While discussing possible reasons for the gender gap in STEM with Theo (Year 13) this week, I was reminded of an initiative run by the WISE campaign (Women in Science and Engineering) called ‘People Like Me’. The campaign centred around the idea that we identify with people whose characteristics and personalities echo our own, and girls, in particular, tend to articulate their identities using adjectives (creative, logical, kind, bold) – so when discussing careers with girls, the focus should be not on what people do but what sort of people they are.
This idea of connecting people to help them discover passions goes beyond the world of STEM, of course. Role models and mentors can be crucial in inspiring young people, unlocking potential, giving them the confidence and courage to follow a certain path. How many times have you heard someone say that they pursued a particular subject, or ended up working in a particular field, because of a spark ignited by a teacher? I know this is true of my own experience. At Brighton Girls, we are blessed with brilliant staff. In a recent safeguarding audit, when asked what is the best thing about the school, the girls replied simply: “Our teachers”. Next week, we say goodbye to Sarah Kerridge, who has been an inspiration to many, teaching English and Media Studies. Our fantastic digital newspaper, The Temple Times, is a fitting legacy for someone who has encouraged girls to find their voice. At the Prep, we say a fond farewell to Charlie Parker, who I know will have inspired and enthused so many of your daughters, nurturing their talents and instilling in them the confidence to be themselves. We wish them both well as they move on to new adventures.
At Brighton Girls, we are putting people – and building networks of brilliant individuals – at the heart of our approach. Our super-curriculum aims to bring a multitude of voices to Brighton Girls. This term, despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19, we have conducted a caravanserai of characters through the school: Kathryn Courtney, Amy Lishman, Teohna Williams, Mo Kanjilal, Gemma Ogston, Charis Williams, the team from Barclays Eagle Lab, Beccie D’Cunha are just some of the people who have told their stories or shared their expertise on everything, from 3D printing, to space exploration, to re-purposing and upcycling, to team-building and conflict resolution. This week, we shared our new vision for Temple Scholarships – it’s a vision that puts people centre-stage. By creating a network of role models and mentors around our scholars, our aim is to inspire them, to encourage them, and to develop their inner-confidence, enabling them to realise their potential.
In September 2021, we are launching The Hive, a network of parents, students, staff (past and present), governors, alumnae and members of the wider community of Brighton & Hove. Both a physical and conceptual space, The Hive will offer an exciting programme of events: lectures, concerts, workshops and bespoke courses will draw on the city’s creative energy to enrich our educational offering and encourage the cross-fertilisation of ideas and experiences. To give you a taste of what will be on offer, Angela Watson, Assistant Head (Outreach and Partnerships) has put together some treats for the festive season. These include local events, like the Artists Open Houses 2020 Winter Festival (which runs online from 21st November to the 31st December) or, further afield (but similarly accessible from your sofa) why not celebrate the spirit of Christmas with the RSC who will stream an eclectic programme of carols, songs and festive readings into your living room on the 19th December? Post-COVID, we hope that such excursions and experiences will bring our community even closer together, connecting and uniting people, and through this, we hope all our students will discover something about themselves that will stay with them for life.
There is a line in the GDST Spirit film:
“It is people who bring out the person, who can guide a girl to her place in the world – lift her towards her dreams”.