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It is a daily privilege to witness the achievements and efforts of our students at Steyning Grammar School, and this gives me a relentless optimism about our future. We have frequently this year reflected on the ethos of our school to try to explain and understand events in the wider world, and I am proud of the depth of character that our students develop and commit to in their learning. This questioning and reflection is core to our purpose and the mark of an SGS student – as the Greek philosopher Socrates is attributed to saying, an “unexamined life is not worth living” – his ‘ethical tradition’ echoes in our school ethos, where we strive to lead ‘flourishing’ lives through our commitment to kindness, care and acceptance of others and the development of our Learning Characteristics.
I listened to Professor AC Grayling talk this year about how the quest for an understanding of ourselves and our outward impact on the communities we live in enables us to “encounter strong winds in our lives”; my optimism about the future is embedded in our belief that students’ learning at Steyning Grammar School prepares them to truly thrive, be successful and to be happy – this Reflections newsletter is packed with evidence of this success and I could not be prouder as Headteacher. Students have achieved as ever across the board: from Royal Society of Chemistry Olympiad success, to the Y9 tennis Sussex League and Cup double and the 4 district finals and 3 county finals for our football teams; from the outstanding creativity on display at our Art, Photography, Technology and Media exhibition to the phenomenal Billy Elliot school musical, to cite but a few examples of students’ grit, growth mindset, curiosity and zest.
The dedication and hard work of our superb staff at SGS enables student to be 'the best they can be', academically and more holistically, and I am extremely grateful to the whole team, and for the support of our parents, carers and wider community. We were deserved TES school finalists this year for how we use Digital Technologies to support student learning, and the SSAT Leading Edge group of high performing schools accredited our teachers' work in 'engaging with evidence and research' as 'transforming educational practice' and "as good as could be seen anywhere" nationally. This matters to us because we strive to do things our way at SGS, determined to be the best 11-18, day and residential school we can be - and I applaud the growth mindset of both students and staff in how aspirational we can be. We were delighted this year to be awarded Department for Education Teaching School status in recognition of this, and will work collaboratively with our Pavilion and Downs Teaching School Alliance partners to improve standards still further.
As we move to a third site in the SGS campus, opening a Year 7-8 site at Rock Road to mirror our Church Street provision, we are introducing a house system across Key Stage 3, linking the students in cross-site groups to further develop learning characteristics and teamwork across the sites. Our house names reflect our role models for Learning Character: Angelou, Anning, Fiennes, Hawking, Roddick and Turing.
When Ofsted inspected our school this year they were highly complimentary about our fantastic students, confirming our ‘aspirational culture’ and ‘clear leadership and vision’; they wrote that “parents, pupils and sixth formers are rightly proud of Steyning Grammar School and all that it achieves”. Their confirmation that we are a ‘rapidly improving’, ‘Good’ school, with ‘Outstanding features’, sits alongside our latest ‘Outstanding’ judgements from Ofsted for our boarding provision, and from the Church of England in their ‘SIAMS’ inspection. Whilst we set our own aspirational ‘journey to excellence’ to judge ourselves against, their validation of the commitment of our staff and the achievements of our students is welcomed – we are all, as Ofsted say, ‘rightly proud’ of our school.