A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to have a visit from former Head Girl, lawyer, media guru, and all-round awesome individual, Daisy W. During a Q&A session with Year 11 and 12, Daisy told a classic joke that went something like this:

Two tourists, on safari, found themselves off the beaten track and within spitting distance of a pride of lions. The first tourist started to panic; the other bent down calmly to tighten her shoelaces.

“What are you doing?” asked the first tourist. “Don’t you realise the speed at which these big cats can move?”

“Yes”, said the second tourist, “but I don’t need to run faster than the lion. I just need to run faster than you”.

In the literal world, we would hope that these two would instinctively put their problem-solving skills to work, creatively and selflessly finding a solution that would save them both. But this was a metaphor, and Daisy’s message to our students was clear: to succeed in the world beyond school, you need to have something that sets you apart, something that makes you different or, in Daisy’s words, something that “gives you the edge”.

In describing what a Brighton Girls’ education had given her, Daisy spoke about the incredible opportunities that come with being part of the Girls Day School Trust. Not only had her GDST education given her irrepressible confidence and self-belief, but she had found mentors and sponsors within the alumnae network, role-models who had provided guidance and opened doors, both literally and metaphorically (Daisy vividly recalled arriving at the offices of a top London law firm for work experience wearing a Superwoman back-pack). The advice was to take every opportunity.

Find something that will give you the edge.

For those students willing to take this advice, there is no shortage of opportunities. The GDST family is there to nurture and support, and part of this involves promoting healthy competition through extension and enrichment activities.

At Brighton Girls, we frequently achieve success. This year, we have congratulated Eva in Year 13, who won a Somerville and Gurney Award for her essay on ‘Generation Z’, an endeavour that no doubt contributed towards her offer to read Archaeology at Cambridge. Last year, Ella in Year 2 won the GDST Creative Writing Prize for her piece entitled ‘Little Penguin’s Brave Adventure’, the theme for which was ‘fearlessness’, while the Year 6 Netball team fended off every other school to be crowned Trust champions. This week, I have signed a reference for a GDST Pearson and Silver Award (if successful, this will fund a Latin summer camp), while another student is preparing an application for the Minerva Prize, awarded to a Year 13 for all-round excellence. And, today, 22 budding foreign linguists from Years 7 to 12 have been to Sutton High for the GDST MFL Festival – a day of spelling bees, culture quizzes and debates, competing against peers from across the GDST. We wait to hear whether they have brought back any trophies. Expectations are high.

There is no doubt that, in the race to get ahead, the GDST gives our girls the edge. You only need to read Mr Sherwood’s recent article for The Temple Times for proof of this. A few months ago, Mr Sherwood received a message from another former pupil, letting him know that she was on secondment to Number 10, Downing Street and inviting him for a tour – an offer he simply couldn’t refuse. In the article, Mr Sherwood describes his experience, and it makes fascinating reading. But the footnote is particularly telling:

“… over half of the women working in the Number 10 Policy Unit were educated in single-sex schools, and half of the women our ex-pupil works with directly are ex-GDST pupils. Just saying.”