We have so many events here at the Centre every year where pupils meet and work with employers across many different sectors. It gives us a real insight into what has impact, what people tell us carries back into the classroom, what would work even better. Today we held our annual Inspiring Girls Day. Usually held on International Women’s Day, due to a diary issue we had it a day early. Maybe I should do that more often because the number and quality of speakers that made themselves available to talk about what they do and their journey in life was absolutely amazing.
We had nearly 120 girls from 7 different Tees Valley schools, from Year 8 and upwards and what a fantastic future this area has if they are the calibre of our young people. St Peters, Abbey Hill, Northshore, Hillsview, Rye Hills, UCA and Huntcliff should be really proud of the way that the girls participated and showed huge enthusiasm. It is that type of engagement that will get them fantastic opportunities in the future. And that is what they heard about today. Attitude and commitment is everything.
One teacher pointed out one of her Y10s. Apparently the girl had to be really strongly persuaded to attend today. She didn’t like going to other places, she didn’t know people there and she wouldn’t like it, it had nothing to do with her. School is often a struggle for her but going somewhere else was not something she would normally agree to. The reason she was pointed out was that she sat absolutely transfixed and fully engaged in the fabulous opening presentation by Claire Preston. Using a really interactive way of engaging 120 girls in one of the most interesting and varied life stories I think I have ever heard had them absolutely in the palm of her hand. And for good reason. She spoke about opportunities, relationships, regrets, and success. Normally the Q&A is muted at best but we had some really interesting questions that showed how much the girls had been thinking about the situations that Claire spoke about. It set the scene for the day and I think the other presenters in the group sessions found a very open and engaged group of girls as a result. Thank you for the great start Claire.
So the girls got to visit each of the presenters for about 30mins. We had so many presenters that many doubled up or took a session each. This resulted in an impromptu ‘meet everyone’ session in the Auditorium at the end so that all the girls could see all the presenters and hear what they did for a minute or two. The thanks I have to give out go to: Katie Ventress (superstar artist in steel), Louise (BT and lover of maths!), Sarah McMann (HMRC and digital guru), Javeria & Suad (Teesside University Ambassadors), Janet & Janine (Middlesbrough College), Ketki & Becca (Accenture – international software company), Lauren (High Tide – working hard on the same agenda that we are), Loukia Kyriakidou (superstar games artist), Leanne (CUBIC – software systems for the world), Gabriella (GabriellaGrace Cakes), Emma Harbottle (MD of Analox sensing systems), Lily (Intelect), Bev & Rachael (Morrisons logistics and distribution) and last but not least Jessica (Atkins Engineering). And let’s not forget Julie from Inspiron Learning and Ann from the Assist network who help me organise volunteers. Now THAT is a list!
Comments from the teachers have been exemplary and focussed on how many questions it has generated from the girls that they brought. We couldn’t engage every girl in the Tees Valley today but alongside some of the other brilliant events going on this week, we think we have made a significant contribution. One of the teachers did point out that although they often have employers in school, the impact of a day like this, coming out of the school environment, mixing with other pupils from other schools, really bringing them out of their comfort zone, is priceless to her. She can’t build that sort of social capital and confidence in any other way. She said that most of the girls who came last year wore a bit less make up, had a few less issues in lessons and had better attendance after attending our event. I think she was the first to get booked this year!
I repeat myself on here most weeks: developing social and cultural capital is the bedrock on which achievement sits whether it’s in school or beyond. The growing research is clear and becoming extensive and it is getting pupils out of school, into the world, to meet people in events such as the ones we run, that will result in better life chances for all of them.
We are proud to do our part.
Happy International Women’s Day….er….tomorrow!