Going global: GDST Heads fly the flag for girls’ education

GDST heads have shared their expertise on girls’ education at a global conference, leading sessions on resilience, inspiration and how to get girls to promote themselves.

The Global Forum on Girls’ Education, held in Washington DC, was attended by 800 experts from 20 different countries. It was set up for educators across the world to meet and discuss how to provide the best possible education for girls.

Kirsty von Malaisé, the Head at Norwich High School for Girls gave a speech about the Inspiring Females programme. The project connects young women with professional role models, to educate them about the world of careers. Kirsty shared her learnings on what has made their programme so successful and tips they have learnt along the way.

Fionnuala Kennedy from Wimbledon High School ran a session on how to help girls find their voice and be the ‘force, not the victim’. In the fast-moving and high-pressured age of social media, how can we ensure young women find confidence in their own identity? Fionnuala gave her thoughts on empowering girls to change the world, turning from ‘snowflake’ to ‘powerhouse’.

Heads of multiple GDST schools explored how to prepare students to balance academic success with the world of work. The session was led by Jane Lunnon (Wimbledon High School), Helen Stringer (Northampton High School) and Suzie Longstaff (Putney High School) with GDST’s Director of Innovation & Learning, Kevin Stannard.

The GDST has such an important role educating tomorrow’s leaders and the women of the future.

Suzie Longstaff, Headmistress, Putney High School

The Heads looked at how ‘disruptive behaviour’ is often discouraged in the classroom, but girls who can challenge authority have an advantage in the workplace. They gave advice on how to help girls promote themselves and focus on gaining respect rather than popularity.

Suzie Longstaff explained how to embed programmes in the curriculum that allow girls to gain self-assurance. She talked about things they have done at Putney High School to encourage spontaneity and creativity like their comedy workshops.

Suzie said: “The GDST has such an important role educating tomorrow’s leaders and the women of the future. The words in the GDST Spirit film, ‘nothing should hold a girl back’ are incredibly powerful. At Putney we make sure our girls leave with confidence in their abilities.”

Jo Duncan, Head at the Royal High School, Bath; Heidi Hughes, Head of the Royal High Junior School and Jane Prescott, Portsmouth High School spoke about crafting a creative curriculum using the indoor and outdoor classroom. They demonstrated how you “don’t need a forest” to get outdoors.

During their session, Jane Prescott discussed Portsmouth High School’s Explorer Programme. The programme encourages girls to develop intellectual curiosity, courage, and confidence. The school offers opportunities in music, sport and drama and rewards behaviours like grit, team work and leadership.

She explains: “The concept is really important, it teaches children to take risks, develop their natural curiosity and makes them value being perfect, less.”

Jane went on to say: “At the GDST, we are leaders in junior curriculum and bold in our approach, to positive effect. Children at our schools achieve well and do better. They are well-prepared for senior school and have greater confidence. This is of great interest to our fellow girls’ educators. It was great to be at the forum to share ideas, gain new contacts, learn new approaches and renew our enthusiasm.”