Notting Hill and Ealing High School (NHEHS) impressed judges with its commitment to giving students a voice.
When a group of sixth-formers approached the head to raise concerns about female under-representation in film, #SetTheExample was born.
The campaign to champion women in film resulted in a three-day festival across the entire senior school. A panel of female film celebrities gathered to debate for a red-carpet event, workshops with local film companies were organised and a film-making competition – open to Years 7 and up across the GDST group of schools – resulted in an exclusive screening of the girls’ incredible creativity at the Everyman cinema in Hampstead, London.
The school’s emphasis on leadership starts early. From Years 7 to 13, there are 300 leadership roles that pupils can apply for, from journalism representative to eco lead. A Year 8 initiative, Learning Amazons, encourages individual exploration, with girls seeking answers to questions they have posed themselves. A public-speaking programme across all year groups hones pupils’ abilities to express themselves, while sixth-formers take on the role of chairperson during high-level subject symposia.
With more than 100 clubs and activities, students discover their passions and build their daring beyond classroom learning. Students’ achievements range from a Year 10 student singlehandedly bringing together 21 schools and speakers in a global artificial intelligence “hackathon” to a Year 7 student organising a charity swimathon. During lockdown, a Year 11 student organised more than 800 letters of gratitude for the NHS across the school – an effort that made headlines in the Evening Standard.
Lead judge Bernard Trafford said the school demonstrated how it builds leadership opportunities “into almost every aspect of school life, describing vividly how unafraid and effective NHEHS is in allowing its girls to decide what matters to them, building their confidence, providing the skills they need to find their voice and, ultimately, lead from the front”.