Mary Wakefield

Girl power | 3 September 2011

In single-sex schools girls don’t see themselves through boys’ eyes, says Mary Wakefield I remember quite clearly the moment I first realised how very lucky I was to have been sent to a single-sex boarding school. It was the summer of 1989 and my friends, Becca, Ilona and I were all 13 and arm in

Independent thinking

British education is in a state of flux and uncertainty. This summer’s A-level results have prompted concerns about the number of university places, as too many well-qualified applicants seek to get started in higher education before university fees rise next year. British education is in a state of flux and uncertainty. This summer’s A-level results

Primary contest

The independent advantage starts early – frighteningly early, if you’re a parent, says Fraser Nelson  Fifty per cent of children are of below-average intelligence, but try telling that obvious fact to their parents. Humans are programmed to find their offspring mesmerisingly delightful, and to consider them strikingly quick learners and budding geniuses. I know I

Making the grade

 In Switzerland, declared Harry Lime in The Third Man, they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock. He would now surely have added the International Baccalaureate. There is no Swiss product which rates so highly with the British middle classes. Certainly not Nescafé,

Get on and get in

There’s an art to filling in your UCAS form, and it doesn’t involve simply listing your after-school activities. Jamie Mathieson separates the bad from the good  Applying to university is like moving house. You need to know what you want, you have to be realistic, and you have to get the paperwork right. It can

Keeping faith

 Most English independent schools, though not all, have their origins in Christian mission, Catholic or Protestant, and most maintain a compulsory element of religious instruction, both in the classroom and in the school chapel. It goes without saying that most things that form the basis of a school’s life are compulsory: attending classes, keeping fit,

Away win

Is there such a thing as ‘Boarding School Syndrome’? No, says Rachel Johnson  A few months back, I gave a speech in Leeds to the Boarding Schools Association, in the course of which I spoke of the time I was sent to an all-boys prep school in another country days after my tenth birthday. ‘I

Boys’ own

 Co-education is now so much the norm, even in the independent sector, that those single-sex establishments which remain, especially boys-only schools, might be thought eccentric, old-fashioned or even wrong-headed. Independent schools have transformed themselves in this respect: a quarter of boys-only schools have gone co-ed in the past ten years, and there is — almost

Top buttons

What does the uniform say about a school – and its pupils? Sophia Martelli investigates  Every parent at some stage has to ask themselves: ‘Which school will suit my child?’ It’s a serious matter and no one — surely? — would consider it on the basis of the fetchingness (or not) of the school’s uniform.

Chance of a lifetime

 With the same coat of inevitability with which everything else gets glossed, it now seems inevitable to me that I ended up at Eton. But it was never any such thing. None of my family had been to the school or anything like it. Like most parents, mine had put their faith in state schools,

Advertisement feature: Gift of education or gift to the nation?

Simon Blowey, Financial Planner – Brewin Dolphin It’s quite typical to begin a financial article with the well-worn quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin that nothing in life is certain apart from death and taxes. However, as well as being a little trite and over-used, the sentiment is actually incorrect, despite its continued use by financial

Indolence and experience

 School holidays for the children of the affluent used to be about doing nothing in particular. Tagging along to a sun-baked villa, perhaps, or slouching around Verbier in search of familiar Harrys and Rosies. For the unlucky facing an exam year, there might be a week or two of cramming. But otherwise, these were the

Early stages

School was the perfect place to catch the acting bug, says Rachael Stirling — even if her family had to sit through some awful nonsense  I have misgivings about boarding schools, but this much I know is good: in an effort to engage easily bored young minds outside the academic syllabus, there is nothing my

Oedipus wrecked

Structural worries have put a stop to Bradfield College’s tradition of outdoor Greek theatre. Will Gore implores the gods (and benefactors) to be kind  Bradfield College is one of the most attractive boarding schools in the country, and the jewel in its crown is — or was — its open-air Greek theatre. Greeker, as it

A flame lit at Rugby

 Pierre, Baron de Coubertin (1863-1937) was a very odd cove. Inspired as much by a rural fête in Shropshire known as the Much Wenlock Olympics as by ancient Greece, he invented the modern Olympic Games. The original spur for his sporting endeavour was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, which ended in a terrible French defeat.

Vocal support

 When I last watched the Heaven family home videos, a striking trend emerged. In every clip from the early 1990s, one of my siblings or I was being encouraged to sing. We babies were bounced on daddy’s knee, and he sang ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ over and over again until — looking goggle-eyed and faintly