20 Nov 2020

A Letter From the Head, 20 November 2020

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

This week I would like to give you an update on the work that we are doing in school to promote understanding of diversity and inclusion at St George’s. We are drawing up an Inclusion Charter at the moment, on which we are inviting comment from girls and staff across the school. I am keen that this should be a living document, one which exists not only on paper, but also in our thoughts and actions as a school as well and so we have also asked the student body for their suggestions about ways in which these important principles can best be put into practice in school life. I look forward to sharing this document with you all, once we have finished our work on it in school. In Lower and Upper School we have thrown open the Wednesday morning registration time to any girl or group of girls who would like to record a short video, that we can play to inform the rest of the community about any aspect of their culture or experience, and I am grateful to four girls from Houldsworth who have taken up this opportunity and launched this series of talks for us this week. We are also aware of the need for staff training to ensure that we are all confident and well equipped to challenge behaviour that runs counter to the spirit of inclusion.

Last week the school embraced Children in Need with great enthusiasm. The Junior School followed Joe Wicks’ and the Five to Thrive message, reminding us about ways in which we can promote our mental wellbeing by connecting with one another, with the natural world and by taking exercise. Friday saw many spots and polkadots sported across Nursery, Junior and Lower School, while Upper School girls, and quite a few staff seized the chance for self-expression by coming ‘as themselves, in line with this year’s theme. This is Book Week Scotland, and Mr Wright, Ms Barr and Ms Elder launched the week for us with recordings of staff discussing their own reading habits and sharing their recommendations of a book that they feel everyone should read at some point in their lives. On that list were Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Afua Hirsch’s Brit-ish, Bounce by Matthew Syed, The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters, I know why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Hilda Lewis’s The Ship that Flew and Period Power by Maisie Hill.

We have received a few inquiries about the impact on school life of changes to the Tier system across Scotland. Even if we were in Tier 4, school would remain open and teaching would continue in its current form. Travel for education purposes is considered essential travel, regardless of the tier in which you live. Our additional cleaning regimes, focus on hand-hygiene, one way systems and bubbles are designed to keep the whole community as healthy as possible. Please do not send your daughter in to school if you are concerned that she is unwell, has a temperature, a new, continuous cough or is experiencing loss of taste or smell.

Turning to other practical matters, could I remind you of a couple of key points please. Any girl in Upper School who is unwell during the school day should see the School Nurse please, before she is collected by a parent. It is important that we have a record of illness, and also of course, of where the girls are. If your daughter is not well enough to remain in school the nurse will contact you herself. If you receive a call or a text from your daughter asking you to collect her, please do let her know that she should see the Nurse first.

As part of our Return to School protocols we have allowed girls to wear combinations of school uniform items, in order to make regular washing more manageable for you at home. Please could I remind you, however, that girls should not be wearing items other than school uniform/ PE kit. We are beginning to see non-school items creeping in, and will be asking girls to remove hoodies, sweatshirts etc that are not part of our uniform.

I hope you all have a restful weekend.

With best wishes,

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


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