Girls learning to lead: deciding on next year’s Head Girl and her team

I am just about to announce – tomorrow, after our morning assembly – the new positions of responsibilities for our Sixth Form girls for the coming year. The time has come for our final year pupils, with public exams looming, to relinquish their leadership roles and to pave the way for the next generation of leaders – this year’s Lower Sixth Form – to take on the mantle of responsibility in their place. This year’s team has been outstanding, and I will continue to meet with the senior prefects of this team weekly for the next few weeks as we effect the transition, but the time has come for them to hand over the reins, and there is another group of budding leaders eager and willing to take them from them.

Tomorrow will mark the end of a process that has involved discussions by pupils and staff about leaderships, analyses of performance and potential, voting by the entire school, and a clutch of deeply impressive letters of application, followed up by equally impressive, fluent, articulate and convincing interviews with me. It has been a privilege to be at the receiving end of such passion and commitment to the school and to the roles for which the girls have applied. Not every girl can be Head Girl, of course – and the appointments are as much about the team as they are about individual roles (a point which I stress at every stage) – but the courage and determination to succeed shown by the girls who apply (by every girl, in fact, in the year group) has been enormously satisfying.

Why is leadership by girls in school so important? Well, quite apart from the fact that the senior prefect team contribute hugely to the day-to-day running of the school, both in the practicalities and in the pastoral support that they offer to the younger year groups, the world needs women leaders, and young women need to learn somewhere. Moreover, they need to learn to lead not just for others, but also for themselves. The qualities that you need to develop if you are to be a good leader of others – confidence, courage, self-awareness, humility, strong values (to name but a few) – are exactly the same qualities that you need if you are to learn to make the most of yourself, to stretch yourself and to become the best of yourself. And, of course, you only develop these qualities by practising, by doing and by engaging in the act of leading, which is why it is important to create opportunities for girls and young women to do precisely this.

So – the new Head Girl’s Team will be announced tomorrow. Good luck to all the girls for what I know will be an exciting and fulfilling year – because they will make it so.

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