Steven Winter, the Headmaster of recently opened Maida Vale School discusses how its approach enables trust and community spirit in extraordinary times

The Gardener Schools Group opened Maida Vale School last September with pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9. In these extraordinary times, many people have commented on the level of trust that our parents have shown in us by taking the leap of faith for their child to join a new school. For us, it is our approach to values-led education that engenders that trust and means that our pupils will be thoroughly prepared for their lives beyond school. 

We have five key Pupil Learning Values: creativity, resilience, problem solving, reflection, and supporting and inspiring others. These values underpin all the learning that happens across Maida Vale School. If we have learnt anything from the pandemic, it is that resilience is one of the key values of success. We teach pupils not just how to keep going when they find things difficult, but also to know that they can take a risk and fail. For it is our failures that provide us with our greatest learning. We talk to them about the importance of being experts in failure. 

Educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom listed creativity as the highest of thinking skills. By embracing creativity and problem-solving, young people are ready to flourish in an age dominated by Artificial Intelligence. In every lesson, not just the performing and creative arts, our pupils are encouraged to be creative and problem solve. We also believe that through our performing arts programme, young people can develop the skills they need to be able to support and inspire one another. They all study drama and music and we provide a range of whole-school and small-ensemble opportunities for them to perform. In performing, students develop resilience and they learn self-confidence but, more importantly, they learn the value of listening and responding effectively to others. With these skills they are set to become people who others value and trust.

Fresh start – new beginnings at Maida Vale School

“Our values-led education means that our pupils will be thoroughly prepared for their lives beyond school” 

At Maida Vale, most lessons are 90 minutes long. This gives teachers the time to be forward-thinking and varied with their lessons plans, encouraging debates and creativity. Longer lesson times also allow us to incorporate reflection into our curriculum through DIRT (Directed Independent Reflection Time) and reporting sessions with Personal Tutors. All students need to know how to draw their learning together so that they can set targets for themselves based on their own reflections and feedback from teachers. Embracing the art of reflection develops resilience, problem-solving skills, creativity and the ability to support and inspire others.

None of this is possible if we, as a community, do not come together to support all aspects of our pupils’ pastoral care and wellbeing. At Maida Vale School, every member of staff, no matter who they are, has a responsibility for the pastoral care of every pupil. We work as a community to actively promote our values of respect, tolerance and compassion. We celebrate the moments in the school week when these values are demonstrated via our newsletters and on social media. It is also important to us that our parents feel fully part of our community. This is enabled through our Open-Door Policy, being able to use the Parent Café and the fact that there are no false hierarchies. As adults, parents and staff are on first name terms here at Maida Vale School!

Find out more about Maida Vale School

Further reading: A global reach at London’s Lycée International