Category Archives: Head’s blog

St. Paul’s Varsity Basketball Team history of wins!

Did you know that our St. Paul’s Varsity Boys Basketball team has remained undefeated since 2016?

Our team has a long history of fantastic wins! Our 2011 and 2013 wins ended a cycle for a generation, but they certainly inspired a new one! Despite losing the 2015 final, our team returned with new energy and drive and has won every championship since!

The Varsity Boys Basketball team will play their final on April 26th. Come and cheer for them as they give their bests to guarantee another win for our outstanding streak!

St. Paul’s pupils celebrate their IGCSE results

After celebrating our latest and brilliant IB results last month, today, St. Paul’s new 6th form pupils received their IGCSE results, together with thousands of pupils around the world.

Last week, thousands of pupils around the world are celebrating their success as they receive their Cambridge IGCSE results. At St. Paul’s, the new Lower 6 pupils are celebrating some of the best numbers in the last five years, with around 62% of our pupils’ grades being A*-A, and 32% of our grades being A*. Overall, 88% of the grades are A*-B, which is our best result in more than seven years. This is a remarkable achievement and every pupil is to be congratulated on their individual successes!

It has been a very demanding year for pupils and all have worked incredibly hard to overcome the many challenges of the pandemic, in order to gain their qualifications and move forward with their next educational steps.

IGCSEs are the international counterpart to the British GCSE examinations, which are undertaken by almost every pupil in the UK. Usually, they are run as externally set, assessed and moderated examinations but this year the grades have been based on pupil progress and evidence collated by teachers. Our pupils study a broad and balanced curriculum including the arts, sciences, humanities, maths, and languages, and they generally sit 9 to 11 subjects. Doing well in examinations is not everything, but these results open doors for our pupils for the future. It will lead them, we know, to great success in their IB diploma programme studies in the final two years of school, and to great university offers in the future. Well done everyone!    


St. Paul’s School achieves its Eco-School accreditation

We are delighted to announce that we have just achieved our Eco-Schools accreditation. Celebrating the end of our school’s Green week last week, the timing could be more perfect.

Eco-Schools is an internationally recognised programme which encourages the whole school community, staff, pupils and parents, to support the school in becoming more sustainable. Through this programme, young people experience a sense of achievement at being able to have a say in the environmental management policies of their schools, ultimately steering them towards certification and the prestige which comes with being awarded a Green Flag. 

Since 2019 the Eco-Committee has been working towards attaining the Eco-Schools certification. During this time, the Eco-Committee and pupils have gathered evidence of all the green-related projects and initiatives happening throughout the school. After submitting the evidence, we are delighted to announce that St. Paul’s School has been awarded the Green Flag, providing us with recognition for our commitment to being a better and greener school.

This is just one step in what we believe will be an exciting and ongoing journey for our school to reduce its carbon footprint and expand on the initiatives we have already established.

Here are some of the initiatives that have taken place:

  • Pupils have become Eco-Warriors across the Junior School with different projects involving the pupils and the community.
  • Green week projects across the school
  • Reduction of single-use plastic across the school
  • A partnership with a local recycling company to collect and recycle the school’s waste

The impacts of the pandemic on a generation of isolated pupils

If I was looking forward to a change of scene, I certainly got one. Coming from rural Scotland to take over the headship of a school here in São Paulo, it was no surprise that the temperatures, topography and tempo of life of the sparsely populated open spaces in the northern extremities of Britain contrasted sharply to those of the teeming metropolis of South America’s biggest city. The colours, noise, smells and warmth of São Paulo hit uninitiated visitors as soon as they leave the airport terminal. 

And yet, as an educationalist I am always struck by the similarities of schools around the world; however different they may appear at first sight, scratch the surface and familiar patterns soon emerge. Schools are schools, teachers are teachers and – most fundamentally of all – children are children. Young people share many similar aspirations and anxieties; they display similar tendencies towards excitement, laughter, engagement and boredom. 

One parallel I had not expected to find when I was first appointed to the job of Headmaster in October 2019 was that schools in Britain and Brazil would be closed to pupils. As with my final term in Britain, my first term in Brazil is a lonely existence amid empty classrooms and corridors, playing fields and dining rooms. 

Teachers in both countries rose to the challenge of online teaching with extraordinary energy and inventiveness, parents adapted their lives as bedrooms become teaching spaces, and pupils had to adjust their learning habits to suit the virtual world.  At first it was all somewhat unreal. Some hailed online schooling as the bright new future for education. To others, it was an expedient of the moment and the imperfections of the online curriculum were accepted as an inevitable but temporary limitation as we fought the virus. 

Seven months on and no-one now pretends that children can learn as fast or effectively online as they can in the classroom; no-one can deny the emotional and physical toll that school closures risk inflicting on our youngsters. Spending hour after hour on a screen, taking only limited amounts of physical exercise, isolating themselves from the realities of physical and social interaction – all this will leave its scars on a generation already pummeled by a pervasive social media culture. For that reason, as the world stumbles its way out of the lockdown, in São Paulo schools remain closed and the provisional date for even a partial reopening has now been pushed back yet again, this time until November. As the country faces an extreme challenge in tackling the pandemic, there is no doubt that local authorities face a difficult choice. As a guest in this country, it is not my place to tell the elected representatives of the city how to do their job or presume to sit in judgement of those who have to make tough decisions on which lives and livelihoods depend. I am also very aware that no plan to reopen schools is without risk and the appalling ravages that this disease can inflict on individuals and communities are not to be underestimated. 

Nevertheless, I would ask that, in plotting a way out of the lockdown, the ultimate cost of maintaining the current ban on the reopening of schools is considered. By keeping children away from their classrooms, we are not just stunting their academic progress but are denying them the opportunity to socialise, develop and grow together within a physical community of learning. The sedentary realities of life online do nothing to develop our young people to be healthy and active as they go about their lives. The toll on the mental health on a generation who have not had the opportunity to come together and absorb the full breadth of childhood experiences has to be weighed carefully against the threat posed by the pandemic. 

Most of the available evidence suggests that children of school age are at least risk of contracting or transmitting Covid19.  

No school reopening strategy is without risk – and our children must not be brought up to believe that the world can be made risk-free. They need to understand that risks need to be managed and that there is a difference between taking careful steps to achieve a positive outcome on the one hand and being reckless on the other. Such steps should include regular temperature checks, hand-sanitising stations, one-way systems, ventilated classrooms, maintaining social distancing whenever possible. Those most at risk – staff and pupils – may need to carry on online for now but the societal cost of not socialising our children as safely and as soon as possible must not be underestimated. 

A school reopening programme can be cautious and gradual and might need to make the occasional adjustment along the way. In trying to defeat a health emergency in the short term, we should be mindful of the cost to the educational, physical, social, emotional and mental development of our young people in the long term. 

  • This article was published by O Estado de S. Paulo’s online version – you can read it here

A warm welcome to St. Paul’s School new Headmaster, Mr Titus Edge

We are delighted to announce that Mr Titus Edge has now taken over as Headmaster of St. Paul’s School. Mr Edge was Headmaster of Gordonstoun, one of the leading independent schools in the UK and a global leader in character education. In that sense both schools have a lot in common, as at St. Paul’s we believe in the power of a holistic education, preparing our pupils with strength of character and broad skills to face the challenges of the modern world. 

Mr Edge’s appointment also marks the first step in an exciting programme that will lead to the St. Paul’s centenary in 2026 and beyond. 

Mr Edge is a History graduate of Newcastle University and undertook his PGCE in Secondary Education at the University of Oxford. He has taught at several independent schools, including City of London School and Dulwich College, both as a teacher and in management positions. He also remains a governor at a leading prep school in Scotland. He is married to Marina, an Old Paulean, and knows São Paulo well. They have one daughter and twin sons. Everyone who has met him has been impressed with his energy, vision and collaborative approach. 

 In his own words, following his appointment, Mr Edge commented:

“I am hugely honoured to take over the headship of St. Paul’s. As one of the great British international schools, St. Paul’s stands out as a beacon of educational excellence in Latin America. I look forward to working with everyone at the school – pupils, staff, governors and parents – to build on the work Louise Simpson has done and ensure that this thriving and successful school approaches its centenary with confidence.” 

Once a Lion, always a Lion

As I write my final blog post of the academic year, it is hard to imagine life beyond St. Paul’s, but that is certainly what awaits me, and a ‘new normal’ that none of us could have imagined just a few months ago. 

I hope that you will agree that we have undergone quite an educational revolution in the last three months. Moving to 100% virtual learning almost overnight, and seeing just how important our ICT investment has been to support pupils and staff as they have worked from their homes. It has saddened me to hear plans of ‘back to work’ in the press – as they have not given credit to the incredible staff teams who have supported children to maintain their continuity of education throughout this quarantine period. We have certainly all been working (harder than normal!) and so whilst it might be ‘back to school’ it is certainly not a resumption of work, since we never stopped! 

At the start of ‘lockdown’ the concerns from all sides were primarily about the educational offer for pupils. With time, we have come to realise that it is connectivity, community and wellbeing, which are the prime concerns in our online lives, rather than content. Those of us who have faced a period living alone during quarantine, especially those who are not used to a solitary life, have perhaps found it harder than others. I certainly realised the importance of Betsy, the beagle, when living alone in São Paulo to keep me exercised and feel connected. Our daily walks were crucial for my wellbeing, and as we walked around the Jardins area, often encountering members of the school community on their own perambulations, the lion community spirit really showed through. We felt more connected than usual. 

My new normal will be post-Lion, in a provincial cathedral city school in the south west of England. Exeter is a relatively small city, certainly after São Paulo, and Exeter School has a long and proud tradition and a fabulous community, which I am keen to get to know and integrate with, as I have done in Brazil. Arriving as a new head offers many exciting challenges – and certainly arriving to a school which is getting back on its feet after a pandemic is not something most heads will have had the chance to do before. But, I have learnt much in Brazil, I have developed my skills as a leader and an educator, been able to face new challenges head on, and, hopefully have enough strategies in my toolbox to face whatever challenges Exeter will bring. 

My time as a part of the in-situ Lion community comes to an end, but as we all know, Lions are for life, and I will now (and always) be an Old Paulean. As I look forward, what a wonderful experience I have had, and what amazing Lion-memories I am taking with me. Thank you all! 


St. Paul’s well represented in the Wharton Investment Competition World finals

We are delighted to share that a group of St. Paul’s Lower 6th pupils (Lorenzo, Julia, Annie, Raphaella and Victoria), who formed the investment club Lions of Wall Street – has just participated in the Knowledge at Wharton High School (KWHS) Investment Competition world finals. 

After months of hard work, the team won second place in regional finals and were then awarded a place in the world finals, which took place this week in an online event. The pupils encountered a board of judges online who asked questions about their presentation previously sent.Unfortunately, the team did not classify into the top 3 teams at this final stage, but they are truly grateful for the experience and pleased with what they have learned.

This competition is all about creating an investment strategy for a given client, giving pupils the opportunity to gain an insight into stock market investment and understand investment concepts. The competition is divided into phases: a final report, regional finals, and finally, the world finals. Each of these phases were eliminatory, so the competition starts with 572 teams and only 12 get to go to the world finals.

“The KWHS Wharton Investment competition has provided us, the Lions of Wall Street, with a remarkable opportunity to grasp investment concepts and understand more about how the investment world works”, the team emphasised.

KWHS has a mission to provide pupils and educators around the world with a deeper understanding of business and finance and to equip them with the skills needed to excel in the global marketplace. It is a part of the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania. The Latin America and Caribbean region competition is organised and run by the Wharton Alumni Association of Brazil

St. Paul’s Foundation preparation programme online

This year, pupils and teachers all over the world have developed new skills and met new challenges as never before, as the Covid-19 outbreak required schools and educational programmes to move to an 100% online environment. The same situation goes for the St. Paul’s Foundation: candidates in the preparation course for the 2020 entry selection process also have all their lessons and exams remotely, with the support of volunteer teachers from St. Paul’s.

Remote learning started in late March and it was a brand new experience for many of our candidates, who had never had all their subjects taught online before. “It made me a bit anxious about how everything would progress. Such a new and ambiguous reality for everyone”, says Antonio. But with hard work and resilience, it took only a few lessons for them to adjust and classes now run smoothly. “In the beginning it was different, like every conversion process, but I think that we adapted incredibly well”, Gregorio adds.

And if “bringing school home” initially sounded like a good opportunity to work in familiar, individual spaces, it can also be a bit distracting. Elisa says that “at home you can get more comfortable, but it is not the best environment for having classes as there are more noise and objects surrounding you.”

But some tricks can make the adaptation easier. Ana Claudia shares her tips. “I need to find a quiet place. In my case, I chose the kitchen because my parents work in the living room. I also keep the notebook, pencil case, water, etc. by my side, so then I do not need to leave my seat during my study time. With all that ready and organised, I can focus on the classes and on the tasks”, she explains.

In the end, remote learning – both as part of St. Paul’s Foundation preparation course and at the candidates’ respective schools – has brought them a new perspective regarding the academic routine. “After the quarantine started, I realised that the struggles I had to face in my busy daily routine were worth it, and now that I don’t have that routine anymore, I have begun to appreciate it.”, says João.

The St. Paul’s preparation course continues until late May and is the final stage of the selection process, with the final scholars being chosen in June. It is hoped that the chosen scholars will join St. Paul’s for the 2020-21 academic year.

Adding value through character development

Welcome back to everyone after the half term break. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and have returned feeling refreshed and full of energy for the rest of the term. As we start the second half of the term, I would like to reflect on the annual HMC conference that I attended in the UK just before half term and what impressions I came away with this year.

At the Autumn Conference 2019 – ‘HMC 150’, I had a chance to meet with friends old and new, hear some inspiring speakers and consider a little about the leadership journey I am on, and how best I can serve my school. A theme that ran through the conference is the political challenge that UK independent schools currently face; inevitably we considered the ways that we could tell our story more clearly, and engage with a British public that might, at times, be sceptical about the value of schools which are attended by such a small sector of children (about 7%) and are seen as elite and privileged.

Alongside this, also at the same time, I have started a new learning journey myself, as I embark a upon a master’s course from the University of Birmingham, in character education. Character is something that is perhaps an intangible thing, hard to describe and put one’s finger on, but at the same time, very clear and evident in those who have it. Over recent years the development of character and the importance of particular character traits – such as integrity, honesty, resilience and determination – have come to the forefront of the minds of educators. Indeed, our own Lion Learning programme encapsulates some of these habits in the classroom and, I hope, will help our children to develop their character alongside their academic skills in everything that they do at school – academic and otherwise. 

Developing character

It struck me, as I started to work through some of my research materials on the train travelling home, that the development of character, habits and attributes that we see so clearly in our children is one of the things that marks out the true value of an independent school education. Perhaps this should be the unique selling point (USP) that we should be most proud of in this sector. On my course I am starting to consider whether (and perhaps how) character can be taught… I must say that I am quite sceptical that it can be taught, but I absolutely agree that it can be acquired and further developed through the right curriculum and enrichment activities, and that these are things that must remain key in our educational provision. 

Sadly many state-funded UK schools are under such intense pressure to deliver good academic results in the national public exams that the development of softer skills and the enrichment of the curriculum (for example through sport and music) have sometimes had to take a back seat. This reduces the opportunities that some children have to participate in those activities and events which will help them to develop their character, and sadly they may end up less confident in those soft skills and good habits which we know make them so attractive to universities and employers when they leave school.

We are so lucky at St. Paul’s to have such a rich and varied programme of enrichment activities, great trips and facilities to support every pupil in developing their character and a committed and talented staff team to support them. These traits and habits bring enormous benefits in the classroom and we should embrace and celebrate them and help our children to take every opportunity they are offered. 

We care, don’t we?

There was a time when the role of a teacher was simply to educate the academic aspects of the brain, to worry only about public examination outcomes and to consider how we could make sure that every child learned their sums, practised the skills taught in art class or was able to write a well-structured history essay. How outdated this approach now seems. Life for youngsters today is far more complicated than ever before. They live a life which straddles the real world, of family relationships, day to day routine and the normalcy of school and a life online of Instagram, celebrities, perfectionism and ‘relationships’ with people they are never going to meet. And of course, on top of this, we still expect them to fulfil their potential academically. 


The pressure that comes with being a young person growing up in this ever more pressured world has led all of us who work with young people to recognise that positive relationships and good mental health should be at the heart of a school. If our pupils are happy, balanced and secure in their lives, then they are much more likely to work hard, enjoy the myriad enrichment activities that we offer and, crucially, able to meet their potential academically.


It is this which lies at the heart of We Care. This is our initiative to ensure that positive mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of all of our minds, and to help our pupils construct and maintain excellent relationships with other pupils and the adults they encounter in school, and with it responsible and positive behaviour for learning. We Care is a school wide initiative, starting with the very youngest children in the Pre-Prep and going right through to the oldest pupils in the Sixth Form. It is a restatement and a joining up of what we have been doing for many years as a school that believes in the best quality pastoral care; however, we hope that, by being a bit more explicit about relationships and mental health and wellbeing, we can make the outcomes even better.


We care also extends to our staff body (and not just the teaching staff!), and the HR department is working hard on wellbeing initiatives such as yoga and gym membership, to help all of us to feel more positive about what happens in school each day. We hope that it will be an approach that parents will understand and take home to their own relationships there too, and we look forward to hearing feedback from families in due course. 


When Claire Harvey, a British Paralympian, visited our school last year she talked about the impact that anxiety and poor wellbeing have on pupils in schools around the world. She urged us to be inclusive and equitable in our relationships, and to consider how we can make the structure around us positive and supportive for all. This is what We Care is all about – showing that you worry about others, and being ready to extend the hand of friendship and to help a colleague or pupil feel included. Because this makes us feel happier, and when we are happier, everything seems better, even our history essays!