Yesterday at the GDST Heads’ Spring Conference we had a presentation from Becky Hewitt, Director of Communications, Girlguiding UK. It’s easy to be sneering about the Girl Guides. Stereotypes prevail among those who remember their experiences from decades ago (‘Woggles, bobble hats, training to be a 50s housewife at 10’ in Wednesday’s Guardian). However, 90% of Heads at the conference had been Guides (so they must have had some impact on developing propensity for leadership!) and it is clear that, as large national charities for girls and young women, the GDST and Girlguiding UK share a substantial agenda. The work that Girlguiding has done, for example, via its biennial Girls’ Attitudes Survey is extremely useful to us when we consider our Wellbeing programmes. It was also interesting to hear about this week’s launch of the ‘Think Resilient’ badge which has been developed by Peer Educators from the Guide’s Senior Section in connection with the mental health charity, Young Minds. Other recent new badges have been Free Being Me (body confidence); Breaking Barriers (gender equality in international development); Be the Change (campaigning); and Girls Matter: Hear Our Voice (democracy).
Of particular interest, I thought, were the research findings from the 2015 attitudes survey that showed a generational divide around the issues that are of most concern to teenage girls: while parents worry about drug and alcohol abuse, girls themselves are most worried about cyberbullying, self-harming and finding a job and 82% of girls aged 11 to 21 said they felt that adults don’t recognise the pressure they are under. For this reason, peer-mentoring schemes are very important and we invest a lot in training our school mentors (BLOBS: Best Listeners of Brighton Schools). We are also exploring possible peer-coaching schemes for our Sixth Form.
Schools and external agencies can only do so much, however: true resilience is something that is fostered by families and we saw some excellent resilience-modelling on Tuesday night as our girls and their families worked together on engineering challenges at our Family STEM Evening. It was a great event – healthy competition and never giving up, even when your i360 toppled over! I am very grateful to Mrs Smith and the Science Department for organising it.