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Leadership Likes: Mrs Raja

Mrs Sarah Raja, Head of Junior School

The celebration of International Women’s Day could not have been better timed, as this year it coincided with welcoming our incredible pupils back to school. Once again, the sound of chatter and laughter has filled the classrooms and corridors and our girls have wasted no time in impressing us with their resilience, flexibility and wonderful good humour.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Choose To Challenge’ and in the Junior School we have focused on a range of areas in which women have challenged, whether through their work, actions or simply by being female. With categories including Women in Art, Women in Science and Women in Action, it has been a pleasure to see the diverse range of women and their immeasurable contributions being celebrated across the school.

In Nursery and Reception the focus has been on Women in Art and on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in particular. Known for her distinctive style and love of polka dots, Yayoi’s work has inspired our youngest pupils to learn more about her life and to create their own art in a similar style.

In Year 1 the focus has been on Women in Sport. Wilma Rudolph and Billie Jean King have taken centre stage and the girls have enjoyed find out more about their lives and achievements, before going on to create comic strips and portraits of the two women. In Year 2, the theme has been Women in Writing and girls have studied female authors including George Eliot, Maya Angelou, Agatha Christie, J K Rowling and Anne Frank. They have looked at their work, but also at the ways in which these women fought against inequality and discrimination, considering which of them they find to be most inspiring.

In Years 3 and 4, the focus has been on Women in Science and Women in Tech. Year 3 pupils have carried out their own research into key figures including Mary Anning, Marie Curie and Katherine Johnson and are preparing to write letters to them to explain what they admire about them and to ask them questions about their life and work. In Year 4 girls have researched Grace Hopper and Annie Easley, astounding women whose work in the field of computer science was truly ground breaking in its own right, made doubly so by the almost entirely male dominated context of the sector at that time.

In Years 5 and 6 the themes tied together – Women in Politics and Women in Action. Both year groups focused on the life and work of the suffragists and the suffragettes. This included comparing the two approaches and debating which was more effective, as well as identifying key figures and examining their individual contributions to the cause. How appropriate, then, that the official colours of International Women’s Day are purple, green and white, originating from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Purple signifies justice and dignity, green symbolizes hope and white represents purity, albeit a controversial concept.

As we celebrate the incredible achievements of women across the world and throughout history, I am reminded of a conversation I had with one member of Year 6, not so long ago. We were chatting in the Junior Ent Tech room and our discussion turned to the future. When I asked what her ambitions and aspirations were, she gestured to the photos of inspirational ‘women in tech’ around the room, which included images of Annie Easley and Grace Hopper, and simply said, ‘I want my picture to be up there, alongside those women.’ And that, right there, is the impact and the power that comes from celebrating the success of those that have gone before. I look forward to seeing how our girls will go on to make their own individual marks in history, and I have every confidence that we will one day be adding photos of familiar faces to the walls of our Ent Tech room.

Mrs Raja

Head of Junior School

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