The Power of Girls

Head's Vision

Blackheath High School was delighted to announce earlier this year that we have a new Head, Natalie Argile. Natalie joined the school in 2015 as a Chemistry teacher, became Deputy Head in 2019 and most recently stood in as Acting Head when Carol Chandler-Thompson left us to take up a position in Edinburgh. In her new role, Natalie is currently developing a Vision which is built on five key pillars:  

  • Academic Excellence – to enable girls to achieve outstanding academic success, through a carefully cultivated curriculum from Nursery to Year 13

  • Girls – to be the leading experts in girls-only education in South-East London, engaging with research led approaches

  • Futures – to teach girls the skills they need to thrive, particularly in a world where they need to shout a little louder for equality

  • Wellbeing – to support girls in developing a proactive approach to their wellbeing and to give them the tools to self-regulate, allowing them to flourish 

  • Sixth Form – to ensure we have an academically rigorous and competitive curriculum, bolstered by the power of the GDST, leading to the best offer in South-East London 

In coming newsletters, we will focus on these pillars in more detail, beginning with the benefits of a girls-only education – also the focus of a powerful GDST report published in 2022 entitled The Girls’ Futures Report.  

Delivering an education specifically tailored to the needs of girls isn’t as simple as not having boys around – it is about developing and creating an ambitious learning environment where every student is encouraged to take risks to learn and grow; where girls' voices are fostered so that they can navigate the world with courage, empathy and competence; where building leadership skills is a given, not an afterthought. Girls’ schools are single-sex by design. 

Same-sex environments have been proven to reduce the prevalence of gender stereotyping in the classroom, allowing girls access to subjects they may otherwise avoid nd ensuring there is no such thing as ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ subjects. According to research from the Girls’ Schools’ Association, girls in single-sex education are 2.5 times more likely to take STEM subjects at A-level, compared to girls at mixed schools. This is particularly pertinent as the gender gap in science and technology industries continues to be staggeringly high - female take-up is almost 20% less.  

In all-girls education, students do not run the risk of being elbowed out of leadership roles by boys who may shout louder. This may go some way in explaining why so many educated at girls’ schools go on to leadership roles in the workplace. In a culture where girls can be surrounded by other girls, they are allowed to shine, and you often see them seamlessly taking up leadership positions without a worry of being squeezed out.  

Some detractors question the how prepared girls from a signal-sex education are to enter a workforce populated by men. Yet, as a Y12 respondent from the Girls’ Futures Report explains, “girls' schools make us even more prepared for our future of working with male counterparts because we have been trained to validate our own views so much that we will undoubtedly challenge gender inequalities.” 

At Blackheath High School girls flourish, free from the shackles of damaging gender stereotyping. We strive to create an environment that prepares rather than protects girls from the ‘real world’. It is our strong belief that single-sex education is the single greatest tool in fostering female empowerment and creating the female leaders of tomorrow. 

What do you think? What has your experience been since leaving Blackheath High? Are you a female leader? Have you gone on to a career or life that defies gender stereotypes? Excelled in a ‘boys’ subject’? We’d love to hear your views – Similarly, if you’re an expert in the field of female education or leadership, we’d love to invite you in to talk to our girls. 

*some of this article has been adapted from an interview with Natalie Argile