Week Ending: 13th January

It was so great to have so many Year 6 girls in school last week to take the St Martha’s entrance tests. We have also had a number sitting the test this week which I hope all bodes well for our numbers for First Form for September 2017?

The staff spent time on Friday in school helping prepare the school for inspection. As you will be aware there are a number of regulations we must comply with in order to operate as a school as well as ensuring we provide the best possible all round education for each and every one of your daughters. Inspections exist to provide that independent, robust evidence that you as parents and prospective parents need to know about our school. There is always room for improvement and I look upon inspection as a way of helping us become an even better school. When we had our Diocesan Inspection last term it was pleasing to be judged as outstanding in so many areas but I think that by now you understand I will not sit still. Groups such as the Parents Association and the Parent Guild are so important to me and the school and I know that we are a much stronger community as a result of us sharing the same aspiration – to ensure St Martha’s and each member of our family is allowed to be the best that they can be.

This calendar year we celebrate 70 years at our current site and there are various events taking place to commemorate this anniversary. The first of these is a Mass which takes place here at school next Friday at 11.30am before we have our half day for Founders Day. On 20th January 1947 St Martha’s relocated to Hadley Wood from Barnet and so it seemed appropriate to begin our celebrations on the actual anniversary and in addition to the girls and staff it would be lovely to have as many parents present as we celebrate.

We had our termly clubs fair on Monday of this week when the pupils and students signed up for their clubs for this term. The extracurricular life of the school is an important part of our educational experience and so it is always pleasing to see the pupils and students taking advantage of these extras that the staff of St Martha’s offer. It is very important to me that the girls are happy in their time at St Martha’s because if they are happy they will flourish. With this in mind it is my hope that the St Martha’s family will come out in force on the 23rd and 24th of January to support those pupils, students and staff who have invested so much in this year’s school production of Mulan. I am sure it will be a wonderful occasion for the whole family and I know the cast and crew would appreciate playing to full houses on both nights so please reserve your tickets soon.

In my assemblies this week I have sought inspiration from Robbie Williams and the film Bruce Almighty! My message to the girls has been that a new year provides us with an opportunity for a fresh start but that we should also love ourselves for who we are – not what we think others want us to be. Mental health and schools has never been far from the media but in this past week, since the Prime Ministers statement on Monday it has received renewed focus. You are all aware of the amount of stock I place in outstanding pastoral care at St Martha’s and it is often a reason parents give for choosing our great school. We are fortunate to have dedicated personal tutors, excellent Housemistresses, Ms Baly as our school Chaplain and of course Sister Teresa as our Deputy Head but we as a staff share a responsibility for good mental health of all members of our family. It is important that you and your daughters know there is always someone that they can talk with and to no matter what the issue is, no matter how trivial they feel it might be. As we move towards the second half of the year those higher up the school will start to feel the pressure of public examinations but they should know that everything that can be done is done to make this as smooth as possible. From the work with elevate to the additional sessions staff put on for them. The study days and mock examinations in the hall which are designed to help them feel more at home in the hall and of course the thoughts and prayers of the whole St Martha’s community as they embark on these examinations. I am of course in a privileged position as Headmaster as it affords me the opportunity to speak with so many of you and I am always humbled by the trust you place in us as a school by handing over your most treasured possessions. But when we do talk and when you tell me of situations and circumstances that you and your daughters have to cope with I take huge pride in the resilience and determination that so many of the pupils and students show every day and by the empathy and compassion that is shown to them by their friends. Good mental health is something we should all strive for and it is something that by working together I hope we can achieve.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New in the hope that 2017 will be a good year for us all but also in the knowledge that none of us are alone and with the expectation we will pull together to make sure people can genuinely say St Martha’s is where we belong.

Matthew Burke


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