People two col

First Choice University Gained by 95% of St George's Students

26 Sep 2022
People two col

For almost 125 years St George’s has been a passionate advocate of women’s education and empowerment. We teach girls that gender is not a barrier to success in life; every subject is a girl’s subject; every activity and opportunity is available to girls. We firmly believe that as one of Scotland’s largest single-sex girls’ schools, we are equipping our students with confidence, resilience and self-belief which they will carry on through into life at university and beyond.

The staff at St George’s are committed to working with every student in our school, providing individual attention and personalised support to ensure each one will get into her university of choice. St George’s provides an environment free from gender stereotyping where girls can flourish and build the confidence to believe in themselves.

University preparation starts early

The key to building self-belief and confidence is a focus from an early stage. Each student is on a personal journey, fully supported by the team at St George’s to ensure that they choose the most appropriate pathway.

In order to maximise their potential, we have implemented relevant support strategies that complement each individual students learning requirements. Our Support for Learning staff support all students in an inclusive and individual manner. We are committed to encouraging and promoting the creation of successful learners and confident girls. This approach ensures that teaching matches each girl’s needs, and that the educational environment is accessible and stimulating, but also challenging.

Alongside this, we use a baseline assessment which allows us to gauge an objective perspective of our students’ strengths and weaknesses and unlock their full potential. We can then track development and measure the added value that we provide to ensure they are on the right path.

In S4 we run a Sixth Form Conference which allows the girls to discuss and consider subjects available in S5 and S6, and how Highers and Advanced Highers work in conjunction for university applications. Our dedicated Sixth Form team will explore aspirations and help with decisions and plans. They help students to understand and develop their strengths, areas of interest and skills. The approach to these discussions is personalised to each student. The ethos of the school means that we know all of our students personally and have followed their journeys through the school. With this knowledge, we are in a position to make recommendations based on their personalities and academic strengths.

“The size of our school allows for a breadth of curriculum that is then shaped for each and every student. We try to see everything from the student’s point of view.”

Deputy Head of Academic

We have the unique approach of ‘free choice’ when making decisions at each option stage as students' progress through Upper School.  Such flexibility in provision is achieved by the girls selecting their subjects without the restriction of columns.  The timetable for each pupil is bespoke, allowing them to select the right subject for them without curricular constraints.

Preparation and planning are key

St George’s provides the girls with the opportunity to attend career talks and to undertake work experience that can help with their choices.

A significant amount of time is dedicated to looking at how to select courses and assessment methods. We are fortunate that many of our former pupils are happy to come back and share their advice and experiences.

Fully focused preparation for university begins in Lower 6 with a week-long experience and insights week in June. Continuing through their Upper School year, we have various career events - from full careers fairs to maths lunches and law breakfasts or university sessions for portfolio guidance.

There are cases where students are unsure of the path they want to take. Our Head of Careers is there to support them by providing appropriate and individual advice based on their profile, grades and aspirations. We are equally skilled at supporting an application to Oxbridge, as we are in supporting a girl who might prefer an apprenticeship or a highly competitive Art Foundation course.

Additionally, our students can, at any time, discuss their applications and personal statements as well as practise for interviews.

“The UCAS process was personalised to each student to ensure that each of our personal statements was about our academic and co-curricular achievement. This made us stand out and be unique rather than just getting general broad feedback as a whole from our teachers/ student leadership team.” 

Former student

Throughout S5 students use Unifrog – a user-friendly platform that helps students to make the best choices and to submit the strongest applications according to their interests and personal attributes. Using the platform, they can research universities, courses, as well as gain insight into university life.

Recently, we have worked with a team of Sixth Form students, designing the new Sixth Form study and social suite. Housed around the Upper School library to give easy access to the library and the computer area, the girls have flexible open plan workspaces, private study areas and individual workstations. The new facilities provide an innovative study and relaxation area, giving them to have the right environment for learning.

Alongside our academic preparation, we encourage every student in Sixth Form to take on a leadership role. Our ‘YES SHE CAN’ ethos allows them a voice whether it’s through their House, a committee or our student-led whole school ‘Pow Wow’. Our student leadership team and large prefect body, elected by students and staff, are an empowering group. House Captains are fundamental in fostering a positive community spirit through House and charitable activities.

Girls can also be a sixth form mentor, acting as helpers in subject areas, lead teams, clubs and productions. Responsibilities are varied involving House activities including social, sporting, musical, dramatic and charitable events arranged by the House Captains.

Each of these leadership opportunities builds confidence as well as communication skills, both invaluable in preparing for life after St George’s.

The importance of co-curricular activities

Our co-curriculum is the activities and experiences that take place at school, running alongside the academic curriculum. The broad and enriching co-curriculum provides students with the opportunity to develop talent, ideas and confidence. Each and every student is encouraged to take part in a variety of co-curricular activities. This helps each girl to develop and realise her own passions as well as understand the importance of teamwork and responsibility.

Music, sport and drama play a big role in our co-curricular activities; however, our Model United Nations and Debating Clubs are particularly popular and relevant. Debating helps the students with confidence and expression, both in terms of public speaking, but also in sharpening their clarity of thinking and the structure, and persuasive impact of their line of argument. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Combined Cadet Force provide opportunities for leadership, new challenges and service in the community. Combined, these outstanding opportunities promote self-belief and resilience.

“St George’s provides each upper 6 student with the opportunity to be elected to a position of responsibility within the school. My role as Senior Prefect allowed me to develop skills in leadership, communication and organisation, all of which will be so important to me during my time at university. I also benefitted hugely from playing and captaining at hockey and completing my Duke of Edinburgh Gold award both of which helped me become a good team member and become even more resilient. There is a range of opportunities that we can take up throughout the school especially in Lower and Upper 6 to really develop and take our personal statements to the next level, which differentiates us from others – for example our Head of Careers provides excellent information and opportunities related to seminars and courses we can attend during our final years of school to help decide our university courses and future careers.” 

Former student

Academic Enrichment

An important part of our Sixth Form co-curriculum provision is the academic enrichment we offer. This programme offers a variety of activities that enhance academic development and stimulate intellectual curiosity in all students.

Our system of HPQs (Higher Project Qualification) and EPQs (Extended Project Qualifications) allows students to undertake research in specific areas of interest and to help develop their knowledge and understanding of a subject. A research topic can then be used to support a university application and personal statement.

Through the Academic Enrichment programme pupils also benefit from interview practice to subject-specific research guidance, giving them a competitive edge. A dedicated team of staff are in place to help with the following;

Oxbridge and Competitive Course preparation - The opportunity to work with a specialist tutor in support of an application for Oxbridge or a competitive course allows discussion and consideration of new areas of learning.

Essay admissions preparation - Writing an essay to answer an unseen question on a topic you may not have studied in around 40 minutes can be one of the challenges presented in university admission tests. Sessions are held with students every year to help them develop the skills and techniques that are required to respond appropriately.

Admissions test preparation - If a student is required to undertake an admissions test she’s allocated a specialist tutor who will provide an overview to her preparation for the specific test requirements.

Oxbridge and interview discussion groups - Working with a specialist tutor in support of an application to Oxbridge or a competitive course is important, but the students are also offered the opportunity to explore different areas through interaction with their peers.

Mock interviews - Traditional interview and medical interview practice forms just a part of the preparation for interviews.

Friday Series Lectures - The aim of the programme is to offer the students an opportunity to explore new areas of knowledge and to introduce them to a formal lecture environment.

Visiting Speakers - Refugee experience, differing political perspectives and an exploration of a renowned author’s life are examples of some of the varied speakers who come into St George’s.

Student Societies - These societies offer senior students the ability to lead, while also exploring an area of academic interest.

Model United Nations - Our Model United Nations Club allows students to debate contemporary regional and global issues while representing a country.

Amnesty International - This group focuses on the issues of promoting human rights themes around the world.

Young Enterprise - The national Young Enterprise Company Programme gives thousands of students each year the opportunity to prepare for their working life through the experience of running their own company, supported by volunteer advisers from business.

Independent Women student magazine - Independent Women is our pupil-led magazine. It is a platform for students to air their views on a host of issues.

The academic enrichment programme is inspiring. Be it the sixth form Extended Project Qualifications topics, the student-led Medical Society or students presenting for Scottish Mathematical Challenge or science Olympiads, alongside the Space Design Competition that has seen students win the Scottish heats and attend the national finals in London, with one student being selected to take part in the European team.   

As a school we place a huge importance on these activities. It’s vital the students can reflect on the skills they gain through these activities - which builds confidence and ensures that they see the relevance of transferrable skills not just for applications but for the world of work.

Supporting University selection

Students have access to the school careers adviser as well as to interviews with external careers advisers, to suggest options depending on interests, grades and location of study. They can also use Unifrog to investigate aspirational, achievable and “safe” options of universities and courses for them according to their Higher grades and predicted Advanced Higher grades. This forms the basis of discussion with members of the Sixth Form Team and Careers Advisor to ensure these choices meet the needs of the individual student.

Should a student be interested in Cambridge or Oxford they will work with the Deputy Head of Academic and other support staff on their application. There are specific teams of support staff who will support the girls depending on their selection of course.

Older students have an excellent relationship with staff and teachers and know they can always access help and guidance. Much of the support is individual and some students return many times to have conversations about what is best for them. We examine course content and the learning environment – i.e., a city university versus a campus-based one. As we know the students so well (not just their grades), we can build a picture and advise each one so that they each have a positive destination.

However, we do encourage our students to take ownership of their onward academic journey. Each girl needs to research and reflect on their potential choices. Occasionally a student will need to make hard decisions – for example, whether to complete an admissions test or take part in a major international expedition. While we will always support them, we do want them to make these decisions for themselves thereby further building their confidence and self-belief.

International focus

We arrange presentations from several US and Global universities. Students are given information about different options, from UK universities to those in Europe and further afield. Any student who asks about US applications can have several meetings to discuss the complexities of testing, the process, fees and scholarships. The vast majority of students remain in the UK with an almost even split between England and Scotland.

Making the most of undergraduate life

Our ‘Leavers’ Programme’, which takes place over 2 weeks after the girls’ final examinations, covers a wide variety of topics aimed to help students make the most of undergraduate life. Topics include student finance, cooking on a student budget, how to access support whilst at university, as well as well-being guidance and tips for safety and positive relationships.

Students from the previous S6 year are invited back to St George’s to speak to the current S6 students at the start of the year. This session allows students to ask the leavers about university life, gaps years and courses, as well as tips for applying to university.

We want each and every one of our students to make an informed decision about their future. A university education is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it is vital that they select courses that are right for them.

Energy, curiosity and intelligence characterise St George’s students. Our ‘YES SHE CAN’ mantra, embodied in the abundance of strong female role models and the right range of opportunities on offer, helps to inspire every girl to find the path that is right for her.

“I think I benefited from attending a single-sex school, as I may not have felt as comfortable speaking out in class, had I been in a mixed classroom. I have always found that asking questions in class has really helped reinforce my learning.”

Former student

Through our education, we promote high aspirations and create opportunities for girls to learn the value of self-belief, encourage independence of thought and develop character. The investment and commitment we make at St George’s is to ensure our students get the best outcomes they can.

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