At the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) Annual Conference 2017 in Manchester, Charlotte Avery, President of GSA, asked schools to consider how they could be reshaping the curricula.
In her opening address, Charlotte, who is also Headmistress of St Mary’s School Cambridge, highlighted that, “We need to engage in a frank debate about how the ‘DNA’ of our schools can evolve so that we can continue to offer an education that is relevant to this brave new world.”
Charlotte was clear in the challenges that lay ahead and how schools could address this to ensure that they continue to offer an education that is admired across the world. In her speech, she discussed three areas that independent schools could focus on.
1. Be creative with the KS3 curriculum
Charlotte urged independent school headteachers to question whether they were being sufficiently creative with the curriculum at KS3. “How do we measure the ability to learn, and how do we measure self-esteem and the ability to innovate?” asked Charlotte.
More attention is also needed when developing critical thinking skills and Charlotte explained how these skills are best developed through rigorous teaching of the arts and humanities, alongside STEM subjects.
2. Make school personalised
Interestingly, the GSA President also called for more personalisation in school and said that learning needs to be differentiated for each pupil’s needs. “What about experimental learning? Are students leading and owning their own learning?” continued Charlotte.
3. Put a spotlight on careers
Charlotte explained that many GSA schools had put a focus on careers this year and she believed this was important as it is time to give careers advice fit for the future. Charlotte urged independent school heads to make their careers provision forward-thinking and to embrace apprenticeships.
‘What should HE advice look like for our girls? How will the introduction of ‘high-level’ apprenticeships affect our students’ post-school choices?” said Charlotte. “Ask yourselves how, ‘50% of our students go on to apprenticeships,’ might sound in your school’s marketing materials after generations of saying, ‘100% go on to university.’”
Charlotte’s address set the tone for the rest of the conference as the delegates discussed how they can provide a forward-thinking education for the next generation.
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