Tag Archives: Speakers

Taking the lead: board meeting

Headteachers of both state and private boarding schools held their annual gathering recently.

What do you need for a good conference? A good hotel, great food, convivial company and star speakers. Apart from losing education secretary Michael Gove at the last minute, the Boarding Schools’ Association, of which 38 are state boarding schools, did well on all four counts for its annual conference for heads, in Bristol earlier in May.

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From disadvantage to high finance

The week begins with a meeting with The Buttle Trust, which is hoping to increase the number of disadvantaged children it assists into boarding school, from its present number of 300 to 800 by 2017.  The Buttle Trust already works with 120 schools, and hopes to increase this number so that good places can be found for more children who might be about to slide towards the care system, but whose educational outcomes are likely to be a great deal better if they can access a welcoming environment in which learning thrives.  BSA’s extensive programme of training for boarding staff offers considerable scope to support schools involved in this important development of the Trust’s work.

Later this week to Wellington Academy, one of the academies which persuaded the last Government to invest in boarding accommodation to extend its facilities.  Having welcomed its first boarders in September 2011, the Academy is now working hard to recruit for September 2012.  I look forward to seeing its great new facilities.

We are delighted that the new Diploma course, starting in March, is now fully booked up with senior and experienced boarding staff, many of whom have already completed the BSA Certificate course.  Word is that the pioneering first students on the Diploma pilot course last year have produced some  absolutely outstanding work.  The trailblazers have set a high benchmark for their successors.

It is also pleasing to report that the Certificate Course which begins with two residential days at Dauntsey’s School  in the Easter holidays is full booked and has a waiting list.  This one is a mystery to me – every year, mid February sees a flurry of phone calls asking if there is space on this particular course.  Perhaps it is attractive because of the two day kick-start; perhaps it’s the charm of being in holiday time, not needing to take time out of a busy term; perhaps it’s half-term-itis, when houseparents fondly think of the training they’d really love to do – and lo! Here is just the thing!  Whatever it is, we are really sorry to turn people away.  We do hope entry on to another of the courses is possible, but if it really has to be Dauntsey’s or bust, then please contact us to start the list of attendees for next year!

Lastly, common sense prevailed when I found the cost of a speaker for a conference next year.  I think the topic, about how to get things done, and don’t we all need help with that? would have been useful.  But the price tag was well in to five figures.  I shudder to think what Olympian sportsmen will be able to charge for speeches by the Autumn of 2012, but if you have a sporting alumni who remembers his or her school happily, you might want to book them before they get their gold medals and disappear into the financial stratosphere.

This post originally appeared at http://boarding.org.uk/blog/show/20


It’s half term, and the phones really do go quiet, and there is a lot less email traffic.  Probably because quick holidays are being grabbed not just by personnel in our schools, but also by everyone else we work with – in Government and in other Associations – because their families also have half term.  Time to get the decks cleared and paperwork brought up to date, like the Annual Report for the year ended August 2011 – so long ago, but such a busy year.

On the other hand, the media does not stop – so 8.00 this morning and I am responding to Radio Gloucester’s concerns about the wisdom or otherwise of children boarding.  A slightly shorter interview than I would have liked – there is so much to say – but I really needed to say very little.  The bulk of the answers had already come from wonderful Sally Easterbrook at Hatherop Castle who had completely sold the idea of junior boarding, complete with a young boarder explaining why it worked for her.  The phone-in element of the programme seemed to be drawing in listeners who had themseves been boarders in the 1940s or 1950s – simply not relevant to the twenty first century experience of boarding.

Hope everyone saw the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, in which Anna Pasternak explained why her daughter Daisy loved her nights in boarding.  A good half page of a positive boarding story all the more powerful for the delightful picture of a cheerful, confident junior boarder.  As we all know, today’s flexi or occasional boarder may well turn into tomorrow’s weekly or full boarder as she grows up.

Time today to explore possible speakers for the Housemasters’ and Housemistresses’ conference to be held in early January 2013.  Evaluations at this year’s conference alerted us to the fact that we should have more women on stage – ‘Where is the gender balance?’ we were asked.  We are working on it!  Any suggestions for super speakers – male or female – gratefully received.

Meanwhile, if you are on half term, enjoy!

This post originally appeared at http://boarding.org.uk/blog/show/19