27 January 2023
‘Student Voice’ is a whole school commitment that we’ve made to expressing and listening to the views of each other. At St Mary’s, we recognise the self-worth and value there is to be gained from students feeling heard and that this can be an immensely powerful tool for future change. To help amplify ‘Student Voice’ and empower our pupils to stand up and become the future change-makers we know they can be, we recently launched a new internal initiative – creating a range of ‘Community Scholarships’ for existing students. The new Scholarship posts available include Debate; Inclusivity; Eco; Mary Ward; International; Digital; and Student Voice.
Each Community Scholarship is linked to a respective Student Voice committee and will give chosen students the chance to spearhead the issues that really matter to them, whilst also learning and honing vital oracy skills. There are two positions available for each scholarship category; one in the Lower School (Year 7-9) and one in the Upper School (Year 10-13) – with scholarships held for one year. The main expectation for scholars is vibrant and consistent participation in the committees and/or clubs associated with their category.
Encouraging our students to find their voices, and understand the world around them, is central to everything we do at St Mary’s. From the moment they start with us, our students are taught to dream big and strive to reach their full potential. Supporting and challenging them in equal measure, we encourage them to believe anything is possible and nothing is out of their reach.
Over the past year we have placed extra emphasis on oracy and public speaking skills – an area affected nationwide by the pandemic. We have always encouraged our girls to speak out on topics of importance to them – teaching them to communicate confidently, clearly, creatively, and with compassion. Through our new scholarships, students will be able to further enhance their speaking, listening, collaboration and negotiation skills, within a supportive environment.
History has shown, time again, that if girls are given the right skills and opportunities, they can become the ‘changemakers’ we need for a better world. Our school’s foundress, Mary Ward, was centuries ahead of her time with her vision of what women were capable of and her steely determination to fight for female emancipation and empowerment. Centuries on there are almost 200 Mary Ward schools around the world – a living legacy to her foresight and determination that has ensured the best start for thousands of girls worldwide.
Today Mary Ward’s vision remains as important as ever – inspiring female students to stand up and let their voices be heard. Worldwide, girls (and women) continue to break down barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion. We must ensure St Mary’s girls are among them – expressing their ideas and opinions and speaking out to further the causes they are passionate about. Our scholarships will help them build confidence in this important area – becoming young women of conscience, who will go on and make a difference in the world.
Interviews for our Community Scholarships are taking place on 27 January and details of successful applicants will be announced in due course.