Girls-only education “is not a luxury” and “essential to creating a better world for everyone,” the Girls’ Schools Association president is expected to say today (Nov 20) as its annual conference begins.
Marina Gardiner Legge is expected to make the claim in a speech outlining the role of girls’ schools in creating the “modern suffragettes” who will fight against the status quo for a better world.
She will say: “Girls’ schools are helping to create a fairer world through our pupils who are, and always have been, firebrands and trailblazing campaigners.”
Ms Gardiner Legge, the head of Oxford High School GDST, will address more than 150 leaders of independent and state girls’ schools, saying: “The education of girls in girls’ schools is not a luxury; it is essential to creating a better world for everyone…
“Girls need to understand how to speak up and speak out, and what to do when the world isn’t ready to hear you… Our world desperately needs the voices and presence of women in every sphere. We do not need more people happy with the status quo – we need the power of the activist – the modern suffragette.”
She will stress how girls’ schools are more important than ever as girls and women still face multiple barriers such as the motherhood penalty, the motherhood pay gap, the second shift, childcare issues, toxic workplaces, misogyny, and sexual harassment.
She will emphasise that girls’ schools are best placed to help young women prepare for their future lives and overcome any challenges they might face.
She will say: “Our schools honour young women as they are and encourage them to grow into themselves and bring out the best in them … they are designed to make girls visible, and to charge the world with capable and confident women.”
Mrs Gardiner Legge will cite a UN report that shows women’s participation in peace negotiations results in greater accord and kindness in the world and a study that proves better solutions are discovered when women are participating team members.
“There is an alchemy in women’s participation in life,” she will say.
The president will also talk about the GSA’s growing body of research that proves the benefits of girls’ schools, including the Girl’s Academic Attainment Report that shows that girls in girls’ schools consistently outperform their peers academically.
They are 2.6 times as likely to take further maths and more than twice as likely to take physics and computer science A-level – compared to girls in other schools.
The Girls’ Schools Association Conference takes place over two days at the De Vere Cotswold Hotel near Cirencester.
Speakers include journalist Mary Ann Sieghart, psychologist Dr Eleanor Leigh, Blonde Money CEO Helen Thomas, Aduke Onafowokan, director of Inclusivitii and Priya Lakhani OBE, founder and CEO of CENTURY Tech.