I am often asked by prospective families what makes for a good school. My response is that such a school must strive for the highest standards in everything it does – from the manner of all the staff to the work ethic and presentation of the students. Such standards breed a pride in the school and develop within the student an inner discipline and respect that they will take with them throughout life. But this is not the sole indicator of a good school.
A good school must have a clear vision for its students in terms of what is important now and what the school aspires to be in the future. A vision enables every student to share in the life of the school and to support the Head and the staff in achieving higher goals.
Along with this vision the school must have a clear ethos which needs to be articulated by everyone involved in the school community and also a set of values which staff and students believe in and hold to be important. Such permanency in this fast and ever changing world gives the students anchors in their lives: Our ethos is to care for our students so that they feel empowered to develop their talents in many different ways. We also want our students to be rooted in the Christian values of consideration, compassion, kindness, service, contribution to others and an openness to God on which they can build their lives and which will be their inspiration in good times and comfort in bad.
Academic results are an important marker for any school and although gaining places at illustrious universities is significant, this is not our only consideration. Whilst we congratulate those students who achieve the highest grades, we also celebrate those students who, through hard work, guidance and excellent support, accomplish more than they first thought possible. Our results reflect our school’s passion, commitment and dedication to providing a truly outstanding education that gives our students the very best start in life.
The school’s primary aim is to provide a rounded education for each of our students and whilst academic endeavour remains at the school’s core, we also hope that our students contribute to the life of the College beyond the classroom. We encourage our students to embrace all the opportunities on offer. Prior Park pupils act and sing in first class performances; compete for their team; produce impressive pieces of art and design; partake in House events and lead our Charities work, making a significant difference to many less fortunate people. With such tutelage, I am confident that our leavers go into the world and make a positive imprint on their friends, families and all those they encounter.
James Murphy-O'Connor (MA Oxon)
Headmaster, Prior Park College
Principal, Prior Park Schools