As one of Scotland’s most prestigious and high achieving institutions, it is easy to think that academic excellence is the most important aspect of life at St Aloysius’ College. However, as Honor McWilliams tells us, exam results are just one aspect of the College’s aim of developing the whole person.
“As it says on our Green blazer pocket, the school motto, ‘Ad majora natus sum - I was born for greater things’, helps us realise that we should always try to achieve the best we can,” Honor explains. “Christian Formation, retreats and co-curricular activities help us achieve academically by keeping everything in perspective. At the end of the day, there will come a time when we no longer have to sit exams, but we will still have to be the best person we can be.”
Behind those pupils striving to be the best they can be are our teachers, each wholly invested in the individual needs of every child. It is this special relationship and rapport between staff and pupils that Honor believes makes the school unique.
“Teachers take a real interest in you as an individual and pay close attention to your wider interests as well as your more specific interests within the subject,” she tells us.
“For example, last year in history – my favourite subject – I became very interested in women’s issues and the part that women played in WWI and how it helped revolutionise our place in society. Mrs Craig had great faith in me to do great things and went beyond the curriculum in areas that I was really passionate about.”
It is the devotion of teaching staff to helping young people discover a deeper delight in learning that helps pupils achieve the Ignatian ideal of the Magis, striving to be more, to do more. So much so, that pupils like Honor are grateful for the opportunity to take their studies beyond the necessary.
“The teachers always try to teach you at a higher level than you might need to pass the exam,” says Honor. “It’s really flattering that they know you so well and believe that you are able to learn more than you might actually need. They focus on what we need and our interests and not only on passing the exams.”
What might surprise you, however, is that help and support in pupil study extends beyond staff. Pupils support one another where they can, helping one another achieve their goals – fulfilling the aim of achievement for the greater glory of God and the common good.
“Pupils are in it together when it comes to exams – everyone helps each other,” says Honor. “If someone is struggling everyone is willing to help them out. We’re encouraged to be men and women for others so much that it definitely translates to helping fellow pupils.”
“From as early as the Junior School I remember writing AMDG, ‘For the greater glory of God’, at the top of my work. It reminds us that, although our school work is there to help us develop as individuals, it is still so important to always do our best for the greater good and for the glory of God.”