Anne Everest - Head's Message - 12-02
This week our Exchange girls from Germantown Friends’ School return home to Philadelphia after four weeks as St George’s girls. During their time with us, they wore school uniform, attended lessons and fully enjoyed being part of a family in Scotland. For one of the girls some of the family time included boarding at Houldsworth House.
This American school is our oldest international partner, and our association spans more than 40 years, but we have partnerships with many other schools all over the world. This May some of our Upper 4 students will join their exchange partners in North America for a month in a different school and a new culture; in July some of our older students will have the opportunity to spend five weeks in a school in Australia, South Africa or Chile. The Erasmus + scheme, which replaces Comenius, also allows our girls the chance to meet students from other countries and work with them on a shared endeavour. These special experiences give our students the chance to travel afar, but they are also huge opportunities for learning more about the world in which we all live.
Such dramatic exchanges are not for everyone, and we also have a number of digital exchanges which allow our girls to work on virtual joint projects with students in completely different countries, but without leaving the classroom. Our Primary six children have included a teleconference with girls in Bangalore as part of their learning; older students have worked with a school in Ohio and another in Texas. Even our Primary 4s are in touch with Texas as part of their lessons. In fact, since October, 181 students from St George’s have been involved in some sort of digital exchange.
We often welcome international visitors to the school, whether they are students or educators who wish to share professional dialogue and practice with us; we also enjoy visits from groups of trainee teachers from places like Holland, Scandinavia, Thailand and China. Each visit allows our own students and teachers to broaden our understanding of what it is like to live and work far from the UK; we are also delighted that so many people from other lands are keen to see what we are doing here in Edinburgh.
Diversity is important to St George’s and we enjoy celebrating it. This week, with fellow students and staff from Merchiston, we celebrated Chinese New Year. We are already working towards a special Diversity Day in September, on a humanitarian theme, where the emphasis will be on our global citizenship.
As I write, staff and students on our Upper School history trip to Russia are about to land in Moscow, where they will spend a few days as well as visiting St Petersburg. Whether St George’s families are travelling abroad this half term or staying at home, I wish them all a happy and restful holiday.
Anne C Everest
Head. St George's School for Girls