'We educate our pupils to stand up to oppression and bullying in whatever form it takes.' | Portsmouth High School

‘We educate our pupils to stand up to oppression and bullying in whatever form it takes.’

There has been much in the media, following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, which has focussed on women who suffer at the hands of violent men but also about women who experience laddish behaviour and are made to feel uncomfortable either at school or work. There is a website that encourages women to share their stories and name their school/college/university.

We educate our pupils to stand up to oppression and bullying in whatever form it takes. We are fortunate that in a girls’ school our students are not subjected to boys’ banter or in any way discouraged from taking certain subjects or thinking of particular careers. This does not mean that they are ill-prepared to tackle any form of harassment  – quite the opposite. They are articulate confident young women. Our PSHE programme also covers staying safe whether that is on the internet or out on the streets.

Friday night’s Gogglebox showed an excerpt from Teen First Dates and the young woman featured was described as shy because, it was said, she attended an all-girls school. This assumption is seriously irritating. In all schools there will be pupils who are extroverted, introverted and somewhere in between. What girls’ schools do brilliantly is encourage and celebrate all personalities.

Our students demonstrate constantly how much they are able to protect themselves and moreover how to represent themselves in a moral and positive way. They are not backward at coming forward. I am amazed at their confidence and sense of purpose. Only this week a member of the public, who has an 8 year old daughter suffering from cerebral palsy, contacted me to let me know that, following an appeal on social media to raise funds to pay for specialist medical care, one of our Year 9 pupils – Jessica Hall – had raised £500 by selling cakes she had made. This is a heart-warming story and shows Jessica’s thoughtfulness and kindness. This example is indicative of the mettle and compassion that PHS celebrates which couldn’t be further from the opinion that our school is full of shy, shrinking violets. Well done, Jessica. We are all proud of you.