News Room

Head’s Blog, Easter 2019


As we approach the end of the Spring Term I am certain that members of staff and girls are looking forward to the Easter break and the prospect of having time to relax, catch up on much needed sleep and spend some quality time with friends and family. Saying that, girls in Year 11 and Upper Sixth will no doubt be spending the Easter break finalising their revision timetables and starting their preparation for GCSE and A level exams.

The second half of the Spring Term is always very busy. These last few weeks the girls have enjoyed so many extra-curricular activities, events and trips. Here is just a small selection:

Science Week, World Book Day, Year 2 Sleepover, Easter Egg Bingo, Sixth Form Geography Field Trip to Devon, Matthew Bourne Dance workshop, Ingestre Hall Music and Art residential weekend and the Senior School Charity Concert.

The list is impressive! Further details can be found on our social media pages and website. As the term draws to a close, we are looking forward to the Celebration of Sport Assembly, Final Assembly and the sleep out to raise funds for homeless people in conjunction with “St. Basil’s”.

A fellow Headteacher recently sent me a link to a TEDx talk given by Dr Peter Benson, former President and CEO of the Minneapolis-based “Search Institute”. Dr Benson is the editor of more than a dozen books on child and adolescent development including “Sparks: How parents can help ignite the hidden strengths of teenagers”. In his lecture Dr Benson adapted a quotation from Plutarch: “Youth is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit”. In order to start a fire you need a spark.

Through everything we do – our teaching, our learning, our activity, our leadership, our values – we are about helping young people find and foster their sparks and give them every opportunity to pursue them as broadly, as widely and as deeply as they can.

Our Educational Philosophy at Saint Martin’s as reflected in our aims, is about igniting sparks.  It is why we keep our curriculum as broad as we can; we give the girls the opportunity to make choices at various points along their academic life but we don’t dictate those choices.

In addition, we offer the girls a broad range of co-curricular activities, trips and visits. We are constantly encouraging the girls to take part in activities, to sign up, to get involved.  It’s why we organise trips, and why we encourage leadership and responsibility and service and philanthropy.

We are doing it not because we want every student to be brilliant at every single one of those things, or because we think these things are more important than academic study, but rather, we want every single student to give themselves the very best chance of finding their spark.

For some it will be in the classroom or the laboratory, for others it will be on the sports field, in musical ensembles, or on the stage; for others it will be through voluntary work. We are all different.

The spark is the very beginning of purpose and Peter Benson’s research showed him that “the core idea of thriving is the identification of that fire or purpose. When you have purpose, you thrive.” A spark needs to be looked after.  It needs to be cared for.  You have to stay involved, remain connected and learn through failure; sometimes, of course, sparks can catch but then they fade.  That happens, and that’s ok.  What none of us should do is stop trying to find our passion.

Dr Benson believes that most of us discover our spark between the ages of 10 and 20. You know it when you feel it. You know it when you are doing something that makes you feel whole, when time stands still, when just doing it or being it is its own reward. Being great at it or impressing people with it is not the point. Just knowing it, affirming it and putting it into play is the point.

With this in mind, I hope you all have a restful Easter break but at the same time get involved in something to ignite your “spark”. I look forward to seeing you all at the start of the Summer Term.

Best wishes

Nicola Smillie

School Calendar

  • 5 Apr
    Trip: Y12 Gold Dof E Training
  • 10 Apr
    Gold D of E West Brecon beacons
  • 14 Apr
    Geography GCSE Revision Session
  • 18 Apr
    Trip: Y10 Bronze Practice Expedition – Licke/Alvechurch
  • 20 Apr
    Trip: Y11 DofE Silver Navigation – North Cotswolds