31 Jan 2017

Alex Hems: Head's Blog, 31 January - Boarding Inspection Report

Alex Hems outside St Georges compressorI am delighted to be able to write to you to let you know about the report that we have just received, following the visit of a team of inspectors from the Care Inspectorate to Houldsworth, our boarding house, towards the end of last term.

All inspections by the Care Inspectorate are unannounced, so they truly do capture the flavour of the daily experience of the girls here. The team of two inspectors were with us for just over 24 hours and spent time interviewing girls, the Houldsworth team led by Mrs Bryce, Mrs Everest as Head and Mrs Henderson as Deputy Head Pastoral. They were extremely thorough and took time to ensure that what they heard from one source, or read in our documentation, was then corroborated by all the others available to them.

Accolade of Excellence for Boarding Provision 

For the fifth consecutive time, St George’s School for Girls, Edinburgh, has been awarded the highest grade of excellent across all areas of assessment in a report produced by the Care Inspectorate following a recent inspection of their boarding provision. Click on the link to download a copy of the full boarding inspection report.

I know from my own experience just what level of commitment it takes to make the care of girls in boarding work. The inspectors praise, among other key aspects of boarding life here, the attention to the individual needs of the girls, the opportunities to participate in a wide range of stimulating and enjoyable activities and the warmth of the relationships that they found in the House. This does not surprise me; I was in Houldsworth on the night when our boarders returned for the start of term and was deeply impressed by the warm welcome that every girl received and how they, in turn were clearly delighted to see their friends again and to come back to school.

Boarding offers girls an unparalleled opportunity to learn about living alongside others in a community. Collaboration, tolerance and a degree of resilience which comes from knowing that one's parents will not always be on hand to resolve a problem, are all qualities that boarding life can foster. In Houldsworth we are able to offer a 'home-from-home' experience. Our boarding community comprises girls from across Scotland as well as from overseas. We can take up to 58 girls, which means that the House is small enough for every girl to be really well known to all of the staff, but she can also know girls from across the years at the school and find like-minded peers from within the group. For parents boarding offers the security of knowing that if their work commitments require them to travel frequently for example, or if local schools do not meet their needs, their daughters are looked after around the clock by experienced and caring professionals. They know that their daughters are learning to take responsibility for themselves and have a range of opportunities available to them both to work and to relax which it can often be difficult to provide when time is short at home for hard-working families. Parents are always extremely welcome in Houldsworth, and some girls will return home at weekends while others will avail themselves of the excellent array of trips and activities planned by the boarding staff.

Some families, who may not initially have considered boarding, appreciate the opportunity to help their daughters to develop greater self-sufficiency and independence as they get older, and so choose to convert to boarding, sometimes as a way of helping the girls to prepare for the transition to university life. If you would like to find out more about boarding at St George’s, or would like to arrange an overnight stay in Houldsworth as a taster experience, please do let us know by contacting Mrs Karen Batty, Admissions Department, T: 0131 311 8008 E:

We are running an Open Evening in Houldsworth House on Monday, March 20, 5 - 7 pm. All Welcome 

Alex Hems M. A. Oxon

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