Celebrating 17 years of leadership as St Mary’s School set to welcome new Headmistress

Posted: 24th November 2023

Students and teachers at St Mary’s School, Cambridge, are set to bid a fond farewell to Headmistress, Charlotte Avery, in 2024 after 17 years of leadership at the school. Charlotte’s successor has already been secured following a rigorous recruitment process, with Mrs Hannah Helliar set to take over the role as Headmistress from September 2024.

Hannah joined St Mary’s in 2012 and has worked across the school in a variety of senior leadership roles. Most recently, Hannah worked with the former Bursar on the successful partnership with Homerton College to construct the school’s state-of-the-art sports ground at Long Road. An outstanding historian, she has also taught History to many St Mary’s students during her time at the school and has previously headed up both the Admissions and Marketing teams.

Educated at Woldingham School, where she was Head Girl, Hannah then read Ancient and Modern History at Brasenose College, University of Oxford.  Before joining St Mary’s, she held a number of roles within the independent education sector, including Housemistress, Head of History and Head of Sixth Form.

Commenting on her appointment, Hannah said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the next Headmistress at St Mary’s. I am excited about the opportunity to lead this wonderful school to continued success, building upon its already strong foundation. Charlotte has certainly set high standards throughout her remarkable service as Headmistress and we all wish her great happiness and success as she takes up the challenge of her second headship in New Zealand. I eagerly anticipate meeting parents, students and staff over the rest of this academic year in my new capacity as we embark together on a journey towards a future as brilliant as the aspirations of our exceptional students.”

Chair of Governors, Mrs Jo Storey, shared some comments on the new appointment on behalf of the Governors: “Hannah is an inspired and accomplished educationalist. As a role model for the pupils in her care, she embodies the values and aspirations we hold dear at St Mary’s. Our new Headmistress is set to become a true ambassador for our institution, dedicated to ensuring that the quality of education and holistic development of our pupils will be world-class. She is committed to equipping our students with the skills necessary for the workforce and instilling in them the confidence to make their voices heard in a dynamic world. We eagerly anticipate the contributions and guidance she will bring to our community.”

In September, Charlotte Avery announced her intention to leave St Mary’s in the summer of 2024 to become Principal of an all-girls school in New Zealand. She will remain in her role as Head of St Mary’s until the 2023/24 academic year concludes in July 2024. She will then move to New Zealand with her family, taking up her new post as Principal of the highly-regarded St Cuthbert’s College in Auckland in August 2024.

Since she joined St Mary’s in 2007, Charlotte has touched the lives of thousands of pupils. Under her leadership, St Mary’s has undergone many transformational changes. Recent highlights have included the opening of the innovative Junior School STEM Learning Lab in 2022, acquiring three beautiful properties for its Junior School, Boarders and Sixth Form students, a joint venture with the City of Cambridge Rowing Club to secure the use of a Boat House on the River Cam, and a partnership with Homerton College to upgrade the school’s sports ground.


Commenting, Charlotte said: “I have given my heart and soul to leading St Mary’s during 16 immensely fulfilling years and I shall be very sad to leave the school community. I am delighted with Hannah’s appointment. She is the perfect successor. As an existing member of the team, she understands and appreciates our Christian ethos of enabling every girl to achieve her personal best in order to become curious, creative and compassionate young people. I am fully confident that Hannah’s passion and expertise, along with her intellect and integrity, will further enrich the educational and personal journey of each of our students. She will also provide reassuring continuity and intelligent insights to promote ongoing change, which is necessary to keep a school community vibrant.”

St Mary’s has achieved numerous awards and accolades over the years. The school recently secured a place in the Top 250 list of ‘World’s Leading Boarding Schools’ by Fortune. In Spring 2023, the school was announced as a finalist for a ‘Boarding Innovation’ award at the BSA Boarding Excellence Awards. St Mary’s was also shortlisted as a finalist in the Independent School of the Year (ISOTY) Awards 2023 in the category ‘Independent Girls’ School of the Year’.

The school also received the highest grade of ‘Excellent’ in its most recent ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) inspection in both aspects of the Education Quality Inspection, which covers ‘The quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements’ and ‘The quality of pupils’ personal development’. In its most recent Diocesan Inspection, St Mary’s achieved ‘Outstanding’ in all three categories. This comes hot on the heels of the school achieving some of its strongest public examination results in the summer of 2023, bucking national trends.

Source – Celebrating 17 years of leadership as St Mary’s School set to welcome new Headmistress | The Boarding Schools’ Association

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