The Headteacher of Kew Green Prep, Sasha Davies, argues that it’s vital to nurture and celebrate ambition in our schools

As the Headteacher of Kew Green Prep School, I believe that it is essential for ambition to be embedded in all areas and aspects of school life, learning and culture. When asked to state my educational philosophy, I often speak about collaboration, innovation, creativity and high self-esteem, alongside the core values of compassion, respect and resilience. This is reflective of my view that all children are unique and that the environment in which they grow must be inspiring. I might also add that I often stop short of mentioning a further value that I hold – ambition.

It is my first instinct to act with caution when admitting that I am ambitious, both for myself and in what I seek to achieve as Headteacher for my school? Perhaps it is time to stop cautiously admitting that we are ambitious. Instead, we should start embracing and promoting this as a proud quality and an essential part of any educational philosophy.

Kew Gardener
Kew Green Prep Head Sasha Davies says acknowledging ambition in schools makes children happy to strive for success and, ultimately, helps all children to succeed

Being ambitious in a competitive environment provides a motivating context to achieve, and in a school context it ensures that my pupils are happy in wanting to be successful. It is through having ambition that the highest quality of education, established within an outstanding school community, can be achieved. Indeed, it is through the process of achieving our goals that, as educators and school leaders, we provide the very best education and thereby enable all our pupils to succeed.

Ambition is integral to all that we do here at Kew Green, both at Kew Green Nursery and the Preparatory School. It is the fabric and the make-up of our ethos and is underpinned by four key aspects: aspiration, motivation, effort and achievement. This ethos should be visible in pupil progress and learning outcomes, a product of ambitious teaching and a dynamic curriculum. It should also be evident in the high self-esteem and aspiration of pupils. Ambition should be felt as soon as you step through the school gates.

“I would urge us all to embrace ambition and to proudly seek out and celebrate its presence in our schools”

One of the main purposes of any school is to ensure that the educational provision in place provides appropriate building blocks to allow opportunity and achievement for all pupils. In London, most preparatory schools are regulated by the rigorous expectations and demands set by the 11+. While this can give rise to fierce competition, the pressure it places on Year 6 pupils underpins the aspirations we have for all our pupils, and I would argue that ambition must be at the core of the whole process.

The adage that ‘good can always be better’ underpins my philosophy of ambition. It is through a culture of ambition and a truly rounded experience that an independent school such as Kew Green enables successful pupil outcomes, both academically and in children’s personal development. I would urge us all to embrace ambition, finding a place for it in our own personal development, and to proudly seek out and celebrate its presence in our schools. After all, as Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings”.  

Kew Green Preparatory School

Further reading: The King Alfred School on real-world learning