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When the going gets tough

Working in the world of education means that you're constantly surrounded by buzz words and ideas - and not just from the mouths of pupils, but most commonly from education bureaucrats.

One of these currently in circulation is the brainwave of teaching children "resilience."

The premise lies in the belief that somehow today's children are softer than in years gone by. There may be logic in this argument, for there is no doubt that we are much better at shielding children from physical and emotional harm than we used to be - we are much "softer" (and, perhaps, nicer) global citizens. This is where education has stepped in, to fill the life-preparation vacuum with programs in 'resilience.'

The British Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, recently reiterated: "Now I don't suggest that they can just be taught, but clearly what happens in school - the ethos of a school, the expectations that are set for students and the support that's given, alongside what happens in extracurricular activity, sport, public speaking, voluntary work and so on - all of these will have an effect on character resilience and on the workplace skills that our young people will take with them.'

In outlining the case for the inculcation of resilience, he inadvertently identified why UK independent schools - and boarding schools in particular - continue to be so successful: the attributes and skills he identifies are exactly those things at which independent schools excel.

The reason they do so is not just about financial resources; it's more about their ethos - one which has always been built on a holistic approach to education - the belief that what goes on outside the classroom complements the learning done inside it.

Independent schools are all about creating well-rounded children who have a variety of talents and interests.

Being at a boarding school magnifies this effect: there, not only are children surrounded by this all-embracing atmosphere 24-7, but they also have to take on the added skills of learning to live with others (friends, acquaintances and rivals alike) and dealing with life's hardships independently.

The result of this is that not only are they resilient but they are also extremely confident - and confidence carries you a long way in this world.