As we approach the holidays, I reflect on the last half term in School. The second half of the Autumn Term is most definitely my favourite time of year at Saint Martin’s. At the end of November we celebrated the founding of the School by Miss Bull and Miss Tucker. The commemoration celebrations were made even more special this year as one of our parents, Mrs Peachey, gave the sermon during the service at St. Alphege Church and we were welcomed into the church by the sound of bell ringing courtesy of two of our Year 7 pupils, Charlie and Sara, Mr & Mrs Linford and Mr Paulson.
During the last two weeks we have enjoyed a wide variety of festive events including our traditional carol service at St. Alphege, wonderful Nativity plays, Christmas assemblies and the ever popular Christmas lunch prepared by Mrs Frain and her team. The end of the Autumn Term is truly magical and sets the scene for girls and staff alike to enjoy their holidays with family and friends and have a well-deserved break from school.
In November I attended the annual Heads’ Conference organised by the Girls’ School Association (GSA). The theme for this year’s conference was “Inspiring Futures” and during the two-day event I felt truly privileged to listen to world class speakers charged with inspiring young people and in particular girls.
Gwen Byrom, the current President of GSA, spoke about the role of girls’ schools in developing future female leaders and inspirational women. In her Presidential address to Heads, she stated that all teachers in girls’ schools have a responsibility for the future of all the girls in our schools. The way we lead and manage our schools, how and what we communicate to our pupils has an impact on wider society. Every time a young woman leaves us to move on to the next stage in her life, her experience in school becomes manifest in her actions and has ramifications for all women, and society in general.
The Girls’ School Association is proud to name many inspirational women and leaders as alumnae of GSA schools. Emma Watson – an alumna of Headington School, Oxford – went from campaigning for the liberation and rights of house elves in her fictional role as Hermione Granger, to accepting the very real position of Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for the UN. Her launch speech for the “HeforShe” campaign not only called on men to become advocates for gender equality, but also inspired Malala Yousafzai, alumna of Edgbaston High and Nobel Prize Winner, to call herself a feminist.
GSA Schools are indeed proud of the achievements of all of their alumnae. The following inspirational women also attended GSA Schools – the astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Professor Mary Beard, Dame Janet Smith, Indira Gandhi, Dame Judi Dench, Mary Berry and Emma Bridgewater.
The theme of “Inspiring Futures” reminded me of my responsibility as Head of Saint Martin’s to tomorrow’s society as well as today’s individuals. Everything we do in our schools will have an impact of everyone and everything they go on to influence the wider world. As Heads we are indeed inspiring futures in a very real, and immeasurably important way. In previous blogs I have highlighted one of the many “USPs” of girls’ schools. Working in a girls’ school we have the privilege of inspiring and empowering the next generation of young women to pursue whatever life they want, irrespective of gender stereotypes; to carry that message with them into the world, challenging sexism and unconscious bias wherever they encounter it. Girls at Saint Martin’s are encouraged to advantage of all opportunities at Saint Martin’s; they take on leadership roles throughout all Key Stages in school starting in Year 2. By becoming a Form Captain, Alice House Monitor, School Council Representative or Senior Prefect, girls are developing the skills to become inspirational leaders and the next generation of influencers in the 21st century workplace.
As we come to the end of a very busy term, I would like to say a sincere thanks to all the staff who have worked so hard this term and well done to the girls on their progress and achievements. I hope you enjoy a restful, peaceful and joyous Christmas with your loved ones – ready to start all over again in January.
With all good wishes