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15 Dec 2017

Alex Hems: Head's Blog Dec 15, 2017

A2.SMY AlexHems096 Crop 250wAs I write we are drawing near to the end of the final full week of term. After two weeks of seeing St George's students excelling on the stage, first in our production of 'A Doll's House' and then, in full command of Shakespeare's verse, and displaying glorious comic timing in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at Merchiston, it is now the turn of the Music Department. In the last seven days Primary 1 and 2 have delighted us with their Nativity and we have been guests at Murrayfield Parish Church for the Lower School Carol Service. On Tuesday Lower School and Junior School combined, for a splendid, and very Christmassy concert; it was special to see so many girls taking part and enjoying making music together. We are immensely grateful to Mr Raynor, Mrs Fraser, Mrs Morrison, Mr Thomson and the many visiting music teachers who help to prepare the girls for these events, inspiring them with a love of music and performance that is so palpable to those of us in the audience. Friday brings the Primary 3-5 Nativity, and on Tuesday the Nursery will have their turn, followed by the Senior Concert in the evening. Term ends for the Upper School at St Giles' Cathedral, after the Carol Service, and I hope that many of you will be able to join us there. It is an important occasion in the school calendar, bringing the community together in an act of worship and a moment for reflection that lies between the busyness of a long term, and the hurly-burly of the final days before Christmas.

Many of you will have seen that Thursday's budget statement contained within it the announcement that the Scottish government has decided to accept the recommendations of the Barclay review of business rates, regarding mandatory non-domestic rates relief for independent schools in Scotland. I read this news with disappointment, although not surprise. Implementation is likely in 2020, but we have been preparing for this outcome over the last few months and I wish to reassure you all that this will not alter the commitment at St George's to remaining a school that plays its part in our local community and is committed to widening access to an excellent education. As an independent school that is a charity registered with OSCR we are already subject to the strongest public benefit test anywhere in the UK and we are proud of our record in offering means-tested assistance and 100% bursaries where appropriate. We make a significant contribution to the education and training of teachers and offer opportunities to children across Edinburgh who use our facilities or share in events with us on a regular basis. We remain committed to providing for you and your daughters the high standards that you expect while maintaining affordability in our fee structure.

I wish you and your families a very peaceful and refreshing holiday when it comes and look forward to seeing you all again in the new year.

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

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