Speak Truth to Power

St Albans High School for Girls, like many other schools, last week marked with respect the longest reign by an English monarch. It is a respect that Mr Corbyn did not feel able to accord. Anyone else note the irony? – Schools across the country were sent today a programme of lessons: ‘Speak Truth To Power’ as part of the government’s strategy to promote British Values, while the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition fails to sing the National Anthem at the Battle of Britain memorial service.

The latest issue of our school magazine, Herein, most certainly embodies those British values. What an amazing publication. Not so much a school magazine as a trumpet blast for equality.
At the launch yesterday, itself a great innovation, the editor, Lauren, and her team spoke of the fun of creating, writing, editing, researching, interviewing and designing. Its chic cover has a black and white picture of the editorial team holding Women United placards in a trenchant echo of the suffragists of the 1890s (High School alumnae, surely?) holding Votes for Women placards on the back cover.

I was struck by this for so many reasons. Not merely by the occasion, the girls’ presentation of their journey from the magazine’s conception to launch was fascinating, but by the eloquent preoccupation of their writing. They certainly caught the zeitgeist in their exploration of women’s struggle for equality. Their articles and interviews of Shami Chakrabarti, Baroness Warsi, Dame Claire Bertschinger, Ann Pitcher of Selfridges, show how important a matter this still is our school leavers.

And so it should be. I don’t think we can hold too much store in the fact that Mr Corbyn did not have one woman in his top five shadow cabinet jobs, since by all accounts he struggled to find men to fill them, but Herein reminds us that ‘three women on a Company’s Board’ is still unusual. How ridiculous. Anne Pitcher, High School Old Girl tells us that ‘at school we were always taught that we were in control of our own futures’ and so our pupils are, as long as they continue to speak truth to power with confidence, with charm and with conviction.

 

Jenny Brown, Head, St Albans High School for Girls

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