Louise Salmond Smith, Head at the Prebendal School, Chichester
Dating back to the foundation of the Cathedral in the 11th century, Prebendal is not only steeped in history but, situated next door to Chichester’s ecclesiastical HQ, is literally at the heart of the community.
“Our pupils also make regular trips to the Witterings for Beach School sessions and we make good use of local resources like the Novium Museum and Pallant House Gallery,” said Louise Salmond Smith, Head at the school since September.
“We also fundraise for local charities and our choristers provide a service to the community by singing at numerous services every week; they are effectively professional musicians. It is a special lifestyle but it teaches them self-discipline and gives them immeasurable life skills.”
Having won a music scholarship to secondary school herself (Louise is an accomplished musician specialising in the recorder) she told me that her education gave her incredible opportunities.
“It gave me confidence and changed my view of myself. I went on to perform at quite a high level,” she explained, adding that her teaching career has taken her from a boarding school in Cambridgeshire to as far afield as Chili.
“My children were just one and three at the time. We were there for five years and it really opened our eyes and broadened our perspective of the world,” she said, confessing that the paperwork involved in bringing back her two beloved adopted street dogs was more challenging than any exam.
Valuing the ownership that independent schools have of their own curriculum, Louise insists that schools like Prebendal no longer only accept pupils from families of a certain income bracket.
“We are a charity and are duty-bound to ensure that there are children on subsidised places. There are a lot of different bursaries available nowadays. Anyone who is interested in finding out more should come along to the Senior Schools’ Fair that Prebendal will host on Saturday 24thFebruary in the Cathedral. There will be lots of information and advice available.
“As an independent school we can concentrate on subjects like music, drama, art and sport; those things that you can’t measure with an exam in the same way that you can with English and maths. Children who excel in those areas will have their confidence built up and be valued. We also embrace the Prep School Baccalaureate. A curriculum with a different approach, the academic rigour is still there, but there is also emphasis on leadership and other life skills.”
Before we parted company I asked this this warm and dynamic Headteacher what drives her. Her answer was without pause: she is passionate about children fulfilling their potential.
“Finding what does that can be a bit of an expedition, because sometimes children need a bit more time invested in them to find out what makes them tick.”
The Senior Schools’ Fair: Saturday 24th February, Chichester Cathedral, 2 – 4PM.
Prebendal also houses a pre prep school. The school also hosts a weekly family toddler group (£1.00 per family). Further information: www.prebendalschool.org.uk