The question is one of the central concepts in all education. In one sense the question is the end-point: the dreaded examination question, with mark schemes and right answers, that sits in judgement on a student’s learning. Much more importantly, though, the question is over and again the place from which we begin. Why? How? What for?

The student who asks questions owns their learning. This isn’t about putting hands up in class. It is about an approach founded on inquisitiveness, curiosity, the desire to know. It’s what turns learning from a passive experience – even an endurance test – into something purposeful, something that connects. Students who question are investigators and explorers: they are finding their own path towards their futures.

One of the best experiences I have every week is dropping into lessons and seeing this in practice. Recently I was in a history lesson on Nazi propaganda and its impact on young people: but it didn’t start there. It started with the teacher asking the class: could we as a school control you? Could we make you think something you don’t want to think? Are we doing that to you right now? The whole lesson flowed from that: students investigated, tested, speculated and made the most of everything they discovered from those questions forwards. It was exhilarating to be a part of it.

On Saturday 21 January we are holding a wonderful event to celebrate this spirit of inquiry and investigation at the Junior School. The Detective Zone is a festival of inquiry, celebrating investigation and discovery in all their forms. Forensic science, technology, spy skills, nature detectives – it will be a packed morning of fun in which students, as ever, take the lead.

The Detective Zone celebrates The Abbey Junior School’s status as the first 3-11 girls’ school in the UK to be authorised to run the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme, a curriculum built on exciting questions, that meets all the required milestones of learning and sails far beyond them. It is the key element in Human Intelligence: our unique Junior School offer, supporting students to become confident creative thinkers and leaders in their lives at school and beyond.

Which brings us back to questions, and one question in particular – what do we want for our young people? For us the answer to that is clear: lives of purpose, with the confidence to find and follow their path towards joy. Helping our young people to ask questions of the world and find their own answers is one of the most important ways we can set them on that path towards fulfilment that lasts life-long.

Will le Fleming, Head