Laura Freeman

Box of delights | 7 September 2017

No mother, wrote Roald Dahl in his childhood memoir Boy, would send her son off to prep school without, at the very least, the following in his tuck box: a home-made currant cake, a packet of squashed-fly biscuits, a couple of oranges, an apple, a banana, a pot of strawberry jam or Marmite, a bar

Follow the money

In 2007, many of today’s young parents were either graduates or school-leavers testing their skills in their first jobs. They were saving for a mortgage or just enjoying the freedom of being young with few responsibilities. Back then, UK average annual earnings were around £23,765. Now, they are £27,271 — a rise of just under

Wealthier by degree

It is not a great advert for university when the universities minister says he is not especially bothered whether his own children go or not. ‘The days of degree or bust are long gone,’ Jo Johnson told the Sunday Times recently. ‘There are alternative ways into the workforce these days. Absolutely I would say to

What is a complete education?

‘A Complete Education’ is the philosophy by which we live at Benenden. I am frequently asked by parents what is meant by the phrase, especially at this time of year when exams dominate the sector. Certainly, a school’s duty is to fulfil the academic potential of every student – and, as you would expect, our

A sorry state of play

The link between a healthy mind and a healthy body was understood by Juvenal — but he didn’t have to raise two kids in our brave new world of social media and fast food. We’ve all seen the stats, so there’s no need to repeat them. But as snacks replace square meals and the virtual

How to conquer America

Teenagers, in my experience, divide into the unmotivated and the motivated sort. You can spot the symptoms: given a free day, the unmotivated one will go out to buy a new phone charger, while the motivated one will go on an advanced sailing course. If you’re the unmotivated sort, read no further. This piece is

Eat, pray, learn

My greatest spiritual moment this year came in Eton College Chapel. I was there for Evensong with a friend who’s an English master at the school. Suddenly, unexpectedly, the congregation belted out Verdi’s ‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’ — in English. Part of the pleasure came from the shock of hearing 1,300 upper-middle-class schoolboys imitating

Off days

The modern school is, unsurprisingly, a very different place to even ten years ago — largely thanks to the rise of technology. Where corridors once rang with the sound of laughter, they now buzz with the ping, ping, ping of WhatsApps, Snapchats and texts as students message each other in an ever-revolving cycle of communication.

School portraits | 7 September 2017

  Walhampton School   The ethos at this prep school on the edge of Hampshire’s New Forest is very much one of living life to the full; history lessons involve re-enactments of the Battle of Hastings on horseback or the Battle of Trafalgar on a lake. Every year pupils go to ‘camp’ for a week

Living the dream

To enter Wellington College, in Crowthorne, Berkshire, is as if to arrive at a stately home that’s open to the public. There are the smart signposts, the security box, the manicured lawns (with the requisite ‘keep off the grass’ signs). When I visit, it is the summer holidays, so there are no children littering the

School report | 7 September 2017

New drive to promote ‘British values’ in schools The recently appointed Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has vowed to press ahead with the ‘active promotion of fundamental British values’ in schools. Speaking to an audience at Wellington College, Ms Spielman said that the terror attacks in London and Manchester had brought into ‘stark relief’ the

Learning? It’s a walk in the park

A hot, still day in Middlesbrough in early July 1970, the junior school summer term running down like an unplugged fan. Coming up soon would be the 11-plus, although we didn’t know it then and wouldn’t know it until the morning before the exam. All we knew or cared that fragrant, baking month was that

Editor’s Letter | 7 September 2017

We live in an age where technology surrounds us almost all of the time. In the Western world, smartphones are omnipresent, and information is available at the press of a button. But how is this affecting schoolchildren — and how can schools deal with both the problems and the benefits that modern technology brings? In