Eaton House School, one of London’s top independent schools, offers primary education to boys and girls from three to thirteen years old. Luchie Cawood, the schools CEO, believes British primary education’s high reputation nationally and internationally is based on the passion of staff helping children through the first vitally important stages of education, building self confidence. Not just the classroom but also extra-curricular activities, including music and drama. “It’s one of the oldest and most rounded curricula you’ll get in the world,” says Luchie.
Interestingly enough, Eaton House, has gone against the prevailing trend for mixed schools and has kept to educating boys and girls separately. Why? “Educating boys and girls separately is proven to encourage self confidence, enabling them to perform successfully. Separate education allows us to tailor the curriculum more closely to the group and provide more individualised learning,” she says. However, in the breaks and extra curricular activities boys and girls work and play together. So they get the best of both worlds.
What about private education, a major source of disagreement. Should it exist or not? “Private schooling offers huge advantages,” replies Luchie. Schools like Eaton House offer very small class sizes, very high staff pupil ratios and the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to specific groups. Paying fees provides the funding for the curriculum and staff as well as for all the extracurricular activities from clubs to debating to chess and trips offsite and avoids the budgetary problems many state schools face.
One of the key issues facing all of us but especially the younger generation is ecology, how to build awareness of ecological needs now and in the future. Luchie is very conscious of this. She has done a lot of rebuilding behind the Regency façade of Eaton House, using environmentally sustainable resources, has a natural rainwater storage system and solar panels cover 75% of the school’s lighting and heating needs. Best off all, the school boasts four plant walls, sides of the building covered with plants and ensuring the pupils are being educated in a sustainable environment and learn to care for it. “Our pupils are going to be the future ambassadors of the planet,” says Luchie.
Many schools and colleges have set up branches overseas to capitalise on the excellent reputation of British education. Has Eaton House got similar aspirations? Not yet, replies Luchie, although her team is looking at opportunities in the future. Taking education to the children rather than uprooting families and bringing them to Britain is important, she feels. Also it’s important for British teachers to share their experiences and teaching by going overseas and for overseas teachers to have the opportunity to come to Britain and learn from and exchange ideas and methods with teachers here. ‘It’s a two-way street,” says Luchie. “It’s a conversation that needs to be had and I can see it stretching out all over the world.”