We emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle. We all eat together in the Dining Hall and school lunch is included in the school fee to foster this family spirit and corporate identity. We have an enviable reputation for the quality of the food and helpings are generous, with separate salad and pasta bars, hot dishes (two at least of are always vegetarian) and puddings. Menus are cosmopolitan and varied. Above all, the eating of lunch together is a civilizing communal experience for all the boys – ‘food for thought’, if you like. The Head Master regularly takes lunch with a small group of boys. At break and lunch, our tuck-shop offers a wide variety of nutritious snacks and drinks; there are also vending machines for healthy drinks.
We do not teach lessons in ‘happiness’. A happy school is the product of countless years of carefree endeavour by thousands of teachers and pupils. It is this daily habit of caring, of mutual respect and tolerance, that prevents boys occasionally feeling isolated or overwhelmed. It helps them get their problems into perspective. Every boy has the opportunity to find his personal niche, be it as contributor to one of the many school magazines, fly half in the Under 14 D team or as a Grade 8 musician.
Conduct is something over which the boys have ownership, the teachers enabling rather than enforcing. If boys are to become responsible and happy adults, they must be helped to learn for themselves the appropriate way to behave, and they need to exercise increasing levels of responsibility while they are at school. The school rules are kept as simple as possible. Boys are treated fairly and consistently. They are encouraged to show kindness, common sense, good manners and respect in their day-to-day behaviour. We set the bar high and the boys respond to that. Good behaviour is warmly encouraged: unacceptable behaviour dealt with swiftly. Of course, boys are boys, and most will make the odd mistake along the way. That is what learning is all about. At Merchant Taylors’ the atmosphere is positive, never punitive.
The test of a good school is how well it understands and supports boys through their sometimes-difficult teenage years. We have extensive, formal mechanisms of support, but boys will often turn to a friend rather than anyone else. The real strength of Merchant Taylors’ is the network of friendships amongst the boys. This was singled out as ‘outstanding’ in the Inspection Report of 2014. “Pupils demonstrate an exceptional standard of personal development… The outstanding levels of behaviour and the significant generosity shown through so many facets of school life result in well-rounded and mature pupils who make a substantial contribution to the wider society. Relationships between staff and pupils, and among the pupils themselves, are positive and highly respectful throughout. Tutors exercise a key role in supporting their tutees”.
These findings are consistent with all previous Inspections of the school, which have always pointed out, how “the boys ‘get on well with each other and the relationships across and within the age groups are warm and supportive. Senior pupils commented on how they “looked out” for the younger boys... Boys take a pride in the achievement of others in and outside the classroom”.
The School Counsellor
Support, encouragement and advice are easily available in the School, from teachers, tutors, the chaplain and others. In addition, a qualified and experienced School Counsellor is in school twice a week to see boys who may wish to talk in confidence about emotional or personal problems that affect their lives in or outside school. Boys can book sessions with the Counsellor themselves (schoolcounsellor@), or may attend at the suggestion of parents or members of staff. mtsn.org.uk
We believe strongly that every boy should have a balanced, full meal in the middle of the day to provide him with the energy he needs. Lunch is therefore included in the School fee - it is not an ‘extra’ on the bill! We have an enviable reputation for the quality of the food, prepared by our own catering team, and helpings are generous.
The system is a cafeteria one. There are separate soup, salad and pasta counters and several hot dishes, two of which are vegetarian. There is a wide choice of hot and cold desserts. The menu is varied daily and weekly and can be viewed on the School website.
At mid-morning and after lunch the Lun (the tuck-shop) opens. This is a large, busy meeting point for boys, and it offers a wide variety of healthy snacks and drinks.
The School’s Medical Centre is staffed by qualified, registered nurses. They provide first aid and nursing care to boys who may become unwell or injured during the school day. They will contact parents if a boy needs to be sent home or go to hospital. They meet all parents and boys when they undertake the medical interview prior to joining the School.
Teaching staff receive instruction on how to recognise and deal with emergencies and many staff are qualified First Aiders.
The nurses provide first aid cover for home sports fixtures.
Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE)
The school shares with parents the need to educate boys to become responsible, mature and independent-minded citizens. We take enormous pride in our reputation for helping boys to become confident and positive young people who know their strengths and limitations, who get on well with other people, who work easily within a team yet can lead from the front, and who will, we hope, make good parents themselves.
The school provides series of lessons, or special courses, using both its own resources and outside agencies to ensure that boys are both knowledgeable and responsible on matters of health and diet, sexual behaviour, and on the risks involved in alcohol and substance abuse.
A great deal of education is ‘caught’ rather than taught. The extra-curricular programme is driven by the need to offer boys opportunities to ‘catch’ self-confidence and a growing sense of achievement and independence. We set aside a great deal of time, in a busy school day, not only for organised activities but for boys to show their initiative in their own activities; for example, editing magazines and newspapers, running a Young Enterprise business company, rehearsing a duologue or debating speech, or holding a society meeting. The huge range of activities described in our separate Activities Booklet is a means by which boys can develop their personal and social skills.
Study Skills are built into the curriculum. Every subject will advise boys on the best ways of learning, and end-of-year exams are seen not only as tests of understanding but as opportunities to learn how to learn. At the end of each term and half-term he discusses with his tutor, by individual appointment, his report and grades.
Boys attend Parents’ Evening with their parents because we feel that they should accept responsibility for their progress themselves.
Just about every boy leaves Merchant Taylors’ to go to University. The school’s aim is to help him to be proudly self-sufficient, balanced and confident, by the time he leaves us. One of our greatest pleasures is to see boys successfully completing their university courses.
Our aim is to identify and support boys with special educational needs and ensure full access to the wide curriculum offered. All boys are screened on entry to the School.
The Learning Support Co-ordinator and part time Specialist Teacher work closely with subject teachers and pastoral staff so that the most appropriate provision is made for each boy.