15 Jan 2021

A Letter From the Head, 15 January

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

As we come to the end of our first week of term, and of Supported Home Learning, I would like to thank your daughters for their outstanding engagement in their on-line lessons this week. This really is a team effort, and I recognize your role as motivators, organisers and managers at home as well. I am grateful to my teaching colleagues who are working so hard and delivering a very high proportion of their teaching as ‘live’ lessons; I know that they value and enjoy having the contact with the girls that this brings. That said, we all recognize that a full day of screen-based Teams lessons would not be a beneficial or sustainable way to work, for either students or teachers, and so your daughters’ lessons are structured in a variety of ways, including whole class Teams calls, use of break-out rooms, independent work, assignments to complete and one to one conversations with their teachers. If you are at home and able to do so, please do encourage your daughters to take advantage of the breaks between lessons to move away from their desks, stretch and do something different for a few minutes. Thank you very much to those of you who joined Mrs Hay and Mrs White for their live consultation event last night; I know that they very much appreciated your participation and feedback. Mrs Hay will be writing to you separately today with a link to a recording of the event for those of you who were not able to attend.

Mental wellbeing is high on our agenda at the moment. Lower School have just enjoyed an excellent PSHE session on staying connected with one another, which was also one strand of my assemblies this week for Upper and Lower Schools. Inevitably in current circumstances, remaining in contact with our friends involves even more screen-based activity, and to some extent this cannot be helped. Family Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls with good friends can be a great blessing at this time. I know too, how very important contact with their peers is for young people, and how much they miss it. Could I draw your attention please to a website called Omegle, and let you know that we would strongly advise against girls using this site. The following link will give you some further information:  We are making it a priority to remain in touch with your daughters pastorally as well as academically, and I know that one-to-one pastoral calls are under way this week, as well as the questionnaires which help us to evaluate wellbeing, and give your daughters a chance to tell us how they are feeling.

One way in which we all know we can boost our wellbeing is physical activity. Inspired by Doddie Aid, St George’s is running our very own Kilometer Challenge between now and half term. The girls will have heard about this from their PE teachers, and the staff are joining in as well. Please do encourage your daughters to take part; I hope to be able to give you an update on the running total at the end of next week.

In other ways normal life must continue, and one sign of that is the offers of university places that the Upper 6 are receiving at the moment. Although relatively early in the offers ‘season’ it is encouraging to see positive responses from institutions across the UK, such as Aberdeen, Bristol, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford and Stirling. While we still await confirmation of the details of awarding procedures for grades at GCSE, Higher and Advanced Higher, all of the work that the girls do at the moment is valuable. We are able to offer them a range of opportunities to demonstrate their skills and attainment, in order to support the grades that we predict for them, and will let you know as soon we have further information about the timings of this process. At this point in the year we start thinking about choosing courses for next session. You will hear from Mrs Edwards early next week about the plans for Options Week, which will give girls and parents from Upper 4 and above, the opportunity to find out about all the courses on offer and to have any questions answered through Teams calls and live presentations, in the week before half term.

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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