Last weekend, as is customary every year, the School held a graduation ceremony, marking the official end of the secondary school and essentially childhood for our 6th Form class and honouring their efforts and accomplishments. At 18, the world is their oyster and they will be expected to take charge of their lives. At this age anything is possible but it is only possible if they put the work in and do so with courage, compassion and integrity. These are the principles that we as educators hope that the graduating class carries with them beyond Turi.
When you think about education and general child upbringing, educators, parents and communities in general have 18 years to mould a child into a productive member of society. Psychologists will describe better the milestones and expectations at every age but ultimately it is expected that after 18 when one sets out into the world, free of the hand-holding, that they represent themselves as well as those who brought them up.
Anyone who was last in Kenya 18 years ago save for the access to information and footage would struggle to navigate their way from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to their intended destination purely based on memory. In the last two decades there have been significant infrastructural developments that have changed the face and status of our cities and towns. By Sixth Form (and aged 18 years), students have seen and gone through many changes and for this generation there have been significant technological advancements which they embrace.
At Turi, we know and take very seriously the important role of child care that is bestowed on us from the time students join St Andrew’s to the time they are 18 and ready to launch. The idea of boarding school sometimes is understood in a rather simplified manner. That it is a school where the students live for an extended amount of time, leaving for breaks and holidays. However, if given a little more thought, boarding school is far more than sleepovers at school.
Boarding school is an extension of home, by the mere fact that students spend more time at school than in their actual homes. It is an extension of parenting; where even though biological parents or guardians do pay for the services, it is impossible to put a price on the actions it takes an educator (or school parent) to nurture, love and care for a child.
Whether it is spending a night awake to check on a child seems to be coming down with something, or taking extra time to encourage a nervous swimmer ahead of their first external competition, knowing and marking birthdays of all members of a class or dorm, spending the weekend teaching a class how to bake cookies or putting together up a costume to mark book day with your tutor group.
There is a lot that goes on in a school from sunrise to sunset- just like a home there’s cooking and cleaning, there is planning that allows these operations to happen, there is budgeting and payments to be made to avail everything needed and yes, there is someone who switches on the water pump so that we can take a showers after class. There is no magic but well organized, well-meaning individuals who do what their job description tells them to do and then some.
There is the academic side of things, which in essence is why schools exist. Teachers put in an untold amount of hours planning for lessons, making considerations for the individual learning needs of their pupils and ensuring that they as well encourage a love for learning.
At Turi, lesson delivery standards are of course exemplary but what makes us that much more special, is the effort put into creating independent learners while they are still young (Prep school)
According to the recent Inspection Reportby the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) UK, “Pupils attainment is above average for maintained schools in England in the EYFS and Prep.
By the time they are in Secondary (Senior School), they are expected to take charge of their learning and they do as the inspectors found “Year 11 pupils developed a new forum to allow them to evaluate discuss and make suggestions for their learning, resulting in the production of a Year 11 Learning Journal accessible to the whole year group”.
Our exam results are proof of this effort. “About three quarters of grades meet or exceed targets set by external benchmarks”
But education is more than just academics and at Turi ‘who you are’ matters just as much as your grades. Pupils’ personal development is emphasized from EYFS (where they learn and apply the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, attend chapel and bible studies, take part in charity programmes) right up to 6th form where aside from preparing for their exams, they go through an accredited programme- Turi Leadership Award (TLA) whose purpose is to formally induct them into servant leadership.
So at the end of the day, when at 18 one is faced with only possibilities, what do we expect of them?