Withington Girls' School commemorated its 129th Founders' Day at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall with an evening of inspirational speeches, readings and musical celebrations on the theme of 'Sustaining People and Places'.
Insights into the world of environmental advocacy were provided by guest speaker, Dr Caroline Major - a former Withington pupil, veterinary surgeon and eco champion whose world record-breaking paddle-boarding mission from Land's End to John O'Groats helped to raise awareness of plastic pollution, whilst WGS Chair of Governors, Mr Malcolm Pike, outlined Withington's ongoing eco improvement measures aimed at reducing environmental impact. These include an eco-friendly wild flower grass roof on the Junior School building; LED energy-efficient lightbulbs; the appointment of an environmentally-aware catering company and a series of initiatives by the School's eco group to encourage good practices and reduce single-use plastics.
Headmistress, Mrs Sarah Haslam, said this year's Founders' Day theme encapsulated Withington's priorities and current thinking. With the School's many eco projects in progress, combined with well-established community engagement programmes both close to home and further afield, pupils and staff at Withington recognise "that we are all part of something bigger and have responsibilities to our school, our city, our world," she said.
More than £32,000 had been raised by Withington pupils this year for charitable causes, continued Mrs Haslam, with Withington's community outreach - including the popular WGS Saturday morning educational programme SHiNE for girls and boys attending local primary schools - highlighted during a visit by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Mr Andy Burnham.
Mrs Haslam paid tribute to the dedication of pupils who had worked hard to achieve outstanding results in their public examinations, with 90% of GCSEs at grades 7-9 and 93% of A Levels at grades A*-B. "Helping our girls to develop the knowledge and skills, the attitudes towards learning and the personal qualities that will sustain them through their future lives is one of the most important things that we do," she explained. This approach was endorsed by a recent whole-school survey in which pupils' confidence, quality of teaching, pastoral care and extra-curricular programme, community spirit and community activity were all highlighted as particular strengths and deemed 'Exceptional' by an independent market research company.
"Withington thrives on the quality of its relationships and never loses sight of its purpose – its purpose is people and one of the greatest privileges of all – working with our young people to inspire a love of learning and develop the values and qualities that will serve as compass and anchor throughout their lives," she told the audience.
In keeping with Founders' Day tradition, the guest speaker, Dr Major, presented each Upper Sixth member with a book of their choice and, in the final speech of the evening, Head Girl, Kea Bell, addressed the audience to speak of her own personal Withington experiences.
Withington's next Open Days are on 7th and 9th November, with entrance exams for Seniors on 10th January and for Junior entry (Years 3 upwards) on 18th January. For Admissions information visit www.wgs.org.