Girls from Church High and Central High learn skills to take them to the top

24 Oct 2013

Sixth formers put their grit, resilience and leadership skills to the test in Apprentice-style challenge.

Six pupils from Jesmond based Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School and Central Newcastle High School, put their leadership skills to the test in a recent apprentice style challenge.  They joined 130 girls at 25 Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Sixth Forms from across the country at the organisation’s annual ‘Young Leaders Conference’.

Bringing together the incoming Year 13 student leaders (including Head Girls and Senior Prefects), the conference was designed to help them build the skills they’ll need to succeed – such as team work, communication, time management, presenting, negotiation, problem solving and financial management. The three day residential event at The Royal High School, Bath, came shortly after Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, claimed that young people lack the skills, such as confidence and ‘grit’, which employers look for.

During the biggest event of its kind, the students were sorted into competing teams and tasked with working together to design a fundraising and marketing campaign to boost awareness of one of several national and international charities.  Plan UK, Jo’s Trust, youth homelessness charity Centrepoint and The Wildlife Trust were all invited to showcase at the conference.  On the last day they presented their final work to a judging panel, including GDST Chief Executive Helen Fraser and representatives of the four charities.  Twelve prizes in total were awarded, including ‘Best event idea’, ‘Best supporting marketing campaign’ and ‘Best presentation’.

In what was a fantastic team building exercise as the two schools prepare to come together to form Newcastle High School for Girls next September, the six girls from Church High and Central High were each paired up together across three teams. Impressively, each team scooped one of the awards of the day, including ‘Best event’, ‘Best campaign’ and ‘Team which showed the most resilience in turning things round on a sixpence.’

Delegates also heard from inspirational female speakers, including Dame Claire Bertschinger (the nurse and activist whose work in Ethiopia in the 1980s inspired Live Aid) and Ann Francke (Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute), learning about their own working lives and the skills they needed to succeed.

Joy Gatenby, Headteacher from Church High School, said:

“The Young Leaders Conference is a wonderful forum for our girls to develop the skills they need to succeed in their future careers. As our two schools prepare to come together to form Newcastle High School for Girls, the event provided the girls with a great opportunity to get to know each other better and work together to solve a wide range of challenges. It was great to hear all about the girls’ experiences at the event and we are delighted that they each picked up an award as part of their teams. They have learnt so much, from teamwork, to communication and leadership skills; all of which will help them not only develop their role within school but they will also be able to take these valuable skills forward into the future.”

Hilary French, Headmistress of Central Newcastle High School GDST, said:

“This excellent weekend conference and competition – which includes the Head Girls’ teams from all 25 GDST schools –  is very inspiring for the girls as well as developing their leadership  skills.  Learning how to collaborate, work in teams and communicate clearly are all qualities employers are looking for. We are delighted that the Head Girl Teams from Church High and Central High have been able to represent Newcastle together in the run up to the merger of our two schools to form Newcastle High School for Girls next September”

The winning team designed a campaign for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:

“Every day nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer yet many women, when they reach eligibility, do not attend their cervical screening test. It was fantastic to see the passion and ingenuity with which the girls took on this issue and that of fundraising for the charity. We were hugely impressed to see them produce campaign ideas that could be effective and impactful in the real world.”

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute, said:

“It’s a privilege to be involved in the Young Leaders conference because encouraging more women into management and leadership is a personal passion of mine. Management and leadership are skills that need to be learnt and practised because good managers are made, not born. I’m glad to see these young women are setting high aspirations and developing the skills they need to achieve them. I’m here because I want to support them by sharing lessons I’ve learned throughout the course of my own career.”


Picture caption: Church High and Central High girls L-R back row – Esme Beer, Georgia Thompson, Kate Nissen, Ella Hanley. Front row L-R  – Uchechi Eseonu, Bethany Painter