Parents often ask us during our Open Events how we balance high academic expectations and achievement with pastoral support and care. At STAHS, there is no balancing act – we simply do not believe that excellent academic outcomes come at the expense of the wellbeing of students, or that providing excellent pastoral care somehow diminishes academic outcomes.
At STAHS, pastoral care and academic excellence are not competing factors – they are two sides of the same coin. The young people most able to pursue their educational ambitions, take calculated academic risks and achieve top outcomes are those who feel happy, secure and supported at home and at school. This is why we take our responsibilities to nurture and care for our pupils very seriously.
Somewhat unusually for a day school, STAHS operates a House system very similar to that which is offered at the best boarding schools. All pupils are in one of four Houses, and the Houses really are like families within the School. The House Tutor, Assistant Housemistress and Housemistress are fundamental characters in a STAHS pupil’s life. They have the time and structure really to get to know each girl as an individual. They understand her strengths and areas for development, advocate on her behalf, push her when she needs a push, celebrate her successes and encourage her when things don’t go to plan.
We know that resilience in the face of set-backs, self-belief and confidence, and the ability to understand one’s own and others’ emotional and mental health needs are essential skills for a happy and successful adulthood. We also know that these skills are not necessarily innate, but can be learned. It takes time, excellent modelling of behaviours, and a deep and school-wide commitment to pastoral care and character education.
STAHS makes this commitment to our pupils and the proof is in the end product: every year, our leavers enter the world of university and work as settled, calm, enthusiastic and self-possessed young adults ready to take on the world. They know their own minds, know how to work with and understand others, and want to leave a positive mark on their world. Most importantly, they leave with the confidence that they can and will do just that.