Devising a theme for the 2017 Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) annual conference was straightforward for this year’s president, Charlotte Avery. Manchester’s position as birthplace of Emmeline Pankhurst and home of the Suffragette movement immediately sprang to mind. And so this year’s conference will be inspired – though not overshadowed – by the Suffragette movement’s drive to gain equality of opportunity for women.
GSA president Charlotte Avery is also headmistress of St Mary’s School, Cambridge: “We were struck by their sheer determination and commitment, and the fact that it took so many inspiring people working together to achieve success,” said Charlotte. “They stuck with it even though it took 60 years of campaigning to finally get equal votes for women. And, you know, in many ways their fight is still continuing.”
With a logo loosely inspired by the colours and flag of the Suffragette movement, this year’s Girls’ Schools Association annual conference will exhort delegates to ‘inspire success together’. Speakers and membership discussions at The Principal Hotel will focus on inspiring and educating girls to lead a successful life, and on working together in a wide range of partnerships within schools, across sectors and between individuals.
Young women leaving school today still encounter prejudice and discrimination
Speakers, panellists and discussion leaders will include entrepreneur Sherry Coutu, Bruce Hood of the University of Bristol, Duncan Piper of the Dyson Institute of Engineering & Technology, editor of the TES, Ann Mroz, and MyBigCareer CEO, Deborah Streatfield.
Serial entrepreneur and angel investor, Sherry Coutu CBE, more recently turned her focus to philanthropic investments when she founded the charity Founders4Schools which inspires pupils by connecting them with local business leaders. Sherry is the charity’s executive chairman. She has decades of experience in the technology and education sectors and has taught at the London Business School.
Bruce Hood is a professor of developmental psychology in society whose research interests include cognitive development, while the Dyson Institute delivers engineering degrees with a difference, enabling students to contribute to inventions while they study. My Big Career is a charity that provides independent careers guidance to schools and students.
As well as being editor of the TES – and former editor of the Times Higher Education supplement – Ann Mroz is on the education advisory group of the Sutton Trust, the advisory board of the Education Endowment Foundation and the advisory board of the Education Policy Institute. She is a member of the Princeton University Press European advisory board and a trustee of Shine, a charity with which many GSA schools are in partnership, giving local state school children access to their teaching facilities and resources as part of the Serious Fun on Saturday programme.
“We have a tremendous range of speakers, all expert in their field. I’m sure delegates will be inspired and informed in equal measure. We want to provoke lively – even controversial – discussion and challenge our members to think in new ways and make new connections,” continued Charlotte. “GSA schools are already highly active in all kinds of cross-sector partnerships and this is an opportunity to discover more about existing projects as well as to plant the seeds of new collaborations that benefit girls in GSA and other schools.”
“Women have come a long way since the days of the Suffragette movement, but young women leaving school today still encounter prejudice and discrimination and part of our role, as teachers in girls’ schools, is to help them overcome this,” added Charlotte.
The 2017 Girls’ Schools Association annual conference will take place on 20–21 November at The Principal Hotel in Manchester.