The purpose of schooling is to change children. It’s a simple proposition but perhaps contentious because there are two schools of thought on the role of a school.

The first might be described as the Shepherdship model whereby the School acts as guide through a child’s early life until they emerge from their adolescent years and become the adult version of their early self. Along the way, children accumulate exam results and skills that enable them to take the next step into work or university. It’s a pleasant, undemanding journey.

Let’s call the alternative the Challenge model, epitomised by schools which have a clear perspective on the characteristics they wish to impart, and which have aligned the process of schooling to that purpose. Whether it be the adventurous outlook of Gordonstoun in the north, or the artistic approach of Bedales in the south, pupils who pass through such schools are fundamentally changed through their immersion in a culture that demands their commitment. It’s a rockier path, but those who follow it emerge with their own version of distinct philosophy that will last a lifetime, and which gives structure to the decisions they make in the future. Such schools focus on adding value in every aspect of their pupils’ lives, including the classroom.

With a diverse population, Sedbergh embraces the Challenge model. Ours is a competitive ethos through which we promote collective success ahead of that of the individual. The simple themes of integrity, resilience, courage and responsibility run through our daily lives. The School is diverse on intake, we appreciate living alongside people who are different to ourselves. Sedberghians evolve a clearly defined character.

And through the same, deeply embedded commitment to change our pupils, we excel in the classroom. Working with AlkemyGold, we measure our pupil’s academic potential on entry to the School and compare this with their A level results. This is a rigorous statistical study conducted by an independent organisation which draws on DfE data from over 2,890 schools and 250,000 pupils.

This year, Sedbergh is placed on the 15th centile of schools in Britain for the progress pupils made between GCSE and A level results. We are incredibly proud of our pupils and I am equally proud of my colleagues. It’s a statistic that tells us we are serving our pupils well in the classroom; enhancing their opportunities as well as forging their character. It is a new repeat of the story told in our inspection report from May.

Adding value is a mindset and a way of life. So, this is a heartfelt “thank-you” to the parents who embrace Sedbergh’s distinct character, and “congratulations” to our staff who go the extra mile and our pupils who embrace the Challenge.

Andrew Fleck

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