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Beth Dawson takes up the Headship of Sutton High School

7 November 2019

Beth welcome

Dear Parents and girls

It has been an exciting first week as Head and I am deeply proud to lead the school forward into its next exciting phase. I will do so with energy, positivity and firm warmth, raising the profile of this exceptional school and ensuring that Sutton High School has a bright future and that our core values of courage, truth and joy are evident in all that we do.

Having worked in many different schools across my twenty years as a teacher, I know that Sutton High School students, from those in their earliest days in the school in Nursery, to our oldest girls in the Sixth Form, are a cut above other girls I have taught. Of course they are bright and passionate about their learning, but the key differences come beyond the classroom. Our girls are fiercely independent and diverse. They are both interesting and interested – full of energy and able to express themselves with confidence. Visitors frequently tell me that they are surprised by how confident, collaborative and communicative our girls are, and this comes from a self-assuredness – students here are happy in their own skin, and we encourage them to become individuals, ready to thrive beyond school - to develop their own views and to appreciate and respect the views of others. My focus as Head of the school will be on inspiring individuals to achieve their utmost, to recognise and realise their strengths and to be brave and joyful in their approach to learning.

This week we have been making plans to welcome our 11+ and 16+ applicants for our entrance examinations, which takes place over the next week. It is fantastic that we have more 11+ applications than ever before – well over 300 – which is a 20% increase from 2018 and 100% growth in applications for Senior School since 2015. It will certainly be a busy day, and girls in Years 7 to 11 will remain at home on Friday 15th November to allow us to accommodate so many applicants. I am delighted that our Year 12 and 13 girls will act as ambassadors for the school on the day, assisting our visitors to feel at home here. It is this sense of belonging that makes the school a special place, and it starts from the time that girls apply to us.

I had the chance to meet a large number of the applicants at our recent Open Events and it was clear that their attraction to our school has been driven by our emphasis on individuality and on bespoke learning journeys for girls. All girls will find their own path here, and they will do so with the support of dedicated, hardworking, knowledgeable and passionate teachers and support staff. 

In an era where schools are scaling back on arts provision, Art, Music, Drama and Design Technology are taught here by specialist teachers in specialist spaces and the subjects are thriving. Where girls in other schools are limited by gender stereotypes, uptake here in STEM subjects is growing year upon year and results in these subjects are particularly high at GCSE.

Our Prep girls are able to take ownership of their learning through their ‘open homework’ and choices in the exciting ‘Brains Matter’ programme, and even as far down the school as our Nursery, girls make free play choices throughout the day. They can choose from a vast range of co-curricular clubs and activities after school. In Senior School, where local competitors are restrictive in their options choices for girls, we present Year 9 students with an open system, with four completely free choices, so that they can decide where they want to pursue their learning passions, and we create the timetable around these decisions. Equally at A Level, we guarantee to run any course we offer, even if this means that it is run for just one student and our Sixth Form make choices in the fitness and wellbeing activities they undertake in Games sessions. It is only through enabling this choice and ownership for our girls that they can truly discover their own love of learning.

When going through the applications, I have been struck by the statistic that 85% of our applicants have selected ‘personal recommendation’ as their reason for applying to the school, and when meeting girls and parents I hear many stories about neighbours, friends, schoolmates and relatives who have been evangelical about the school. In a competitive market, it is this ‘word of mouth’ reputation that is critical to our success as a school and I am very grateful to parents who recognise how important this is and share positive stories about the school with those who might be interested.

As the school grows, we will be able to invest in staffing, renovation, resources and infrastructure, as well as in exciting opportunities for our girls. Rest assured that having been at the school as Deputy Head for two years, I am well aware of the strengths and unique ethos of Sutton High School and will treasure, protect and develop these, while ensuring a bold approach to marketing the school and moving it forwards.

I look forward to meeting any parents that I have not yet met at one of the Christmas events in this busy half term ahead, or on one of my gate duties in Prep School – please feel free to ask me any questions you might have. My new email address, for parents who wish to contact me directly, is head@sut.gdst.net

Mrs Beth Dawson
Head