In these unprecedented and unsettling times, when so many people around the world have lost loved ones and suffered due to COVID-19, our thoughts at St Mary’s are with all those who have been affected. 

Our Year 11 girls have faced the unexpected challenges of the times with great resilience and flexibility and we are very proud of them. Naturally, it was disappointing for them not to be able to sit their GCSEs to show how hard they had worked and all they had learnt. The confusion over the last few weeks about how the grades were to be awarded has undoubtedly added to the anguish felt by students across the country. We congratulate the girls on how they have responded to these challenges and we are very pleased that their outstanding results reflect their talent, flair and hard work across the whole range of subjects.

Although the girls could not sit their exams, they have nonetheless been very busy. The girls participated in A Level taster sessions through our online remote learning platform, ‘Calne Connected’, and several of them have been volunteering in their local communities. Many of the girls participated in the fundraiser ‘Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5’ (originally ‘Run for Heroes’) which called on people in the UK and all over the world to walk or run 5km, donate £5 to the NHS and tag five friends to do likewise.

Octavia Sanger, from Winchester in Hampshire, used her initiative and decided to learn a new skill - by teaching herself how to make a film. She spent June and July filming a documentary about people's experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, interviewing 35 people, both adults and children, across the world (including the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, the USA and Nigeria) for her film, Life in Lockdown. The 75-minute film looks at seven key areas: school, work, faith, exercise, the virus, relationships and family life and deals with how the pandemic has altered people’s lives. Octavia used her mother’s camera and learnt filming and editing skills as she went along. She was delighted to be interviewed about the film by BBC South, and her documentary, Life in Lockdown, will soon be available to view on the Amazon Prime streaming platform.

Head, Dr Felicia Kirk, commented: ‘I have been very impressed by the girls and how they have reacted positively to the changing circumstances which we have all faced. It has been a difficult and unprecedented time and they have navigated the situation admirably. My heartfelt thanks go to all of the teachers and pastoral staff who have supported the girls so well and who have really gone the extra mile to deliver the curriculum (and indeed extra-curriculum) through ‘Calne Connected’. The girls can now look forward to a new, exciting chapter in their lives as they commence their Sixth Form studies at St Mary’s Calne in September.’