Speech Day Headteacher's Address
07 July 2010
Please find in this article the full text of the 'Headteacher's
Address', Helen Mackie, on Speech Day 2010.
Lady Smith, Consul-General, Ladies and Gentlemen, Upper 6
Leavers, St George's Students,
Leavers of 2010, I have known some of you almost all of your
life as some of you started in nursery. Others came in Junior
School, or Lower or Upper School and some of you joined us for the
sixth form. Whenever you began, you brought to the school
your unique personality, skills, talents and interests and St
George's is the better for it.
It is my privilege tonight on behalf of your teachers, fellow
students and friends to thank you for all that you have given to
We are extremely proud of you and all that you have achieved and
share with you the excitement of anticipating what you will go on
to achieve in the next stage of your lives.
You have done well in very individual ways, and have given
much to our community.
You have helped make St George's what it is today - a successful
school, with an excellent reputation nationally and
internationally, with high academic standards, an incredible range
of wider opportunities and where there is no glass ceiling for
women whatever direction they choose to take.
However, what you will carry with you for the rest of your lives
are the friendships you have forged here with each other and with
us, your teachers. How you value these friendships is reflected in
your Year Book which you will receive when you cross the platform.
I have had a sneak preview, admittedly in the first instance to
remove some of the more colourful observations but it really
reflects the values you place on your friendships. You are a
wonderfully cohesive and mutually supportive year group, and may
recognise someone in some of the comments you have made about each
other. I quote:
- She is a very caring and nice person who will make each day
more memorable than the last one.
- She is one of those annoying friends who seems to be good
- She can be relied upon to be completely
- She is small but has big ambitions.
- She is God of Maths and Queen of badminton.
She is the best kind of friend, the kind you can sit on a
porch and sing with, never say a word and then walk away feeling
like it was the best conversation you ever had.
Never was your empathy and compassion more evident
that in the support you showed for students and parents of St
Margaret's when they visited St George's the other week. St
Margaret's was founded on similar principles to St George's to
provide choice and opportunity for women and when those choices and
opportunities were taken away from them, by the closure of their
school, you showed great solidarity and I admire you for
You have embraced so many opportunities with enthusiasm and
excelled in so many different areas. Your involvement and
commitment has been outstanding as evidenced in the many memorable
music and drama performances. Who could forget the many
remarkable productions, most recently the phenomenal
achievement of a very professional and original production of 'A
Doll's House' with the involvement of so many on stage, backstage
and front of house.
Your contribution to music in the school has been significant
from individual expertise with instrument or voice, to
participation in so many groups, whether it's the Jazz Band,
Concert Band, or Orchestra, Kalinka, senior choir or St George's
Singers. You have performed like professionals on many public
occasions and enjoyed tours to Spain and Italy, and most recently
the Jazz Band tour to Toronto. Carmina Burina involved so many of
you and was a real triumph. Your performance always sounds polished
and professional and belies the fact that you are usually pulling
it off at the last minute and that the performance is in fact the
first full rehearsal.
You are not only talented musicians but talented sportswomen in
a vast range of sports.
Amongst you there are those who have represented Scotland in
athletics and cross country, in hockey and lacrosse, and in table
tennis and skiing. The range of sports in which you participate is
impressive and this year to the long list, we added archery in
which you also have a champion.
You have been ably led by an inspiring student
leadership team in Ailsa, Fiona, Georgia and Kathryn who reinvented
the outdated student council and gave it fresh impetus as "Pow
Wow". The whole notion was embraced by the school
with our first cross-year PSE sessions so that all students felt
involved, consulted and most importantly, empowered. The fact that
the focus was on learning was a real breakthrough in student
engagement in the school and some of the feedback to teachers has
been enormously useful in creating more effective and efficient
learning in the classrooms.
An outstanding Head of School, Ailsa also led on the sports
field and took the first XI hockey team to the Hockey Cup
Final. The focus, discipline and commitment of the playing at
that final with the whole school behind you blew away all the talk
of St George's being non-competitive. Just like league tables of
exam results, the objective from the outset is not solely to win or
be at the top, but to be the best you can be and you have done that
in so many ways in your career at St George's.
Your leadership skills are also apparent in your success in
Young Enterprise activities, in the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme,
and the CCF where one of you won one of only two army
scholarships to be awarded in Scotland.
You are well travelled and I have seen some of you out of your
comfort zone in China and in Antarctica, and many of you have
participated in tours and exchanges to Canada, USA, South Africa,
Chile and most of the countries of Europe. You are truly
global citizens committed to your fellow human beings world-wide.
The Amnesty Group broke all records this year with the number of
cards and letters written.
Your work for charities has been admirable.
You raised significant sums for disaster relief in Haiti as well
as a host of local and national charities. The boarders are to be
congratulated. There were 20 of you in the Race for Life for cancer
research and those not running supported by baking wondrous cakes
which were sold to swell the funds. The magnificent sum of over
£1,000 was raised.
At the same time you have enjoyed life. Your ball was a
sophisticated and glamorous occasion, and the Burns' Supper
was pure entertainment enjoyed so much by staff and students alike
that it over ran the official end time - unheard of for a school
You breathed new life into the Old Girls by engaging with them
in Tea Through the Ages and a colourful Vintage Market. It is
wonderful to see the joined up journey as you engaged with former
students of all ages and stages from a range of careers and in
retirement. Never was it clearer that the St George's journey is a
continuum and does not end when you leave school.
You will have a lot to look back on and I know that
you have been vocal in your appreciation of staff who have
supported you through the highs and lows.
I would like to thank too your parents and guardians who are to
be congratulated on negotiating their way through the adolescent
Parents, you too are very much part of our community and we
would urge you to keep in touch. We have come through a lot
together and there may yet be crises and changes of direction
We will always be here to help, advise and support our leavers,
now, next year, or at any time in the future.
On behalf of us all, I would like to thank Lady Smith, and
members of the School Council who give so generously of their
time and expertise in support of the school. I thank my colleagues
who work so incredibly hard. I thank them for their
dedication, their commitment and professionalism, and their
support for individual students as well as their commitment to
innovation and continuous improvement, all of which, makes this
such a great school.
Some colleagues are moving on this year and I wish them well,
but we thank particularly three colleagues who are
Jean Forbes who retires from the Primary after 34 years of
Edwina McIlmoyle, who has not only been a committed geography
teacher for 16 years, but has also done stalwart service for
charities over many years.
And, Lesley Danzig who has supported groups and individuals in
their learning in the Junior School for 10 years.
Class of 2010, you have developed and demonstrated the skills
which you will need to be successful in the 21st century
- you are adaptive, flexible and versatile, competent and
confident, but most of all I hope, happy and positive in your
approach to life and to others.
I hope the friendships you have forged here at St George's,
and the experiences you have had will give you the strength
of character to face all of life's challenges with enthusiasm.
With all of your talent and abilities the world needs you, so go
out there and make it a better place.