Louisa Hopkinson, Deputy Head (Academic) at Kew House School reflects on the profound shift of perspective that comes with moving from state to independent sector

Moving from the state to independent sector is not just a change in educational institutions, it’s a transformative journey that reshapes perspectives.  As someone who recently navigated this transition, and now contributes to the academic leadership of Kew House School, it is something I’ve experienced for myself. This has led me to reflect on the profound opportunities presented, not just for me but for all the students who embark on their educational journey here at Kew House.

Many of us recognise and have experienced, a siloed approach in education settings – where the focus is on examinations and ‘teaching to the test’ becomes relentless. We also know that making space for a more interconnected and less prescriptive approach pays dividends. Here at Kew House, the recently introduced Gardener Award is already doing just that. It is more than a framework, encapsulating a commitment to wider and deeper learning. Here, subjects are not isolated entities, but threads woven into a rich tapestry of knowledge, skills and experiences.

All our students encounter themes such as enterprise, perspectives, wellbeing, community, and creativity across disciplines. It is a philosophy that emerged within the Gardener Schools Group from the recognition that true education extends beyond subject knowledge. It needs to provide students with a preparation for the complexities – and opportunities – of life.

Kew House School on education transformed
At Kew House, arts, music and design are integral to the curriculum to provide balanced education and build confidence and self-esteem, says Louisa Hopkinson

In many educational settings creative subjects get sidelined. Again, a different perspective exists, and at Kew House, I have seen firsthand the transformative power of embracing arts, music, drama and design as integral components of the curriculum. This is not at the expense of the more traditional STEM subjects (and I speak as a maths teacher by training).  Our students experience a balanced education that values the sciences and humanities in equal measure and seeks to furnish them with a diverse skillset.

Education is not just about exam results – even though we know their importance – but is a complex process of guiding students through growing up and navigating some of their most challenging years. This recognition is embedded in our ethos at Kew House, with individualised attention delivered pastorally as well as academically. Building confidence and self-esteem is critical for young people’s wellbeing – and this also supports better academic achievement.

“Our students experience a balanced education that values the sciences and humanities in equal measure and seeks to furnish them with a diverse skillset”

As I reflect on my own educational journey and my new role helping to shape the academic landscape at Kew House School, one takeaway is clear. Education is ultimately about guiding and supporting young people in becoming individuals able to see the interconnectedness of the subjects they study, find their own academic strengths, and achieve in whatever pathways they choose.

The move from state to independent education was not just a change in scenery for me; it was a catalyst for a profound shift in perspective. I am privileged to contribute to an educational setting that reflects my personal ethos – one that goes beyond textbooks and exams to focus on developing confident and creative individuals ready to shape their future.

Kew House School kewhouseschool.com

Further reading: Frensham Heights on progressive education