22 Jan 2021

A Letter From the Head, 22 January

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

I hope that this has been another busy and productive week for your daughters, and that they will be able to have some much needed time away from their screens over the weekend.

Mrs Hay, Miss Benson and Mrs Bryce will be writing today, with more information specific to Junior School, Lower School and Sixth Form.  I am aware that, in Upper School, girls in Upper 5 and above will be very keen to know more detail about the shape of the rest of the year, and ways in which evidence will be gathered to support their predicted grades. Information has been trickling in to us in the course of this week from the examination boards etc., and you will be aware that Ofqual have launched their consultation over GCSEs. We will be responding to that consultation as a school, and, as Mrs Edwards indicated in her message earlier in the week, there is the opportunity for parents and students to submit their responses as well. We hope to be able to give you more information about our plans for assessment and evidence-gathering early next week, but in the meantime, please continue to support your daughters in remaining engaged with their teachers and reassure them, as we are doing too, that they will have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and breadth of skills across all their courses, and that we will do our best to manage the workload and potential pressure that they will feel because of this situation.

Parents of girls in Upper 4, Upper 5 and Lower 6 will have received information this week about the plans for Options Week, which runs from 28th January until 4th February, with opportunities to hear live presentations from Mrs Edwards and myself, have individual calls with subject teachers and take part in live Q&A sessions. I hope that you and your daughters will find this approach helpful, and remind you that if you would like to book individual calls with teachers, the deadline for submitting a request, via SchoolPost, is 4pm on Tuesday 26th January.

The school’s kilometre challenge is still going strong, and I hope that the promise of a little sunshine this weekend will tempt your daughters outside to add to their totals. I was proud to hear that the staff had taken the lead at the end of last week, and look forward to hearing this week’s results later today. It is widely acknowledged I think that this current lockdown has been a tougher experience for many of us, and it is heartening to hear of the different ways in which the girls are adapting and finding pleasure in new hobbies or rediscovering old ones. We are very conscious of the need to continue to support them in every way we can, as they come to terms with uncertainty and difficult circumstances, especially by giving them opportunities to feel engaged with the school and their friends.

One of the challenges in this situation of remote learning lies in that word ‘remote.’ The need to maintain close connections across our community, between the students themselves, between teachers and students and between School and parents, is heightened. Last week Mrs Hay and Mrs White hosted a very successful open forum for Junior School parents, to discuss the Supported Home Learning model. We invite girls every week to complete pastoral questionnaires, which give us some immensely valuable insight into their frame of mind, and our pastoral staff and form tutors very much enjoy their one to one calls with girls, which we hope help the girls to feel connected with school, beyond their lessons. Today I would like to invite parents who have daughters in Primary 6 to Upper 6 to take a few minutes to complete a questionnaire for us, to help us to understand more about your views of our current provision, and to gauge your sense of your daughters’ wellbeing at the moment. This will help us to manage their workload, and to plan how best to continue to meet their academic and emotional needs during this very challenging time. This questionnaire should only take a few minutes to complete, but I would encourage you please to discuss it with your daughter as well. If you have more than one daughter in Primary 6 to Upper 6 it would be especially helpful if you could complete one for each girl please, as we realise that their experiences and needs will be very different, depending on their age and stage. Please access the questionnaire by clicking on the Reply link in the SchoolPost which you will have received on Friday 22nd and complete it by 4pm on Wednesday 27th January.

With my best wishes to you all,

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

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