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Faith in a Quaker School


Quaker values in education begin with the knowledge that every single person can make a worthwhile contribution. Being a pupil in a Quaker school means learning in an environment which supports your study, where making mistakes becomes an opportunity to explore learning, extend the boundaries of your knowledge and your love of learning. The Quaker practice of silence allows pupils to reflect on their studies and experiences, nurturing an open-minded approach to life.

Every day, I find time to just sit in silence, to reflect, to just BREATHE. And I know this all comes from everything I learned at The Mount. I didn’t understand the benefits of Silent Meeting at first, but as I got older, I truly learned to appreciate it. And always will.” – Siima Sabiti, celebrity, Mount Old Scholar (1993-1999) and former Head Girl

The Quaker ethos has been more influential in my life than I’d realised. It helped me always to see the best in people which, as I started to move into management roles, allowed me to approach my team with compassion and empathy and offer support wherever I can. It also taught me to be reflective which has been so useful. Instead of charging into a problem, I take a step back and reflect on my options before forming opinions or coming to conclusions.” – Victoria Brown, Astra-Zeneca Global Operations Graduate Trainee and Mount Old Scholar (2015-2017)

The Friends’ Schools Council website says that Quaker schoolsprovide every individual with moral, social, spiritual and educational progression, creating lifelong friendships and a passion for living and learning.”

The Mount does not indoctrinate girls to be Quaker; indoctrination is antithetical to Quaker faith. The school’s Quaker values of peace, equality, truth, sustainability and social justice underpin the fabric of school life. Many pupils carry those values and practices beyond their time with the school.

George Fox’s words, “Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone”, have been a guiding principle throughout my life, especially as my career has taken me to many different countries. Those words are more vital than ever as we face the many crises and deep divisions that challenge us today, and they give me courage in my work as an educator. Amidst the daily demands of teaching, scholarship, and parenting, it can be difficult to access that “still, small voice in the depths of my being”, but knowing it is there is a great source of strength and inner peace.” Verity Platt, Cornell University Professor and Mount Old Scholar (1988-1995)

The publication Faith and Practice in a Quaker School, by former Mount teacher Helen Snelson, examines the interplay of Quaker faith and life at The Mount. “A Quaker School should be restlessly searching, experimenting, taking risks. It is change and growth … that brings aliveness and even happiness. The Mount’s small, intimate environment encourages individual learning opportunities in and out of the classroom. Learning develops most creatively when relationships are based on mutual respect and everyone knows each other as people, not just as students and teachers. Students are guided to voice their own opinions while being receptive to others’ points of view.

Recognising the contribution of every single person, Helen balances the view of the individual and the collective in all aspects of school life. “Curiosity and enquiry are essential in The Mount process, encouraging opportunities for collaborative discussion and investigation between all parties. Education includes asking many questions of our teachers, of each other and of ourselves. It is healthy to question assumptions and the status quo. Risking getting things wrong and knowing that we can make mistakes is part of how we learn.

The Mount’s Quaker aims create a community to respect and value every individual, think and live adventurously, have the freedom to flourish in a calm and caring community, make a difference in our changing world and strive for personal excellence. “Watching a million stars shine, feeling the waves break on a volcanic beach, being moved by reading the next line, being shocked by painting that colour … discovering that living adventurously can free the spirit. We all need to experience education, not just receive it.

Recognising the uniqueness of each individual and their right to be treated with dignity and respect, Mount pupils are encouraged to act responsibly in their relationships with one another inside as well as outside the school community. “In class, with one another in daily live, we are asked to show respect no matter what our role,” says Helen. “We are encouraged to live peaceably and to resolve differences calmly, through dialogue, and to be honest in our endeavours to reach a positive conclusion. We are always called on to examine our own actions, to be truthful to one another and ourselves.

In a caring community, we are encouraged to do our best and to reach our potential; we do not have to be the best. On occasions where we do compete, we are encouraged to be better than before, to work hard as a team, to enjoy the camaraderie of achievement together and to enjoy winning fairly with respect for others and for ourselves.

What is particularly important about the Quaker ethos in our school is that girls are not told what to believe, but can take aspects of Quakerism that speak to them. Although girls in the school come from different faith backgrounds, and all have different beliefs, the intrinsic values of Quakerism become important to all us. They become something we take with us beyond school and throughout our lives, affording us confidence, humility and a drive for self-betterment. It is these qualities that make us Mount girls.” – Sasha Weeks, Mount Old Scholar (2009 – 2020) and former College Leader

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