17 February 2017

This article was first published in the Queenwood weekly newsletter on 17 February 2017

One of our new staff commented the other day on what a positive atmosphere we have at Queenwood. ‘Even the school hymn,’ she said. ‘The very first word is “happy”!’ If you have been to enough Speech Nights you will know that first line: Happy is our school surrounded everywhere by loveliness. As in all of life we do of course have some dark or difficult days, but Queenwood is for most of us, most of the time, a happy place. As my colleague understood, however, this is not all that the hymn is saying. ‘Happy’ in these lines is used not in the sense of ‘merry’ or ‘carefree’ or ‘joyful’ (although there is a lot of that) but in the less-used sense of ‘fortunate’ (eg ‘it was a happy accident’). 

Happy is our school surrounded everywhere by loveliness – this is true; and as we daily enjoy all that our school has to offer it is important that we also appreciate its rarity. Very few children, very few schools enjoy the happy circumstances in which we find ourselves at Queenwood. It is essential therefore that our girls should understand this, and learn to engage thoughtfully, respectfully, confidently and curiously with the complexities of the world. To quote from our statement of strategic principles in Towards 2021:


We have a strong outward focus, actively engaging students in debates, issues and cultures beyond our boundaries, and offering a range of experiences that generate meaningful links with people who have different lives and perspectives… We aim to develop in every student intercultural understanding and respect and an awareness of contemporary social and political issues.


Only through doing this can we produce young women of character, generous in spirit and motivated to apply their gifts and energies in the service of others.

Ms Elizabeth Stone