Page 23 - Independent Schools Magazine
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 Hey, teachers, leave them kids alone!
(Pink Floyd: Another Brick in the Wall)
Debate unites young and old, teachers and students, says Michael Benjamin, Head of Public Speaking and Debate and Teacher of English at Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire, as he reports on discussions about uniform and homework.
Ef cient new builds
For the audience of teachers, parents and Years 5 and 6 students, the music of Pink Floyd ushered the Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire, junior debaters onto the platform, foreshadowing an enthusiastic discussion of student control, by teachers, at Plumtree School in Nottinghamshire.
Two teams made up of Ratciffe College Key Stage 3 students argued the questions of ‘school uniforms’ and ‘homework’ in
a pacey, political style debate. Inspired by Head Teachers, Phil Simpson of Plumtree and Jon Reddin of Ratcliffe College, the idea was to engage the young with the old, encouraging con dence of learning through formal conversation and argument.
Year 8’s Victoria Wheatley, captain for the proposition, quickly asserted ‘that uniforms are essential as individuality can be achieved through personalised buttons won for achievement.’ A Plumtree student and Ratcliffe Year 9 student, Oliver Hunt, countered offering ‘the expense of uniforms to some students is simply too much and that not all students are academically capable to win merit buttons – look at America – they don’t do uniforms – and they seem to do just  ne in the world!’
The question of ‘homework’ was met with  re on both sides of the aisle. Year 7’s Sam Davies con dently made the case ‘after 8 or 9 hours of focused school work, we then have
One of the oldest prep schools in the country – St Aubyn’s School, Essex, founded 1884 - has embraced modern architecture with two major new facilities.
The new Gordon James Dining Hall has been con rmed as the most energy ef cient new building in the London Borough of Redbridge.
nurseries operating in the same building.
The  rst project comprises a
new Dining Hall for use by the whole School, with an associated commercial kitchen facility on the Ground Floor and a central Staff Room and rehearsal/drama facilities on the First Floor.
Both buildings have been designed by Michael Foster AA Dipl MA RIBA (a former partner of The Tooley & Foster Partnership). They were built by contractor Kind & Co.
 extra-curricular or chores or an older relative to visit. Come on, isn’t enough, enough?’
As the debate intensi ed, so did the audience’s delight, producing a cutting question from Year 5 Plumtree student, Sara, ‘school uniforms keep you from getting bullied. I really love mine.’
Cheers from the audience were met with a response from the opposition’s Maisie Ashford-Clark noting ‘dealing with bullying is about people who are mean, it is not about expressing individuality through your own clothes.’
Parents from Plumtree joined in with one noting that ‘control is the key word here. Our children should be encouraged to think for themselves and be leaders – no uniforms.’ Another parent fully supported uniforms ‘when in the military service, I knew that as soon as I put on my uniform – it was time to work. Keep them.’ And keep the children talking.
With a vote of 68% to 32%, the audience collectively decided that uniforms and homework must stay!
Westonbirt is latest to receive CAP Silver Award
While the new Nursery, with
an equally ef cient energy
performance, has enabled there
to be two identical but integrated
Pictured: current head Len Blom with his predecessor Gordon James.
 The Housekeeping Team at Westonbirt School is celebrating a coveted CAP Silver Award. It is the  rst school in the South West education area to achieve this accolade.
CAP Awards recognise ‘unsung heroes’ who exhibit hard work and dedication to provide exceptional environments. They are only presented to departments that meet the highest standards in Housekeeping and Catering, following a rigorous full-day inspection by independent assessors.
Westonbirt School occupies an impressive Elizabethan-style mansion with parts dating back to
the mid-19th Century. Headmistress Natasha Danger eld said: “I am delighted that the Housekeeping Team has been recognised for the work undertaken to present this wonderful building. It’s paramount that the school looks its best at
all times to provide a caring and inspirational learning environment for our pupils.”
After joining the CAP Continuous Awards Programme in 2016, Westonbirt School achieved
Bronze level. Since then, the housekeeping team has bene ted from the programme’s 12-month improvement plan, which guided the department to the Silver Award. In 2018, the target is a CAP Gold!
  Michael Benjamin featured in January’s ISM with his top tips for setting up a debating and public speaking initiative at schools. The article is still available online at
Tel: 01858 540 200
 Independent Schools Magazine 23

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