Page 15 - Independent Schools Magazine
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 Conference for Heads
Headteachers from 50 independent schools gathered for a conference at Benenden School, Kent, last month (March) and spent the
day discussing issues that are pertinent to the sector. There was a particular emphasis on Year
7 and 8, including a focus on enquiry-based curriculums and the transition from prep to senior school.
There were some strong views expressed that enquiry-based curriculums offer pupils a more relevant and lasting education: that they provide genuine skills for life by fostering independent learning, creativity and encourage risk-taking. By contrast, Common Entrance was seen as an exercise in merely testing a child’s ability to recall knowledge, which senior school Heads felt was a less effective method of assessing a pupil’s potential.
There were presentations from Benenden, Newton Prep in London and Holmewood House School in Kent, all of which have introduced enquiry-based curriculums in whole or in part.
There was then a positive but robust discussion about the best method for managing prep pupils’ entry to senior school.
A panel discussion was held, in which heads of prep and senior schools outlined their varying positions on pupils’ entry and an open and honest debate ensued about how the system could be improved.
The afternoon drew to a close with a session on partnership working, with Benenden and The John Wallis Church of England Academy discussing how the partnership brings enormous benefits to pupils from both schools.
The event concluded with wine tasting, performances from some young musicians and dinner, followed by a talk from former Education Select Committee Chairman Neil Carmichael.
Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price (pictured) said: “Overall we were delighted with the response from Heads and felt the turnout on the day reflected the importance of the topics on the agenda.”
 Chinese teachers visit
A delegation of teachers from the Fuyuan British American School, in Shenzhen, China visited Sibford School, Oxfordshire, to see examples of best teaching practice.
The visit follows a trip to China earlier in the year by Sibford Head, Toby Spence.
The teachers observed lessons in a number of subjects including English, Maths, Chemistry and Physics. They also visited Sibford’s successful ESOL department where they met some of the school’s overseas students.
Toby Spence said: “Our ESOL department is a key part of the school with a strong reputation for supporting pupils from across the globe as they improve their English and develop language skills which will support them in their studies. It is great to have a link to Fuyuan British American School which is a forward thinking and welcoming school in Shenzhen. We hope to continue our partnership in years to come.”
Pictured: The Chinese delegation with Toby Spence (far right) and Sibford’s head of ESOL, Sally Pickering (second from left)
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