After three years of cancellations due to Covid-19, July 2022 saw Repton School and its junior school, Repton Prep, hold their annual Speech Days. Students, staff, family, and friends joined together to celebrate another successful academic year and mark the start of the summer holidays. And Repton Prep’s new Head, Victoria Harding, who starts her role with the School in September, took time to reflect on the value of change and resilience and the importance of a well-rounded education.
Room to Thrive at Repton Prep
Repton Prep is one of the UK’s leading independent day and boarding schools for children aged 3 to 13. Set in the heart of England, in the idyllic landscape of rural Derbyshire, the School’s beautiful 55-acre site gives children room to thrive, play, and grow into happy, healthy individuals ready to achieve their full potential.
Though academic standards are high, Repton considers extracurricular endeavours, including art, music, and drama, an equally integral part of an all-round education. From taking part in lessons in well-equipped classrooms to den-building in the School’s woodlands and getting crafty in the GreenPower workshop, Repton pupils enjoy a range of learning opportunities and pastoral support that helps them develop intellectually, physically, and emotionally.
After Year 8, the majority of Repton Prep’s 400 pupils go on to start Year 9 at Repton School, which is just three miles from the Prep site. Repton promises a cohesive experience for those who choose the through-school route, but pupils who decide to go elsewhere can expect an equal welcome and thorough preparation for their onward educational journeys.
The New Head’s Vision for Growth
September 2022 will see the arrival of Victoria Harding as the new Head of Repton Prep. Harding boasts impressive credentials, with two prior headship roles under her belt and top leadership roles in London. A Royal-Academy-trained musician, Harding previously headed the music department at Dragon School in Oxford. She is passionate about pre-prep and prep stage education:
“I love this age group because you really see such a huge journey for each child, right from the foundation through to when we move them on to their senior school years,” she says.
Since her appointment as Head elect of Repton Prep last winter, Harding has visited the School many times over two academic terms, immersing herself in its “hive of activity.” In her address at this year’s Speech Day, Harding opened by remarking that each visit has afforded her the opportunity to get a view of daily life at Repton Prep: “no two days are ever the same.”
The last few months have also allowed Harding to get to grips with the Repton family of schools’ larger educational vision. With the start of the autumn term and a new academic year, Harding plans to retain and refine the unique identity of Repton Prep, with a focus on its core values of respect, wholeness, truth, and excellence.
Positive Change and Embracing Opportunities
Repton Prep’s 2022 Speech Day saw Harding reflect on the academic year just gone, with its many “trips, productions, concerts, fixtures, and games.” The incoming Head also provided Year 8 leavers with some thought-provoking and encouraging words. She assured pupils who, come September, face the move to a new school and the prospect of making new friends, that feelings of apprehension and nerves are normal.
Using her own new start at Repton Prep as an example, she described her enthusiasm for “living in such a beautiful place and taking on a wonderfully exciting new job.” She reminded pupils that although she is leaving behind 15 years in London, she carries those memories and friendships with her. Harding emphasised how change, often viewed as negative, can afford a “really great opportunity” to embrace fresh starts and build vital skills such as resilience and a growth mindset.
Harding went on to explain that while the tools of hard work, determination, and discipline don’t guarantee success, they do ensure an individual can achieve their personal best. Adding that she hoped Year 8 leavers felt a sense of pride in achieving their personal goals, Harding reiterated that success is about remaining “focused and strong on our own path.”
Covid-19’s Impact on Education
In her address, Harding also mentioned the changes undergone by the education system in the last two years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. While acknowledging the difficulty and challenges, she emphasised the “huge strides” taken with technology and the improvements in communication, planning, and information sharing.
In keeping with Repton’s rounded vision of education, Harding outlined British educator Sir Anthony Seldon’s eight forms of intelligence: personal and social, creative and physical, moral and spiritual, and logical and linguistic. She noted the error of many schools and the exam system in concentrating on cultivating predominantly logical and linguistic intelligence in pupils, despite these being the skills most easily replicated by machines. She added that some of these skills will likely be “rendered redundant within the next 20 years.”
An education that only focuses on these skills lacks the essential future-proofing that a modern child’s education requires. Harding acknowledged that while schools have made leaps since the pandemic, there is more work to do.
The Flourishing Family of Repton Schools
Harding ended her speech by encouraging pupils to embrace change and seize new opportunities. Come the autumn term, she will follow her own advice and relish the learning opportunities Repton Prep holds for her. Two areas she wants to explore at the School are outdoor learning and independent learning. Another big priority is allowing children the chance to catch up on experiences they may have missed out on due to the pandemic.
Harding is also focused on community and sustainability, especially in light of Repton’s role in the local and wider community; Repton Prep is one of nine schools within the global Repton family, with sites across mainland Europe, China, Malaysia, and the Middle East. While Repton Prep holds the traditional values shared by its senior school, Harding aims to ensure Prep remains outward facing and continues to deliver the crucial transferable and future-focused skills pupils have come to expect from a Repton education.
About Repton School
Repton School is a pre-eminent, co-educational, independent boarding school in Derbyshire for children aged 3 to 18. With a history of educational excellence dating back to 1557, Repton infuses heritage and traditional values with a modern approach to education. Reptonians grow into socially conscious, down-to-earth citizens who are intellectually curious, emotionally resilient, and internationally minded.
Thanks to world-class facilities and a wide range of outstanding extracurricular programmes in sport and the creative arts, Repton pupils never need to prioritise academic achievement over their other interests. A strong sense of community and the welcoming House system makes Repton a home away from home for boarders, who make up approximately 70% of the student population.
Repton is a through-school that carefully sees its younger pupils, who range between the ages of 3 and 13, from Repton Prep into the senior school, thanks to its seamless transitional curriculum. Repton Prep divides younger and older students into Lower Prep and Upper Prep. Lower Prep offers a lively, vibrant educational environment where little ones develop the skills and experiences that form a solid foundation for future learning. In Upper Prep, pupils build on this foundation as they progress towards becoming independent, active young learners imbued with the key values of motivation, resilience, persistence, curiosity, flexibility, and risk-taking.