1. Home
  2. News
  3. Head’s blog
  4. First Term Reflections

First Term Reflections

It is hard to believe that my first term at South Hampstead has drawn to a close. It feels like yesterday when I arrived in the early September sunshine at the start of the academic year.

The seasons may have changed, but a constant throughout the past few months has been my deep sense of pride in leading such a vibrant school community.  Every day brings with it further evidence of the warmth, energy and brilliance which characterise our pupils’ approach to their education; the girls’ sheer sense of fun, kindness, and unity are qualities which I value immensely.

As I reflect on my first term, I am struck by the wonderful everyday interactions: the Year 7s who asked me to join their avocado appreciation club; the brilliant contributors to my Black History Month reading group; playing table football with Sixth Formers in the Oakwood common room; hearing our debaters tackle topics such as the role of art in society… Moments like these stand out for two reasons. Firstly, as testimony to the diversity of life at South Hampstead; and secondly, because they demonstrate the many ways in which we are developing well-rounded, well-grounded individuals. It is inspiring to see young women embracing opportunities with such zest for life and making their presence felt in the world as a force for good.

Our emphasis on speaking up and speaking out is one that resonates very powerfully with me as a leader in girls’ education and as a mother to two little girls. I believe it is equally important to develop a genuine capacity to listen to others, a message I have reiterated to pupils this term. In one of my assemblies, and indeed at one or two parent events, I have spoken about the way in which literature has defined my life journey from a very young age, and the importance that I place on Middlemarch as a source of wisdom. As George Eliot observes, ‘If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat’ – a powerful metaphor for the importance of striving to listen, to meet others with compassion, and to seek to understand how they may feel.

Listening has informed my first term at South Hampstead, and I have sought to spend as much time as possible learning about our community, understanding its hopes and dreams, and reflecting on the potential shape of the exciting journey which lies ahead in South Hampstead’s next chapters. In the spring term, I will be hosting a series of early morning events to catch up with parents over coffee and croissants about potential areas for future development within the school – from academic engagement with cognitive science and technological advances to biodiversity initiatives. And of course, underpinning all of this, will be our core mission of providing an outstanding education which empowers our girls to thrive.

In the meantime, I wish you all a restful holiday and a very happy new year. Thank you so much for the welcome you have given me as a community; it means a huge amount.

Blog post by Mrs Paul, Head since September 2023.   

You may also be interested in...