The Headmistress of Benenden Samantha Price tells us what she believes a school is really for…
Certainly a school’s duty is to fulfil the academic potential of every student, but a good education is about doing so much more for a young person than them just getting strong exam results. It is important not to mistake a syllabus for an education.
A school should be a place where children discover who they are, a place where they try new things, where they develop key life skills such as confidence and public speaking and dealing with setbacks. It is an environment that encourages them to stretch themselves, to produce work they are proud of, and to learn how to interact socially. Perhaps most importantly, they should be having fun.
Last weekend we ran our second ever Benenden Arts Festival – three days in which we celebrated music, dance, drama, art and even food. Hundreds of girls were involved in the performances, the productions and the displays – not to mention a light-hearted parent-and-daughter cooking challenge, the Great Benenden Bake-Off, hosted by MasterChef: The Professionals judge Marcus Wareing. We welcomed staff, parents and residents of the village of Benenden to join us for what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening weekend.
However, for the girls it delivered much more than this: The whole weekend was an education in itself. It was challenging, it was exciting, it was nerve-wracking at times to be performing in public, it was eye-opening and it was a proud occasion when they could show to friends, family and others their marvellous achievements.
Staging such events takes an enormous amount of time and effort but it was definitely worth it.
This is precisely the type of event that enriches what young people gain from their school years. This festival was not part of the core academic syllabus but it served as a wonderful education for the girls. That, in my view, is what schools are for.