Russian delegation salutes our elite schools

25th November 2011 at 00:00
Could a new wave of cadet colleges follow the Eton model?

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sent some of his highest-ranking officials and teachers to England to observe work at the country's prestigious boarding schools.

The delegation was on a fact-finding mission to get ideas for new regional cadet colleges being set up across the Russian Federation.

Ekaterina Priezzheva, director of the educational department of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defence, and three heads of colleges funded by the ministry visited Eton College, the Duke of York's Royal Military School (DYRMS) and Pangbourne.

President Medvedev wants his cadet colleges to train children in leadership and is clear that Britain's boarding schools provide an interesting case-study. As such, the Russian embassy decided on the DYRMS. Founded in 1803 as a military orphanage for the children of soldiers who died in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, the school moved to Dover in 1909 and became an academy "with military traditions" in September 2010.

DYRMS headteacher Charles Johnson said the Russian group was interested in how boarding schools were run in England. "They were keen to know about the high-quality curriculum we run, and the emphasis we put on a mixture of subjects, including sport, drama and music," he said.

"They asked all sorts of questions: what my salary was, what universities our students go to and what proportion of pupils go into the military. During the day they also saw our combined cadet force."

Commander Dmitry Bogachev, assistant naval attache at the Russian Federation Embassy, seemed suitably impressed. "The Duke of York's Royal Military School has many achievements, but most importantly it successfully prepares well-educated young citizens and allows military personnel to do their jobs without worrying about the welfare of their children," he said.

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