20 Jan 2017

Alex Hems: Head's Blog January 20 and VIDEO of Welcome Address to parents

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Dear parents and guardians

Well it is hard to believe that we have only just come to the end of the first full week of term. It was a great pleasure to meet so many parents at the Meet the Head event last Thursday. I have felt very warmly welcomed by the St George’s community and am enjoying beginning to get to know girls, parents and staff better.

For those of you who were unable to attend my Welcome Address, click on the following for a video of Alex Hems' Welcome Address to Parents, or click on the video play button at the bottom of this post. Video 10 mins.

The U5s have nearly finished their mock exams, and it has been very good to see how calmly they have gone about the process, which bodes well for the summer exam season. The Upper Sixth will move into the hall to start their exams as soon as the U5 finish. Work done at this stage will pay enormous dividends in the summer. May and June might seem a long way off at the moment but teaching time passes very quickly from this point onwards.

Last Friday we welcomed exchange visitors from Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia who are staying with four members of our Upper 4.  This is the school's longest standing exchange programme, dating back over 40 years. Immersing oneself in another culture for four weeks, attending school and settling in to family life several thousand miles from home is both a wonderful opportunity and potentially a significant challenge to a young person. There is no doubt that our visitors will have grown and changed by the time they return home, as will their St George's counterparts when they travel out to America later in the year. The breadth of the international education programme here at St George's is most unusual; by pushing themselves beyond their immediate comfort zone at a young age, and also by acting as hosts, the girls develop resilience and empathy which will remain with them for life. In the future they may well compete for jobs in a global marketplace so these experiences will be invaluable to them. Our visitors in turn bring with them an insight into a different culture and new perspectives which rub off on the whole school.

This week we have heard of the deaths of Gene Cernan, destined to be known as the last man to walk on the moon, and of Rachael Heyhoe Flint. A passionate advocate of space exploration, Cernan leaves a legacy of challenge for us all.  I reminded the Lower School in assembly on Wednesday that there is more computing capacity in a smart phone than was available to the NASA scientists who sent men to the moon in the 1960s and 70s, a time when television was in black and white and plenty of families would not have had a set in their homes at all. (I am not entirely sure that they all believed me!) He spoke about the importance of continuing to aspire to achieve the seemingly impossible and of keeping the spirit of curiosity alive in all young people, so that they will go on to think the unthinkable and to push back the frontiers of discovery. As one of the first female directors of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Baroness Heyhoe Flint would have been no stranger to frontiers and glass ceilings. Described as a ‘trailblazer’ for women’s sport, she is no less a role model for her commitment to community work than as a cricketer. I have been delighted to see the enthusiasm for sport across the school here at St George’s, something that has been important to me throughout my life. I wish the hockey teams, from P6 through to Upper Sixth who are playing against Dollar Academy on Saturday, every success and look forward to seeing them in action.

Have a very good weekend.

Alex Hems M. A. Oxon

Alex Hems, Head's Welcome Address 

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