School Profile – The Laurels School

A girls’ senior school in Clapham Park, The Laurels School’s aim is to give every girl the opportunity to flourish.

At the beating heart of The Laurels School is a desire to be the best you can be.

It’s a phrase often bandied about by head teachers and educators, but without the due diligence to follow it up. There are no empty words or promises at this girls’ secondary school, which at nearly five years old is forging a new path in the well-trodden, local private school market.

Founding Headmistress Mrs Linda Sanders is dedicated to character education alongside the curriculum. Her passion has led her to sit on the executive committee of the Association for Character Education supported by educational luminaries such as Professor James Arthur and Sir Anthony Seldon. “Central to the ethos of the school is the belief that each child has the ability to develop and grow and to fulfill their potential through the cultivation of moral, intellectual and social virtues,” explains Mrs Sanders. “To be happy and flourish it’s all about living life well, but how do we teach our girls to do that?”

In Key Stage 3 the pupils look at different, traditional virtues and how they translate to modern day character qualities. For example, temperance is updated to self-control, which could relate to social media usage and how our behaviour online makes others feel. Similarly, fortitude is updated to resilience and how we cope under peer pressure.

“Getting teenagers to look outwards rather than inwards can make a substantial difference to their emotional intelligence, how they care for themselves and know themselves, which in turn leads to a happier person who does their best and achieves their potential in the classroom.”

In Key Stages 4 and 5, pupils study women who love, or dare, or work, and they revisit these virtues in new contexts. The school has a one-form entry, although this will become a two-form entry  from next year, currently with 88 girls from Year 7 up to Lower Sixth (the first group to sit A levels will do so in summer 2019).

Small class sizes allow discussions and topics to be tailor-made to match each pupil’s passion. “We ask the girls, when you’re 80 years old and looking back, what do you think it will mean to have lived your life well?”

This journey of self-discovery is supported by a personal tutor who meets their tutee at least once a month and helps coach them in character education, complementing other elements, such as Philosophy for Children (a course which all pupils do and all teachers are trained in) and the service ethos, which is strong in the school community and beyond. “We have strong female speakers
talking to and inspiring our girls, such as the dancer Tamara Rojo, but also a mother who spoke brilliantly about motherhood,” recalls Mrs Sanders. “After all, education is about exposing them to much more than just the curriculum.”

The partnership between parents and the school is highly valued, with plenty of contact flowing freely and fast responses to queries actioned. In a recent ISI report, the school was congratulated on having one of the highest ranking results from parents.

“We see the parent/teacher relationship as the pillar of the school,” smiles Mrs Sanders, “and I interview parents for admissions to make sure we’re on the same page.” This headmistress is a passionate advocate of an education that encompasses the whole person and looks to how each pupil can aspire to a life of personal fulfillment and real purpose. It’s this offering that makes The
Laurels School unique.

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