Oppidan into Schools

Interview Mentoring at Caldicott School - June 2018

In June this year Oppidan took a big step towards its ultimate goal: to work with schools. For some time now we have worked hard to hone the concept of mentoring, to better define it and in time, to ensure that schools understand Oppidan’s approach to one-on-one support as a complementary addition to the great work that schools do.

At Oppidan we feel that the divide between schools, parents and companies is too great. When a mentor can act as an independent source of advice and support to the school, the parent and the child, progress can be achieved.

On this basis, we felt it was time to take the work that we’ve been pioneering into schools. After meetings with HM Jeremy Banks and DH Theroshene Naidoo, a date was fixed for Oppidan’s pre-test approach at Caldicott.

Five Oppidan mentors, led by Henry and Walter, took to the stage at 8.30am for an assembly with fifty-one boys in Year 5. Light-hearted introductions, an interactive Q&A, a demystifying talk about the pre-test process and some examples of good and bad interviewing; the day was off to a start and the boys seemed energised!

At its core, this day was about changing expectations for the boys involved. Our team did their best to iron out mistruths, offer up debate and imbue with confidence. During the course of the day each boy spent twenty-five minutes with an Oppidan mentor. They had a mini-mock, analysis of a poem, discussion of a philosophical ‘thunk’, expansion of the boy’s interests and some fun role play regarding dos and don’ts of interviews. There was laughter and some learning too; we felt that boys left with a real sense of perspective on what to expect over the coming year.

Mentoring is also about strong feedback and tangible progress. To that end, the day ended with written feedback for every boy and an assembly for parents to discuss Oppidan’s approach to pre-tests shared by Mr. Banks. Some typically tough questions from anxious parents led to what felt like a positive reaction.

Much of a child’s success in Year 6 is about the cool, calm, collected nature of not just that child, but also their parents. Mentoring with Oppidan is as much about the parent as the child; we all have expectations and those take efforts to manage.

Oppidan has since worked with Cothill boys and will be returning to Caldicott later this year, as well as beginning work this October with Years 6 and 7 at Cheam School. We could not be more excited for the next phase of Oppidan mentoring, taking our approach directly to schools. 

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Feedback from Jeremy Banks, Headmaster of Caldicott School

"At a time of great awareness of the exponential change in technology, uncertainty about what future employment might be like and oversubscribed top public schools, Oppidan have entered into education and have tackled the hot-house, high pressured culture that sadly exists today. Henry Faber, Walter Kerr and the Oppidan team are academic, charming and thoroughly engaging. In partnering with Caldicott, their skill has been to help us focus on each individual like never before and we are already seeing the results. The boys who have been mentored through Oppidan feel empowered, they feel confident and they quickly become the best version of themselves, as articulate and interesting children with a twinkle in their eye. I wholeheartedly recommend Oppidan Education, through their mentoring or camps, to any school leader who believes the child should be at the heart of a great education."