All About Girls

The Head's Study, Senior School, Nursery and Prep School

Wimbledon High School’s Head, Fionnuala Kennedy’s recent blog epitomised everything that, in my mind, is good and bad about the current debate on girls/boys men/women, how they are treated and how they treat each other. Andrew Tate, the change to Scottish gender laws, Sarah Everard, David Carrick’s conviction - so much of our news has been dominated by matters that just should not happen if we believe and live by our beliefs that everyone should be treated and respected the same way. Also in the news once more last week were the number of suicides amongst women in Afghanistan. The UN Human Rights Council reported back in July that women are so desperate living under the Taliban’s obscene restrictions that they can see no way out. I am not comparing the treatment of women in The UK with what is happening in Afghanistan but the fact that gender features so highly in our daily news tells us that despite all the changes - closing the gender pay gap etc - something remains profoundly rotten at the core of many attitudes to girls and women.

And so to the purpose of this thought piece: to thank the women who are role models and show us, men and women, how we can live in a way that is good, that fulfils our dreams but not at the expense or as a result of any different treatment due to our gender. I think of Jacinda Ardern with her very human leadership including stepping down when she had no more to give. What a seamless handover compared to some we have seen closer to home.

And what does that mean to Royal High School Bath girls? I think back to my first impression of the Sixth Form girls who, without realising it, were the ones who persuaded me that this was the school for me. Their compassion, integrity and righteousness - the climate strikes were topping the agenda at the time - were as compelling as they were impressive. And still are. Yes, we give them the tools to make sure they have their voice heard, stay safe and have the skill set to make their mark (witness this week’s Everyone’s Invited workshops) but they already have the ingredients inherent in themselves to make this happen.

Last week Mr Benedict and I had the privilege of interviewing all the Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl candidates ahead of this week’s hustings. A common theme in their letters of application were how influenced they had been in Year 7 when they joined the school and first heard from the then Head Girl. That powerful role model and inspiration to live life without limits is passed like a feminist relay baton from generation to generation of Royal High girls and, as Fionnuala stated in her blog, speak volumes about the essential role girls’ schools play in shifting our culture away from the one many of us grew up in - put up and shut up - to one that empowers your daughters to speak up and be heard.