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Head, Nina Gunson, reflects on the GDST’s 150th Anniversary

This year, we are celebrating the Girls’ Day School Trust’s 150th birthday. In 1872, the four founders of the GDST, Lady Stanley of Alderley, Maria Grey, Mary Gurney and Emily Shirreff, dedicated their lives to ensuring girls were given the same opportunities as boys and making a first-class education available to as many girls as possible.

As part of the GDST 150 celebrations, we’ve taken some time to reflect and Our Head, Nina Gunson, has shared what it’s like to be Head at Sheffield Girls’ and part of the wider GDST family.

Nina said: “The most significant reward for me as Head at Sheffield Girls’ is the sense of pride I feel. Each week, our girls’ achievements astound me. I am continually impressed by the frequency and variety of their successes but it is how much they support and encourage each other and how they share in each other's achievements that impresses me the most. At a recent concert, it was wonderful to see girls have the courage to take to the stage and perform a solo for the first time, but even more wonderful to see them do this with a balcony full of their peers cheering them on and providing the fervent applause they deserved.

Our school community is such a special one and I am always so proud to show visitors around. Like me, they are always impressed by the strength of the relationships seen between the girls and their brilliant teachers, by the kindness the girls show towards each other and how friendly and welcoming they are.

Every single person in our school community plays their role in making Sheffield Girls’ such a special place and ensuring our school values are living and breathing examples of what is important to us, but what an enormous privilege it is for me to play such a significant role in the leadership of our school.”

When asked what it means to be part of the wider GDST family, Nina said: “I value the trust and autonomy given to each of the schools within the GDST, which allows Sheffield Girls’, like each of the other schools, to develop its own unique identity, driven by the students and members of staff who shape our school community. That said, being part of a wider family with a shared vision and aligned strategic goals, allows us to reach even greater heights.

Being part of the GDST offers me professional support and advice from a team of experts at Trust Office and allows me to benefit from a network of 25 amazing Heads, which provides collegiality, inspiration and drives innovation across all our schools.

It is not only me, as Head, who benefits from the strength of the GDST family; our teachers, subject leads, librarians, careers specialists…everyone you can think of, has a network they can tap into to share best practice, pool resources and access support.

Our students have access to brilliant opportunities, which are only available because we are part of the GDST - whether it is our Year 12 students being part of a pilot for a new Space Technology Diploma; Junior School girls taking part in an inspirational, national Maths event; athletes of all ages competing in the high profile Trust Rallies; Sixth Formers joining together to attend an Inspiring Females Conference; or one of or Y11 students being named as the winner of the Trust wide public speaking competition - these opportunities open minds and open doors, they enrich our students’ experiences and allow them to connect with others, both within our current GDST student body and across our extensive alumnae network.”

We are proud to be part of the GDST family and look forward to further celebrations throughout the year, whilst continuing our founders’ commitment to delivering a first-class all girls education.

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