New Head of School – Lent 2020

Senior School
10 Jan 20

Anna Harrison, our new Head of School for Lent Term, delivered a powerful speech at the Headmaster’s Assembly this Friday. Please read below for Anna’s whole speech:

”Good afternoon School,

I would like to start by thanking Sutton Valence School for this privilege; this opportunity has given me the perfect way to conclude my 15 years here. As a family, the Harrisons have combined an astonishing 85 year association with this School, so I think it’s fair to say that Sutton Valence is quite literally in my blood, hence the honour as well as pressure I am feeling right now, representing my family.

After ruminating upon / considering what to talk to you about today, I struggled to find an original idea, having previously listened to over 20 Heads of School speeches. However, it was in fact this calculation that inspired my chosen topic area: experience. Having been here for such a significant chapter of my life, I believe that this has equipped me with the knowledge and understanding needed to deliver sufficient advice to you, for after all, I have done it all before. This is what led to the conclusive decision to base my speech on me and my time at Sutton Valence School.

It is fair to say that I have faced my fair share of challenges during my time here. I am not going to dwell on the detail, but alternatively, I wanted to reflect upon this to offer you all some encouragement and advice.   

I have come to know that the key to dealing with life’s inevitable challenges is tackling them head on. Running from issues only strengthens their potency and influence. This is what I want to talk to you about today. Experience has taught me that unfortunately facing challenges is inevitable; however, I encourage you to grasp these experiences, and use them to develop your resilience and grow stronger. Sutton Valence allows this possibility, and I am going to use my experience to show you how.

From the classmates, to your family and friends, everyone will face their own tests, however big or small. Whether it be friendship issues, family issues or the necessary completion of Miss Hallett’s much-loved Sport studies coursework, the best way to approach anything is head on: embrace the challenge. I am not going to stand here and speak hypocritically, as my friends and family will tell you, I am no stranger to procrastination. In fact it’s fair to say I have mastered the concept in the past. However, hiding from challenges is something I have never done, and I truly believe that this has played a great contribution in moulding me into the person I am today.

Sutton Valence School provides us with the support needed to tackle these challenges, and I can tell you first-hand, all you need is the confidence to use it. It might sound cringey, but I honestly cannot put into words how much my confidence has grown and developed over the past couple of years. Yes, standing here speaking to you all is still terrifying, but there is no way I could have done this a few years ago, and for that, I must sincerely thank our School. From a supportive group of teachers, to the best group of friends I could ever ask for, to my weekly School-related debates in the Sport office, Sutton Valence has created in me a confidence that I lacked for so many years, and with this came my ability to tackle life’s tests.

As I am frequently compared to Miranda Hart, I thought it only right to use part of her autobiography in my speech. She wrote “there isn’t always a road map for all the small but tricky issues in life”. Despite her usually reliable advice, I couldn’t help but disagree with this remark, for Sutton Valence is our road map, here to help guide us through the tricky journey of dealing with our challenges.

Sutton Valence School is often referred to as a bubble, due to our tight-knit communal atmosphere. I see this as a protective bubble, a bubble of support, guidance and most importantly, comfort. I am only now starting to realise the extent to which Sutton Valence prepares you for life and all its inevitable, forthcoming challenges. Ironically, it’s taken me until now, writing this speech, just before I pop my Sutton Valence bubble next term, to fully recognise this. Therefore, I hope this speech has enlightened you with this realisation, whilst you still have the time, opportunity and confidence to use Sutton Valence’s bubble to create a toolkit needed to tackle future tests.

As it is a tradition, I will end with a quote, in fact I will end with the knowledgeable words of Miley Cyrus. Whilst starring in what may not be the most intellectually advanced screen play, but none the less relevant: The Hannah Montana Movie, she says, or rather sings: “life’s a climb, but the view is great.”

Thank you for listening.”

Fantastic speech Anna, congratulations!