4 October 2017
Sixth form students from Sydenham High School GDST have been crowned winners at the seventh annual Girls’ Day School Trust Young Leaders’ Conference after they were inspired and put through their paces by leaders from all walks of life at an ‘Apprentice-style’ charity challenge, designed to help this new generation of leaders prepare for their futures.
The three-day event, from 29 September – 1 October 2017, aimed to give students experience of real-life situations and develop crucial leadership skills, from negotiation to financial planning.
The 140 delegates, from across the GDST, were split into teams and given less than 36 hours to create a digital fundraising and awareness campaign for one of four charities: Hope and Homes for Children; mothers2mothers; Room to Read and Rwandan Youth Information Community Organisation (RYICO). In previous years, ideas proposed by students have inspired award-winning charity initiatives.
The overall winning team, who came up with a highly creative and deliverable campaign for international literacy charity Room to Read, included Sydenham High sixth former Amelia Bourne. Amelia is one of the school’s two marketing prefects and a Head of House. A second Sydenham High sixth former and Head of House, Itoro Udoaka, was a member of the runner-up team, which created a campaign to promote a social enterprise programme run by Rwandan charity rYico supporting vulnerable and abused girls and women.
Prior to the challenge, Team GB Olympic hockey gold medal winner and former team captain Kate Richardson-Walsh was among those on hand to inspire students. Along with other leadership role models, including Chartered Management Institute (CMI) CEO Ann Francke, Kate spoke with students and offered her top tips on leading successful teams. British Army officers then led a series of team-building exercises.
Speaking at the Conference, Kate Richardson-Walsh said: “For me, leadership is all about creating teams where all individuals are given the chance to shine and achieve their best. I am delighted to be here amongst the next generation of young leaders. It’s been so inspiring to see their passion, drive and dedication. They all showed so much energy and I am excited to see what these students will bring to their respective fields. From the hockey pitch to the business field, I know our future is in safe hands!”
Katharine Woodcock, Headmistress of Sydenham High School, said: I am hugely proud of the maturity, fearlessness, creativity and drive that our sixth formers have displayed during this conference. They have embraced the challenges of this exciting event and it has been an incredible experience for each and every student. They have certainly demonstrated superb leadership skills, professionalism, as well as entrepreneurial spirit, something we foster here in our Sixth Form at Sydenham High School. Once again, the Girls’ Day School Trust has given our students a memorable and hugely rewarding opportunity, which has been inspirational to them. Well done to everyone involved.”
Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO of the GDST, said: “Effective leadership simply comes down to getting the best out of people so that, together, we can drive positive change. At the Girls’ Day School Trust, we are committed to inspiring the next generation of leaders. We need to broaden our view of leadership, to embrace a whole host of skills and qualities that are sometimes undervalued – like communication, collaboration, effective delegation, creativity and empathy. So my message – no, my challenge – to all our young leaders is: if you don’t like the leaders we have, become the leaders you want.”