The Louise Ball Prize for Creative Writing

Portrait of Louise Ball

At Prep Speech Day today our Senior School Head, Alan Ball, presented a new award in the Prep school: The Louise Ball Prize for Creative Writing. This new prize has been created in honour of Alan’s late wife, Louise, who passed away suddenly at the beginning of this academic year, a tragic loss for all who knew her, and especially for us in the Rugby School Thailand community.

In one short year at RST Louise made a lasting impact on the school. While teaching English to Prep pupils, she was also realising her dream job as the school’s Founding Librarian. To “be with books” (in Alan’s words) gave her complete joy, and fostering a passion for books and reading in children came naturally to her.

Her own childhood was spent on a dairy farm with limited Television, so books were her escapism and reading sparked a light in her. Just two weeks before she passed, Louise was thrilled to be able to spend a day in a book fair in Bangkok, choosing books for our libraries.


"To learn to read is to light a fire; every

syllable that is spelled out is a spark"

Victor Hugo

Louise wanted the Pre-Prep library to be a bright, homely, comfortable, and relaxing space for our youngest readers, so she was hard at work knitting cushion covers for cushions she planned to scatter around the floor. This project is being completed by some of Alan’s work colleagues back in Australia, and by Louise’s colleagues here at RST.

When the ‘Louise Library’ was unveiled in October 2018, the absence of its founder was profound. But in the same way that the library holds her hallmark, we see the Louise Ball Prize for Creative Writing as a fitting legacy, recognising the young writers of RST who are bringing words to the world and continuing to spark joy.

A huge congratulations to Ira Tantsyura for winning the inaugural Louise Ball Prize for Creative Writing.

"When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young."

Maya Angelou (one of Louise’s most-loved authors)

5 Benefits to boarding

to boarding

“Boarding is such a unique environment; the children are away from their own homes, but they become part of a ‘family of friends'”

Tim Jones, House Parent for Marshall House

Our aim in the boarding houses at Rugby School Thailand is to create a  happy place where children feel relaxed and supported, but there are also many other benefits to a positive boarding experience. Here are our top 5:

Expert pastoral guidance

In the homely environment of our boarding houses our House Parents and House Deans ensure good guidance to their boarders. This stretches from developing core values and supporting any personal issues a child might be experiencing, to strict rules on mobile and screen usage, to help children build interpersonal skills and discover new hobbies.

Less time commuting, more time engaging

Everyone knows commuter hour is busy, particularly in cities like Bangkok where the journey to and from school can take up many precious hours of the day. The boarders at Rugby School Thailand cut out the commute and instead enjoy a short walk along green pathways to get to class. This means they have more time to engage – with friends, in lessons, during free play, with new hobbies.

Friendships for life

The friendships made in our boarding houses are incredibly strong. There is a sense of family community that comes from living together, caring for and supporting each other, and enjoying free-time together. Some of the deepest-rooted friendships develop amongst boarders.

A sense of independence

From the first boarding years through Prep, to the last ones in Sixth Form, we build a sense of independence in children that helps them through life. For example, children make their own bed and are encouraged to help with laundry, or with loading the dishwasher after snacks. This all contributes to our boarders leaving school with a mature attitude and prepared for the demands of university.

Incredible facilities in the ‘back garden’

The facilities at Rugby School Thailand become part of your home environment. This means playing fields are a back garden for boarders, and swimming in the school pools, exploring the nature trails around the grounds, and camping in the Outdoor Education Centre are regular activities. Life on campus is dynamic and inspiring, but we also take boarders to a whole host of exciting local place on weekend excursions.

“My favourite thing about boarding is the bonds we can make with friends”

Nina (Year 7)

“The house staff get on really well, they are good friends, and it makes the house feel like a big family”

Milly (E Block)

“The food is delicious”

Mischa (Year 8)

“You don’t have to get up early, which is good because we have more time to sleep and more time to do work”

Tim (LXX)

Sensory play ideas by Miss Hannah

Sensory play isn’t simply about seeing your child’s changing face as they explore colours, textures, shapes and smells – there is proven evidence that it builds nerve connections in developing brains, supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills and enhances memory function. It is also a brilliant way to pacify a child that is feeling anxious, upset or frustrated.

Miss Hannah, one of our wonderful Reception teachers, is a bit of an expert on simple sensory play ideas for parents to use at home. Here are a few to keep your little ones entertained over the holidays…

Fluffy Sand Slime

You will need: Shaving Cream • Sand • A Bucket • A Mixing Spoon

1. Fill a bucket or bowl or bin with sand

2. Add a generous amount of shaving cream to it!

3. Mix until light and fluffy and whipped like foam.

4. You can tweak the amount of shaving cream needed by the consistency you like and how much sand you use! Want to change it? Simply add more of one and mix again!

Coloured Oobleck

You will need: Cornstarch • Water • Food Colouring • 6 Bowls and Spoons • Cookie Sheet

1. Make mini batches of oobleck. put about 1/3 cup of cornstarch into each container (6).

2. Mix almost a 1/4 cup of water with different colors. (6)

3. Add the water to the cornstarch and mix. I repeated this for all 6 colours of the rainbow to make coloured oobleck. You can always make whatever colours you like!

Lemon Scented Rice

You will need: White Rice • Lemon Juice • Yellow Food Coloring (for different shades) • A tray/tub to play in with • Fun Scoops/Bowls

1. Secure one cup of rice into a container with lid.

2. Add one teaspoon of lemon juice (pretty strong scent with this amount, adjust to preference).

3. Add the desired amount of food colouring.

4. Spread on a paper towel and let dry (30 mins for ours) 5. Play!

Silky Soap Slime

You will need: 1 x Bar of Ivory soap • Paper towel or a microwave-safe dish • Microwave • Other brands of soap for comparison (optional)

To perform the soap trick
1. Place the bar of soap on a paper towel or microwave-safe dish.

2. Microwave your soap. Watch the soap closely to see what happens.

3. Depending on microwave power, your soap will reach its maximum volume within 90 seconds to 2 minutes. If you microwave the soap longer (we went up to 6 minutes) nothing bad will happen, but the soap won’t continue to grow.

4. Allow the soap to cool for a minute or two before touching it.

5. The soap will feel brittle and flaky, but it’s still soap, with the same cleaning power as before. Go ahead and get it wet and you’ll see it lathers the same.

So now you have this awesome mass of Ivory soap that looks like a fluffy cloud. What can you do with it? Make soap slime of course! Get coloured water and eye droppers. Squirt coloured water all over the soap. Provide a tray filled with 1/4-1/3 of the way with lukewarm water. Provide whisks and potato mashers. See the magic occur.

Ice Block Play Tray

You will need: Eyedroppers • Squirt Bottles • Toys of your choice • Salt

1. Freeze Toys in layers in a milk carton to make a frozen activity.

2. When your block is frozen solid, tear away the milk carton. Place it in a container.

3. Fill Squirt bottles with salty warm water. Let your child explore!

No-Cook Playdough

You will need: 2 cups plain flour • 1/2cup salt • Up to1½ cups boiling water • 2tbsp. oil • 2tbsp cream of tartar • Food colouring • Mixing bowl • Spoon

1. Mix the flour, cream of tartar, salt and oil together.

2. Add a couple of drops of food colouring to the water and then pour it into the dry ingredients.

3. Leave to cool and knead until it stops being sticky.

4. Allow the children to explore and play with it.

5. Store in an airtight container.

Behind the scenes… learning through play in Nursery

We go behind the scenes with Miss Joanna, Head of Nursery, to find out why her working day is all about learning through play!

What is your biggest belief when it comes to EYFS education?

That is a tricky question as there are so many things that spring to mind… I think my biggest belief is that education is about instilling a deep love of learning that affords children the courage to develop their imagination and explore their individuality. Children should be excited by their experiences in school and learning should ultimately be fun for both the learner and the teacher. In their earliest years, I believe this means that children should be given the time and space to explore their individuality by learning through play. This approach allows children to learn how to challenge themselves, problem-solve, share with others, use their own senses, communicate… the list is endless.

Why are these years so vital to development?

There is lots of highly-respected research out there that points to the fact that a solid early years foundation is the key to the future success of a child. It is so vital to get the years from 0-5 right so children have a good base to build upon as they grow through their educational years. Someone once described the importance of early years to me with the analogy of building a house and it has stayed with me ever since. It is like someone choosing to create a really beautiful loft conversion; with all shiny new appliances and lovely decoration. Without a solid foundation for the house itself, this shiny new loft conversion would soon come tumbling down. Early years education can be seen in much the same way; you get the foundations right, you give children every opportunity to have a great future ahead of them.

Why is it important for kids to get messy?

Messy play is not just about having fun, it teaches children to explore and challenge a wide range of senses at one time. I often say that the messier the uniform at the end of the day, the more of a sign it is that the child has had a successful and rich learning experience. On top of this, messy play is a great way to get young children to confidently communicate as they share their thoughts and ideas around how certain materials feel, smell and look. I will often look at the messy tray in my own class and see a large group, playing happily together, smiling, laughing and talking while they explore an open-ended activity as a group. Messy play can be calming as well; repetitively exploring the look and feel of slime, for example, can be quite meditative. Getting messy is just great, I cannot advocate for it enough!

What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?

The little smiles on the children’s faces when they see you in the morning. My job is rewarding in so many different ways, but developing those safe and trusting relationships with these vulnerable little beings is definitely the reason why I get up in the mornings! I also love seeing how far they come in the year. I know that’s the same for all teachers of all ages, but there’s something about these little people that come in covered in tears when they first start, growing in confidence and ending the year being able to listen, follow instructions, speak English and share in the fun of life together.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Getting the children from one place to another without any tears! At the start of the year, it is quite honestly like Monty Python’s ‘100 yard dash for people with no sense of direction’. But by the end of the year, they’re walking in a lovely little train from one side of the Pre-Prep to the other all in one line and that’s a huge achievement; and they know it too!

What is unique about education at RST?

What makes our Early Years unit so strong is the emphasis and time we allow for play-based learning. In Pre-Nursery, almost every activity that is on offer is open-ended, and while the stimulus is there to inspire the children, what they choose do with it and how far they decide to take it is entirely up to them. On top of this, the Specialist Teachers that we have make a great contribution to the children’s development. Each child has two PE lessons, a Swimming lesson and a Music lesson in Pre-Nursery and I feel this is pretty special at this age.

How does a typical day in your class embody the RST ethos?

In the Nursery years we teach the children socially, emotionally, physically, culturally and spiritually, as well as academically. Our school mantra is ‘the whole person, the whole point’ and Pre-Nursery embodies this in all that we do. It is not about academic excellence for me at this age, but about instilling children with a real zest for learning; providing them with fun and engaging school experiences that mean they enjoy coming in every day. It is about lighting that spark that makes them want more. If I can achieve this, then it has been a successful year for me!

 

RST Art Exhibition: 25-29 June 2019

You're invited to our

ART EXHIBITION

Open Evening

Tuesday 25th June 2019

from 5pm-7pm

in the Sixth Form Centre

On 25th June, from 5-7pm, we’ll be opening the doors to our very first public Art Exhibition!      Join us for refreshments as you peruse the collective artistic talents of our Prep and Senior students from this year.

The exhibition will remain open from the 25-29th June and will be open daily from 8am-6pm (Weds-Fri) and 10am-1pm (Sat).

Behind the scenes… the staff football team

We’re going behind the scenes with Mark Symmonds, our ‘Year 1 Sharks’ teacher who helps manage the staff football team.

Why do you think having something like this is important?

We have a huge campus and the school is growing all the time, so we don’t cross over with other areas of the school as much as we’d like. The football team brings a group together and allows us to make better connections as individuals, as well as giving better understanding of each other’s personal strengths at school. Many of the staff I’ve employed for the RST Holiday Camp have come off the back of learning their characters when playing for our team.

What’s your role within the staff football team?

Due to my aging bones I have taken a step back from playing and become the manager of the team ensuring we are competitive on the pitch. I have been tasked with communicating with the league on the fixtures, arranging the team for each game and bringing us together at the end of each season to celebrate our successes.

Who do you play against?

We play in a two-division six-a-side league and we are currently in Division One. The teams consist of a range of nationalities. There are some teams from the local area, teams from other local and international schools, as well as teams from Russia and other parts of the world.

Are the matches just a bit of fun, or do you take them quite seriously?

Initially it began as a bit of fun but as we played more we realised that we were able to compete and so it has become a little more serious. We ensure that we give everything we have on the pitch and support one another no matter the result; just as we do with the children in school.

How do you feel after football each week?

Win, lose or draw (and even if we are a little sore) we enjoy getting together after the game to celebrate our success and discuss where we can be better next match. The bonds that we have developed has been a real positive to being part of the team.

What are your future hopes and aspirations for RST’s football team?

Much the same as I say to the children I teach, we all just need to keep improving and aiming a little higher each time. We won promotion in our first season, as well as the Vase, so securing our place in the First Division and then pushing on for more success from there. With the new intake of staff we’re planning to create two teams next academic year, so we can involve more people. I think the aim is to have one more competitive team, and a team for staff who want to keep it more fun.

Marcus Large kicking the ball in a Rugby School Thailand staff football match Friends cheering the Rugby School Thailand staff football team

 

Behind the scenes… sailing on the school lake

We caught up with Ben Collings how sailing on the school lake makes him feel, and why it draws on his musical talent.

What’s your role here at RST?

Primarily, I’m a class music teacher for the Pre-Prep and Prep schools. I also teach one-to-one singing lessons to students in the Prep and Senior schools, as well as directing choirs, smaller instrumental ensembles, teaching music technology and coaching sailing.

When did you start sailing?

I started sailing when I was about 10 years old, so roughly the age that children start learning to sail here at RST. My family were inspired to join a sailing club back in the UK following a flotilla sailing holiday around the Ionian islands one summer. Within a year, my Dad and I were competing together at the Miracle Class national sailing championships.

How does sailing make you feel?

Sailing provides me with an unparalleled sense of freedom and tranquillity, especially when I am out on the water alone. I find it the perfect way to unwind and take my mind off things. It is also a fantastic shared experience, when you are in a two-person crew. The sense of challenge and strategy that is presented each time you go out on the water, particularly when racing, is invigorating and to have the opportunity to literally feel the force of nature in your hands as you are holding a sail is one that I would recommend to anyone.

What’s the best thing about running this co-curricular activity?

It has to be seeing the enjoyment and sense of achievement that the children get from doing it each week. Our sailing coaching staff are highly talented and I have learnt a huge amount myself from them.

How does sailing compare with your daily role as a music teacher?

Sailing a boat correctly requires tremendous attention to detail, patience and practice, in order to succeed. Similarly, when learning an instrument or a particular piece of music, you must also pay attention to each minute detail to realise the composer’s intentions. Even the smallest adjustment can make a huge difference.

How does sailing benefit the pupils who do it?

Sailing provides the students with the opportunity to get away from the daily classroom routine and experience adventure. No two days are the same on a boat and the children quickly learn to deal with challenges that they face. Sailing also gets them to use the skills that they learn every day at school in a new and unique environment, perhaps without them even realising.

What makes it such a popular activity to offer?

We are in a unique position at RST to be able to offer sailing thanks to the outstanding facilities on our huge campus, which includes several lakes. Not many school’s have the space to make sailing an activity on-site! Our visiting team of instructors are also brilliant teachers, and have all competed at national and international level in the sport.

How does sailing embody the RST ethos?

Through sailing, the children learn to apply the academic knowledge they gain in the classroom in a unique setting with real life challenges. For example, our pupils can use geography to identify wind directions and look for patterns on the water; they are able to use mathematical angles to project an appropriate route through a sailing course. The sense of discipline that our pupils learn from sailing also enables them to succeed in a classroom environment, so you might say they were symbiotic.

Two boats sailing at Rugby School Thailand

A teacher conducting a choir - Rugby School Thailand

Ben Collings singing

Behind the Scenes… the staff choir

This week, we caught up with Jo Westlake on the exultations of singing in the staff choir.

Why have a staff choir?

Music is a universal language. Every culture makes music. It unites and brings people together from all walks of life. As avid singers ourselves, Mr Collings and I thought a staff choir would be the perfect way for staff to get together and provide an outlet after busy school days. Group singing is such a good ice-breaker, and the boost you get from creating harmonious music is excellent. It releases endorphins, relaxes and inspires – and encourages time away from technology!

What kind of things do you sing?

In Term 1 we prepared a repertoire for the Carol Service, and the choir sang ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ beautifully for the Prep School. Since then, in weekly meetings, we’ve rehearsed a variety of songs, with anything from Miss Jones to African music.

Can anyone join… even those who can’t sing well?

More often than not people lack the confidence to sing, rather than lacking the ability to sing. We welcome anyone who’s up for being part of it – and no one expects you to be perfect on day one! Singing in a group gives such a great sense of camaraderie and is an excellent way for staff to bond and support each other.

How does singing make you (personally) feel?

When I sing I feel happy and relaxed. It improves my breathing and posture, makes me feel more focused and less distracted from any irritations. In many ways I find it a meditative practice.

I’m sure many people would agree that music is highly evocative; it’s often at the root of strong feelings and memories.

How does the staff choir embody the RST ethos?

It models the ‘whole person’; it is physical, mental, social, emotional. I love the way our staff choir (any choir) offers a unifying space where people can switch off from daily life while creating something wonderful.

A music teacher conducting a choir at Rugby School Thailand

Spring Camp 2019

Spring Camp 2019

While RST students disappeared off for the Songkran break, two adventurous young tribes descended on our campus. Divided into ‘Panthers’ and ‘Peregrines’, the children taking part in our day and boarding Spring Camp were able to experience one of the best holiday camps Thailand has to offer.

‘With a schedule full of activities such as zip-lining, archery, mountain biking, STEM, ‘The Tower of Power’, rugby, sailing and trips to local attractions such as the Elephant Sanctuary, it would be hard to pick just one highlight’ says Camp Director, Mark Symmonds. ‘Spring Camp concluded with a Grand Finale where children, parents and camp staff could reflect on what was an amazing eight-days. The children had all tried something new, learned something new, made a new friend, and become stronger people from their time at camp.’

Mark Symmonds, Camp Director

We could tell you more about what went on at Spring Camp, but why not watch the video and see for yourself why we’re on track to become one of the top holiday camps in Asia.

‘We’re now getting excited about the three-week Summer Camp in July, where we will build on the success of the Spring Camp and add even more amazing activities, lessons and excursions’ says Mark. ‘There’s a reason our holiday camps keep booking up so fast!’

The Summer Camp is sold out, but we’ll be announcing new holiday camp dates soon… so watch this space.

A boy choosing lunch at Rugby School Thailand Holiday Camp
Lots of children toasting marshmallows at a camp fire - Rugby School Thailand
Holiday Camp at Rugby School Thailand

When you’re green, you’re growing

A boy jumping at sports day, Rugby School Thailand A canoe on the lake at Rugby School Thailand

By virtue of our lush emerald surroundings, we are constantly reminded to think green. While our pupils enjoy activities outside and the nature around them, we ask them in return to take responsibility for this environment. In doing so they can not only enhance the world around them, but reap personal rewards, broadening their outlook in life and developing good values.

We firmly believe that ‘when you’re green, you’re growing’ and make this attitude part of the educational experience at Rugby School Thailand. With the city smog of Bangkok some 140km away we feel truly grateful for our green surroundings and fresh country air – but it’s a close reminder of increasingly alarming environmental issues.

Runners getting ready at Rugby School Thailand's largest lake (aerial shot) Students learning about growing produce at Rugby School Thailand

The news on global warming, pollution and animal extinctions can be overwhelming, but our actions as individuals can make a difference. “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” (Margaret Mead). We all have choices, we need to change our behaviours and make the right ones to meet the UN Global Goals for Sustainability. Because there is no Plan(et) B.

At an Eco Beasts Action Day attended by a select group of RST pupils, a speaker pointed out that ‘children are 20% of the population, but 100% of our future’. This is why Mrs Dawson has recruited a passionate Eco Club within the school. These pupils make an excellent body of green ambassadors for their peers, developing initiatives such as poster campaigns promoting energy saving and waste reduction.  They have had fun doing recycling craft projects such as making bags out of old t shirts, decorations from rolled newspapers and planters from plastic bottles.

A teacher with students learning about green energy at Rugby School Thailand Pupils learning about kinetic energy at Rugby School Thailand

As a school, we have recycling bins throughout the campus. Our on-site café, Scrummy, offers discounts to anyone using their own cups. Staff and pupils are encouraged to use their own water bottles, rather than paper cups by the water dispensers, and paper shopping bags are available in the school shop to minimise the use of plastics at all. These initiatives help remind people within RST to reduce, reuse, recycle.

As the campus here develops, we do our best to be sustainable; planting trees, growing produce, preserving areas for wildlife and adding ecosystems with our school lakes. We are also working with BANPU INFINERGY to install solar panels across the campus, and these already produce almost 30% of our energy (a figure set to increase substantially). Project week this year focused on power and renewable energy, which we were able to demonstrate live in action. We are constantly reminding pupils to be environmentally conscious – the hope being that this attitude becomes second nature and that every child leaves RST with an innate sense of duty towards the world.

A solar powered tuktuk at Rugby School Thailand A solar powered tuktuk at Rugby School Thailand

As motivational speaker Denis Waitley says, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” So, we are accepting responsibility and doing our best to counter some of human assault on the world. We may only be a few caring people, but we’re here to change the world.