The house system has a long history in education, not just in the United Kingdom but also in the United States and many other countries around the world. Essentially, the school is divided into subunits called ` houses’. Each pupil is allocated a house, so they are all members of the large school community and, at the same time, belong to these smaller groups. Just as a city emerges from small towns and villages, so our school comprises several districts or neighbourhoods.
There are many benefits to the house system. First of all, it creates an even stronger sense of belonging. Within this smaller group, pupils and staff can get to know each other better. Due to its vertical nature, younger pupils can look up to older ones, and they, in turn, can look out for the younger members of the community. Everyone benefits from this arrangement: in primary, pupils can gain greater confidence and feel more supported and protected, while their secondary counterparts learn how to lead others and give back what they already know and understand. Rather than replacing the whole school values, the houses reinforce them, give them a more direct and deeper meaning. In essence, houses have a powerful impact on pupils’ personal, social and emotional development and, indirectly, their academic progress and achievement. Having a stronger sense of identity engenders further personal belief and confidence.
The house system fosters healthy competition, the thrill, excitement and challenge of competing against others. The clearest example is sport. Not all pupils can reach the level required for whole school sport, but they have new opportunities to show their skills and talents at house level. Equally important, the system allows all pupils the chance to participate and excel in all areas of education, for example the creative arts, special projects, and debates. Through the house system, students discover new talents and different intelligences, and are cheered on by their house members.
The names of our houses have been carefully chosen to represent our values and underline our commitment to the United Nations 17 goals for 2030. In our opinion, each person we have chosen as a symbolic house leader made or is making a major and permanent impact on at least one of these goals. The house names are:
Aristotle Quality education
King (Martin Luther) Peace and Justice, reduced inequality
Fleming Good Health and Well-being
Attenborough All goals related to sustainability and climate action
Our school will begin to use the houses early next term. We are confident that the whole school community will support this initiative and help all students to develop fully, both as people and learners, with even greater confidence, commitment and a profound sense of joy.
Christine Curtis and James Shallcross, Directors of Education