The Round Square Ideals
A worldwide association of schools, Round Square primarily represents a philosophy which underpins everything we do at Cobham Hall. It is this philosophy – that education should go beyond the classroom, extending to personal development and a global sense of responsibility – which forms the basis of the six Round Square IDEALS.
Read about each of the IDEALS and how we put them into practice by clicking on the tabs below.
As modern technology and innovation breaks down previous physical and geographical barriers, the world is increasingly becoming a single globalised community where those with an international perspective have a natural advantage. With over 30 nationalities represented at Cobham Hall amongst students and staff, everyone at school learns and practises the art of internationalism – learning from the cultures of others and teaching their own. This is essential in a boarding school such as ours where so many people from so many different places call Cobham Hall “home” for the majority of the year.
Embracing different cultures makes our lives at Cobham Hall richer – from the trade of expressions between girls who speak many different languages, to cooking and sharing food from one culture or another. Students forge friendships that span the globe, and it is not unusual for girls to invite their friends to their homes during the holidays – to another country or continent.
School events embrace our cultural diversity – various cultural festivities are obvious examples, but it is the presence of a Vietnamese Moon Lute in the Music Festival, the international evenings or the Chinese play to celebrate Chinese New Year, which also demonstrate how celebrating culture pervades life at Cobham Hall.
As part of Round Square, Cobham Hall girls can explore and experience other cultures through school exchanges, International and Regional Conferences and international service projects. In recent years girls have attended conferences and projects in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, and been on exchanges to Australia, Europe and South America. We frequently host students from all over the world for up to a term at a time.
The Round Square network allows girls to have the most authentic cultural experience possible – the kind that simply cannot be gained from holidays, television, books or anecdotes.
The essence of democracy – the right to vote and to have one’s opinion heard - is incorporated into life at Cobham Hall. Whilst we have not yet voted to abolish homework, girls do get a say in how the school is run from voting for their Student Leadership Team to giving feedback and suggestions on everything from the food to the boarding accommodation. In lessons, girls learn the value and importance of democratic governments and civilisations throughout the world to instil an appreciation of why democracy is the most common form of Government as well as the privilege of living in a democratic society.
The environment is an increasingly pressing world issue, and at Cobham we take it seriously. As a Heritage site, the Environmental ethos is not a simple one to enact but Cobham is pioneering in this field: the 172 photovoltaic cells on the roofs of Brooke and Bligh, the two Sixth Form boarding houses, is by far the biggest system in the local area. From the student Environmental Committee to the recycling programme, girls also do their bit to conserve the planet (starting with our little part of it).
Environmental Mornings are a feature of the new Saturday programme. Through our efforts to make the school more environmentally friendly we have achieved the Eco-Schools’ Bronze and Silver Awards and we are currently working towards the Green Flag Award. The school is also investigating some large scale environmental initiatives – we are currently considering biomass energy generation as a major source of heating in the near future.
“Pupils show exceptional awareness of, and responsibility for, the environment.” - Independent Schools' Inspectorate, February 2015.
Adventure is all about getting out there, throwing yourself into things, and getting out of your physical and psychological comfort zone. Girls go camping and climbing, kayaking and dry slope skiing, on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions or residential adventure trips, and often end up surprising themselves when they realise what they are really capable of, which fits perfectly with the Round Square motto “there is more in you than you think”.
Adventure is one of the best ways girls can break down the preconceptions of themselves and their abilities which are often the most significant barriers to accomplishment and growth – not to mention the sense of wonder at themselves and the enormous confidence boost when they succeed. Adventure - and the teamwork it inevitably requires – can also break down barriers between people – having to rely on another’s abilities, character and judgement is a most effective way of allowing a girl’s true nature to break down any prejudices between those of different backgrounds.
At Cobham we encourage student leadership at every age. Every tutor group has a group leader, a Round Square representative and an Eco representative. In Sixth Form, prefects are selected by subject staff and the Student Leadership Team (elected by student and staff vote) is drawn from Year 12 before they begin their final year. Boarders also have student Heads of Houses. Wherever possible, we involve students in leading activities – from classroom tasks to sports teams and school-wide events.
We know that leadership can be both a frightening and an inspirational experience, so teachers, housemistresses and other pastoral staff mentor girls to go beyond themselves and discover the power they have to make differences, large and small.
Service is critical to developing empathy, humility, understanding and a drive to help others. At Cobham, girls are encouraged to realise that service can take many forms, from helping those who are less fortunate, to supporting a friend. Girls are taught to look beyond their own lives, wants and desires, and become aware of how they can contribute to the world. We encourage girls to develop a sense of responsibility and to begin a lifetime of contribution while at school.
In school, girls are involved in service through fundraising, helping to run activities or events, mentoring younger students both socially and academically and through the new Saturday programme. Sixth Formers are required to undertake service as part of the IB Diploma and are involved in local community clubs and projects.
Older girls also have the opportunity to join Round Square International Service projects which take place all over the world – from building a school in South Africa, a greenhouse in Peru or a hiking track in Canada. Girls return from these trips with a changed perspective.
Girls are also encouraged to initiate their own service ideas through weekly Round Square meetings and through involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme.