07 May 2021

A Message from the Head, 7 May

Alex Hems, Head of St George's School for GirlsTerm is certainly in full swing now, and today is the last formal day of lessons for the Upper 6. This has been a testing year for them, and we are so sorry not to have been able to mark the milestones of their final year in the usual way. As with so many other aspects of life at the moment, our ability to offer the familiar calendar of the summer term is still contingent upon potential changes to guidelines as the term unfolds.  I know how important these events are for you as parents too, whatever the age of your child, and hope that it will be possible to find ways for you to share in and celebrate your daughters’ achievements while remaining within the current legal framework. We are also looking at the key transition events, and I know that plans are in place for the Pre-School children, the Primary 5s and the Lower 4s to enjoy a full programme which will enable them to find out more about the next stage of the St George’s journey in the course of this term. It is in the summer term too that most of our outdoor education camps traditionally take place. Current guidance has limited opportunities for the sort of residential experience that we like to offer but I am delighted that we are nonetheless able to run what sound like enjoyable, varied and appropriately challenging trips and activities for all the year groups who would usually have had a camp at this point. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme expeditions are also able to go ahead, albeit with some adaptations. I am grateful to my colleagues who have shown such determination not to let these opportunities slip past for the girls.

This is the time in the year when we start to plan ahead for the next session. In the spirit of ‘build back better’ we are keen to ensure that we retain the best of the adaptations and learning of the past year. We have started consulting with the student body to find out what they would most wish to hold on to, but also to which aspects of school life they are most looking forward to returning when possible. It has been very heartening to read feedback, showing how much they appreciate the cross-year activities and sense of community which are at the heart of school life. I know how much the senior girls enjoy working with younger year groups, in their Houses, as form prefects or supporting classroom work through paired reading for example. They too have proved to be inventive and determined in finding other safe ways to continue to connect across the school, but we are all looking forward to restoring this aspect of school life more fully next session. I am a firm believer that having a strong sense of being rooted in a community, where you are known and respected as an individual, and where giving and receiving of time, care and mutual support are integral, is at the heart of wellbeing for young people and adults. To a greater or lesser degree, the sense of connection with others is something that we have all lacked over the past year. This applies too to our relationships with you as parents, and we are very much looking forward to being able to meet both formally and informally with you more often again.

The safety of our whole school community is something we take very seriously and I would like to thank you for your co-operation with our Facilities staff and for not parking on double yellow lines close to the school at drop-off or pick-up times.  We will continue to work with our local community police officer to make the roads around school as safe as possible.

With best wishes to you all,

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

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