By Amanda Hardie, Head, Newcastle High School for Girls
Recently we were delighted to host a talk for parents by Director of Innovation and Learning at the Girls’ Day School Trust, Dr Kevin Stannard, to present the findings from the GDST Futures Report.
During Dr Stannard’s talk we were reminded that the GDST was established in 1872 by four radical women who were fighting for the right of girls to have an education. Not only did they set up a group of girls’ schools, including ours, but in doing so, they transformed the educational landscape for girls in an era when it was virtually unheard of for any girls to have a formal education after the age of 11, let alone go to university.
Fast forward 150 years, the simple and sad fact is that gender inequality still exists in the UK in all walks of life – in society, careers, leadership and pay.
At NHSG, and in all GDST Schools, we remain as focused on bringing about equal opportunities for girls as our founders were in the 1870s, and what’s more, there is clear evidence of the significant impact an education at a GDST school is having on girls and young women today.
The astonishing findings from the GDST’s Futures Report evidences pervasive inequality still exists.
Focusing on just one aspect of the overall report, which surveyed 1358 nationally representative children from across the country, the survey found significant gender differences in confidence. In fact, boys scored much more highly than girls in every single statement made about how they feel about the future. For example, feeling optimistic about getting their desired job, or generally being positive about the future.
The vast majority of girls in this survey attended coeducational schools, and the findings reflect the wider societal landscape and the gender gap we know exists.
What was fascinating, however, is that when NHSG pupils and their peers from GDST schools from across the country, including from the two academies within the GDST family, were asked the same questions, the survey showed GDST girls to be…
more confident, more self-assured, more politically aware, more empowered, better able to pursue their ambitions, and feel unhindered by their gender. more comfortable taking risks. more willing to embrace flexible careers.
when compared to girls at other schools. Indeed, GDST girls’ scores were much more closely aligned to the boys, and in some cases scores were better than the boys.
While I am saddened by the findings of pupils from non-GDST schools, I am heartened by the clear evidence that we at NHSG and GDST are making a difference to the lives of so many girls and women as a result of the education we offer.
NHSG is an all-girl school by design. Everything we do is focused on ensuring our girls have every opportunity for future success by building their confidence, encouraging them to take risks, providing them with the space to develop and learn, preventing them from being drowned out in the classroom, and ensuring they know that nothing is off limits in terms of their future career choices.
This is how we deliver on our vision to empower girls to be the next generation of leaders and trailblazers and to understand they have an equal and important role in shaping our world for a better future.