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Deborah Newman has been Principal of Fulneck School, Yorkshire, since 2012. She was a Housemistress of a girls’ boarding house of 75 13-18 year old girls at Repton School, Derbyshire, before moving to Fulneck as Vice-Principal in 2008.
 is a healthy setting for teenagers, and, whilst QHeadlines such as ‘Cheating Scandal not motivated at this stage in their lives to
Hits Top Public Schools’ have damaged
the credibility of all concerned. Is it now imperative that all schools follow the best practice of some in not allowing their staff to help set papers for exam boards where their own students sit those same exams from the same boards?
AThe whole examination system is a mine eld for schools. The goalposts have changed frequently over the
past few years and are still changing today. Neither school leaders, teachers, nor the young people themselves know what changes might be imposed next and there is much confusion.
I really feel for parents who are striving to keep abreast of the examination process so that they can support and advise their children.
In terms of schools being involved in malpractice, I don’t believe there is ever any excuse for this. We all want our students to achieve their full potential or beyond but not by foul means. Where there is evidence of cheating or malpractice, the adults involved should not be allowed to examine as they have abused their position and put the grades of their students
at risk. The whole system is undermined if
the professionals in positions of trust and
esponsibility lack integrity.
rQYou attended a Grammar School in
York. Should there be more Grammars?
to achieve my potential and I was intrinsically motivated. I had set my sights on becoming
a teacher at an early age and I knew what I needed to do to achieve my goal. However, academic achievement is not the be all and end all and there were children in my Grammar School who would have bene ted from a less academic curriculum with some practical
or vocational subjects on offer. My concern about Grammar Schools is when children are ‘written off’ at the age of 11 or even younger. Young people develop at very different rates and intellectual capacity continues to develop well into puberty. I had friends who were rejected from my Grammar School who were highly intelligent individuals but who were
there is no room for complacency, the support network in place at Fulneck means that we can spot the patterns early and support children (girls and boys) who might be causing us concern. In a previous role, as a Housemistress of a girls’ boarding house, one of the most dif cult situations I ever had to deal with concerned a lovely girl who developed anorexia. Her demise affected every member of the community and it was very dif cult to watch her health and mental wellbeing deteriorate
of young peoples’ lives, both in and
pass an academic test; they were sent down a practical route because they did not pass tests at eleven. Today, parents have more choice for their children and there is certainly a place for Grammar Schools if this is the best  t for an iQndividual child.
Fulneck educates around 400 pupils from 3 to 18, around 80 of whom board. Do you anticipate that boarding will become
more or less popular as the years roll by?
in the future. Boarding offers young people the opportunity to develop themselves within a safe and structured environment, whilst affording them some independence. My experience, having spent much of my career in schools with boarding, is that it can be the making of young people. Many students who join boarding for the Sixth Form tell me that they wish they had done it earlier. They enjoy spending time with their friends and having a range of activities on offer to opt in or out of. With the availability of Skype and Facetime, even the youngest boarders can keep regular and positive contact with
their parents and families. It is the structure of boarding that seems to work for teenagers and young people. We all know that young people need boundaries and will respond positively
if these are clear and consistent. It is perhaps easier to impose boundaries in a boarding
so rapidly. It had a signi cant impact on those round her.
I am a great believer in boarding and I would hate to think that the
popularity of boarding might diminish
Technology pervades almost every aspect
out of the classroom, bringing with it a reduction of one-to-one, face-to-face, inter- personal communication. Does this concern you? Could young people of the future  nd dif culty interacting with each another socially?
ANow you have really hit a nerve with me as this issue is probably the one that most concerns me as a Head in the 21st century. Whilst I feel that we must all keep abreast with technology in this fast-changing world, I am concerned that our young people are becoming dependent on their technology, almost as an addiction. It concerns all of us
in education that many young people are absolutely bereft without their mobile phones and parents are increasingly under pressure from their children to relent at a young age
and allow their children this ‘privilege’. In my
six years as Principal of Fulneck, I have become increasingly concerned that young people prefer to communicate through a third party in the form of a small screen. This will inevitably affect their ability to communicate verbally, to con dently look people in the eye and converse. This is obviously not the case for all young people but, for those who have a tendency to social awkwardness or shyness, it exacerbates these traits. If children feel excluded from any situation with their peers, there is a tendency to isolate themselves further by communicating through social media with invisible and anonymous ‘friends’. Schools have a role to play in giving young people as many opportunities for social interaction as possible, whilst ensuring they keep abreast of technological trends so that we can support and understand them.
There is a place for Grammar Schools and it is fair to say I bene ted from this
system. I was pushed hard at school
chool environment than in the family home. sQ
‘Love your staff’.
It was advice I received from an
If a new Head asked you for a few words of advice in their  rst day in the job, what would you say?
experienced Headteacher before I took up my post as Principal. Through the many challenges I have faced in school leadership,
it is the piece of advice that I remind myself of daily. The staff in any school are the biggest asset and deserve to be nurtured, developed and supported. In our daily dealings we can often forget how intense and pressured the teaching profession really is, despite the obvious rewards so staff need to feel valued. My staff at Fulneck are a fantastic team who, without fail, go the extra mile to support our pupils.
Independent Schools Magazine 21

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