Celebrating the Sandroyd Character!
As last year’s leavers prepare to start at their chosen Senior Schools, now is a good time to reflect on the positive attributes they developed during their time at Sandroyd that will allow them to thrive in the next stage of their education. Whilst I do this every summer, in this unprecedented year where lockdown has dominated, it is even more relevant to review these important attributes.
Academic preparation is often the primary focus. All Prep Schools are incredibly proud of their academic record and this is certainly the case at Sandroyd. Twelve months ago we were celebrating the highest number of academic scholarships awarded in our 130-year history. This summer our leavers built on this success resulting in academic scholarships awarded to schools including Winchester, Marlborough, Bryanston, Sherborne Girls and Sherborne Boys over the past two years. 20% of all of our boys head off to either Eton, Winchester or Radley each year and 15% of all of our girls leave as academic scholars. But as a proudly non-selective school, it is not solely the statistics at the top end of our academic spectrum that we celebrate. In June, our Common Entrance results across the whole range of academic abilities were exceptional and showed outstanding ‘Value-Added’ across all subjects.
Like many schools, we are often guilty of measuring academic success alone, primarily because this is one of the most tangible measurements of school achievement. But a Sandroyd education is so much more than just academic success and this year, more than ever, we can genuinely celebrate how well our children thrived under incredibly challenging circumstances. Our leavers showed enormous resilience and flexibility as they sat their Common Entrance exams and the whole year group were motivated to excel under testing conditions. The children didn't dwell on what they were missing out on in their last term, rather they were grateful for the opportunities available to them. They all thrived throughout the summer term and did so without moaning, complaining or giving up at the first hurdle. They really did make the best out of a difficult situation.
Critics of Common Entrance will state that it is outdated, that it doesn't allow children to think for themselves and is not fit for educating the workforce of the future. Well, one thing last term’s closure of schools proved is just how well children at Prep Schools coped with rapid changes in their circumstances. They prepared for their public exams under conditions that were completely alien to them and they thrived. They proved just how well they can work under pressure, they adapted after setbacks, they had to continually think for themselves and, above all, they showed great depth of character. Future employers need to stand up and take note. Our children have developed, and are developing, the very skills and attributes that employers are crying out for.
These character skills are nurtured in prep schools by continually putting children out of their comfort zone. Inspirational staff carefully balance the fine line between nurturing pupils' confidence, whilst allowing them to experience disappointments and learn from them. Prep Schools across the country are experts at this and their broad curriculums are designed to enhance these increasingly important character skills.
At Sandroyd, our split curriculum balances academic focus with a child’s character development and at the heart of our provision is our award-winning daily Strive session. Strive has now been in place for more than 3 years and is arguably the most important part of the day. We are seeing the children's characters develop and advance across all areas of school life, with significant benefits to their communication and teamwork skills.
I know I am joined by the whole Sandroyd community as we wish our 2020 leavers well in their new schools. They have shown they are ready for the next exciting challenge!
Alastair Speers. 3rd September 2020.