September 21

A new term, prizegiving and the completion of big build projects

Being a headteacher can be a role that provokes a rollercoaster rise of emotions. The last fortnight with the girls returning to school, the completion of two major site redevelopment projects and a wonderful Senior Prizegiving, has been a major highlight. It was an absolute joy to see the girls’ faces as they explored the stunning new learning environment at Seniors, happily losing themselves in the spaces, enjoying newly discovered nooks and corners and gazing at the amazing architectural features. It has made me incredibly happy to see the Gadesden and Lawes libraries full of girls reading books and working on their homework and enjoying the light and space. Classrooms too are spacious and well equipped to support the creative and inspiring lessons that teachers have planned for the girls. At Juniors too, it has been great to see the girls enjoying many newly reorganised classrooms and learning opportunities; around every corner are exciting and stimulating activities and spaces to explore.

Creating an inspiring but calm environment in which to learn, is so important for the girls to thrive and it has been so rewarding to see the physical environment of the school develop further to support the excellent work all our staff do to inspire and support the girls. We are looking forward to you seeing all this work for yourself at the parent evenings and events in this half of term.

Seeing the completion of big build projects is rewarding, but seeing the transformation of our talented and brilliant young women is even more gratifying. At Senior Prize-giving last week it was a great pleasure to award public exam certificates and school prizes to our older girls and celebrate the very impressive contribution they have made to school life. Dr Emily Grossman, herself a GDST alumna, gave a very impressive address after awarding the prizes. She spoke with great insight about changing pathways throughout university or careers and about the importance of doing something you love and that suits you (not other people). I felt her very honest and open approach will have been inspiring for the girls but also was realistic enough for them to understand that there will always by setbacks and changes of direction along the way.

Our major emphasis this year will be upon helping the girls to continue to develop the attitudes of mind and confidence to be courageous. For every girl, bravery might mean something different: a first overnight stay away from home; a first public speech; a first teatime concert; changing friendship groups or trying a subject they thought was ‘too hard’. We know there is no better example for our young people than doing what we say, as well as saying it. So teachers will be aiming to set a good example themselves in modelling what courage means in all kinds of different context. There can be no more powerful message, so if you were considering putting yourself out of your own comfort zone in some way, now would be an excellent time to take the leap and share the experience with your daughters.

I wish you all, and your daughters, a happy and successful term.

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