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At the root of Hahn's concept of the effective school is a Platonic view of education as a process based on self-confrontation and self-formation.
In this view, a developing person has deeply within herself or himself the potential for both excellence and failure. It is the task of the educator to bring about circumstances that will cause the young person to experience and rationally understand these potentials within the self, and that will nurture qualities needed to develop personal assets into the foundation of an effective, empowered, generous adult life.

All Round Square schools share this view, however, different each school's organization and its cultural and linguistic milieu may be. (For the Round Square's membership criteria, see the accompanying text). The schools are far from identical. There are not only national differences but variety in ages served, genders enrolled (there are schools for boys, for girls, and coed schools), school types (boarding, day, or boarding/day) and school size. All are independently governed; in some countries public funding has a role in the support of the schools, while in others it does not.

Criteria for School Membership

1. Principles
Schools in Round Square should espouse and practise genuinely Hahnian principles and ideals of education. These have as their fundamental objective the full and individual development of every pupil into a whole person, that is the simultaneous realisation of the aspirations - academic, physical, cultural and spiritual -- of every member of the community.
This objective will be reflected in the curriculum of each school which, through its comprehensive nature, will enable and ensure that such development takes place.

2. Service
In striving to achieve balance between self-improvement and self-sacrifice in the interests of others, schools of Round Square should develop in their pupils qualities of skill and care. They should educate their pupils in the concept and practice of service to those in need in their local communities and in projects further afield. Much of this will be achieved internally through example and the experience of the spiritual dimension which should exist in every school.
At the same time all pupils, for a period of at least two years during their school career, should be involved in service to the wider community and those in need beyond the school.
Round Square schools should also demonstrate an active concern for the natural environment, appreciating proven environmental problems and playing a part in tackling these.

3. Challenge
Round Square schools are committed to train their pupils in the appreciation of physical health and moral fortitude through the challenge and adventure of outdoor pursuits. In this context graded 'Outward Bound' type activities should be central to the curriculum and the fostering of a spirit of adventure in all pupils an important aspiration.

4. Responsibility
Education in the value of - and active participation in - democracy is essential in Round Square schools. Pupils, particularly appreciating the importance of self-discipline, should be trained and obliged, through partnership with adults in the school community, to take an active share in the running of the school. A high level of responsibility will be devolved upon them both individually and collectively. Freedom of thought and speech should be encouraged, with appropriate forums and channels of communication existing to satisfy their aspirations.

5. Global Perspective
Schools of Round Square should be as comprehensive as possible in the composition of their student bodies and, in particular, they should aim to be international and welcome pupils of all nationalities, although circumstances may dictate that this is possible only on an exchange or short term basis. Pupils should learn to appreciate and value cultures, religions and languages other than their own and see themselves as genuinely international citizens.

6. Commitment
It is not for schools to be nominal or institutional members of Round Square. All members of member schools - Governors, staff and pupils - should embrace the philosophy and the values of the movement. Member schools must be prepared to submit themselves to periodic appraisal to ensure continued membership.

7. Specific Expectations
Furthermore, schools of Round Square should play a full part in the responsibilities and activities of Round Square. These, inter alia, include participation in Conferences (regular and occasional), international service projects (particularly RSIS), pupil and teacher exchanges, raising funds for Round Square activities. There is an expectation to be involved in the organisation of some of these activities, including the staging of conferences. Membership of Round Square involves an enriching of Round Square's corporate vision and influence.

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Use of the Criteria for Acceptance of New Schools to the
Round Square and for Appraisal of Existing Schools

Heads of schools wishing to join Round Square will, on application, be sent a copy of the Criteria and asked to state whether they believe their schools match these criteria.

If, after discussion if necessary with the Executive Director, Heads are confident that they satisfy the Criteria, the Executive Director and at least one other member of the Board will visit the school to assess its suitability for membership. The Executive Director may require a written submission to be made in advance.

The delegation will always spend at least twenty-four hours in the school and will meet, in addition to the Head, a member of the governing body, members of staff and students.

The Executive Director will then produce a report for the Board with a recommendation for action. If a decision is taken that a school shall not be admitted to membership the school will be informed of the reason(s) for this and whether it is encouraged to apply for membership at a later date.
All existing member schools must be prepared to submit themselves to periodic appraisal to ensure continued membership. Such appraisals will take place at intervals of not more than ten years.

Appraisals will be arranged between the Executive Director and the Head of the school in question. They will be conducted by two Heads of member schools, one of whom will normally be the member of Council responsible for the region in which the school is situated.

The appraisers will make a report for Council which, together with any recommendations and expectations, shall be presented to the school.

One may have to stand back a bit to see the similarities underlying the lives of students in institutions as outwardly different as Starehe of Kenya, Rannoch in Scotland, Doon in India, or Athenian in California. Yet, when perspective is gained, consistent priorities, principles and practices emerge:

* Students devote substantial time and energy to the service of others, within the school and beyond it.

* Each school arranges outdoor and extra-curricular activities to challenge and powerfully engage youngsters, individually and in groups, in ways that promote personal development.

* Student leadership of and kindness toward others in the school's community matter. Leadership roles held by students are substantial.

* Students are asked to look beyond gender, class, race, nationality and culture to understand man's nature. International and group experiences and language studies develop and deepen this commitment.

* Projects, programmes and curricula emphasize each student's destiny to be a caretaker of human society and of the planet.

The philosophic vision developed in Round Square students through such programmes of active experience and endeavour tends to be both idealistic and informed by reality - as this quotation from the Doon School Weekly suggests:

"People do care about others, themselves and the entire planet. How else does the human race survive? Money is not incentive enough. Love is."
[ Editorial on the occasion of the Round Square Meeting, November, 1991 ]

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How does the Round Square help institutionally and
culturally different - but like minded - schools work together?
 Here is a summary of activities involving a Round Square school each year.


"My time in India was spent learning about myself as well as others". (A Rannoch student, 1991)

Schools organise several student exchanges per year. Most often these are term-length exchanges of one student for another, worked out on a school-to-school basis, with no tuition money changing hands and students travelling on tourist visas. Exchanges also bring young alumni interested in a career in education for "gap" year (pre-university, post-secondary) internships at member schools as teaching aides.

It is a singular honour at any Round Square school to be sent on exchange.
Faculty exchanges are encouraged. In addition to term and year exchanges, there are brief exchanges to enable a teacher or coach to observe or instruct colleagues at another Round Square school. Housing exchanges support foreign travel and study.

The Round Square network makes it possible to match an exchanged student or teacher to a school, with minimal bureaucratic burden and little cost beyond travel. Because exchange is popular, each school is enriched by an annual inflow of visitors bringing the views and values of other nations and cultures, and by returning students whose perspective on society, education and the world has been deepened through personal experience.

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Service Projects:

"The real benefit of the project was that we were doing something worthwhile to help the Hungarians establish the nature reserve. Our very presence lifted their spirits. We were the first truly international group to stay at the Boronka camp."
(An Abbotsholme student)

Each Round Square school presents an array of service opportunities to its own students. The scope of activities is enormous, ranging from support for the ill and elderly to child care to maintenance and rehabilitation of natural areas to operation of life-saving or protective agencies. Thousands of hours of such volunteer-service work are performed by Round Square students each week. Students also take on emergency service when help is needed. Schools train students in skills needed to be ready to help others in cases of emergency or disaster.

From time to time, an opportunity to serve requires the efforts of a team from several schools. Such "service projects" normally take place during school holidays, and may be structured in either of two ways:

1. School based projects are organized, staffed and logistically supported by a "base" school. In recent years such projects have taken place in Britain (based on Box Hill and St. Anne's Schools), Eastern Germany (Louisenlund School), Hungary (Salem), Switzerland (Aiglon), Turkey (Salem), Kenya (Starehe), Canada (Bishop's College School), Thailand and Indonesia (Gordonstoun), Venezuela (Rannoch), Niger (Birklehof) and Russia (Cobham Hall).

2. Larger projects may be directed by Round Square itself. The organization has the leadership, expertise and funding needed to take on complex, logistically difficult projects, such as school construction and disaster-relief projects mounted since the early 1980's at locations in India and Kenya. Students at Round Square schools raise money each year to supply construction and emergency-relief materials.

All service projects are organized according to the "Round Square Ground Plan," policies and procedures which promote safety and effectiveness. Each is followed by an evaluation to ensure service will have an educative result for each student.

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Collaborative Activities:

* Cooperative curricular projects are undertaken, such as concurrent biological observations shared by several school.

* Most schools undertake outdoor expeditions during the year, and frequently offer participation to qualified and interested students or teachers from other Round Square schools. Examples of expeditions range from canoeing in the Canadian north to mountaineering in the Indian Himalayas.

* Each year Round Square schools are asked to nominate candidates for the Kurt Hahn Prize, given to one or more students who have acted courageously to serve mankind or preserve life. This is Round Square's only award. It reflects Hahn's belief that great things - service of consequence, even heroism - are within the reach of prepared young persons, and that such deeds should be identified and celebrated.

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Winners of The Kurt Hahn Prize:


Alan Michael Deacon, Moritz Edzard Christoph


Graf zu Inn und Knyphausen



Nicola Homer

Box Hill


James Wingate



James Beveridge


Simon McLaren


Adrian Utley



Robin Cole



Kim Schoel


Aidan Bryden



Karl Herman-Roesch


Marc Napier



Sarah Ritchie

Cobham Hall


Sindisiwe Nzumalo

Box Hall

Andreas Pieroth



Andrew Nelson



Vittoria Frua de Angeli



Serena Brewer



Vivek Prakash

Doon School

These and other collaborative activities are explained and supported by Echo, the Round Square newsletter, which is distributed to member schools.

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The Annual Conference:

Each year Round Square schools send teams of representatives to a five-day conference held at a member school. The teams, including students, the head of school, a member of the faculty/staff, and a trustee/governor, are expected to be at least fifty percent comprised of students. During a Conference the prior year's collaborative activities are reported and evaluated, and new projects are planned. Discussions examine topics of importance to schools and the world, especially as they relate to the special theme of each Conference. An address (usually from a prominent public figure) called The Hahn Lecture is a feature. The Annual General Meeting (participated in by heads and trustee/governors of member schools, but open to observation by all) is held at this time. Through activities, expeditions and events designed by the host school, visitors are introduced to the host school's country, culture and environment, and to a theme topic. Friendships and alliances form; prejudices based on national or cultural differences can be overcome. Much preparation and leadership for each annual conference is taken on by students at the host school.

Annual Conferences move from school to school and country to country. Hosting a Conference is prized as a significant challenge to the skills and morale of every member of the host school's community. Recent and future Conference sites include:

* 1988 St. Anne's, England
* 1989 Abbotsholme, England
* 1990 Aiglon, Switzerland
* 1991 Doon, India
* 1992 Bishop's College School, Canada
* 1993 Rannoch, Scotland
* 1994 Birklehof, Germany
* 1995 Southport, Australia
* 1996 Starehe, Kenya
* 1997 Westfield, England
* 1998 Athenian, United States
* 1999 Louisenlund, Germany
* 2000 Appleby, Canada
* 2001 St. Philip's, Australia
* 2002 Salem, Germany
* 2003 St Stithians/St Cyprians, South Africa
* 2005 Lawrence School, Lovedale, India
* 2005 Geelong, Australia
* 2006 Gordonstoun, Scotland

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Conferences for Younger Students:

Smaller, briefer Conferences are held for younger students (usually 13 or 14 years old) within a single continent or geographic region. In each instance, a host school arranges a schedule of events and activities, and students and faculty members from each of the region's schools attend. These regional gatherings are reported in the Echo magazine, and at the following year's Conference.

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Round Square membership has from the first enabled any two schools, or a group of schools within a region, or a still larger group from around the world, to take on tasks together and answer needs of collaboratively. Recent advances in technology and telecommunications offer new power to this long-standing commitment. Consequently, a major programme to augment cooperation between schools and regions using computer-based technology and the Internet was initiated in 1994. This new ""intake" within Round Square has the potential to enlarge both the scope and meaning our shared community brings to each student.

The Round Square network serves many uses, from schools working together to transfer a student whose family is relocating, to a multinational team of schools forming to perform emergency service (such as providing aid in 1990 to eastern European refugees, or relief for victims of the 1992 earthquake in India). Liaison between Round Square schools is supported by an annual face-to-face meeting between Heads of each region's member schools. Regional groups are encouraged to share ideas and activities with non-member schools. One such regional member/non-member group was started in the early 1980's by Round Square schools in the U.S. and Canada. This network sponsored several North American service projects and exchanges jointly developed by member and non-member schools. Through such regional actions a broader understanding of the Hahn vision can be achieved. The Patrons stand ready to facilitate these cooperative ventures.

A network of graduates of Round Square schools exists: URSA (the Union of Round Square Alumni). Its purposes are to support Round Square activities and projects; organize programmes and expeditions for those who want to continue collaborative and service activities after school; and to assist those who want to meet like-minded peers. To find the nearest URSA group inquirers should contact the Executive Director.

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> Criteria for School Membership

> Use of Criteria

> Exchanges

> Service Projects

> Collaborative Activities

> Winners of the Kurt Hahn Prize

> The Annual Conference

> Conference for Younger Students

> Networking