St Augustine’s Priory Opening Speech to the Society of Heads Conference

St Augustine’s Priory Opening Speech to the Society of Heads Conference

7 March 2022

Mrs Sarah Raffray, Headteacher of St Augustine’s Priory, Ealing Catholic independent school for girls and Chair of the Society of Heads, today opens the annual conference of The Society of Heads and introduces the conference theme of ‘Creating Space’.

Examining the past two years of COVID, the situation schools now find themselves in and looking to the future, Sarah Raffray, said that in the past two years, since the first lockdown, ‘School leaders have needed every ounce of creativity to care for every member of their community and we know the pressures continue. We all created space to balance our approach to bringing people with us.’

Mrs Raffray paid tribute to teachers, ‘Our schools are places of expertise, filled with incredible people who yearn for the best for all children.’

She went on to say that ‘Skills acquired by teachers and children and a new technical proficiency means that we can step back and ask ourselves “What is next for an education which prepares children for the rest of the 21st Century?”‘

Her conclusion is ‘That space for creating a visionary approach must keep the momentum of the extraordinary achievements of the last two years. Our conference theme, Creating Space, speaks to many of the aspects of the visioning we all need as we embark on what’s next.’

Examining the negotiating of three exam cycles for older students Mrs Raffray said that Society of Heads schools continue to deliver more than grades, for ‘Our students are not just data sets’.

In looking at what is needed in education today, Mrs Raffray concluded that ‘Social, interpersonal and emotional needs must be at the heart of a curriculum which prepares students to live alongside robots. Education must be about digital, technological and financial literacy as well as sustainability. It is time that our examination systems recognised those elements. Elon Musk’s astonishing response to the Ukraine’s need for internet support is testament to the need for our schools not only to create innovators but to instil moral authority. They are in a global world where anonymous hackers have as much, if not more, power than elected governments.’

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