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South Lee School in Bury St Edmunds nominated for national TES award




Staff and students at an independent preparatory school in Bury St Edmunds are 'absolutely thrilled' after being the only school in Suffolk nominated for a national award.

South Lee School have been shortlisted for a TES Independent School Award in the Pre-Prep School of the Year category, recognising their efforts in a challenging year.

Ruth O'Sullivan, who joined the school as headteacher in September 2019, said staff and students did a little dance last Friday when they found out they'd been put forward for an award.

Headteacher Ruth O'Sullivan. Picture: Mark Westley.
Headteacher Ruth O'Sullivan. Picture: Mark Westley.

"We are just absolutely thrilled particularly because when we started off in first lockdown we didn't have any remote education in place and we were up and ready to go within a couple of days," Ruth said.

"These were staff and kids who hadn't used Microsoft Teams before."

The school has taken a pro-active role over the last year to ensure the links between students, parents and teachers have been kept strong, placing a large focus on what Ruth called 'growth mindset' - delegating responsibility for learning to the students as much as possible.

South Lee School sign. Picture: Mark Westley.
South Lee School sign. Picture: Mark Westley.

This meant the school pushed forward with live learning in the hope it would take a lot of stress away from parents who might have been home-working.

Ruth said it was a move which made some teachers and parents a bit nervous at the beginning.

"The teachers to begin with were really scared to do it because what you are doing is putting yourself on the line," she said.

She added: "What they realised quite quickly was that it's quite easy."

Ruth O'Sullivan with South Lee School students. Picture: Mark Westley.
Ruth O'Sullivan with South Lee School students. Picture: Mark Westley.

As well as the live teaching, virtual museum trips were organised which families could do together, sports clubs were set up, and teachers even had access to mindfulness apps.

Ruth said it was all part of the main ethos of kindness and love which drives her approach at the school.

She said: "My whole approach at the school is that the emotional well-being is as important as the academic approach," she said.

South Lee School from outside. Picture: Google. (45667649)
South Lee School from outside. Picture: Google. (45667649)

The winners for the Pre-Prep School of the Year category will be announced on April 30.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

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