Agile and progressive, Alleyn’s is a school which strives to do things differently. Liberal and exciting, enterprising and fun, Alleyn’s is looking to shape the future of education as much as deliver it. A co-educational senior and junior school with 1,329 pupils based in Dulwich, Alleyn’s is academically selective with an exemplary achievement record for both boys and girls with over 85% of students going on to first-choice universities. It sends leavers onto Oxbridge, Russell Group and top specialist and overseas centres of learning, and has a particularly good record with medics – but an Alleyn’s education stretches well beyond exam syllabus and grades. The school’s values are based upon the Alleyn’s ROCCK: Respect, Opportunity, Curiosity, Courage and Kindness. These are the fundamental values that underpin the school’s ethos and everything that they do. The extra ‘C’ – the Courage to break the frame – is an enterprising, pioneering and slightly quirky way of expressing their vision. “We like to think and do things differently, and to encourage our pupils to speak up: to own their voices and have the confidence to be change-makers,” explains Head Jane Lunnon.
Mrs Lunnon – voted Tatler Independent School Head of the Year in 2020 – is passionate about contributing to the national conversation around educational issues. Her vision for Alleyn’s includes preparing pupils for a future workplace – one which many of us will not recognise – and this is one of the school’s priorities. In a recent letter to The Times, Mrs Lunnon wrote: “Employers increasingly tell us that the most critical attributes are creativity, problem-solving and resilience: in short, the practical and emotional capabilities to embrace the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world, with a positive and empowered mindset.”
Leading in innovation (be that digitally or academically) is a key focus of the school, as evidenced by its VR workshops for pupils and staff, and the establishment of the Alleyn’s Digital Academy to develop and share digital expertise. Fostering an enterprising attitude to learning is key – exploring the spirit of possibility, a ‘have a go’ attitude and believing everyone can make a difference lies at the heart of the school’s ethos. In May 2022, Mrs Lunnon contributed to a Science and Technology parliamentary committee session that was exploring how to improve the uptake of maths and physics by girls and other underrepresented groups in the UK – and the momentum for learning is as prevalent among the pupils as the Head. A recent ISI School Inspection (2021) found, “Pupils seize the many opportunities presented to them by their teachers to follow their own interests and passion.”
The energy of the school and the prioritisation by the Head, staff and pupils for joy, wonder and happiness extends beyond the classroom. The achievements make an admirable list – the inaugural Alleyn’s Multicultural Week, a Gender Equality Charter through to a school Sustainability Committee, the formation of SEND Society – a student council to discuss issues relating to neurodiversity, specific learning difference and disability, and an U19 football team that included the first girl in history to play in a London Schools’ FA Under 19 Final – they won! A commitment to the arts through music, art and drama performances, and strong connections to the local community through charitable initiatives such as the Alleyn’s Summer School and for disadvantaged state school pupils (and Ukrainian refugee children), cement Alleyn’s values as a forward-thinking, outward-looking school brimming with the spirit of possibility.