Why did you want to lead St. Edward’s School?
This is my fifth year as Headteacher, but I had known St. Edward’s by reputation long before that. I knew that it was a school that was academically ambitious, but which cared deeply about the pastoral culture within which outstanding learning happens. This is the culture that I would like to continue here.
What makes St. Edward’s stand out?
There are only a handful of joint Church schools in our country, and I love the thought of Christians working together to create something important, something special. St. Edward’s welcomes those of all faiths and none, but our Christian Ethos secures a focus on the inner development of a child as a human person, alongside their academic formation. Our modern, leafy campus makes it difficult to believe that over 1000 young people between the ages of 11-18 are educated here, and although we are a big school, those who belong here are surrounded by warmth, humour, and a passion for learning.
It is easy for schools to focus just on academic outcomes, as though that was all that mattered in getting a child ready for adulthood. Whilst we are able to sustain our academic performance among the top schools nationally, we are determined that the good of the child is the primary consideration when making decisions in our school. We know that if we get the culture right, the outcomes will follow; and that is exactly what we are seeing.
What about performance tables?
I can’t ignore the fact that they are an important indicator of a school’s quality, and anyone who is interested can check out the year on year rise in academic outcomes for themselves. But I wish that parents were also able to know other things that are important. As a parent of teenaged children myself, I also want to know whether a school is happy; whether it is staffed by people who are kind. I want to know whether my child will be known, or will they just be a statistic? The growth from childhood to adulthood is so important, and so delicate, that statistics alone can’t tell me some things I would want to know about the place where my child will live and grow as they learn.
What are your priorities?
We have shown in recent years that as a comprehensive school, our highly able students achieve examination results that compare favourably with Grammar schools. I’d like us to continue that trend, as it is important that students of all ability thrive here.
Our EDGE programme serves those who choose to come to St. Edward’s despite passing the 11+, attracted by our ethos and performance. This programme is for high ability students and also aspirational students; and provides close tracking of progress, and an enhanced curriculum which broadens their education further still, and also offers Oxbridge outreach and bespoke careers support.
We are developing our curriculum offer, to ensure that it provides all students with the chance to make exciting next steps in future learning. Our introduction of Engineering this year exemplifies our drive to make sure that technology and computer science is a major thrust of our provision, given the career opportunities and skill shortages in these areas.
We are determined that the national push towards EBAC, whilst important, will not squeeze out the need for creative subjects. Creativity is an important part of being human, as well as being another growth area for future careers. Children need to be able to express themselves in different ways; and if we are to build a kinder society of the future, they need to be able to see the world through others’ eyes; so that they do not become self-obsessed, disregarding the needs of others.
On our journey towards being an outstanding school, our vision looks further than just satisfying the Ofsted framework. We are forming human persons, each one of them unique. This is our focus and our mission.