Next Open Morning: Friday 6 December 2019 X

Message from the Head

St Mary's Shaftesbury-Message from the Head

There is something remarkable and distinctive about ‘St Mary’s girls’. One feels extraordinarily welcomed and ‘at home’ as soon as you meet them; confident young women who are deeply articulate, reflective, energetic, creative, outward-looking and possessed of an impressively strong set of values. They are passionate about St Mary’s and keen to explain why. Mary Ward’s vision shines through their lives, still giving inspiration and meaning, four centuries on. A very strong ethos is abundantly present in the school, a spiritual and moral framework by which to live: this lies firmly at the heart of the school, and it is to be treasured. Mary Ward declared ‘No half women’, and I want our girls always to keep that idea in mind, to develop a growth mindset, to feel that everything is possible.

I am inspired by the words of French philosopher, Gustave Thibon, who exhorts us to commit fully to our lives, to ‘dig in the narrow place which has been given you; you will find God there and everything. God does not float on your horizon, he sleeps in your substance. Vanity runs, love digs.’ A Catholic school is uniquely positioned to encourage this capacity, to form spiritual resilience and genuine self-reflection, guided by a strong internal moral compass for girls of all faiths and none.

My aim for St Mary’s will continue to be to preserve and build on the great strengths and traditions of the school, but also to continue the reflective process of positive change and development which is necessary for an ambitious twenty-first century school. I am a passionate advocate of single-sex education for girls, having been through that system myself and spent most of my teaching career in girls’ schools. St Mary’s is busy, productive, sociable and the sense of community for day girls and boarders is unique.

In a girls’ school, no leadership roles or subjects are off-limits and our teachers are free to focus on the pedagogical methods that are proven to work best with girls. Girls in girls’ schools do exceptionally well, in every annual league table, as demonstrated by our recent excellent GCSE and A level results. Girls in girls’ schools stop being the audience – they step up onto the stage and into the limelight. If you choose to send your daughter to St Mary’s, then she will have every opportunity for her leadership, her creativity, her dynamism and all her other strengths to flourish.

In short, here your daughter will have the chance genuinely to be herself and to become all that she can be. St Mary’s girls are truly the ‘dreamers of dreams’ and the ‘movers and shakers’, preparing to shape the twenty-first century.


Mrs Maria Young