By Charlie Parker | Prep School Deputy Head
This week saw the launch of the new GDST brand and I am sure many of you will have seen the link to the new film ‘Our Spirit’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksrJLW9U3sw). Also in the news this week was the growing concern about how creative subjects are continuing to be squeezed in state-funded schools with some concerned that arts and music could ‘face extinction’ in some schools altogether. This seems to be in stark contrast to some of the creativity that I have seen here this week. A very talented band of Year 5 girls entertained us in assembly on Monday with a song, which they impressively wrote and performed. I returned to my office later that day to find a host of letters from girls with suggestions and ideas ranging from a ‘literacy shed’ on the corner of the Astroturf for the school newspaper (another pupil-led initiative), ideas for charity days and a suggestion that Japanese art can make you feel calm and relaxed.
In the staffroom I’ve heard talk of a fun and cold beach school session; three dance groups in preparation for the Momentum performances; the successes of a lesson with the VR headsets; the full goriness of the AR t-shirts; preparations for Roald Dahl day and the fact that debate club is bursting at the seams. There are, of course, so many other initiatives happening as well and we are never short of enthusiastic and motivated girls who often want to try everything.
Is it this creativity, confidence and enthusiasm that enables our students to be all the things that the film, ‘Our Spirit’, suggests? As a former GDST girl, the film made me think a little more about what that means. Are we spirited, creative and even fearless? I asked a few of my contemporaries, all of whom went to GDST schools, what they now value from their education. They spoke of gaining confidence, being taught resilience and having to take risks. One friend said that she thought she was given the confidence and belief to do whatever she wanted to do and it wasn’t until she was much older that she realised that others had not been given those opportunities. Some of us have stuck to the same careers and some totally changed. Between us, we are, or have been, a lawyer, a teacher, a museum curator, an anthropologist, an editor, a television presenter, a marketing consultant, a multi-faith healer, an activist, a mum, a CEO and a producer of immersive physical theatre. If nothing else this is a varied list and certainly confirms the idea that we have not been held back and in the case of immersive theatre I would say fearless!
The idea that ‘our girls do better because they feel better’ for me is key to what we do. At a time when creativity in many schools is facing a crisis it is so heartening to see it alive and well here – both because of what we offer but also because the girls continue to ask questions, look for changes or solutions and throw themselves into all areas of school life. Perhaps that is what gives us ‘Our Spirit’.