Principal's Blog

Will it make Surval exceptional? Then do it!

07 September 2023

In our opening staff INSET of the new school year, I naturally focused on our Vision, Values and Strategic Priorities for the academic year ahead.  Without losing everything that makes Surval a very special environment for the girls, over the last two years we have been refining and reshaping what we offer, and building momentum in all aspects.  In our INSET session,  I repeated what we promise in our promotional material and talks with prospective parents and challenged everyone to think critically about how we are delivering on what we promise.  



We describe ourselves as ‘an exceptional school’ and I certainly believe we are.  But we can never be complacent and each one of us has to reflect regularly and critically on our role in delivering an exceptional education. Our vision should not be empty words, but evoke passion about what we can enable the students to achieve and ownership by staff of their role in this.


A Surval education empowers girls to embrace challenge, take ownership of future pathways and lead dialogue for positive change.

A Surval graduate leaves school with the academic credentials, breadth of interests and open attitude to set her on a pathway to success with entrepreneurial and creative flair. She can walk into any room with self-assurance, presence and cultural awareness.

Our vision is a big picture of the future, and each and every small action we take must help us in working towards that vision, in and outside the classroom, in the house, in our Student Voices (committees), societies, trips and activities or through our 1:1 coaching.  


Our values provide the underpinning to everything we do and permeate our culture.



our school development priorities


As part of our school development priorities for the year ahead, certain aspects of our curriculum and enrichment programmes will be under the spotlight with fresh initiatives in order to keep us moving forward and chasing ‘exceptionalism’.


Over the last two years, we have become clear about our strengths, in our all-girls, intentionally small community, and are explicit in how we seek to personalise each girl’s educational experience.  We have added rigour in outcomes - in and beyond the classroom - and are definitely seeing a culture of greater challenge and ambition.  We are deliberate in everything we do, articulate Surval’s value-added, and embed our values in everything we do.  Our Surval Award, introduced last year, captures all aspects of a Survalienne’s experience and helps instil a reflective process in all students whilst they complete an online portfolio of evidence and reflections on their experiences and development during their time at Surval.  



Our priorities for the year ahead in Student Experience and Outcomes link with a shared responsibility in our other two strategic areas: Recruitment and Communications.  



As an international school, it is our goal to grow our diversity in our school year students, in order to ensure students benefit fully from the experience of living in a truly multicultural community.  In recent years, the trend in our enrolment has been more towards 1-year students who undoubtedly have a truly exceptional year’s experience.  Those students who stay through multiple years are currently in a smaller minority and yet we see every day the considerable impact of staying longer through multiple High School years.  Hence, our goal is to balance our 1-year students with those staying for 2-3 years.  Each member of our dedicated staff team, whatever their role, plays a part in the recruitment and retention of students and in communicating what we do so well.


Over the summer I enjoyed dipping into ‘Will it make the boat go faster?’ by Ben Hunt-Davies and Harriet Beveridge - and drew on this in my INSET session.  The concept of layered goals, starting with a big CRAZY GOAL resonated with me, and all staff were - and in their first assembly next week all girls will be - challenged to come up with a crazy goal, firstly for the school as a whole, and secondly for themselves for this year ahead:  ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if….’  Looking at the crazy goals identified in last week’s session, there is no reason why we cannot achieve them, breaking them down into layered goals and taking it step by step. 


As Ben Hunt-Davis says: ‘Will it make the boat go faster?  Then do it!’.  In Surval terms, ‘Will it make us exceptional?  Then do it!’.