The Head's Study

Yesterday I was asked by a prospective pupil what was the best thing about working at Royal High School. Without hesitation I always respond – the girls. But this week, I qualified that - the girls because of the constant inspiration they are to us all. Two particular events have struck a chord: the fundraising concert organised by two Year 12 students as part of the service aspect of their IB Diploma Programme, raising funds for Alzheimers Society, and a recent survey we undertook that provides a remarkable insight into student volunteering at the School.

Megan and Phoebe’s Playlist concert was poignant and joyous in equal measure. Each performer was asked why they had chosen their piece of music and several responses reminded us of how Alzheimers impacts the whole family, from Alice’s ‘it makes me think of [my granny] before her dementia got really bad’ to a piece written by Phoebe’s grandfather ‘to play with my mother when she was my age’. The concert we all enjoyed this week was but the tip of the iceberg when we consider what Megan and Phoebe learnt from their volunteering about organising the event from scratch. To have pupils from the Prep school to the Sixth Form take part, teachers supporting, advertising, sales, copy for local papers, managing donations, devising and publishing a programme was a steep learning curve all round.

Equally inspiring is the number of girls who volunteer in other ways at Royal High School. A third of our Senior School pupils volunteer in or out of School and, of these, half do so voluntarily, as it were ie where it is not a requirement of their IB or A level Tripos. The survey highlights two clear messages: the unintended consequence that volunteering is uplifting and adds to our sense of belonging; and the challenge that students face being able to find suitable volunteering opportunities.

So I end with two asks.

If you know of any local projects that are in need of volunteers and whose requirements fit round the life of a Royal High School student, please let us know. And, if any RHSB families have volunteered under the ‘homes for Ukraine scheme’ to help Ukrainian refugees who need to find school places for their daughters, get in touch.

As one student so simply and clearly stated, volunteering ‘makes you a better person and at the same time you learn so much from it’. Please help us extend this opportunity to as many Royal High students as possible.

Megan and Phoebe