Page 25 - Independent Schools Magazine
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 Louise Salmond Smith has been head of The Prebendal School, Sussex, since last September. She was previously head of Tormead Junior School in Surrey.
 they perhaps did not know they possessed. produce the same invigorating endorphin rush AI really believe that working abroad
Differences in abilities and personality between boys and girls aren’t fixed, and
it can be all too convenient to accept the ideologies of stereotypes. These traits are, at best, statistical differences that do not take into account the needs of each individual child. Education can help lead and inform societal change, and the world is changing, so hopefully this will be a moot point one day. There’s no place for misogyny or misandry in aQny modern school.
The Prebendal boasts official status as a ‘Beach School’. What does this mean, and how does it enhance your
utdoor education philosophy?
All schools are wise to take advantage
as playing sport.
benefits anyone, no matter what their
career or sector. It’s very humbling
to be the outsider, the one who has to rely on others to help them navigate a new city with an alien language. My experience in the state sector made me realize how fortunate we
are in the independent sector to have control of our own curricula, the luxury of specialist teachers and how much more value is placed on the arts, sport and languages. I think the best preparation for Headship was being a Director of Music. It’s a unique role within any school because you have your own team of instrumental staff, have regular contact with all the parents - often teaching every single child in the school - and your output is under constant public scrutiny in a way that no other department has to encounter. You have to be tough. In many ways, being a head is a piece Qof cake by comparison!
You are a keen amateur photographer. How would you describe your style
of work? Has the skill level needed
Q
 You spent five years teaching in Chile. How did that come about? Do you
consider that any features of the Chilean education system could usefully be introduced here in the UK?
 oA
of resources on their doorstep and,
with an abundance of stunning coastline so close to us, our children have
the freedom and space to explore natural resources, judge and take intelligent risks, and be imaginative and creative. They learn through cross-curricular projects which encourage and instil social communication, co-operation, problem solving and, most of all, have an enormous amount of fun. Why be stuck inside a Qclassroom when you don’t have to be?
You were an Academic and Music scholar at Clayesmore School, Dorset before reading Music at
university, and have spent some of your career teaching the subject. Some research suggests that playing a musical instrument enhances academic achievement. Is that your eAxperience?
Yes, absolutely. The transferable skills that learning an instrument helps cultivate really do enhance
all areas of a child’s life. Learning how to be well-organised is clearly a key benefit, but developing concentration skills, working with others, and the patience needed in order to master a particularly tricky passage can all contribute to academic achievement, no matter what a child’s ability as a musician. There is much evidence that shows how playing a musical instrument can change the structure of the brain for the better, and
AI spotted Chile on a travel programme and knew that I wanted to go there.
It was a wonderful place for my children to spend their formative years and we have very many fond memories. For a number of reasons bilingual education seems to be much more of a feature in overseas schools, and I have often wondered if it’s something we could make more of here in the UK. It is widely reported that children benefit from learning a different language but, frankly, two lessons a week does not produce the same benefits as an immersive environment. Whilst I appreciate that much of the rest of the world is able to communicate in English, I do feel very strongly that significant exposure to a second language in the very young can enrich their adult lives immeasurably. One thing I noticed in Chile
was that there was no expectation on the children to speak English perfectly, therefore they possessed the confidence to converse with fluency without imposing unrealistic presumptions of accuracy. There was a real understanding that, above all else, language is about communication. It’s great if you can get all your verbs perfectly lined up, but perhaps we should indulge in the joy of nattering away to a stranger in their language rather than worry too much about whether or not the tense is correct.
QUpon your return from Chile,
you spent some years working in state schools before re-joining the independent sector at Hall Grove School, Surrey. If you look back on your experience abroad and in maintained schools, which do you feel was the most beneficial element of preparation for your role as a head? Would you recommend such ‘widening experiences’ to would-be heads?
eA
off the well-beaten tourist trail and find
something different or idiosyncratic. I have found that my skill level has increased with digital – I am much more daring in my approach than I used to be because I know I can always try again if a shot hasn’t quite worked. I think the skillset has changed rather than diminished, and you still have to have an eye for a good photo in order to produce images that are consistently of a high standard.
the pupils. There were many influential characters throughout my school days and I am grateful to each of them for a variety of reasons. Robert Mash was my tutor when I was at Clayesmore and never lost faith in me when others had become perhaps frustrated by my typical, yet tedious, teenage rebellion. Every child needs a champion, and he was mine.
vaporated with the advent of digital?
I love travel photography, but I try to get
     Q
 Who or what inspired you to become a teacher? Do you still make time to
Ateach?
I teach as much as possible because
    it’s the only way to really get to know
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