What makes a great school? Here are 3 top values to look out for
- Credit: Andy Catterall
Trying to find a school that reflects your values and needs for your son or daughter isn’t always an easy task.
Chris Elliott-Jones, head of marketing at Rendcomb College in the Cotswolds, shares three key things to search for in a school and how to know whether it’s right for your child.
Ambition is a desirable quality in a student aiming for a bright future, but the school needs to be ambitious in their vision for their pupils, too. "At Rendcomb, we focus on the idea of a growth mindset," says Chris. "It’s important to be academically driven, but not always needing to achieve the best results. Ambition is regarded just as highly as excellence at the school."
There is no such thing as a ‘typical pupil' at the school, Chris goes on to explain. "We aim to facilitate all avenues and endeavours for our pupils, from sports to academia to the performing and creative arts. This allows them to pursue and curate their aspirations and find their true passions based on what they want to achieve."
With a deer park, fifth-century church, six full-sized rugby pitches, tennis courts, dance studios, a gym and a newly-built £3.5 million theatre, there are endless opportunities for pupils to explore at Rendcomb.
Creative writing, gardening, global social leaders club, canoeing, clay pigeon shooting, sailing, yoga, mountain biking, MedVet club and meditation are just some of the extra-curricular opportunities available for pupils.
"We have county swimmers, equestrian pupils and even a GB3 racing driver studying at the school," says Chris. "Our goal is to help our pupils get the best out of their time here, supporting them in both their goals and studies to open as many doors as possible for them in the future."
The college also has the luxury of a diverse parent-base, where those in various professions will speak to students about possible work experience and the transferable skills required for the industry they operate in. "This kind of relationship prepares pupils for professional relationships in the next stage of their life," says Chris.
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A good school will focus on enabling its pupils to be diverse and versatile, thinking outside the box and pushing them to try new things. "At Rendcomb, we believe that to 'FAIL' is only the ‘First Attempt In Learning’," says Chris. "If you are not failing, you are not learning. The best way to learn is through a variety of new experiences that both challenge and drive the individual. We don’t expect our students to be passionate about everything – we just want to give them the tools and opportunities to discover what they do love."
In the final term of Year 11, students are sent on two-week rotations to live at Garden House, a four-bedroom cottage based on the school property. Here, they are given the opportunity to manage the home with a given budget, whilst cooking, eating and cleaning throughout their stay. "This helps to prepare them for future life, giving them a chance to explore a new way of life before leaving school," explains Chris.
Rendcomb centres its philosophy around self-awareness and caring for the community, whether that be within or outside of the school. "We want our students to understand that their actions and decisions will ultimately impact others," says Chris. "Instilling accountability for their actions is a vital step to preparing children for their future jobs and roles once they leave school.
Rendcomb has a mentoring programme which buddies each Year 7 student with a sixth form pupil, so they have someone to look out for them. They also organise community outreach programmes, offering students the opportunity to take part in charitable work such as writing letters to care home patients or participating in ‘feeding communities’, an initiative started at the school during the pandemic.
"Our goal is to foster a sense of care and concern for wellbeing amongst the school community, encouraging our students to help society and each other," says Chris.
Shortlisted for the Times’ Education Supplement Award 2021 and reaching the final of the Boarding Schools Association Awards 2021, Rendcomb College excels in all areas of its teaching and education for its pupils.
The school offers an array of academic and vocational scholarships in the categories of academic, art, music, drama and sport.