Page 46 - Independent Schools Magazine
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Equipping girls for the future
Julie Keller, Head of Nottingham Girls’ High School, reflects on the summer’s Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Summit in London...
 As we set ourselves up for the exciting academic year ahead, I’ve been reflecting on what makes leading an all-girls school such a motivating and important role.
The annual Girls’ Day School Trust Summit was one of the many highlights from last year that helped to re-emphasise the importance of the work we do across the GDST family of schools.
A passionate group of men and women, all working towards gender equality for future generations, equipping girls for the future, we enjoyed hearing from inspiring role models across all walks of life.
We shared the day with Cheryl Giovannoni, Chief Executive of the GDST; Karen Blackett, OBE; Nicky Morgan, MP; Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading; Dr Emily Grossman, Honorary STEM ambassador;
Simon Henderson, Head Master at Eton; Afua Hirsh, author, journalist, broadcaster; Miranda Green, Deputy Opinion Editor at the Financial Times, and many alumnae and students of GDST schools.
These are the main talking points we debated and learnt from.
Diversity and creativity
bring growth
Former opinions on what “success” looks like are outdated. We now know that diversity brings growth, whether that’s diversity of gender, experience, qualifications, or points of view. Karen Blackett, OBE, explained that to create a super team you need to bring different super powers together – “Avengers Assemble!”
With only 20% of leadership positions being held by
women, and only 10% of tech professionals being women, we still have a long way to go, and I’m proud to be one of the people leading the way in changing this for our future female leaders.
Male feminists
Equality is not just a women’s issue. The many men who were
at the GDST Summit, voiced their commitment to female equality in the workplace and are committed to equipping girls for a future where they will lead without compromise. There is a movement out there that isn’t solely female.
Fitting in
Many women (66%), and some men, can relate to the topic of covering up their real selves to fit in with their work environment. Thankfully, the new wave of modern leaders are embracing different personalities to drive businesses forward. Congruence increases individual’s performance especially if they’re different to everyone else. We learned from Karen Blackett, OBE, that in fact, if you truly believe what you say and your body language reflects it, you can do anything you set your mind to.
One of the most important
skills future generations need is “bounce-back-ability”. Speakers shared their failures and mistakes from which they bounced back. These were in fact vital in their
incredible journeys to success.
Young adults, especially girls,
put pressure on themselves to be perfect. This brings mental health and confidence issues. Turning this culture of perfectionism
into one that embraces mistakes will mean a healthier and
more successful future for our upcoming leaders. Those tough moments where we have been able to bounce back are often the times we have become the most proud of.
Nicky Morgan shared her prescription for bounce-back- ability in the three Ps:
• Positivity
• Passion
• Perseverance
Excitement for the future
The GDST family is determined to bring change for the future. As Cheryl Giovannoni pointed out, it would take 271 years to close the gender pay gap if we continue with the current rate of progress. This isn’t acceptable. We are aiming for 10.
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    Networking skills
Lessons in how to network were on the timetable for Derby High School sixth formers.
Members of the local business community were invited to a VIP networking event to meet students.
Girls from the Upper Sixth hosted the evening in the Sixth Form building at the school in Hillsway, Littleover.
Representatives from a range of organisations attended including Toyota, Rolls Royce, Pick Everard, Derby University and smaller local businesses such as JC Hotels and
Mercia Image Print.
Prior to the event, Claire Twells, from Smith Partnership, ran a workshop during which she gave students advice about how to network successfully.
The networking event is run annually as part of the school’s Truly Educated course, during which Upper Sixth girls learn real- life skills including how to build
a brick wall, mend a puncture, perform basic checks on a car and build and assemble flat-pack furniture.
 46 Independent Schools Magazine
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