I am sitting here, on Tuesday morning, listening to Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, an OHS alumna, as she presents on the adolescent brain to the whole school. She is the Professor of Psychology at the University of Cambridge and leads the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group. The implications of her talk are really exciting for us at Oxford High, in that teenagers are much more influenced by their peers between the ages of 12 – 14, than by adults. This means that our older students have real influence in modelling attitude and character for the future. How empowering for our pupils.
The conferences that we have had over the last few weeks whether Politics, Law, Fashion Sustainability or today’s Psychology Conference are all striking as they are pupil-led and organised. It’s terrific to see our students grow in confidence and presence as they introduce the speakers they have invited and provide a brief summary afterwards, as well as chairing questions – and from large audiences too. The Psychology conference alone had over 4,500 pupils listening in. So many students talk to me about the opportunities they are given at OHS, and whether it is the range of clubs on offer, or the opportunity to lead a club themselves, it is certainly something your daughters really appreciate after these strange and often socially isolated times.
Having said that though, it is currently one step forward and one step back. This term we are experiencing clusters of Covid cases occurring in one year group which then fall away only to appear among students in another year group. These are challenging times and I am hugely grateful to the parents who have written in supporting the school. I want to make sure that your daughter receives an in-face education and that she has as much opportunity to learn through experience as she has through reading.
Finally, I spoke to Year 8 parents this week about how hard a time this is to be a parent of young women. The deaths of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard present difficult questions as parents and educators of girls. When is the right time to be compliant, and when to challenge? How do we support the message that it is not for women to change but for society, and yet to be pragmatic about the barriers and challenges facing our daughters? I raised this in assembly on Monday with our students and it was really interesting to get some of their views on what needs to be done. Despite the darkness of these two events, I remain optimistic that the young women we are raising and educating now will provide a torch to light the way for those who follow.
With best wishes,
Marina Gardiner Legge