The Pennthorpe Purpose

Tradition or innovation? At Pennthorpe, we celebrate both.

Our culture is encapsulated by a clear set of Core Values and Learning Dispositions, which together form the Pennthorpe Purpose; the representation of how we make a positive difference to ourselves and others. The Pennthorpe Purpose is born from our motto, 'non nobis solum nati - born not for ourselves alone', which is based on the early writings of Cicero in 55BC, but plays a crucial role in our ability to keep pace with progress. The set of attitudes and skills define the key character traits we aspire to inculcate in our pupils today, in the future, and remain those that were sought at the school’s inception in 1930.

The Pennthorpe Purpose forms the backbone of our daily life, and is common vocabulary for all in our community. Our motto, and the culture captured by the Pennthorpe Purpose, expresses that our reason for being is not selfish, but for the goodness of humanity. We do not exist just to serve our own intentions, but have a duty to positively contribute to the lives, and benefit, of others. By giving the best of ourselves to the world, we make it a better place.


Communication doesn’t always come naturally to children, as it relies upon empathy and a sense of what the other person is feeling. Learning that communication starts with listening, and can include verbal, non-verbal, written and visual communications is fundamental. We teach children the skills they need to be great communicators, but crucially model them within and beyond the classroom.


Treating our children with respect is how we raise them to be respectful, and a healthy society (and school) must have respect at its foundation. For us, respect means helping our children to make choices that build relationships. Our children understand that they must treat everyone, even people who are different to them or they don’t like, as having rights, dignity and worth, equal to their own.


Our ultimate aim is for all our children to succeed in life. For this, we encourage them to be ambitious. We explore with them how to set goals and enjoy the intrinsic satisfaction that comes with achieving them. The more children are praised for their effort and perseverance in setting and achieving goals, the more they will value those qualities in themselves, and see themselves as having unlimited potential.


Collaborative learning can help children to think more deeply and creatively, as they see the world through the eyes of others and develop more empathy for others’ perspectives. Working in a group is generally not enough; collaboration is not just divvying up different aspects of a task. We explicitly teach our children how to collaborate, through prioritising the quality of their interaction with others.


The experience of kindness changes the brain; a dose of warm fuzzy endorphins activates areas in the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust. Children do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that children can reproduce it. Kindness has the power to improve health, build self-esteem, achieve better concentration, reduce depression and eliminate bullying.


Reflection is the foundation upon which our children learn to make decisions, regulate their behaviour, meet complex challenges and take responsibility for their actions. At every turn our children are given opportunities to plan and make choices, we show them how to understand the different things that help them learn, and they become critical thinkers who have the ability to learn from their achievements and mistakes.


Our children learn to embrace their failings by having opportunity to experience and overcome disappointment and fear, and gain perspective. We show our children how they can be strengthened, or even transformed, by the inevitable adversities of life; how they can triumph over trauma, rather than being victims to life’s knocks. Struggles are not the end of the world for our children, but rather just part of them being alive.


We’re preparing our children for a world of rapid globalisation and relentless change. To thrive in this new world, we guide our children through the importance of knowing how to take the initiative and adapt to new circumstances, how to communicate effectively, listen actively and think critically. They learn to negotiate and resolve conflict in a way that builds and strengthens lasting, positive relationships. Whilst at Pennthorpe, our children develop an affable charisma that enables them to enthuse and positively influence their peers.


Positive thinking broadens our sense of possibility and opens our minds. Pennthorpe’s positivity isn’t about trying to be happy all the time. We develop our children to accept negative emotions and process them in a healthy way, at the same time as encourage positive thinking and positive affirmations; showing them the power of perceiving situations in a constructive way.


Ultimately our job is to raise children who are ready to face the world without us. We need to give them the skills and confidence to enable us to step aside. They need to learn that they are able to get over their fears, take risks and become more responsible; they learn what they hate and what they love, what makes them miserable and what makes them happy; they learn to know, love and trust themselves.


Pennthorpe defines honesty as speaking the truth, being honest with ourselves, creating an environment that enables those around us to be honest, as well as acting truthfully. For our children it is about them being real with themselves and others about who they are. Honesty promotes openness, sharpens our perceptions and allows us to observe things with clarity. Our children learn that their truthful self is the best version of themselves.


Helping our children to grow up without prejudice is more important today than ever, with the alarming rise of online hate speak. Learning to be tolerant is not about learning to have passive acceptance of things we don’t like, but rather showing our children how to think and talk about their own opinions without making judgements of others’, as well as guiding them to better understand the thoughts, emotions and differences they observe in other people.

Meet our Learning Friends

For our younger children, our collection of Learning Friends represents our Learning Dispositions; the skills that our children need to live the Pennthorpe Purpose. The Learning Friends are embedded in everyday life in the Pre-Prep, and the children are well-versed in what each of the characters represents, and use this language readily in their lessons. The culture that this clutch of friends has created is powerful and delightful! Our tiniest tots are enthusiastically able to recognise when they have used a certain skill and strive to apply others whenever they can.


Collaborative Crabbie encourages the children to work with others, to share ideas, to listen, respond and negotiate. This character reminds the children to discuss ideas with their friends and teachers, to help them to clarify, build on and develop their learning.


Independent Iggy gives children the opportunity to try things out for themselves! This character reminds children that they are in a safe and supportive environment, that their own thoughts are respected by those around them, and that they might not always need an adult’s support to achieve their goals.


Leading Llama helps children to develop responsibility. This character encourages the children to take some control of their destiny, by having confidence, finding their own way of solving problems, and volunteering to take ownership of tasks.


Participating Penguin encourages the children to get involved. This character helps children to talk, to share their feelings and be aware of the feelings of others. Participating Penguin helps children who feel disconnected, shy or unengaged to join in with activities, rather than stay on the side lines.


Reflective Robin reminds the children to know, think and talk about themselves as a person and as a learner. Reflecting Robin prompts the children to feel confident to ask questions, think about how they really feel, review the actions they take and how their behaviour affects others. This character also helps the children to recognise their challenges, as well as their strengths, and shows them there is always something to learn from mistakes.


Ambitious Ant explores with the children how to set goals and enjoy achieving them. The more children are praised for their effort and perseverance in setting and achieving targets, the more they will value those qualities in themselves, and see themselves as having unlimited potential. This character helps the children understand ‘the power of yet’, and encourages them to have a ‘can do’ attitude.