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New Rules

The Head Girl Team attended the Girls’ Day School Trust annual summit last week: an inspiring day on the theme of ‘new rules’ and how to prepare young women for a world of radical change.

Deputy Head Girl, Alice, reports back on the highlights of their day:

Prominent guest speakers shared their thoughts, personal experiences and advice on the climate of the workplace for women,  with galvanising ideas on how to be a force for change. One of the most powerful notions, of instilling confidence, was echoed throughout the day, first expressed by Mrs Bingham on the ‘Future of Education’ panel: “Teach girls to be comfortable with discomfort”.  Discussions throughout the day centred on the importance of embracing authenticity and being bold; to flourish both academically and personally, we need to push boundaries and step out of where we feel comfortable.

In the evening, the importance of inner confidence was corroborated by the award-winning presenter Mishal Husain, who had visited South Hampstead last year as part of our Speaker Series. She talked of the uncertainty she felt before accepting the role as presenter of the Radio 4 Today Programme, highlighting that, without challenging herself, she would not be where she is today.

Sessions throughout the summit were incredibly inspiring and, at times, controversial: on the topic of Artificial Intelligence, and how the workplace will change, host, and GDST alumna, Samira Ahmed challenged Dr Daniel Susskind’s views on ‘The Future of Professions’. Mrs Bingham spoke out about the value in science students taking a humanities subject and the need for humanities students to understand science and technology, to help take on the increasingly capable, but non-thinking, machines.  “The future”, she said, “is going to be about the art of reinvention.” 

Many other topics were explored including “embracing men as allies” (businesswoman, Dame Cilla Snowball DBE); the importance of well-being in education; owning your work/home-life balance; being financially independent (in the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Be the lawyer your mother always wanted you to marry.”); and instilling entitlement and resilience in girls (founder and CEO of Mumsnet, Justine Roberts CBE).

The day left us, as students, feeling empowered to not only speak up and drive change, but to feel confident and capable in whichever roles we choose to pursue. The evening concluded with a beautiful and accomplished performance from the GDST Young Choir of the Year (our very own Junior School chamber choir) and the announcement of the GDST Alumna of the year as Olivia Colman, who, in her videoed acceptance speech, said: “Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to people who don’t believe in you… and find good friends.”


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