It is vital to create a school environment where female pupils develop the confidence they need to be effective and resilient, says head Sarah Raffray. Here are some of her tips from the Telegraph…
…Create a safe environment but not a closed one
Embedding the practice of reflection and the quest for self-knowledge, so that each girl truly knows herself is hugely important.
We want each pupil to be true to herself and enter the world of work equipped with the critical skills which will set her apart in the workplace and enable her to function effectively in the long term.
A safe environment should pose difficult questions, and give pupils the freedom to discuss their opinions and form their values independently.
Introduce them to female role models
I believe it is important that girls are exposed to accomplished female role models. Successful women in the public eye are great examples to ignite girls’ passion for leadership, but there are always examples closer to home.
Senior leadership teams and teachers should seek to inspire girls by being examples of working best practice. We regularly invite parents to come to our school and offer students advice on various career options, help them with interview practice and offer them work experience.
We are also hosting an open event titled ‘Equipping the Girls of Today; Empowering the Women of Tomorrow’, in which five inspirational women will talk about how to achieve career satisfaction and lifelong effectiveness. The more young girls are surrounded by successful women from all walks of life and career backgrounds, the more they will realise there are a number of diverse options available.
Focus on the life skills as well as the academic
While a strong academic record will of course open many doors, having confidence and being proficient in essential life skills will make the difference when it comes to proactively seizing opportunities in life and work.
Schools should celebrate the individuality of its pupils wherever possible and encourage their interests. Our current Head Girl, Gursimran Deu, won a seat in the National Youth Parliament, which we have been keen to support and we encourage her to share her experiences with her fellow pupils.
Encouraging female involvement in school councils is another effective means to develop pupils’ core skills. Giving pupils ownership of issues that directly impact them and providing them a platform to formulate and express their opinion is essential in empowering female students.
I have found that if students are presented with opportunities to lead within a school setting, they are more inclined to adopt a leadership position in all aspects of life.
Sarah Raffray is the head teacher at St Augustine’s Priory School
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