Affordable independent schools

(First published in the Autumn Newsletter for the CRE) The latest news from the Independent Grammar School, a new affordable independent school in Durham reads as follows: “We have been delighted that, without advertising as such, we have had almost 100 expressions of interest.  That confirms our view that there is a real demand for …

Charlotte Mason – who was she, and what is her relevance?

Who was Charlotte Mason? Charlotte Mason (1842 – 1923) was a teacher and educational writer who lived and worked all over the UK. Orphaned at 16, she taught both as a governess and as a classroom teacher. Despite suffering ill health for much of her life, she founded a teacher training college at Ambleside for …

IQ – a short and (over)simple FAQ for parents and teachers

There is something distasteful about IQ. Leaving aside the fact that it is often used by those who want to make race-based claims about merit, it reduces the educational project to the merely quantitative, crowding out other virtues. However, these objections should not mean that IQ be buried – as it has been largely since …

History of Prep Education Podcast # 3 – Interview with Mark Johnson

In Episode 3 of my History of Prep Education project, I interview Mark Johnson. Mark (known to all his pupils as MRJ) attended prep boarding school himself aged 6 (!). As a teacher, he taught at Summer Fields for 17 years, becoming Deputy Headmaster, before becoming Headmaster of Cheam in 1998 – a post he …

My visit to Michaela Community School (MCS Brent)

Given the criticism that the school has received from many quarters (such that staff have even received death threats), I was fortunate enough to be allowed to visit Michaela at the end of the summer term. I spent a remarkable few hours there, and sent the following email to the headmistress, Katharine Birbalsingh afterwards: Dear …

The Great Conversation (I’m looking for a pupil!)

I am looking for a school-age student who has the time and inclination to read a Great Book with me online via Skype. Please leave a comment or email me if of interest. The idea is expanded in this link, which begins as follows… “The Good Books are food for a wholesome imagination. They are well-written. …

History of Prep Education #1 – Interview with Rhidian Llewellyn

Last week I began a part-time project to interview retired prep school teachers about their teaching methods. My first subject was Rhidian Llewellyn. Rhidian began his teaching career at Heatherdown. From 1980-1984 he was Head of History and English at Arnold House School in St John’s Wood, London. In 1986 he became Senior Housemaster at …

The Pedagogy of Perception

Last Friday, I attended a fascinating forum on Liberal Education put on by Benedictus at Blackfriars in Oxford. Its title was The Liberal Arts -Education and Society. Every guest was invited to offer a 5 minute reflection on one aspect of Liberal Education. Anthony Radice, for instance, offer these thoughts on Memory and Liberal Education. I …

Oundle Trivium

I recently came across this initiative from Oundle School, and was so heartened that I think Mr Gunson‘s words need quoting in full! What a wonderful example of a school actually enacting that well-worn phrase: “education for its own sake”. Will follow with interest… It is vital that pupils do not equate all learning with assessment. Trivium has …