Being a single sex school is not our main identity | Portsmouth High School

Being a single sex school is not our main identity

The President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, was reported in the newspapers recently as calling herself a girly swot and the media made out this was a reference to the current political unpleasantness.

Boris Johnson used the same to describe David Cameron. I was in the audience when Lady Hale made her remarks and I do not think she was making any political statement. The comment was made in reference to her schooling in an all girls’ grammar school in the north where she said she was allowed to be a girly swot without any teasing. When she then went up to Oxford she found that in the small group tutorials there were many women like herself and a few men who worked hard and prepared well. They were all girly swots. However, at times these discussions were spoiled by men who did not take the supervisions seriously. She ended by recounting the words of her father, a headmaster of a boys’ school, who said girls should be educated with other girls and boys only ever with girls. A paradox to solve.

At our open day I spoke of the benefits of single sex. One visitor, who had been to an all boys’ school, said it is not so much about the single sex but the atmosphere of schools like ours where girls can mature and develop without negative stereotypical influences.

That was also remarked upon at the conference on Friday. Professor Jane Clarke talked of the prejudice she had faced through her career in the sciences. One professor once told her it was impossible to study for a PhD and have children – this was back in the 1980s. Has that type of sexism gone away she asked us. She suggested not as she informed the audience that the same man, Professor Sir Tim Hunt in 2015, made a remark about girls in the lab crying if criticised. Note his use of the word girls not women she said. There is still a way to go for equality.

Being a single sex school, however, is not our main identity but more a fact. Our warm inclusive atmosphere enables girls to make excellent progress in a teaching and learning environment that celebrates success in all its forms. It lets them become the very best version of themselves away from negative influences. Girls can choose to be whatever they desire.

Thank you to all girls and parents who helped at our recent Open Morning. Your input is very much appreciated and we are grateful for your support.