Headmistress Designate

St Mary's Shaftesbury-Auto Draft

The Board of Governors is delighted to announce the appointment of Mrs Maria Young as Head of St Mary’s Shaftesbury from September 2018.

A graduate of the Universities of Durham and Cambridge, Maria is currently the Deputy Head Pastoral and Head of Boarding at Worth School. Having started in the teaching profession at Bryanston, she has continued to have a distinguished career as a Director of Music in a variety of schools including Simon Langton School in Kent, where she became Lead Advisory Teacher for Music for the whole of Kent LEA.  Joining Worth as a housemistress, Maria has also contributed to the strong Catholic ethos of the school as a lay chaplain, while also leading an outstanding programme of music performance there.

As an educational leader, Maria has been keen to embed creativity across the school curriculum while raising standards in all subjects through cross-curricular co-operation.  With all her exceptional teaching and pastoral achievements Maria has also combined leadership in the financial and strategic aspects of running a boarding school and being a county Advisory Teacher, supervising the career development of fellow teachers.

Maria is married to Paul who is a Director of Music and a professional tenor and they have two grown-up sons.

We look forward to Maria’s arrival at St Mary’s to continue the school’s success and developments over the whole spectrum of its academic and pastoral life.

A Message From the Headmistress Designate

I am delighted to be joining St Mary’s as your new Headmistress in September, returning to North Dorset after a long absence. To be called to serve the community of St Mary’s is a great privilege and an exciting new chapter in my life.

There is something remarkable and distinctive about ‘the St Mary’s girl’. I felt extraordinarily welcomed and ‘at home’ as soon as I met the girls, and as I have come to know them better, I find myself among confident young women who are deeply articulate, reflective, energetic, creative, outward-looking and possessed of an impressively strong set of values. They are passionate about their school and keen to explain why. Mary Ward’s vision shines through their lives, still giving inspiration and meaning, four centuries on. A very strong ethos is abundantly present in the school, a spiritual and moral framework by which to live: this lies firmly at the heart of St Mary’s, and it is to be treasured. Mary Ward declared ‘No half women’, and I want our girls always to keep that idea in mind, to develop a growth mindset, to feel that everything is possible for them.

I am inspired by the words of a French philosopher, Gustave Thibon, who exhorts us to commit fully to our lives, to ‘dig in the narrow place which has been given you; you will find God there and everything. God does not float on your horizon, he sleeps in your substance. Vanity runs, love digs.’ A Catholic school is uniquely positioned to encourage this capacity, to form spiritual resilience and genuine self-reflectiveness guided by a strong internal moral compass. ‘Do good, and do it well’ is another favourite saying of Mary Ward.

My aim for St Mary’s will always to be to preserve the great strengths and traditions of the school and to build on those, but also to continue the reflective process of positive change and development which is necessary for an ambitious twenty-first century school. I am a passionate advocate of single-sex education for girls, having been through that system myself and spent most of my teaching career in girls’ schools. Fully committed to boarding life, I am keen to develop our provision further. Boarding at St Mary’s is busy, productive, sociable and the sense of community is unequalled. I look forward to seeing even more girls coming to join in the fun, and to be part of our boarding story.

In a girls’ school, no leadership roles are off-limits, no subjects are off-limits and our teachers are free to focus on the pedagogical methods that are proven to work best with girls. Girls in girls’ schools do exceptionally well, in every annual league table. Girls in girls’ schools stop being the audience – they step up onto the stage and become the players; girls in co-ed schools can end up doing far less. If you choose to send your daughter to St Mary’s, then she will have every opportunity for her leadership, her creativity, her dynamism and all her other strengths to flourish. In short, here she will have the chance genuinely to be herself and to become all that she can be. St Mary’s girls are truly the ‘dreamers of dreams’ and the ‘movers and shakers’, preparing to shape the twenty-first century.