Teamwork, communication and resilience at Sherborne Girls boarding school
PUBLISHED: 12:41 07 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:30 28 May 2015
TERMS AND CONDITIONS/ Neil Munns Photography 2013 1. DEFINITIONS The Photographer's client is a direct client (i.e. with no agen
A good education is priceless. Few would disagree with this but trying to identify what makes a good education is much harder.
This question has become increasingly complex in recent years as the information age has accelerated the pace of change. The debate ranges far and wide but one constant theme from employers is that young people are not leaving school with the skills to equip them for the world of work.
Industry leaders have identified a list of skills needed for the workplace and many of these are just the types of attribute which can be developed with ease in a boarding school environment. The pursuit of academic excellence is not seen as a stand -alone criteria but is woven with great care into the fabric of the school.
Music, drama, art and sport are integrated into the day, as are concerts, lectures, private study and opportunities to socialise. The curriculum aims to educate in a truly comprehensive manner.
Very near the top of the CBI list is ‘teamwork’ and this is exemplified in so many ways in a boarding school. It is not just on the sports pitches where teams are created and the sense of camaraderie and mutual success is felt. There is a sense of belonging and loyalty to your boarding house, with numerous opportunities for representation in music and drama as well as sport. Teams are formed to organise events from litter picking to charity fairs. Duke of Edinburgh expeditions set off and are completed in the pouring rain. New social committees are formed to organise such things as concerts, balls and open mic nights. A wonderful example of this sense of teamwork is the tradition of Kenelm Roses at Sherborne Girls. Every year the girls in Kenelm House arrange for roses to be delivered throughout the School on Valentine’s Day as a charity fundraiser. For a fee, senders are able to book a rose to be delivered with a personal message. The girls organise the advertising and the rose order from the florist: They handle the money, the message writing and the delivery on the day. It requires careful planning and everyone in the house plays a part. This year however it was even more complex as the whole house was moving into new accommodation the very next day. Not only did they have to organise roses but they also had to pack and work out who was going to be where in their wonderful newly refurbished boarding house. The hundreds of roses spread through the school as half term began brought a real sense of delight, especially as the February weather raged outside. Over £1500 pounds was raised in a real team effort.
The environment of a boarding community is close-knit and this gives the opportunity to develop another skill close to the hearts of many employers; the ability to communicate and negotiate. Social interactions abound and real human conversation rather than digital communication is at its heart. Students learn how to live and work with both their peers and adults. They are asked to supervise younger students for homework (prep) sessions and experience formal events such as hosting visiting speakers and informal ones like the house Christmas party. At Sherborne Girls each House is led by a Head of House and a team of prefect, who work closely with the Housemistress or master to ensure the smooth running of what is, essentially, their home during term time.
These Sixth -formers have ample opportunity to learn the skills of collaborative leadership, whether they are encouraging younger girls to participate in conversation over lunch, or helping the staff to organise the end of term awards. When you are sharing a boarding house with other students you very quickly learn the necessity of compromise but you can also experience the value of support when the going gets tough, as it inevitably will at some point when you are a teenager. It is not surprising that friendships are forged for life when you go through such a multitude of experiences together.
Perhaps, however, the most valuable preparation for life that a boarding school can give is the essence of resilience and perseverance which will be essential in a rapidly changing and increasingly unfamiliar future world. The ability to change and adapt to all that life and a future employer can throw at you will be a sought after commodity which takes a considerable degree of self-awareness. At boarding school students are away from the direct aspirations of ambitious parents which gives them the chance to find their own path and reflect constructively about the merits of their choices. One of the highlights of the year at Sherborne Girls is the occasion of the Junior Diploma interviews.
All 11-13 girls participate in the Sherborne Junior Diploma and are asked to keep a folder of examples of work charting their progress in the areas of Knowledge – what they have learnt, Learning Skills – how they learn and which techniques have worked, Personal Attributes – skills they have gained in other areas, and Community – contributions to the various communities to which they belong. This culminates in an end of year interview with a senior member of staff. The emphasis is on the learning process and it is a pleasure to see the growth in self-confidence that comes during this reflective conversation. In a boarding school there are many occasions to celebrate success but there also chances to be adventurous and test your mettle. Education should give you the opportunity to learn about yourself in as many ways as possible and the creative way in which the time is used in the best of our boarding schools does exactly that.
Fiona Clapp, Director of Admissions. Sherborne Girls