An extraordinary year at our Junior School: Prize Giving 2020

An extraordinary year at our Junior School: Prize Giving 2020

Looking back over this academic year it is certainly a year of two halves. We began the year with all year groups physically in school with an Enrichment Day focused on the Mary Ward value – friendship. We have ended this year with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in school, alongside all other year groups learning at home using our excellent remote learning provision. 

Reflecting back to September 2019 I do not think anybody could have predicted that the country would be gripped by a pandemic at the end of the year and that the school would be running as it is now.

What has impressed me greatly is the creativity, flexibility and valued sense of community that has come to the fore across our school family through this crisis. Friendship has certainly been a value that we have embodied this in so many ways.

Finding opportunity

Almost every generation has lived through a period of great challenge and change. Our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, for example, survived the two World Wars in the twentieth century. These events have given past generations the opportunity to reflect on the past and shape their future. The pandemic we are currently living through offers us this opportunity. We have seen how well the girls, and their families, have risen to the challenge of remote learning, their creativity and inventiveness in their approach to project work and their sophisticated and natural ability to take advantage of technology in their learning.  

Strength in community

We have also witnessed a collective sense of appreciation for our St Mary’s community, we have been brought closer together through this and have a new-found appreciation of our living Mary Ward ethos and the hard work and dedication of our teaching staff.

The challenge for us now is what we learn from our period of great change, how will St Mary’s Junior School evolve and build upon the various lessons learnt in this pandemic?

We hope that over the next decade we can look back at this period as a catalyst for positive change which shaped the education of St Mary’s girls so that they leave us with a stronger sense of what it means to be a St Mary’s girl, ready to face the future.  

Last year we celebrated our 120th anniversary as a school in Cambridge and we regularly reflect on our 400-year-old heritage. St Mary's has survived and evolved over these 120 years and we will continue to ensure that the education we provide our girls is the best it can possibly be, and that they continue to develop skills that will future proof their place in a rapidly-changing society.

Hot off the press

We have just learned that we have been shortlisted for two prestigious awards: as part of the Independent Schools of the Year Awards, St Mary’s Junior School has been shortlisted as the Independent Prep School of the Year, and St Mary’s has also been shortlisted for the Marketing Award for Brand Communication. We ensure that all of our girls know that #yesshecan be whomever she wants to be, whether that’s a sportswoman, an artist, a scientist or an author. In truth, our girls are all the ‘marketing’ we need: our happy, confident, compassionate pupils shine. We watch them grow and nurture them from Reception through to Year 6, as they gain the skills and values they need to live a happy and fulfilled life, and we are excited to see them continue on their educational journey to our Senior School and beyond.

I wish you all a happy and safe summer holiday.

Matthew O'Reilly

Head of Junior School