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Peridot Press: the revival of a gem January 26, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in John Catt Educational news, New releases.
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Managing director Jonathan Evans announces the revival of John Catt Educational imprint Peridot Press.

John Catt is fast approaching £1million in booksales. A significant landmark, and also a surprising one: the past three years has seen the growth in our book sales to be exponential. The reasons for this are not complicated: the book titles and their subjects are right for their time; our authors are unquestionably the leader in their fields, information is accurate and most importantly, there is a world-wide hunger for information on good schools and good practice.

The John Catt brand is well known around the world as a publisher of guides, directories, magazines and books specifically for schools, both independent and international.

However, an increasing number of our other publications are not served well under this branding and are now passing to Peridot Press, our already well established publishing imprint.

We are marking the resurrection of Peridot Press by welcoming a well known and well loved author to our fold, Jonathan Smith. The Following Game, due to be published spring 2011, succeeds The Learning Game, Jonathan’s  critically-acclaimed 2002 book about the personal journey from his first days as a pupil through to the challenges of his professional and private life as a teacher on the other side of the desk.

Jonathan Smith was, for many years, head of English at Tonbridge School. As well as his acclaimed memoir, The Learning Game, he has published six novels and written many plays for radio. He is the father of the writer Ed Smith, who played cricket for Kent, Middlesex and England.

The Following Game is about passion and obsession. It’s about cricket, family and poetry, but most of all it’s about a father following a son’s career in the public eye and the close relationship they share.

As a springboard from this auspicious beginning Peridot Press also has a number of other publications at the starting gate. The Schoolmaster, written by AC Benson in 1908 is one.  This follows on from the equally superb The Lanchester Tradition, GF Brady’s classic 1914 tale of school life, reprinted by John Catt in 2008.

Although from a previous age, these books have much to tell us, particularly the wonderfulness of the English language, written well. This is what Peridot Press will stand for and what the Peridot branding will represent. Green Gems – exploring the unique wonderfulness of school life.

Sales of Peridot Press books will be through usual wholesalers and distributors but also on the John Catt internet bookshop, www.johncattbookshop.com.

Sustainability in independent schools January 24, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Marketing, New releases.
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The UK Government have stated that they would like every school to be sustainable by 2020. A sustainable school prepares young people for a lifetime of sustainable living, through its teaching and its day-to-day practices.

Many schools recognise the potential of sustainable development to transform the experiences and outcomes of pupils whilst improving the environmental performance of the school and contributing to sustainable communities. They make a positive effort to demonstrate responsible practices for their young people and communities, and engage them in learning about the issues and potential responses.

With this in mind, we will be producing a Sustainability-themed insert to the summer issues of our three magazines to help link schools with organisations who can help them become “greener” and embed sustainability into their curriculum and daily practices.

The insert will be distributed in Conference & Common Room, Prep School and International School (is) magazines. For more information on how your organisation can be included, get in touch with Madeleine Anderson via manderson@johncatt.com or +44 (0) 1394 389855.

IB World Schools Yearbook 2011 January 20, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Uncategorized.
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The new edition of the fantastic IB World Schools Yearbook arrived back from the printers yesterday. The 2011 edition – the sixth of our official partnership with the IB – is a mammoth 540-page directory containing details of over 3000 schools authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes.

In addition to quick and easy access to extensive details of every IB World School, the yearbook also includes an editorial section containing useful information about the IB and its programmes.

In their introduction, Carol Bellamy (chair of the IB Board of Governors) and Jeffery Beard (IB Director General) state:

“As well as providing the IB community with a convenient directory of IB World Schools, the IB World Schools Yearbook 2011 is also an opportunity for us to bring you up to date on the successes of the last year and to share with you the new ideas and initiatives that are underway at present as we look to the future.”

Head calls for end to ‘battery farm’ education January 17, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education.
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The former Chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association, Dr Stephen Winkley, has called for an end to the league table culture, which he claims has turned British schools into educational battery farms.

Speaking on the eve of the release of the latest league tables, Dr Winkley has slammed the current system and called on the secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, to add this to his list of proposed reforms for the education sector during this parliament if he wishes to attract more people into the teaching profession.

He commented: “I have always hated league tables and strongly resent the conclusions which are drawn from them.  If we continue to run schools in order to do well in league tables it would be like battery farming: spoon feeding, restricting freedom to do other valuable things. This utter focus on producing A* eggs isn’t why any of us joined the profession and it’s clear to me that the emphasis on a traditional academic curriculum for all children, purely to satisfy the needs of a school’s league table position, is clearly absurd.

“We seem to have lost the focus of why we educate people and that is to help them to learn and develop as people, whilst being mindful of their unique skills and attributes.  This ‘one size fits all’ model of education and obsession with league placing is clearly not working for the benefit of children.”

Dr Winkley does think that the introduction of an English Baccalaureate could be a step in the right direction, but without fundamental change to the education culture he also feels it will not fulfil its potential for children.  He added:  “I like the idea of an English Baccalaureate.  My own school has been teaching the International Baccalaureate for 14 years with excellent results for the children, so I’m in favour of the introduction of the EB, because it demonstrates a commitment to breadth and makes certification for the likes of Cake Decoration, Call Handling, and Wired Sugar Flowers less rewarding.

“However, for kids for whom those qualifications are the only passport to a way forward then they shouldn’t be force fed academic subjects at the expense of subjects which will aid their development more.

“Every child matters, we are told, yet within the current battery farming culture it would appear that children who produce golden eggs matter more to schools than those millions who are going to keep this country afloat through the next difficult years”.

Dr Winkley, a career educationalist, is recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on boarding schools and was a key figure in the Boarding Schools’ Alliance, the organization responsible for halting the decline of the boarding sector at the turn of the century.  He is currently head of Rossall School, a large independent co-educational boarding and day school in Lancashire.

Hope for schools in Afghanistan January 12, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Magazines.
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The latest issues of our three excellent magazines have just been returned from the printers.

As is always the case, the office has gone very quiet as everyone here disects their copies of International School (is), Prep School and Conference & Common Room over a cup of coffee.

Editorial eyes scour the pages to make sure all the commas and quotation marks are in the right place; designers check the asthetitcs; production inspect the quality of the print reproduction; sales make sure that advertisments are placed where they should be.

The quiet and calm in the John Catt office betrays three excellent magazines, full of insight. Conference & Common Room looks at links with education in South Africa, while Prep School focuses on academic subjects and creative uses of the curriculum.

Meanwhile, in her article in International School (is), editor Caroline Ellwood describes some of the behind-the-scenes efforts to re-establish education in Afghanistan.

The situation in Afghanistan is still fraught with difficulties. Between 2007 and March 2009, 108 schools were fully destroyed, an additional 64 were partially damaged, and 40,000 children, including 23,000 girls, were deprived of their education. A particularly vulnerable area is Helmand, where fierce fighting in recent years has done massive damage to school buildings.

It was in response to the plight of children who had lost their schools that a group of British army wives, a Colonel and a civilian doctor, founded the Afghan Appeal Fund in 2006. Caroline Richards, wife of General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, became its President and the appeal is run on a daily basis by a young army wife, Mel Bradley.

Run entirely by volunteers with links to the British Army, the aim has been to raise awareness of the plight of the people of Afghanistan, and particularly the children, and raise money to help them. Of great concern has been education and the need for school buildings or, in the case of one school in Kabul, refurbishment of tents!

Since its foundation the Fund has rebuilt and provided equipment for schools across the area, sometimes only to realise that the Taliban have destroyed their efforts. Indeed Lady Richards says that much of their work cannot be revealed, since to advertise what has been done would endanger its success.

“There are real problems in establishing contact and getting money to a war zone” she says. “The standard of building and the whole issue surrounding a syllabus, for example, has to be forgotten. I know the children learn by rote and will of course learn the Qur’an by heart. The mullah to the armed forces suggests we send Arabic grammar books so that the children can learn Arabic so they can understand the Koran.

“Then security is such a huge issue. Anyone working with western forces are open to attack by the Taleban. If the tribal elder for the region is in control then a school we are promoting should be safe and it will be built by local Afghans who are desperate for a school for their children. But the teachers are unaware where the funding is coming from,” she says.

All three magazines are published three times a year, at the start of each school term – September, January and May. Subscriptions are available via the John Catt Bookshop.

the gap-year guidebook photography competition: second year! January 11, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in the gap-year guidebook.
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Last year we launched the first ever gap-year.com and gap-year guidebook photo competition – and it went so well, we thought we would be daft not to repeat it again this year.


We know our readers are amongst the most adventurous, open-minded and creative out there – which is why we thought it a good idea to again give you a platform to show off your rich talents.

If you have ever fancied a career in travel journalism, here is a golden chance to give yourself a huge kick-start.

Our Travel Photography competition will see one winner get his or her work published on both gap-year.com and in the 2012 edition of the gap-year guidebook.

Runners up will also receive copies of our superb gap-year guidebook, a comprehensive reference book for anyone considering time out volunteering, studying or working in the UK or abroad.

We are inviting photographers to submit a single image with a strong gap-year theme.

The competition is open worldwide to anyone over 18 years-of-age, and is open to anyone whether previously published or not.

Judges will be the editorial and design staff at the gap-year guidebook, with the final winners being selected after the closing date, Friday 8 April 2011. When choosing the winners, the judges will be looking for captivating, original images that evoke a sense of what a gap-year is all about.

If you know anyone who has been on a gap-year (or gap-six-months, or gap-three-months. You get the picture…), let them know and they could see their work published in our popular guidebook.

Click here to visit gap-year.com for full terms and conditions.

“Children growing up with lack of role models” January 6, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Uncategorized.
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There has been plenty of coverage in the UK newspapers of the launch of a new book by the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA).

Your Daughter is a parenting manual offering advice to parents about bringing up their daughters. The book covers issues including eating, divorce and social networking. Following on from a successful website www.mydaughter.co.uk, it was written to meet demand from parents.

Association president Dr Helen Wright, said parents were often under “tremendous pressure” as they struggle to bring up children alone in the face of modern commercial pressures. Dr Wright, who is also head of St Mary’s Calne, said teachers were increasingly seen as a source of advice for parents.

Gillian Low, head of the Lady Eleanor Holles School in Middlesex and former GSA president, appeared on the Vanessa Feltz radio show on BBC London 94.9FM to talk about the book. You can listen again here.

Children growing up with lack of role models, says head (Telegraph)