I cannot believe that my first half term as Head of Saint Martin’s School is almost over! I can honestly say that it is a pleasure to work in this magnificent school. I am relishing every new day and with each new dawn I cannot believe my luck at securing such a wonderful job in such a unique and awe inspiring setting.
As we approach the half term holiday my thoughts returned to the start of term and my first Senior School assembly. I made reference to the poem “The Station” by Robert Hastings. The poem describes a train journey and focuses on the importance of the journey and not the final destination, or as mentioned in the poem – the station. I urged the girls to make the most of every opportunity available to them. Here at Saint Martin’s there are so many enrichment and extra-curricular activities on offer to ensure that girls are fully prepared for life in the 21st century workplace. You only need to click on to the “News Room” section of the website or our “facebook” link to see just how many activities the girls have taken advantage of since the beginning of term.
My particular highlights have been the charity fashion show, organised by Sixth Form student Shelby Phillips, our annual Harvest Festival, the Careers Fair and the Year 3 sleepover. Our girls have gone from strength to strength on the sports field; the Year 11 netball team won all of their matches at the Borough tournament to become overall tournament champions again and three girls have been selected to play Netball at County Level for the Under 14 team. As a linguist I was delighted to hear that the school has been successful once again in gaining the prestigious British Council “International School Award” in recognition of the school’s focus on the international dimension across the curriculum.
As I write, our Sixth Form students from last year will now be settling into their University courses after securing fantastic A Level results in August. Months of anxious waiting and then the horrible fear of opening that envelope gripped all! I am very proud to report that 81% of grades achieved at A level were at A* to B and that all students were able to continue with their education going onto universities of their choice. For the second year running Saint Martin’s has been named “Top Smaller Independent School” by The Telegraph. At GCSE performance was equally impressive with 47% of grades at A* and A. It will be a pleasure to meet these girls at our Commemoration Prize Giving Ceremony in November.
Our exam results are testament to the fact that I truly believe that girls do perform better in a single sex environment. A recent article in The Times quoted a Head saying that the benefits of single sex education were overstated. When you consider this summer’s exam league tables, 11 of the top 20 independent schools in the A Level league table were girls’ schools. Girls at Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) schools achieve a disproportionately large share of the top grades in Sciences, Maths and Languages. They are 75% more likely to take Maths A-level, 70% more likely to take Chemistry, two and a half times as likely to take Physics and are over twice as likely to take most languages. In a girls’ school, the pressure to opt for the subjects which are perceived as more ‘feminine’ just doesn’t exist and so the potentially talented female scientists, mathematicians and linguists are able to pursue their interests and achieve their full potential. I am delighted that Saint Martin’s is a member of the GSA. Their values – Independence, Excellence, Contribution, Social Mobility and Access and International Reach mirror our aims and underpin how we run our school and teach our girls.
As we break up for the half term holiday our Sixth Form girls will be en route to China for a cultural visit to Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. Meanwhile, the Classics department and girls from Years 10 and 11 will be experiencing “la dolce vita” in Rome and Sorrento. I wish both groups “bon voyage” and look forward to seeing your many photos and listening to your stories on your return.
I hope you all have a restful half term holiday and I look forward to the next exciting and eventful half term at Saint Martin’s.