From the Foundation Stage in Nursery and Reception, to the Common Entrance syllabus in Years 7 and 8, our pupils are taught to think for themselves, to question and to evaluate. Examinations have to be passed, but they are only a means to an end. Our children are not crammed and force-fed like battery hens. As educators, our mission is to ensure that the world of anxiety, testing and competition does not overcome delight and affection and discovery and observation. We don’t want our pupils to grow up too fast – more than ever now we need to help them to become discerning people. They need to be able to determine what is worth knowing, what is worth doing and which values are worth holding on to.
For some years now, one of the stated aims of education has been to promote independent learning, yet this alone can breed a selfish gene. Our children need to learn about interdependence – what I do affects you, and you me. Such learning can never be measured in any league tables, yet it should be the centre of all we are trying to achieve. What ultimately defines the quality of education we are trying to provide here is not the curriculum, nor assessment, but the values we hold and pass on to our pupils.
A school’s ethos is hard to describe to an outsider, impossible to measure, yet easy to feel – you just know when it is right. No one would claim that we always get it right at St George’s, but we know where we are going, and the journey often abounds in happiness, laughter, care for others and a shared sense of purpose.