I am sure that many of you, like me, followed the rhetoric of the Labour Party Conference with increasing discomfort as you listened to the proposals and opinions with regard to independent schools, and their view that the abolition of our sector is the answer to social inequality.
Thankfully, at the end of last week and soon after the end of the Labour Party Conference, I attended the annual Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) Heads’ Conference where Prep Heads from all over the country, and beyond, had the opportunity to discuss and celebrate all that the independent sector has to offer. Christopher King, CEO of the IAPS, talked about the freedom we have to choose our curriculum and the shape of our co-curricular programme. This autonomy and flexibility means that we can ensure we are preparing the children in our care for their adult lives when they will need to be creative, resilient and able to adapt to the changing norms and expectations of their future employers. At SVPS we are constantly reflecting on all we do, making sure that our children receive an education that provides both breadth and depth, as well as the opportunity to develop the skills and character traits that will ensure their success throughout their lives.
This week, the success of our Early Years department was celebrated in style with a party for the children, parents, staff and governors. Being the first independent school in Kent to be awarded a Quality Mark for our Early Years provision is definitely something for us to be proud. The children enjoyed marking the occasion with a magic show, courtesy of Mr Wand and his rabbit, whilst the adults enjoyed some fizz and we all tucked into the stunning cakes with their Quality Mark decoration!
The enrichment provided by the independent sector is often top notch and the Sutton Valence ethos ensures that this is most definitely the case at our School for we value these areas just as much as the academic subjects. On the sporting front this week, our U11A girls’ Hockey team played superbly well at the IAPS tournament on Wednesday. I am told they engaged their growth mindsets and this ensured they were the joint winners of the plate. Equally impressive were the U11 and U10 teams who took part in the development tournament at Dulwich on Wednesday. The U10s were worthy winners, the U11C team finished in third place and all the girls played with great spirit and enjoyment.
Developing character is something independent schools value immensely and it is, of course, something the whole Sutton Valence community are committed to within all aspects of our pupils’ education. This week, we have focused on helping the children to grow their sense of social responsibility as we have been celebrating Harvest and thinking about other people who may not have all they need. To that end, it was wonderful to see so many tinned goods being collected by the Salvation Army for their foodbank and the local charity, Dandelion Time, was thrilled with their baskets overflowing with fresh produce. I was also delighted to let the children know that all the old textbooks, no longer in use in our School, are now on their way to Africa, courtesy of ‘Books4Africa’ where they will make a valuable contribution to learners in schools that lack even the most basic resources.
Finally, the new SVPSPA committee got their tenure off to a tremendous start with their hugely successful Macmillan coffee and cake sale last Friday. Our new Chair, Mr Bruce Easter, and his team raised over £650.00 for this very worthy cause and adults and children alike enjoyed the delicious treats on offer as well as each other’s company!
In sharing just some of the SVPS news for the last week, there is no doubt in my mind that our sector is fully committed to the young people in its schools and their futures. Of course, we would like these opportunities to be available to all, and we will continue to support our local community wherever possible but I believe it is clear to see that tearing down a strong and successful system and taking away choice is not the way to strengthen the state system and deliver social equality.