Thursday 11 October was a day of celebration at Queen Anne’s, as Double Olympic Champion, Dame Kelly Holmes, visited the school to meet with the girls and open Maddock, a new state-of-the-art boarding house. The opening coincided with the UN observed ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, a day which aims to raise public awareness of the importance of girls’ rights to equal education and their fundamental freedoms.
Dame Kelly Holmes spoke to the Queen Anne’s girls about the importance of making a difference, striving for the very best and not giving up. This fits perfectly with the Queen Anne’s philosophy of ‘no limits’ learning and empowering young women to achieve excellent academic results and developing a life-long passion for learning in all spheres and the skills, knowledge and confidence to reach their goals. Dame Kelly said:
“Have a goal and don’t give up. Achieving your goal takes hard work, dedication and a belief that you can do it. I was lucky enough to have a great support network of people who believed that I could achieve gold at the Olympics, and after twenty years of dreaming, I achieved my goal.”
Following a motivational speech to the 420 students aged 11-18, Dame Kelly officially opened Maddock House. Due to demand for places from London and surrounding areas, the school needed to increase its boarding provision. The house is home to over 70 girls and is the second phase in an overall £5.5million building project. The ultra-modern facilities include one, two and three bedded rooms, a large sitting room with patio doors leading into the eco garden, a kitchen/diner for the all-important toast and hot chocolate, a full computer suite and WI-FI throughout. Headmistress Mrs Julia Harrington said:
“It has been a wonderful day. The girls have been so excited – it’s been like Christmas Eve with the girls making cards and preparing for our very special visitor. Dame Kelly spoke to the girls about her life and has inspired them to go out into the world to be the best they can be and make a difference in everything they do.
In the year of the home Olympics and the Paralympics Dame Kelly Holmes was the perfect choice to open our new boarding house. Not only is she a truly inspirational woman who was instrumental in bringing the Olympics to London, but her successes, inner spirit and drive encourage and motivate our girls to reach for the stars and be the best that they can be – so she is also the perfect choice to celebrate ‘International Day of the Girl Child’.”
Dame Kelly spoke to the students about ‘how to achieve the best in life’. Her message complemented the Queen Anne’s ‘World Class in Class’ programme, which aims to show the girls what the best looks like so that they can achieve at the highest level and make a real difference in the world. Dame Kelly’s talk motivated the girls to be the best they can be:
“Never think ‘if only’. That’s a regret. Give it a go and you can say you tried. Always give it your best shot and never be afraid of failure. Remember the Japanese proverb ‘fall down seven times and stand up eight’”
When asked by one of the Queen Anne’s girls, who had inspired her, Dame Kelly replied:
“My PE teacher! She believed in me and gave me the confidence to believe that I could get gold at the Olympics.”
Speaking about Dame Kelly’s visit to Queen Anne’s, Julia said:
“In the past year we have been lucky enough to secure some very inspirational guests at Queen Anne’s. These have included: Philip Schofield, who opened our Sixth Form house last year and Baroness Floella Benjamin, our guest speaker at Speech Day. The girls have been tutored by world famous musicians from the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields and drama students coached by Hollywood stuntman, Mark Ruddick, on how to perform stunts safely on stage.”
The new house sits alongside the new Sixth Form House and Wilkins House, the school’s other junior house, around a landscaped quad area where the girls can relax and chat in the eco garden. U5 (Year 11) student and Head of Maddock House, Sinead McCarthy said:
“Today has been incredible. It was wonderful to meet such an inspirational woman, and she really is a great role model for us all.When we moved into the new house we really wanted to make our mark so we have adopted the acronym: ‘Motivated, Aspirational Dedicated, Determined, Open-minded, Committed and Keen for ‘Maddock’ – it sums up our house and what Dame Kelly said perfectly!”
Girls attend Queen Anne’s daily or on a full, weekly or flexi-board basis according to individual family needs. Each girl, whether day or boarding, belongs to a House and the House system is integral to the academic and pastoral care. Currently half the pupils board and half attend on a daily basis. In the Lower School, L4 – U5 (Years 7 – 11), there are three Day Houses: Ffyler, Webbe and Wisdome; and two Boarding Houses: Maddock and Wilkins. The Lower and Upper Sixth Form students are based in Holmes House and Michell House respectively, where day girls and boarders share the facilities as they prepare for A Levels and university life. Each House has a full academic and pastoral support team assigned to it. Mrs Harrington continues:
“All of the Houses are fun and vibrant places to be; house staff pride themselves on their welcoming, friendly and family oriented atmospheres. Each morning the girls register in their respective Houses, then at break and lunch times the girls are welcome to return to the House to relax. In the afternoon following lessons, the girls are based in the House to complete their prep and attend extra-curricular activities.”
All seven Houses are well equipped ensuring the girls have a homely environment in which they can relax and socialize together. Whether boarding or day each has at least one ‘sit’ (spacious sitting room), dedicated study areas and kitchen facilities – with hot drinks for the all-important hot chocolate! Wireless internet is accessible throughout, allowing girls to connect using the school’s or their own laptops. Mrs Harrington went on to say:
“As a school we are very excited about the future of boarding. As an independent boarding and day school, we offer boarding as a modern, relevant experience which is inclusive of the day girls’ experience. Our evening and weekend activity programmes run alongside the high levels of pastoral care that are a key part of a boarding community. Our girls leave Queen Anne’s School as happy, well-rounded girls, equipped to succeed in a fast changing and competitive world.”
The school day begins at 8.00am and ends at 6.30pm, with the exception of Wednesday when the day finishes at 4.30pm. The extended day enables the girls to take part in extra-curricular activities and academic clinics and complete prep. As a result, when the school day finishes at 6.30pm, the evening is the girls’ own to relax and spend quality time with family and friends. At weekends both boarding and day girls take part in the activities programme. The programme changes every term and there is always something for everyone! Mrs Harrington says:
“Every girl has her own unique qualities and our job as educators is to provide the opportunities, encouragement and motivation to develop these qualities. By bringing high performing professionals from the worlds of academia, performing arts, sport and enterprise into the classroom, our girls are encouraged to discover their passion and achieve in all areas.”
Another Maddock House resident, Year 8 student, Izzy Zealey from London summed up the celebrations:
“We are going to be celebrating the opening tonight with hot chocolate because it’s national chocolate week, but to be honest, we’ll find any excuse to have hot chocolate. It’s been a brilliant day!”
Thank you to Dame Kelly for visiting the school and being such a positive influence on our girls!