Headmaster’s News: In defence of innovation

18th February 22

We learned this week that we are increasing the presence of our Armed Forces and tanks in Estonia as part of NATO’s response to current strategic escalations. Away from these unwelcome tensions, Estonia is familiar to educationalists for more sanguine reasons and we can learn much from its success. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Estonia has, quite simply, the finest education system in Europe, if not the industrialised world.

At the same time as the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday announced our Estonian troop commitments, the Education Secretary was communicating more guidance to school heads across England, this time on political impartiality when covering sensitive issues. Teaching in an age-appropriate manner about issues of the day and the differing views on these is an essential part of our curriculum, helping our children to form their own opinions and prepare them for later life. We love a good debate at Prince’s Mead and, with or without the latest guidance, we are confident our experience enables us to cover off these areas with appropriate sensitivity, balance and academic scrutiny.

Perhaps the most important component of Estonia’s education model is that is it protected from regular intervention with a strategy drawn up until 2035, based on international best practice and scientific evidence. The OECD reports that Estonia’s schools are also the best at promoting fairness, notably in the absence of regular centralised guidance. Its decentralised system gives teachers the autonomy they require.

At Prince’s Mead we are fortunate to enjoy a level of self-determination as an independent school. Our aim is to develop creative flair, entrepreneurial spirit and digital fluency in your children; ready for the high-tech, high-skill economy that they will need to navigate in the future.

We share much in common with Estonia’s model of education, where technology is integrated more and more into our children’s learning experience, where robotics and programming are part of our Digital Learning curriculum, as much as music, art and sports are woven into the DNA of a Prince’s Mead education. Not dissimilar to Estonia too, we enjoy a core focus (through our own Vision 100 strategy) on problem-solving, critical thinking, values, citizenship, and entrepreneurship that we know employers prize. We also want our children to be active participants in their education, rather than passive recipients of facts, and any learning walk around Prince’s Mead demonstrates a highly interactive element to lessons.

As we were buffeted by the forces of Storm Eunice today, one hopes an increased British military presence in Estonia will assist this tiny country from being buffeted by anything more menacing and, in so doing, safeguard an outstanding educational system and much more. In the meantime, we remain committed to an ambitious vision for education at Prince’s Mead and a quest for continuous improvement.

Thank you to you all for your tremendous continued support of the School. Whether you are taking to the slopes or hunkering down this half-term, I do hope you enjoy the opportunity to relax with your families.

Mr Peter Thacker