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Mrs Dawson: The Power of Role Models in All-Girls Education

23 September 2022

An article in this weekend’s The Times (‘It’s a Girls’ World: How Boys Got Left Behind’, David Aaronovitch) inspired me to write this week about the power of role models in all-girls education. The article quotes a recent study that girls are 14% more likely to be ‘school-ready’ at age 5, another that reveals that girls brains mature several years earlier than boys and a further US study, showing that women are now awarded three out of every five masters level degrees.

This only serves to emphasise why education in an all-girls environment is advantageous, right from Nursery and Reception, as learning can be targeted specifically at the needs of girls. The GDST has carried out a wide range of research into single sex education, and you can read this on our school website. The research emphasises how important strong female role models are to girls as they move through childhood to adulthood, and I am delighted that we have so many positive role models here at Sutton High School. 

One such person is Miss Nicola Buttigieg, our Head of Computing. I am thrilled to announce that Miss Buttigieg has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Women of the Future Awards (https://awards.womenofthefuture.co.uk/our-alumni-category/2022/) for her amazing work with our pupils, and pupils across the GDST, inspiring  them to explore Space Technology, through a self-designed Space Technology Diploma Programme, the first of its kind in the UK. You can read more about the programme here: https://www.suttonhigh.gdst.net/news/246-sutton-high-to-see-first-students-apply-ai-to-mnd-nasa-mission-data

Initially, Sutton High School led the way with the Space Technology Diploma, with a small selection of other GDST Schools, but this year the programme will expand to include over half of the GDST network, with opportunities for cross-trust collaboration in coding, investigatory approaches to AI and work alongside some of the top universities in the country. Computing at Sutton High School is rapidly growing in popularity, with pupils opting for GCSE and A Level in their droves. We are now working with AWS (the Amazon system) and our younger senior pupils will all be taking part in the BEBRAS competition this year, after some fabulous results last year. Pupils can engage with VEX Robotics, with detailed Python coding and with Micro-bit technology. Dedicated Computing sessions in our Prep School mean that pupils develop these crucial ‘future-ready’ skills early.

The study also explores the limits that girls can place upon themselves, due to gender stereotypes that certain subjects are ‘for boys’. In an all-girls environment, these stereotypes are not just ignored, they are actively destroyed, so that traditionally male-dominated subjects, such as Computing, are led with dynamism and, as Miss Buttigieg has shown, with a view to preparing our girls for the future.