Head of School Speech

13 September 2019

When waking up at 5am in Canada to phone calls from my parents and close friends to be told that I was awarded Head of School, I was overwhelmed. However, when it finally sunk in, I was extremely nervous about this speech. As you have already heard Lara’s, I will try not to run on too long.

So I will start by telling you a little bit about myself. I have always struggled academically, and have never been the best when it comes to reading, so as you can imagine, this is quite daunting standing here.

However Sutton Valence gives you something more than just grades at the end of your time here, it provides you with skills such as leadership and teamwork that are extremely important in the real world. This School also allows you to build up confidence and courage which pushes you out of your comfort zone.

As a few of you know, I normally wear a pair of funny coloured glasses due to my Irlens, however, these have helped me to reach my potential in the classroom. This would not have happened if it wasn’t for the learning support teachers at this School and at first I was extremely nervous about wearing them, especially around my peers, but the courage that I developed meant that I could wear them with confidence which came from the supportive people around me and other aspects of school life. From being on the rugby pitch playing top-level schools, to performing my GCSE drama examination in front of many students and parents, brings me onto what I want to talk to you about this afternoon, the idea of balancing your life.

During the 14 years that I have been at SVS, and the many examinations I have taken, something really stood out to me: I have used a variety of different revision techniques, but the idea of balance enabled me to achieve the grades that I received for GCSEs.

The dictionary says that balance is ‘an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady’. The something is the journey that everyone at this School is taking to achieve their potential so, if your life involves studying for seven hours a day, then your journey won’t be steady or upright, but it is about finding the equilibrium. The balance between revision or work to activity and your social life is extremely important for your success. 

For me, sitting at a desk all day, and blocking everything else out is my worst nightmare. In many studies, it is proven that exercise or other activities away from revision and work increase productivity, and reduce stress. For example, learning to play an instrument stimulates the brain, improving functions like memory and abstract reasoning skills, which are essential for Maths and Science. However, this does not mean that playing the instrument takes priority over your studies, but you need to find the balance.

In addition to this, you also need to manage your time well. It's knowing the right time to get your head down and work hard, and when to let your hair down. Giving yourself something to look forward to in a day will allow you to work that bit harder, and finish that last bit of prep that is looming over you.

In my experience, the way you balance your life is not something that can be taught or instructed, it's something that comes with maturity. For example, when I was revising for my GCSEs, I found what benefited me came from working for 45 minute periods with breaks in between, and only working for four hours a day, which meant the overall period for studying was longer than most because my revision would have to start weeks before everybody else, but balancing my life like this worked for me.

Sutton Valence provides us with so many opportunities, which may feel out of your comfort zone at the time, but will allow many more doors to open. Whilst the School provides so many opportunities, you still need to be able to find the time to put the work in to get the best results that you can achieve.

As is tradition, I will finish with a quote by Arianna Huffington, author and businesswoman which reinforces the idea of using your time wisely: “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

Involving co-curricular activities to improve your focus and productivity will give you, in my opinion, the extra ten percent that brings success.

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