Tradition and Innovation at St Margaret's

Mrs Anne Everest is a former Head of St Margaret's and a former member of the School Council.

"Children are human like the rest of us: they like to know where they are and where they are going; they feel safer when they understand any rules or boundaries; and they love tradition and custom of special events.

It is good to celebrate high days and holidays throughout the school session, and it is a rash person who thinks that she – or he – can tamper with well-loved ritual, without adverse consequences. When occasions, like the Carol Service or Speech Day, are so very well produced, all are reassured and uplifted by the familiar. Having introduced a Leavers’ Ceremony at St Margaret’s in 2008, I was amused to see how quickly this special event was adopted as a much-loved tradition. I should not have been surprised, since it had all the ingredients for a success: it had music, singing, laughter and, best of all, every single VI Senior girl crossed the school stage and was congratulated in the presence of her family.

We all love such graduation ceremonies: they are important markers of coming of age and they herald the crucial first steps into the next stage of our young people’s lives. As such, these traditional events support our pupils and their families at moments of transition, and it is understandable that we should look forward to them and perform them professionally and to a successful template.

Such support gives our young women the confidence to grow and lead independent lives, knowing they have firm and reliable foundations on which to rely. Of equal importance is the challenge that girls find at St Margaret’s: they face academic challenge and the challenge of meeting many, many new concepts; they face a need for spontaneity; they face the challenge of friendships and personal relationships – which are very rarely predictable – and they meet every challenge in an environment which has a very strong and readily identifiable ethos.

St Margaret’s exists to educate its pupils. As an institution, however, it does far more than offer effective learning in the context of a broad and varied curriculum. It is small enough and dynamic enough to respond immediately to all manner of opportunities, and so we find engineering days for 7 Junior girls and bespoke career experience placements for older girls, alongside the opportunity for travel, for service and the exchange of ideas.

There are so many examples of innovative practice at the school, and our girls participate in them with enthusiasm and the confidence that comes from knowing that the support is still there. And, like all of us, they also love those reliable and very traditional elements of life at St Margaret’s: when the Leavers’ Ceremony comes around again, there will not be a dry eye in the house!"

Mrs A. Everest

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