I am delighted to welcome you to our website which, I hope, will give you an initial insight into the life and ethos at d’Overbroeck’s.
One of the most pleasing features of our most recent ISI inspection report is the tribute that the inspection team paid to our students. There are many lovely quotations from which to choose. Here are just two:
‘Students are creative, think for themselves and relish stretching the boundaries of their knowledge.’
‘In the course of their time in the school, students grow into articulate, probing, caring and courteous individuals who are equally able to express their views cogently and to listen well to others. Their maturity and sense of responsibility is a tribute to the success of the school’s ethos.’
So what is it about the ethos at d’Overbroeck’s that lies behind all this? Ask anyone here – students, staff or parents – and I would be prepared to bet that you would get much the same answers. There is here a palpable sense of shared values strongly held, and this, I believe, is at the heart of what makes our school ethos vibrant, dynamic and, in lots of ways, robustly and refreshingly distinctive.
My own view is that the ethos at d’Overbroeck’s is very much of its time. It is firmly built on personal relationships, on a relative lack of stuffiness and formal hierarchies, on a strong conviction that the individual, every individual, lies at the heart of the school.
This may sound like a truism, though the real test is, of course, the extent to which, in practice, a school is able and willing to put such a principle at the core of its structures and procedures. This has always been the principle by which we have lived as a school, and the resulting willingness to make the ‘system’ fit around the individuals rather than the other way around is manifest in a variety of important ways here.
Academic excellence is at the heart of what we aim to achieve. We aim to provide a broad education that will stretch and develop the whole person. And we aim to ensure that our teaching is – to borrow the words of our inspection report – ‘finely tuned to the specific requirements of individuals’. Boundaries and rules are clearly needed in any community – and ours are clear and well understood – but we try to keep these to the necessary minimum. We believe in leading by example. We believe in flexibility and in the power of laughter and humanity. And we believe that students who are happy and at ease in their school environment, who are working in league with a team of highly gifted, committed and enthusiastic teachers, are going to achieve and grow to their full potential, academically and personally – and that they are going to develop skills, attitudes and aptitudes that will stand them in very good stead in later life.
Alongside the academic curriculum, a varied and vibrant programme of co-curricular activities opens up all sorts of opportunities for students throughout the age range. All the staples are there – sport, music, drama, Art, D of E, etc. – and there are some quite unusual things on offer besides.
I believe that schools should be cauldrons of energy, creativity, innovation and achievement; and that a strong ethos will bind a school together and provide the gel and the fuel to propel it forward.