Aims & Ethos

‘Every girl runs her own best race’

The non-competitive academic ethos at Bute House is unique and is something of which we are very proud.  This ethos, combined with our educational aims, commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as our pastoral care, come together to create the very special atmosphere here.

The Aims

At Bute House our aims are:

  • To identify and foster every child’s abilities and talents, encouraging her to become a self-motivated learner and a confident communicator.
  • To help each child to do her best, to reach her potential and inspire her to achieve her personal best within a non-competitive academic environment.
  • To provide a broad and enriched curriculum which encourages a love of learning that goes beyond what is taught.
  • To maintain a happy, positive atmosphere by encouraging self-discipline, respect and consideration for others and a sense of community.

The Philosophy

At Bute House we have a long tradition of forward-looking, child-centred educational philosophy. We believe that children learn best when they feel confident, supported, liked and respected as individuals, and when their areas of both talent and challenge are recognised and acknowledged by the adults around them.

Bute House teaches girls aged from 4 to 11 who have a broad range of talents, personalities and abilities. At every stage teaching is organised in mixed ability classes to allow each girl to experience maximum personal success in all areas. Our excellent results and high academic standards are achieved without unnecessary competition or pressure and girls are encouraged to discover and celebrate their natural talents, whether these are academic, sporting, artistic, musical or dramatic.

Non-Competitive Academic Ethos – what does that mean in practice?

In line with our philosophy, we never put girls into a situation where they might feel diminished by failure and so there are no marks*, grades, star charts, form ranking lists, setting, streaming, exams, sticker charts, prize-giving, prefects or honours boards – anything, in fact, which publicly promotes one girl above another.

Every child is encouraged to do her best, to set her own targets with support from her teachers, to acknowledge her own progress, to be proud of herself, to recognise her personal strengths and weaknesses and not to compare herself with her classmates: that is, to run her own best race.  Everyone is treated as an individual, and valued for her own self.  The girls’ talents are celebrated, whether these are academic, musical, linguistic, artistic, dramatic or sporting. Girls at Bute House are ready to “have a go”, to stretch their boundaries and to try new experiences.  The girls are not afraid of failure and are confident about reflecting on how to approach something in a different way if they have not succeeded the first time.

What is the end result?

The girls who leave Bute House are confident, articulate, resilient, determined, empathetic, willing to express their opinions, tolerant and open-minded.  The girls are educated about the diverse world in which we live; they understand that their privileged education means they will become young women who can make change happen in the world.They achieve academic success, no matter what their starting point, and move on to schools which will suit their personalities and academic skills in order that they can thrive.

Secondary school Heads often remark very positively about Bute House girls, citing their enthusiasm, kindness, courage and humour.  It is often a Bute House girl who is willing to put up her hand in those first weeks at secondary school, when everything is rather daunting, and often a Bute House girl who encourages others to step up to a challenge.  

The girls here are very kind to each other. There are occasional disputes and upsets, of course, but our philosophy enables them to genuinely value, like and respect each other and to celebrate their differences.  It also makes for an extremely happy atmosphere which visitors comment on as soon as they come through the doors – it is, in fact, tangible.

*Girls being prepared for external examinations are of course shown how mark schemes work, undertake various timed tests (online and paper tests), are familiarised with various styles of examination paper and taught exam technique but always within our philosophy of no undue academic pressure, or comparisons with others.