The headteacher of a leading West Devon independent school has told of his students’ important community and economic role in the Tavistock area.

Guy Ayling, the Head Master of Mount Kelly spoke to the Tavistock Town Council on the contribution the school makes to the local community and his desire to forge strong links and partnerships with the town.

He outlined the economic impact of the independent school sector as a whole on the UK’s economy, estimated at over £16 billion per year, and employing over 328,000 people. Mount Kelly’s impact on Tavistock and West Devon is also significant: the school employs over 250, 86% of whom are local, with an economic footprint of almost £20 million per year. The school has plans to increase this economic contribution by encouraging more of its community to spend on Tavistock’s high street. 

Guy also emphasised the importance to the school of its many links within the wider community. The school has proudly supported the establishment of the Tavistock Refillery, the community-run zero waste shop that acts also as an information and education hub for all things sustainable. He said: “Pupils also engage in an impressive programme of community contribution which cements a close relationship with the town.”

Mount Kelly pupils also visit care homes to sing and play their instruments and providing choirs for community events. They are involved in community tidy-ups, creating murals for local charities and guiding visitors around their school on heritage days.

Mount Kelly’s facilities are used by thousands of local residents every year and the school sponsors local events as well as the town’s well-established choral society, led by the school’s charismatic director of music. Joining Tavistock Remembrance Day service last November and providing the majority of the musicians for its Remembrance concert have deepened links between school and town, and especially with the parish that services Mount Kelly Chaplaincy.

Councillors were told of a positive view of the future in which the relationship between school and town would strengthen. Guy said: “Mount Kelly is enormously proud of who we are, and what we contribute to our community. And this will only continue to grow.”