Page 25 - Independent Schools Magazine
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  Iain Kilpatrick has been head of Sidcot School, Somerset, since 2012. He has previously been head of Beaconhurst School, Stirling.
Our aim is to create a school  lled with Peace Makers and Change Makers and Peace Education has created a learning environment which gives voices to our students. It empowers them to challenge, question and be curious while also developing the essential skills of tolerance, acceptance, empathy and understanding – the essence of great leaders in a global society.
It’s not just in the classroom where you will experience Peace Education here at Sidcot. It is very much the golden thread which weaves its way throughout school life. We have a Centre for Peace and Global Studies, a peace  eld with Yurt village, an innovative speaker programme exploring contemporary global issues and an increasingly popular annual Festival of Peace designed to connect with a broader audience exploring the concepts of peace and Quaker values.
It was therefore very rewarding to be appointed an Ashoka Changemaker School, one of only
15 such schools in the UK. Ashoka, through its network of social entrepreneurs, believes that anyone has the capacity to effect system change gQiven the right encouragement and nurture.
You offer the choice of studying the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) or A Levels in the Sixth Form. Have
you noticed any swing from one to the other in recent years? Do students from abroad tend to opt for the IB rather more than their UK- Adomiciled classmates?
About 20% of our Sixth Form will study the IB, with the rest taking A Level. This balance has remained pretty stable in
the years I’ve been at Sidcot and those opting for IB are an eclectic group of international and UK students. What they have in common is a shared interest in internationalism and many of them will go on to study abroad, if not at
As is the ethos throughout our entire school, developing the whole person, alongside academic achievement, is
what de nes a Sidcot education. And it matters to us that our students move into the next phase of their lives full of enthusiasm and cheerful con dence, equipped with the skills to be self- reliant and resilient.
For our Sixth Formers we have the SPICE
programme which looks to develop the skills
and attributes much valued in the wider world.
We particularly focus on leadership during the
Sixth Form and the SPICE leadership course gets
students thinking about teamwork, independent
learning, intellectual enquiry and service to
others. These are vital skills and attributes
employers are calling for – they need people with
the wherewithal to think for themselves, able to
make independent decisions while still working
QIs Brexit going to present a problem of teacher recruitment, and make the UK less attractive to boarding pupils from overseas? If it is, what steps can be taken to mitigate?
AWe have a global perspective here at Sidcot, so for us Brexit brings a new dimension to our strategic focus. Fortunately UK independent schools will always be in demand internationally – globally they are considered the gold standard in education.
However, without a doubt Brexit and its consequences will have an impact on both student and teacher recruitment. The drop in sterling has certainly made us and other UK independents schools more attractive  nancially
comes with the current political climate.
uQAside from their studies, many of
your Sixth-Formers follow the SPICE leadership course, described as ‘a
unique programme designed in line with the Quaker values of Stewardship, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality’. What are the essentials of the course? How much time are students Aexpected to devote to it?
McGlone. He had an infectious love
of literature and always encouraged us to question everything we read. He was quite an anti-establishment  gure around school – a bit of an aging hippy – and delighted in teaching controversial authors like Albert Camus and Dario Fo’s ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, rather than the texts prescribed by the exam board. I still teach, although very little. Instead I spend a lot of time observing teaching and learning throughout the school. I particularly enjoy ‘pupil shadowing’ when I follow a year group timetable. Being a Year 7 for a day is an extremely enlightening – and exhausting – experience!
ndergraduate level, then as post-grads.
Qcollaboratively.
but we are battling against the uncertainty that
Gender identity seems to be much in the news, with certain commentators concerned that it may be unhelpful –
even damaging – to young people to read too much into what are often passing phases of adolescence. Some schools now opt for ‘gender- neutral’ uniform policies and modes of address. How are you approaching this sensitive issue? Or is it one which you expect will drop out of the Alimelight before long?
Sidcot has always recruited very well from China. This special relationship has been formalised recently with an agreement
to collaborate in a venture to build an international school, inspired by the teaching and pedagogy of our progressive school, in the Sichuan Province of South West China.
Unfortunately, we may see things become more challenging for both students and staff from European countries. There could be changes to legislation and of course we will need to consider the impact of border control. Whatever the  nal outcome, I hope Britain will continue to be a welcoming, inclusive and friendly country for
teaching? Do you still teach?
I think the issues that some young people have with identity are age-old. However, they are only now being openly spoken
about, which has to be a good thing. Adolescence is a dif cult time for some people and schools
are now far more attuned to the pressures. In my opinion, the key to supporting the individual is recognising them for who they are and how they present themselves in a calm, non-judgemental way. I think teachers are good at this but we need to encourage parents to take a similar approach.
We have started a range of parent engagement events this year called ‘Let’s talk’, which range from how to support homework to teenage mental health. The format is quite simple – a short presentation by a member of staff or visiting speaker followed by a chance for parents to speak to each other; sharing experiences and exchanging tips and hints. This has been very well received by those attending and has helped parents feel less isolated, become better informed and, therefore, more able to support their children. We are introducing a gender-neutral uniform option from September to give students greater choice in how they present themselves and have changed the wording in our school policies away from using boys and girls.
pQ
Who, or what, inspired you to get into
eople to come to study and work.
A
I was inspired, perhaps not surprisingly, by an English teacher called Jim
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