Home' Independence : Independence Vol 33 No 1 May 2008 Contents Independence Volume 33 No. 1 55
in helping schools to achieve the tonic
that independence offers.
To pave the way, every independent school
should forge a meaningful bond with a
state school. I'm not talking about letting
state-school children use the swimming
pool or the mini-bus. I'm talking about
real engagement, with students spending
time in the other school. It's bizarre
that independent school kids go on ever
more exotic trips abroad, when they could
enjoy bracing experiences in their own
country. It is too often the case that inde-
pendent and state school children interact
for the first time only at university.
Independent school teachers, too, should
spend time working in a state school, and
My call is for 50 leading independent
schools to start academies, that is, indepen-
dently run state schools.3 We should be
giving our history, prestige and morale to
the thousand or so students who would
fill each of these independent state schools.
Having made that call publicly, we at
Wellington College are ourselves putting
it into practice.
The reason we should reach out is because
of the moral duty in a democracy to share.
And many independent schools were foun-
ded with high, and often religious, ideals.
Our sector has a disproportionate number
of the best teachers, facilities and pupils.
Our munificence needs to be spread. Bur-
saries, the moral panacea for many in the
independent sector, pluck children out of
their own social milieu, whereas academies
allow them to thrive within it.
If a school feels that establishing an aca-
demy is a step too far, they can forge trusts
or federations with state schools. I recog-
nise that many independent schools ope-
rate with very tight margins. But many
shared activities don't require money, they
merely need willpower and leadership.
Anthony, you are teaching wellbeing to
your students, but are you a good example
of it? How does Anthony Seldon look
I try and get five or six hours' sleep a night.
I try and exercise two or three times a week,
although at the moment I can't because
I've got a skiing injury. I used to meditate
twice a day for 30 minutes. Now I try and
punctuate the day with countless times
where I just am still and try and let go and
come back into the present moment.
I could be a much better role model on
wellbeing than I am and I'm very cons-
cious of that. I've stopped some things
which I think damaged my wellbeing
earlier like smoking and drinking alcohol.
I've given up tea, given up coffee, given
night. So I think physical health is a won-
derful thing and everybody should look
after their bodies absolutely. I give myself
six out of ten.
I think the most important thing for school
leaders is to be true to oneself. I think a
lot of Heads lose their personalities in the
job. They become the job and that's a pity
for everybody including for the Head them-
selves, especially if they become formal
and safe and full of management-speak.
What children want and teachers need
and parents deserve is a Head who is just
utterly themselves, who's an authentic
human being making mistakes.
1 Smith, J. (2000). The Learning Game,
A Teacher's Inspirational Story. London:
2 Editor's note: The independent sector in
Britain accounts for around seven per cent
of total school enrolments and 23 per cent
of sixth form (equivalent to Year 12) enrol-
ments. Australian independent schools
account for 14 per cent of total enrolments
and just over 18 per cent of senior secondary
(Years 11 and 12) enrolments.
3 Editor's note: Among its education reforms,
the Blair Labor government allowed for new
models of private management and/or pro-
vision of state schools. (For a brief overview
story/0,,1256683,00.html) There is no
directly comparable capacity in Australia.
The Australian Technical Colleges intro-
duced under the Howard government are
established under non-government school
registration requirements and their federal
government general recurrent funding is
allocated under the SES model.
Dr Anthony Seldon became the 13th
Master of Wellington College in January
2006, having been Headmaster of
Brighton College since September 1997.
After gaining an MA at Worcester College,
Oxford, and a PhD at the London School
of Economics, he qualified as a teacher at
King's College, London, winning the top
teaching prize in his year. He also has
Dr Seldon is an authority on contempo-
rary British history and has been histori-
cal consultant on the memoirs of several
former British Prime Ministers and
Foreign Secretaries. He is the author or
editor of over 25 books on contemporary
history, politics and education, including
Churchill's Indian Summer, which won a
Best First Work Prize, and most recently
Blair's Britain, 1994-2007 (with Peter
Snowdon) and Blair Unbound: The
Biography Part II, 2001-2007.
Dr Seldon was interviewed by
Garth Wynne, Headmaster
of Christ Church Grammar
School, Perth, WA.
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