The best way to get a sense of what it’s like to be at St Paul’s is to listen to the girls. They all stress the need to be prepared to try anything and everything that interests you – and not to be afraid that you’ll stand out from the crowd.
"This school is not a sausage factory – quite the reverse," says one year 10. "We’re encouraged to be individuals and to enjoy our differences.”
A year 11 echoes, “It’s easy to fit in. You could be anyone from anywhere and be happy here. You just have to join in and enjoy the opportunities you get."
They are also expected to take considerable responsibility for organising their own time, setting their academic priorities and looking after each other. "Being here is so exciting and there’s so much you don’t want to miss, so you become very good at time-management, very quickly," says a year 8.
Girls on the school council recently developed a code by which they believe the school should operate – RESPECT: Responsibility, Enthusiasm, Sensitivity, Politeness, Enjoyment, Courtesy, Trust. "We asked the teachers to leave so that we could debate the moral rules we felt should guide us without feeling inhibited," explains a year 12.
That means looking after each other. "We try to help each other," explains a year 13. "If you’re looking down, someone will always ask what’s up and help you through any problems. It’s competitive but supportive here. People aren’t selfish – they’re kind."