I say to my girls at school often that they should make the very most of their lives, as they only have one life, and every moment of it is precious. When opportunities come along, they should be grasped and girls should not be afraid to move outside the comfortable zones in which their lives have developed; in fact, it is only by doing so that they can truly experience the world and live life to the full. I say too, frequently, that this is a global world which they inhabit, and that they should be prepared to live, work, study and travel far and wide in order to be able to appreciate what this magnificent world of ours is, and to develop an understanding of humanity which will help them to make a positive change for the better in their own lives and in the lives of others.
And so … I am practising what I preach and have heard the call to move with my family to Australia in January 2013 – just over a year from now – to become the Head of Australia’s leading girls’ school, Ascham School in Sydney. It is a great school, with a long tradition of excellence in the education of young women, and I feel privileged to be able to continue this tradition and help prepare girls for the challenges of the future that awaits them. I am glad to be bringing an international dimension, and I am glad to be faced with new challenges of my own – a wonderful new culture, a different school system, a new national curriculum … to name but a few. It is a great honour to be selected for this post, and I shall enjoy immensely getting to know and lead the community.
I shall miss my current school, St Mary’s Calne, tremendously, and I am so proud of what I have achieved over the past decade. The school is riding high in every respect – it is a strong, focused, deeply happy and intensely warm school, and the outstanding teams of staff, overseen by a superb Board of Governors, will make the transition to another Headmistress an easy and seamless one. I shall miss the girls, the staff and the parents, but the time has come to leave behind what I see as the best school in the UK. I shall never forget what we have experienced together, and I have no intention of losing contact. An email sent from the UK to Australia takes a few seconds to arrive, and you can travel from any one point in this world to somewhere else and arrive within 24 hours. The world is smaller than it has ever been. Besides, though, we still have over a year together, and there is much to be done in this time!
This next phase of my life – and of my family’s life – is about building upon what I (and we) have learned to this point, not about leaving it behind. There is too much to do in respect of the education of young people, and of girls in particular, and I feel incredibly highly motivated to make this work across the globe. My recent trip to Bangladesh (see previous blogs) brought home to me with a power that almost took my breath away how important it is for all of us in the developed world – from Europe to the US to Australasia, drawing in all developed countries en route – to reach out beyond our boundaries to help make this world a fairer place, and this often starts with the education of girls and women. Every girl I help to educate – be it in the UK or in Australia – has the potential to help make the difference in the world that the world so needs, and it is an enormous privilege to help make this happen.
As I am fond of saying, and as the girls at St Mary’s Calne have adopted on my behalf as a school motto … onwards and upwards! Watch this space.