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Blog: Success – the journey or the outcome?

Olympic fever caught hold of Headmaster Rob Jones this summer, who reflects on the role that success can play in a child’s education.

Headmaster Rob JonesThis summer I have thoroughly enjoyed the BBC’s excellent coverage of the Rio Olympic Games. I have marvelled at the successes and been fascinated by the journeys of stars like Giles Scott, Laura Trott or Max Whitlock have made to Olympic success.

At every post medal interview, the athletes talk of sacrifice; missed children’s birthdays or long periods away from families, hours in the gym rather than socialising with friends, while also thanking the huge team of coaches, nutritionists or even data managers who have helped make their dreams a reality. Every success comes with enormous commitment, an endless thirst to improve and an ability to work together with other people - all things that we aspire to at Rendcomb College.

After a period where only exam results ruled, schools have, thankfully, begun to return to a more holistic approach. I have always believed that by instilling an adventurous spirit in children, they try new things and question the status quo. In this way they become adventurous learners, reflecting on what they have been told and take charge of their lives.

Unsurprisingly, this approach not only sees the development of interesting and rounded young people but also children who are successful because they are resilient, enquiring and willing to persevere at big challenges. Life is a bumpy road and, by focussing on the things needed for a successful journey, school becomes so much more than a set of results.

Our children, like our Olympians must enjoy learning to be successful in life.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, our athletes proved themselves to be able to live and learn from those around them. We encourage our pupils to be thoughtful and mindful of others, impressing upon them that this is their community and one that they have a responsibility to maintain. We aim to rejoice in our differences, develop tolerance, where opinions vary, and cherish the “family” feel of a small boarding school.

Our pupils support one another and recognise that to enjoy success in their own interests, they need others to make up the team, orchestra or cast. As a consequence, we have pupils who not only “shine” in many areas but are also willing to be “in the background” for other activities in order to allow their friends to achieve their ambitions.

I want the children in my school to enjoy their education and to develop the character and skills that will set them up for any challenge. If we continue to focus on developing the whole person rather than preparing them for the outcome they will have the tools to be successful in school and beyond.