn suit, flashing his cufflinks as he boasted
about the schools improving results; the head of curriculum in a sagging woollen skirt with an even saggier petticoat showing beneath it; the head of science
in a white coat marred by acid holes; the oldest, baldest master still wearing a gown; and the young blonde
18

Ysenda Maxtone Graham_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

head of PE in a scarlet tracksuit and whistle in the


morning. (PE goes on all day long these days, in those
echoey aircraft-hangar-sized PE halls.) I was glad to see
that staff dress codes obviously hadnt changed all that
much although the gown was no longer flecked with
chalk dust.
To the people who did, bravely and kindly, speak to
me about what they wear to school every day: thank you.
My panel consisted of Diana Vernon, the headmistress
of City of London School for Girls; Andrew Douglas,
deputy head of same; Gerard Evans, director of studies at Eton; two classics teachers, one a man at a London girls day school and one a woman at a boys senior
school; and the headmaster of a boys prep school in
London. From these people, I learned about the climatic conditions which direct how school staff dress.
Diana Vernon spoke up for the snappy matching
skirt and jacket and mid-to-high-heeled shoes for
a London headmistress, that is. At pretty well every
GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS | 15 MARCH 2014

18

6/3/14 12:34:44

school Ive worked in, the head is likely to be one of


the most smartly dressed. Youre marketing the school,
youre seeing lots of prospective parents. I used to work
in the City, so I still wear my suits, and I rarely wear
the same one two days running. She feels that a school
takes its unwritten dress code from the people at the
top, and its important to be smart. The girls in her sixth
form dont have to wear any uniform at all. I dont want
them to look as if theyre going to the beach or a nightclub is Diana Vernons only restriction; and by dressing
smartly herself, she hopes to instil certain standards in
the tone of the whole schools dress.
But theres no point, the prep-school headmaster
and the classics master both agreed, in splashing out on
an 800 suit for schoolwear, as schools are still grimy
places: in fact, the blue and red ink from whiteboard
pens is if anything more damaging to clothing than
chalk dust was. Andrew Douglas, at City of London
Girls, still tends not to wear a suit: Today Im wearing

19

15 MARCH 2014 | GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Ysenda Maxtone Graham_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

a tweed jacket, corduroy trousers and a tie, because Im


doing interviews for support-staff roles. If Im meeting
parents or governors Ill wear a tie, but I no longer feel
I have to every day.
What is coming very much into fashion among male
staff, he notes, is the tieless suit. The open-necked look
for some reason always makes me think of politicians
trying to look laddish and approachable, he remarked
and I am inclined to agree.
At Eton, every schoolmaster ties a white bow-tie
every morning of his working life. The dress code for
staff is part of what underpins Eton, Gerard Evans said.
It shows the mutual respect between the staff and the
boys. We expect things of them as we expect things of
ourselves. Our dress code makes us equals: it underlies
the code in the school. In the afternoons, like the boys,
the beaks can go down the High Street in jeans and an
open-necked shirt and that is fine.
The bachelor classics master in London was given
50 secondhand ties by his aunt when he changed
careers to become a teacher. I have a real problem
storing them, he told me, and I do a huge tie-rotation
which lasts about a term. (Systematic clothing rotation is still common practice among teachers, some of
whom, charmingly un-fashion-conscious, have no sense
of which tie goes with which shirt and simply pair the
two that happen to be next in the rota.) He wears a suit
every day, believing that dressing smartly is an attempt
to create an atmosphere of good behaviour in an environment that could degenerate he has noticed
that less littering of the classroom goes on when the
teachers are smartly dressed. He is not so keen on the
power-dressing that goes with the senior role and feels
that the headmistress, who clonks about in incredibly
high stilettos, looks rather graceless.
Temperature plays a large part, said the female classics teacher. Not only do teachers get very hungry teaching, they also get incredibly cold, because although the
classrooms are warm, they are forever walking about
outside from classroom to staff room to boarding-house
to home, and whatever youre doing, youre late for six
other things. She prefers to wear a skirt, because I
dont feel like a teacher when Im wearing trousers: I
feel too ordinary. I tend to wear trousers all holidays
and skirts all term. Of her collection of skirts, she does
notice that they seem mysteriously to get longer. Its
something to do with the loose weave. Im still wearing
some of the skirts I was wearing 25 years ago, so theyre
now practically trailing on the floor.
A boy recently asked her, during a Latin lesson,
Why do you always wear a woolly cardie? Her simple
and true answer was, Because I like a woolly cardie.
I do it just for warmth, Im afraid, she told me.
Schools used to be sludge-coloured, with greenygrey walls and brown linoleum. Staff clothing used to
be similarly sludge-coloured, with brown dresses, brown
cords and brown tweeds. Some say it was the Princess of
Wales effect that in the 1980s woke people up: via the
cheerful pink shirt with pie-crust collar, colour gradually made its way into staff dress, where it remains to
this day.

19

6/3/14 12:34:56

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28/2/14 16:07:43

6/3/14 13:05:53

Once youve got a shortlist of


around five universities, visit them.
Both Boyes and Mike Kirby, principal of Ashbourne sixth-form college in Kensington, told me Id be
shocked at the number of students
who dont take this obviously essential step. I kept quiet about the fact
that I was one of the useless multitude: I went to one open day, which
I managed only because it was
a five-minute bike ride from my
house. My plans to go to more were
thwarted by the fact that most Russell Group universities cap numbers
at their open days, and Id left it too
late to book. So make sure you register well in advance, and, once you
get there, talk to as many students
as possible.
Then theres the money issue.
Most top-flight universities now
charge the full 9,000 a year in tuition fees, but the overall cost of
Carola Binney offers a students guide to picking a university
your degree can vary dramatically
depending on where you study. Liverpool University says youll need
between 6,000 and 7,000 a year
in living expenses, while University
y top tip for choosing the right univer- College London says youll need 9,065 go to Liversity? Do some proper research. Sounds pool and over the course of your degree you could save
obvious, I know, but its amazing how the equivalent of a whole years tuition fees.
few teenagers bother. Its all too easy to
Value-for-money considerations are vital. Kirbys
be distracted by A-levels and social life, advice is to think about how many contact hours youll
or paralysed by the fear of making big life decisions. be getting, and about class sizes: Be on the lookout for
Dont let that happen. Look at the league tables, get faculties that look as if they behave in a factory-like
prospectuses and talk to careers advisers, but dont be way, trying to get students in and out as economically
constrained by the traditional channels. A bit of goog- as possible.
ling can prove the most helpful online forums like
There is, of course, a reason why you might plump
the Student Room can give you the lowdown on accom- for UCL over Liverpool despite the price tag. Chris
modation, and Twitter and YouTube are good sources Kraft, principal of Londons Duff Miller sixth-form colof day in the life material from current students (like lege, is unambiguous in his belief that reputation and
Oxfords OxTweet scheme). If youre considering employment prospects should be a students No. 1 conOxbridge, the website of a colleges sideration when choosing their university: My advice
junior common room, or JCR, is a to students is to look at the universitys ranking first
I went to one open day, which great way to get a feel for its vibe, as and to then try and work out what course they want.
Boyes takes a similar line, urging students to conI only managed because it was well as being pointed towards alternative prospectuses, subject reviews sider the regularity and quality of graduate employfive minutes from my house
and information about events and ment fairs, for example: Remember, everything you do
societies.
once you leave school is about how you market yourTo make the whole ordeal less self inlife.
intimidating, give your research direction. Steve Boyes,
That said, a universitys provision for your course
principal of the London branch of MPW sixth-form matters. Sometimes its obvious you cant read hiscolleges, says he always tells his students to treat the tory at Bath, so I didnt apply there. Cambridge doesnt
process like buying a house. Rather than wander- do joint honours degrees, so isnt the place for an aspiring aimlessly from estate agent to estate agent, or just ing chemist-philosopher. But look beyond the degree
opening the newspaper and looking for the most popu- names: does the course contain modules, both compullar locations, write down your list of must-haves and go sory and elective, that youre keen to study? Would you
from there. One of my friends, a serious swimmer, made be able to pick up options from other departments?
her list far more manageable by only looking at places Are there opportunities to study abroad? Different
that had Olympic swimming pools.
universities take different approaches to subjects

Scheming spires

21

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21

6/3/14 12:17:08

medicine at Manchester is more problem-based than


at Imperial, and history at Cambridge is more political than at Oxford. Cambridge sniffs at them, but both
Boyes and Kraft think that the average joint honours
course is easier to get into than single honours. Applying for these degrees can be a good way to maximise
your chances of an offer without skimping on reputation: at the LSE, for example, there are 12.6 applicants
per place for law, but 6.2 for law with anthropology. But
proceed with caution: Make sure you can navigate the
degree theyre not going to simply allow you to jump
across from one course to another, especially if youre
trying to go from a less competitive course at entry to a
more competitive one, says Boyes.
If you want to apply to Russell Group universities,
you have to have the right equipment according
to Kirby, four or five A* grades at GCSE and a solid
number of As at AS-level. For the cream of the Russell
Group crop, you increasingly need to do better than just
scraping over the grade boundaries. Universities such as
UCL and Cambridge now ask applicants for their ASlevel UMS scores, to see if that A means 81 per cent or

99 per cent. Avoiding this big reveal was one of the reasons I
chose Oxford over Cambridge.
Its not all about your first choice. Another common-sense
rule here: ask yourself, Would I accept an offer from this university, if it was the only one I got? If the answer is no, dont be
lured by that three-B standard offer into wasting one of your
five choices. But dont do what I did (theres a slight irony in
my being asked to write this piece) and end up with a situation
where your first-choice offer is also your lowest, meaning extra
pressure on A-level results day. If it all goes wrong in August
and you end up having to go to a university that offers lower
grades than you were expecting to get, having chosen one in
advance is far better than having to go through clearing in a
panic. As the ideal back-up plan, Kraft encourages his students
to consider putting a university like Birmingham, which makes
some unconditional offers, down on their Ucas form.
Finally, dont file this piece away until the autumn. Its time
to start thinking about your university choice now. As Kirby
says, Even a modicum of thought before September will do
you a world of good.
Carola Binney is studying history at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Ten questions to ask yourself before you apply


1. Are you cut out for another
three years academic work?

University is a mistake if you


find academic work a chore or an
unending struggle. The benefits
of a degree dwindle rapidly if you
land a mediocre result. Find out
whatthework involves, and talk
to your teachers about whether its
for you.
2. Do the benefits outweigh the
costs? How much will university

cost you and your family, and will


your future earnings more than
repay that outlay? Employment
prospects vary considerably
according to where and what
you study. Check out www.
bestcourse4me.com for details.

3. Should you choose your


course before your university,
or vice versa? This may be the

most important question when you


are researching university league
tables and their subject rankings.
Ifyou are certain about your career,
research which universities your
future employer recruits from.
If itsabout the subject you love
(usually the best decision), go to
those rankings first.

4. Have you examined the


course content in detail?

Psychology may not deal with


Sigmund Freud and may include
more statistics than you think.
That you enjoyed mathematics at
A-level does not mean you will feel
the same about pure mathematics
at university. Taster courses and
talking to teachers may help.
5. Have you looked at class
sizes and teaching hours?

Mostcourses operate on a lecture/


tutorial system, so you may be in
lectures of 100 or more students
for most of the course. Find out the
hours offered in tutorials (with far
fewer students).
6. Are you a town mouse or
a country mouse? What type

of place do you want to live in?


Some people love a campus with
everything on your doorstep,
othersneed the variety of a city.
You will be spending at least three
years of your life here; you need to
be happy with the environment.

7. Whats the accommodation


like? Does your university

guarantee a place in halls of

22 

Carola Binney on universities_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

residence, where its easier to make


new friends? Will you be expected
to share? How far are residences
from lectures, and how expensive is
private renting? (Most students live
in shared houses after year one.)
8. What do previous students
think? Many universities have

alternative prospectuses written


by their students. Ideally, talk to
students who have attended the
university and/or the course you
wish to pursue.

9. What extracurricular
activities are important to you?

Investigate clubs and societies and


the possibilities for your preferred
hobbies and entertainment.
10. Do you want a gap year?
If so, why? It can be useful if you

really dont know what you want


to study and/or you feel you are
not ready for university life. But
beware of treating it as a pretext for
idleness. Admission tutors attitudes
to gap years vary, so check these out
for your choices.


James Wardrobe
Council for Independent Education

www.cife.org.uk

guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

22

6/3/14 12:17:20

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15 March 2014 | guide to independent schools

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23

5/3/14 16:31:13

Getty images

Sparing the child

similar to those that you were supposed to be writing. A punishment


that becomes an enjoyable game of
wits is entirely self-defeating. I am
Gone are the days of a dozen lashes. Youre hardly even allowed
surprised that Gove has not suggested that children write out poems as
to call punishment by its real name any more. By Sophia Waugh
punishments. That would have the
benefit of an uncultured generation
having some contact with poetry,
although I suppose it might also add
to the school of thought that poetry
is a pain.
Some modern punishments are
ike everything else in education, the matter of so soppy that they insult and enrage the good children.
punishment has its constantly changing fash- I teach at a state school. When a boy in my class set fire
ions. At state school in the 1970s I was pun- to his neighbours hair, he was sent on a special course
ished by being made to sit in the main corri- with the fire service. He spent a lovely day watching
dor and read during break (not a punishment films about arson and had the time of his life. Other
I minded in the least) while my brother, at public school, punishments that issue from the caring way of thinking
was regularly beaten. Mind you, he was a lot naughtier are singularly useless. One day a boy arrived (as always)
than me. Beating went out of the window long ago, so very late to my lesson. John, how lovely to see you! I
how do schools now punish the most extreme misde- cried. Where have you been this time? He glowered at
meanours?
me. Anger fucking management, he shouted. All right
Michael Gove wants to bring back some more old- miss? and slammed out of the room again.
fashioned forms of correction, such as writing lines. But
We have a unit devoted to children who, for one reawhen we were given that as punishment, it was turned son or another, have genuine difficulties at school. It is
into a game. How many pens could you hold to pro- absolutely not a place of punishment, but is designed
duce more than one line at a time? How often could to give them a place of safety where they can work in
you insert other words without the teacher noticing? peace, with support. However, when it was first set up,
And even more enjoyable, how many obscene words more than ten years ago, there was some difficulty with
could you substitute? That involved a certain degree of how it was perceived by the students at large. Because it
skill, actually, as the key was to put in words that looked involved cups of tea and pink cakes, and because many

24 

Sophia Waugh_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

24

6/3/14 12:35:29

of the children who used it were troubled and sometimes


in trouble, there was a lot of confused thinking about
it. One child looked at me thoughtfully, Miss, how hard
would I have to hit you to be sent to RTL? he asked.
The current fashion appears to be something called
restorative justice. Like communism, it is a brilliant concept in theory. Instead of being punished, you have to
think about what you have done and make amends. So
a boy who regularly took his sports bag into Tesco in
the morning and filled it with stolen food which he sold
at break was taken back to Tesco and made to talk to
a shelf-stacker who he was told would lose her job if
Tesco didnt make a profit. He wasnt convinced. He said
sorry nicely, and was back in with his sports bag two days
later.
As is so often the case with teaching, our big problem is never the children themselves so much as the parents. I had one 13-year-old boy whose mother rewarded
him with a pack of cigarettes each day when he did not
get into trouble. When I suggested that this might not
be the ideal way forward, she was very defensive. Well,
he doesnt get them most days, she said. Too right
this was the only child from whom I have ever received
physical violence (he threw a table
at me when I suggested he stopped When a boy in my class
strangling another boy with his set fire to anothers hair,
tie).
Some forms of punishment will he was sent on a course
I suspect last for ever. Detention with the fire service
is a comforting stand-by. And it
is easy to make the punishment fit the crime. Dont do
your homework? Come and do it at lunchtime.
Expulsions are much harder to come by in the state
system than in the public school system; they have to be
built up to with a long history of misdemeanours. Detention is followed by internal exclusion a real punishment involving being separated from your peers for an
entire day. Instead of lessons you sit with a supervisor
and work for five solid hours: its a real eye-opener for
some of the naughty ones.
The next level is an external exclusion, a day spent
out of school and again the parents are often the
enemy. Instead of doing the work which we have to provide them with by law, some parents take the child shopping. It was lovely to spend a day with him, they gush,
and the child boasts about new trainers and a football.
One of the problems is the language of punishment.
Like so much else, it is watered down. A punishment is
no longer a punishment, but a consequence. And again,
that brings it down to the level of some sort of game.
The teenagers who ran away from Stonyhurst College
on their parents credit cards were not expelled from the
school or not in so many words. I have friends whose
children have been to more schools than I knew existed,
but somehow have not been expelled from any one of
them.
There should be middle ground in the world of school
punishment. Dont beat the children, but use the scary
words punishment, expulsion and those really oldfashioned ones most teachers are too nervous to use
right and wrong.

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15 March 2014 | guide to independent schools

Sophia Waugh_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

GODALMING SURREY

25

6/3/14 12:35:44

Stay in the saddle


Got a horsey child? At one of these schools, they can ride to their hearts content. By Camilla Swift

iding as part of the school curriculum will


sound to many people like something out
of an Enid Blyton book. Surely nowadays,
when theres so much focus on exam results,
no one has the time? But maybe investing in
a horsey education isnt just an extravagance but can be a
good, if expensive, way of teaching a child responsibility.
And we Brits are good at horsey stuff. In the 2012 Olympics, Team GB won five medals, three of them gold, in
equestrian events more than any other nation. If we
want to build on these successes and encourage the ominously named next generation, its important that they
get as much encouragement to ride as possible.
Day school pupils are one thing as they can ride
outside of school hours. But with boarding schools its
a bit more complicated. With Saturday school and limited exeats, its hard to fit in riding. So allowing horses
at school is the solution. Of course its not all sunshine
and roses; it will also involve early mornings, braving
all weathers, and balancing a busy timetable. But as any
horse lover knows, its all worth it.
Millfield, in Somerset, is internationally famed for its sports facilities
Hanford offers early morning and its athletes. In 2012 there were
rides on the Dorset hills as an nine old Millfieldians on the British
Olympic and Paralympic teams, and
activity, in Enid Blyton style
the school boasts54 Olympic athletes
among its alumni. No wonder their
equestrian department is one of the
best in the country. Their prep and senior schools (both of
which are co-educational) offer riding and livery options;
at the moment the senior school has 45 full-time riders,
who ride at least six times a week.
Danny Anholt, director of riding, adds that one great
selling point of their stables is that they are right in the
centre of campus. One ex-Millfield pupil, who kept two
horses at the school, says that this was a major factor in
allowing her to make the most of the facilities, as it allowed
riding before breakfast, at lunchtime, in the evening and
in any free periods. For her, keeping her horse at school
allowed her to have the training, support and structure
that with parents who werent horsey she would
never have had otherwise.
Millfield also pride themselves on their record when
it comes to National Schools Eventing Association competitions. NSEA is one organisation that plays a major
role in encouraging both schools and pupils to take part
in equestrian activities. The number of schools participat26 

Camilla_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

ing in these events has grown year on year, and there are
increasing numbers of day schools entering teams into
their competitions. A surprising statistic is that theres
a fairly even balance between state and private schools;
their member base is 49 per cent comprehensive, 51 per
cent private.
Many other senior schools offer livery on campus.
Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, opened their equestrian centre, with space for 20 horses, in September 2012.
Since it opened, riding and horse care have been popular choices for Duke of Edinburgh Award participants,
while the stables have been at over 80 per cent occupancy
since summer last year. Their new cross-country course
ready for use in the spring has been designed by
Mark Phillips, chef dequipe of the United States eventing
team, and father of Olympic silver medallist Zara Phillips.
Queen Ethelburgas, in Yorkshire, also takes riding seriously. As well as offering livery and riding, they
also allow pupils to take British Horse Society qualifications and equestrian NVQs. And Bryanston, in Dorset,
is another school with riding facilities. One former pupil
told me that it took just one look at their cross-country
course for her to fall in love. The school enabled her to
mix a good academic education with her riding. Pupils are
able to go show jumping at local competitions, including
at the Dorset School Games, and school horses are also
available for pupils to borrow, with many taking weekly
riding lessons.
Cranleigh, in Surrey, are currently the NSEA Dressage champions, and have held numerous other titles,
including in show jumping and arena eventing. Of the
60 or so pupils who ride (from both the senior and prep
school), about 20 keep their ponies on site, with 15 others bringing theirs in regularly for training sessions. And
Blundells, in Devon although they dont have livery
facilities on site are also holders of numerous NSEA
titles. Their first pupil to receive full colours for equestrian, is currently a working pupil for the top British eventer
William Fox-Pitt.
Although all of the above-mentioned schools are
co-ed, it tends to be the girls who choose to ride. Stonar,
in Wiltshire, has an all-girls senior school, and makes riding a core feature. About half the pupils ride, and 40 keep
their own horses at school. Stonar also offers Pony Club
and British Horse Society assistant instructor qualifications, and works with Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, a
charity working with disadvantaged inner-city children.
guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

26

6/3/14 12:18:19

Queen Margarets near York is another all-girls school,


and it offers modern pentathlon as one of its extracurricular activities. It is the alma mater of Sophie Beaty,
the current U18 British eventing champion.
Just because it tends to be girls who ride, however,
that doesnt mean theres nothing for the boys. Polo is still
very much a male-dominated sport, and increasing numbers of senior schools offer it. Millfield even has its own
polo pitch indeed, half the England polo team (brothers Mark and Luke Tomlinson) are Old Millfieldians. The
Schools and Universities Polo Association (Supa) hosts
numerous inter-school tournaments throughout the year,
and has seen a rapid increase in the number of schools
entering teams, both in the prep and senior school sections.
If children are boarding from early on, then encouraging riding at prep school age is also important. Hanford, a
girls school in Dorset, is famous for its ponies, with early
morning rides on the Dorset hills offered as an activity
in summer, in true Enid Blyton style, amd it has its own
indoor school and cross-country course. Girls can bring
their own ponies to school as long as theyre willing to
share them with other pupils! Walhampton School, on the
Hampshire coast, is another horsey prep school this

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15 MARCH 2014 | GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Camilla_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

time co-ed. As well as including riding in games lessons


and at lunchtime, the school offers a wide range of equestrian sports, from polocrosse and dressage to music, to
regular gymkhanas.
Owning a horse isnt cheap, its true especially
when added to the cost of boarding fees. Fortunately
many schools, including Millfield, Stonar and Bryanston,
offer riding scholarships of one form or another, ranging from subsidised lessons or livery to help with school
fees. And for those not lucky enough to have a horse to
take to school with them, that by no means need stop
them riding at school. The majority of schools with livery facilities offer riding to pupils who dont have their
own horse, and many also offer a part-loan option, giving a pupil the responsibility of looking after a horse
without the expense. And of course many other schools
without riding facilities on campus offer extracurricular
riding.
If I hadnt been lucky enough to play polo at school,
I know Id never have got involved at university, or continued to play to this day. And since my first journalistic
commission was for Polo Times magazine, horses probably got me started on this career path as well. Who says
nothing useful ever came of horsing around?

27

6/3/14 12:18:37

warner brothers/kobal collection

Take the red pill, children


James Delingpole on his stints as provocateur-in-residence
at Radley and Malvern College

ne of the great advantages of forking out


around 30,000 a year for your childs education is that it buys them the chance to
have me warp their mind with my perfervid radicalism, open their eyes to the truth
about the world and transform the way they think about
everything for ever.
That was the idea, anyway, of the two-day stint I did
last year as Radleys provocateur-in-residence. And the
one I did before that at my alma mater Malvern College.
Apparently on each occasion there were one or two complaints beforehand from both parents and staff members,
but I think it was a bloody good idea. Well, I suppose I
would...
Why do I do it? Partly for the dosh but mainly for the
love. I can honestly say that Ive never in my life done
anything more satisfying than teaching. A bit like foxhunting, its one of those rare activities that allows you
to live totally in the moment for many hours at a stretch.
More than that, though, teaching is one of the very few
careers where, if youre lucky, you get to make a real difference.
I was very lucky with my own teachers, first with the
ones at school who gave me my grounding in English literature and subsequently, even more so, with my Oxford
tutor, Peter Conrad. Its thanks, above all, to the sinuous,
crop-headed Tasmanians intellectual boot-camp in his
terrifying leather-trousered tutorial sessions that I know
how to think critically: question received ideas; take nothing for granted; argue whatever damned case you want

28 

james delingpole_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

to argue, no matter how tortured and


convoluted, just long as you find the
evidence to support it and the eloquence and logic to articulate it convincingly.
Not everyone I teach on my school
visits will get into Oxford or Cambridge. Of those who do, few will get
a tutor of the calibre of Peter Conrad.
In fact most people, I fear to say, even
the cleverest, most expensively educated ones, are destined to go through their whole existence incapable of thinking an original thought or living
the examined life.
And I want to do my tiny bit to change all that. It may
sound uncharacteristically prim and high-minded of me,
but Im on a holy mission here. If even just one boy or
girl, years hence, can look back at some moment in one of
my classes and say: That was it. That was when I chose to
take the red pill ... then everything will have been worthwhile.
The red pill is a reference to The Matrix but if you
havent seen it, dont worry. All I mean is that I want, if I
can, to shake those kids out of the intellectual complacency and laziness to which were all prey at that age. I know
I was. But then, no wild-eyed loon had ever hijacked my
class and explained to me that there was an alternative...
No one, for example, told me that the Great Works
of Literature werent things you automatically had to
revere, that in fact all of them are failures in one way or
another, for the finished work is never as mighty as the
initial conception; but that this is not a bad thing but a
good thing, for it means you can respond to them as you
really ought to respond: honestly, freely, without the barrier of misguided reverence.
My English class is probably my favourite of the ones I
do, because it enables me to discuss something Ive often
pondered since graduating: Why do we spend time so
much studying English literature? And is it as those of
the Gradgrindian persuasion often argue a total waste
of effort?
guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

28

6/3/14 13:07:29

James Delingpole
attends a Radley
parents evening

I conclude English teachers may be pleased to note


that au contraire, its absolutely essential. Of all the
subjects, its the one that best enables us to make sense of
our world: who we are, why were here, what lifes about,
what kind of deal we can expect, how we ought to behave,
and so on. Basic stuff, I know, but because its so apparently obvious, no one ever actually explains it to you
that the body of literature isnt just a version of life, it is
life.
In a way, I suppose, what Im doing here is what Hector does in Alan Bennetts History Boys only without
the homosexuality, kiddy-fiddling and closeted left-wing
Greens_spec_edu_mar14.indd 1
21/2/14
27 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HX
politics. Though theres a lot I dislike about Bennetts
01225 334577 admissions@bathacademy.co.uk
play, I do sympathise with his thesis: that the most imporwww.bathacademy.co.uk
tant part of education is very often stuff that lies beyond
the curriculum.
@BathAcademy
www.facebook.com/Bath.Academy
But its easy for me to say that. If youre a proper
teacher with exam grades you need your class to attain
and key areas you have to cover, then venturing off piste
is a luxury you cant too often afford. Or rather, perhaps,
its a luxury only a certain kind of school can afford: ones
with the confidence, independence of spirit and insouciance to consider it worth the gamble of letting loose so
dangerous a radical on a class of impressionable minds.
Which is why Ive effectively ruined the rest of my
life (dont ask) by choosing to give my kids that intellectual advantage. I love hearing the pride and excitement
in Boys voice when he tells me, a year before his Latin
GCSE, that hes already reading vast chunks of (entirely
course-unnecessary) Ovid. I cherish the fact that, having
been denied French at her state primary, Girl has now
thanks to a driven, no-nonsense, inspirational teacher
managed to catch up with classmates whove been in
the private system all their lives.
One day, I hope all our schools will be this way. If
Michael Goves bold and necessary reforms are allowed
to continue, then Ive confidence that they will be. ImagIndependent tutorial college oering:
ine: a provocateur-in-residence transforming every classA Levels, January to June re-sits
room in the land with his or her revolutionary fervour
and banishing for ever from our green and pleasant
Easter Revision: 31st March - 18th April 2013
land the taint of stultifying, statist conformism!
29

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james delingpole_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

13:49:21

29

6/3/14 13:07:49

Billion-dollar babies
Oligarchs are getting better at dealing with English public schools,
says Stephen Robinson with a little help from their consultants

n the fictional tales of boarding school life from


Jennings to Mallory Towers to Harry Potter the
new term begins aboard the special school train
from a London railway terminus. But these days
the consumers of an expensive English education
may well arrive by helicopter or motorcade.
The demographic shifts within the English public
school system are never more vividly displayed than on
the first day of term. One teacher at a country boarding
school that is popular with Russians calls it the chorus
of the three-car convoy.
Staff know holidays are over when the gravel crunches and the rural calm is shattered by three top-of-therange Mercedes braking sharply on the drive outside.
Bodyguards spring from the first and third vehicles. One
of them opens the rear passenger door of the middle
car, and out pops an oligarchs little princess, clutching
her iPhone and a very expensive handbag. The luggage

30

Stephen Robinson_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

that emerges from the boot will emphatically not be a


tatty Hogwarts-style school trunk with stencilled initials
on top, but a matching set of Louis Vuitton suitcases.
Now that many of these country boarding schools
have a majority of foreign pupils, the cultural clashes
can be jarring and cause resentment. Teachers who once
taught Latin grammar to the children of clergymen and
provincial solicitors now offer instruction in Life skills
and English as a foreign language to the progeny of the
global super-rich.
When the Chinese and Russian invasion began in
earnest about 15 years ago, there were terribly embarrassing encounters between the international nouveaux
riches and the appalled indigenous parents. The British parents began to mutter and still they do that
they are damned if they are going to pay out thousands
of pounds a year for their children to be surrounded by
Chinese and Russian vulgarians.
GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS | 15 MARCH 2014

30

6/3/14 12:22:14

One English mother recalls an overseas father driving his sports car across the cricket outfield, assuming
that since he was paying 60,000 a year plus sundries
for the education of his two sons, he was entitled to
splash it around a bit. A Russian mother who insisted on
inspecting the dining room recoiled at her first glimpse
of English boarding-school cuisine, and ordered boxes
of sushi, salad, and quails eggs to be driven up from
London each day.
With boarding fees now far beyond the reach of
the British middle classes, heads are almost powerless
to resist these demands. Many second- and third-rate
boarding schools would close tomorrow if the Russians,
Chinese, Nigerians, and the new wave of oligarchs from
the stans pulled their children out.
Yet overseas parents are generally more sensitive
than they were ten years ago, and schools are better
at dealing with the international influx. These parents
have friends in Moscow and Beijing who have already
sent their children for an English education, so they
learn from the trailblazers that conspicuous displays of
bling can cause offence.
Many seek advice from groups such as the Good
Schools Guide on how to behave. Janette Wallis of the
Guide says there have historically been particular problems with the Russian culture of excessively generous
giving. Lavish presents will be presented to teachers by
parents, or at least by their drivers, at the first exeat. Typically these might be designer leather goods, bespoke
suits, offers of a days shooting, or cases of Margaux of
the very best vintages. We have had to talk overseas
parents down from giving some elaborate gifts keys
to the holiday home in Mustique being the grandest
example, she explains. Instead, she advises international parents to give modest cultural tokens from their
homelands advice that will no doubt enrage housemasters all over Englandwho could surely rationalise
any professional scruples they might have during a twoweek Caribbean freebie.
Charles Bonas of Bonas MacFarlane, a private
school consultancy and tutoring service, agrees with Ms
Wallis that super-wealthy foreign parents are better at
blending in these days. Several years ago, his company
acted as mentor to the daughter of a Chinese general.
The only form of greeting she could offer staff or housemates was a crisp military salute, but this sort of total
cultural disconnection is rarer today.
Though he does urge discretion on the parents who
engage him, Mr Bonas thinks it is easy to be too squeamish about lavish gifts for the teachers, whose working
days are much longer than when he was a boy at Harrow 30 years ago. They work bloody hard these days,
lessons and sports all day, then answering emails from
parents and colleagues into the night, he says. One of
the lessons he has learned through dealing with overseas parents is how incredibly stingy the English are by
comparison.
Generally, the current crop of Russian parents are
more sophisticated and bourgeois than the wave that
preceded them, and far less tolerant of the excesses of
their countrymen during the go-go 1990s. Still, there can

be problems, so after talking to parents, teachers and


consultants, some tentative guidance can be offered as
a Spectator service:
Housemasters can get very shirty indeed if the
chauffeur or nanny is sent to parents evening, especially if they dont speak a word of English, which is frequently the case.
While inside the headmistresss office, do not, as
an American celebrity in London did recently when
engaged with the head of a top
London day school, whip out your
The only form of greeting the
phone and reply to a text message.
If your child is seriously thick, Chinese generals daughter
or scarcely speaks a word of Eng- could offer was a crisp salute
lish, desperate measures may be
called for, but it is essential to be
discreet. The Russian father of one such boy bluntly
asked the headmaster of a leading prep school how
much he would have to pay to guarantee his son a place.
Alas, the offer was made in the presence of other parents and staff, so naturally, and regretfully, it had to be
turned down.
The more appropriate way for the father to have proceeded would have been to let it be known via a third
party that he wished to make a substantial anonymous
donation to the bursary fund to assist the genuinely
needy in Britain say, the middle-class parents who
cannot afford to send their children to the schools they
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15 march 2014 | guide to independent schools


fleet_spec.indd 1

Stephen Robinson_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

31

28/2/13 11:09:16

6/3/14 12:22:28

Best in show
How to get the most out of the largest schools
assemblyin the UK, by Sophia Martelli

ntering Battersea Park conference hall on a


weekend in early November, you might be forgiven for thinking youd rocked up at a convention of country house hotels: the stands display
enormous full-colour pictures of large, handsome historic buildings taken from their most imposing
architectural angles. But this event is not a travel exhibition dedicated to the joys of the English countryside, nor
a symposium for wedding venues. Its the seventh annual
Independent Schools Show, or ISS.
Its much more visual this year, says Carol Baker,
the development director at Kent College, Canterbury;
exhibiting for the seventh year in a row, she is in a position to judge. With more than 175 of the UKs leading
independent nurseries, prep and senior schools day
and boarding all represented under one roof, the ISS
can justifiably use the tagline the largest schools assembly in the UK. Every UK independent school one has
ever heard of seems to have a tick in the register; as the
Stonyhurst representative says, Its noticeable if youre
not here. Even Eton College, whose profile probably
doesnt need raising further, has a stand. No, we dont
need one, says Charles Milne, goodnaturedly. But were
here to show solidarity with other
independent schools and to dispel
In the caf, a man sidled up
some of the myths aroundEton.
They have a wide audience. Over
and asked, Looking for a boys
the course of the wet November
boarding prep near Ipswich? weekend, more than 3,000 families
browsed the educational possibilities for their children from the
highly organised (pregnant mothers presumably under
the impression that they had to put their babies names
down while still in utero which is not the case even
with Eton) to international families and upwardly
mobile English ones. There was even the occasional studious young person who seemed to be researching their
own education including a slight Asian boy sporting a
Gordonstoun-branded bag slung over his shoulder.
For the first-timer looking for schools, the result is
overwhelming, as Louise from Wiltshire summed it
up at the end of a long day (sensibly, she had left her
seven-year-old and two-year-old at home). The amount
of information to take in is huge: the many stands emblazoned with names both famous and obscure, the accommodating smiles of the teachers and marketing staff
32 

Sophia Martelli schools show_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

manning the cubicles, the schoollivery branded bags that wouldnt


look out of place on Sloane Street
(though I have little intention, not to
mention funds, to send my six- and
two-year-old to prep school, I left
with bags containing kilos of prospectuses; it seemed rude not to).
The marketing efforts are fascinating: branded pens and pencils
are standard, bordering on old-hat;
most stands seem to have bowls full
of refined sugar in the form of chocolates or lollipops on offer, resulting
in thieving children (mainly mine)
charging around as high as meth addicts and under the
impression that public schools are like Willy Wonkas
chocolate factory. Schools with a hitherto grim image
that might possibly want softening such as Stonyhurst and Gordonstoun give out the fluffiest soft toy
mascots (Gordonstouns rabbit sports a fetching tartan scarf). Kent College even produced living mascots:
three-week-old ducklings from its school farm, hatched
out of season especially for the show. And there are
also school branding companies exhibiting (one school
whose logo appeared to be a cockroach with a key might
benefit from these services).
If all this advertising is too overwhelming, and there
isnt the option of sending your PA or childrens tutor
to the show on your behalf (as oligarchal types are
rumoured to do), then school placement consultants are
also represented. These outfits range from independents
with a homespun operation in Chelsea to global professionals. Gabbitas Education is an example of the latter:
established in 1873, before many of the schools exhibiting here, Gabbitas boasts websites (and offices) for
China, Japan, Russia and South Korea as well as claiming in their literature that H.G.Wells, Evelyn Waugh and
members of the royal family have passed through our
doors. These organisations will, for a fee, assess your
child and pinpoint the most suitable schools.
And then of course there are also stands for the
tutors who might help your child to pass the exams to
get into the school you eventually decide on.
The decision, of course, seems impossible: not just
because theres so much choice, but also because every
one is so willing to please. At times the ISS resembled
some kind of red-light district: while I was resting my
bags at the caf (organic, naturally), a man sidled up to
me and asked in a suggestive tone, Youre not looking
for a boys boarding prep near Ipswich, are you? (he
fled when I said I was reporting the event).
The best strategy is to go in with some idea of what
youre after: day or boarding, single sex or co-ed, preprep, prep or secondary. For some families, location is
a priority, while for those overseas it may not matter
so much. An idea of the activities that make your child
tick is an advantage, although my initial questions about
what a school excels in were inevitably met with a statement of how all-round good they are at everything.
It is worth persisting. Ibstock School in Richmond,
guide to independent schools | 15 March 2014

32

6/3/14 12:20:17

William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty images

Know your onions: schools bring all sorts of exhibits to the Independent Schools Show

for example, got the highest result in Mandarin from a


pupilinthe British system, and the headmistress is very
proud of their language department. Its also worth
reading between the lines: a Gordonstoun representative told me We dont worship sport in the same
breath as We had three gold medallists in the London
Olympics.
But do keep an open mind, too. Id never thought
about weekly boarding, but Carol Butler of Kent College pointed out the advantages no morning school
run, no nanny costs, no need to move to a bigger house
to accommodate growing children and I felt myself
seduced.
Certainly attending the ISS is a great way to find
out more about a school youve got your eye on or
to whittle out down a long list to a short list. Also, the
expert talks over both days offer informative, focusing
guidance. Ben Thomass talk on Common Entrance
was really helpful, said a woman from Wiltshire called
Louise. It gave an overview so I feel like I might have a
handle on thatnow.
The main thing is to leave with a shortlist of schools
to visit. Mine after the promised crche refused
unaccompanied children due to other parents having
abused the service earlier in the day consisted entirely of boarding schools. Because who wouldnt want to
send their sugar-high tots as far away as humanly possible after dragging them around the ISS? If, that is, any
school will take them after witnessing such appalling
behaviour.

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15 March 2014 | guide to independent schools

Sophia Martelli schools show_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

d i s c e r n i n g

33

6/3/14 12:20:47

Easter revision courses The Council for Independent Educations list for late cramming
College

Courses

Average Dates
class size

Fees

Ashbourne College

All main subjects offered at all levels. Specific


unit revision courses offered in maths; for
other AS or A2 courses, specific sessions
restricted to Ashbournes exam boards. Useful
course pack and end-of-course report.

500 per course


(15hrstuition)

All major A-level and GCSE subjects offered.


Bespoke one-to-one tuition or small group
topic specific courses, Monday to Friday
half days. Daily supervised exam practice and
written feedback. End of course report.

Cambridge Centre for Sixth-Form


Studies 4-5 Benet Place, Lensfield

A-level: maths, RS, history, government


and politics, business, economics, chemistry,
physics, biology, Spanish, French. GCSE:
maths, biology, chemistry, English, English as a
second language, French, Spanish, German.

Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April

A-levels: 450 per


course (based on 17.5
hrs tuition). GCSEs:
400 per course (based
on 15 hrs tuition)

Carfax Tutorial Establishment

All subjects at A-level (AS/A2) and GCSE.


Group sessions on study skills and exam
technique. Formal exam practice. Morning
and/or afternoon sessions. Post-course report.
Half days: 22 hrs/week; full: 38 hrs/week.

13
(max. 3)

Mon 31 MarchFri 4 April

Groups of up to 3: 395/
650 (half/whole days) a
week. 495/895 for one
on one. Accommodation
from 200 a week

All main subjects at A-level (A2 & AS) and


GCSE. Homework throughout and reports at
the end of course. GCSE Combined science
(28 hrs tuition) 740. Exam skills day 160, or
80 when booked with full revision course.

All main subjects offered for AS, A2, GCSE


or IGCSE levels. (Combined science counts
as two GCSE subjects.) Individual tuition
often available for subjects that will not have
a class.

All main subjects at A-level (A2 and AS)


and GCSE are offered. Combined science
counts as two GCSE subjects. Individual
tuition available on request. All exam boards
offered.

MPW (Birmingham) 17-18 Greenfield


Crescent, Birmingham B15 3AU
Tel: 0121 454 9637
enq@birmingham.mpw.co.uk
www.mpw.co.uk/birmingham

All major A-level and GCSE subjects offered.


Half-day specialist modules (e.g. in history
and English literature) available for 132 per
session.

MPW (London)

All main subjects at A-level (A2 & AS) and


GCSE. 40-hour A-level maths 1,032. Eighthour seminar courses in classical civilisation,
English lit and RS 295. Four-hour history and
geography for 190. 30-hour combined science
GCSE course 890. Board specific.

7
(max. 9)

All main subjects at A-level, GCSE, IGCSE


and IB. Week-long residential or nonresidential courses. Study skills included.
End of course reports provided.

3
(max. 6)

All main A-level and Pre-U subjects offered;


GCSE maths, English and science offered on
half-day and full-day basis. Fully residential
A-level and Pre-U courses 960.

Bath Academy

27 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HX


Tel: 01225 334577
admissions@bathacademy.co.uk
www.bathacademy.co.uk

Road, Cambridge CB2 1EL


Tel: 01223 707942; admissions@ccss.co.uk
www.ccss.co.uk

39-42 Hythe Bridge St, Oxford OX1 2EP


Tel: 01865 200676
admissions@carfax-oxford.com
www.carfax-oxford.com
Collingham College 23 Collingham

Gardens, London SW5 0HL


Tel: 020 7244 7414
easter@collingham.co.uk
www.collingham.co.uk

Duff Miller College

59 Queens Gate, London SW7 5JP


Tel: 020 7225 0577
enqs@duffmiller.com
www.duffmiller.com

Lansdowne College

40-44 Bark Place, London W2 4AT


Tel: 020 7616 4400
education@lansdownecollege.com
www.lansdownecollege.com

90/92 Queens Gate, London SW7 5AB


Tel: 020 7835 1355
london@mpw.co.uk
www.mpw.co.uk
Oxford International College

1 London Place, Oxford OX4 1BD


Tel: 01865 240637
info@oxss.co.uk
www.oxcoll.com
Oxford Tutorial College 12 King
Edward Street, Oxford OX1 4HT
Tel: 01865 793333
info@otc.ac.uk
www.otc.ac.uk

34 

Revision colleges table_Spectator Schools March 2014_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

Mon 31 MarchFri 4 April


Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April
Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April

Mon 31 MarchFri 4 April


Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April
Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April

Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April


Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April

Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April*


Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April*
Mon 21 AprilFri 25 April*
*GCSE courses MonThu
Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April
Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April
Mon 21 AprilFri 25 April

Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April


Mon 21 AprilFri 25 April

Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April


Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April

Small group fee 620


per course (20 hrs); oneto-one tuition 54 per
hr. Accommodation
160 per week

A-level (17.5 hrs): 490


for one subject, 940 for
two. GCSE (14 hrs): One
subject 390, two 740,
three 1,090
Full A-level 975 (40
hrs). AS or A2 550
(20 hrs). GCSE 450
(20hrs). Three or more
GCSEs 385 per subject
Full A-level 975 (35
hrs). AS or A2 550
(17.5 hrs). GCSE 450
(17.5 hrs). Three or more
GCSEs 385 per subject
485 per course
(17.5hrs tuition)

Mon 21 AprilFri 25 April

Mon 31 MarchFri 4 April


Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April
Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April

Mon 31 MarchFri 4 April


Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April
Mon 14 AprilFri 18 April

Mon 7 AprilFri 11 April


(GCSE: 8 April11 April)
Sun 13 AprilThu 17 April
(GCSE: 14 April17 April)

Per course (20 hrs


tuition): one subject
668; two 1,336;
three1,819; four 2,271

715 for five-day course


(30 hrs of timetabled
study). Additional
280for full-board
accommodation
A-level 660 (24 hrs
tuition). GCSE 275
(12hrs tuition) or 500
(24 hrs tuition)

All of the colleges listed are members of the Council for Independent Education (www.cife.org.uk),
a national organisation of independent colleges which specialise in preparing students for university entrance.

17 Old Court Place, London,W8 4PL


Tel: 020 7937 3858
admin@ashbournecollege.co.uk
www.ashbournecollege.co.uk

guide to independent schools | 15 march 2014

34

6/3/14 12:21:24

The 2014 Spectator


Schools Conference
A League of Our Own: How British Schools Can
Lead the World

thursday 3 april,1 wimpole street, London W1


Speakers include:

Tristram Hunt
Shadow Education
Secretary

Elizabeth Truss
Childcare Minister

To find out more, visit

www.events.spectator.co.uk/schools07
call

Amanda Spielman
Chair of Ofqual

Toby Young

Co-Founder, West
London Free School

Tickets

99 + VAT

020 7961 0044


email

events@spectator.co.uk

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