Never Stop Learning...
03 November 2023
Members of the Court and the Advisory Committee to the Dame Alice Owen Foundation were pleased to have the opportunity to visit Dame Alice Owen’s School this week.
The School is one of the major beneficiaries of the Foundation, which distributes around £1.5M in grants each year. The Court of the Brewers’ Company acts as Trustee to the Foundation, with support from the Advisory Committee, and every year visits to each of the beneficiaries are arranged as part of the Company’s commitment to the ongoing good governance of the Foundation.
This year’s visit began with an impressive musical performance by the Year 11 Clarinet and Strings Quartet. The outstanding quality of the co-curricular music offer at Owen’s is one of the many aspects of school life that make it such an exceptional institution. Each week, hundreds of Owen’s students come together in different groups to rehearse and to work towards various ensembles concerts. There are at least 18 of these each year, often performing to sell-out audiences, covering a range of styles, genres and contexts, from Choral, Orchestral or Bands concerts, to Chamber concerts, to Soul or Jazz evenings, as well as an annual musical theatre collaboration with the Drama department.
After this invigorating welcome, the visitors were introduced to the School’s new “Brewers Awards” initiative. This innovative programme seeks to support Sixth Form students in expanding their interests and education outside of the classroom. With support from their teachers, students select a subject to research and create displays to communicate their work, with the best being awarded prizes. The visitors heard about a host of impressive projects, including students who had researched using algorithms to invest on the stock market, the impact of COVID-19 on elderly people living in care homes and how traditional African religious beliefs can be reconciled with modern life in the UK. It was clear to see how the School is setting up its Sixth Formers for success by providing these wider, super curricular opportunities.
The visit also included a learning walk which focused on assessment: “what is assessment, what does it mean and what does it look like?” which helped to demonstrate how the School ensures the best outcomes for all of its pupils. This was complemented well in a subsequent presentation which looked at the School’s outstanding results in this year’s Public Examinations, which saw 83% of A Levels graded A*-B and 67% of GCSEs graded 9-7 (A or above). The final presentation of the day was from the School’s Business Manager, who outlined the current pressures on the School’s finances and the rationale for the 2024-25 bid to the Dame Alice Owen Foundation.
During the visit there were many opportunities to meet with students and hear their opinions on what it is like to go to school at Owen’s. The Master, James Staughton, said: “I was particularly struck, but not surprised, to hear the consistently strong feedback from all the many students of the various groups and classes that we interacted with.”