boys discussing workWe are currently showing Year 5 students and families around the school and it is great to welcome them to the Wallingford School community. One of the things which we touch upon is our core school value that every student leaves us as a young adult who is “able and qualified”.  Mr Lamb, now Principal at Bucks UTC, and I were reflecting on the essence of what it means to be able and qualified during the week and it was an important conversation.

You can tell quite a lot about a school from its strapline or motto. Schools will have their values which can often be broadly similar – they will focus on tolerance and understanding, commitment and challenge, excellence and endeavor. All of these elements are part of a strong school community and each is important. The strapline or motto of a school tries to summarise these values in a pithy way – no easy task for a large, vibrant school community which is the sum of a great many parts.

The strapline of our school seems absolutely appropriate. It reflects the high aspirations, mutual respect and focus on developing each and every student which are defining characteristics of the Wallingford School community.

“Able” and “qualified” are words which I like. The latter seems the easier to quantify. “Qualified” is about exams and courses and the hard reality of the numbers and letters which a young person has on a few pieces of paper when they leave school. This is, of course, the “passport” for their future and these grades will to an extent determine their futures, certainly in the short-term. As we know, results at Wallingford are extremely strong at both Key Stages 4 and 5 and the support which our young people receive from all of our staff in order to fulfil their potential is second-to-none.

 “Able” seems to have more layers to it than “qualified”. It is about how a young person develops during their time at the school; it is who they become and, almost literally, what they can do. Schools are about exam results but they are also about the type of young people they produce. How will they contribute to society? How do they interact with people? What are their values? This school does a great job of supporting its young people to become “able”. I will not attempt to list here the multitude of activities which contribute to this but they are all about developing our young people in a holistic way to become the very best person they can be and this commitment from all our staff to our students resonates throughout this school community.

The goal of a great school should be to produce young people who are both “able and qualified” and our strapline seems to me to summarise everything that Wallingford School is about pretty effectively.