SVS Heads of School: Oliver A and Katy B

24 Jan 24

Oliver A and Katy B (both Upper Sixth) have taken on the responsibility of Heads of School for the Lent Term, giving their inspirational opening addresses to the student body in the Headmaster’s Assembly. You can read their speeches in full below:

Oliver A

Good afternoon School,

I would like to start off by saying thank you to Mr Thomas, Mr Farrell and all the other members of the Senior Management Team, as well as my teachers for helping me along the way, and for getting me to this point in my School career.

I also want to congratulate Katy Barr on becoming Head of School, I believe she is the perfect choice and was chosen for the right reasons, being a strong role model for people to look up to.

I want to also say thank you to Sophie and Sam for handing down their roles in a good light and showing a strong example for us to follow for the term ahead.

I would like to start from when I was a young age at my primary school, my parents were told to take me for an optician’s and hearing test by my teachers. They were told to get me tested because I seemed to be behind everyone in class or not understanding the work. I was tested and nothing was clear to signify why I was so behind the others.

I had tutors for my Sutton Valence common entrance exams, so I had a better chance of getting in as it was the only School I wanted to get into at the time. I was successful at getting in and was so happy yet surprised that I had managed to secure a place.

After starting, year by year my confidence grew at Sutton Valence School, helping me academically as well as in other fields like CCF, sport and DofE which have all been helped by my teachers and friends around School. My teachers gave me help when I needed it, they believed in me and encouraged me to be persevere when I found things difficult. At the same time, my friends have always been supportive, inclusive, and joyful to be around. This has all given me paths for the future and in life that I didn’t think were possible, such as being Head of School or Head of the Army.

But the good times and the confidence never came without any doubts or setbacks along the way. This meaning I had times where I struggled within School or times outside School which all affected my confidence in what I was doing in School.

But in those times of struggle or lack of confidence, which some of you may currently have or will go through in the future, you must remain on the bright side and focus on the positive things on a day-to-day basis. School will not be easy; it is an environment that can test you but it can also bring out the best version of you.

By focusing on the positive things and not dwelling too much on the negatives, it will help you see School in a different light and realise that the challenges are not as daunting as you first believed. By realising there are good things happening to you, it will put you in a better frame of mind to help overcome these difficult times. Whether that is spending time with your friends or doing the things you love such as sport, music, drama, your favourite subject or helping in the community.

At the same time, the School won’t hesitate when you need help, they will act on it in any way possible and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the help you need. The School has given me and many others so many good memories and lessons for life, as well as help when needed such as support for a subject through clinics or just talking things through with teachers. By seeking out help from others and being positive, your mindset will be boosted, and you stand a better chance of succeeding at School and in life.

In tradition I would like to end with a quote, “What I have done, has always been positive and we have to be the best versions of ourselves” – Pep Guardiola

Thank you all for listening.

Katy B

Good Afternoon School,

I’d like to start by thanking Mr Farrell and Mr Thomas for this opportunity to give back to the School that has given me the last 15 years of my education.

Congratulations to Ollie, I know that there’s no one more deserving of this position and thank you to Dan, Chadwick, Sophie, and Sam for showing us how it’s done.

It’s about this stage in January when for many of us, new year’s resolutions become maybe next year’s resolutions, and day one becomes maybe one day.

I’m no different when it comes to sticking at it: I have ADHD so staying focused and finishing what I’ve started has never been my strong suit.

Apologies to Mr Horley for only turning up to orchestra once, to Mr Payne-Cook for quitting EPQ, to Ms Mitchell for playing games on my laptop for all of Fifth Form instead of learning further maths and to any other of my unfinished exploits.

It’s for this reason that two years ago, I never would have expected to be standing here today. I know that you hear that a lot in these speeches but in fact, two years ago, I was planning on giving up on yet another thing that I had so nearly finished; my education at Sutton Valence School.

I’ve been here since kindergarten, and my family has been here for over 100 years, so I felt like it was time for a change. This is not to say that I didn’t appreciate how good we have it here at Sutton Valence School, it’s near impossible to take the incredible opportunities we have for granted, I just felt that I needed a fresh start.

The question of whether to stay or go was on my mind for months, right up until I missed the deadlines to apply anywhere else, making my decision for me.

But I’ve never been more thankful for my indecisiveness, as my time in Sixth Form has not only been my best time spent at Sutton Valence School, but it has changed me for the better. It’s made me realise that fresh starts don’t require new schools, new people, or new environments, just a new attitude.

Everyone has an idea in their mind of the version of themselves they want to be, whether that person is better at sports, gets better grades, has more friends or is just more confident in themselves. A lot of the time, putting any effort into achieving this can seem futile or even embarrassing, since it’s unlikely you’re going to get it right the first time.

Only in the last few years have I realised that the reason I wasn’t getting the best out of Sutton Valence beforehand was because I was letting this same fear of failure dictate my decisions – which stopped me from doing what I enjoyed, like auditioning for the parts I wanted, talking to the people I wanted to be friends with and putting effort into sports and activities that I actually enjoyed.

In reality, the fear that you may not get where you want to go is the only thing stopping you from getting there. Realising this over the past two years is what has allowed me to get the most out of School life, taking every opportunity without fear, just by replacing my previous mindset – which was that trying means there’s always a chance to go wrong – with the mindset that trying is the only way that things can go right.

As is tradition, I’ll end with a quote from American Writer, Elbert Hubbard – ”The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one”.

Thank you for listening.