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12 December 2022

Head's Blog: 'Empowerment'

Heads Blog: Empowerment

One of the most important messages that I try to convey to students throughout their time in education is that of the crucial nature of empowerment. Empowerment is what makes us be the very best that we can be, empowerment enables us to overcome challenges, it ensures that we fight for what we believe in and we stand up for ourselves. Yes, empowerment is at the root of all positive behaviours: resilience, determination, conviction and self-belief.  

I think that this is especially important in girls’ education. For centuries, stereotypes and assumptions have chipped away at the self-confidence and self-belief of young women. It is why I am a passionate believer in single sex education. At St. Francis’, like so many other single sex girls’ schools, our students can operate in a safe space where they are free to be themselves, pursue their own passions and not have to worry if it’s what a girl should be doing. I am passionate about making sure that we instil the self-confidence and self-assuredness in every single one of our students.  

It is why I was so pleased to build on the work of our 2021 FEMorning and for the College to host the 2022 FEMDay on Friday 9 December. I would like to thank Mrs McDermott and Mrs Spence for their hard work in putting this together. The day was a superb selection of workshops, speakers, classes and activities which all sought to educate young women on how to stay safe, be secure and to be successful. The lessons in self-defence, hearing from an inspirational female police Inspector, discussing successful women throughout history, music, literature, the sciences and engineering and current affairs who have broken through glass ceilings, were all part of the bigger picture of empowering young women.  

We know that students leave St. Francis’ equipped for the world. Not just in terms of examination results – which are important and impressive – but also a sense of who each student is as an individual. They leave with a determination to pursue their dreams and ambitions, whether it is medicine, physics, law or politics, free from the social assumptions that something is not for them because of their sex. That is a huge achievement and something that I am incredibly proud of.  

So, FEMDay was more than just a series of excellent sessions; it was part of our culture. It is part of messaging that empowerment is vital and that so many of our successes come from our inner strengths, our inner determination and yes, sometimes, our inner battles. However, it is the ability to overcome and to channel those inner thoughts which make us stronger. In that lies the foundations for all the successes which will follow. After all, we need to believe in ourselves if we are going to get others to buy into what we are saying.  

"It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent." Madeleine Albright 


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