GSA: ‘Clarity of vision and understanding has never been more important’

The Girls’ Schools Association has invited heads of its member schools to Bristol this November for an event that will focus on encouraging girls to cut through fiction to see what’s important

This November, 150 headteachers and specially invited guests will meet for the 2019 Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) annual conference.

With the theme ‘20:20 Vision’, this year’s conference is all about helping children, and teachers, to develop the critical faculties they need to cut through the sheer volume of information modern life entails in order to determine, and focus on, what is important.

It’s no surprise, then, that the programme includes a panel of journalists to debate the topic: ‘The currency of truth – helping today’s young people recognise fake news’. Panellists will include a political journalist, a regional BBC TV home affairs presenter, TES editor Ann Mroz and the deputy editor of Newsround.

The GSA’s 2019 president, Sue Hincks, says: “As we reach the end of the second decade of the 21st century, it seems to me that clarity of vision and understanding has never been more important.

“There are all sorts of people and influences which seek to cloud our judgement. GSA headteachers are trusted by parents to ensure that their daughters are well-informed and have the analytical skills to process what they know and draw rational conclusions from their knowledge.

“Children are bombarded with a phenomenal amount of information via media of all kinds and, sadly, not all of it is correct and some of it is deliberately misleading. We need to help young people to think clearly, to exercise their critical judgement and to make decisions based on fact rather than fake news.”

GSA headteachers are trusted by parents to ensure that their daughters are well-informed and have the analytical skills to process what they know and draw rational conclusions from their knowledge

Keynote presentations will include ‘After Brexit – seeing the future’, an incisive critique and analysis by former BBC news reporter and foreign correspondent Jonathan Charles, who will explore the importance of Britain staying engaged with the wider world and why multilateral action is crucial to tackle global priorities.

He is now managing director (communications) for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an international treaty organisation, but he will no doubt bring to bear his extensive experience reporting on some of the biggest stories of the day, not least European Union integration and many wars across many continents.


Tracy Edwards MBE will share her motivational story. Captain of the first all-female crew to sail around the world in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, Edwards went on to become the first woman in its 34-year history to be awarded the Yachtsman of the Year trophy.

More recently, she rescued and renovated the yacht they sailed in – The Maiden – and it’s now on a two-year world tour to raise funds for Edwards’ charity, The Maiden Factor Foundation. The Foundation supports charitable projects that contribute to girls’ education around the world.

The winner of the GSA’s inaugural Women of the Year Award will be announced during the conference.

Earlier this year, girls from GSA schools nominated a number of women in the public eye and the final votes will be counted and a winner announced. In the running are top British fashion model Adwoah Aboah; American computer scientist Dr Katie Bouman; BBC Blue Planet II producer Orla Doherty; journalist and documentary maker Stacey Dooley; philanthropist Katie Piper; Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg; professional tennis champion Serena Williams; and Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient, the education activist Malala Yousafzai, who attended GSA school Edgbaston High after moving to the UK.

The conference will also include a choice of interactive seminars on topics as diverse as international expansion and managing the impact of the menopause – as well as sessions on scholarships and how to support young people in achieving a sustainable future for our planet. 

The GSA conference runs from 18–19 November at Bristol Marriott City Centre Hotel.

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