‘An outstanding school with a bright future’ is how one parent recently described Boundary Oak School in Fareham, Hampshire, who have been on a transformational journey since August 2014.
The independent day and boarding school was near closure due to low pupil numbers, when it was purchased by private education company Quo Vadis, of whom two members form part of our school’s Senior Management Team. A short 18 months later, pupil numbers have increased by 100% and they will be opening a Senior School in September 2016 .
It has been a whole school team effort to get where they are today. Boundary Oak was already working well with a good academic record and family ethos. Some immediate investment and a fresh approach to marketing started what has turned out to be an extraordinary turnaround. “This simply would not have happened had it not been for the tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. Teachers, boarding staff, administration and office staff, gap students, kitchen staff, cleaners, groundsmen – what a team! Everyone has pulled together and what has been achieved is testimony to each and every one of them” said Proprietor Aaron Stewart. “Not to mention, most important, pupils and parents - the support has been overwhelming.”
The 16th Century boarding house and its facilities have been transformed and refurbished and boarders now benefit from en-suite facilities and additional bedrooms.
In the classroom, significant improvements have been made to the curriculum with a new baccalaureate tracking system also introduced to ensure pupils are progressing and achieving their very best. Co-Proprietor and Deputy Head James Polansky works closely with Headmistress Hazel Kellett and Deputy Head Emma Fownes to drive the school to academic success with a broad, challenging and exciting curriculum. Four underlying pillars; Outdoor Learning, Digital Skills, A Growth Mindset and Philosophy have been developed to ensure pupils benefit from a stimulating, fun and engaging learning environment.
Throughout the school, the Growth Mindset approach – which teaches children to keep on trying and not to give up - has been adopted both in and out of the classroom. A concept discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck whereby people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work - brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.
In addition, Digital Learning has been given more hours in the timetable with senior pupils running their own coding club. A Woodland School complete with mud kitchens, outdoor classroom and an 800m mountain bike track has been set up together with a complementing Outdoor Learning programme while the lower end of the school now follow an exciting Open Futures curriculum. Open Futures was developed to help children discover and develop practical skills, personal interests and values, which will contribute to their education and help to enhance their adult lives.
Set among 23 acres the school has always promoted a healthy lifestyle, something that they firmly believe is key not only to a child’s academic progress but their well-being, confidence and happiness too. Sport and Drama have been given extended hours on the school timetable with pupils spending an average 12 hours a week taking part in games or PE. The schools current Sport programme has recently been recognized at the highest level achievable – The Quality Mark with Distinction – by the Association of Physical Education. Co-Curricular clubs have been introduced to the school day with plenty on offer for all ages and interests and After School activities have also increased dramatically in their offering.
It would be all too easy for a school to become proprietorial, introduce vast changes and doubling in pupil numbers that it lose it’s roots and forget what made it such an attractive proposition in the first place. That has certainly not been the case here. The same family community atmosphere still exists in abundance among the staff, pupils and their families – the family just got bigger! The progress made throughout every aspect of school life at Boundary Oak really has been outstanding, it’s a fantastic place to learn, live and work and as a school we are very excited about what the future holds.