Durham School - Adding Value To Childrens Lives

Issue 29

Durham School is in the top 5% of UK schools for "value added" at A Level, according to this year's figures, which measure the contribution a school makes to a pupil's progress.

It is a statistic that makes Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin justifiably proud “Because we are a relatively small school, we are truly able to focus on each individual child, and through the dedication and ability of our staff we bring out the very best in our pupils. This statistic shows that we help pupils achieve a far better performance than that which is predicted for them, through nationally recognised tests, when they arrive at Durham School. “But it is not just in academic results that the School adds value; we are able to give our pupils opportunities to represent the School in sport, music and drama because of our size. Participating in these things helps to develop our pupils and contributes to their development and their confidence; our ethos of developing ‘Confidence for Life’ underpins everything we do.” Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin is a Cambridge graduate and has driven the School’s strong academic record, with 20% of the Sixth Form applying to Oxford and Cambridge, but he believes the School’s strength lies in providing far more than just good grades.

“Academic prowess is undeniably important,” he said, “but no matter which career, field of study, industry or branch of academia our pupils enter, they will need far more than good grades. “They will need self-belief, to ensure their voices are heard and their opinions listened to, they will need curiosity, to explore alternative methods and ideas and, above all, they will need to be confident and resilient.” In the workplace, as in life, it is not necessarily how often you fall that defines you, but how often and with what determination, you get back up again”.

Durham School also offers pupils the opportunity to be educated alongside fellow students from many other countries this year 23 nationalities in total. The Headmaster is in no doubt about the value of this to the School: “Working life today is truly global, and more and more youngsters need to understand other cultures and backgrounds and mix with people from all over the world. “It’s wonderful to see our pupils celebrating their varied backgrounds and to see how strong the links become between them. Many Old Dunelmians remain in touch across the world after they leave Durham School.” The School’s values of moral integrity, ambition, responsibility and kindness drive many of its activities, not least the commitment to widening participation and access to the School. Durham School has formed mutually beneficial links with Castle View Enterprise Academy in Sunderland. They have also offered academic scholarships to three pupils from there who have joined the Sixth Form, as well as fostering links between teaching staff for the benefit of both schools. “We all gain a great deal from our links with other schools and we have welcomed talented youngsters from the North East and Europe through our Scholarship and Bursary programme” said Kieran. The 600-year-old Durham School has 525 pupils aged from 3 – 18. It is a leading independent co-educational school and educates girls and boys in a caring and supportive atmosphere with a staff of inspirational teachers.

Academic prowess is undeniably important, but no matter which career, field of study, industry or branch of academia our pupils enter, they will need far more than good grades."

Kieran McLaughlin

The school offers boarding for pupils aged 1118 from both the UK and abroad. With flexible options available, children can choose to board full time, from Monday to Friday or for one or two days a week throughout the school term. The flexibility of modern day boarding has proved to be a practical and enjoyable option for many Durham School families over the years. “Living on site during the week has made the business of participating in early-morning training sessions, evening rehearsals and Saturday fixtures much more straightforward for our weekly boarders,” said Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin. “The lack of travel time to and from home on weekdays has allowed Sixth Formers to make the most efficient use of their independent study time. The added benefit is that time spent at home can be dedicated exclusively to relaxation and catching up with the family, which both parents and pupils appreciate and enjoy.”

The school offers a diverse range of sports facilities for the elite or recreational athlete which are open from 6.55 am for both boarders and day pupils to train and improve their fitness. Some of the excellent facilities include a swimming pool, sports hall, artificial turf for hockey and tennis, rugby and cricket pitches and a boat house on the River Wear housing the internationally-renowned Durham School Boat Club. Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin said: “Boarding enriches the lives of children. It improves skills in communication, leadership, sharing, tolerance and respect for others. It also offers routine and structure, allowing each child to flourish academically and emotionally, helping prepare them for life after school. It also brings practical benefits, giving pupils access to staff and facilities after the normal teaching day has ended. “During the week our dedicated and highlytrained staff are on hand to create a “home from home”, spend time with each child, understanding their individual characters and gently encouraging them to try new activities and take part in new ventures. It is this approach which helps them flourish and gain confidence for life”. Durham School is thriving thanks to the talented staff and the leadership of Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin. Reflecting on his years as a teacher he summed up his feeling about the job “Like any teacher, I am proud of the pupils who finish their time at school ready to make their way in the world. Over my career I have met some extraordinary young people and it is immensely rewarding to see them living happy and fulfilled lives. Having a part in that, however small, is for me what teaching is all about. “

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