The GDST is committed to improving social mobility and to helping every girl, whatever her background, to fulfil her potential and her dreams. Overall, approximately 20% of students at GDST senior schools receive a bursary or scholarship.
Central to GDST’s ethos is the importance our 23 feepaying schools attach to working in collaboration with state schools and universities to help raise standards across the wider education system, particularly in disadvantaged areas. In the past year alone, GDST schools have worked in partnership with over 430 state schools and universities on projects which have helped to raise aspirations and attainment across the sectors and to build broader skills such as confidence, problem solving, teamwork and leadership.
The case studies below show the diversity and depth of our partnership and outreach work.
Blackheath High School
Reaching for the stars
25 students from maintained schools in South East London join Blackheath High School students each year to work towards a GCSE qualification in Astronomy. The school has funded the project since 2011, offering this highly specialised qualification to encourage students to pursue a career in the sector.
“We are committed to giving back to our local community. The atmosphere of the school is compassionate, supportive and open-minded and we will continue extending that warmth to our local partners and neighbours.
This partnership is a unique initiative which has been incredibly successful.”
Carol Chandler-Thompson, Head teacher, Blackheath High School
Croydon High School
12 girls, aged 9-10, from five primary schools. Sometimes the only thing holding girls back is a lack of confidence in themselves, in their abilities or in the importance of their ideas. The Confidence Club is a four-week programme which focuses on building confidence in girls through drama, art, English and history.
The sessions focus on:
“Confidence Club at Croydon High has been an invaluable experience for my daughter and I have loved hearing about what she has learnt and how much fun she has had each week. The club has really helped empower her and her confidence had grown immensely.” Parent
Northampton High School
Now’s The Time Conference
Following on from the successful #Now’sTheTime conference in 2018, Northampton High School, along with their partnerships programme, Queen’s Cross Connect, curated a follow-up event, which strived to help young women who are looking to advance their young careers in medicine. Funding was generously provided by HSBC.
Held in October 2019 for students in Years 10-13, #NowsTheTime2 aimed to break down barriers for women in medicine, and pupils and staff were delighted to be joined by a host of illustrious speakers for the day.
The guests included Jane Marshall of Optimising Futures on making a successful university application, Dr Christopher Nordstom of The Medic Portal on where to apply and how to get in, and Dr Melanie Crofts, professor of law at De Montfort University on narrowing the gender pay gap. Alongside these fantastic seminars, students had the opportunity to network with professionals in medicine and to meet with potential medical applicants from local schools. A carousel of workshops followed with each session providing invaluable experience for aspiring medics.
Putney High School
A holistic approach to wellbeing
In Autumn 2019, thanks to funding provided by HSBC, students at Putney High School held their first Breathe Conference, following the success of ‘Breathe Week’ the previous year.
Students had a day off timetable, packed full of activities to build awareness, understanding and appreciation for the environment at a school and local level.
Students from local schools also joined and formulated plans to drive forward positive change upon their return to their own schools.
“The Breathe Conference was a key highlight of the school year. Not only did the girls embrace and enjoy the conference on the day but the awareness, take-aways and key learnings they gained have lived on. Many of the students who attended externally we met with 6 months later at one of our Cool to be Curious events and it was clear that they too had taken a lot away from the many sessions available to them on the day.
Personally, I felt overwhelmingly lucky to have looked around on the day and seen so many experts and specialists all in one place helping to teach and broaden our students horizon’s and understanding. But not only that, it was the students’ energy and passion for wanting to involve themselves in the importance of the theme for the day; those that cleared vegetative areas on East Sheen Common and visited the Barnes Wetland Centre, still talk now of their enjoyment at the practical experience they got to have.
I was proud to watch our students take the issues associated with climate change so seriously and one silver lining of the recent lockdown is that we’ve been able to turn many of our aspirations and goals, as a school, into a reality through a reduction in paper usage, pollution as a result of travel and food waste.”
Pippa Gilbert, Director of Research, Learning and Outreach, Putney High School
Putney High School
Cool to be Curious
Our Cool to be Curious collaboration with Roehampton University follows on from Cool to be Clever, a two year project aimed at raising the aspirations of local Year 5 pupils. The project is particularly aimed at gifted and talented pupils who might be the first in their family to consider Higher Education. Putney’s Year 10 act as mentors to the younger children over the course of the project, looking at topics from Philosophy, STEM and the environment to Sports Science and Music.
Sheffield High School for Girls
Cool to be Clever
70 pupils per year, aged 9-11, from 13 primary schools.
In partnership with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield South East Learning Partnership, the Cool to be Clever Club works with around 70 of the city’s brightest yet most disadvantaged Year 5 and Year 6 pupils who are mentored by students from Sheffield Girls’. Now in its fifth year, the scheme brings together children who share the same academic and personal potential to move onto higher education and fosters key skills such as independent learning, self-reflection, teamwork, confidence and resilience. Sessions are held at the university and at Sheffield Girls’, covering topics such as engineering, law, journalism, debating and critical thinking. Parents are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning through a parent portal and newsletter and a special graduation ceremony held at the university.
This project was singled out by the Department for Education in its “Schools that work for everyone” report in May 2018 as an example of best practice in cross sector working, raising attainment for those from disadvantaged and under-represented groups. A similar project – Cool to be Curious – is led by Putney High School in partnership with Roehampton University and 12 local primary schools.
“It truly is great to see how the confidence of our children has grown through this programme.” Teacher, Emmaus Primary School
“This project excites children about learning… The partnership has widened horizons for Sheffield’s children and their families and is making a real contribution to equalising the life chances of these pupils.” Marie Lowe, Strategic Lead for Policy and Strategy, Sheffield City Council
Shrewsbury High School
Women Mean Business
In November 2019, Shrewsbury High School held their first ever Women Mean Business event thanks to support and funding provided by HSBC. Speakers at the panel event included female business leaders from the community, including Shrewsbury High School alumna and former Head Girl, Carol Homden CBE (Class of 1978). The event was also open to students from local state schools.
“It truly was an inspiring evening listening to our brilliant panel of businesswomen answer equally brilliant questions from the young women in the audience.
The aim was to inspire young women to head out into the world with confidence and I’m sure they found the advice from the panelists useful as they consider the journeys they would like to take.”
Gemma Parish, Head of Careers, UCAS and Outreach and Partnership Lead
Shrewsbury High School
Shropshire Biomedical Outreach Programme
100+ students per year, aged 14-18, from 20 schools.
The annual programme is now in its fifth year and aims to provide careers advice and extension opportunities for more able students seeking careers in bio-medicine from all areas of Shropshire. Admissions tutors from Keele University and advisors from Medic Mentors help to develop students’ knowledge and skills in the following areas:
The impact of the programme has been far reaching:
South Hampstead High School
30+ children per year aged 9-10 from nine primary schools.
A number of GDST schools also support Year 6 children in local primary schools by providing Sixth Formers to help deliver SATS booster sessions.
“The primary school children have developed a much deeper understanding of mathematical problem solving; teachers have gained a better understanding of the KS2 curriculum and Sixth Form mentors have gained confidence and developed their communication skills through working with the children.
Streatham & Clapham High School
Classics in the Community
300+ pupils from five secondary schools and five primary schools
Classics in the Community is a range of activities to widen access to Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation in the local area and was highly commended in the Independent School of the Year of the Awards for its contribution to social mobility.
The opportunity to study Classical Civilisation is rare in the local inner-city London boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth, so SCHS has opened its doors to over 30 pupils from five secondary schools to embark upon the GCSE in the subject and enable as many young people as possible to gain access to the rich cultural legacy of the classical world.
Wimbledon High School
Teach Together Programme
100+ children per year, aged 9-11, from four primary schools.
The Teach Together programme involves Wimbledon High School Sixth Formers working with children in local primary schools, on a range of subjects, with the aim of building the children’s confidence and problem solving skills and providing extension opportunities for the most able.
Benefits to all involved:
Norwich High School
Over 300 students, aged 12-17, from six schools.
The Inspiring Females (IF) programme was launched in 2016 with the mission to prepare young women for their futures, creating platforms to explore their questions and represent their voices. The goal is to offer girls from state and independent schools the opportunity to interact with inspiring women from all walks of life in a myriad of different ways, recognising that every girl is individual and will be inspired by different women, at different times. Inspiring Females reaches out to all young women in the city, regardless of their social, economic or educational background.
Over 80 women have been part of Inspiring Females over the last academic year, representing a diverse range of professions including acting, law, charities, finance, media, diplomacy, engineering and sport, sharing their stories with students from independent and state schools throughout the Norwich area. The IF summit in 2017 brought together over 300 students aged 12-17 from six schools, who took part in workshops and Q & A panels. They explored themes such as building confidence and resilience, and how to face the challenges of being a young female leader.