12 Jun 2020

A letter from the Head, 12 June 2020

Alex Hems, Head of St George's School for GirlsDear Parents and Guardians

It has been another busy week for St George’s girls. I thoroughly enjoyed the glimpses that I had of the Junior School Sports Day yesterday. Well done to everyone who took part; I hope you all enjoyed your well-deserved ice cream at the end of the day, and thank you to the PE department for making it happen in such a creative way. Girls in Remove through to Upper 4 have been working on Scottish Culture Week, and have all completed electronic scrapbooks, to record their learning and reflections. In the course of the week, among many other elements they have learned some Scots, they have researched famous Scottish scientists and sporting figures, taken part in a Great Scottish Bake Off and examined the nature and meaning of culture. This would have been the week in which we welcomed visitors from Austria and Italy as part of our joint Erasmus Plus project on Community and Culture. The girls have been able to continue their work in this area, albeit without the face-to-face element that I know would have been so special this term, but we very much hope that in the course of next year we will be able to reinstate some of those much anticipated visits to each other’s schools.

The international perspective, embodied in a project such as this, and the breadth of understanding that it engenders has always been integral to our values at St George’s. I know that we have all been appalled and angered by recent events, which reveal how much there is still to be achieved in stamping out racism in our world.  Racism, homophobia and all other forms of prejudice are unacceptable at St George’s and will not be tolerated. It is appropriate to re-state this and make explicit our abhorrence of prejudice in all its forms. This was the subject of the assembly videos that I have posted for all the girls from Primary 6 upwards this week. Next term I shall be working with girls from across the school to devise a shared approach to ensure that we give appropriate voice and recognition in school to all strands of our culture, acknowledging the rich diversity of our heritage in Scotland and the UK, which springs from a history that is not always palatable to contemplate from a 21st century perspective, but nonetheless defines us still today. Education plays a key part in helping a nation to speak honestly about its past, as well as creating the citizens of the future.

The Lower 6 spent Monday thinking ahead to their next steps beyond school, in their Lifelong Learning Conference which drew together speakers and presentations from a variety of higher education perspectives. The day ended with a live event for parents, in which we explained about the support that is available in school for all girls making applications, whether for universities in the UK or overseas, for competitive courses that require additional entrance tests including Oxford and Cambridge, those applying to Art or Drama schools, for vocational training, or for degree apprenticeships, and of course for those who might wish to take a gap year and apply after leaving school.

Since half term I have been having one to one conversations with girls in Lower 5 which has been a thoroughly uplifting experience. Their positive response to the current situation, resilience and determination to make the best of a difficult time have been truly inspiring, and it has been most interesting to hear about their aspirations and plans for the future. The overwhelming message from them is how much they are looking forward to being back at school next term, a view which we heartily share.

On that note, our planning for return continues. By the end of next week, I shall have a detailed plan that I can share with you all. As I indicated last week, we aim to be able to bring all girls back, full time, if they are able to be with us. Before we return in August you will also receive a comprehensive Return to School Handbook, and every girl will receive clear instructions about where to go on the first day of term.

With best wishes to you all,

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

Blog Archive