As the half-term begins, our concluding Headspace this week is a conversation between our two heads, RosieMcColl and Laura Comerford on the theme of ‘Big Sister, Little Sister’.
Full video Available: Here
Welcome to a very special assembly to mark the end of an extraordinary half term and the end of a brilliant Wellbeing Week. It is not often that we have the whole school together – so welcome to each and every one of you – from Year 1 up to Year 13. I hope everyone in the Prep knows who I am, but in case you don’t, I’m Miss McColl – and for those in the Senior school who have yet to meet her, I would like to introduce Miss Comerford, who joined us as Head of Brighton Girls Prep in January – and I’m going to hand straight over to her to introduce the theme of this morning’s assembly.
Here is a list of names, some of which may sound familiar: Beata Thunberg, Patricia Lofton, Cassandra Austen, Cristina Kahlo, Solange Knowles, Mary Jane Clarke and Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey. All these women are the sisters of some of the world’s most inspirational women; some are even well known themselves.
Here at Brighton Girls, we have been celebrating Wellbeing Week across the Prep and Senior Schools inspired by the theme, ‘Being Connected’. We have been talking for some time now about becoming one school- a school full of Little Sisters and Big Sisters. There are fewer connections in life that are stronger than that of sisterhood, either biological or symbolic.
But what does the word “sisterhood” mean?…Read more
According to one definition, a sisterhood is “a social, ethical, and emotional pact between women. It’s based on an understanding that together we are stronger than we are as individuals. That empowerment is only possible if we come together and treat each other as sisters, not opponents.”
We are going to see a really great example of this later today, when some Year 11 students will be teaching a Science lesson to Year 6 – adapting the knowledge they have to empower others. Before we explore this topic further, Miss Comerford and I are going to talk about what sisters mean to us.
I would like to introduce you to my two sisters: this is Eleanor on the left – she is my big sister; and Abigail is on the right – she is my little sister. This photo was taken about 25 years ago and, even though we have all grown up, I still refer to them as my big sister and little sister. Here they are today. Eleanor is an artist in Hong Kong, and Abigail works in Marketing – involved in lots of schemes to support sustainable travel in Leeds – here shown on a photoshoot with a famous pug. They are both brilliant people. I consider them both as role models.
I was thinking about my big sister last week when I saw an email from one of your parents – it was an email explaining that one of you had missed a lesson because you were fighting with your sister. It reminded me of how I used to fight with my sisters – we used to wind each other up all the time – but we have always been best friends. That is what being a sister is all about – being supportive of someone through the good times and the bad.
My sister is called Victoria, and she was born when I was thirteen years old. To begin with, she was the baby of the family and very much looked after and doted upon by all. I looked after her during the holidays, drove her to ballet lessons, picked her up from school and helped her with her homework. Then, gradually, she stopped being ‘my little sister’ and became my sister the medical student, my sister the doctor and, eventually, my best friend. We lived together for eight years and she is probably the person who knows me best in the world.
Here is an interesting fact: 27% of the girls here today are sisters in the same family. That’s amazing. But it’s not the full story – because if we go back to that word “sisterhood”, you are all sisters. So let’s make it 100%.Miss Comerford and I have been lucky to have biological sisters who we have grown up with, but that doesn’t mean that those of you who haven’t are missing out. At Brighton Girls, we’re all part of a sisterhood. Being a Big or Little Sister can be achieved in many different ways:
- Use kind words with each other
- Share things with others
- Offer your help to other students
- Be supportive and celebrate the successes of other students, even in direct competition!
- Recognise the talents and strengths of others
- Look up to older pupils as role models and inspiration
- Nurture and look after younger pupils- we were ALL younger pupils once!
- Give guidance and listen to others when they are feeling down
- Model resilience and positive thinking to those around you
- Collaborate on projects and share ‘the limelight’
Lately, we have had chances to connect with our sisters from across the GDST through online experiences: Science Workshops, Globe Theatre Workshops, author sessions and the Year 6 Opera experience which begins after half term. The girls in years 5 & 6 had the opportunity to take part in a GDST design thinking event this week entitled, ‘Maker Machines’. They were working in small mixed groups with girls from Brighton and Northwood to design a simple Rube Goldberg style machine to perform an everyday activity. I know those of you in the Senior school have some amazing opportunities to connect with fellow students across the GDST – the recent Women in Politics Conference at Oxford High is just one example.
Sisterhood doesn’t just stop when you leave school, it continues on into adult life. Miss Comerford found this brilliant quote from another famous sister, Serena Williams:
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble”
We are very lucky as leaders of this school, that we are also part of a much bigger family. We work with, and are supported by, all the other Heads of all our sister schools. I’ve got two examples of the power of the GDST sisterhood, from this week alone.
On Monday, I received a parcel in the post – a poster with the words “HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND”. It was from the Head at Sutton High. I had seen this poster hanging on her wall during a virtual meeting and commented on how it matched our Brighton Girls values of being kind and being bold. So she sent me one. On Tuesday, I received a bunch of flowers from my GDST mentor, the Head at Croydon High. These are two examples of how the kindness we see in you, and the sense of collaboration and working together we see at Brighton Girls runs through our extended GDST family.
On a global level, we see female leaders, a whole team of sisters, working together to bring about change in the world. How many female prime ministers or presidents do you think there are in the world? 1, 2, 5, 10? It’s something in the region of 30.
So, at the end of Wellbeing Week, during which we’ve thought about the importance of being connected, take some time to appreciate the big sisters and little sisters around you. They might not be physically next to you watching this assembly, but they are connected to you nevertheless, because you are all part of the same Brighton Girls family. Let’s celebrate that with an example of real life sisters working together.