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Mrs Dawson: The importance of leadership opportunities

28 May 2021

Leadership opportunities are absolutely vital in education, but particularly in enabling our girls to have confidence in their abilities and feel willing to put themselves forward as future leaders. The McKinsey Report, which has been run annually in the USA since 2015, shows that women make up 47% of the workforce at entry level (and have consistently done so for at least ten years) and yet only 27% of leadership roles within the top 319 organisations are held by women. Only eight women held CEO roles in the UK’s FSE 250 last year, though it is positive news that one in three of these companies added women to their Boards since 2019. Whilst women hold 33% of seats in the House of Commons, they hold just 27.5% in the House of Lords.

We want our pupils to lead and become change-makers, and this has to start with opportunities at school. From their personal Purple Pledges for change in Prep School, to our Student Council in Senior School, we want our girls to have chances to lead on projects, bring their ideas to fruition and express their ideas. This week the Eco-Club presented in Assembly to Prep and Senior students about their idea for sponsoring an endangered animal, three Year 7 students (Amy, Lucy and Naomi) presented to me on the findings of their research on the lunch menus and our Year 10 Student Librarians planned a new way to advertise the Library at our upcoming Open Evening on 23rd June.

Empowering our pupils to feel that they can express their ideas and be proactive in bringing about positive change is a very key part of what we do here. I have met with every Year 7 pupil over the past three weeks to hear their ideas for improving the school. Of course, it doesn’t always mean that we can grant every wish, but we will always listen and, where we are able to do things differently, we will always encourage the girls to take the lead on implementing their ideas.

This week we announced our new Student Leadership Committee for 2021-2022. In selecting the committee, we made some changes to the process, so that it emulated a formal recruitment, giving Year 12 applicants the opportunity to experience creating a formal written application letter, gaining a reference, being interviewed and presenting their ideas for change, through a project pitch to all Year 7 to 13 pupils. As the school grows in size, we need a bigger team at the helm and I am delighted to announce that Avin will be our Head Girl, ably supported by Sharntae, Jenny and Sophie as Deputy Head Girls and Ellie, Lara, Olivia, Carys and Amy as the Student Leadership Committee.

Each of the team presented a project to the selection panel, which they will lead over the coming academic year. These range from a Mental Health Awareness project to a school museum, from supportive Study Bundles to projects centred around developing creativity. The girls used our new school strategic plan as a starting point for their projects and I was thoroughly impressed by their imaginative ideas and the way they presented themselves with such confidence at interview. They will be supported by our Student Council in planning and executing their projects.

 Leadership skills will equip our girls with the courage, confidence and strength of mind to make a real difference. I hope that they will feel ready to take on the world and make tangible changes to those statistics – they are the CEOs of the future.