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Why creating opportunities to empower girls from an early age is so critical

By Heidi-Jayne Boyes, Head of Wakefield Girls High School and Emma Gill, Head of Wakefield Grammar Pre-Preparatory School. Supporting young girls to identify and develop their strengths and passions from an early age can make a huge difference in the way they view themselves, interact with others and lead their lives.

To begin teaching girls to reach their potential as capable and strong leaders Wakefield Grammar Pre-Preparatory School has begun a Little Leaders programme. Early years are the time when your child learns at the most significant rate and so encouraging leadership qualities and developing those skills early on is key. Our Little Leaders programme gives girls leadership opportunities and a platform from which they can learn skills and grow their confidence in a nurturing early years education environment. The Little Leaders programme is a way for our pupils to go on to great things after their journey on the ‘Wakefield Way’.

Role models also play a vital role in helping young girls grow into empowered leaders. They are a fantastic way for students to see how leaders move through the world. We talk with our girls about a wide variety of diverse, inspiring role models that they can identify with. An example of a popular role model that all students know about as they join our schools is Malala Yousafzai.

Malala has spent most of her life fighting against those who seek to oppress women. Malala grew up in the Swat Valley of Pakistan and at an early age, she was forbidden from attending school. Despite this, she was determined to gain an education, and in 2014, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts.

An important lesson is that role models do not need to be Nobel Prize winners - they can be found much closer to home and there are plenty in, and grown from, our school setting. Older girls who exemplify the leadership qualities that we want to teach all of our girls are involved in mentoring younger students. Our alumnae are generous with their time and expertise, guiding our older students - a fantastic way to develop leadership qualities in both younger and older girls. There are other tools and ways to help girls. As well as mentoring, Wakefield Girls’ offers over 30 different types of leadership roles for students, giving each plenty of opportunities to grow and develop their skills. Special enrichment activities every Thursday afternoon also enable older girls to develop in demand soft skills for their lives after school. Big Futures start early.

By providing girls with the tools and resources necessary to achieve success, we can help forge a safe space for them to learn and express themselves freely - ultimately aiding in creating strong leaders. With the importance of creating empowering opportunities for girls in mind Wakefield Girls’ will host a free event that helps girls to develop the skills that will empower them in the future. #empowHER, takes place on the 23rd June, the event aims to help young girls to develop skills needed for life by sharing the mindset of successful female leaders and carefully created workshops.

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