Message from the head of school - 7 October 2016

We live our lives at considerable pace and with this comes a focus on the end result and not the journey or process of life. I believe that this is detrimental to the healthy development of our children. In observing the girls at St Mary’s, I am often struck by the pressure that they feel to focus on the outcome and the achievement that they seek. The girls often sacrifice and replace the joy of learning with an anxious obsession with marks and results.

The learning process is and should be one of difficulty, iteration and slow mastery, which ultimately brings great reward and satisfaction. But the need to achieve a desired outcome undermines this journey and often leaves our girls anxious, disappointed and exhausted. I am concerned that, if our girls do not find joy in learning, or if they do not find personal reward in participation and challenge, the purpose of their education is lost. It is lost to the superficial and fleeting happiness of receiving a distinction or an award.

Another concern about this trend is that our children will not fully experience individual development and growth.If they do not take pleasure in extending their general knowledge, or if they are not capable of making meaning of the unknown, being comfortable with a problem or thinking about an issue for an extended period, then their education has not been a success. Education is never about the start or end points but rather it is about the challenge that lies between these points.

This same trend applies to the way in which our children socialise. It would seem that there is a need to live their lives and experience as much as possible before they are 18. The result of this is often disappointment, disillusionment and worse. Teenagers need boundaries and respond well to informed and strong parenting.

It is for us, as adults, to guide and protect our children and to teach them to savour the stages and experiences of life and learning.

Deanne King

Head of school