Message from the head of school - 5 October 2018

St Mary’s School is a competitive environment, which often inspires the girls to achieve beyond their expectations. It is inspiring for the teachers to observe the individual development of the girls and I am always so proud when we review academic results or I support the girls in their co-curricular activities and observe their talent, ability and the pleasure that they take in their personal development. The other side to this competitive environment is that individuals compare themselves to others. We need to caution our girls against comparative success as a measure of individual learning because it often results in a fear of failure, which in itself can be paralyzing, and in low self-esteem.

We must encourage our girls to focus on their unique selves. Their learning and development should be an individual journey of challenge and reward. One that is intrinsically motivated and worth doing for the benefit of their personal well-being and not because it will be valued by others. Learning offers a full experience that will build confidence and self-esteem if it is undertaken for both the self and for the present, instead of for comparison and some future reward.

John Dewey, philosopher and psychologist, wrote that if schools relied on extrinsic motivations and competition to frame pupils’ learning then society would pay the price.

Deanne King

Head of School