The media places much emphasis at the start of the school year on choice of school and academic results. I have had a number of conversations in the past few weeks with journalists who want to know what the ideal is in education, and what distinguishes one school from another.
On reflecting and thinking about these questions, I had to disappoint the journalists. I believe that independent schools in Johannesburg are expected to achieve good results. Our schools all have good teachers, resources and scholars who want to achieve, and thus we should produce good academic results. Obviously, the achievements may vary year on year but the expectation is for consistent achievement. What really distinguishes one school from another is the broader context of achievement, experience and the soft skills that are learnt at school. The development of intellect is enhanced and complemented by character development. More important than ever before, is how individuals choose to use their intellect. At St Mary’s we believe that the co-curricular programme is an important part of the curriculum, and it contributes to character and moral development. Sport, cultural activities, community service and time for spiritual reflection all contribute to a girl’s personal growth and the person she will become.
My answer for the journalists was, therefore, along the lines of: choosing a school is a personal matter and, I believe, one that should be based on the ethos of a school and whether or not it fits the values of the family making the choice.