A governor's take: Junior School Prize Giving

A governor's take: Junior School Prize Giving

It gave me enormous pleasure to be at the Junior School for their Prize Giving to represent the Board, as we celebrated the girls’ achievements. I know from my days as a parent, and as a Head, that the school community occasionally wonders what governors actually do, so I thought I would say a few words about that.


St Mary’s has a very full, expert, diverse group of actively involved and well trained governors. Our main role could be described as the stewardship of St Mary’s School, treasuring all it stands for, making sure that our values are understood and acted on, and our aims are achieved.


All governors know that, as a faith school, we inspire a love of learning, and we place just as much importance on happiness and pastoral care, so that we enrich the experience of girls of all faiths, and none. In an increasingly complex and challenging world, we value highly giving girls both an outstanding education, and an emphasis on the wellbeing of every individual girl.


Our ethos is embodied in the Mary Ward values, with which Junior School girls are very familiar. I particularly like her words about ambition, “Women, in time to come, will do much”. This year, a new governor role has been established to oversee our ethos: Mrs Jo Storey, a former Head of a Roman Catholic girls’ school, and current Academies senior executive, is perfectly fitted to this.


Governors ensure that the school is fulfilling its aims - academically, extracurricular, pastorally, morally and spiritually - and that we conduct all of this in close partnership with parents.


Acting with the Headmistress and senior leadership team, we lead on strategic development. This year has seen a large emphasis on sport, within our “sport for all” ethos. We entered into a partnership with Homerton College to establish great playing fields at Long Road, and are grateful to Deborah Griffin for the key role she played. We are also thrilled to be developing a new boathouse.


Governors are very proud of how fantastically the Junior School has developed in recent years, under the ambitious leadership of Mr O’Reilly, his excellent team of skilled and caring teachers, and dedicated support staff.


Whenever I visit the Junior School, there’s something new happening. I recently dropped into a Year 4 lesson where girls were vigorously and joyfully pursuing engineering projects - physics in action! - so I wasn’t surprised that, last month, our Year 6 girls were placed in the top 10 in Europe in the Robocup Robotics tournament, and then a larger Year 6 group took top success in the UK Co-Space Finals. Younger girls were also involved in this hi-tech competition. I shouldn’t really have thought this to be unusual: this is Cambridge, after all, and this is St Mary’s. Yes she can.


I also want to mention how superb Art is here, enhanced by the establishment of the Artist in Residence last year, Emily Kew, and of course, the example of our alumna here today, Lucy Unwin, which we can admire in her installations on the school estate.


I am pleased to inform you today, of two Junior School developments that were approved at last week’s Board meeting. In the coming year, we intend to develop the entrance to the school, improving access, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, and, in recognition of the outstanding quality of the STEAM subjects here - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths - to create a specialist room for the girls to pursue them: a dedicated space offering new facilities and even greater stimulus.

- Sarah Dixon