Being Imaginative

As the year draws to a close Mrs Gibson, Headmistress, reflects on the BGS values, in particular, the importance of always being imaginative. 

Whenever I think about imagination my mind immediately leaps to one thing in particular…see if you can recognise it from this quote: 

If you want to view paradise

Simply look around and view it

Anything you want to, do it

Want to change the world?

There’s nothing to it

There is no life I know

To compare with pure imagination

Living there, you’ll be free

If you truly wish to be

It is the song Pure Imagination from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate factory. And who in here has not at one time imagined themselves in that wonderful factory room that has a chocolate river running through it and every flower, plant and blade of grass is made of something edible and sweet. Roald Dahl created such an immersive world in that book with eccentric characters, vivid scenes and that little touch of magic.

The act of writing a story is the epitome of imagination from Alice in Wonderland to the terrifying and tragic character of Count Dracula, and the dystopian futures depicted in books like the Handmaid’s Tale we learn to see the world through different eyes, to understand different viewpoints;  they stimulate our own creativity and help us question what we see around us.  

Being confident to use our creativity and imagination is something we highly value at BGS. I witness how wonderfully articulate, creative and intelligent our students are every day; how they are capable of questioning and challenging accepted norms and of engaging in debate with all the passion and acumen we could expect and hope for. These are some of the attributes we encourage you to develop so that our students  enter the world with critical curiosity, a love of learning and a desire to change things for the better. We can only conceive new solutions by looking at issues through different and new perspectives. We want to encourage our students to use their intellect to link thoughts and ideas to find new solutions; to always be questioning and stepping out of comfort zones to explore something from a different angle and not to always accept the status-quo.  

We live in a highly volatile world;  there are so many huge issues that need creative, innovative and imaginative thought to address them; we cannot solve them with our current thinking and whilst technology may help provide a solution, that bright spark of an idea will originate from someone’s imagination. From the issues of climate change, poverty, war, famine, gender inequality and greater political division, we need great thinkers to make a difference.  

And of course, imagination is also essential for all the creative arts, which enrich our lives so much. School has felt so much more vibrant and alive this year as we have been able to watch incredible drama and dance, listen to concerts and visit art exhibitions and work in collaboration to use the collective power of creativity to create joy and harness the sense of possibility.  

So as we finish another school year I would like to ask us to remember to  never dismiss a thought or an idea, however small or unconnecting it may at first appear; remember just how important imagination is, revel in it, let it run wild and always put it to good use. 

Everyone’s Invited – a year on

By Mrs Gibson, Headmistress

I was very honoured to speak at the recent GSA Conference about the impact of Everyone’s Invited on our school community and what we have been doing to try to improve the situation for our students. Stamping out misogynistic behaviour and rape culture is such an important issue for our young women, They must be able to go out into the world feeling safe and believing that their opinions will be heard and valued. I have been incredibly proud of how our students reacted to the horrific stories that were shared through this website; they immediately realised that action needed to be taken and that they had an important role to play, despite this being such an emotionally charged issue. 

Not only did our Sixth Formers want to work within BGS, they understood that to make a real difference in this area they needed to work in tandem with their male counterparts at Bedford School. They were pleased to discover that the boys were equally keen to collaborate to address these issues. By tackling this together in a safe and non-judgemental way, the Sixth Formers have started a partnership which we hope will be long-lasting in delivering a culture of respect between our young people. For this to be successful it is crucial that: they have empathy for one another; they understand how to interact with each other both socially and intellectually; and that if things go wrong, they know who to turn to and that they will always be listened to. 

There is indisputable evidence that girls thrive in single-sex education: they develop greater mental toughness; the freedom from gender stereotype leads to girls being two and a half  times more likely to take further Maths and Physics at A Level; they achieve academic excellence shown by a disproportionately large share of top grades in public examinations; and they have access to greater leadership opportunities. Nevertheless, we must equip our students to have positive relationships with both sexes, so they can flourish in the world beyond BGS. 

It is important that we start building these links from a young age. We have a termly programme of joint events between the Junior School and Bedford Prep School, which provide exciting opportunities for pupils from both schools to explore collaborative learning across a range of themes: Performance Workshops, STEM activities, E-Safety Awareness Days and Practical Problem Solving. Last week, I had the great pleasure of watching Year 5 students from both schools join forces to face the challenges set by the teachers. Working as a cohesive team and forming positive bonds in the process, they tackled a blind-folded obstacle course, a pass the hula hoop task and a treasure hunt!

By the time they are in Sixth Form, the students are role models for their younger peers. It is why setting the tone in this age group is so important. The academic joint ventures between Bedford School and BGS encourage them to value each other as intellectual equals. Through joint IB Diploma trips and presentations, societies such as the Pythagoreans Society and Lovelace Society, and performing arts opportunities, our young adults collaborate and work side by side. Along with opportunities for light hearted socialising our students get to know each other better so that mutual respect and understanding can grow. This year, I have been greatly impressed by the Sixth Formers working jointly to facilitate  peer training for Year 9 students in both schools on relationships, consent and being active bystanders. 

We will continue to ensure that our students have a strong voice in all aspects of their life, whilst giving them the ability to empathise with others and learn how to find solutions to complex issues as a team, safe in the knowledge that we are here to support them every step of the way. 

We hope that our students live by the adage of American Suffrage activist, Carrie Chapman Catt: “To the wrongs that need resistance, To the right that needs assistance, To the future in the distance, Give yourselves.” but they should also be inspired by the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I know that our students have high aspirations for their futures in a world that they expect to be free from gender bias and inequality. They have made a great start in making this dream a reality and I look forward to seeing what they achieve next.

Put on your Dancing Shoes

By Mrs Gibson, Headmistress

One of my earliest memories is watching my grandparents dance at a family wedding. I was so envious of how they glided round the room and my grandfather took pity on me and tried to teach me the waltz. Dancing was so important to them: they first met at a dance after World War II; they celebrated many major family milestones with a dance together; and in their twilight years they enjoyed nothing more than going on cruises and attending dinner dances. It is a shame how the generations that followed them did not always place such importance on dancing together. 

When travelling around Cuba, this was clearly not the case. Salsa dancing was everywhere: in bars and cafes; in the streets; and at family celebrations. All generations of the family would dance together and it was always so lovely to see grandparents and grandchildren spinning and twirling together at speed to the energising salsa beat. I spent many happy hours dancing there too and the joy it brings you cannot be matched in my opinion. 

That is why it was so special to see so many of our students participating in our dance shows, All Kinds of Legends, last week from our Year 3 right up to our Upper Sixth. It was clear that they found so much joy in what they were doing too. There were looks of concentration and ecstatic smiles at the end, safe in the knowledge they had performed well. The audience too, were brought along with the emotion of the performances, some were happy and upbeat, whilst others were more pensive and drew us on an emotional journey. The students were able to articulate their thoughts and emotions so vividly through their dance. We have certainly felt the lack of opportunity to perform over the past few years of covid. And I am sure like most of us I am very glad that we are back to being able to bring our community together through dance again once more.

Dancing is such a natural thing for humans; we have all seen babies and toddlers swaying to the beat of music. Students here are able to foster their love of dancing through exploring different types of dance and the progression they make from their first performances in Year 3 to the accomplished ballerinas and tap dancers we see in the Sixth Form is phenomenal. Perhaps, we adults need to take a leaf out of their books? We may not all dance like our grandparents did, but we should still try to find opportunities to dance and remember the joy it brings us. Whether it is dancing round your kitchen, going to Zumba or dance classes or throwing some moves at a family gathering or wedding, let’s show our children that we understand the importance of dance and what a great effect it can have on our wellbeing. 

As the dancer, Agnes de Mille said: “To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.”

Celebrating our Heritage

By Mrs Gibson, Headmistress

It has been absolutely fascinating to research the history of BGS’s heritage schools as part of our 10 year anniversary celebrations. Both Bedford High School and Dame Alice Harpur School (Bedford Girls’ Modern as it was then called) opened in May 1882, meaning that we have 140 years of girls’ education to draw upon. A lot of campaigning took place to get these two girls’ schools to open and possibly some reluctance too, with girls’ education still being seen as a bit of a new-fangled idea!

Initially, they were both housed in the same building  with BHS starting with 43 pupils and DAHS with 58. That’s about the size of our Year 4 nowadays. As a historian, I love the circular nature of history and being able to see the patterns. There are so many similarities between all three of the schools and gaining a greater understanding of how our heritage schools navigated their paths before coming together as BGS in 2012 has been fascinating.

And what about those patterns? The most obvious one is about rising to challenges and the girls in all the schools have done this admirably over the years. The first of these was during World War I where we can see parallels to our own modern history. 1914, started quite auspiciously with electricity being brought to the building (like BGS’s wonderful ISI inspection in early 2020) with no sign of the impending crisis. However, as the world around them fell apart, the girls rose to the challenge fully supporting the war effort by knitting for the soldiers and supporting refugees from Belgium. 

During the Depression, a number of the fathers lost their jobs and families struggled financially, with the schools using a hardship fund to keep the girls in school. Another strife the girls of DAHS had to contend with was the flooding of the school in 1939, a very short time after the new building had been opened. Despite all the disruption, the girls were back in school within two days! The girls’ education was not to be interrupted. And then of course the dark days of World War II with evacuees, questions around school uniform due to rationing and the cancellation of much of the competitive sport. Both schools also had alumnae involved in the war effort, with some sadly losing their lives. 

It was delightful hearing the voices of some of these previous students through their quotes in the histories of the schools. I found this one in particular to be poignant “The windows were always open, so we were very cold in winter”; reading this, one would immediately think it was a student today writing about living through the pandemic, but actually it was from 1914 (and this refrain is often repeated throughout the many crises of the 20th century)! 

So what will the history books say about BGS? There are a huge amount of positive things to say about our future forward outlook and focus on technology, but no doubt there will be a chapter dedicated to living through Covid-19. And just like the girls before them, our students have risen to the challenges, this time of remote learning, the limitations of the co-curricular activities they love, missing friends, the cancellations of public examinations and coping with the fear of something happening to their loved ones. And like many headmistresses before me, I have been exceptionally proud of how they have coped whilst simultaneously trying to keep their lives as normal as possible. 

Whilst celebrating the students who have gone before us, I think it is apt to finish with this quote from poet, Rupi Kaur, which we have recently put up on display as inspiration to our current students: 

i stand

on the sacrifices

of a million women before me

thinking

what can i do

to make this mountain taller

so the women after me

can see farther

Spring Term Reflection

As I sit and write this blog, the sun is shining, the daffodils and blossom are out and the temperature feels balmy and pleasant. I feel an enormous sense of wellbeing, albeit somewhat tired after a long and busy term. I am sure many of the students feel the same way. The longer days bring an air of positivity to all. There have been so many exciting events recently: from fantastic sports matches to fabulous concerts; innovative drama pieces to enthralling school trips; success in competitions and the awarding of colours; and the election of the new GLG to the CCF AGI, it has been a busy term. There have been so many opportunities for our students to find their passions and they have risen to the opportunities. 

They do this on top of the wonderful learning that takes place each and every day: I have seen students give presentations in pecha kucha style in computer science; Sixth Formers intellectually struggling through challenging science and maths problems by collaborating on their responses by writing on their desks (certainly not something encouraged at school in my day!); I have observed students work creatively together using their ipads to design theatre sets and costumes; whilst others have shown their high level thinking analysing poetry in socratic circles. It has been wonderful to see students excitedly playing games confidently using their newfound language skills in Spanish; and our youngest students thriving in their enquiry based learning in the IB PYP creating non-chronological accounts. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing how emphatically our students throw themselves into their learning; they are happy to share their ideas with me, even trying to explain the most complicated scientific theories to a historian! They are an absolute credit to the school and, of course, to their families. 

However, a recent survey undertaken by the University of Manchester found that girls are feeling more pressure to be a “perfect teenager” than their male counterparts. It also reported they get less sleep and exercise than boys. Girls were also more likely to use social media spending an average of 4.8 hours a day online. Although it can be a source of support for girls, it can lead to greater pressure on them in areas such as body confidence. It saddens me that our young women are putting so much pressure on themselves; clearly from all I have seen this past term both in their lessons and co-curricular activities, our students have so much going for them. It is important that they realise they are all unique individuals who have a lot to offer in their own ways and that here at BGS they can discover and celebrate their passions and interests in a safe environment. They need to understand that no-one is perfect; we all make mistakes and that this is how we learn and grow. As educators and parents, we have a responsibility to support them as they learn to see their value and embrace their individualism. Speaking with the outgoing GLG and other Sixth Form students who have delivered sessions on gender inequality and LBGTQ+ awareness, I can see what confident young adults they grow into. They know their own minds and are ready to tackle the challenges they may face. 

I also took to heart from this survey the importance of sleep, particularly as we come to the end of a frenetic term. I know that some of our older students will be revising for examinations over the holidays, but I hope that everyone ensures they have some relaxation and plenty of sleep over the break. I think this quote from Homer’s The Odyssey is an apt way to end the Spring Term “There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” 

Flourishing Moments

This week, Mrs Axford (Assistant Head) guest writes on the Headmistress blog about the word ‘flourish’ and what it actually means when you hear this all-encompassing word.

Recently, I was drawn to a post on the Independent Schools Council website about what it means to ‘flourish’. I have always loved the word ‘flourish’ because to me it is a real ‘doing’ word.  We often talk about children reaching their potential. The flourishing part is the bit along the way, where the growth is happening, and one can see the smile and sparkle in the process.

The Human Flourishing Programme at Harvard has developed a way to measure human flourishing. VanderWeele 2017 defines flourishing as ‘complete human wellbeing’ based around five themes: happiness and life satisfaction, mental and physical health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, and close social relationships. 

It is our role at BGS to help your daughters to flourish. Participation in co-curricular activities plays such an important part in facilitating the ‘flourishing process’.  Involvement in music, community volunteering, in drama events, sporting endeavours, dancing, debating and so on may not seem as key to a student’s development as a maths exam or an English essay. But co-curricular activities provide snapshots in time, where you can see students actively growing, developing the soft skills so vital to young adults fulfilling the five central themes stated by Vanderweele above. 

As Assistant Head of Co-curricular and Experiential Learning, I see a plethora of ‘flourishing moments’, whether it is cadets leading their teams at CCF, students preparing for drama productions or music concerts, or students volunteering in local primary schools.

On International Women’s Day last week, I was saddened, although not surprised, to read that the charity ‘Women in Sport’ has found that over 43% of girls who self-describe as ‘sporty’ lose interest in exercise after they leave primary school, with 68% saying that a fear of being judged stopped them from joining in.  A lack of self-belief and body image concerns were also cited among reasons putting teenage girls off sport.  

It made me reflect on my experience very early in my career when I started a new job as Head of Girls’ PE at an 11-16 co-educational state school. In my first week, a couple of things really hit home. I noticed at lunchtime the fields and courts were exclusively dominated by boys. And quite staggeringly, only three of my GCSE PE classes of sixty students were girls.  

In these two contexts, girls had been pushed to the periphery of the physical space, and were marginalised in a GCSE subject which should be for all.  To address this, we decided to introduce single sex PE lessons, and to offer sporting clubs for girls before school, at lunchtimes and after school.  Gradually, over two years, the girls’ physical literacy developed, and they began to have self- belief in their own ability.  They loved being part of teams, and making new friends, and the girls began to realise that sport and physical activity was fun, and was for them.

Because they had grown in confidence and because many more girls were taking part, they were less worried about being judged by others.  Quite simply the girls had begun to “flourish” in the physical domain. Within two years, the GCSE PE intake moved to a 50:50 split between girls and boys. 

It was a simple recipe, and it worked. Today, twenty years on, the landscape and challenges have changed.  The impact of social media and of the pandemic on activity levels for many should not be understated.  However, I firmly believe here at BGS that the single sex environment allows students the space to flourish not only in sport, but across a full range of diverse and stimulating co-curricular clubs and activities.  I scrolled through the sports section of a broadsheet this weekend, and was exasperated to find that 17 out of 18 pages were devoted to men and boys. Role models matter. I consoled myself with the thought that the girls at BGS can reference outstanding role models from within the student community. The new Girls’ Leadership Group (GLG) and their prefect teams announced this week are testament to this. “Complete human wellbeing” – the type of flourishing described by VanderWeele – may sound an unreachable goal, but co-curricular activities provide concrete ways to work on the five themes he lays out: building happiness, health and a sense of purpose, and nurturing relationships that will last a lifetime. May BGS flourish.

Educating for a Peaceful World

In this week’s blog, BGS Headmistress, Mrs Gibson, reflects on the horrific international crisis in Ukraine.

I am sure we have all been horrified by what we have seen and heard in the news about Ukraine over this past week. The images of families being split apart, and ordinary citizens having to take on military roles they never expected to do is devastating. Even as adults, we can hardly imagine the anguish the Ukrainian people must be suffering at the moment, for their normal lives being torn apart. For our children, it is even more unsettling; they do not always fully understand the context of situations, the images they are seeing are frightening and having finally started to see light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic, once again the world seems like a dangerous and unpredictable place. As parents and educators, we want to support our young people to understand the complexities of our world, but without paralysing them with anxiety. 

Often in situations such as this, we feel powerless and hopeless in the face of such human suffering and adversity. It makes us realise just how fragile peace is. I read a political cartoon recently that said “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly whilst everyone else repeats it”. And that feels never more true than when situations of crisis occur like war and a worldwide pandemic. As a historian and a teacher, I know that the purpose of education is to ensure we stop making the mistakes of the past; that in the words of the IB, we educate for a more peaceful world…only by educating differently will we stop making these mistakes.         

Across the school, class teachers and form tutors have been educating the students on what is happening in the Ukraine. Our teachers are there to support our students, particularly those who have links with that part of the world. In a world of media bombardment, being able to see the salient points amongst the rumours and sensationalism is paramount.  A key role for our teachers is to help students  understand where to get information from and that by using trusted sources, they can help stop the spread of misinformation. Through our IB PYP programme in the Junior School and our humanities teaching in the Senior School, we educate our students to be able to distinguish the truth from propaganda. We will continue to support them here in school with any questions or concerns they may have.

I know all of us in our community, students, staff and parents, will be concerned about the humanitarian crisis war brings. And I am sure many of us are struggling with how to help our fellow humans at this time of need. First and foremost, we can keep the people of Ukraine in our thoughts and hope for the resumption of peace soon.  There are also a whole host of other things individuals can do to support such as: writing to local MPs; getting involved with your local community or place of worship’s efforts; looking to support through donating goods or money to established charities such as the Red Cross, UNICEF and UNHCR; or contributing to the local effort to support refugees here in the UK through charities such as BRASS in Bedford (whom we support annually).

As our world becomes ever more connected, we feel, even more greatly, the pain of this conflict, and others around the world such as in Myanmar, South Sudan, Yemen and sadly many more. We hope through our IB philosophy and our programme of working with our established charities here at BGS that our students build resilience, gain the ability to question and seek the truth, learn the skills of adaptability and creative thinking and develop empathy and compassion, so they can cope with the chaos and volatility of the world around us

As usual I will finish with a quote; this one, from Helen Keller, I know will really resonate with our global minded community: I look upon the whole world as my fatherland, and every war has to me the horror of a family feud.

Empowering Student Leadership

This week, Mrs Woolley (Director of Sixth Form) guest writes on the Headmistress blog about the upcoming Girls’ Leadership Group (GLG) election process. 

Over the half term I had a little time to continue reading a book I had started over Christmas: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. He makes a really interesting assertion regarding our best days at work. Surprisingly, perhaps, when asked about this very few people recount a time when everything fell into place and went smoothly. For most people, warmer feelings are felt when everything seemed to go wrong, and they had to work as a team to find a solution. It is not the hardship itself that is enjoyed, but rather the sense of camaraderie that is remembered with fondness, having been fostered by the sharing of such experiences. As a Scientist, it is particularly fascinating that the oxytocin our bodies release during times of struggle can allow individuals within a team to grow biologically closer. I can certainly say this resonates with me and the teams I have worked with over the past two years of lockdowns, cancelled examinations, school closures, online learning and supporting students as they navigate these challenges.

It has been particularly timely to read Sinek’s book at this point in the academic year, as the second half of the Spring Term in Sixth Form brings with it the annual Girls’ Leadership Group (GLG) election process, when our Lower Sixth students have the opportunity to apply for roles on the Leadership and Prefect teams: application forms are completed; a vote of confidence from Sixth Form students and staff takes place; and then students are shortlisted for interview. Whilst not all will be successful, the chance to prepare for the application and interview process is a really sharp learning curve for the students, and one which takes all of them out of their comfort zone. Whatever the outcome, there is a real sense of fellowship and achievement amongst the candidates who put themselves forward: particularly for our Head Girl applicants, as in addition to an interview, they will also write a blog and make a speech. Their willingness to engage and the time they take to prepare and craft their speeches never fails to impress me; it is testament to the empowered, ambitious and brave students we nurture at BGS.

On 13th March the new GLG and Prefect Team will be announced, and with new roles of a Junior School Captain, Diversity and Inclusion Captain and Sustainability Captain this year, there are plenty of opportunities for our students to develop leadership skills, manage teams, contribute to the wider BGS community and leave their mark.

In the run up to the application process I have spoken to the students about leadership and in doing so, have addressed the misconception that leaders are not always the loudest and most forceful individuals, and reinforced that empathy, communication, vision, integrity and positivity are far more important traits.  The successful candidates will attend a leadership strategy day where they will work with experienced Alumnae to explore the question of leadership and teamwork. They will look at building strength in collaboration and how to bring a community together to work towards a common goal.

There will of course be challenges along the way. Managing their workload, co-curricular activities, social life and, in some cases, a part time job alongside their additional leadership responsibilities can be a tricky balance and there will be some invaluable lessons to learn. However, I am sure our students will rise to the upcoming challenges as they develop so many new skills.

Our outgoing GLG have certainly embodied being bold, imaginative and reflective over the past year and will undoubtedly be able to apply what they have learnt to the next stage of their lives. I hope they have found that it is the camaraderie of shared experience, working together in the face of sometimes difficult odds and taking the opportunity to lift each other up, that has provided fulfilment, learning and wonderful memories.

A Welcoming Environment

The musical, Oliver, was always a favourite of mine growing up and it was a great privilege for me during my early years of teaching to put on a performance of it with a large group of Year 7 students. I will always remember the haunting version of Who Will Buy where one student in particular suddenly came out of their shell with an exquisite angelic voice. However, it was the rousing rendition of Consider Yourself that will forever hold a place in my heart. For you see, we had become a big family by the point the show was put on and the words resonated with us all.

It is events like this, drama productions, music concerts, school trips and sporting events, where students and teachers work hard together, outside of the usual classroom experience, where strong bonds are made through camaraderie. We have so many opportunities like this at BGS, with over 50 co-curricular clubs per week, a myriad of performance opportunities and countless fixtures over the year. Our students relish the opportunity to try out new things, to find their passions and to work as part of a team; all essential skills for life, but more importantly, great fun!  

We are at the time of year where our Year 6s are beginning to think about their transition to the Senior School and it has been a great pleasure for me to get to know them better. They have so many interests from sport to music, to baking and travelling, to drama and art, whilst many have the common BGS trait of being an animal lover! However, what was clear is that although they are obviously very excited about their move up, there is also some trepidation. This is completely normal. However, we find that students in Year 7 (and in our other year groups) usually settle very quickly, with the support of our outstanding pastoral team and through getting involved in clubs, activities and teams, which are great ways of making new friends. In particular, in Year 7 the students participate in the House Pantomime competition, with the Year 12s directing. The teamwork across both year groups cements the students’ feelings of belonging, and it is always such raucous fun. 

I can’t believe that I have only been at BGS for 18 months myself; I have been so truly welcomed by the community, even more impressive considering I couldn’t meet many people in person for the first year. I love how our community nurtures one another, how we find the joy in what we do in the classroom and how we celebrate each other’s achievements. It truly is a wonderful environment for students and staff alike. And I feel sure that any students who might be joining us in the future will soon recognise the feeling epitomised in these words:

“Consider yourself at home

Consider yourself one of the family

We’ve taken to you so strong

It’s clear we’re going to get along” 

Creative Solutions

With our strong results and high university acceptances rates, it is clear that our forward-looking approach to education is already providing well for our students. Nevertheless, our strategy must continue evolving so we stay at the forefront of educational philosophy. 

We have now firmly entered the “Information Age” with the production of information growing exponentially. We know that in the modern workplace, it is essential that everyone has excellent technological skills. BGS students are all “digital natives”, but it is their digital fluency coupled with their ability to be creative that will set them apart from their peers. Back in 2006, an IBM paper entitled The Toxic Terabyte, predicted that knowledge would double every 12 hours in the near future. With such a huge amount of information available it is crucial we nurture our students’ imaginations. We don’t want our students to only learn what is necessary to pass examinations. We want them to be curious, to come up with new ideas and to question what has gone before; we really aspire for our students to be the creative-thinkers and the change-makers of the future, and that starts with their journey here. 

Many of our students will work in jobs that have yet to be conceived, and have multiple careers in their lifetimes. They will need the agility to work globally, understanding different cultures, languages, political systems, economies and business etiquettes. It is an exciting time to be part of the education system, but it is incumbent upon us as school leaders, through our curriculum development, to make sure that our students are equipped to succeed in these nascent job opportunities across the globe. 

At BGS, we have always believed that central to success is the promotion of creativity in education; we value it so greatly that being Imaginative is one of our key values.  The writer Tham Khai Meng agrees and recently stated in the Guardian “Creativity is the most powerful competitive advantage a business can have. Companies need to fizz with new ideas and fresh thinking. But there’s a problem – there just aren’t enough fizzy people around.”  Our students are given a myriad of opportunities to develop their originality and expressiveness through all aspects of the curriculum; whether that is in the drama and dance studio, art room, a maths lesson or in the science labs, using their imagination and thinking creatively to look beyond the content builds connections, extends their knowledge, embeds concepts and helps them find innovative solutions.   

The thinker and writer Edward de Bono wrote “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” The world is facing monumental issues from COVID, to climate change, to the Black Lives Matter Movement and the continued issues around gender inequality. If we are to change our future for the better, new ways of creative thinking are definitely in order and I have no doubt that BGS students will be part of finding the solutions.