22 Sep 2017

Alex Hems: Head's Blog Sept 22, 2017

Alex Hems for websiteHow does one go about choosing a university? That is the question on the minds of many of the Upper 6 at the moment. I am sure they are excited by the opportunities they can see before them, but daunted in equal measure by the sheer range of choice and a fear of 'getting it wrong'. Over the last couple of weeks we have been welcoming recent leavers back to school to share their experiences of university life, or of a gap year, making choices, and the courses that they are studying. Taking time to visit universities, to appreciate the significant difference between a city university such as London or Glasgow, and a campus university such as York or Warwick, is crucial. Most important, however, are the course and the way in which it is delivered and assessed: Lectures, tutorials, classes, lab time, terminal exams or dissertations. Is there an opportunity for a year abroad or in industry?  Talking to students currently following these courses at open days can be invaluable. Tutors and the Sixth Form team are on hand throughout this term to give advice and help the girls to select courses and institutions that will suit them best. Our most recent leavers are about to start their courses now, at universities and colleges across the UK and Europe. Their subjects are diverse: law, chemical engineering, history, earth sciences, geography, social anthropology, liberal arts, acting, medicine and theoretical physics to name but a few. Full list of leavers' destinations.

This year we have introduced a new programme for the Upper 6; once a fortnight they are taking part in discussion sessions based around the Oxford University Oxplore project, The Big Question.(  We are asking girls to take it in turns to launch the debate, on questions as varied as 'Is falling in love bad for you?' and 'Did the chicken come before the egg?' Discussion so far has been lively and wide-ranging, giving the girls the confidence to voice their thinking and use what they know to develop a sensible argument even if material is unfamiliar, essential skills for the interviews they may face later in the term. For the Lower Sixth we have introduced the Friday Series Lectures; the title for this week is 'Maps are not reality at all' and next Friday we look forward to welcoming Mollie Hughes who, at the age of 26 is the youngest woman in the world, and the first English woman, to have successfully climbed Everest from both the north and south sides. She will be spending the day with us so that girls across the school are able to hear about her experiences.

I hope that every girl at St George's will find something in the course of her journey through the school that will ignite a passion or a spark of curiosity in her. Earlier this week we heard that St George's has been awarded Terrific Scientific School of Excellence status, following work undertaken by Primary 6 last year. We hope to be involved in this project again this session. Girls in the Upper School are auditioning at the moment to take part in the student-led Creative Project which will bring together art, drama, dance and physical theatre in a performance that promises to be exciting and truly original. It is by taking part in the experiences available as they move through the school that the girls are able to learn more about themselves and perhaps identify the interests which they will take on to university study. They will certainly have learned to think for themselves and had a great deal of fun along the way.

Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School for Girls

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