Head of School Speeches – Michaelmas 2022

Senior School
30 Sep 22

During this week’s assembly, we heard Katie Moore (Upper Sixth), deliver her Head of School speech. You can read a transcript of her speech below:

“Good afternoon School, I hope that you all had an enjoyable and restful summer holiday and that you are looking forward to the new school year. Firstly, I would like to express my excitement at taking on this role, as it is an amazing opportunity, for which I am grateful. I would also like to congratulate James; I hope we will do a great job together as your Heads of School.

I am sure you can imagine that standing up here, in front of the whole School, is an intimidating thing to do, especially since we are now back to a pre-Covid normality, with the Chapel buzzing with all year groups and houses present in one place. My response to how I can deliver this speech successfully is a matter of self-confidence.

Confidence is not something that can be taught, but it is something that is developed internally. It can be defined as the belief in oneself and one’s abilities. Many of us struggle with confidence. In an age of social media, it can be difficult not to compare ourselves with other people and their ‘perfect’ lives. We might lack self-confidence, for example in public speaking, in meeting new people, in performing on the sports field, or in doubting our own abilities to succeed.

I imagine there are people sitting in the Chapel here today, who are not feeling their most confident right now. You might be a newcomer to the school, still finding your feet, or maybe you are too used to relaxing at home or with friends for the past six weeks and might find the beginning of a new School year to be overwhelming.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the past few years is that I must not care so much about what other people think of me. Of course, this is much easier said than done. I used to have little self-confidence and I cared way too much about everyone’s opinion. I used to be very quiet and never accepted any challenges outside of my comfort zone for fear of being judged. I have grown in confidence over the years, I have started caring less about everybody’s opinion of me and I began to only care about the opinions of those who I admire and whose opinions I have come to value.

The words of an anonymous writer captures this message so well. They said, ‘Confidence is not walking into a room thinking you are better than everyone, it is walking in and not having to compare yourself to anyone at all’. Confidence allows you to trust in your own abilities, qualities, and judgment. Everyone can gain confidence, but it takes time and effort. You should surround yourselves with positive people. You should step outside your comfort zone and take advantage of opportunities on offer, even if they might seem scary. Sutton Valence School is a great place for this, as we have a close community with supportive teachers and pupils. Outside the classroom there is a wide range of opportunities on offer. Whether it is representing the School on the Sports pitch, in a Music concert, in one the school’s Drama productions, on one of the many CCF trips, or taking part in academic challenges such as debating, there are so many extra-curricular activities the School has to offer.

A final point I would like to make, is to appreciate your time at school, because it goes so quickly. Even if you are not enjoying a specific period of your school life, whether it be exam season, a challenging academic term or friendship drama, please make the most of your school days, because once they are gone you will miss them. I speak from experience because my journey from Third Form to Upper Sixth has gone so quickly. I am extremely grateful for all I have accomplished at this School, and I look forward to embracing all that is on offer to me in my final year.

As tradition, I will end my speech with a quote, with the wise words of our late monarch Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, ‘I believe that young or old, we have as much to look forward to with confidence and hope as we have to look back on with pride’.

Thank you for listening.”

During last week’s assembly, we also heard James Pepler (Upper Sixth) deliver his speech. You can read a transcript of his speech below:

“Good afternoon School, I hope you have had a good first few weeks and that you have settled in well. I would like to start by saying how privileged I am to have been given this role as Head of School for this term and I would also like to congratulate Katie, who I look forward to working alongside.

As the nation looks back, at the amazing life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we have to come to terms with what the future now holds and look ahead to the reign of His Majesty King Charles III. With this in mind, I realise that it is important to reflect upon and appreciate all that we have, in order to help us to manage the uncertainties that the future can bring. Whilst preparing to leave the safety and security of Sutton Valence School and plan for the future, I find myself, (as many of us are), looking back on my time at SVS and appreciating more than ever, all that it has to offer.

There are many things that I have learnt whilst being here since the Third Form, but I would like to talk about two of these today. Firstly, appreciate all that you have and secondly, make the most of the opportunities that you are offered. So firstly, make the most of the opportunities that you are offered.

As I reflect on my time here, I have learnt that it is important to make the most of all the opportunities that the School provides. It is often down to you, to make the first and sometimes bold step and to grasp these chances, with determination and positivity. Do not be afraid to get involved and do try out new things.

Secondly, always appreciate what you have. It is all too easy to take for granted the environment we are in and all the School has to offer. The guidance and knowledge that is conveyed to us, certainly helps us to become the best version of ourselves. Make the most of it.

I still have nine months or so left at SVS but, as I look back, I can safely say that I have enjoyed every minute of it – even the lockdowns! Establishing friendships and making the most of all that this great School has to offer, (whether it be on the Sports field, in the Music hall or in academic lessons), has equipped me to cope with the uncertainties that the future can bring.

It must also be said that whilst it can be useful to look back, it is important not to dwell on the past and to become nostalgic. Instead, it is important to use those memories to realise the progress you have made. Whilst reflecting on the past, it is important to look ahead to the future.
So – as I look back, what advice would I give to my 13 year-old self?
1) Make the most of the opportunities that you are offered.
2) Don’t be afraid of what the future might bring.
3) Appreciate all that you have.

As Dr Seuss writes – ‘Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” So, as I approach the last few terms here at Sutton Valence School, it is important to remember that maintaining the balance of looking back at the past and looking forward to the future, is key. It is important to try not to get too nostalgic and the future must not be feared.

As is traditional, I would like to end my speech with a quote. It is Albert Einstein who sums this up perfectly, ‘Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving’.

Thank you for listening.”