Next Open Morning: Friday 4 October 2019 X

Message from the Head

St Mary's Shaftesbury-Message from the Head

There is something remarkable and distinctive about ‘the St Mary’s girl’. I felt extraordinarily welcomed and ‘at home’ as soon as I met the girls, and as I have come to know them better, I find myself among 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 their school 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 St Mary’s, 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 for them.

I am inspired by the words of a 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-reflectiveness guided by a strong internal moral compass. ‘Do good, and do it well’ is another favourite saying of Mary Ward.

My aim for St Mary’s will always to be to preserve the great strengths and traditions of the school and to build on those, 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. Fully committed to boarding life, I am keen to develop our provision further. Boarding at St Mary’s is busy, productive, sociable and the sense of community is unequalled. I look forward to seeing even more girls coming to join in the fun, and to be part of our boarding story.

In a girls’ school, no leadership roles are off-limits, no 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 she 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