Student Thoughts

Thursday, October 09, 2014 - By: Bud Patel

Every year, September brings a renewal of the dream that is Brentwood. Students migrate from around the world to create a unique community of learners. A returning student from Prince George is partnered with someone from Swaziland - both sharing the nervous energy of a new year, a new opportunity, a new adventure. During the first few weeks of term, I have the honour of hosting the Grade 12s by house for eight successive BBQs at the Head’s Residence. I started with Whittall House and ended with Ellis. While the meal put on by our Food Services team is superb, the main purpose is to create an intimate setting to discuss their school. Below, you will find the three questions I posed and the top responses to each. I pre-loaded the students by asking them to think of big picture items rather than low level ones: try to remain at 50,000 feet.

1.  If we were to change everything about Brentwood, what is the one thing that we should not touch. What is the one thing you most value?

Top responses:

  • Staff-student relationship
  • Positive student culture
  • Tripartite schedule and offerings
  • The amazing campus and facilities
  • Don’t change the question we are asked during admissions - “Do you want to be here?” No one is sent to Brentwood.

2.  If we were to change one thing about Brentwood, what would that be? What is the most substantive change you would like to make?

Top responses:

  • More school uniform options: cardigans, shorts in the summer, a summer skirt, better girls' pants
  • More access to other programs – on and off campus
  • More protein options at the salad bar
  • More student input to major school decisions
  • Don’t know

3.  In your experience, what are the true differentiators at Brentwood?  What stands out from other schools?

Top responses:

  • Life-long friendships
  • Student culture – I can be myself here
  • It’s cool to do well
  • Brentwood is a family, not just a school
  • We develop the skill of independence
  • The global Old Brentonian (alumni) network

As you can see, they had no problem elevating their responses to questions 1 and 3. Question 2, however, proved more challenging though they still provided some sound feedback. While not we are not perfect, I am pleased to know that for many key competencies related to student experience, we are flourishing.

For our school to remain a leader in independent boarding school education, getting feedback from all of our constituents, especially students, is essential. Our mindset is focused on continuous school improvement; for that to take place, we must be open to critique and bold enough to innovate. Perhaps I can challenge you to respond to the above three questions?  I would welcome your feedback. Please drop me a note at

De Manu In Manum,

Bud Patel, Head of School

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