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Mark Johnstone: From our Bursar

Mark Johnstone: From our Bursar

A year like no other…

Like me, I am sure that many will be a little tired of words such as ‘unprecedented’, ‘exceptional’ and ‘extraordinary’, but there is no escaping the point that everything that has happened at St Mary’s since March 2020 (and more widely across the world) must be set against the backdrop of the global pandemic.
During the past year, we have had to make tactical decisions aimed at ensuring that we emerge from current challenges quickly and successfully. We have put some of our medium-term ambitions, such as the building plans for the Senior School site, on hold whilst we conserve financial reserves in uncertain times. Simultaneously, we have also managed the absence of our overseas boarders (whom we have greatly missed), the suspension of all lettings activities (notably, our friends at the University Play Scheme and our summer school partners) whilst also seeking to support those families hardest-hit by the financial consequences of the pandemic.

Staying on track

However, St Mary’s has not stood still in these difficult times. We are all delighted to see the girls enjoying the state-of-the-art sports facilities at our newly refurbished Long Road Sports Ground. Our innovative partnership with Homerton College has seen the £6.6 million project continue on schedule throughout the last year, with the delivery of the pavilion and landscaping remaining on track (excuse the pun!) for September 2021.

Exciting STEM plans

During the lockdown, we also continued with our planning application for a new STEM classroom at the Junior School site and confirmation of the grant of planning permission in January of this year was received with great excitement. The design work is now well underway, with the programme set for delivery of this multidisciplinary facility in time for the new academic year this September.

Preschool all set for September

Staying with developments at the Junior School, we have also used this academic year to plan and implement a new Preschool class, again set to open in September 2021, with some re-modelling of the interior of the Coach House and improvements to the outdoor play spaces.

And finally...

As our community continues to come back together, I should just like to thank everyone for the roles that they have played in ensuring that this has happened as safely and as calmly as possible. The adoption of Covid-safe standards in school has been seamless – from the various measures such as installation of hand-wash stations, one-way systems and careful planning of lunchtime arrangements, to the on-site mass-testing of Senior School girls in March.

The teaching staff have managed the demands of simultaneous on-site and remote teaching wonderfully, the support of parents has been unstinting and, of course, the girls have been magnificent!

Mark Johnstone

Return to Magnolian 2021