Talking Heads: Sheffield Girls’, GDST

Nina Gunson joined Sheffield High School for Girls in September 2018 as the thirteenth Head to lead the school since it opened in 1878.  Nina was previously Deputy Head at Sheffield Girls’ before taking up her first Headship at Wakefield Girls’ High School. Nina is married to Dan and has two dogs, a Whippet called Edward and Valerie, a Bedlington Terrier.


Hi Nina, how and why did you decide to get into education?

Before entering education, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, in recruitment and in food and drink. I wanted to find a job that allowed me to talk to people and use my science degree and becoming a science teacher seemed the obvious career route as it allowed me to share my passion for my subject with others {Nina has a degree in Molecular Biology}. I think that experiencing the world of work outside teaching actually made me a better, more rounded teacher (and now Head) and I think it is important to reassure girls that you do not need to have your career mapped out and its more important that you follow your passion.


Growing up, did you have a female role model? 

My Mum was a strong role model, as someone who ran her own business from the age of 19 and instilled an excellent work ethic into me. I also went to a girls’ school and had a strong, dynamic headmistress who had a sports car and was somebody I aspired to be like. I don’t have a sports car unfortunately! As a child growing up in the 1980s, I also had Margaret Thatcher as a powerful female role model – whether you loved her or hated her, she was a strong presence in our lives and she definitely had an impact on the way my view of women in leadership was shaped.


What does being part of the GDST family mean to you?

I have actually come back to the GDST after a few years away. It is nice to be part of a wider network, to share best practice and to have support when presented with something for the first time. This includes the Head, the teachers and the girls too. The GDST Young Leaders’ Conference in Bath is a good recent example of what GDST can offer our girls. The GDST has such brilliant opportunities for networking and also provides the opportunity for us to have an impact on a national scale.


What do you say to girls aspiring to be future leaders?

I always want there to be choice. And I want our girls to know that whatever they aspire to be, we will support that. If they want to be a leader they absolutely can be a leader. They need to have the confidence to put themselves forward for opportunities and believe that the qualities they possess will make them the best person for that job.


Tell us about some of the exciting plans at Sheffield Girls’?

Sheffield Girls’ is such an exciting, buzzing place. There is always so much happening inside and outside the classroom. Already this year we have had our outdoor movie night (screening The Greatest Showman).  Girls and their parents – from reception to sixth form – were in attendance and we are already planning next year’s event. I am also particularly looking forward to our Inspire North conference in July 2019 – a first for Sheffield. Our Year 10 girls will be part of a huge summit with various inspirational speakers making them think about their next few years at GDST and their future careers.


Favourite film

Star Wars


Favourite place

The Lake District


Favourite quote

I have two! I love this Marilyn Monroe quote, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world”. I also love Amelia Earhart and this piece of advice of hers, “The most effective way to do it is to do it.”


Lastly, if you could snap your finger to change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I passionately believe that every girl in the world should have access to education so I would want that. And the more selfish answer is of course teleportation!


Thank you Nina

Thank you