Burgess Hill Girls puts its houses in order

Dead male poets are out and strong women are in, as the independent school’s pupils vote for new house names

Pupils at Burgess Hill Girls have voted to rename their school houses in honour of inspirational women.

Among the shortlist for the new house names, compiled by the girls, were Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai; American civil rights activist, Rosa Parks; aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart; and Florence Nightingale, a founder of modern nursing.

After all the votes were counted, four clear winners emerged: Harry Potter film actress and activist, Emma Watson; world-renowned novelist, Jane Austen; Emmeline Pankhurst, who played a key role in the struggle for women’s suffrage; and Serena Williams, who has dominated women’s professional tennis for nearly 20 years, and is a vocal campaigner on feminism and race.


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Head of the independent school, Liz Laybourn, said she felt the previous house names – honouring poets WB Yeats, John Milton, Edward Thomas, and Robbie Burns – had served their purpose, and there had been a consensus among students and staff that it was time for a change.

“We wanted to have a mix of modern and historic female role models,” she said. “The process of making the change was a great event for the school, encouraging all girls from Year 3 to the upper sixth to debate and learn about women past and present who have made, or are making, a difference.

“The new names will inspire the girls to follow their examples. And they will be reminded of these women’s extraordinary achievements on a daily basis.”