Ethos & Strategic Vision

Magnolian 2021/22 | Image: Maisie V. Year 11

From our Headmistress

Last year I reflected on compassion in the face of covid, climate change and community living. This year I would like to focus on courage, competence and compassion.

It has been such a pleasure and relief to be back in person on our school site (despite sheltering behind masks for some of the year). The girls have been courageous, competent and compassionate in their learning and energetic in wanting to take up established and new pursuits, as evinced in our High Performance Learning Open House, which celebrated achievement across the board.

Opportunities and mechanisms for Student Voice have sprouted vigorously this year. I have been impressed by the work of the Student Council and our associated Committees: Ecology, Inclusivity, International and Wellbeing. These groups have worked hard on producing surveys, reviewing and acting on results in key areas of importance and interest to the girls, such as the refurbishment of facilities including the dining hall; designing new spaces, most notably the Wellbeing Rooms in Mary Ward House and the Elms; working on integration as well as rewards and sanctions projects; and raising awareness about a range of environmental issues as part of our work to gain Green Flag status.

We have re-thought what learning might look like, both in the development of outdoor learning opportunities through the introduction of learning pods and a new outdoor classroom, alongside greening classrooms with plants. We have also broadened our curriculum to include GCSE and A Level PE, and expanded our PE provision by welcoming a series of expert coaches for a variety of team sports, including cricket, to offer an expanded programme of pre-season training and Saturday morning activity. This will complement our well-established rowing programmes and support a widened sports fixtures list. Our team wins are testament to our success.


The next steps of our digital strategy have been carefully implemented with the rollout of new student devices planned for the Autumn Term. A trial of a student-owned online learning portfolio is in place in Sixth Form, with a wider rollout planned for next year. Our PSHE programme has been restructured to better fit our needs as a Catholic Christian girls’ school espousing Mary Ward values and a High Performance Learning philosophy.

We have developed our wider learning opportunities to include a greater range of clubs and societies. This has seen the rejuvenation of Astronomy Club as well as Sixth Form-led Societies including Psychology. We have been pleased to offer a more ambitious range of trips and visits, such as a Sixth Form STEM experience at the Goodwood Festival of Speed planned for this summer and plans for our inaugural World Challenge Trip to Tanzania planned for Summer 2023. We have been delighted with the number of successes in national competitions: our Art Department has been notably successful in a range of photographic competitions this year.

On the back of the opening of our Long Road sports grounds and our Junior School STEM lab (made possible by a very generous donation by a recent international boarder), we were delighted to launch our ambitious 125 Magnolia fundraising appeal at Peterhouse in Spring Term. The reasons for the fundraising will soon become clear as we start the necessary demolition work at the front of the Senior School, to enable work on new classrooms and the building façade. This work will be ongoing during next year, but immediate fruits of labour will be seen in a newly refurbished dining hall that will be completed for the Autumn Term.

Our teachers and support/administrative staff are crucial to the happy and well-ordered functioning of our community. It has been a boon to welcome: Mrs Jo Christian, a wise, experienced and compassionate Head of Juniors to our community in September; Mr Alex Brough in December as our Assistant Head who has calmly overseen our digital strategy with great insight and vision, in particular enabling girls with SEN to flourish; Mrs Susan Gardner-Craig in May as our Human Resources Director. We are very sorry indeed to be saying God-speed to the wonderful Mark Johnstone, who has been the truest of faithful Bursars, and we wish him happiness in his retirement. We look forward to welcoming a former parent, Mr Faisal Babar, as our new Bursar in September, who joins us from St John’s College School, alongside our new Deputy Head (Academic), Dr Paddy Wallace who joins us from The Leys – owing to Mr Stephen Seidler’s stepping back from Senior Leadership Team responsibilities in December. We are also delighted that Olympia Severis has been shortlisted for a TES Secondary School Award for her work as our Leadership Coordinator and Student Voice Ambassador.

Our school continues to flourish: we have the largest student roll on record for the academic year 2022/3, with particularly positive showings in both Senior School day and boarding numbers. I would like to thank our governors for their support across a range of projects, giving generously of their time and expertise; I am delighted by the continued diversity and breadth of voice and experience on our board.

I hope you enjoy reflecting on our highlights from the past year in this edition of Magnolian.

Charlotte Avery, Headmistress

From our Senior Leaders


Explore Magnolian 2022

Student Voice

Students changing and enhancing school life

Image: Olivia B. Year 13









“Our school continues to flourish: we have the largest student roll on record for the academic year 2022/3, with particularly positive showings in both Senior School day and boarding numbers.”

Charlotte Avery, Headmistress

“St Mary’s Sixth Form is a unique and special environment with a bright future thanks to our wonderful students and their determination to participate, develop and lead.”

Robin Griffiths, Head of Sixth Form

“It has been refreshing and a pleasure to join such an ambitious and caring community of staff, parents and students. There are many more exciting developments to come, and I look forward to continuing the positive foundations we are putting in place to keep the school at the forefront of digital learning.”

Alex Brough, Director of Digital Strategy