Giving 2022

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A celebration of your support 2020 – 2022

The GDST Girls' Futures report

Redefining leadership, driving confidence and preparing for the real world.

To mark our 150th anniversary, GDST commissioned a landmark survey of 5,000 girls in state, independent schools and academies across the UK to understand what matters most to girls today and how they feel about their futures.

As global leaders in girls’ education, our mission has always been to deliver an education that empowers girls to thrive, in a world that remains far from equal for women. To achieve that mission, we must understand girls’ perspectives on the challenges they face. Their insights will inform our work for years to come, as we shape the future of girls’ education: where girls learn without limits, so they can go on to lead lives without limits.

Read the report at

Registered charity number 306983

When you spot a QR code, hover your phone camera over it or click on it to open up a web page and discover more stories about philanthropy at the GDST.

If you would like to make a donation please visit our online giving page Or if you would prefer not to give online, please call us on 020 7393 6898 and we will assist.

04 A thank you from our CEO, Cheryl Giovannoni 06 GDST bursaries in numbers 09 The three pillars of our bursary programme 10 Finding 14 Funding 22

Thank you

The past two and a half years have seen extraordinary times, and against this backdrop, I want to thank you more than ever for your continuing support in helping us make the GDST what it is today.

This edition of Giving focuses on the last two academic years, and celebrates 150 years of the GDST, as we reflect on the principles that were

established from our beginnings in 1872, and look forward to the task of building and sustaining this vision for the future.

A vision that our four pioneering founders fought hard to bring to fruition, for a more equal world for all, and one in which girls would have the same educational opportunities as their brothers.


I hope you find this publication an insightful and uplifting read into what you - each and every one of our valued supporters - have contributed to help keep this vision burning brightly. Your support comes in all shapes and sizes, and we thank you for all of it – from generous financial gifts through to giving your time and expertise to our students and alumnae communities.

The difference that you make in helping as many girls as possible achieve their full potential is, quite simply, enormous. As you’ll see on the following pages, your contributions enable them to grow in an environment where they are free from stereotypes and preconceptions, where they can express their ideas and know they will be listened to. An environment from which they can build their own pathways and begin to change the world around them.

I am very excited about the future of the GDST, and our capacity to transform the lives of girls and young women who we know will go on to do great things, and positively impact the lives of so many others.

For me, there is no better way to celebrate our 150th anniversary than to keep the legacy of our four

founders at the core of all we do, and to keep building. Expanding our bursary provision, to create a more equal world in which all girls can thrive, lies at the very heart of this.

It just remains for me to thank you again for your support. So much has already been achieved in making the GDST what it is today, and I know that with our continued help, more girls than ever will be able to flourish and make their mark on the world over the next 150 years.


GDST bursaries in numbers

Total raised for Bursaries and Financial Assistance

Gifts received from generous donors

No. of students receiving a 100% bursary

No. of students benefitting from a GDST bursary

Since 1998, just over 6,600 students have attended GDST schools thanks to our bursary programme – our bursary awards enable recipients to experience all that a GDST education has to offer, regardless of individual financial circumstances.

Thank you for enabling us to continue to reach as many girls as possible. 07 £1.1 million 1,332 426 1,054 £1.9 million 1,351 435 1,008 During 2020-21 During 2021-22

Our bursary programme is built on three pillars:


We want to identify those students who will benefit from our bursary awards the most. We will continue to enhance our local outreach and partnership programmes to support this aim. Our focused activities enable GDST schools to be fully inclusive communities – which benefits everyone.


Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, we are able to reach those families and students for whom a GDST education would be out of reach.

By diversifying our funding streams, we can ensure sustainable support is in place for current students whilst also helping many more families in the future.


At GDST, we want to ensure that our bursary students are given every chance to achieve their full potential and flourish. It is crucial that every student at a GDST school has access to everything we have to offer, from outstanding academic provision, to sports and the creative arts. We ensure there are no obstacles to participation for our bursary students.


Reaching as many girls as possible

Our partnership and outreach programmes have long been central to our bursary provision, enabling the GDST to find girls who will benefit most from a GDST education. Across the GDST, we facilitate meaningful outreach days, partnering with schools and organisations in the local community through exciting and enriching activities.

A love letter to Reach Out

Outreach and partnership work has been a long-standing commitment for Nottingham Girls’ High School. Their work has touched the lives of many pupils and staff and instilled a meaningful ethos of active participation in the local communities.


The next phase of Nottingham Girls’ High School’s community work sees the launch of a new initiative Bright Girls Bright Futures (BGBF). This new initiative is a STEM focused partnership with two local state-maintained schools, with the aim of inspiring gifted and talented girls with an interest in STEM to succeed. BGBF will work with the same group of girls from two schools over three years with a new cohort signed up every September, collaborating with hand-selected mentors from Nottingham Girls’ to nurture and work alongside the younger pupils throughout the programme.

“We are really proud of our contribution to our local Nottinghamshire community and have dedicated more than 3,000 hours combined across staff, students and governors on our outreach events. Since 2011, our outreach project, Reach Out, has engaged with more than 7,000 children from 100 primary schools across academic and enrichment subjects as well as enabling more than 800 local children to experience theatre for the first time.”

Read more about Outreach and Partnership at Nottingham Girls’ High School.


A space for curious minds

As part of their ongoing campus investment programme, Northwood College for Girls have this year officially opened The Alvarium, their new, stateof-the-art STEM building. Built to their bespoke specification, The Alvarium will substantially enhance the experience of current and future generations of pupils. More than this, it houses a unique, flexible space, called Maker Space, which is already serving the local community in outreach and participation STEM events designed to stimulate and nurture curious young minds.

Music making en masse

In May 2022, children from three local primary schools joined Shrewsbury High School pupils for their Massed Orchestra Day. 50 pupils joined forces to master Dvořák’s New World Symphony, perhaps better known to some of us as the Hovis advert theme tune.

Read more about The Alvarium

The musical celebrations continued into July when 150 Year 3 pupils across Shropshire took part in their first Choral Day. The joyful day was part of Shrewsbury High School Arts Fest 2022 and featured a mix of music, drama, dance, theatre, origami, painting, sculpture, exhibitions, opera, fashion shows, comic book art, open mic, rock band, and more.


Festival friends

Brighton Girls’ relationship with the ever-popular Brighton Festival began in 2017 when the school participated as a Festival venue. This commitment expanded in 2022 as the school became a new sponsor of the Children’s Parade, helping over 50 schools and 5,000 children from Brighton and Hove to come together in the vibrant carnival atmosphere.

A love of Latin

The Minimus Latin Project continues to be a valuable partnership between a group of students at Notting Hill & Ealing High School (NHEHS) and a group of Year 5 and 6 pupils from North Ealing Primary School. The course provides an opportunity for primary school students who may not have had the chance to learn Latin, to experience the subject and learn the basics of the language. In recent years, the North Ealing Primary/NHEHS group have won several prizes in the group section of the Minimus Mythology Competition.

Women helping to empower women

To celebrate 140 years of Northampton High School, a new project was launched, known as Women Helping to Empower Women (WHEW). Following its launch in 2018, pupils from local primary schools visited the school to take part in workshops and interactive activities including Rocket Science, Forensics, Chemistry, Coding, Microbiology and Physics.


Why you give

The following pages share examples of the ways in which our community have given charitable donations in support of bursary awards, financial assistance and our schools’ facilities, enabling each pupil to make the most of everything a GDST education offers.

environment it is and how it truly is the best place for a girl’s education in the area.

Jackie is providing a full bursary award so that a young student can experience an education at Nottingham Girls’ High School (NGHS).

“I enjoyed many happy years during my time at NGHS. When I visited the school again in recent times, I saw how happy the girls were and I was reminded what a wonderful

I feel blessed that I am able to participate in the bursary programme and enable a girl to experience a GDST education and all of the wonderful opportunities that it brings. It fills me with great pride that I can play a part in a bright young girl’s education; I am terribly excited to see what she will go on to achieve.”

Jackie’s bursary recipient began in Year 7 at NGHS in September 2022. Of her award, she said:

“I have settled in well and made loads of new friends, the teachers are lovely. I enjoy all the subjects, but my favourites at the moment are History, Chemistry, Maths and Biology. I’m glad to be at this school and thank you Jackie for making it possible.”

Read more about Jackie’s donor story


The Caroline Mayr-Harting Travel Fund

Caroline Mayr-Harting taught Classics at Oxford High School for almost 30 years, from 1977 to 2004. Not only was she a much-loved teacher, but also a keen traveller who led many memorable school trips. In November 2020, Caroline sadly died from cancer.

Deeply touched by the wonderful letters they received from former students, colleagues and friends; her family launched a travel fund in her name to enable students to participate in overseas school trips who otherwise would not have been able to do so.

One former pupil, now a distinguished Classics Professor, still remembers the advice Mrs MayrHarting gave her at age fourteen:

“In life, you really only need to be good at being yourself. That’s all.”

We are pleased to share that the appeal raised nearly £30,000 over just four weeks in June 2021, which has now been placed in an endowment fund, enabling the interest each year to be available for a student or students to join a school trip which otherwise would have been out of reach.

Thank you to her family and those who generously gave to help us create The Caroline Mayr-Harting Travel Fund in celebration of Caroline’s life and thanksgiving of her legacy.


Leaving a gift for future generations

In the academic years 2020/21 and 2021/22, a total of just under £739,140 was gifted to the GDST by our alumnae community in legacies. Below are two of these women whose gifts will make a lasting impact to future generations.

meeting her at events over the years, including the annual Hywelian Summer Lunch. Miss Butlin was a tremendous supporter of Howell’s: she donated regularly to the Bursary Fund, as well as various projects undertaken by Howell’s. In 2017, she generously sponsored the Drapers’ Crest as part of the fundraising appeal to restore the Great Hall, on top of her regular donations. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Miss Butlin for remembering Howell’s in her will. Her gift will enable us to offer a full bursary place to a Sixth Form student and is a fitting way to celebrate her life.”

“I was so sorry to hear that Hywelian Mary Butlin passed away in July 2021. Miss Butlin attended Howell’s from 1954 until 1961 before leaving to undertake a course at Hereford Teacher Training College and going on to become a primary school teacher in Cardiff. Her association with, and support of, Howell’s continued throughout her lifetime, and I very much enjoyed Howell’s in 1960

Sally Davis Principal of Howell’s School, Llandaff

Barbara Browning Blackheath High School Class of


Barbara Mary Bernadette Browning was born on 8 April 1920 and raised in Woolwich, London. She attended Blackheath High School from 1926 to 1938, becoming Head Girl and Captain of the netball team. After leaving school, Miss Browning became a teacher; a career which took her to schools in Tiverton, Brighton, Portsmouth and Torquay, the latter seeing her running a girls’ boarding house. She moved to Plymouth in the 1970s to look after her parents and it is here that she held her final teaching post. She remained in and around Plymouth for the rest of her life and passed away on 23 March 2021 at the age of 100.

Miss Browning’s generous legacy gift for Blackheath High School will be used to support a Sixth Form bursary award from September 2023.

If you have included a gift to the GDST or an individual school in your will, or would like more information on how to do so, please get in touch by emailing All those who have made this commitment will join The Minerva Circle, a special society recognising their generosity.

Barbara and her brother. Barbara is wearing the Blackheath uniform of the time Barbara in the Blackheath High School cricket team (top right)

Leave a lasting gift.

Leave a lasting gift.

Hundreds of alumnae and other supporters of GDST schools choose to leave a gift in and forward-thinking education for GDST girls of the future.

Hundreds of alumnae and other supporters of GDST schools choose to leave a gift in and forward-thinking education for GDST girls of the future.

As a supporter of the GDST, you can write your will for free using leading will-writing service, Farewill. Get started by visiting

As a supporter of the GDST, you can write your will for free using leading will-writing service, Farewill. Get started by visiting Registered charity number 306983

Farewill Ad.indd 1 28/10/2021 20:27
306983 Farewill Ad.indd 1 28/10/2021 20:27
Registered charity number

The Jane Goodman Charitable Trust

In September 2022, a student joined Sheffield Girls’ in Year 7, fully supported by the life-changing Jane Goodman Bursary Award.

Following the sad passing of Jane in 2019, her close friends set up The Jane Goodman Charitable Trust in her memory, with the aim to fund projects close to Jane’s heart.

Jane joined Sheffield Girls’ aged four in 1953, representing her year group as Head Girl in Sixth Form before leaving in 1966. A leading figure in Paediatric Dentistry, she was one of the youngest ever paediatric dental consultants and held many roles in the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry, becoming President in 1995. Whilst at Sheffield, she was a hardworking and dedicated student, who made friends across the year group and kept in touch with them throughout her adult life.

“Thanks to Jane’s generous legacy, we are looking forward to welcoming a new student to the school on the Jane Goodman Bursary Award. A gift like this is truly transformational and will give another girl the opportunity to immerse herself in her subjects, discover her passions and make friends for life, just as Jane did when she was at school.”

Jane Goodman
FUNDING 19 20:27

GDST calling

In 2021, the GDST undertook two fundraising telephone campaigns across twelve schools to fundraise for our GDST wide bursary programme. Three young alumnae from each participating school formed the calling teams and spoke to many alumnae, former parents and former staff, sharing stories about their school days and the GDST’s philanthropic vision to reach as many girls as possible.

Chris Conneely, Director of Development at Streatham & Clapham High School during the telephone campaign in December 2021 shares his insight:

“As a veteran of numerous telephone campaigns at schools and universities over the years, I know first-hand what a great way it is to connect with alumnae. Not only does it generate vital funds but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to reach out one to one – something that was particularly important last year, as we came out of lockdown.

In total, the telephone campaigns raised £210,000 with contributions from 390 donors.

The response from Streatham & Clapham alumnae has been truly heart-warming and I was pleasantly surprised at how many of our more recent leavers chose to support our bursary fund. Our calling team loved chatting to fellow alumnae and learning about their experiences after SCHS, and one of the unexpected benefits of a campaign like this is that we receive so many offers of volunteer support – be it careers talks, work experience or mentoring.”


Collective alumnae action

Alumnae from South Hampstead High School have joined forces in making regular donations in support of the bursary programme.There are now five Class of cohorts supporting bursaries through this initiative and every year, more alumnae join the programme. Leavers are invited to join the scheme as their leaving gift to the school. Thanks to the generosity of their parents and match funding from The Black Heart Foundation, the Class of 2021 & Class of 2022 have been able to fund full fee bursary places for Sixth Form students.

Through modest regular donations or one-off gifts, our alumnae help support meanstested bursary awards for the next generation of bright young women. The key to the programme is that everyone, at whatever level they can afford, can be involved in creating a legacy to their time at the school and provide life-changing opportunities.

Class of 1981 Class of 1982 Class of 1982 at reunion

In their own words

We asked some of our current bursary recipients and recent alumnae who benefitted from financial assistance to share their experiences. Their words show just how much of an impact your giving has on the lives of others.

“When I joined the school, I found so many like-minded people, and people that wanted to collaborate and work together. And I think that really came to the forefront: everyone wants to be there for each other. It really does feel like a family. The teachers always say that, but it’s actually true. Everyone’s really together, everyone’s willing to help each other. I think that’s the biggest thing you get from it.”


Norwich High School, Year 13

Paris is an aspiring actor, with her sights set on the film industry. She joined Norwich High School for Girls in the Sixth Form in September 2021, and has taken both the school and the wider community by storm with her experiences as a deaf person, charity work for Great Ormond Street Hospital and artistic collaborations with fellow, hearing students.

“It’s been a new environment to get into, and a new way of getting information,” she says, “But it’s been really good. The teachers are amazing and it’s such a close environment.

Buoyed up by this sense of belonging, Paris started to spread her wings. “I started a BSL (British Sign Language) club in the middle of Year 12. And with that, I found out that people do want to learn, and be part of deaf culture. They do want to know what British Sign Language is and learn it.”

She also began to accelerate her creative talents. “I’ve been writing lyrics and poetry since lockdown, and I have a friend that also writes lyrics, so we did it together,” she says, “I’ve always wanted to try and make them into songs, but I don’t play an instrument and I can’t really sing


that well. So the challenge was finding someone to work with.” Her project gained momentum and she quickly found herself in a tight friendship group, collaborating creatively and performing first at the school’s Winter Arts Festival, and later at the Norwich Deaf Festival. Here, they made their mark as one of the very few groups of combined deaf and hearing people to perform together. “The attitude is very much ‘If you want to do that, you can do that’. If you say you really want to do something, then just do it.” And of her friends, who learned to sign for the performance, Paris says, “They were so willing to learn – learn about other people and about other cultures.”

It’s not been without its challenges, though, and as Paris explains. “It’s really hard to get into a new environment, and [as a deaf person] it’s much, much harder. You have to get used to everyone, you have to get used to lip patterns and so many different things.” The school had to adapt, too, with staff being trained up specifically to manage Paris’ needs. “They had to get used to it as well, so it’s big for them too,” Paris says.

Paris’ mother Patricia, adds, “Sometimes you go into an environment or culture, and they freeze. Whereas at Norwich, they really took it in their stride and wanted to do everything they could to help.”

In response, Paris has recently prepared an assembly for the whole school about her deafness and identity, so that the entire school community is learning about deaf awareness issues together.

Both Paris and Patricia are unequivocal about the impact of Paris’ bursary to Norwich High School, and share some of the already, many happy stories and moments – from the big highs like working and performing with friends in front of the whole school, a school trip to Amsterdam, to everyday moments like simply “sitting around together between lessons, just talking.”

Patricia says, “If somebody gives you that opportunity as a bursary recipient, they are giving you those beautiful moments.”

And Paris concludes, “I think [donors] are actually changing people’s lives. They are allowing a woman to be empowered and achieve their potential, making your dreams come true.”

Paris’ leadership and campaigning work has attracted national attention as she was recently elected a Women of the World (WOW) Young Leader for her activism within Norwich High School, the local community and deaf awareness around the world.



Sheffield Girls’, Year 13

Lene is in her final year at Sheffield Girls’, and has decided on a teaching career, inspired by her experience at the school.

At 5’2”, she says she’s opting for primary, as “I need them to be smaller than me!” She describes the impact of her years at Sheffield Girls’ here.

“Honestly, I’d say it’s because of my teachers that I want to be a teacher. You can never predict ‘what if ‘ if you’d gone to another school, but I definitely think being here made me value education so much. I do remember fitting in very quickly and I felt like I was always meant to be here. This is exactly where I needed to be.”

“I remember very clearly, at the end of my first week here, my Mum said, ‘I’ve never seen you look so happy and so content in school.’ I think that’s when she knew that we had made exactly the right decision. I remember quite vividly how quickly I fit in and felt like this was the place for me, I’d found my people.”

Over the years at Sheffield Girls’, Lene has thrown herself into volunteering and community work, and has been extensively involved in mentoring younger students. “You just don’t get that in other schools,” she says. “You don’t get the opportunities, you don’t have the connections. I am so lucky to be at Sheffield Girls’ thanks to my bursary and I feel it is my duty to mentor these young pupils whose backgrounds are very similar to mine.”

“We have two main partnership projects [at Sheffield Girls’],” she explains. “We have Cool to be Clever - I was a mentor for that in Year 9, and I’ve just done Shine, in Year 12.” Both programmes are designed for working with local primary schools in the city. “I’m very aware that you’re a product of your environment and if you don’t see the opportunities, you don’t know they’re there and you won’t really be able to reach your full potential. It’s sad, but your background plays such a large role in achievement, and I wish the world wasn’t like that.

I think that’s why I’m so passionate about every single child having the same quality of education and the same opportunities.”

Hear more about bursaries from students at Sheffield Girls’


Lucy Newcastle High School for Girls, Year 13

Lucy joined Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) in September 2021, having won the Reece Award, a Sixth Form bursary funded by the Reece Foundation for pupils who intend to pursue a career in STEM. Lucy is a very active member of the school community and is Deputy Head Girl on the pupil leadership team, with responsibility for mental health issues and hidden disabilities.

“The school has helped me become more independent and selfmotivated to do well. I see the world as less divided – I always thought I couldn’t do certain things because of where I have come from but being at NHSG, and surrounded by people from different backgrounds and still succeeding, has shown me I can do anything.”

“To those who have given […] to the bursary programme: Thank you for the new life you have given me. Before NHSG, I didn’t really have friends and I struggled to make do in a difficult school environment. Now I feel like I’m where I belong, and it’s like I’m an entirely different girl – I’m happy, taking advantage of all the opportunities you have given me, and I have so many friends! Your kindness has changed my world, and I’ll always be grateful for it every single day.”

The Reece Foundation was founded in 2007 by Alan Reece, an inspired mechanical engineer and philanthropist, with the objective to increase the long term and sustainable prosperity of the North East of England, primarily through the promotion of engineering and manufacturing. Since 2014, their work has included supporting Sixth Form bursaries at NHSG, playing a part in ensuring gender stereotypes do not dictate the outcome of a women’s career potential or the direction it takes. Together, the Reece Foundation and NHSG GDST are delivering their mission to improve access to education in engineering and prepare future engineers for a flourishing career in the field for the benefit of not just the North East, but our global society.


Phoebe Croydon High School, Year 9

We first met Phoebe when she joined Croydon High School in Year 7 in September 2020. Now in Year 9, Phoebe is continuing to embrace every opportunity and has been recognised as a School Ambassador. Phoebe will continue to play a key role, representing Croydon at Open Days and other school events.

You’re now in Year 9. What have your first two years been like?

My first two years have been amazing and I almost can’t believe it’s been that long. There is so much to do here and such great opportunities. All of the teachers do their best to make each subject as interesting and as fun as possible. I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve had here and can’t wait for the years to come.

Do you have any favourite subjects?

My favourite subject is probably Spanish. I really enjoy learning the language and there are always very interactive lessons that make learning so much more interesting and enjoyable.


I really enjoy playing musical instruments, such as guitar, ukulele and piano. Croydon High really helps me pursue this interest by giving students access to its amazing facilities which can be used during and after school.

In 2020, you expressed delight at the number of extra-curricular activities on offer. Are there any which you’ve particularly enjoyed?

I am still greatly enjoying all of the cocurricular opportunities. I have particularly enjoyed hockey over the time that I have been here and I have chosen to continue this year. I think I have greatly improved my skills since Year 7.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to discovering more of my strengths and interests in subjects so that I can improve and make the final decision on which of them I will take even further for my GCSEs.

Do you want to say anything to those who donate to the bursary programme?

I am extremely grateful for everyone who donates to the bursary programme which allows me the access to this amazing school. I probably wouldn’t be here today without you and without the continued support of people like you. I’m so happy to think that other children, just like me, can experience this for themselves too.

Have you discovered any passions of yours?

Isabelle Jeeves

Wimbledon High School Class of 2021

Isabelle is a talented performer studying Musical Theatre at the renowned ArtsEd institution in London following a year volunteering at local music groups and primary schools.

She joined Wimbledon High School at Sixth Form on a bursary and music scholarship, and talks passionately about not only the opportunities in front of her, but of what she feels Wimbledon has imparted to her.

One of her earliest observations about the school, she says, was that “Everyone seemed to have their own thing, their own passion. And so I felt very much at home with people that were like me. It was a great experience.”

Within a week of joining, she threw herself into the school musical, was cast in a leading role, and never looked back. “I think at the end of the first show I realised, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve made so many new friends.’ From that moment, I knew that I had made the right decision and I was going to really enjoy the next few years.”

In 2021, Isabelle was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, and reflects, “I think that if I hadn’t been to Wimbledon High, I would have been a lot more negative about my situation. Wimbledon taught me so much resilience and instilled a sense of belief in myself. Following my diagnosis I went to physiotherapy, acupuncture, saw a nutritionist and did all I could. I continued to do all of my drama school degree auditions and even though half my face was paralysed and I sometimes sang a bit differently; it didn’t stop me! Everyone was so understanding and encouraged me to think ‘I can do this.’”

“Thinking about the bursary [itself], and knowing that you didn’t just get


it because you needed it… you got it because you deserved it and the school could see your potential. That gets rid of any feeling of imposter syndrome. I am here because I was chosen to be here.”

“I can safely say,” she says, “that Wimbledon High is very, very special.

I have realised that Wimbledon High School 100% changed my life and the people that are so generously contributing do really need to know how much they’ve impacted someone’s life and how they’re really helping a person become who they’ve always been.”


Mathura Kathirgamanathan

Royal High School Bath Class of 2021

Mathura is a medical student at UCL, who remembers her time at Royal High School Bath as one that was packed with excitement and new opportunities. She takes up her story from her first day at the school.

“I vividly remember proudly putting on my school uniform that morning and getting up early to prepare my new school bag. My fondest memory was taking a picture with my parents at the bottom of the driveway, the school

building and the trees looming over us. It was a picturesque building, and I couldn’t fully take in the fact that I was now a student here.

“I was incredibly lucky to have been presented with numerous opportunities ranging from leadership positions, to trying out new clubs and going on various school trips. Therefore, one of the life lessons that I have learned is to truly use any and every opportunity that comes to you, and always say ‘yes’ to everything.

“Being a student at the Royal High has made me become much more confident, driven, and passionate about everything that I undertake. It has given me the skills to strive to achieve the best that I can, which has led me to achieving my dream of becoming a medical student.”

She adds a further message for any potential donors, “It has made a huge difference to my life, so if you are thinking of supporting bursaries at the GDST, I would encourage you to think about the difference it can make to someone’s future, and how they will grow and develop as a result.“


Nneka Cummins

The Belvedere Academy Class of 2011

Nneka received financial support to attend The Belvedere School thanks to a full scholarship provided by the Open Access Scheme, established by the Sutton Trust and the GDST.

Nneka is a gifted musician and qualified solicitor, who continues to contribute to both industries. They won the Royal Philharmonic Rushworth Composition Prize in October 2021, while finishing their Masters in Composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. October 2022 saw the world premiere of their work at the Tung Auditorium performed by Ensemble 10:10.

Nneka describes the desire to keep both elements active at the same time. “I was always very involved in music during my school years. When I went to do Law, [the music] dropped away because the Law degree was very involved. I always promised myself that I would apply to music school and if I got in, I would give it a shot. When I was awarded the scholarship at Trinity*, it was a clear sign to me that I should honour that part of me too. I think it suits my personality to be able to dip into both worlds.”

Nneka was born and raised by their mother in Toxteth. “Belvedere was just around the corner from where I lived and it is one of the best schools in Liverpool. I think I was very aware that there was a pretty full enrichment programme, but I don’t think we could have known just how many doors it would open,” they say.

“I think it’s about the expectations. University was spoken about as if it was a given. We knew people who went to great universities, and we knew it was possible for us because we’d seen it, and that was culturally very important. I didn’t have all these role models in my family, so going to school definitely opened doors in terms of expectations and my ambitions.”

In summary, Nneka says, “The education I received was transformative, and I mean that in such a genuine way. Having had the opportunity to explore a lot of different sides of myself, I do think that really fed into who I am now and what I want to build out of my career.”

*Nneka was awarded the Gareth Neame Scholarship and the Trinity College London

Scholarship ©Tas Kyprianou/Trinity Laban

Athena Centre

In May 2022, Putney High School officially opened their Athena Centre for Science, Music, Drama and Debating.

Opened by Dr Maggie AderinPocock MBE, Space Scientist and then President of the British Science Association, the centre brings together the four disciplines in one collaborative environment.

In March, the Debating Forum was launched with a lively debate, Britain on Trial, featuring esteemed speakers and cementing the importance of student voice at our schools. Alongside this, the Athena Centre epitomises Putney’s biophilic principles

and sustainable credentials which was awarded a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show for its groundbreaking research into the benefits of biophilia within education.

A special thank you to the Putney community, including parents and alumnae, who played a key role in the creation of an outstanding new learning environment for all our students through generous donations and valued support.

© Lorenzo Zandri © Lorenzo Zandri

Portsmouth’s new well-being hub

September 2022 saw the launch of Portsmouth High School’s (PHS) Daffodil House, a new well-being centre, bringing all well-being activities under one roof. The centre offers meeting spaces for student support sessions and is home to the school’s wellbeing team, including the Deputy Head (Pastoral), the School Counsellor and the Welfare Officer. PHS’ wellbeing work begins at the start of school life, providing pupils with a toolkit to anticipate potential problems and the skills to be proactive rather than reactive. The school were particularly delighted to receive a donation from the PHS Social Seniors group, enabling this fantastic new resource to be further enhanced.

“I am really excited for the Daffodil House to take our well-being provision at PHS to the next

level. We have always had a great support system here; and we hope the house will continue to cultivate an atmosphere of sharing, breaking down barriers and making it easier for students to come forward and talk about their feelings.”

Nell, Year 13 Deputy Head Girl (Well-being)

“Previous experiences have shown me the importance of a support system and the value of a safe place to discuss how you feel. I am excited to be a Well-being Ambassador and contribute to this initiative of sharing, talking to others and building tools to manage issues.”

Annice, Year 13 Well-being Ambassador Learn more about the Daffodil House


The power of books

In February 2021, Birkenhead High School Academy’s Start a New Story appeal raised more than £11,000 in just four weeks from more than 200 alumnae, parents, staff and other supporters. As one of two GDST academies, BHSA does not offer means-tested bursaries. However, there will always be students at our academies who do need additional financial support. The Start a New Story appeal helped ensure every girl in the Junior School, Year 7 and Year 8 received a new book during the lockdown period. The appeal far exceeded its original target of £6,000 and has only strengthened BHSA’s commitment to encouraging reading for pleasure and reading associated with all subjects and themes.

The school recently received a generous gift from the husband of Birkenhead alumna, Maureen Sleeman (Class of 1979, pictured left) who sadly passed away in April 2019. She was a writer herself and a “great reader with a love of books which never left her.” Maureen had a rewarding career teaching English, before moving to Penzance with her husband, David, where she began to write. Maureen and David also loved to travel and following a trip to Italy, Maureen wrote her novel Holy Macaroni. Having learnt about the school’s book appeal in the GDST alumnae magazine, Mr Sleeman felt that donating to the Start a New Story appeal was a poignant way to remember his wife and her love of literature.


Alumnae inspiration

Dr Nikki Kanani (alumna of Sutton High School) is a GP, Medical Director for Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement and was pivotal in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. In April 2021, Nikki spoke with Beth Dawson, Head of Sutton High School, after winning the GDST’s Alumna of the Year Exceptional Contribution Award. The interview was listened to by alumnae across the GDST family.

In September 2021, Bromley High School welcomed back alumna Brittany Pummell to speak to students about creating community in crisis. Brittany is an humanitarian aid worker with refugees in Greece and founded the NGO REFUGYM which works to “empower people to use their own skills, knowledge and passions to run a sports programme that supports their mental and physical health.”

In October 2022, Sydenham High School welcomed back alumna Marie-Claire Amuah to talk to students about her journey to becoming a barrister and published author of her debut novel One for Sorrow, Two for Joy Alongside this, Marie-Claire is also a Trustee of the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton and highly recommends it to those who are yet to visit! Read more at

We have one of the largest alumnae communities in the world who frequently offer support and inspiration to current students and other alumnae through mentoring, school talks and more.

The Girls’ Day School Trust is a limited company and charity registered in England Company No. 6400. Registered Charity No. 306983. The GDST Academy Trust is a limited company and charity registered in England No. 6000347

The Girls’ Day School Trust @GDST & @GDSTalumnae 10 Bressenden Place, Westminster, London, SW1E 5DH

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