Strategic Development Plan 2018-23
The School Ethos
Orwell Park is a long established co-educational prep school for day pupils and boarders. The outstanding beauty of the grounds and the historic buildings contribute to an inspiring experience which combines the legacy and traditions of the past with the dynamism and energy of the present and the future. Boys and girls are given every opportunity to be the best they can be, both in and outside the classroom. High expectations, and learning strategies tailored to the individual child, lead to high levels of attainment.
Academic achievement and pastoral care are given top priority, alongside core values such as courtesy, personal responsibility and respect for others. Children are encouraged to take on challenges, to overcome setbacks and to see failure as part of the journey to success, to develop the resilience, initiative, flexibility, creativity and collaborative skills that will prepare them for the next stage of their education and later life.
At Orwell Park pupils develop a balanced sense of themselves and a quiet self-confidence in their interactions with others.
• To provide for all pupils an academically challenging, inspiring and fulfilling experience
• To offer an all-round education in which happy and purposeful children can grow in confidence and self-esteem
• To encourage children to persevere when confronted with obstacles and to understand that they can develop their abilities through dedication and application
• To create a caring, trusting and supportive environment in which children show respect for each other and their environment
• To excite, engage and challenge each child, motivating them to explore and develop a lifelong love of learning, supported by teachers who are passionate about their subject and are themselves lifelong learners
• To offer to all children the benefits of a school with a boarding ethos, encouraging independence, tolerance and responsibility
• To develop in each child an increasing sense of self-reliance as they prepare for senior school, being able to question, think and work independently
• To give each child an awareness of and an engagement with the outside world and the needs of others
In a magical and inspirational setting, to provide an excellent all-round education where each child is encouraged to become the best they can be, to develop their abilities and character in work, play and relationships with others, preparing them for the next stage of their education and beyond.
To be a world class co-ed day and boarding Prep School, with outstanding teachers, facilities and pastoral care and a focus on the changing world that our children will encounter. Inspired today, prepared for tomorrow!
Our vision is underpinned by our distinctive character, born of our proud and innovative history, which is our source of strength. The magic of the Orwell Park School environment is both supportive to individual pupils and characterised by an enduring life-long sense of community.
As a school, we are inseparable from our past but we look forward with great optimism and energy to building on our reputation as one of the country’s leading Prep schools. Our plan covers the period 2018-2023, and is shaped around the following core strategic cornerstones:-
1) To ensure consistently excellent teaching and learning in a growth mindset environment
One of our key aims is to foster a love of learning in our children that they will carry into their adult lives. To this end, we aim to recruit, train and retain high-quality teachers, to develop independent, creative learners, who are encouraged to think outside the box and see the links between discrete subjects and who are challenged at all times to be the best they can be. We aim to encourage a meaningful dialogue between teacher and pupil, both in the classroom and in the feedback given to learners. The learning environment is underpinned by our commitment to technology, including the use of individual iPads, to support and augment existing, effective teaching and learning. To achieve the best education for our children we will review our curriculum offer, as well as the structure of the school day and give our staff the professional training, coaching and mentoring required to develop as educators. High expectation and aspiration should be the aim for all our pupils, whatever their starting point. To this end, we will seek to improve pupils’ success in Pre-tests for senior schools, as well as at Common Entrance. Examinations are important, but if the educational offer is excellent, results will follow.
Our overriding philosophy is to develop Orwellians who possess the resilience, self-reflection and application that will serve them throughout their education. To achieve this, they are taught to develop a growth mindset from the moment when they arrive in the Pre-Prep, in an environment where mistakes and failure are seen as part of the journey to success and where children view challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.
2) To provide excellent pastoral care for all members of the Orwell Park community
We are blessed with a magical environment in which to learn and grow and in which children can enjoy the innocence of childhood, whilst preparing for the challenges of the next stage of their education. We are focused on the development of the whole child as part of a community and we aim to embed fully the School’s values, underpinned by the core value of integrity. Our aim will be to emphasise and celebrate good behaviour (“catch them being good”). The well-being and safety of our children is paramount and the recent focus on our safeguarding policies and procedures was recognised in the recent compliance inspection. We continue to build up the strength of our pastoral team and, in addition to ongoing training and induction for staff, we will be engaging more with pupils on an individual and collective level. Young people face many pressures, including the influence of social media, and we will be proactive in helping our pupils to achieve the balance between the online world and the physical world. Staff welfare must be paramount and we will continuously review the workload and commitments of staff to ensure that they have the time and energy to perform to their best.
We recognise the need to ensure the consistency and quality of communication with parents both individually and collectively and we will offer a programme of pastoral workshops and talks to pupils and parents. Weekly Chapel services are now an important part of the school routine and we aim to develop the role of the Chaplain.
Boarding is integral to the life of the school and we will aim to enhance our boarding provision by completing the refurbishment of the boarding house, developing our strategy for staffing and accommodation, promoting flexi, weekly and full boarding and working with children and parents to provide a safe and happy environment. Our Boarding principle is as follows:
Boarding at Orwell Park School seeks to develop the whole pupil, enabling them to develop confidence, independence, and an inclusive community spirit. In line with our whole school principles, we offer pupils facilities and activities which enhance social skills, cultural awareness, and respect for others. In an environment which celebrates the differences between pupils, the key life skills of resilience, self-motivation and responsibility are absorbed and developed.
In order to give full effect to these principles, pupils are cared for by a team of qualified, experienced and dedicated professionals. Their collective aim is to maintain a boarding house in which all children will be healthy, clean, well-fed and well-rested. A stimulating environment will aim to develop physical and emotional strength, as well as the opportunity to create enduring friendships.
3) To continue to develop highly effective leadership and management within the school
In an increasingly complex educational environment, we need to ensure that the School’s senior leadership is aware of the latest educational thinking and best practice, as well as the changing political and economic landscape. We have increased the membership of the Senior management team to include two Deputy Heads, the Head of Middle School and the Head of Pre-Prep and we will continue to review the leadership structure. We continue to develop the role and accountability of Middle Management and seek to develop opportunities for leadership throughout the staff body. There is an increasing emphasis on developing links between the Pre-Prep, the Middle School and the Senior School, ensuring a coherent approach to teaching and learning and pastoral care.
As a traditional Prep School that goes up to 13, we appreciate the leadership opportunities that exist for pupils at the top end of the school. Our aim is to develop leadership throughout the school, including the Pre-Prep, creating an environment where children are encouraged to develop the skills that will serve them later in life.
4) To maintain and build on the excellent co-curricular provision at Orwell Park
Orwell Park offers an extensive range of co-curricular activities and pupils are given the opportunity to participate in a wide range of trips and visits. Pupils are involved in sport four times a week, 90% of pupils learn a musical instrument and there are ensembles, choirs and orchestras, as well as termly recitals and concerts. Pupils in the Prep School study curriculum Drama and there are annual productions for the Pre-Prep, Middle School, Year 6 and the Senior School. There is also an extensive programme of afternoon and evening activities, including the OPS Challenge programme. The outdoor classroom was developed last year and the Pre-Prep is moving towards Forest School accreditation. Specialist staff work alongside academic staff to offer a high quality of sports coaching for all pupils, and we are aiming to develop initiatives such as expanding holiday coaching courses and building relationships with outside agencies to provide a clearly defined route for talented boys and girls to progress in sport. In order to support these aims, we need to upgrade our sports facilities, such as the provision of an indoor swimming facility and repair or replacement of the sports pavilion. In Music, we will continue to expand the range of our instrumental and vocal ensembles and steer pupils towards membership of regional and national ensembles, choirs and competitions, whilst promoting a “music for all” approach.
Our aim is to support these ambitions with first-class facilities for music, drama and sport, including a flagship performing arts centre, which would host concerts and plays and allow the sports hall to be reserved for sports use alone.
5) To develop our relationships with the wider community
It is our aim to enhance the profile of the School in the wider community, through the development of our website, the use of social media, the hosting of regional and national educational, sporting and musical events and the promotion of the School in local and national publications. We will continue to develop our intake from the local, national and international markets and we will build on our healthy mix of day, flexi, weekly and full boarders. We value our relationships with local day and national boarding schools and we will seek to cement and develop our excellent relationship with many of the country’s leading schools.
We recognise the essential relationship that needs to exist between home and school and we will continue to strengthen these links in order to ensure the very best experience for Orwell families, using our technological resources to include parents in their children’s learning and offering lectures, talks and workshops for pupils, teachers and parents. We will build on the excellent work of the Friends of Orwell Park in welcoming new families to our community and helping them to feel at home, as well as supporting school events and projects.
It is our aim to engage further with the local community through collaboration with local schools, building on the existing sports days and STEM events. This extends to Community Service in the local area and the increasing number of pupil initiatives to support our local, national and international charities. Through our weekly use of the village church, and our attendance at village community events together with Nacton Primary school, we are maintaining a long history of close ties with our immediate neighbours. Our aim is also to increase the level of bursary awards at the School in order to give an Orwell Park education to children whose families could not otherwise afford to attend the School.
We believe that our children should experience other cultures and ways of life, both in their interaction with international pupils in school but also in the curriculum they follow and through trips and visits; to this end, we will build on the educational and cultural opportunities offered by our link with Mayo College in Rajasthan, India, encouraging our pupils and staff to take part in the exchange but also interact through virtual learning links.
The Orwell community is not just the current pupil, staff and parent body; it extends to all those who have been linked with the School during its 150 year history. We will build on the success of the 150th anniversary celebrations to develop our links with Old Orwellians and we will invest in upgrading our database and improving our communication and programme of events.
6) To ensure optimum management of resources to allow investment in the future of the school
We live and work in a magnificent 18th century mansion and its beautiful grounds, which is part of the history of the School, and the School must plan carefully to ensure that it is maintained and fit for educational purpose. The School will need to manage its finances appropriately in order to support the Strategic Plan, as well as developing new sources of revenue, including the use of the School by third parties outside term time. This will mean ensuring effective business and administrative systems, including IT infrastructure, and a significant investment in our staff, both academic and support, to be able to deliver a first-class education.
We are in the process of refurbishing the boarding house and we plan to create a specific Middle School area in the courtyard leading to the new block. The School is committed to investing in and developing the Foundation as a vehicle for building our relationships with Old Orwellians and for fundraising to support the future of the School in key areas:
- Restoration and enhancement of the School’s historic buildings
- Landmark capital projects such as the Performing Arts Centre and an indoor pool
- Provision of bursaries and scholarships