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Biggest Scottish Senior Schools Fair Includes Discussion on Smartphones


Belhaven Hill School 

Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar has just hosted 30 of the UK’s leading independent schools at their inaugural Senior Schools Fair. There was also a panel debate on the controversial topic of smartphones in schools. With over 300 primary school visitors and 60 school representatives, it was the largest Senior School event in Scotland so it created a purposeful buzz around Belhaven’s coastal campus on a beautiful May morning.

 

After the senior school teams toured the 20 acre site with pupils aged 9-12, they had time to talk to Belhaven’s pupils while their parents listened to Headmaster Olly Langton’s exciting news of the imminent launch of the Digital Makerspace, as well as plans to build a roof over the swimming pool and create a Performing Arts Hub.

Between 11.30am and 1.30pm, visitors met as many schools as they wished at the Fair in Belhaven’s Sports Hall, as well as being treated to a delicious buffet lunch provided by the school’s caterers, Thomas Franks. Admissions teams were kept very busy throughout the 2-hour session as over 300 people wound their way through the ‘streets’ that had been created.

 

The end of the Fair was signalled by a lone piper, 13-year-old Blake, a recent recipient of both Academic and Music scholarships and nominee for a Dunbar Community Award, following years of musical support at major local events. Parents were then invited to a panel debate and Q&A session on the important topic of the correct place for smartphones and EdTech in education.

Smartphone discussion panel (from left to right): Ian Yorston (EdTech Advisor to the ISC); Wendy Griffiths (CEO of Independent Schools Examining Board (ISEB); Jonny Hammond-Chambers (Registrar, Oundle); Helen Harrisson (Head of Fettes); Ali Hakimi (Tutor of L Social, Radley College); Matt Godfrey (Deputy Head, Downe House).
Smartphone discussion panel (from left to right): Ian Yorston (EdTech Advisor to the ISC); Wendy Griffiths (CEO of Independent Schools Examining Board (ISEB)); Jonny Hammond-Chambers (Registrar, Oundle); Helen Harrisson (Head of Fettes); Ali Hakimi (Tutor of L Social, Radley College); Matt Godfrey (Deputy Head, Downe House).

With representatives from across the sector as well as the CEO of the ISEB and an adviser to the Independent Schools Council, the conversation urged collective action in the form of parental support for each school’s policy. The discussion also suggested children should be encouraged  to say ‘Yes’ to opportunities such as music, drama and sport, rather than saying ‘No’ to technology which is an inevitable and largely positive part of all of our lives.

 

The central point was that the digital culture of each school was of vital importance, and it is this that parents should be investigating and on which schools should be focusing. Each panellist concluded with a recommendation for parents, ending a positive and reassuring conversation on this complex and nuanced topic.

 

There was a lot of positive feedback on the event from parents and senior school representatives, including:

 

“I just wanted to say thank you for laying on such a fantastic Senior Schools Fair yesterday. It was hugely helpful to speak to so many schools in one place - the hall was buzzing - and I can only imagine how much organisation went into the whole affair.” (Visiting parent)

 

“The Schools Fair was a great concept and it was helpful to be able to talk to so many schools all at once – speed dating with a difference! I’m not sure it narrowed our choices – it may unfortunately have even expanded them – but it definitely got us thinking and it was really interesting. Great talks as well – and we took away a lot of helpful comments and thoughts on the whole phone debate.” (Visiting Parent)

 

“What an amazing event Belhaven organised on Saturday. The attention to detail before and during the event was excellent and your pupils were wonderful ambassadors! The buzz around the sports hall, campus and cricket was testament to what an amazing school you have and how happy pupils and families are.” (Visitor from a senior school). 

 

Meanwhile, children were putting into practice the advice to take advantage of co-curricular opportunities: those not involved in tennis or cricket matches were actively engaged on a local coasteering expedition led by Ocean Vertical.

 

The busy crèche facility run by school staff allowed parents to focus on progressive discussions. Visitors began to drift away as the Under 11A cricket match concluded and the ‘haar’ (sea fog) rolled in from Belhaven Bay, on cue.

Belhaven pupil tour guides
Belhaven pupil tour guides

Belhaven plans to repeat its Scottish Senior Schools Fair every two years and is already looking forward to the next event in May 2026! You can learn more about Belhaven Hill School on their website.

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