How is it that the Internet has become as vital as dinner time, Fido?

Posted: 26th November, 2015. Topics:

As the ‘Dog that Blogs’, not having the Internet at the tip of my paws has been a catastrophe! In fact it’s been the roughest thing ever!

Right now, how much would I trade my nice juicy bone for the internet and emails to come back on? Abbotsholme has been without internet…. well literally for years it seems – through no fault of our own I might add – and we are fast realising how reliant on the internet we are.

I cannot blog, I cannot catch up with my friends Sam, Emma, horses Monty, Pippin, Merlin, Lily, Blue; Wilbur the fish, Hettie the lamb, Beatrice the pig, and the rest via Facebook, tweet out the awesome things happening here, link in with people, and even post my pictures or status about what I am doing right now – which is currently sat in front of my laptop writing my blog with very sad Labrador eyes even though I am not a Labrador – in Word, which I will have to copy and paste into our blog area as soon as we are up and running again.

I know every moment matters, and right now I am feeling that without the internet and access to the world, every moment matters more! I feel like my right paw has been taken away!

I even asked Mr Diamond what he thought and yesterday he had to change his lessons for the Prep School from web searching to another offline-based topic. We have become uber reliant on this 21st century phenomenon not just in our free time but lesson time too!

The internet has become a vital tool for searching, researching, learning, surfing, banking, shopping, and most other ‘ings’ you can think of!

In this dog biscuit rich, time poor society, finding things (two -ings there!) can be done very quickly via the internet and we can access the world at the touch of a button. It makes living our lives – especially our working lives – very efficient enabling us to have more time to do the things we really enjoy like chasing rabbits, sleeping by the warm AGA, dog treats, and walkies! We can interact with the world at any time and any moment … although not at the moment! Hoooooaaaaagggghhhhhwwwwwlllllllll!

How did people cope with pigeon mail and smoke signals for communicating? Anyway, I am never going to howl again at the fact that the internet rules our lives. Come back internet – all is forgiven!

At the time of going to press with this blog – we are back online! Woof woof, and hurrah!


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The five good things about International Pupils in Independent Schools

Posted: 16th November, 2015. Topics:

Over the last few years there has been a rise in overseas pupils coming to the UK to be educated within the Independent School Sector. As the domestic boarding has generally declined, overseas pupils have increased. Pupils are coming from countries all across the world to experience what they consider to be the best education in the world. Overseas pupils are an incredibly valuable addition to Schools in the UK for the following social reasons:

1 – We are living in an international world. The Commonwealth certainly has lead the way with promoting shared ideals and communities around the world. Children around the world are learning about other cultures much more now and to promote tolerance this should be encouraged. What better way to experience it than to have day to day contact from children from Nigeria, China, Ukraine, France, Mexico, Japan, Russia and so many other places.

2 – We are living in a global economy. People are able to travel from London to New York in a day and back for business, Skype colleagues across the world. This is interaction is the norm for pupils who learn alongside pupils from other cultures. By making it the norm, we are supporting global ambitions for our pupils to go and work in other countries alongside friends they have made at school and to travel and enjoy the world as overseas pupils do when coming to the UK.

3 – Lasting friendships. People  still remain in touch with friends from School around the world whether it be celebrate their weddings, the birth of their children and visiting every so often. Friendships whether domestic or international are an important part of life’s rich tapestry.

4 – Visits to friends during holidays. Many great friendships are made at school and pupils travel to their friends homes and enjoy different languages and cultures whilst growing up staying within a warm family environment. This provides great enrichment for both the overseas family and child, and the visitor.

5 – Tolerance. Enough said.

Our overseas pupils enjoying a very British tradition – afternoon tea at Callow Hall, in the Peak District.

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Remembrance and Internationalism: Some IDEALS to learn from.

Posted: 9th November, 2015. Topics:

Each November, the United Kingdom and some countries of the world remember the many men and women who have lost their lives in conflicts since the Great War began over 100 years ago. 38 million people were wounded in the Great War and 17 million died, with 60 million losing their lives in the Second World War, so our Heads of School presented in a moving Remembrance presentation during Chapel today in preparation for our formal Remembrance Service on Wednesday.

We remember the War to end all Wars, followed only 20 years after by the Second World War. There is a statistic somewhere that says the world has only seen 36 minutes of peace since 1945. How do we ensure that the Act of Remembrance – and all those that lost their lives – is not just an act each year but something we can put into practice to change things for better for the future to try and gain a few more minutes, hours or a lifetime of peace. In other words, how do we learn from the past and ensure this never happens again?

A groups of schools took the initiative in 1966, to form an alliance under the banner of Round Square. Round Square is a membership of over 150 schools world wide whose IDEALS form the cornerstone of its ethos.

The six pillars or IDEALS which offers schools a framework for excellence and continuous improvement, along with structured opportunities to collaborate and share experiences with like-minded peers around the world, centre around the key themes of Internationalism, Democracy,  Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service. Round Square also believes that in order to prepare for adult life, young people must be encouraged to discover and embrace the similarities and differences between cultures and nationalities in ways that promote meaningful and lasting understanding, tolerance and respect.

Round Square cares passionately about what happens in the future to our world and to the fascinating variety of cultures and communities it supports. They want those communities to thrive and prosper and care about each other In mutual cooperation.

This international outlook by Round Square that promotes a greater connection and understanding between children of different cultures, and will do so hopefully in the future. This will help to ensure that Remembrance in the future will reflect on the past only and not additionally on current and future conflicts and tragedies as the countries of the world embrace an international partnership.

Abbotsholme is one of 11 Round Square Schools in the UK.

We will remember them.



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Scholarships: pressure or prestige?

Posted: 2nd November, 2015. Topics:

For Abbotsholme and for many schools, ’tis the season of Scholarships. For those that are in the dark about what these entail, scholarships are given out by independent schools to pupils who have specific skills or talents in the fields of academics, art,  music, sport and drama to name the key areas. Pupils generally have assessments on a specific day in relation to the area of their talent, and an interview. Families are then told whether their child has been the recipient of such an award and how much  they will be receiving in the way of a Scholarship / financial support. Generally the support matches the child’s level of skill or  talent.

Twenty years ago, scholarships were seen by many as a prestigious award for their child, given from the school of their  preference, and something to talk about to their friends within the dinner party circuit. Nowadays, with the ever increasing  financial demands that scho

ol fees put on families, scholarships are seen more often than not as a way to ease the financial  onus of school fees. They are more of a way to ease the finances than an accolade. Some families tend to shop around a variety of  schools to ensure that their child has both an independent education and reduced fees, rather than pick the school that is right  for their child. In a way you have to commend their determination  to ensure their child has the best education possible.

But what is this like for the children themselves? Do they feel the pressure to gain a place or is it a prestigious award for them?  Not all children are the same; some will see this process from both sides, and we all know that children are very adaptable  people, much more so than adults. However, for some, tests and exams are an extremely pressurized and stressful situation, and then there is the wait after which is agonizing. Additionally, if the result is a fail what then? Many would say that this is life, and that it is character building; for others people would say parents put too much pressure on their children, and for some it is upsetting especially if the school they really wanted to go to has turned them down.

But this is only the beginning. For those that achieve this prestigious accolade, the award of this Scholarship (or Exhibition) as some schools call them, begins two, five or seven years of pressure to be at the top all the time; of ensuring that academic results are the best, that participation in a wide variety of activities is continual, and or course being a brilliant ambassador for the School. For most they take this in their stride, but for others they might begin to feel that famous quote is ever so true, “that it is easy to get to the top, but harder to stay there.”

So in a nutshell, it provides an accolade for the pupil, and a confirmation they have a great skill, as well as being a financial support for the parents; but on the flip side, it is continual pressure over the time they are at the school, when they should be enjoying all the opportunities that come their way, and their school days in general.

So there is something to be said for Scholarships: they provide you with life skills on how to deal with pressure, but can they be an additional pressure on top of the many pressures that teenagers deal with. Pressure or prestige: you decide!

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Outdoor Education in Schools: What’s the point?

Posted: 26th October, 2015. Topics:

Last week, every Abbotsholme pupil and staff member embarked on hikes – an annual tradition at Abbotsholme School. What are hikes I hear you say? Hikes have been going on at Abbotsholme since the 1930′s. They are a chance for pupils to enjoy the outdoors – and more specifically an incredible part of the UK’s countryside – for a few days. It is a chance for pupils to get away from the classroom and experience fresh air, greenery, physical exertion, carrying all their stuff they need, and above all mud… especially in October!

For parents spending between £10,000 – £30,000 per annum on their child’s education, many would say, what a frivolous activity, and how long are they away? Three days!!!!! Should they not be using this time more usefully to study, catch up on homework, to start revision if in Years 11, 12 or 13, to go on work experience, to visit universities, or why not keep them in the classroom to ensure all the time possible for academic study is achieved?

As the dog that blogs, here is my answer to you: do these activities instead of hikes build courage, stretch you physically to your limit, give you the chance to find your strengths to develop, and more importantly your weaknesses to turn into strengths? Do they give you a chance to bond with friends in a different environment, communicate a given route effectively from a map, give you life skills including leadership skills, organisation, sharing, being supportive, kind, helpful to each other and above all teach team-ship? I would hazard a guess that the answer is no.

When your child goes out into the big wide world, the attributes that will set them apart from others are the ones learnt above – and ones that some of the bright young things on the current ‘Apprentice’ could learn a thing or two about too. Because here’s the thing I have learnt, what gets you the job is not being able to do the job, but being someone who will fit into a team and help a business grow. Employers want to see life skills, including teamship, organisation, the ability to communicate, determination, and also to have humility to admit when another persons idea was better, the honesty to admit when your route was not the best , courage in the face of the unknown, respect for others in the team, and integrity at all times.

As one parent said when picking up her children at the end of hikes: “Both my children had great experiences on hikes yet again. It was  a wonderful  sight on a beautiful  autumn  afternoon  collecting  them. To  see  a sea of youngsters sprawled around  the car park  with rucksacks, rosy cheeks  and looking  happy with  their friends was  a lovely  sight. All  such experiences have personal challenges both  enjoyable and  some less so, but all great  for them to experience and to help shape  their  characters, and for them to  develop valuable life skills. Thank you.”


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School Fees: five ways to afford them

Posted: 19th October, 2015. Topics:

It is a well known fact that school fees have risen faster than salaries in recent times, and the ISC reported in its recent survey that school fees had increased by 3.6% in the last year. Although this was the lowest annual increase since 1994, private education is slowly pricing many families out of the market.

The cost of fees over a lifetime is around £200,000 on average. The price of a house, and couples have ever increasing demands on their income including university tuition fees, longevity, saving for a pension, the increasing cost of living, and the fact that many couples are looking at buying their ‘forever’ home together at the same time they are considering such an education.

So how do families afford it? Well here are the five ways that help families pay for an independent education:

1 – Scholarships: Scholarships reward talented pupils. Parents of pupils who are academically gifted, or indeed gifted in music, the arts, sport, can benefit from significant discounts off the school. Schools generally hold scholarship mornings or days each year for pupils in specific year groups, generally entrants into Year 7, 9 and 12. Some schools encourage you to commit to the school beforehand with a visit and a taster as well as registering your child for the School to avoid ‘shopping’ (where parents place the size of the discount off the school fees over  finding the right school for their child and will enter their child into a number of scholarship days). The size and number of scholarships given out varies depending on the School itself and its, the number of the applicants and the ability of the candidates. Some schools prefer to give out a greater quantity of scholarships with a smaller discount to support more talented individuals. Scholarships generally happen between Autumn and Spring, so this is the time to ask your chosen school about this.

2 – Bursaries: All independent schools are charities and therefore have to ensure they fulfill their charitable objectives by supporting disadvantaged pupils through a bursary scheme. Bursaries support children who would benefit from the education provided at the School and who will go on to be successful post school. Bursaries are complex. Parents generally have to fill in an extensive form with all their financial information and then a decision is made by the bursary committee about the sum of support. Again some schools like to help a large number of families by giving smaller bursaries, but the outcome is dependent on each school’s policies. Bursaries in many schools are an annual support, and parents have to re-apply for them every year, in case their circumstances change.

3 – Paying a lump sum: many schools offer financial discounts for paying school fees a year, two years or the whole school fees in advance. When in the admissions process do ask the admissions team about this, along with sibling discounts which again vary between schools.

4 – School fee planning: there are many options out there to help parents pay for school fees including savings plans and support for paying the fees from specific organisations including one called ‘School Fee Plan’ (SFP). These plans allow you to pay for the fees monthly reducing the burden of a large payment at the start of each term. Some schools do offer direct debit payments for school fees too, but more often than not companies like SFP are being used by schools to help out parents manage school fee payments. Your chosen school should have information about these organisations and payment options, so do ask them.

5 – Other sources of income: there are other sources of income which are being heavily relied up on by families to be able to afford independent education including help from grandparents, remortgaging, obtaining a loan, forgoing holidays and new cars, as well as taking on extra work and employment. Many families will do all it takes to ensure their child gets the best education possible. They consider this as one of the best investments they can ever make and when you consider that even today, the top jobs, some of our greatest business leaders and half the cabinet went to independent school, they may not be wrong!




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Negotiating the admissions process within the Independent School sector

Posted: 12th October, 2015. Topics:

Abbotsholme welcomes a former Headmaster of the School today who is a Governor of an independent school in Nottinghamshire. Mr Farrant is visiting to find out more about the Admissions journey at Abbotsholme to help with his the School he is Governor at.

On the back of choosing the right School for your child, I thought that a blog on how to navigate the admissions process would be a useful read as a follow on from the Open Day blog and in honour of our former Headmaster’s visit.

So, some background to start with before we go into the key parts of the process:

Independent Schools have gone through a lot of change over the last twenty years, and none so than within the admissions process. Gone are the days when a parent just drove up the school drive, had a brief tour of the school and spoke with the Head. In the age of customer service, there is a lot more to it now. But then as a parent about to shell out the equivalent of the average house price in the UK, that is what you would and should expect!

Parents today want more than a cold visit and a quick talk with the Head. They as customers don’t want just to be talked at, they want to be engaged with the School, its ethos, the environment, the feel and with the staff. It has gone from a relationship between parents and educators to a 21st century relationship between buyers and sellers.

Schools need to recognize that there are two key sets of parents to look after: first time buyers and buyers who bought into it themselves. Both are very different. focusing on the latter, how daunting is it when you visit a brand new place, country or culture where you do not speak the language, and have to get by without looking out of place? Admissions teams need to treat first time buyer families with this exact situation in mind.

So the admissions process – here it is ….. and here’s how to navigate it.

1) Enquiry – you make the enquiry about the School for your child by phoning or emailing or requesting a prospectus over the website from the school. First impressions are very important, and a quick response makes you feel the school cares about you and your interest. In fact just like with any business, you will soon switch custom if you do not get a response.

2) Visit – Following reading all the literature, and having some key questions answered, the school should offer you a visit. This is the chance to see whether the literature, website and information from staff match the offering within the school.

You can come with or without your child – its does not matter because it is up to you. You may want to scope out the school first before putting your child through what can be a stressful experience having to come face to face with dealing with moving school and making new friends.You may prefer to bring your child along and engage him or her with this new and daunting experience as a family from the beginning.

The school should normally offer you a chance to chat with the admissions team, have a tour of the school – usually with a pupil in your child’s year group who can give you an honest opinion of the school – and finish with meeting the Head. The admissions team should send you on your way with a clear idea of the next steps and you should have had warm and welcoming experience.

3) Tasters – By now you should have had a visit or been offered more visits depending on your needs. You should now be offered a taster day or days.

The taster is an important part of the process. ‘Try before you buy’ is never more important than here, especially if you are considering putting your child in for scholarship exams. Your child needs to know that the school is for them, and the school needs to see whether your child can fit into the ethos and environment of the school.

Your child should be offered a buddy within the year group they will be joining as well as offered a day during which they can do lessons and subjects they enjoy to make them feel more at ease.

You should be offered overnight tasters if your child is going to board.

You should be offered as many tasters as you want.

On some of these tasters, assessment tests may be included, unless the school does a combined entrance test on a certain date.

Throughout these two key stages, you should feel welcomed into the school at every point, made to feel that everyone cares about you and your child’s needs at every stage and that nothing should be too much trouble – whatever you ask – after all you are going to be investing a lot of money in the school to educate your child.

4) Offer – your chosen school should by now have told you that your child has a place at the school should you wish to accept it, and you should – following a telephone call with the admissions team – receive a letter with an offer of a place. All you need to do is accept this, and celebrate!

5) Joining the School – you are here… finally!

After a year or so of searching for the right school, having lots of visits and tasters even after accepting a place just to doubly make sure your child is happy and settled as can be and that he or she feels able to join without feeling lost or swallowed up in their new school.

You have received a small tree in the form of a joining pack with more forms to fill in than you will have to fill out throughout the whole rest of your life, and you have got through it. You have bought the uniform, and your child is raring to go. Tick! Education sorted, now you can relax….. until the next key stage in your child’s life!

The attached picture shows Abbotsholme on our recent Open Day!



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Top tips on choosing the right School for your child.

Posted: 5th October, 2015. Topics:

It is that time of year again: the march of the Open Days. It is such a minefield and so much information to take in. We had lots of parents and pupils drive up the Abbotsholme drive in search of what they hope is the right school for them.

So what should you as a parent look for? As the dog that blogs, here are my top five tips:

1 – You know your child better than anyone. You will know what school suits them whether boarding or day, or both, single sex or co-ed, small or large. Ensure you look at a few schools to compare, and read their websites as thoroughly as you can, and their literature too. Go in prepared with questions that the literature and website does not answer.

2 – Take as much time as you need with any school. Visit as many times as you can to view different times of the day and school week. The Admissions Team should offer this as well as tasters in abundance. They know that your child is unique and special to you, and that having as much contact with a school settles a child much easier. Do not just rely on an Open Day.

3 – Smiling children and happy teachers are so important. On Open Day they are in abundance, because everyone is on show. This is why Schools should offer you lots of visits and tasters. People cannot keep up a charade for long. Talk with both staff and pupils at length. Ask girls a pupil guide where possible. You will see the product of the School you are viewing.

4 – Meet with the Headmaster / Headteacher. This is very important. The man or woman at the top embodies the school and should live and breathe its ethos. After all they are in charge of everyone living and breathing that ethos too, that you have painstakingly researched and have chosen to spend your time at.

5 – Academic or Extra Curricular – again you decide! A great advantage of independent schools is the breadth of curriculum they offer as well as the out of classroom activities.  Be clear on what is going to suit your child’s aptitudes. If academic will the school be able to stretch your child, if they are less academic can the school provide the necessary support.

Don’t forget to look at the fees, and the fees in different year groups. You want to know you can afford the schooling not just for next year, but for years after. Many schools offer bursaries and scholarships, as well as school fee payment plans so do not be afraid to ask about these.

Finally, I am sure any mother would love a School that encourages this - click here to view!

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Abbotsholme’s Dog that Blogs

Posted: 28th August, 2015. Topics:

Hirch is the voice of Abbotsholme – the Headmaster’s early morning friend whom he talks over the issues of the day, marvels at the Weaver Hills and looks forward to every moment mattering!

Hirch represents our key tenets of Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Courage and Humility. Read on for his thoughts…

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