☰ Plenty to talk about

Plenty to talk about

Posted on: November 18th 2011

Last week I went to an Independent Schools Association conference which was themed ‘Changing Times’; it was much food for thought, with changes that are now beginning to happen generally in the education sector, effected by the coalition government. Change is never easy for people to embrace; it fills most with unease when what they know evolves and metamorphoses. The most resilient to change, it seems, are our pupils.

It made me think a lot about my vision for moving the school forward, and the freedom we have as an independent school to change and evolve to meet our pupils’ needs; unlike schools in the state maintained sector, who are constantly facing the dichotomy between broadening curriculum and balancing the requirements of ever changing Government thinking.

Interestingly, running alongside all of the thoughts cogitating in my head this week, the Schools' League Tables were printed in the Sunday Times. The top 150 independent prep schools were published. There has always been much controversy and discussion surrounding these, mainly as to the helpfulness of them, considering that a third of independent schools do not submit results. We have, however, continued to year on year, although our cohort sizes at Norfolk House are deemed to be too small to be able to include in published data. It may be of interest to know that our results this year, which were, as always, of an incredibly high standard (our English results being the best we've ever achieved in the eight years we have been submitting data and our maths being as strong as ever) would actually put us within the top 30 prep schools in the country. But for Norfolk House , the importance lies in the breadth of education and the ethos we instill in our pupils as rounded learners: our success being a by-product of what we do here every day. The pressure that is put on schools to be solely academic, I feel, limits the development of a wide range of essential other skills that both enrich and contribute to pupils reaching their individual potential. Not all children are academics, but every child has a great deal to offer if nurtured in the right way. It brings me full circle in my thinking to the importance of Government giving schools the freedom to be able to offer a curriculum that suits the needs of the pupils in their own context. When League Tables are able to reflect this kind of achievement, I wonder whether they will become more helpful in assisting parents making decisions about the schools they send their children to.

It is time for change, without a doubt, but it is perhaps a change in thinking, by the Government, that is needed.

Onto more day-to-day and practical matters now! It’s been a positive start back to the half term; a win for our chess team against Lochinver on 2nd November and lunch with Byron and Olivia , our first BRICKS winners. If you remember, at the start of the year, we introduced a new initiative to encourage our pupils to make an extra effort in being caring, kind and courteous to each other. Byron and Olivia earned the most ‘bricks’ and on Thursday 3rd November, the three of us had a delightful lunch together in the library! I’ve also been spending some time in the playground watching our new ‘positive playground’ initiative take off. The children have been involved in devising structured activities in both KS1 and KS2 to play during break times. I’m really impressed with their imaginative response and their enthusiasm in sharing their ideas and teaching others how to play!

On a separate note, I’d like to wish Miss Seryck and Mrs Harvey all the best in the last weeks of their pregnancies. Both left to begin their maternity on Friday 4th November and I am pleased to announce that Mrs Gouws and Mrs Duffy have been working together in PPS and Miss Thompson our part-time TA and welfare has increased her hours to take over some of Mrs Harvey’s duties. In addition, I would like to welcome Jaye Seacrest to the school. Miss Seacrest will be taking over from Mrs Osborne when she takes her maternity leave in January. We are in the privileged position to have Miss Seacrest already start at the school in order for the children to get to know her and also to ensure that she becomes familiar with our routines and ethos.

Finally, I hope you will be able to join us for our Evening of Art on 25th November, which will be the culmination of our Art Focus Week. The staff involved are working extremely hard to ensure that it is a success and I am very much looking forward to seeing it all come together!

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