Pastoral care is a real strength of British schools, but what does it mean?

- Pastoral care is a real strength of British schools, but what does it mean?

Pastoral care is a real strength of British schools, but what does it mean?

Pastoral care is what a school ds toto ensure the physical and emotional welfare of its students.  It can also be described as taking care of the health and well-being of the children in the school.  Both of these descriptions are correct, but the provision is far more diverse and influential on the overall education than would at first appear.

What are the basics that are involved in pastoral care?

Physical welfare involves making sure that the school buildings are safe, warm, and that the facilities are suitable. In British boarding schools the provision is usually exceptionally good, with comfortable bedrooms, excellent teaching facilities, lots of open space and fields that belong to the school, as well as sports centres, fitness gyms, music and drama studios and first-rate food prepared by experienced and expert chefs.

What is involved in proper healthcare?

This begins before the student leaves home, with the school requiring detailed information about any health conditions that might affect the student so they can make sure that they are properly prepared to respond to any health needs student may have.  Most schools have their own qualified nursing staff in case students are ill or injured and have close links for specialist help from doctors or dentists or other medical professionals when needed.  Many staff in British schools are also trained in first aid.

Both of these are of course extremely important, but emotional welfare and general well-being are much more than these fundamental requirements.

The ambitions of British boarding schools are to help young people grow up to be good citizens – not just focused on their own selfish preferences, but to be aware of and sensitive to the needs of others. This is achieved by helping young people become independent and personally organised, so that they use their time well, and by getting them to contribute to a successful and mutually supportive community.

How does this will happen?

In British boarding schools, staff take just as much care and interest in what students are doing outside class as inside class, because this is so important in developing a young person’s character.  Students learn to be responsible, whether this is manging their own laundry, keeping their room tidy or switching off their mobile phone and getting enough sleep.

Parents are often amazed by how willingly their children learn to accept and then value this self-discipline, but it is a key part of what boarding schools do.

The schools are very good at establishing norms of behaviour, where it is normal to get up, have a shower and make your own bed… new students do it because everyone else does it.  It is normal to sort out your clothes, hang up clean ones, put out dirty ones. When you’re old enough, you do your own laundry too.  There are staff who remind children who forget and teach the children who don’t know how to fold a shirt or use a vacuum cleaner.

Students also learn how to do things together and for one another – “Houses” are not just where students sleep, but social groupings and teams who work together, play in teams together, do plays and music together.  And there are staff who specialise in making all this work.

It is amazing to think how well this works, but it is one of the key parts of boarding school education.  Impossible to measure, but whose value is immeasurable.

Ready for the self check Covid test?

Ready for the self check Covid test?

Britain recovers from Covid – a country feeling healthy again

 ESBAStuart-Nicholason Chair, Stuart Nicholson, reports on the UK’s experience since the start of the pandemic and very positive latest news.

 

 

Britain has a very long tradition of individual freedom from state control.  Many people trace that back to the year 1215, when limits were placed on the power of the English King John by the charter of rights known as “Magna Carta”.  These individual rights are fiercely defended in the UK and were quoted frequently by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in the early stages of the country’s fight against coronavirus.

Unfortunately, the nature of a pandemic means that individual freedom is not a good starting point when the most important process is infection control.

Britain learned this slowly.  We were confident that the National Health Service (NHS), of which we are very proud, would be able to keep us safe from the virus.  This was not the case, and for months the UK had some of the worst Covid statistics in the world.  Very sadly, the UK finds itself 7th on the list of total deaths per 100,000 of its population – higher than Italy, Spain, and the United States, and about 2 ½ times higher than Albania.

During August and September 2020, we thought we had beaten the virus, with low infection rates and businesses and hospitality venues open.  For several weeks we even had the government paying half our restaurant bills – a scheme called “Eat Out to Help Out”.  I look back and realise that we were mainly helping the virus, as we suffered a much worse second wave of infections in the autumn.  As a country, we have been very poor at infection control at crucial times during this pandemic.

In our boarding schools however, we created self-contained, infection-free communities, safely isolated from anyone who might introduce the virus.  Even parents in some of the safest countries in the world had no hesitation in sending their children to school in Britain.  Japan, for example, has a death rate 25 times lower than the UK, and yet Japanese parents were very confident in sending their children to boarding school.

A year ago, we were told in the UK that the only way that any pandemic is brought under control is by herd immunity, either because a large proportion of the population has had the infection, or because a large proportion of the population has been protected by a vaccine.  Last week, I had my first injection of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, joining more than half of the adult population in the UK who have now been vaccinated.

Although we have been poor at infection control, the UK has been spectacularly successful at vaccines.  The development of vaccines is uncertain, so the UK government chose to support a large number of organisations that were developing vaccines.  They invested over 11 billion GBP in a wide range of potential vaccines, without any way of knowing which of these investments would be successful.  As a graduate of the University of Oxford, I was particularly pleased that the British government invested heavily in supporting the Oxford vaccine, but I knew that it might not be successful, and I knew it was possible that none of the potential vaccines would work.

The British government committed very early and committed huge financial sums to vaccines.  The population of the UK is about 70 million people, but the British government paid in advance for 400 million vaccines, anticipating that only a small proportion of them might work.  In addition, they set up the infrastructure to test any new vaccines very quickly.  The final part of our vaccine success is the system for distributing and administering the vaccines in huge numbers.

As a result of all this, the UK was able to start vaccinating early, and fast.  By coincidence, I had my vaccine on the 100th day of the UK’s vaccination rollout.  In 100 days, half of the adult population had been vaccinated.

What impact has this approach to vaccination had on the country and on Covid?   Thankfully, death rates fell dramatically.  We have also seen infection rates drop enormously – only seven countries in Europe have a lower case rate this week than the UK.  At 59 per 100,000 in the UK, this compares with 285 in France, 261 in Italy and 143 in Albania.

We know that the battle with coronavirus is not over, but we are confident that we are now winning the battle.  Discussions here in the UK are turning to what we can do to help other countries achieve high levels of vaccination, and how we adjust vaccines to keep us safe from any new variants.  Across the country there is a real sense of confidence.

I had a small bruise on my arm after my vaccination, and a day or two with a slight headache, but my sleeve is already rolled up ready for my second injection in a few weeks’ time! 

 

A British Education – navigating the amazing choice of subjects

Across the world, students at secondary school typically study 10 to 15 subjects.  They might have a little bit of choice, but most subjects are compulsory.  They must study their native language, they have to study mathematics, they all have to do science and a foreign language (often English), usually there is some social studies and humanities.  These subjects are taken all the way through school, a wide range of subjects whether you enjoy them or not, and whether you are good at them or not.  Most students love some of their subjects and either dislike or are bored by the others.

In the British system, the situation is very similar until students are 16 years old and go into the last two years of the school system.  When they are 16 they take examinations in the wide range of subjects that are expected in most parts of the world, but they are then allowed to choose their three or four favourite subjects, with an incredibly wide selection available to them, not just the typical 10 or 15 subjects that might be expected.

The final two years of school cover what is known as advanced level education (or A-levels), which provide specialisation and depth in usually three subjects, or sometimes four in some circumstances.  The number and variety of possible A-levels is enormous – there are over 50 subjects that students can select from.  A-levels can be taken in accounting, business, law, media studies, computer science, philosophy, psychology, politics, statistics, sociology, Hebrew, classical civilisations, Persian, Turkish: range of subjects is amazing.

It is not a requirement to study English or mathematics – the choice is completely free and it depends on the strengths and interests of the student, and on what the student wants to study later at university.

For some degree subjects, it does not matter which subjects are chosen at A-level.  Far more important is getting good grades, which means selecting your favourite subjects that you know you will really enjoy and at which you will enjoy working hard.

Other degree subjects require particular A-levels.  Some of these choices are obvious. 

If you want to be an engineer, you must take A-levels in mathematics and probably physics.  You might take additional mathematics is your third subject, or chemistry, or biology, or computer science.  Exactly which combination is better depends on the interests of the student.

If you want to be a psychologist, the possible choices are much wider.  For example, the requirements to study psychology at the University of Oxford are that you take at least one science subject, or mathematics, or psychology.  So, it is acceptable to have A-levels that are mathematics, Turkish and economics as preparation for a psychology degree.  Admission to many degree courses is very competitive and for this course it will be better to have top grades in mathematics, Turkish and economics than less strong grades in biology, chemistry and psychology.

For medical degrees, A-level chemistry is essential, and biology is recommended in addition.  However, the third subject can be anything.  Medicine is a very competitive course and very high grades are necessary even to be considered for admission, so it is important if you are contemplating applying for medicine to be confident that you will get very good grades in chemistry, biology and whatever you choose as your third subject.

International students benefit from advice from experienced advisers when selecting their A-levels.  It can be difficult to understand how the system works and it can be difficult to understand the huge range of options that are available, but it is worth making the effort because students find the specialisation of A-levels to be a really enjoyable experience.  International students enjoyed the opportunity to study business, or law, or photography, or many of the other more unusual subjects that are not generally available for academic study at schools in most parts of the world.

Another advantage of A-levels is that the added depth and specialisation means that British undergraduate degrees are often shorter than in other countries.  They are also very highly regarded and Bachelors’ degrees from prestigious British universities are usually all that is required for a successful career, rather than needing to spend a further year doing a Masters’ qualification at less respected universities.

Most graduates from British universities start successful careers at the age of 21.

Englanders Scholarship Board Albania

Welcome to the online application portal for Englanders Scholarship Board Albania.

By submitting the following information you express your interest to participate in the merit based competition dedicated to talented students from Albania and the region.

Englanders Scholarship Board Albania secures reduced fixed tuition and boarding costs to best UK boarding schools.

The competition works on a ‘first come first served’ basis as places are limited to only 30 contestants who compete for 10 Englanders scholarships.

The competition includes some rounds of transparent selections including Maths and English tests followed by academic interviews.



A very unusual education system – are British students lazy?

Stuart-NicholasonStuart Nicholson
Alumnus of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh

Across the world, almost all education systems have many things in common.  One of those things is a wide range of subjects in the secondary school curriculum.  Almost everywhere in the world, students between about 11 and about 17 years of age study between 10 and 15 subjects in school.  These are usually the native language and literature (two subjects), mathematics, science (often as three separate subjects), one or two foreign languages, history, geography, social science, sometimes an ancient language like Latin, music and art.  There are slight variations across the world, but the first separate subjects listed are more or less everywhere.

In the United Kingdom, we copy this model only for part of the secondary school age range.  Students aged between 11 and 16 take this wide range of subjects, very much like students in other parts of the world.  The way subjects are taught is often quite different in the UK, but that is a subject for a different conversation.

A big change in the British system occurs when students are 16.  After five years of secondary education they take a set of examinations called GCSE (the General Certificate of Secondary Education), with everybody doing English, maths, some science and foreign language and then choosing other subjects to take the total up to around 10 or 12.

In the last two years of secondary education things change dramatically and the UK system then becomes very different from almost everywhere else in the world.  In UK schools, students age 17 and 18 are able to concentrate on those subjects that are really important to them and which they really enjoy, and they are allowed to stop doing the other subjects.  Typically, a British student at this age will be studying just three subjects at what is known as A Level (Advanced Level).  These are very detailed, high level courses, so it doesn’t mean they are lazy taking just three subjects, it means they are very busy doing them in depth!

This opportunity to focus on their strongest subjects is normal for British students and they take it for granted, but international students who move into the British system love discovering the opportunities that it presents.  So, for example, students who love mathematics and want to be computer scientists or astrophysicists can study a huge amount of more advanced mathematics and be extremely well prepared for the demands of British university degrees.

Or, for example, if you are an enthusiastic linguist, you can study the language and literature of your chosen subjects in great depth and the choice of languages is astonishing – as well as English literature, there are advanced level qualifications in French, Spanish, German, Latin, Greek, Japanese, Persian, Chinese, Arabic, Urdu and others.

The range of options is enormous, from Business to Biology, from Design Technology to Drama, from Law to Latin, from Politics to Portuguese, students immerse themselves in subjects that they love and it transforms the experience of school. 

Englanders Scholarship Board Albania

Welcome to the online application portal for Englanders Scholarship Board Albania.

By submitting the following information you express your interest to participate in the merit based competition dedicated to talented students from Albania and the region.

Englanders Scholarship Board Albania secures reduced fixed tuition and boarding costs to best UK boarding schools.

The competition works on a ‘first come first served’ basis as places are limited to only 30 contestants who compete for 10 Englanders scholarships.

The competition includes some rounds of transparent selections including Maths and English tests followed by academic interviews.

Apply NOW



A British Boarding school – the safest place on Earth

Stuart-Nicholason

 

Stuart Nicholson
Alumnus of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh

British boarding schools have a well-deserved reputation for taking extremely good care of their pupils.  For example, most schools have well-equipped medical centres, with comfortable private bedrooms for any students who are poorly, and many have fully qualified nursing staff taking care of anyone who is unwell or injured.

During the current pandemic, there is probably nowhere safer than a British boarding school.  Despite the high numbers of Covid casualties in the UK, our boarding schools operate some of the most effective infection control processes imaginable.  This is possible because boarding schools can become self-contained communities, safely isolated away from sources of infection.  Everything that is needed is contained within the school grounds and access is carefully controlled to make sure that all hygiene precautions are fully observed to keep the virus at bay.

There is also probably nowhere that is more fun to be during the pandemic as all the school’s facilities, all safely away from the general public, can continue to operate as normal.  If you are studying at a boarding school, everything continues as normal.  The school catering provision continues and you have access to very high quality food prepared by experts chefs.  Boarding schools usually have very large grounds and you are likely to have several football fields to choose from, tennis courts to play on, artificial pitches, sports hall, fitness and gym equipment, and probably an indoor swimming pool.  There will be music practice rooms, well-equipped art departments, theatre or stage and plenty of people with whom to enjoy all of this.

The provision which is available at British boarding schools really is remarkable.  It is like living in an amazingly well-equipped small village, with a superb range of facilities being shared by just a few hundred pupils.  They live in their boarding houses as ultrasafe household groups, like large families, able to move comfortably and freely around their bedrooms, common rooms and kitchens and relaxation areas.

Students from all over the world have been taking advantage of this boarding school safety, its excellent provision of facilities, and of course its excellent education.  Where better to spend all of your school days, not just lockdown days?

 

Englanders Scholarship Board Albania

Welcome to the online application portal for Englanders Scholarship Board Albania.

By submitting the following information you express your interest to participate in the merit based competition dedicated to talented students from Albania and the region.

Englanders Scholarship Board Albania secures reduced fixed tuition and boarding costs to best UK boarding schools.

The competition works on a ‘first come first served’ basis as places are limited to only 30 contestants who compete for 10 Englanders scholarships.

The competition includes some rounds of transparent selections including Maths and English tests followed by academic interviews.

Apply NOW