09 Jun 2017

Alex Hems: Head's Blog June 9, 2017

Alex Hems for websiteAs I write at the end of another week that has been overshadowed by violence, it has been heartening to spend the evening at the Final of this year’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative at St George’s. This is a project undertaken by all the girls in Lower 5 in the second part of the year. In teams the girls are asked to identify social problems that affect people in Edinburgh, and then to research small, locally based charities which have been set up to address these problems. The teams then put together presentations, in order to put the case for their chosen charity to be the recipient of £3000, most of which is donated by the sponsor Speratus with the backing of scheme’s founders, the Wood Family Trust, with the remainder coming from St George’s. The girls go out to visit their chosen charities, getting to know organisers, volunteers and those whom the charity is helping. Some of them will have the chance to take part in the work of the charity as well, depending on what they do.

We heard about girls spending time with elderly sufferers from dementia, others who had learned about ways of helping young people affected by bereavement and still more who will be working to support reading groups which bring together those who might otherwise be socially isolated or excluded. The common factor was that they were involved and engaged with people whose needs are different and maybe greater than theirs. They also witnessed what can be achieved by small groups of determined individuals who identify a need and bring all their skills to bear to meet that need in creative and innovative ways. This evening only one charity could win, but the long-term impact for all the girls is immeasurable.

This week we have welcomed the Lower 6th back to school and started their preparation for Higher Education in earnest. The message for all of them was to research their chosen courses carefully to ensure that they are choosing the most appropriate for them, to look at the range of opportunities available and to be open minded about institutions as there are often excellent courses at less familiar universities. I know that over the coming weeks and months there will be a great deal of individual support and advice given as the girls make these important decisions.  We heard about the other routes that they might choose to follow, through taking up some of the excellent opportunities offered by modern apprenticeships for example. This is an exciting time for the year group, as they start to design their own individual routes into their futures. It is a great strength of St George’s, however, that while girls are enabled to flourish as individuals, we remain a very strong community, which recognises the importance of giving back at every level. It seems fitting then that we also announced the names of next year’s prefects, Heads of Houses and the Big Four this week. The responsibilities that they will take on are real and significant; in addition the whole year group will be expected to set a tone for the school and we wish them all every success in this final stage of their school careers.

Alex Hems
Head, St George's School for Girls  

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