GSA president encourages heads to challenge anyone who calls young people ‘woke’

The president of the Girls’ Schools Association will address heads today at a conference, encouraging them to challenge anyone who dismisses the younger generation as ‘woke’

The president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) says heads must challenge anyone who dismisses the younger generation as ‘woke’.

Samantha Price, who is also headmistress of Benenden School in Kent, will address more than 100 heads today at the GSA’s two-day annual conference in Manchester.

“I am getting a little weary of hearing the older generation say, ‘you can’t say anything anymore’. The fact is that times have changed, and we simply need to keep up with them,” Price will say.

“What has really stuck me is that this so-called ‘woke’ generation are actually simply young people who care about things: about causes, about the planet, about people. It ultimately comes down to something very simple: being kind.

“As educators, it is our duty to help them develop their voice, to help them embrace who they are and to support them to fight for what they believe in with an informed, educated voice that actively listens to the same extent as it speaks.”

I am getting a little weary of hearing the older generation say, ‘you can’t say anything anymore’. The fact is that times have changed, and we simply need to keep up with them – Samantha Price, Benenden School 

Price will say how students are “genuinely very anxious” about issues such as Black Lives Matter, Everyone’s Invited, violence against women, widespread misogyny in society and the workplace, gender identity and climate change.

“There isn’t one school leader in this country who hasn’t been affected, and had to respond to this, in the past 18 months and nor will this agenda lose momentum: I firmly believe that it is here to stay.

“What an exciting time therefore to be leading a school, and especially a girls’ school, as we collectively consider the skills that we need to develop to equip this wonderful generation of future female leaders to truly have their voices heard and to make a lasting difference.”

With a conference theme of Girls – The Voice for Positive Change, Price believes “young women will increasingly lead the change that this generation are calling for”.

“It is our job as heads to enable and empower them to do this in a way that is effective and lasting. It is our job to teach them to discuss and debate the most sensitive topics with an active ear, to listen and respect differing opinions and nimbly present their case with strength, passion and conviction.”

GSA schools have established pupil-led inclusion groups, appointed inclusion leads, and are working to diversify staff bodies and review what and how they teach.

Parents have a vital role to play in progress, Price will point out, encouraging all schools to run talks for parents, in person and online, addressing the themes of inclusion, diversity and gender.


 

Related news: Girls who attend girls’ schools more confident, research shows

 

Q&A: Donna Stevens, chief executive, Girls’ Schools Association

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