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19 February 2024
by Ferdinand Steinbeis

SPOTLIGHT - What's new at our schools?

Hello and welcome to SPOTLIGHT!
In this feature we will bring you the latest news and interesting insights from our partner schools. This won't be any old news, however. Instead, SPOTLIGHT will focus on the exciting, the unusual and the amusing.
We hope you enjoy!
January and February can be somewhat slow in terms of real SPOTLIGHT-worthy news at our partner schools. Sure, there were Chinese New Years celebrations. Also there's always interhouse sports and music competitions to report on. But none of this excited us enough to feature here.
Enter Oundle School's out-of-this-world Patrick Engineering Center. It's not new, but it's so fantastic that we felt compelled to shine our spotlight there this time!
Got an old car? Why not make something cool out of it! 2023 © Oundle School
By now you might be aware of our passion for Design Engineering at our partner schools. Pupils take their first steps into the worlds of product design, engineering and architecture. They start with pencil and paper and end up with fully-fledged product prototypes. They work with different materials from plastic to steel. They learn how to use hammer and nail, as well as 3D printers and lazer-cutters. Many go on to study industrial engineering, product design or architecture and go on to work at BMW or Apple.
Future car designers at work! 2023 © Oundle School
In our opinion there is currently no better place to study Design Engineering than Oundle School's Patrick Engineering Center. Pupils work across a range of cutting-edge skills from robotics, programming, product development to computer-aided product design and manufacture. The workshops are out-of-this-world cool. The last time we visited we saw pupils building electric cars out of their parents' beat-up, second-hand cars.
Using the latest technology: a metal cutter 2023 © Oundle School
For anyone interested in innovation, THIS is the place to come to!
Watch a video about the Patrick Engineering Center here.
SPOTLIGHTS from March-December 2023
As a suitable, last SPOTLIGHT this calendar year, we leave you with three wintery shots from Gordonstoun in Scotland. These photographs were taken last week. Enjoy!
From last week: Gordonstoun's main house in all its snowy glory
Wintery magic: The school's chapel
Stunning: Gordonstoun at dusk
Beautiful: designs for Gresham's new prep school
It is nice to have a grateful benefactor. James Dyson, Gresham School's alumn, famous inventor (vaccum cleaners!) and CEO of the Dyson empire recently donated £35mio to Gresham's School in order to build a state-of-the art prep school. This donation comes on the back of an already very generous donation to build Gresham's Dyson Building, a fantastic STEAM center. Needless to say this new prep school will have new tech equipment and its very own STEAM center. This will put Gresham's firmly on the map for all things STEAM. Lucky, lucky Gresham's kids!
Future engineers in action at Charterhouse (pictures courtesy of Charterhouse School)
Ever tried to build a marble run, which would take precisely 60 seconds from top to bottom, no more, no less? Or build the lightest chair made from cardboard that can support an adult? Pupils in Charterhouse's new Innovative Engineering activity will take on similar design and engineering briefs from now on. The idea is to use all their creativity and problem-solving skills to tackle briefs with very limiting constraints. Pupils learn how to think and work like scientists and engineers. Lovely!
Ready to go: Boarders learning to surf (picture courtesy of Truro School)
Today's youngsters are soft? Not at Truro School! This lot took to the ice-cold Cornish seas for week-ends of learning how to surf. For this, they headed to beautiful Perranporth Beach close to Truro. Despite the gloomy weather, they braved the high winds and challenging surf conditions for several fantastic afternoons of surfing.
Violin prodigy Anthony Knight (picture courtesy of Taunton School)
A dream come true for any budding young musician! Taunton School music scholar Anthony Knight, 17, was chosen to play with the world-famous orchestra at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios in London. Anthony took part in workshops and rehearsals before leading the orchestra’s second violins in a performance of Smetana’s Vltava and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel Overture. “I was speechless when I learned I had got the chance to do this,” said Anthony, who leads Taunton School’s Symphony Orchestra and also plays in a string quartet. “It felt like a dream performing at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios – a place where so many famous musicians have performed,” said Anthony.
SPOTLIGHTS from March-October 2023
Gryphon's Den, Malvern's own version of the Lion's Den competition
Budding entrepreneurs, this is for you! Malvern College is starting its very own start-up competition called the Gryfon's Den. Similar to the well-known TV-series, 'Lion's Den' participating pupils develop business ideas, which they pitch to a jury of entrepreneurs in the Malvern area and Malvern alumni. They get seed capital as well as coaching. So far 60 participants have signed up. Very exciting!
Wells Cathedral's own music festival to raise funds
Like so many boarding schools in the UK, Wells Cathedral School is partnered with a school on the African continent. Wells, however, goes the extra mile when it comes to fundraising. To finance a new school bus for Ballanta Academy of Music in Sierra Leone the school organised its very own music festival. Last week, Wells opened its doors to the public. Numerous bands, the school's orchestra, its choirs and string ensembles performed to Wells locals. Beautiful spectacle!
Radley in all its glorious beauty
We are somewhat lukewarm about awards, but this one we felt was thoroughly deserved. Boys school Radley College won this year's Tatler School of the Year award against stiff competition. Brighton College, Bradfield College, Uppingham School and Shrewsbury School were also in contention - all amazing schools in their own right. Congratulations, Radley! Thoroughly deserved!
Yes, Bedales even has sheep!
No doubt, Bedales School is unusual. Lots of autonomy and celebration of individuality; no school uniform; an amazing creative offer. Therefore it is not surprising that it has produced a fabulous new video introducing itself to the world. Here's the video.
Beekeepers courtesy of Framlingham College, Kilgraston School and Gresham's School
World Bee Day was on Saturday 20th. Right on cue our Spotlight inbox was flooded with amazing pictures from our schools showing pupils inspecting bee hives, even tasting honey fresh off the beehive frames! Many of our schools keep bee colonies as part of their extracurricular activites, or to make biology lessons even more interesting.
Greenpower racers courtesy of Wycombe Abbey and cars in the making at St Swithuns and Frensham Heights School
May kicked off with the first of several Greenpower Car Races. For this exciting boarding school challenge, pupils design, build and race electric cars against other schools. The beauty of this challenge is its versatility: teams pool their creative-, maths-, technology- and engineering-skills to build electric cars from scratch. Then they race. Here's a quick account from two girls at Wycombe Abbey School about their first race:
“We had a fantastic day filled with racing, fixing, and delicious burgers to re-fuel us between races. It was our first time driving the cars, so we were quite scared at first, but we found them easy to drive since they are very well made. We began the day with a hectic race where we switched out drivers every few laps and everyone was trying to get into the rhythm of it. Then, there was a race for over sixteen drivers that did not stop racing for an hour which was crazy. We were particularly excited when we were told that we could start the last race because it meant we had to concentrate hard with so many cars filling the track. This race was much smoother than the first as everyone knew how to help the next drivers get ready in the pit lane. Overall, the day was extremely fun and active because of our team’s amazing drivers and all the teachers supporting us and organising everything.”
The next race is on 17 September. Watch this space!
Pupils off expeditioning
One of many things that makes Gordonstoun amazing is its unique location in rural Scotland. Inevitably the school makes ample use of this and is one of a handful of schools in the UK with a dedicated, specialist outdoors-team. Last week-end pupils from Y9 and Y10 set off on an outdoors expedition, complete with hiking, camping and time by the North Sea. Bliss!
The photo in question ;-)
A blurry aerial photo with a few vague descriptions of landmarks in red pen. This is what Joss Buchanan, former headmaster of King William's College on the Isle of Man, found in the post a few days ago. An accompanying note lifted the mystery: The picture showed King William's College from the air. It had been taken from a plane cockpit by Carl Luebbert, a former pupil at the school a few days earlier.
10 years ago Carl had signed up to one of King William's more exotic activities - flying lessons at the local airport. Henceforth he had spent his boarding school Saturdays flying between Belfast and Liverpool under the tutelage of an instructor. Carl had fulfilled himself a childhood dream.
Fast forward a few years, and Carl is taking his first flight as a captain for British Airways. And the route takes him back to where it all began — he flies from Heathrow to Belfast, directly over the Irish Sea and King William’s, a tiny speck on the Isle of Man. Appreciating the symbolism of the moment, Carl takes a quick picture of the school from the cockpit, and sends it to Joss, who is sitting thousands of feet below in his office at school!
We thought this tale was a beautiful vignette of what a monumental impact a boarding school stay in the UK can have on the life of a pupil.
SPOTLIGHTS from March/April 2023
BRY.RADIO in action!
At von Bülow Education we know and love Bryanston School as an especially innovative school. So it came as no surprise when we found out that the school launched its very own radio station BRY.RADIO. The station is live 24/7 and broadcasts a variety of shows, including music, interviews, debates and even the weather! BRY.RADIO is played in the School Shop, Café, Sports Hall and in the school's Common Rooms. We love that it's produced by pupils for pupils! Check it out here!
Rendcomb post office
A news nugget as eclectic as our schools themselves: Rendcomb College has bought the local village store and post office, a long-standing destination for pupils to spend their pocket money. But buying chocolate and sending postcards home won't be the only things pupils will be doing. Rendcomb plans to use the shop as a real-life case study for business studies students in how to run a small business. What a coup!
A design reel of Haileybury's SciTech Center
It's been in the works for a good three years. In September it will finally open its gates: Haileybury's SciTech Center. The school will unite the natural sciences and astrophysics, design technology, computer science and its innovative Stan-X research programme under one roof. We can't wait to see what pupils will do here! We know that the focus will be all on actually practicing the above subjects by experimenting, coding, building and researching. If only WE could go back to school....
The Gordonstoun Cook Book
What do you do if you want to raise money for good causes and have happy, hungry pupils from 60 countries in one place? Exactly. You publish a cookbook with recipes from around the world! Truly a very Gordonstoun product! The book is a creation by Gordonstoun's Young Entrepreneurs Team and the pupils of Gordonstoun School. The money from sales will go 100% to sponsor individual children in Africa and Asia. Interested in buying a copy? Then please get in touch via thecookbookco.gordonstoun@gmail.com.
Geeks at work: Sevenoaks students building a robot
For a good 10 years now, Sevenoaks has had its state-of-the-art own design technology center and pupils are putting it to good use. The school's ZETA team is currently in maker-mode: they are designing and building a robot from scratch, which will compete in the First Robotics Competition. And as if building a robot isn't tricky enough, the team has to raise funds, build a team brand and organise outreach events to spread STEM. W/r to the latter, pupils teach coding to children in primary schools and Ukraininan refuges.
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