Great Support for our Open Day
Saturday 10th October dawned bright for our Open Day. Pupils and staff were out in force to help as our visitors started to arrive. Subject teachers, assisted by pupils, hosted families keen to discover all that we provide at St Augustine’s Priory with quizzes, experiments, games and even food on offer! There is new equipment in the Music Room and with our focus on National Poetry Day on 8th October we showcased poetry with a recital in the Scriptorium and students performed a selection of monologues in the Senior Drama Room. Our Netball teams played each other throughout the day while families toured the school and grounds with our pupils on hand as excellent guides.
A café was open throughout the day where our Admissions staff was available to answer any queries families might have. There were two sessions on this Open Day and at the end of each session the Chapel filled with families who viewed our new video (do view our new video which is now available to view on our website: www.sapriory.com ) and heard from the Headteacher, Mrs Raffray, and our Head Girl, Billie Morrison.
We enjoy welcoming new families to St Augustine’s Priory; our school is a unique environment where we encourage girls to flourish. One of these girls is our Head Girl, Billie Morrison, and we here publish her speech from Open Day, which will give an insight into all that St Augustine’s Priory is:
‘Hello, my name is Billie and I am Head Girl for my final year at St Augustine’s Priory. I hope you have enjoyed your tours and have enjoyed seeing the creative and unique learning environment and familial community that is our school.
Parents, I could relay facts and statistics, quote the prospectus and try earnestly to persuade you that this is the place for your daughter to grow up. However, from my own experience as a nervous 11 year old girl, I understand the vital importance of the girls feeling comfortable and certain that this is the school they want to attend. Therefore, I hope you don’t mind but I am going to address the girls.
Hello all. It’s really lovely to have so many of you here.
Choosing a new school is scary. I’m sure you’ve all thought some of the following. What if everyone is smarter than me? What if the work is too hard? What if I don’t get into the netball team or the orchestra? What if I don’t make any friends? I remember feeling like that. It feels like the whole world is getting so big, so quickly and you don’t know if you’re ready for it yet. To be honest, on the brink of leaving for university, I still feel like that myself at times. But really I am here to reassure you, you will make friends. The work will sometimes be hard but you can do it. You will get into the netball team. No matter what school you go to, you will grow into beautiful, intelligent, strong women but at this school you will grow with a team of supportive, passionate teachers, a group of close friends, a support network amongst all year groups and most importantly you will have fun. That’s what I think is most important anyway. That feeling of getting up in the morning and not thinking, “I have Double Maths, French, History, Geography and Science. AAAAAH, it’s so boring!! WHYYY???” When I get up in the mornings, I look forward to seeing my friends and my teachers and learning new things in an environment that I feel comfortable in.
When I was sitting where you are, I was really excited by this school. Excited by the prospect of “real science” with lab coats and test tubes and explosions! Excited by the beautiful grounds, the field, orchards and the meadow. Excited by the prospect of school trips around the world that you may have seen on your tours! I decided on that afternoon that this was the place for me. And six years later I have broken 14 test tubes, burnt the arm off a lab coat, run around that field more times than I can count; I have seen the Northern Lights in Iceland, amphitheatres in Greece, performed in cathedrals in Malta and rolled down mountains in Wales. I love this school and as I enter my last year I am very sad as I don’t want my time here to end.
Last year, a Year 13 student asked me if I was the girl who used to sit alone on the bench under the music room window with my nose in a book. I was struck by how far I had come and how much I had grown over seven years. The introverted girl who would spend most of her breaks in the library is a distant memory and I am certain the amazing care and familial community of St Augustine’s has really helped in my emotional and personal development.
After unearthing a profound love of physics in my GCSE year, (I was a humanities girl to begin with!!), this adoration of the subject was nurtured by the passionate teachers of St Augustine’s and the fact that last year I sat an extra Astronomy GCSE is down to their personal interests, passion and encouragement. When I was looking around schools my mum and I were often discouraged by the fact that the Food Tech departments were given pride of place above the science labs. St Augustine’s was the only school that seemed genuinely excited about girls becoming scientists. This year, I am taking part in the VEX robotics competition run by girls into STEM, an organisation dedicated to encouraging girls into science, technology and maths. We won our robotics round in another competition and now have to build and programme a robot to throw balls into a tall net.
For any of you budding actors or directors, last Thursday evening saw the opening of our outdoor stage, down in the meadow. We performed a variety of pieces based on the National Poetry Week’s theme of Light. There were Harry Potter sketches, numbers from ‘Annie’ and monologues from Shakespeare to pieces written by members of our parent body. Everyone in the school was involved. I personally taught a group of girls to perform music from Annie and I was so proud of them when they stepped on to the stage on Thursday.
Hello again parents.
I am really proud to be Head Girl for my final year. The competition for this role was fierce as so many of my peers feel passionately about this school and want to give back to the community that has supported and cared for us over the last six years. In fact, one of my closest friends and now Deputy Head Girl said that she has, “not blood, but St Augustine’s tartan running through her veins”.
I keep referencing the pastoral care at this school which, alongside the amazing teachers, is what I feel sets the school apart. As the sibling of a brother with a serious heart condition, this emotional support has really meant a lot to me, especially during Year 7 when my brother had a very serious operation. I recently discovered that my form mistress had consistently been in daily contact with my family and I realised that although I was unaware at the time, I was in caring hands whilst at school during this difficult period. I have had generous financial support also and have been privileged to be one of the many bursary students during my time here at St Augustine’s.
Because of the closely knit nature of this school, the small class sizes and year groups with mentors and form tutors, all my teachers know me inside out. They know whether I am having a bad day just by the way I walk into the classroom. Staff here are always available with a listening ear, or maybe just taking five minutes out of their timetable to go through that piece of Maths or Russian homework you were struggling with. And every girl I’ve known at this school feels the same way about their teachers.
The cohesion between year groups is most apparent when the whole school comes together for events such as Charities Week where the students try to raise as much money as possible for charity with various talent shows, cake sales and dressing up days. The bond between the Seniors, Juniors and Preps is a wonderful example of the school’s ethos, “Freedom to Flourish”. Free from the increasing demands of social media on young people at St Augustine’s we are given the opportunity to play, and my year group are often running around in the field with the younger years – most recently a massive game of bulldog with Year 6. We are given space to grow at our own pace. The older girls consciously look out for the younger ones, whether as class councillor, a Big Sister or whilst chatting with a Year 7.
I consider myself unbelievably lucky to have had the privilege of growing up at St Augustine’s Priory, in this academically stimulating and loving environment that I can say I have loved every minute of.’Whole School