Two awards for Sydenham High at GDST annual conference

The GDST annual conference at the King’s Fund this week generated considerable press coverage as well as a couple of accolades for Sydenham High School. Old girl, Claire Bennett was awarded GDST Alumnae of the Year and year 13 student Victoria Boyce was awarded a travel scholarship.  It’s now something of a family tradition, as Victoria’s sister Emily also won a travel scholarship in 2010.  Emily spent her gap year travelling and teaching in China.

Our three head girls and Victoria (pictured with Helen Fraser) joined Headteachers, senior management and sixth formers from across the GDST network to hear Helen Fraser’s opening address before the awards were presented.  Guest speaker Karen Pickering, ex World Champion swimmer, presented the awards and spoke about resilience in times of adversity; something the girls were all able to relate to.

In her keynote address Helen Fraser told delegates that educators needed to help prepare girls for  balancing multiple careers over their working lives with being happy and fulfilled in their personal lives.

Such a balance can only be achieved by schools making sure girls themselves understand the importance of prioritising their own learning.  She acknowledged the challenges posed by technological distractions and urged girls to learn to switch off the computer, the radio, the smartphone, the TV, and any other distractions, and read a whole book from start to finish – following an author’s train of thought, from first principles through to their conclusion. “Without the ability to gain in-depth knowledge of a subject, they will struggle truly to influence the world.”

Helen Fraser also recognised the role of schools in helping their pupils have the time to do this. Schools need to focus on quality and not quantity when it comes to examinations and consider capping the number of GCSEs their pupils sit. The curriculum needs to make space for real and in-depth learning if young people are going to develop the levels of knowledge that will help them onto the best university courses and make the most of their careers.

Her address generated considerable press coverage, not all of it reflecting what was actually said!  You can hear Helen Fraser’s address in full by clicking here.

Our students had a wonderful evening, enjoying meeting fellow headgirls from across the GDST and were delighted to see Sydenham High awarded not once but twice during the evening.  They were also very impressed by the  canapes, especially the fish and chips on a stick!