Mrs Walker’s Vision for Maltman’s
A Mission like No Other
I want to share with you an advert that I came across as I was reading the Economist magazine a few months ago. The advert was placed by the CIA which tells the reader that they are ‘on a mission like no other’. It reads that they are looking for “intellectually curious adventurers” and that the way of life and roles they offer “challenge the deepest resources of an individual’s intellect, resilience and judgement”. What fantastic phrases and what noble ambitions. Maintaining the national security of the USA is a huge undertaking and the CIA need to recruit a workforce of the highest calibre. Educating our children is also a huge undertaking. I am tremendously excited about taking over from Mrs Pardon in September and having the privilege of leading this fantastic community. Because, Maltman’s Green School is on ‘a mission like no other’; A mission to educate our girls in such a way that promotes and maintains excellence both in the classroom and beyond with a wonderful sense of fun permeating through and in so doing, produce confident, articulate, creative, resilient, ambitious and adaptable young women well set up for and excited about their futures. In fact, produce the “intellectually curious adventurers” that senior schools and indeed folk such as the CIA wish to recruit!
I would like to share with you some thoughts and broad brush strokes on how we might develop the school over the coming years – building on the very strong proposition that Maltman’s currently offers.
A few words about Me
But, first a few words about me. I have known of Maltman’s and its fantastic reputation for many years. So, when the opportunity came up to apply for the Headship, I jumped at it. In part I knew the school, because I was the Deputy Head at Glendower Prep School for 5 years. Glendower is a girls prep in South Kensington. From there, I moved on to be Headmistress of St Nicholas Prep just up the road. With my experience in London, I am therefore very well acquainted with the rigours of the 11+ journey, the preparations required of pupils for exams and interviews for all the London day schools, including St Pauls, where we enjoyed a very strong track record of successful entry. I am also very familiar with the boarding school application process- CE11+, scholarship preparation for schools such as Wycombe Abbey, Cheltenham, Downe House and so on. I am a grammar school girl and I have taught in an independent school for girls in north Buckinghamshire. So, I am familiar with the grammar school entry process as well – both as a teacher and as a parent. Of course, Mrs Pardon and I are devoting lots of time in our handover to discuss the girls and future schools and I will be inviting each Year 5 parent to come and meet with me early on in the autumn term 2020 to talk through your choices. I will also be visiting senior school Heads and Registrars. I have built a good network with Senior School Heads and say unapologetically to parents, I am keen to use these connections to maximise the opportunities available to your daughters.
So what about my education? I grew up in Canterbury, in Kent. I attended a girls’ grammar school for my senior education. I have a BSc from King’s College, London and a Masters Degree in Education. I came to teaching later in life, having had a successful career as a nurse. I have been married to Ben for just over 27 years. He is also a prep school head – Lochinver House Boys in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. We have 3 older children –our eldest, Josh is in his second year as a junior doctor, another son Jake, who graduated in history and is pursuing a career in law and we have a daughter, Rosie who has just started at university. Just a word about our middle son, Jake. Back in November, he was taken ill very suddenly. In fact, Jake had suffered a brain haemorrhage and stroke. He was in hospital for some weeks and as you can imagine it was a very frightening and traumatic time. Fortunately, against the odds, Jake is making the most extraordinary recovery and was back at home in time for Christmas. He will go back to his law training in September. But, what I have done, to support him in this period of rehabilitation is step down from my current Headship – that was from early January. This means that I can give Jake more time and ensure I am well prepared for my new role here in September. I will also be doing some ISI inspections over these next few months. I do think that life experience is invaluable when leading a school and I really do appreciate the ups and downs of family life and the demands of modern parenting.
We’re Preparing Children for a Future we can’t Predict
We all know that a great education creates options and choices – not just for the immediate next steps of an individual’s education. But, for life. Maltman’s Green has a rich history of preparing girls for the future and a strong reputation for being a school that is forward thinking. This approach will be more important than ever. The World Economic Forum has talked a lot about ‘the 4th Industrial Revolution’, which is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live, work and communicate. Its impact is being felt in all disciplines, industries, and economies. So, I am well aware that the world your daughters are growing up in, is very different to the one which we did.
Children need different Skills in the Future
And it is against this rapidly changing and unpredictable backdrop, that the WEF Future of Jobs Report, came up with the top 10 skills that are needed to drive success. Maltman’s Green is on a mission to nurture the leaders of the future. Your daughters will be the movers and shakers of tomorrow! So developing their skills and aptitude in areas such as problems solving, critical thinking, people management, decision making, negotiation, flexibility, innovation, creativity, emotional intelligence, will all be ever more important. In other words, our girls’ social skills are just as important as their academic credentials. I am sure you have seen this in your own workplaces.
But, let’s start with academics. Academic excellence is a given. You are working hard to pay the fees and you expect your daughters to gain entry into top schools – whether that be state grammar and state schools or independent day and boarding. Rigorously preparing your daughters for the various senior school selection processes and exams enables each girl to be launched from here on the best possible trajectory and to successfully gain a place at the right school for her. It is a fundamental part of what the school does and will continue to do in the future. We have a highly qualified, skilled and committed staff here. I know how important good teachers are and how they play a fundamental role in inspiring and motivating their pupils. It is important that our girls enjoy their lessons, love their teachers and are excited about coming to school each day! The learning needs to be personalised and carefully differentiated – with just the right amount of challenge and support. Regular feedback to the girls and indeed you as parents about their work, which identifies targets and next steps is vital, along with strategies put in place to ensure the potential of each pupil in our care is fully realised. Schemes of work need to offer opportunities for Maltman’s girls to develop their social skills and emotional intelligence through cross curricular projects, group work and collaborative tasks – both face to face and on-line. They should develop presentation and communication skills and we will need to promote problem solving and critical thinking. I will of course be getting to know the school so much better over the coming months as I speak to the leadership team, teaching staff, the girls and you. But, future initiatives might include termly ‘creative homework’ or cross curricular weeks, the English Public Speaking Board examinations, the acquisition of kite marks of excellence in science and art, CREST investigators club, developing links with Science Ambassadors and an emphasis on STEAM – building on the school’s tradition of specialist teaching in art, DT and science.
A word about Digital Learning
My daily conversations with pupils and parents reveal how phones and tablets are an everyday part of family life. I believe it is important for the technology the girls use in school to reflect the technologies they use at home and that the children are empowered to move from being passive consumers of information, to active creators and innovators. I believe that digital learning opportunities can transform learning – bringing it to life, making it relevant and fun! They give pupils and teachers the chance to learn in ways that would not have been possible without technology, and the variety of ways in which the children can show-case and reflect on their learning is greatly increased. It is important in school to develop an evolving, innovative learning environment with ubiquitous access to technology. From using green screens, class blogs, micro bits, floor robots, a virtual learning environment, there really is no limit to what the children can achieve.
Skills for the Future: Adaptability and Life-long Learning
The WEF report highlights the fact that our children will most likely have several careers in a life time and will need to be adaptable, flexible and self-motivated in order to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Enabling the girls to reflect on metacognition and how they learn, will be key to their success. Maltman’s places great emphasis on its habits of learning model, fostering the girls’ ability to think, reflect and take responsibility for their own learning. It will be important to continue to develop this and harness innovative approaches to foster the skills required for each girl to become an independent learner.
Excellent Pastoral Care
Underpinning academic excellence of course, is excellent pastoral care. As a parent, I appreciate how modern childhood (and parenting!) can be pressurising, stressful and daunting. I believe that rewarding effort and not just the final result is vital for building each girl’s self- esteem and self-belief, as is celebrating the importance of being kind, respecting and cooperating with others, working hard and doing our best. Should problems arise (as they inevitably will do from time to time), these will be taken seriously and will be dealt with swiftly and sensitively. School needs to be a safe, happy and nurturing environment. I have an open door policy and wish the school to have a strong dialogue with you as we work in partnership together, with your daughter’s best interests at the heart of everything.
Skills for the Future – Resilience, Excellence and Fun Beyond the Classroom
Maltman’s has a fantastic programme of enrichment and extra-curricular activities. Continuing to invest in and develop educational day and residential trips, sport, music and drama provision of the highest quality for the girls, really does make school fun and is an integral part of a top- quality independent education. Opportunities in these areas also enable each girl to develop the skills she needs to step out confidently in every situation, become independent, try new things without fear of failure and to develop resilience and the capacity to bounce back when faced with the challenges and set-backs she may encounter long after she has left our care. The House System and the development of inter-house competitions present great ways to foster a sense of community, belonging and fun. Maltman’s places great emphasis on the powerful learning gained from providing experiences outdoors. So, perhaps for the future how about a ‘Been There Done that Got the T-shirt’ programme across the school – 20 things to do before I am 7? 30 things to do before I am 11? Make a mud pie, go on a bike ride, climb a tree, pitch a tent, grow a sun-flower, learn to skip, catch a fish, polish my shoes….
Excellence and Fun Beyond the Classroom: Leadership and Life after the 11+
A Maltman’s Education is a precious gift that is given to your daughters. It is important that we inspire the girls to be socially outward looking and that they take with them when they eventually leave us the aspiration for excellence and a work hard, play hard mentality – so that they make a difference throughout their lives and work for the benefit of their communities. Speaking up and speaking out runs deep in the school’s DNA. The pupil voice is very strong and I am keen to develop additional leadership roles and responsibilities relevant to today’s society. Following their 11+ exams, it is important for the girls to continue their academic studies. Yet, they should also pursue community action initiatives, develop their entrepreneurial skills through the Young Enterprise initiative, enhance their personal development through undertaking a Sports Leadership award and acquire what could be, life- saving first aid skills for example.
Here at Maltman’s Green School, we’re on a mission like no other – “Excellence with a sense of fun”. Through a rich, engaging, and dynamic curriculum, the girls at Maltman’s Green really can aspire to achieve their very best and love coming to school. Not only this, my aim for your daughters is to enable them to achieve strong academic outcomes and leave as learners who are curious, creative, reflective, flexible, who set themselves high standards and take an active, empathetic and intelligent interest in the world around them. I am so looking forward to being part of the next exciting step in the schools development, meeting you all and getting started in September.