Amazing student experience: lessons from the independent sector

It was a huge, huge pleasure last night to announce the awards to schools at the Independent Schools of the Year Awards in London, in my capacity as the chair of the judging panel. And what a lovely evening it was, courtesy of Independent School Parent magazine, who so generously supported the awards and who are acting as real champions of schools, telling the stories of achievement, joy and success which emerge from hard-working schools.

What was really, really clear last night was the positive impact that independent schools have on the lives of young people across our country, both in their own schools and beyond, in all types of schools, not to mention on the lives of the thousands more who are educated in British independent schools internationally, across the world. As I said last night, independent schools are carrying a flag of great educational practice, embedded in strong values and a belief in the power of all young people. And as we heard in many of the stories of the awards, independent schools are working tirelessly with their local community and with other schools, to develop their students as active citizens, able to make meaningful contributions to society and the world. 

What was special about last night’s awards is that they celebrate the core of what education really is all about – to ensure a positive, all round student experience, enabling children and young people to flourish – as in the inspiring story of last night’s ‘Rising Star’, a student whose utter and relentlessly positive determination to recover from brain injury was nurtured and amplified by his school, who went above and beyond in order to support him. These awards were not about grades – although in schools where students are truly enabled to thrive, and encouraged tirelessly from every single angle, academic success will follow. In great schools, young people always, always come first.

So – congratulations to all the shortlisted schools, finalists and winners last night – your students are in amazing hands!

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