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Toby Belfield, Principal of Ruthin School

Home and away

Toby Belfield explains how his school continues to run smoothly while he is recruiting students abroad

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | August 22, 2014 | School life

The decision to educate their child in a fee-paying school is not one taken lightly by most parents. With choice in education becoming more competitive than ever, even some of the highest performing private schools now know that they can’t rely solely on UK students to fill their places. My own Ruthin School is a case in point.

Since becoming Principal in 2010, I’ve visited nearly every overseas student’s family prior to enrolment. I also take the opportunity to meet parents of existing students who are based abroad. As a result, I am frequently away from school throughout the academic year, in places as far-flung as China and Mexico.

Whether I am speaking to students in school or travelling to see them, we have a great system in place that helps to ensure that Ruthin School is consistently oversubscribed and achieves outstanding academic results year after year.

Meet the parents
Ruthin School is a co-educational day and boarding school situated on the edge of a small market town in north Wales. With over 60% of our students coming from outside the UK, a proactive approach to international recruitment is vital to the school’s success. As the school’s Principal and Bursar, I have a unique set of responsibilities which I need to balance at home and away. Having the right technology in place is key to ensuring that the school continues to run smoothly in my absence.

I typically meet several hundred prospective students each day overseas. My sole aim is to focus on enrolments, so I need to keep up to speed when it comes to student numbers.

We use a management information system supplied by SIMS Independent to record and store data on both existing and prospective pupils. This means that, wherever I am in the world, I can access up-to-the-minute information on Ruthin’s student numbers and finances.

It is also crucial to be able to see the gender mix and geographical variety in every year group. This helps me to ensure that the right number of students is recruited from each country, thus maintaining the school’s rich cultural diversity. If I am meeting families at a student recruitment event in Hong Kong, for example, at the click of a mouse I have an accurate picture of what places are taken and how many remain available.

Many parents appreciate the fact that the head of Ruthin School has met their child and takes a personal interest in their schooling. We have found that this sets the tone for a strong partnership between school and family, which has a positive impact on a child’s progress from their very first day with us.

Team talk
The fantastic team at Ruthin is at the heart of the school’s success. I have complete faith in my team’s ability to run the school seamlessly while I am away.

For example, our most recent inspection occurred while I was visiting students in Indonesia. When the inspectors asked for evidence of how we track the performance of boys versus girls, the data could be quickly pulled from our management information system and displayed in graphic form. Our Vice-Principal and staff handled the inspection in my absence and there was no need for me to change my itinerary or catch the next flight home.

Despite having over 700 years of history behind us, our modern and personal approach to delivering quality education continues to reap rewards.

Toby Belfield is Principal of Ruthin School. 

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