Mrs Dawson: Enabling our girls to be fiercely independent, to forge their own path and to learn without limits.

You may have read the news this week that the number of single-sex schools in the UK is reducing. The GDST and Sutton High are proudly ‘girls first’ and I am very firmly of the view that providing an all-through, all-girls education remains absolutely critical, at a time when the gender pay-gap in the UK remains at 7.7%, when just 15% of engineering graduates in 2022 were female, and when just 9% of FTSE 100 companies have a female CEO.

Our aim at Sutton High is to enable our girls to be fiercely independent, to forge their own path and to learn without limits. Girls here are not restricted by gender stereotypes when selecting subjects for GCSE or A Level, where the STEM subjects remain our most popular choices. Girls are taught to develop confidence in who they are and to be proud of their individuality. They are shown that they can select any career they wish and that that they need not be in the shadows.

The GDST’s own Girls’ Futures Report, published this year focuses on what girls want from their education, and the ways in which the GDST is working to respond to this, to ensure Sutton High girls are future-ready. By being part of the largest girls’ school group, we have access to amazing opportunities, and it was a joy to host the LEAD Conference last week, where Sixth Form pupils, alongside nine other GDST schools, heard from experts in leadership and built their entrepreneurial skills in advance of their work on the LEAD Diploma, in association with the London School of Economics. Being a girls’ school means that leadership opportunities can be tailored towards empowering our pupils with the skills they need to succeed.

At girls schools, pupils with additional learning needs thrive. A study by ImapctEd and the Girls School Association in January 2022 revealed that pupils with SEND have higher metacognition and wellbeing outcomes than those in co-educational schools. At Sutton High School, we believe that is because of our razor-sharp focus on wellbeing and the support offered to those with a range of needs.

In an all-girls environment, pupils feel better able to be physically active, and to participate in male-dominated sports. Pupils here are 30% more likely to enjoy participation in cricket or football than their peers at co-educational schools, according to a 2022 study. 60% of our pupils represented our school in a sport last year, with 677 pupils (out of our 900 on roll) currently taking part in at least one active sports club each week, bucking the trend that nationally, two-thirds of girls give up physical activity and sport by the time they hit puberty.

Having taught during my career in boys’ schools, co-educational schools and now here at Sutton High, I can confidently say that an all-girls environment is unique and that girls learn in a very different way here. They are free to collaborate, question and thrive in an atmosphere where they do not have to shout to be heard. The ethos is purposeful and supportive, and pupils here know that they can open any door, smash any glass ceiling and pursue their goals with support and teaching that is targeted and tailored for their needs as girls.

Sutton High Prep School

86 Grove Road, Sutton,
Surrey, SM1 2AL
T. 020 8225 3072

Sutton High Senior School

55 Cheam Road, Sutton,
Surrey, SM1 2AX
T. 020 8642 0594