In a small school the Headmaster can have a close understanding of the abilities and qualities of each child. The boys sleep in warm attractive dormitories in the main building, and the girls in the new, purpose-built girls' house.
Whilst the whole staff plays a part in pastoral care, the boys' Housemaster and the girls' Housemistress are largely responsible, together with the Matrons and the Headmaster, for the day to day wellbeing of the children.
For meals, staff and children eat together and a perennial complaint of leavers is that the food at their new school is 'nothing like as good as it was at Belhaven'!
Whilst a number of day children is an integral and welcome feature of the younger age groups, the large majority of children are boarders. Boarding may not suit everyone but we believe that increasingly as a child grows older he or she gains the fullest benefit from the school by being a boarder.
Boarders generally stay at the school one weekend in two and go out on the other weekends. During "in weekends" there is a full programme of lessons, games and activities on the Saturday. Day children in Forms 5 and 6 are excused attendance, but others
are free to go late afternoon after all school commitments are met.
There is a structured programme on Sunday mornings that includes a Chapel Service in the school taken by the Headmaster or visiting preachers (normally the Heads of Senior Public Schools), while twice a term the school joins with the congregation at two local churches. On Sunday afternoons there is a full range of activities and outings.
Children may be allowed out at the Headmaster's discretion between 2 pm and 6 pm to pursue an activity such as riding or surfing or for a special family occasion.
Weekends out and half terms start at 1 pm on the Friday and children return either on the Sunday evening or on the Monday morning by 8.25 am. To assist parents who live comparatively far away, school mini-buses convey children to places such as Perth, Brechin and Dumfries at the beginning and end of a weekend out.
At Belhaven we believe in giving children the opportunity to develop a broad range of hobbies and interests. Many of these activities take place in the lunch hour, during breaks, after school and on weekends.
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What Do People Say About Us?
“Parents and children incredibly happy, with masses of input from the parents… School is flourishing.”
"Belhaven is a truly magical place."
“Pupils at Belhaven tend to make friendships that last well into later life. This is a reflection of the wholesome atmosphere with reels parties, garden plots and birthday cakes for everyone – all very jolly and lots of honest, clean fun. This is a well-run school where the vast majority board – and love it.”
“Having had experience for many years of other boarding schools, I wonder if you know how very unusual Belhaven is in so many ways – not only of course in its excellent education but also in its effortless (apparently!) assumption that civilised people behave in a certain way, whatever their age, that kindness is the norm, and tolerance of other faiths, and to see unhappiness is to want to help – of course you have been told all this, but it is truly rare, believe me!”
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“For a small place, Belhaven packs a powerful punch, sending pupils off to all the best senior schools north and south of the border (lots to Eton). They're a natural, chatty bunch who love their school. 'We're all mates,' one tells us. The vast majority board, taking advantage of the blissful coastal setting and the ever-growing list of activities: surfing for the hardy; fly-tying and calligraphy for gentler souls. Don't mess with the Belhaven netball girls - the first team has been unbeaten for three years - and the under-nine boys' cricket and rugby teams are formidable. They're mad about reeling and (spare us) a third of pupils play the pipes. We presented the head's wife, Sandy MacAskill, with our Power Behind the Throne award last year. She's 'everyone's go-to person - a real dynamo', we're told.”
'It's not about winning - it's about happiness,' head Innes MacAskill tells us. The unconquered netball team takes care of the former; surfing, riding on the beach and apple-picking contribute to the latter. Teaching is academic but not scary: MacAskill has introduced setting, allowing children to work at their own pace. Leavers go to all the big hitters (Eton, Harrow et al), with a third getting scholarships. There are high standards in DT, with lessons at nearby Chippendale International School of Furniture, while the school has nationally renowned pipers. We're told the food is excellent, top marks going to the pancakes. The cosy boarding houses are manned (and womanned) by young staff, and we were impressed by the revamped boys' dorms, with their stunning sea views.
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Extracts from Care Inspectorate Report
The Service provides a warm friendly environment for pupils. Staff and pupils have very good relationships, which allow good communication and an understanding of how to best support individual pupils to grow and develop.
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Belhaven Hill provides very good care for its pupils. There is a positive atmosphere which the pupils said they enjoyed. The boarding houses were comfortable, welcoming places where the pupils said they felt safe and enjoyed being with their friends.
HMiE Engagement Inspection
Education Scotland, Livingstone, EH54 6GA
Interesting activities in art and craft and gardening further broaden children’s experience and sense of achievement. Children with particular talents and interests are very well supported to a high level, as in music, sport and art. Children are very positive about the wider life of the school, including boarding. They feel that the staff encourage a strong sense of personal responsibility, respect and concern for others. They value the sense of teamwork and community encouraged through the activities provided by staff.
Children appreciate the quality of teaching they experience and the support for learning that teachers offer. Children’s progress in learning is carefully tracked. Staff communicate well with each other about each individual’s academic progress and their personal and social development. The support for learning teacher works very well with staff and provides children with well planned support and guidance. Children are confident enough to seek additional help without prompting.
Children feel safe and well cared for in school. They enjoy positive relationships with staff and each other. As a result, they are increasing their self esteem and are enthusiastic about school life. Children find staff approachable and responsive to any problems they share with them.
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The school is characterised by a strong sense of teamwork and community, with positive relationships between staff and pupils.