The importance of community at Hatherop

Hatherop Castle School is blessed with a striking and historic building, set within the magnificent Cotswold countryside, with a rich and varied history. Nevertheless, the buildings and surroundings, however historic or modern does not make a school.  

It is the adults and children which move in and around the buildings and grounds which create the culture, the ethos and ultimately provide the environment which we call a school. I am lucky enough to reside at school and during the term the buildings and grounds come alive with the sounds of children learning, playing and socialising, however during the holidays the building are quiet and the castle takes on a very different feel. 

There is a third group, who are often forgotten, that provide the final corner of the triangle of the school community, our children’s parents and loved ones. One of Hatherop’s significant strengths is its school community and our parents play a huge part in making our community so special.

It goes without saying that all parents want their children to be happy, to develop both academically and pastorally and to build a foundation of learning which will serve them well in the future. However, the over riding feeling at Hatherop is that our parents want this for all children at Hatherop. They are incredibly supportive not only of their own child’s learning and development but also support and look out for the other children in the school. This is very evident at concerts, performances, on the side lines of matches and most recently it was seen when we opened up the classrooms allowing parents to engage with their child’s work and learning. Those parents who visited to see their child’s work also took the time to sit and engage with other children and their work whose parents were not able to attend. From my experience this is relatively unusual in schools, but should be encouraged and I am thrilled this is the culture at Hatherop. 

I am often asked by prospective parents about the demographic and backgrounds of current parents which is often code for ‘what are your parents like?’ The very easy and simple answer I give is that Hatherop parents and community are very down to earth. There is no ‘keeping up with the Jones’ at Hatherop. The children are the priority. They are encouraged to be happy in their own skin, treated as individuals and ultimately supported and nurtured to be the best version of themselves. 

We have a very active, hardworking and supportive Parent’s Association, with each year group choosing a representative who acts as a voice for the year group to the school. They also connect with all other parents, helping new families settle into the community quickly. Another role of the association is to organise events across the school year from fireworks evenings to Christmas Fairs and Burns Night celebrations to Summer Fetes. Money raised from these events is then used to help finance projects, equipment and resources which is used by the whole school.  

Items such as our magnificent, and well used Treehouse, which the children just love to learn and play, our new outdoor table tennis tables and fantastic new play equipment in our Nursery have all been purchased through funds raised through events organised by our parents.  

As with all schools, our parents work in a variety of occupations and it is wonderful when they are able to share their experiences with the children as part of a topic, careers day or scientific experiment. Once again, Hatherop parents offering their time for free to help and benefit all Hatherop pupils. 

In my experience, Hatherop parents are not there just to pay the school fees, they want to take an interest in what their children are learning, they want to support the school and most importantly they enjoy being part of a rich, healthy and engaging community. Any good school should welcome this and want to work with the parents and actively encourage them to be part of the school community. I once heard of a school described as a black opaque box, where parents dropped off their children and collected at end of day without ever really knowing what was going on inside. Hatherop Castle isn’t like that, we are transparent and parents have access and involvement to the intricacies of school life.  The result being that Hatherop Castle is a stronger, more cohesive and happier school.