05 Nov 2021

A Message from the Head, 5 November

Alex HemsDear Parents and Guardians

I hope that your daughters found the half term break refreshing and that you were able to have some time together over the holiday.

We are back into a busy second half of term now. I am delighted to say that our programme of sports fixtures and competitions is fully restored to its pre-covid level now. A number of teams will be competing in Scottish Cup fixtures in both netball and hockey over the next few weeks and we wish them every success. There is no further change from the Scottish government to the regulations covering school operations at the moment, however. This means that unfortunately we are still not able to invite parents into school other than by appointment, and that other aspects of school life are still curtailed. For example we are not permitted to run school assemblies, and all secondary age students are required to wear masks in lessons and while moving around the school, as are their teachers. With Covid still prevalent, and as we move into the winter ‘flu season, our priority of course is the students’ core educational experience. Even with the reduction in contact tracing that has been in place since August, the requirement to self-isolate if an individual is identified as a close contact has an impact on both student and staff attendance, and we are keen to maximise everyone’s opportunity to be in school. Could I ask therefore that you encourage your daughters, if they are in Lower 4 or above, to use the free lateral flow tests that are readily available in school, and that you continue to support us in our attempts to keep case numbers in school low, by not sending your daughters into school if they have any symptoms of covid 19.

As we look towards the holiday as well, we realise that many families will be keen to celebrate together, in a way that was not possible last year. Given the factors that I have outlined, we are not currently organizing Socials with other schools, which I know is a source of disappointment for some students. I recognize that young people are of course mixing with their friends outside school, and I am glad that they have this opportunity, but it does not seem wise or appropriate at this stage in the year to formalize these events in school in the way that we would in a normal year. I very much hope of course, that we will be able to return to a more familiar programme as the school year develops. For the same reasons we are also giving careful thought to how best to manage the usual end of term events such as concerts, carol services, nativities and other performances, while also offering to performers a well-deserved opportunity to showcase their hard work. Sadly we will not be able to hold the traditional carol service at St Giles’ Cathedral for Upper School, and therefore I can confirm that this term will end at noon on Tuesday 21st December, for all students.

There is, however, much to celebrate and enjoy. In the next few weeks we will hold the Young Musician and Young Singer of St George’s Competitions, which are always uplifting reminders of the level of skill and dedication in our young performers. Visiting speakers come every week to share their experiences with students across the school, and the range of student led societies is always exciting. Our student Head of Boarding, assisted by her fellow Upper 6 boarders, planned and facilitated a Houldsworth murder mystery party which took place yesterday evening. The level of detail in the preparations was most impressive, from suspect profiles, alibis and motives, to the inventive games played throughout Houldsworth to find clues. Fancy dress costumes were worn by students and staff alike and the evening was lots of fun and a huge success.

Please can I ask Junior, Lower and Upper School parents to look out for a communication that will come from Mrs Edwards next week, about our revised ICT policies, and for Upper School from Mr Verrecchia regarding updates to our Behaviour policy, that we wish parents to be aware of.

I wish you a very good weekend,

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


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