16 June 2023
Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandlers Ford, visited St Swithun’s Senior and Prep Schools on Friday to speak to members of staff and students about what life at St Swithun’s is like.
His first port of call was the Prep Parliament, set up by Prep School Head Jonathan Brough, which aims to empower students from an early age by giving them a voice in the running of their school. This project helps students begin to understand the functions of government, how a democracy works, and how to make a meaningful impact in their local/school community. It builds on previous work done by the school to show students democracy in action.
Brine said of the meeting, “It was a breath of fresh air to see children so passionate about their education both in and out of the classroom. You can really tell that they believe in what they are doing and that they have the power to create positive change now, and in the future.”
And those positive changes have already come into effect since the programme’s inception in 2021. These included Happy Playtime initiatives, championing for more prep school friendly meal options, the purchasing of a set of eco benches, money week (Each year group of pupils worked democratically to host fundraising enterprises) and a Christmas Jumper Swap.
Brine spent time with Deputy Head Pastoral Graham Yates and School Councillor and Clinical Psychologist Helen O’Connor discussing the St Swithun’s award winning pastoral care programme – Positive Education. Positive Education is an evidence-based approach to wellbeing, character development and enhancing academic achievement that not only seeks to alleviate and prevent mental health challenges but to build the resilience and mental toughness the pupils need to be the best they can be.
He also met with the school’s Director of Partnerships, Simon Mayes, to discuss the brilliant work the school does both in the local community and beyond. The school works with a number of school partners including Oliver’s Battery Primary School, All Saints Primary School, Winnall Primary School, and Sun Hill Primary School.
The day was rounded off with lunch with Headmistress of the Senior School Jane Gandee who said of the visit: “It was a pleasure to discuss with Steve Brine young people’s concerns and how best to encourage them to engage with politics whether at a local or national level. Further, we exchanged views on the importance of an active lifestyle and how we seek to emphasise this with our students and with some of our partner schools.”