A few weeks ago, our Managing Director Ferdinand Steinbeis spoke to Arabella Stuart, Head of Admissions at Sevenoaks School, a renowned, top IB boarding school in Kent.
Below is the interview:
FS: Arabella, Please describe the atmosphere at Sevenoaks School on the day after the Brexit referendum
AS: Well, we were in a state of collective shock for at least a couple of weeks. Then we continued to be dismayed pretty much right up to now. It’s…unbelievable really.
Sevenoaks School is, as you know, one of the most international-minded schools in the UK. We have 45 nationalities from all over the world here – pupils that love living in this country!
We are intent on making sure that students still feel welcome from across the world. We have been leaders in recruiting students from all over the world and will continue to do so. Period.
FS: With what you know at the moment, what do you anticipate the impact of Brexit to be on British boarding schools in general and Sevenoaks School in particular?
AS: I am certain that, like Sevenoaks, all other schools with international pupils will do their best to reassure families that we are still the open-minded, inclusive, tolerant schools we are renowned for.
One of the few benefits has been the weaker Pound Sterling, of course. This has been an unexpected boon for our international families.
But there are also some very concrete things that we at Sevenoaks are doing in reaction to Brexit.
For example, our Higher Education Department is getting even more clued up about university admissions in countries other than the UK and the US. Brexit and Donald Trump are making both these countries less attractive as places to study. So we are getting more knowledgeable and can help, for example, German pupils intending to return to Germany with their applications to the best universities there.
Another example is that we are building two new boarding houses as we anticipate an increase in demand for boarding in the local community. There are a lot of international families living in and around Sevenoaks. Some are planning to leave but want their children to stay at the school. So we are already making provisions for this.
And of course – now more than ever - it is my job as Head of Admissions to travel around the world to speak with families and reassure them that Sevenoaks hasn’t changed. We are an IB school and espouse global values, and will continue to do so. I am off to China this coming Monday for this very purpose.
FS: Do you think there will be an introduction of visas?
AS: Personally, I don’t know anything about visas, and sincerely hope they won’t be introduced. We would of course help families attain them. We are very experienced in this regard.
Sevenoaks School is lobbying the British government about visas, too. We are in regular contact with our local MP. Also, we are organizing a conference at the school next year where we invite the UK’s best boarding schools to discuss Brexit and what we will do collectively to mitigate its impact.
FS: What advice would you give worried parents thinking about applying to boarding school in the UK?
AS: I would ask them not to worry too much. As far as we are concerned NOTHING has changed! Sevenoaks School still provides students an outstanding education in a forward-thinking, inclusive, global environment. More than ever, we will make sure that your children will feel at home in this environment.
FS: Any final, personal thoughts on the topic?
AS: Please come visit!