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ISC SEN Conference - 20 November 2014
More House SchoolAs the Independent Schools Council hold a Conference on SEN for teachers, Barry Huggett OBE, Chair of the Independent Schools Council SEN Committee and Headmaster of More House School, explains why training teachers helping children with special needs is more important than ever….
 
An Inspector Calls (or rather 16 do!) - 14 November 2014
The Abbey SchoolThe first half term for any new Head is a unique experience in itself, however even more unique is having a full inspection of the School by the Independent Schools Inspectorate after only 4 weeks in post! Rachel Dent, Head of The Abbey School, Reading describes her experience...

I would like to dispel some of the myths that surround this experience. The first is ‘the call’ which alerts you that your school will be inspected (routinely every 6 years). I had long held visions of a red phone and alarm bells, but in reality it was a simple confirmation that the ISI inspection would take place the whole of the following week and I should brief staff to prepare accordingly. As The Abbey School educates 1,100 girls from Nursery to Sixth Form our team of inspectors would be larger than usual – 16 (of whom 13 were current or former Heads themselves)!
 
Digital Apartheid - 12 November 2014
ian yorstonTechnology expert Ian Yorston predicts a ‘digital apartheid’ in the future: a world where some can code and some can’t . But will those who can code hold all the power? Merry Arnold, ISC’s Communications Officer, reports on the big questions tackled at last week’s ICT conference…
 
To IB or not to IB - 4 November 2014
to in or not to ibFocused choice of subjects or breadth of study? For some pupils the choice between A-levels or International Baccalaureate is not clear cut. But in this fast changing world many students would benefit from the flexibility that the IB offers, argues Peter Gray, IB Diploma Programme co-ordinator at Malvern College.
 
Bringing Politics to Life - 27 October 2014
cranleigh schoolAt Cranleigh School, Surrey, the Year 13 Politics students are actively involved in politics and really get to the heart of the matter. Rob Verdon, History and Politics Teacher, explains how…
 
Making the most of what (and who) you know - 20 October 2014
helen fraserHelen Fraser, CEO of the Girls’ Day School Trust, explains why alumni networks are a vital resource when it comes to preparing students for the world of work…

Schools have a vital role to play when it comes to preparing students for the world of work. Academic achievement undoubtedly has a role to play but as Hilary French, head of Newcastle High School for Girls GDST said back in August: “Results may be important but they don’t define the rest of a student’s life.”
 
The Pursuit of Happiness - 14 October 2014
bedales school photoThose who believe that achievement in examinations is the measure of all things educational can be surprised to find that at Bedales Prep, the overriding priority is to have a happy school. Jane Grubb, Head of Bedales Prep School, Dunhurst, explains why …
 
Why the Friday Club Works - 7 October 2014
school childrenAt The Royal School, Surrey, the highlight of the pupils in Year 7’s week is Friday last period – and not because they are going home.
 
Independent schools and social mobility - 3 October 2014
school childrenMany independent schools actually act as engines of social mobility, rather than impediments to it, argues Marion Gibbs.
 
The rise of the University Aptitude Tests and how to prepare for them - 30 September 2014
science lessonIf achieving top grades at GCSE and A- level, writing personal statements and filling in UCAS forms wasn’t hurdle enough to getting into university, now more students are finding they have an additional barrier to negotiate – in the form of Aptitude Tests. Universities are increasingly using these Admissions Tests to distinguish between candidates. Alex Frazer explains how best to prepare for them…
 
Focus on Benefiting from our Great Sector - 23 September 2014
david hansonAt this time of year, just ahead of the IAPS Annual Conference, I find myself reflecting on our sector as a whole and contemplating its future says David Hanson, chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools.
 
How schools and theatres can unite to support outreach projects in the community - 16 September 2014
magdalen collegeMagdalen College School, Oxford’s resident theatre director Alice Malin, and producer, Ashleigh Wheeler, describe their ground-breaking initiative...
 
We Will Remember Them - 9 September 2014
haileybury schoolOver 2,500 of Haileybury school’s pupils and staff fought in the Great War. Nearly six hundred lost their lives. One hundred years on, to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the war, Haileybury pupils have helped construct a replica Command Trench in the grounds of the College. Yesterday it was opened to visiting schools by Armed Forces Minister, Mark Francois…
 
The Combined Cadet Force is under threat - 5 September 2014
combined cadet forceThe Government want to extend CCF to include all schools. While Simon Davies applauds that ambition, he is disappointed at the way the MOD intends to fund it. In a letter to General Haigh, Assistant Head Youth and Cadets, of the Armed Forces, he explains why the government proposals could be so damaging to CCF for children at whatever school they attend….
 
Get together and reap the rewards - 2 September 2014
alun jonesCollaborations between differing schools offer enriching and exciting experiences for all.
 
The most important development in this year’s GCSEs is the decline in separate sciences - 29 August 2014
barnaby lenonBarnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council and former head master of Harrow school, writes:
 
Why do private schools get such good results? - 26 August 2014
barnaby blogPupils in independent schools are pushed to achieve their potential in 'hard' subjects, subjects that the best universities are looking for.
 
Results Day isn't the time to criticise A-level exams - 20 August 2014
David GoodhewEvery Results Day, the value of A-Levels is thrown into question; it's their job to prepare students for higher education, not the world of work.
 
What we desperately need is a secretary of state rather less anxious to fiddle around with exams - 19 August 2014
Barnaby LenonSo, the first year with no January AS or A2 papers. Schools know that the January resits have hitherto helped to improve their pupils’ results, but there has been general acceptance that the decision to end January exams was a good one – there were just too many exams, too much resitting of modules, too much grade inflation.
 
A School Boy's perspective of Independent School - 12 August 2014
will charley photoAs part of his Work Experience, Hampton School pupil, Will Charley, age 15, spent a day at the ISC offices. Here he gives his perspective on why it’s the wealth of co-curricular activities that makes a schoolboy’s life special at an HMC school…
 
The Home Office is in danger of closing the UK's borders to boarders - 1 August 2014
girl boardersEarlier this week, the Home Office announced yet further changes to the so-called Tier 4 system, by which international students are granted visas to study in the UK.
 
Applying to University - 30 July 2014
student being helpedWith the long summer holidays looming, time well spent can really strengthen students’ chances of getting the course and university they want. Simon Kinder, Deputy Head – Teaching & Learning at Gresham’s School in Norfolk, offers his top tips on how sixth formers can get ahead in the race for a university place…
 
Who wants to be a student? Or a chair? - 28 July 2014
pupils smallISC has circulated member schools with its advice about responses to be made in the consultation by the DfE over its plans to make new regulations with standards for independent schools to take effect from 1 September 2014.
 
Golf for All - 21 July 2014
As professional golfer Rory McIlroy snatched a remarkable victory at the 2014 Open Championship this weekend, Rick Valentine gives us the tee off on Loretto School’s Golf Academy whose alumni he hopes may one day take the same trophy…
 
Leading Headteacher Dismisses Reports on Epidemic of Anorexia in Independent Schools - 15 July 2014
headmistress Jo HeywoodJo Heywood was dismayed about reports of the silent epidemic of anorexia sweeping through independent schools...
 
iPad - One to One - 7 July 2014

i padTricia Kelleher, Principal of the Stephen Perse Foundation (Cambridge) writes on how learning and thinking is influenced by being an iPad 1:1 School
 
Out of Character - Promoting emotional health and resilience in school - 1 July 2014
rgs climbOne in ten children will suffer from a mental health disorder at some stage of their school career: that’s two or three in every class a teacher encounters.
We can’t always prevent it, but by helping the pupil develop character (sometimes termed resilience or grit), we can give them the environment, tools and strategies to cope with the bad times. Bernard Trafford, Headmaster and Sue Baillie, Pastoral Director of Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, are running a major Pastoral Conference that aims to show us how…
 
Textbooks work - 1 July 2014
text booksIn England 10% of 10-year olds are issued textbooks; in South Korea – 99%. In secondary science 8% of pupils in England are issued with textbooks compared to 88% in South Korea, 92% in Taiwan.
 
The Impact of Independent Schools on the British Economy: House of Lords Reception - 27 June 2014
presentation at receptionISC reception to celebrate independent schools contribution to the economy is big success. Tracy Cook, Head of Press at the ISC, explains why….
 
Government to respond to the impact of independent schools on the economy - 20 June 2014
children playing.jpgLord Lexden is asking for the Government’s response to the impact of independent schools on the economy, following publication of a report by the Independent Schools Council.
 
Don't lengthen the school day – all work and no play harms students - 11 June 2014
boy in flowersWith debate still raging over whether the school day should be longer, Tim Hands argues that less teaching leads to better exam results…
 
The Music and Dance Scheme - 4 June 2014
Jessica Ward explains why funding in Music and Dance education has been frozen and what the Music and Dance Schools are doing about it...
 
Why Sport Matters - 20 May 2014
John Claughton believes that sport is the key to keeping children on the ball at school…
 
Bursaries: view from Glasgow - 14 May 2014
School bursaries are not only beneficial to the child, but to the school too...
 
A Level Reforms - 7 May 2014
As schools head into AS exam season, Barnaby Lenon explains the changes that are taking place to AS and A-levels…
 
Some inspiration for Gove - 29 April 2014
As pupils build an ice cream seller’s bike, an Observatory and restore a Gypsy caravan Keith Budge explains why he has introduced an alternative curriculum to GCSEs…
 
Why the Census matters - 24 April 2014
Today is Census Day, when the ISC’s Annual Census is released making headline news across the nation’s press. This year, it is even more special as it is the fortieth anniversary of the first Census.
 
No school is an island - 9 April 2014
A report published by the ISC shows that independent schools support a £9.5 billion gross value added contribution to Britain’s GDP- larger than the City of Liverpool or the BBC.
 
What do independent schools contribute to the British economy? - 2 April 2014
We know from decades of opinion polling that a majority of parents aspire to an independent education for their children, recognising the strengths and values they offer. We know that many would agree with Niall Ferguson, who recently described independent schools as "the best institutions in the British Isles today".
 
Bursary provision - a topic that deserves some attention - 11 March 2014
As delegates arrived at the HMC IDPE conference on School Bursaries, they congratulated themselves on getting a place (it was oversubscribed to such an extent that there was a kilted bouncer on the door of the Caledonian Club); then they commented “What a great delegate list”.
 
Mindfulness Conference for schools - 24 February 2014
The Mindfulness Conference for schools is a cross association conference directed by Dr Anthony Seldon, which takes place at Loughborough University on Wednesday 12 March 2014. The conference will demonstrate the value and methodologies of mindfulness to principals, heads and those in senior leadership. All proceeds will be going to the charity MIND.
 
Living The Dream - 12 February 2014
Mark Vernon is the Head of Ski Racing and Skiing at Reed’s School in Surrey. He inspires his pupils to be part of the School’s impressive Powder Byrne Ski Academy.
 
When I grow up I want to be... - 28 January 2014
A hundred years ago, as a woman your career options were fairly limited, with the vast majority of women having little choice other than to become a professional housewife and mother. Yes, there were a few ground-breaking women scientists even then, but the Marie Curies and Dorothy Hodgkins were very much in the minority. Fast forward to the 21st century, and things look very different – or do they?
 
Surviving entrance exams - 17 December 2013
Like many independent schools, spring is the time when we set our entrance examinations and children across the country are assessed to see if they qualify for the school of their dreams. It is tough time for parents and their children. Having seen it from both sides, as an aunt and as a Headmistress, I can attest that it’s also a testing time for schools because in seeking to determine a child’s ability and her potential, we are also required to make a judgement on how happy, successful and inspired she will be as part of our particular model of teaching and learning.
 
Are you an ostrich? - 10 December 2013
Dick Moore touched a nerve with the audience at the recent ISC SEN conference when he talked about the suicide of his own son. Now he works with the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust to help schools identify and work with mental health in adolescents…
 
New Words, New Worlds - 5 December 2013
For the last ten years, every pupil at St Faith’s School in Cambridge has learned Spanish from the age of four. In September 2013 the school took an ambitious step towards integrating the language into the academic curriculum. The school’s Head of Languages and Enrichment, Heather Martin, reflects on the theory and practice of the first few months.
 
E-Safety and Parenting – the challenges for day and boarding pupils - 21 November 2013
It is the fear of every parent that they will be unable to protect their children as they grow up, and the constantly changing nature of technology is high on their list of concerns. The speed with which trends in technology are taking place means many adults find themselves in a worrying position. More often than not, they know far less than their children about the activities taking place online, let alone how to help them if and when things go wrong.
 
Making a real difference. How one South London school is really helping their community. Head of Sixth Form and Community Action, Vikki Askew is bubbling with enthusiasm… - 14 November 2014
Independent schools working with their communities – definitely win-win! At James Allen’s Girls’ School it makes us who we are. We want girls to leave school with a desire to give back. It should be second nature to them, and they get so much from it…
 
The ISC SEN conference, 14 November 2013, London

For the last eight years, the ISC SEN Conference has brought together practitioners and experts so that the provision in our schools for children who find learning a little more difficult has become better and better.

 
St Christopher - A truly independent school - 16 October 2013
When the School was founded in 1915 the Daily Herald reported that the School was based ‘not on the sameness of children, their conformity to type, but on their differences. ’This concept of treating children as individuals was revolutionary at the time and continues to be one of the distinctive characteristics of a St. Chris education.
 
Wilshaw is Mr Grace on a bad day; the berater-in-chief of schools - 14 October 2013
On the surface, no one should be very surprised by Sir Michael Wilshaw's intemperate outburst yesterday. A man who likes to create controversy, speaking at HMC's annual conference; a man who modestly likens himself to Clint Eastwood and Lord Kitchener (strange role-models); berater-in-chief of England's schools, echoing his political master; young Mr Grace on a bad day: "You're all not doing very well".
 
There's A* Man... - 16 September 2013
While most consider August to be a time for enjoying the hot weather, teenagers expecting results, staff in schools and the Research and Intelligence team at ISC could be forgiven for sweating that little bit more as the final two weeks of the month roll around. For the second year running, there was an overall drop in the number of pupils achieving top grades, although the overall pass rate continued to rise.
 
World Class Provision - 5 September 2013

In a recent article in the Financial Times, Jonn Elledge argued that fees for independent schools have risen sharply in recent years and that they are pricing themselves out of the market. Here Matthew Burgess, ISC's General Secretary, responds:

 
The contributions of independent schools to Team GB at the Olympic Games of 2000-2012
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Schools, announced in February that he would commission a report to compare the quality of sport in the state and independent sectors. This followed a judgement on the performance of Team GB at the London Olympic Games that sportsmen and sportswomen who had attended state schools contributed proportionately less to the team’s success than those who had been educated privately. I understand that the schools for this comparison have been chosen and that work will begin at the start of the new school year. tennis boy
 
Total fundraising by UK Independent Schools has more than doubled in the last decade - 11 July 2013
Independent schools are set to raise an estimated £115 million this year, up from £50 million in 2003, according to the latest Independent Schools Financial Benchmarking Survey released in May.
 
Borders must not be closed to boarders - 4 July 2013
A leaked letter from the Prime Minister to senior officials across Government is widely reported today, with headlines focused on the suggestion that overseas children could pay for access to English state schools.
 
It’s no joking matter….Confessions of a procrastinating Headmaster as he approaches Speech Day - 2 July 2013
As we approach the end of term [really?] most of us heads in the country are probably turning our attention to our end of year school review, whatever it may be called Prize Giving, Founder’s Day or Commemoration. The serious content of this review is the easy part, particularly if you delegate some of the material to your Heads of School. In fact, I have just received overnight, two outstanding first drafts from my Head Girl, Millie and my Head Boy, Merlin. Millie accompanied her draft speech with a cheeky email. “And how is your speech coming along headmaster?”. “Superbly”, I replied. “It’s almost finished”. Well headmasters are permitted little white lies, occasionally. In fact, with less than 5 days to go to the big day, I have yet to put pen to paper or finger to lap top. And the reasons? Having mastered the art of procrastination over many years, the part I have always found challenging is that opening paragraph, particularly if you want to grab the attention of your audience…..and especially if you want to be funny. I shared such a confession with Mark Eagers, the distinguished Headmaster of Box Hill School, on the golf course at a conference earlier this year and we both decided that it would be a jolly good idea if we could provide a service for other Heads who suffered from a similar affliction.
 
Time to Celebrate: An independent-state schools partnership founded in 2003 celebrates ten years of collaboration - 25 June 2013

Beginning as an Independent-State School Partnership funded by the government in 2003, the Wimbledon Partnership has endured its fair share of crises over the years, not least the withdrawal of government funding in 2008. But the School’s decision to take over the funding itself on the basis of the mutual benefits which flow from working across the sectors has enhanced the lives of countless members of staff and pupils at the partner schools over the years. And after its first ten years, the Partnership is in excellent shape.

The eight secondary schools in the Partnership (four maintained schools, three academies and King’s) share teacher-training arrangements and mentoring for new Heads of Department. Teachers attend management courses together, and two members of the King’s staff are governors at partner schools, which is one of the best ways for schools to develop close and trusting relationships. King’s also runs a special scheme for pupils on Free School Meals, who experience a four-year programme of inspirational sessions and visits culminating in a Preparing for University Day. Over 180 GCSE students attend after-school revision lessons taught by our staff in the term before their exams, and the School provides extension classes for pupils applying to top universities and medical schools.

 
Independent/state school partnerships - the way forward? - 20 June 2013
Today I attended the Education Select Committee’s first oral evidence session in relation to School Partnership and Cooperation at Portcullis House.
 
Guilty Admissions - 19 June 2013
Every so often, we hear of - and challenge - examples of discrimination against our sector. This week, not only did we reverse an egregious example of discrimination, but we also set a precedent which will be significant for many schools and their pupils across the sector.
 
Keeping Children Safe - 18 June 2013
Today, we submitted our consultation response on the government’s proposals to slim down safeguarding guidance to schools. Thanks to all those who took the time to call or write in with their comments.
 
Of Committees and Commissions - 12 June 2013
Charitable status is back in the news again, almost. Last week saw the publication of yet another report about the Charities Act 2006, this time from the Select Committee which oversees the work of the Charity Commission.
 
Behind the headlines: The ISC Census 2013 - 25 April 2013
Spring is finally here, bringing with it the launch of ISC's Annual Census. The Census is the only chance we have to look into the not-too-distant past, reflect on the whole picture and to get some idea of what’s been happening in the sector. It’s an impressive document, 48 pages of stats and tables, number crunching at its best by our research team. It looks at everything from pupil numbers; fees and fee assistance; public benefit; regional and ethnic trends; gender and age groups to the internationalisation of independent schools. So delve beyond the headlines and you’ll see that there is a lot more in the figures to merit close scrutiny, too.
 
Collabetition, anyone? - 11 January 2013
The coverage of this month’s Academies Commission report (Unleashing greatness: Getting the best from an academised system) is predictably polarised. There was a media emphasis on one of the findings – that some academies might be manipulating admissions to improve results (a “low road approach to school improvement”). There was an anti-academies response, trashing both the report and academies (“abject failure”, “dreadful damage” etc). And there was more balanced acknowledgement, echoing the substantive message of the report, of both individual successes and raised expectations, together with a warning that that the “transformative potential” of academisation could not rest on academy status alone.
 
How can Independent Schools engage with the Wider Community by Rudolf Eliott Lockhart - 23 November 2012
Politicians of all colours seem to have developed a fondness for telling independent schools what sort of public benefit they ought to be providing. Most recently, Lord Adonis has criticised independent schools for failing to live up to the charitable principles of their founders and has suggested that the sole route to salvation for them lies in sponsoring academies. This is a curious state of affairs as the law on public benefit has recently been made clear: last year the courts upheld the Independent Schools Council’s (ISC) judicial review of the Charity Commission, underlining that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model of charitable engagement and that there is a wide variety of ways in which schools live up to their responsibility to reach out and serve those who do not pay fees.
 
School Leadership: Three Leaders, One Team - 8 November 2012
Amongst the proliferation of research and debate about many areas of educational leadership: distributed leadership; building a successful Senior Leadership Team; talent development and other themes, there is much to demonstrate that leading a school is a collaborative process involving a variety of roles. However, there is as yet relatively little written about the triumvirate at the heart of a school’s senior leadership: the Head, the Bursar and the Chair of Governors.
 
It is time to give schoolchildren what they want - 6 November 2012
‘What they want’, according to Jonathan Taylor, Headmaster of Bootham School, is inspired teaching by inspirational teachers. With the help of a public-private partnership which is already bearing fruit in York, here Jonathan explains the wider meaning behind this partnership and its potential for further development in line with children’s needs and aspirations. Is this partnership a model for the future?
 
Academy Challenged - 2 November 2012
Barely a week passes without an ideologically-driven assault on independent schools. The ideologues tend to fall into two categories. There are those who find the very existence of schools outside the state sector repugnant to their worldview. Their aim is the abolition of independent schools (and they are creatively opportunistic in finding ways to advance their cause). Arguments about the fundamental right of parents to choose an education system for their child, or the wilful perverseness of vandalising a sector which is the envy of the world, fall on deaf ears.
 
Are Medallists Really a Bad Statistic? - 16 August 2012

But then came the words of Lord Moynihan, commenting this week precisely on selection for the Olympics. It is, he said, ‘wholly unacceptable’ and ‘one of the worst statistics in sport’ that half of our Olympians in London 2012 were educated at independent schools. The Prime Minister chipped in too, saying that independent schools have ‘more than their fair share’ of medals.

 

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