When St Margaret’s welcomed pupils back to school last August, little did they know that they would be entering one of the most unusual and extraordinary times in the school’s 175-year history.
Since the end of March, staff and pupils have risen to the challenges of the move to a home and digital learning experience.
Suspecting that the closure of schools was imminent, considerable preparations were made to set up virtual classrooms and to create two new websites, comprising a teachers’ hub and a pupil hub, where messages, assemblies and information are shared.
Since then, the school community has pulled together to ensure that the girls’ education has continued, and the school is exceptionally proud of its pupils and very grateful for the support of its parent body.
From the start, they felt it important that students continue to follow the school’s normal daily routine and timetable wherever possible, balancing time spent working on a screen with other activities and project work.
Specially designed project days have enabled students to be creative, get outdoors and explore the world both physically and virtually. Thankful Thursday, Experience the World Day, and an Environment Day are just some of the experiences through which St Margaret’s has sought to enhance learning experiences.
Moving on to new courses
Earlier this term, fourth and fifth year pupils moved on to their next Higher and Advanced Higher courses, while the sixth years began a new and bespoke programme of enrichment and wider interest courses designed to enhance their preparation for life and work beyond school.
At recent virtual careers days senior girls have welcomed back former pupils who have shared their experiences of learning and work beyond school.
The creative arts
The school’s weekly newsletter has been rich with examples of pupils’ creativity. From set design and virtual theatre trips in drama to exciting art projects, pupils have risen to the challenge in new and different ways.
St Margaret’s has been pleased to share letters, poetry, artwork and videos with the residents of Rosewell House, which adjoins its sports fields at Summerhill.
Meanwhile, music has continued to be an enjoyable part of school life with a series of Virtual Concert performances.
It is not just the pupils who have showcased their talents, as staff also have come together on a number of occasions to delight their pupils with surprise performances!
Health and wellbeing
Supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of the school community has been and will continue to be of paramount importance and, during these unusual times, St Margaret’s has sought new ways to engage with pupils and care for them through video conferencing and bespoke materials.
Wellbeing Wednesdays throughout the school have given pupils the opportunity to enjoy creative activities such as den building, baking, mindfulness and dance, as well as to spend time doing things to help and support others.
This year’s Sports Day was very special as it was marked by messages of support for the girls from seven of Scotland’s top international sportswomen.
A virtual sports day website featured multiple house sporting challenges, as well as staff challenges and a very popular themed baking competition.
Undeterred by the weather, pupils carried out the traditional St Margaret’s March Past in their own gardens to the rousing sound of a piper.
#StMargaretsTogether was launched in the summer term to champion the family feeling which is so important at St Margaret’s.
Through this initiative, the school has sought to help its pupils, parents and staff to feel connected while apart.
Starting with sunflower seeds in the post to all pupils during the Easter holiday, the spirit of togetherness has held fast throughout a range of events (not least a school cookery programme, Meg’s Menus) and will culminate in the whole school singing ‘Proud’ together in a special end of term celebration.
Looking forward to the new session
St Margaret’s will re-open on Thursday, August 20, and work is well underway to apply Government guidance to its particular school structure and buildings.
Working with health and safety, medical and property professionals in the risk assessment process, the school will optimise existing and additional accommodation to maximise in-school learning for all year groups. St Margaret’s first school nurse will join the team at the end of July.
In order that teaching and learning may continue in all scenarios, the school has made a substantial investment in Chromebooks for pupils and staff alike.
At the heart of the ongoing planning process is a commitment to providing pupils and staff with the warm, friendly and supportive environment which the school holds dear.
To find out more about what St Margaret’s can offer your daughter, please contact its admissions office on 01224 584466 or email@example.com.