Mark Turnbull, Headmaster of Kent College, Canterbury, on the importance of strong pastoral care and community values to enable all children to thrive

There are significant shifts taking place in our society at the moment. We are seeing a movement away from traditional rigid structures, a questioning of established hierarchies and a focus on creating more inclusive environments. At Kent College we have recently reasserted those values that we feel are important in a school to allow every individual to thrive.

These values include:

Respect: learning to appreciate the value in others, our environment and ourselves
Acting justly: working for the good of everyone through service to others
Ambition: seeing all the opportunities to learn in your day
Openness: embracing quality, diversity and inclusion for the benefit of us all
Kindness: being considerate and compassionate towards others, whether this is in person or in digital presence
Resilience: building the courage to take risks in learning, and also to forgive others
Humility: developing the confidence to walk humbly
Curiosity: actively enquiring about our world.

Balancing the pressure of academic studies for students in a post-covid world is incredibly important. Avoiding all pressure carries its own consequences, therefore it’s important to not completely avoid challenges but be sympathetic in our support to face them. There are some practical steps that we can all take, such as prioritising self-care, taking regular breaks and sticking to good habits like eating well and exercising.

Our pastoral care system, extensive co-curricular activities programme and nutritiously balanced school meals ensure that each child has the opportunity to thrive and provides the foundations for starting life beyond school years. The world of work requires skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, digital literacy, and creativity. We build these into our curriculum through enquiry-based learning. Often, we structure learning around projects that allow collaborative work and an active encouragement of public speaking.

“Avoiding all pressure carries its own consequences, therefore it’s important to not completely avoid challenges but be sympathetic in our support”

On a practical level our new Pathways programme in the Sixth Form provides students with career guidance, internships, and other opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Most importantly, we want to ensure students know that there are multiple pathways into the world of work and – just like progression through KC – we want to ensure that each student is on the route that most suits them.

Independent schools are no longer the islands of perceived elitism. KC, like many, plays an active role in the local community by engaging in service-oriented activities, building partnerships with local schools, and providing resources and support to the wider community, as well as seeking to support the local environment.

Our local community is incredibly important to us, and we actively encourage participation in events such as our Farm Open Morning. We also invite local schools to our Great Hall for a variety of events, such as Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour. Through our partnership with the Canterbury Festival, we also strive to be a source of cultural enrichment in the arts, and to create an inclusive environment for all young people.

Kent College

Further reading: Wellington College on the wellbeing top five