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This website introduces the company von Bülow Education, an Oxford-based educational consultancy specialised in helping families find the right British boarding school for their children.

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Bülow Blog

A letter to Fyling Hall School

Ferdinand Steinbeis

Hello from summery Oxford!

Yesterday, we received an email from our partner school Fyling Hall. Attached was a letter from one of our pupils Emma. She had spent one term at the school and upon her return to Germany she had written a letter to the school. We love this letter so much that we post it here in full. 

Dear Mr Allen,

It has only been a week, but already we are missing our friends, the horses, the beach, the forest, our matron and the staff. We would just like to say a huge thank you for hosting us at Fyling Hall School. We enjoyed our time here so much and felt it was so valuable we wanted to share a diary we have prepared for our school friends, with you:When I arrived in the main house, my first impression was that it was very beautiful. It was in the evening, so it only consisted of a dark house with bright lights through each window and in the background behind the house you were able to see the sea and the breathtaking landscape.The House is small but grand, which makes it easier to find everything without getting lost. As soon as you come in and follow the corridor, Miss Anders, the House mother, will give you a warm homely welcome and lead you upstairs to your room. In the main house are up to 10 bedrooms for the girls and some nice, clean, bathrooms. You can guess, it is all very
comfortable and familiar between each other. Also in this house is the staff room, the office, the headmaster‘s office and a common room for the girls with a little fridge, comfortable sofas and a television. The biggest advantage of the position of the school is definitely the view, you can expect something very beautiful when you take a look through any window on the rear of the house.  The whole school is surrounded by beautiful nature. Especially in spring and summer you can enjoy sitting outside on the grass looking over the sea and admiring flowers and the blue sky above you. Despite the small size of the school, there are a lot of pretty places around the houses where you can learn independantly, or read - or whatever you‘re up to. 

The Main House is of course not the only building in that school. Next to it is the biggest house with teaching classrooms and the dining hall. This building also surrounds an outside play area where you are allowed to play ball games; for example during the breaks. On the left side of the Main Houses is one of the Boy‘s Houses. There is also a second one, a little way up. In there are all the sixth form boys: (years 12 and 13).

Personally, I have a lot of favorite classrooms in Fyling Hall. There is the big Art room with plenty of pictures and creative drawings and paintings from many different students. You have many opportunities to do art work in any ways, but you really have to be creative to work in there. I also love the Barn. It has a little stage and a place for the audience, so as you can guess, this room is there for the subject drama. But not only for that, because at least two times a week, the school has assemblies to talk about life, politics, worries and social issues. I always found it very funny, because the students have to make an assembly themselves that they have to present to the rest of the school which prepares them for life in the real world.  

For me, the routine was very easy to handle. Although you have school until quarter past four, which sounds very exhausting, you have a lot of free time. The first bell rings at seven in the morning so you have time to get ready until quarter to eight, because then it‘s breakfast. After breakfast you have again a lot of time until half past eight, that‘s when school actually begins. After school then, you have more than an hour to go to tea at half past five. Of course you get something for lunch as well during school time and the meals were prepared daily and were fresh and delicious. Every day of the week except Friday and Saturday you have prep. One hour and a half to do all your homework. It might sound horrific, but believe me, otherwise you wouldn't do it yourself in your room. And after that, you can do whatever you want until 10pm. Every weekend, the school offers trips to different places like Whitby or York. 

Just to conclude…my time at Fyling Hall School was quite magical. Musically I joined a local band and won competitions with that band as well as with the well respected school choir! My time here was absolutely worth it. In these three months, I have had the chance to make some very nice friends, I learned how a boarding school works and a lot more about life and about myself. You might not think that way, but you will absolutely miss everyone and everything in this school, even though your stay wasn't that long.  I wish I could have stayed longer. 

Thank you for everything!

Yours Emma

Brexit and British Boarding Schools: A series of interviews

Ferdinand Steinbeis

Two days ago in Oxford, a stone's throw from our office. Students punting in the glorious afternoon sunshine.

Two days ago in Oxford, a stone's throw from our office. Students punting in the glorious afternoon sunshine.

Hello from summery Oxford!

At the moment not a day goes by without one of us at von Bülow Education engaging in a lengthy conversation about Brexit with a concerned parent from Europe. Will we need a visa for our boarding school stay? Will the schools change and still be any good? Will our children still be welcome?

To shed a little light on this matter our Managing Director Ferdinand Steinbeis spoke to the senior staff at several renowned British boarding schools, including Sevenoaks School, Ardingly College and Oakham School. We are posting transcripts of these interviews in a serious of blog posts titled 'Brexit and British Boarding Schools'.

The key take-aways from the interviews so far are:

  • The schools will do their utmost to continue to make international pupils feel as welcome as they always have at British boarding schools. Also, the quality of the education and progressive, international outlook will stay the same.  
  • It is still unclear whether a visa will be necessary for EU families. In the event that visas will be introduced, the schools will do everything in their power to make the process as seamless as possible. Ben Figgis Headmaster of Ardingly College would even contemplate footing the cost! 
  • Enjoy the weak Pound Sterling for as long as it lasts!

 We sincerely hope that you will find the interviews insightful and - at least to a certain degree -  reassuring. 

Happy reading! 

Yours von Bülow Education Team

 

Brexit and British Boarding Schools / Part I: Interview with Arabella Stuart of Sevenoaks School

Ferdinand Steinbeis

Today, our Managing Director Ferdinand Steinbeis spoke to Arabella Stuart, Head of Admissions at Sevenoaks School, a renowned IB 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, please come visit and make up your own mind! 

Brexit and British Boarding Schools / Part II: An interview with Ben Figgis of Ardingly College

Ferdinand Steinbeis

Yesterday our Managing Director  Ferdinand Steinbeis spoke to Ben Figgis, Headmaster of Ardingly College, a co-educational boarding school in West Sussex. 

Below is the interview.

FS: Hello Ben. Let’s start with a more general question – where are we with the Brexit at the moment? What do we actually know?

BF: Unfortunately, we don’t know anything for certain yet. The negotiations between Brussels and the British government will take a very long time. At least, our government has declared the topic of the movement of people between Europe and the UK an absolute priority. 

One thing that seems likely though is that pupils coming from EU countries will have to go though a visa process similar to that which non-EU pupils currently go through. Brussels has made it pretty clear that a hard Brexit will most likely mean that EU pupils will need a visa. 

Current student visa requirements for non-EU pupils are quite stringent, and I have difficulty imagining that this will not also apply to pupils coming from the EU.
 

FS: What are the costs associated with this visa? 

BF: The current visa application cost for our non-EU families is £500.  Moreover, there will be the added administrative effort that comes with the application process, which will make the application to schools like Ardingly more complicated. 

FS: Does this worry you?

BF: Of course I worry that this added red tape will put parents off from applying to our school. After all, we had 82 pupils from EU countries before Brexit happened. They are an essential part to the fabric of our school! 

At the same time, I am very confident that pupils will come to Britain for their secondary education. After all, nothing will change from a cultural, pastoral and educational perspective here! We guarantee that our pupils will still receive the excellent all-round education and care that Ardingly College is known for. 

British schools will go out of their way to show European parents and students that they still actively welcome them in their schools.  For example, it may be a good idea for British schools to absorb the additional cost of visas as a sign of goodwill.  I would need to discuss this with my school’s governors of course, so this isn’t official yet!
 

FS: When do you think the visa requirements might start?

BF: My best guess would be 2020 at the earliest.  More realistically around 2022.  Negotiating Brexit will take at least two years, and then the UK government will have a mountain of administrative changes to make – and they will need to give some notice before they become live.  So I would say we are five years away from any significant changes.


FS: What advice would you give worried parents thinking about applying for boarding school in the UK?

BF: I would ask your parents to please remember that 48% of British voters voted to remain in the EU.  I guarantee you that the vast number of staff and parents at Ardingly would have been part of this group. Consequently, the environment your children will be studying in is full of people who still want to maintain strong personal and cultural connections with Europe.

Especially this latter point cannot be emphasised enough: at Ardingly we are open-minded, progressive and constantly engage with cultures and schools outside our gates. This will not change!

Also, I would ask parents to see one important upside out of all this. The exchange rate with the British Pound is currently strongly in favour of the Euro. This will make British boarding schools more affordable for the foreseeable future. 


FS: Any final thoughts on the matter? 

BF: I’d like to emphasise once more that other than a likely change in the application process, British boarding schools will remain the open, inclusive, caring places that they have come to be known for the world over. Political movements come and go, but the cultural connections between us will remain strong.

And lastly – if families from the EU are currently nervous…they won’t be half as nervous as we are! 

FS: Ben, thank you very much for this insightful interview!

Project Campus - an experiment courtesy of vBE.

Ferdinand Steinbeis

Hello from sunny Oxfordshire!

We would love your feedback! 

For a while now we have been working on a little prototype of a new digital service for families searching for the right British boarding school. 

The working title for this service is Campus. You can find a first iteration of it here -  https://campus.school.

So, what is Project Campus for exactly and why are we excited about it? 

The goal of Campus is to explore the possibility of giving people a tool to initiate their own school searches. DIY style! Our prototype invites users to answer a small set of key questions. These answers to these questions allow Campus to make three bespoke school recommendations, complete with profiles introducing the schools. Like this, visitors to Campus get bespoke school recommendations within minutes!

Does that make our consulting services obsolete? We sincerely hope not! However we are perfectly aware that there are exciting technologies out there that can be leveraged to help families make better decisions around British schools. With our mission to help families find the "perfect fit" - the right school for their child - we at von Bülow are excited about this prospect. We hope to be able to develop our existing, simple prototype into a sophisticated, delightful search tool to empower our families. 

Please take a look at our prototype. And please send us feedback on it! 

Thank you kindly.

Yours vBE Team

Our new website is online!

Ferdinand Steinbeis

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Welcome to the Bülow Blog!

today is a rather special day at Bülow HQ: we are swapping our old, dusty website for a lovely new one (at least we think it is!). It has finally happened and we are very happy with it! 

We feel this merits a first blog post, too. In future, this will be the place where the von Bülow team will inform, inspire and entertain. We will regularly post interesting topics from the world of education in general, and British boarding schools in particular. The goal is to share our love for education with anyone who cares to read about it.  

Watch this space for more!

Excitedly yours,

Ferdinand Steinbeis and the von Bülow Education Team