Inspiring Females Summit 2019

On Friday 21 June, a group of year 5 and 10 Sydenham High School GDST and Sydenham School pupils were among the fortunate pupils in attendance at the 2019 Inspiring Females Summit. Inspiring Females is a unique programme, created in 2016 by the girls and staff at Norwich High School for Girls, which has developed significantly since it’s conception. In only three years, the programme has inspired over 2,500 young women aged 11 to 18 with over 300 guest speakers volunteering their time to take part.

The Summit, hosted at Chelsea Football Club, featured over 40 inspiring speakers for a day of networking and interactive sessions designed to prepare young women for their futures. A Trust-wide event, our pupils heard from inspirational speakers and also had the chance to network with pupils from other GDST schools and partnered state schools.

The line up of speakers and workshops was simply breathtaking, including Kelly Caswell-Treen, First Female Company Sergeant Major at Sandhurst, Dr Jess Wade, British Physicist and Researcher Imperial College London, Annamarie Phelps CBE, Vice Chair British Olympic Association and Olympic and World Championship Rower and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Lawyer and Political & Women’s Rights Activist. The list of inspiring females was highly impressive and the event concluded with an ‘Inspiring Dads and Daughters’ event which was equally impressive. For more information about this summit please do click here.

Pupils were given a choice of sessions to attend with talks led by industry experts from journalism to tech, healthcare to fashion, politics to business and many more. They particularly enjoyed the ‘Can you be a game changer?’ TED-style talk, in which successful women from the worlds of business, literature, charity and wellbeing shared top tips on how the girls can make a difference in their futures whatever path they choose. A notable speaker for our pupils was Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu who reminded us that “difficulties are challenges and challenges are opportunities” and that “the only way to change the world is to do something. Speak up, show up, stand up. The world needs you.”

Our Prep School pupils had a morning conference on the same theme of ‘Game Changers’ and centered around shining the spotlight on women from all walk of life who can offer inspiration to the GDST girls from the country. The day began with a keynote address from Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO of the GDST and Alex Paske, Founder and Managing Director of the Mintridge Foundation and Sunday Times’ Sportswoman of the Year 2018. This exciting start to the day was followed by a selection of workshop sessions led by other inspiring women and ranged from topics such as Courageous Leaders and Kitting Out the Dream Team! The event ended with a Q & A panel (chaired by Ms Boyd!) which provided opportunities for girls from across the GDST Junior and Prep Schools to ask questions to each of the inspiring workshop leaders.

The day came to a close with an ‘Inspiring Dads and Daughters’ panel discussion, over 50 dads and daughters to learn together the best ways to take on gender stereotypes and smash glass ceilings, chaired by BBC broadcaster Dr Stephanie Hare and featuring Chelsea Football Club CEO Guy Laurence.

Opportunities such as these are key to developing a rounded educational experience for our pupils. Being exposed to successful women in a variety of industries further fuels their ambitions, leaving them feeling empowered and confident about their futures.

– Katharine Woodcock, Headmistress

Being part of the GDST brings unique and exciting opportunities for our pupils, not just on the scale of the Inspiring Females Summit, but also on a smaller scale too. Recently our year 12s were invited, along with sixth formers from all GDST schools, to apply for a week’s work experience with asset management firm, Jupiter, set up by the GDST Careers department. There were only two places available and the standard of entry was extremely high but I am delighted that Junova Buckman, year 12, was successful in gaining a place. It was a very competitive field and Junova has done extremely well to be selected so a huge well done to her. With events such as the IF Summit we are sure that our year 10s will follow in her footsteps in grabbing every opportunity open to them.