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Surval bids fond farewell to its first Headmistress

Posted on: 1st September 2016

This week marks the end of four exceptional years of leadership by Mrs Penelope Penney as Headmistress of Surval. She leaves us to have a much-needed hip operation, and will after recovery return to England and continue her consultancy work-as well as enjoying time with her children and grandchildren.

Mrs Penney enjoyed a highly successful career as headmistress of three top schools in England before retiring from headship, and subsequently working in consultancy for Governors and headteachers in the UK and abroad.  She was appointed to Surval in September 2012, to take up the headship of the then Finishing School and build on its strengths to develop it into an all-girls boarding school offering a range of academic and cultural programmes. Through her expertise, coupled with her strategic leadership, Mrs Penney has led Surval to become a leading light among international boarding schools. The outstanding report from AdvancED following their review of the school nominated Surval as ‘an exceptional school’.

‘Students are cared for as unique individuals, whose needs are identified, evaluated and addressed by pastoral, tutorial and academic teams on a daily basis.The outstanding individual attention each girl receives was clear..It was difficult to imagine a more comprehensive and supportive environment than that offered by the school.’

This level of praise is a tribute to everyone involved in the development of Surval as a leading international boarding school for girls.

Mrs Penney writes: ‘It has been a great privilege to lead Surval. The past four years have been some of the most interesting of my career in education. Having followed my mother’s footsteps by attending a boarding school in Switzerland from the age of eleven, I felt the wheel had come full circle as I returned to the outstanding scenery and beauty of Lac Léman and the mountains. Girls here have similar interests and aspirations to those whom I have taught in previous headships: they want a chance to ‘be’, to discover the person they always wanted to become, and to have time, support and encouragement to achieve this without the enormous pressures of the busy world from which they have come. They need time to grow, to make mistakes and learn from them, to gain confidence and self-belief without arrogance, and above all to return to their own communities with a sense of purpose and commitment to those for whom they may have significant responsibility. I wish all the girls and staff at Surval every success in the future as the school grows ever more significant as the place of choice for our families across the world. I know that under the leadership of Mrs Woodhouse, with whom I have worked closely for over a decade, Surval has an outstanding new leader who will take it to further success.

As Dag Hammarskjold, the former Secretary General to the United Nations, wrote in his book ‘Markings’:

For all that has been, thanks: for all that is to come, Yes!’

Mrs Patricia Woodhouse, who will be succeeding Mrs Penney as Principal of Surval, writes:

‘Mrs Penney has transformed Surval during the past four years and in the process has created a transformational education which is innovative and unique. It is an honour to be following in her auspicious footsteps and a privilege to build on her extraordinary achievements, to ensure Surval is the destination of choice for further generations of girls, who, true to Mrs Penney’s vision, will be leaders of the future.’

CEO of Bellevue Education, Mr Mark Malley, commented: ‘Mrs Penney with her leadership, vision and clarity of thought has made Surval into an international school of high standing. I would like to thank her for everything she has done for the school and congratulate her on Surval’s many successes.’ 


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