Richard Berlie, head teacher of Hampstead-based St Anthony’s School for Boys tells us how the school provides a quality education in a caring, supportive environment.
What is the St Anthony’s ethos?
A caring ethos is at the heart of everything we do at St Anthony’s. This is rooted in the firm belief that every child is a unique person, valued first and foremost for who they are rather than what they do or achieve.
How is this achieved day to day?
In many ways, this is all a matter of getting the priorities right. Being at school should be fun, exciting and challenging. Lessons at St Anthony’s are designed to draw out the children’s natural sense of enquiry. Written and verbal communication helps to build confidence, while the asking of questions such as ‘why might we say that’ or ‘who can tell me how’ encourages literal and imaginative thinking.
How do you ensure that every pupil is supported academically?
The boys are willing to contribute to discussions because what they have to say is listened to; our teachers are trained to strike the right balance between praise and correction, so that the brightest boys are always challenged whilst those needing a bit more support are encouraged to keep trying. St Anthony’s is best described and defined by an holistic approach. Our view of education focuses on each individual child and their particular journey. I constantly remind myself, and the teachers, of our truly noble vocation where we always aim to put our boys first.
How is this reflected in the school’s results?
Our vision, when translated to practical outcomes, pays handsome dividends. Whilst not ‘super-selective’ on entry, nearly all boys go on to apply for and win places at some of London’s most competitive day schools and the UK’s most prestigious boarding schools. In addition, there is a roll call of boys who are successful in academic, music and art scholarships. In November 2019, the school was inspected by the ISI and secured ‘Excellent’ (the highest category) in all aspects of pastoral care and academic development. We are well known on the prep-school sporting circuit for fielding teams in a range of sports including rugby, hockey and tennis. The creative arts flourish.
How do you look after the wellbeing of your pupils?
We take our boys’ wellbeing very seriously, with form tutors playing a crucial role as the link between home and school. Next term, we hope to install fish tanks (to house exotic varieties of fish and crustaceans), which will complement dedicated ‘breakout’ rooms – kitted out with bean bags, comfy sofas and Lego. We will also be running a competition for boys to design Wellbeing Murals for these spaces. Of course, we want the boys to develop resilience whilst recognising that there are many more pressures facing young people today than in previous generations. Our experience is that boys respond better in an environment akin to a greenhouse rather than a hothouse.
How would you sum the school up?
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said ‘Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier’. I think this sums up perfectly everything we strive for and achieve at St Anthony’s.