New Head of School

26 April 2019

I hope you have all had a lovely holiday, and that even the Fifth and Upper Sixth Forms found some time to relax. Since the end of the Lent Term, I have put a lot of thought into what to talk to you about today, and also about how I would follow on from two amazing speeches made by Emily and Lars.

It is the time of year when the Upper Sixth begin to complete their yearbook entries, and amongst the more light-hearted questions such as ‘Who is the most to likely to become Pope?’, the chance to share ‘my best memory at SV’ prompted me to think about two topics: the future and the past.

At Sutton Valence, we are being prepared for the future. When you begin as a Junior, everything is new. There is much to learn, and there is a lot to look forward to. Each year brings a new challenge, an opportunity to put in place the things you have learned, whether you realise that you are doing so or not. By the time you reach the Sixth Form, you will have more or less mastered all there is to know about school life. You will have made new friends, established lifelong interests, and will have hopefully, stopped running from lesson to lesson. Alongside all of this, countless hours are spent working, planning and researching with the aim of making some form of strategy for the next few years, but after all of this time, will you be ready for life outside of Sutton Valence?

Essentially, you could spend all the time in the world preparing, but you cannot plan for ‘life’. It is too unpredictable. In a graduation speech, the comedian Stephen Colbert likened life to improvisation. All the actors work together to create a scene out of literally nothing, and neither the actors nor the observers quite know what will happen next. Yet still, everybody works together, trying their best to navigate the piece. Even though group improvisation in Drama saw me take a few too many convenient trips to the toilet, I do believe this is true.

Of course, you should plan your future steps, your sports development, your summer revision, but just as it is important to try and follow these plans, it is also vital to have an open mind to change. This is something I have experienced within athletics. The training hours are crucial, but your race day performance is what matters the most. If your most optimistic hope was a 10th place finish, but you suddenly find yourself comfortably in the lead, will you drop back and play it safe, or carry on and redefine your goals? Or maybe in another scenario, you are overtaken by all your competitors...do you give up or come back next time, having trained even harder, this time with more chance of success?

You need to make these decisions yourself. They could be as simple as whether to choose CCF or Art on a Wednesday afternoon, or they could be more complicated, such as university choices. Phil Knight, the creator of Nike, sums this up nicely: ‘There comes a time in every life when the past recedes and the future opens. It’s that moment when you turn to face the unknown. Some will turn back to what they already know. Some will walk straight ahead into uncertainty. Nobody tells you which one is right.’

Yet the future is inevitable and somewhat intangible, so it is important to also consider the present moment and of course, the past. Sutton Valence is a unique place, and here you will make many memories that will no doubt shape your future. You will learn from knowledgeable teachers, be coached by coaches who were once athletes themselves, and taught by musicians who have even featured on TV talent shows. In no other school could you walk into a GCSE Geography lesson and experience a reenactment of hydraulic action, involving the infamous Mr Bee standing at one end of the classroom and hurling himself at the door. Or at other times, looking at pictures of lobsters he had caught near Herne Bay.

In a normal school day, you will listen to Mr Davies’ wise words in Chapel, make sure to remember white socks for Mr Howell’s sports lessons, and on a particularly good day, be treated to Mr Devine’s chocolate and pear crumble for pudding. All these daily occurrences, add up to make your journey at Sutton Valence unique and memorable. And as mundane as they may be, they really do matter.

So what is my best memory at Sutton Valence? Although it is easy to look back now and say it wasn’t that bad, it has to be completing my Gold Duke of Edinburgh with an amazing group of friends, navigating mountains in the fog, with some people even ending up trekking through waist-deep snow.

From sport, I have learned determination, how to deal with failure and how to keep going when it gets tough. Yet I would not have learned these things if I had only run. View your school years as training for the outside world: make the most of them, try your best. But fundamentally, life is not a race, nobody wins. At Sutton Valence, we learn not to see people as competitors, but to regard them as fellow community members. Just like in sport, some people start very fast and breeze through without much training, whilst others start more slowly and take more time and extra effort, but ultimately we should all move forward together.

All in all, the future is what you make of it. Take the time to try new things and continue with the things you love the most. In your final years at school, you will realise that your best memories come from the times that you might not expect.

To keep with tradition, I will finish with a quote. This one adapted from Mr Carr. “Sutton Valence will walk you to the party, now all you have to do is dance.”

Senior School Newsletter

Senior School Newsletter

  • Sports Day 2019

    03 July 2019
    Last Friday saw pupils, parents and staff embark on our fantastic all-weather track in the blazing J...
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  • OS Success

    28 June 2019
    We have recently heard about some university successes from four Old Suttonians.
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  • A Taste of British Boarding School Life

    28 June 2019
    At Sutton Valence School, we welcome students from all over the world including China, Spain, Austri...
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  • The School that Rocked

    28 June 2019
    So once again another whirlwind production week has come and gone at Sutton Valence…
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  • Critical Thinking comes to Sutton Valence

    28 June 2019
    Does your pet think about you when you are at work?  Do you have to have been unhappy to feel happy?...
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  • STEM Day at the Senior School

    27 June 2019
    The Senior School welcomed Year 5 from SVPS for their annual STEM Day this week
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  • Junior Kangaroo Results

    27 June 2019
    Out of more than 5,000 participants nationally, all of the three SVS students who attempted the Ju...
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  • Rose Ceremony

    27 June 2019
    The Rose Ceremony is held in June each year and marks the payment of the rent for the village green ...
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  • Record breaking CREST

    27 June 2019
    This year the School has seen the most CREST awards in recent memory. There has been 35 Discovery Le...
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  • Chapel Choir Dinner

    27 June 2019
    On 21st June, the Chapel Choir held its annual dinner to celebrate all of its successful events an...
    MORE
  • March and Shoot

    27 June 2019
    On Wednesday, the CCF took part in its annual March and Shoot competition for the Becky Norris Troph...
    MORE
  • Sam Mostowfi Update

    21 June 2019
    Sam Mostowfi continues to compete in gymnastics at the highest level. This week Sam travelled to Lil...
    MORE
  • Girls' Cricket Masterclass

    21 June 2019
    On Saturday 15th June, Sutton Valence School held a coaching masterclass for the junior and intermed...
    MORE
  • Bronze D of E Expeditions

    21 June 2019
    After the thunderstorms and unseasonable weather at the beginning of this week, the Bronze Duke of E...
    MORE
  • A Gothic Tour

    20 June 2019
    Lower Sixth English A Level students recently spent a day on a literary tour of London. The morning’...
    MORE
  • Induction Days

    20 June 2019
    On Tuesday and Friday, Sutton Valence opened its doors to the newest members of the community. 
    MORE
  • Armed Forces Day

    20 June 2019
    On Saturday, the CCF was invited to attend an event remembering the 75th Anniversary of D-Day Landin...
    MORE
  • A Century for Kent Cricket

    14 June 2019
    On Saturday 8th June, the U13 Kent County Girls’ played the U13 Essex Girls at Brompton Barracks Cri...
    MORE
  • Landgraaf Ski Racing

    13 June 2019
    On 25th and 26th May, Max Laughland (Fourth Form) competed at the Snowsport England Indoor BASS Race...
    MORE
  • Valencia Trip

    12 June 2019
    At the unforgiving hour of 2am, 30 half-awake pupils and teachers drove off, into the morning, ready...
    MORE
  • Equestrian Report

    07 June 2019
    On Sunday 2nd June, the Dressage team (Maisey Russell, Jess de Lucy and Daisy Hills) took part in a ...
    MORE
  • Running Rings around King's

    07 June 2019
    On Thursday, we hosted our annual Athletics meet against the King's School, Canterbury for Third and...
    MORE
  • CCF Biennial Inspection

    07 June 2019
    Every two years the CCF is inspected by the Ministry of Defence to check that we are delivering the ...
    MORE
  • Richie Richardson Competition

    06 June 2019
    On Wednesday this week, ten teams took part in the U11 six-a-side tournament.
    MORE
  • BBC Interview with the Head of Girls Cricket

    06 June 2019
    Our own Head of Girls Cricket, Hannah Jelfs has been a part of the Kent Women’s Cricket County Champ...
    MORE
  • Menin Gate Visit

    06 June 2019
    Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit some of the WW1 cemeteries in Ypres, Belgium.  I went ...
    MORE
  • U13 Rugby Sevens

    05 June 2019
    Congratulations to Sam Knighton who was part of the winning Ashford team at the Kent Sevens Champion...
    MORE
  • HIKSVS Art Festival 2019

    04 June 2019
    Art is one of the most direct activities for us to observe the world closely. It helps students disc...
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  • A Fond Farewell

    24 May 2019
    A gloriously sunny day welcomed the Upper Sixth leavers to their final morning at School
    MORE
  • Penguin Race

    24 May 2019
    The Junior pupils competed in an hour-long house swimming competition.  Historically the Penguin Rac...
    MORE
  • La Salle des Enigmes

    24 May 2019
    On Thursday 23rd May, Onatti Productions returned to SVS to perform a French play ‘La Salle des Enig...
    MORE
  • Conservation at Camber Sands

    23 May 2019
    On Wednesday 22nd May, the Lower Sixth Biologists travelled to Camber Sands on a field trip. The aim...
    MORE
  • Badminton Event

    22 May 2019
    Having qualified back in September last year and achieving a further qualification in a regional fin...
    MORE
  • County Cricket on Upper

    22 May 2019
    This summer, the School’s main cricket ground (Upper) is being used again for various County and Dis...
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  • Headmaster's Copy Prize

    17 May 2019
    Samuel Millan-Norman in the Upper Sixth, received a Headmaster’s Copy Prize for his fascinating EPQ ...
    MORE
  • Club Hockey Finals

    16 May 2019
    Oliver Laird, Louis Ridge, Max Savage and Finn Swaine competed for Marden Russets U18s in the Nation...
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  • The Cat Conundrum

    16 May 2019
    “When I play with my cat who knows if I am not more a pastime to her than she is to me?”
    MORE
  • Gothic Bake-Off

    16 May 2019
    The English department resembled a rather gruesome children’s tea party this week, as A Level studen...
    MORE
  • First Form CREST Awards

    15 May 2019
    Ten of our Junior scientists have achieved their Bronze level CREST awards this week.
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  • Senior Sports Dinner

    15 May 2019
    Last Friday, saw a celebration of Senior Sport across the Michaelmas and Lent Terms.
    MORE
  • French Exchange

    15 May 2019
    On Thursday 28 March, our group arrived in Senlis, France where we first met our exchange partners.
    MORE
  • Higher Education Morning

    15 May 2019
    On Saturday morning, parents and pupils of the Lower Sixth came together over coffee and pastries in...
    MORE
  • UWGCF Athletics

    15 May 2019
    Last Friday, SVS hosted the 50th anniversary UWGCF Athletics event on our all-weather track. The fiv...
    MORE
  • Summer Music Concert

    10 May 2019
    On Wednesday night, the Summer Concert took place at All Saints' Church in Maidstone. The beautiful ...
    MORE
  • Girls Hockey Pre-Season Training

    10 May 2019
    I would like to take this opportunity to give you information about scheduled pre-season Hockey trai...
    MORE
  • Saracens Rugby Pre-Season Training

    10 May 2019
    I am delighted to announce that we are hosting a Saracens Rugby pre-season camp at Sutton Valence Sc...
    MORE
  • OS Golf Day

    10 May 2019
    Last Friday, Old Suttonians, staff and the wider School community came together for the fifth annual...
    MORE
  • Sergison Trophy

    10 May 2019
    On Saturday, the annual competition for the Sergison Trophy took place on the School’s .22 range
    MORE
  • Grandparents' Day

    10 May 2019
    Despite some spring showers, this week's Grandparents' Day was the largest we have ever hosted, with...
    MORE
  • CREST Success

    03 May 2019
    We are delighted to announce further success for our students in the BSA CREST Awards scheme.
    MORE
  • Prep School Maths Competition

    03 May 2019
    Preparatory school pupils from across Kent came to participate in our Maths Competition this week.
    MORE
  • Charity begins at SV….

    03 May 2019
    At the end of last term, the students were given a thought-provoking opportunity to be charitable.
    MORE
  • MCC Cricket Match

    03 May 2019
    On Thursday, the 1st XI cricket team entertained the MCC captained by old boy, Ben Leale-Green.
    MORE
  • New Head of School

    26 April 2019
    Ellen Crombie, the new Head of School speaks at assembly.
    MORE
  • Hockey and Rugby Representations

    25 April 2019
    Over the course of the Lent and Michaelmas Term’s an impressive number of pupils gained selection in...
    MORE
  • New Head of Corps

    25 April 2019
    Each year we see a new group of NCOs take over the leadership of the CCF at Sutton Valence School.  ...
    MORE
  • Chemistry Olympiad

    25 April 2019
    The Chemistry Olympiad is the leading Chemistry competition for students in secondary education acro...
    MORE
  • NSEA Championships at Bury Farm

    24 April 2019
    Over the Easter weekend, the Sutton Valence Equestrian team,
    MORE
  • Ski Trip 2019

    24 April 2019
    During the Easter Holiday, 40 pupils travelled to the popular ski resort of Sauze D’Oulx in the Ital...
    MORE
  • HIKSVS opens a new Refectory

    24 April 2019
    HIKSVS have opened their new refectory.
    MORE
  • Cricket for Girls Camp

    23 April 2019
    During the Easter Holidays, Sutton Valence held a Cricket for Girls camp run by Lydia Greenway (an e...
    MORE
  • Edward's Sailing Selection

    23 April 2019
    Edward Smith has been selected to take part in the Eric Twiname Championships, which is a premier na...
    MORE
  • Saracens Academy Residential Camp

    23 April 2019
    During the Easter Holidays, 65 of the best Under 15 rugby players from Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire...
    MORE
  • Baton Race 2019

    29 March 2019
    The shouts of encouragement rang out across the School site as the eager runners competed in this ye...
    MORE
  • NCO Dinner

    29 March 2019
    Every year the officers of the CCF thank the NCOs for their service and dine them out with a formal ...
    MORE
  • Rosslyn Park Sevens

    28 March 2019
    This week has seen our Rugby Sevens teams play in the National Sevens at Rosslyn Park. All teams per...
    MORE
  • The Big Cat Sanctuary

    28 March 2019
    On 27th March, the Upper Sixth was taken to The Big Cat Sanctuary in Smarden.
    MORE
  • Ambitious Artists

    27 March 2019
    We have recently heard from three Old Suttonians who left last summer to pursue Art foundation cours...
    MORE
  • Bronze Crest Awards for Juniors

    27 March 2019
    Members of the Second Form have been investigating coins in order to develop a method to spot fake c...
    MORE
  • Spring Ball 2019

    27 March 2019
    The 2019 Spring Ball was themed around the idea of black tie with a hint of gangster.
    MORE
  • Pop-Up Dressage

    27 March 2019
    The Sutton Valence Equestrian team have achieved some fantastic results in the NSEA Pop-Up Dressag...
    MORE
  • Beresford Easter Egg Hunt

    27 March 2019
    The annual Beresford Easter Egg Hunt took place during this last week of the Lent Term.
    MORE
  • Congratulations to our Aspiring Doctors

    22 March 2019
    We are delighted to report that three of our Upper Sixth students who are applying to Medical School...
    MORE
  • English Schools' Cross Country

    22 March 2019
    The English Schools' Cross Country took place on 16th March 2019 in Temple Newsham Park in Leeds.
    MORE
  • OS v 1st VII Netball

    22 March 2019
    On 10th March the 1st VII Netball team took on the Old Suttonians (OS).
    MORE
  • UK Water Prize Winner

    22 March 2019
    The Big Bang competition is one of the best science competitions in the UK and I am very grateful fo...
    MORE
  • Swim-pressive End to Season

    22 March 2019
    On Tuesday, the Sutton Valence School Swimming Team participated in its final swimming gala of the s...
    MORE
  • U12 County Tournament

    22 March 2019
    Congratulations to our U12 Netball team who are now officially one of the top ten teams in Kent.
    MORE
  • Henry Builds a Cathedral

    22 March 2019
    The season of Extended Project Qualification completion is upon many of the Upper Sixth who are curr...
    MORE
  • Rugby Sevens

    20 March 2019
    On Sunday 10th March, the 1st VII and Under 16 VII played at the Worth U18 seven-a-side rugby compet...
    MORE
  • El Viejo Saloon

    20 March 2019
    On Monday 18th March, the Third Form Spanish classes were lucky enough to watch a Spanish play from ...
    MORE
  • Intermediate Kingdon

    20 March 2019
    The Intermediate Kingdon Society met recently to hear an interesting talk given by the Maidstone M...
    MORE
  • John Maylam Cup

    15 March 2019
    On Monday 11th March, the U13s travelled to Canterbury Hockey Club to participate in the annual John...
    MORE
  • Swimming Victory over Benenden

    15 March 2019
    On Monday 11th March, seven of our girls took part in a swimming gala at Benenden School.
    MORE
  • A Hoot of a Science Lesson

    15 March 2019
    The First Form had a super time in Science this week, dissecting owl pellets to discover what creatu...
    MORE
  • Army Update

    15 March 2019
    As part of the training that we offer the Army section of the CCF, we have been taking the Fourth Fo...
    MORE
  • Pancake Race

    14 March 2019
    Last Thursday, all of the Juniors took to the Sports Hall to contest the highly anticipated Pancake ...
    MORE
  • Public Speaking Competition

    14 March 2019
    Sutton Valence School has always had a lively tradition of public speaking and, last Thursday, saw t...
    MORE
  • Advisory Council Visit

    14 March 2019
    At the start of the Chinese New Year, HIKSVS welcomed the annual supervision visit from the SVS Advi...
    MORE
  • South East Fencing Champion

    14 March 2019
    On Saturday 9th March, I went to Whitgift School to compete in the U18 South East championships
    MORE
  • Careers Convention

    12 March 2019
    An important part of the School’s careers provision is the biennial Careers Convention.
    MORE
  • Prestigious Art Award

    11 March 2019
    Congratulations to James Allen, our Art Technician, who has made it to the final of a prestigious ar...
    MORE
  • Double Win at Netball Tournament

    08 March 2019
    Congratulations to the 1st VII and 2nd VII Netball teams who achieved one draw and fourteen wins bet...
    MORE
  • U15 Rugby team win Kent Sevens Tournament

    08 March 2019
    On Thursday, the Sutton Valence U15 Sevens Rugby team won the Kent U15 seven-a-side tournament playe...
    MORE
  • Frank Mason Tournament

    08 March 2019
    On Thursday, the Boys 1st XI participated in the prestigious Frank Mason tournament. They drew a dif...
    MORE
  • Lady Taverners Final

    08 March 2019
    On Monday 4th March, Sutton Valence School travelled to Sevenoaks School for the U13 Lady Taverners ...
    MORE
  • World Book Day

    07 March 2019
    On Thursday, the First and Second Forms celebrated World Book Day by having a visit from local child...
    MORE
  • 1st VII Rugby team reach dizzy heights

    06 March 2019
    On Sunday the 1st VII Rugby team reached the main competition knockout stages for the first time at ...
    MORE
  • Dr Suzie Imber Visits

    04 March 2019
    On Monday, we were delighted to welcome Dr Suzie Imber to speak to the Fourth Form as part of our ST...
    MORE
  • Football Fun

    04 March 2019
    Friday afternoon saw a number of students from both St. Margaret’s and Westminster take to the Sport...
    MORE
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