Head of School Speech – Joe Dale (Upper Sixth)

Senior School
17 Sep 20

Last week we announced that Daisy Hills and Joe Dale (both Upper Sixth) are sharing the Head of School role. During the Headmaster’s Assembly this week, Joe delivered his speech, you can read the transcript below:

“Good afternoon School,

I hope everyone has had a restful summer and a well-deserved break, after what can only be described as a difficult year for us all. I would like to start by saying how well everyone has coped with COVID-19. What started as something so small, quickly ended up putting the whole world on pause, it was a huge shock to us all. However, from what I have seen, everyone has adapted superbly to such difficult times.

I would also like to add how honoured I am to receive the role of Head of School with Daisy. I’ll do my absolute best to ensure this term goes through as smoothly as possible, after the immense stress of the last term.

Of course, the first thing that came to mind when I was selected for Head of School was the speech. What to write about and how to keep you all interested? Keeping these pointers in mind, I have decided to talk about my theme of choice – confidence.

I joined Sutton Valence in Third Form, with the typical first-day nerves, of not knowing who to become friends with and who to portray myself as, with very low confidence. Looking back on it now, this is the worst way I could have tried to cope with joining a bigger school. I found myself trying to force my way into the so-called ‘popular groups’ and come across as a pupil with no concerns, worries or nerves. However, I was actually really shy and didn’t know how to make new friends in a short amount of time. My advice to the new pupils would be, don’t rush into things, be who you want to be, this allows you to grow into the community of Sutton Valence, with people you really believe you have a true friendship and connection with. 

While saying this, I also believe that a crucial part of Sutton Valence is pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. If you only do things that you are comfortable with, you will never grow. Whether that be academic, in sports, Music, Drama or any other part of School life. If I didn’t push myself outside of my comfort zone, I would not be speaking to the whole School right now.

After the first term of my life at SVS, I started to really grow into the right Sutton Valence mindset of trying new things; for example, I started to perform in Music concerts at School as a Music scholar, which I found very difficult at first. However, as I continued to play my saxophone in front of people, my nerves started to ease.

Unfortunately, my confidence came crashing down when I found out my dad wanted no more treatment after a difficult seven years of fighting cancer. As I’m sure you are all aware, he, unfortunately, passed away on the 27th February 2017. At this point, I really believed I couldn’t return to School again and resume the usual routines and daily life as if nothing had happened. However, this was the day when I really saw the School community come together. I received so many positive messages from my peers, pupils I had not spoken to in other years, teachers who had not taught me, people who didn’t even know me. To me, this proved that Sutton Valence isn’t just a school where you get your grades and leave, it showed that the teachers really care about everyone, whether that be Mr Howell cheering you on as you attempt to tackle a six-foot-eight flanker with a fully-grown beard or the academic staff sitting down for that extra five minutes to help you understand that one question that you’d been struggling with.

While I have the chance up here, there is one staff member, in particular, I would like to personally thank and that is Mr Davies. Without his wise words, I would never have developed such a positive mindset and have the confidence to organise a charity Football tournament in memory of my dad and speak to you all about what is usually such a sad topic. I won’t go into detail about what Mr Davies said, but he really changed my view on the loss of my dad, from a negative to a positive mindset and trying to look on the brighter side of things.

I believe that being Head of School is about humility and more importantly earning the trust of you, the students. To represent you all with honesty and enthusiasm, being available to you all and to stick my neck out on your behalf. Please feel free to talk to me about anything at all, I will always be more than happy to have a chat with anyone.

As is tradition, I would like to finish with a quote by Rosabeth Moss Kanter who is a professor of business at Harvard Business School, “Confidence isn’t optimism or pessimism, and it’s not a character attribute. It’s the expectation of a positive outcome”. I really do believe anything is possible if you believe you can achieve it.

Thank you for listening and thank you, Mr Grindlay, for giving me this opportunity.’

Joe Dale, Head of School