Head of School Speech – Daisy Hills (Upper Sixth)

Senior School
11 Sep 20

We are delighted to announce that this term, Daisy Hills and Joseph Dale (both Upper Sixth) are sharing the Head of School role.

The decision to have two Head of School for the Lent Term was made as we did not have a Head of School during Summer Term.

As you will have watched in the assembly, Daisy delivered her speech to the School today. The transcript is below:

‘Good afternoon School.

I hope you have all had a lovely summer and are now ready for the year ahead. The past six months have been very difficult for everyone with the Covid-19 situation and it is undoubtedly the biggest news event of most of our lives. However, the School has been through much more since it was founded in 1576. Learning has prevailed and prospered here through the Civil War and two World Wars, as I’m sure it will through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.  

As you will all know, no learning took place on-site last term. However, after spending an afternoon here for university applications in July, it struck me how soulless and empty the School felt without everyone here. It is not the bricks and mortar that make this place what it is, but rather the people. Each and every one of us from the pupils, the teachers, nurses, grounds and kitchen staff are all small links in a big chain that represents the Sutton Valence School community.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome all of the new pupils to the School. You will no doubt be feeling a certain amount of nerves, especially those of you joining the First and Third forms. I can assure you I had those same feelings on my first day. Inside each of us is a coward and a hero. The coward and the hero share the same feelings about fear. However, it is how they respond to that fear that sets them apart. The coward swerves around a challenge, the hero confronts the challenge head-on. Be the hero.

Being the third generation to attend Sutton Valence after my grandfather, father and uncle, it is probably about time one of us became Head of School! On a more serious note, I am very grateful for this opportunity and I hope that I can do it justice.

If someone had told me on my first day at Sutton Valence that, six years later, I would be stood up here in front of you all as Head of School, I would never have believed them. Never underestimate the power of hard work and determination, as this is what has got me where I am today. Back in March, in my Prefect interview, I was asked what motivates me to be so hard working. This question made me stop and think about what it actually is that drives me. The answer is a fear of failure and letting other people down. Failing feels a lot worse when you have worked so hard to achieve something for a long time. Dealing with failure is something that we should learn to do in a positive way to allow us to improve. You will learn more about yourself in the bad times than in the good.

However, it is not until now, as I embark on my final year at Sutton Valence, that I realise that failing is not a bad thing, as long as you learn from it. I am not letting anyone down as long as I have given it my best shot. As Thomas Edison, the inventor of the lightbulb, once said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. You must learn to use failure to your advantage. Tackle the problem from a different angle, it may be the way that works. Never give up. You never know just how close to success you might be if you give up. Giving up is admitting defeat. Find what motivates you and don’t stop trying to improve.

Most of you will know that I am a competitive horse rider. Some days it can be hard to motivate myself to get out and train, but I remind myself that one day of missed training puts me a day behind everybody else.

I urge you to make the most of your time here as, trust me, it will fly by. Try everything, make mistakes, learn from them and better yourself. Do not get to the end of your time here with the regret that you wished you’d tried this or taken more time doing that. This School will provide you with so many opportunities from sports tours to drama productions, foreign exchanges to public speaking, that open so many doors for your future. Be nosy and look inside, don’t just walk straight past.

As is tradition, I would like to end with a quote by the American author, Zig Ziglar: “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you”.

Thank you for listening, I hope that this has inspired you to work hard and to be resilient. Confront your challenges, keep learning but above all make the most of your time here.

I wish you all an enjoyable term.’

Daisy Hills

Joseph will be giving his speech during next week’s Headmaster’s assembly.