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The GDST difference

The GDST difference – for girls GDST schools and academies share an ethos and a proud heritage of girls-only education, and a belief that together we can achieve so much more than we could do alone. No other group of schools offers as much as we do. As a member of our unique network, your daughter will enjoy a range of exceptional opportunities exclusive to the girls in our schools and academies.

We harness the power of our 20,000 pupils and 3,700 staff to great effect, ensuring that the network as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts and offers more than any one single school. In short, we aim to give your daughter access to unique experiences that will help her develop into a well-educated, well-rounded, happy and healthy young woman.

Staff are able to collaborate and share best practice with their peers in sister GDST schools, and every school benefits from investment in facilities to improve the learning environment.

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GDST-wide events and activities Girls have the chance to compete and collaborate with their peers in other schools, taking part in GDST-wide events, rallies, performances and activities. These range from art, sport, music and creative writing through to foreign languages, digital technology and quizzes.

Young Choir of the Year A celebration of the wealth of singing talent in our junior and prep schools. Junior schools are invited to enter the competition by submitting a recording of their choir performing, with between six and eight choirs chosen to compete in the final. The final itself, held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank Centre, was judged by a prestigious panel of professional composers and singers.

Past events have included:

Young Musician and Young Vocalist of the Year A biennial event, celebrating the talents of our budding musicians and singers. Each of the GDST’s senior schools and academies is invited to enter one musician and one singer, between the ages of 11 and 18. During the two days, the girls meet and work with a range of like-minded students from across England and Wales, give a solo recital and rehearse together for a public concert on the final evening.

Creative writing The GDST Creative Writing Prize is a competition for pupils from across the Trust’s schools and academies. It offers pupils the opportunity to demonstrate their literary flair and creativity by producing a short story of no more than 1,500 words. Each year the competition has a different theme, and prizes are awarded in junior, middle and senior categories.

Art and design exhibition

Sports rallies

An opportunity to showcase the enormous talents of young artists, this biennial exhibition features over 200 works including acrylic and oil painting, etching, mixed media, textiles, sculpture, photography and video by A Level and GCSE students from GDST schools and academies.

The Trust Sports Association brings together athletes and teams in a range of sports throughout the year. Rallies, galas, residential training camps and sporting competitions – in athletics, dance, golf, hockey, netball, swimming, tennis, and more – allow our young sportswomen to train and compete with each other.

Digital Leaders’ Conference


Students from Years 5 to 13 work in teams to develop an idea for a new digital technology product or service and pitch it to judges at a product exhibition. Supported by industry mentors from a range of companies, each team produces a webpage, drafts a financial plan and delivers an ‘elevator pitch’ to promote their idea. Students also enjoy a digital technology careers Q&A which highlights the broad range of opportunities available in technology-related fields, plus design, pitching and video masterclasses.

Pupils from our junior and senior schools and Sixth Forms have the chance to go head-to-head in the GDST quiz. There are two parallel tournaments – one for junior and prep schools, and one for senior schools and academies and Sixth Forms – with each participating school or academy entering a team of four pupils. Questions are a mixture of individual, team, picture and ‘finger on the buzzer’, with a range of curriculum-based questions, general knowledge and popular culture.

Bake Off

Festival of Languages

The GDST Bake Off is designed to showcase the baking talents of the students in our schools. In the inaugural event, competitors baked a lemon Victoria sandwich to a specially commissioned recipe from celebrity chef and cookery writer Mary Berry, a GDST alumna. For the final, competitors were tasked with baking and decorating six cupcakes, and displaying them in an imaginative way. They were assessed on presentation, technique and taste.

Following the success of the modern foreign languages spelling bee competitions, the Festival of Languages is an even more ambitious programme of events for pupils from Years 7 to 10. It incorporates French, German and Spanish spelling bee competitions and a European cultural quiz focusing on geography, famous people, TV and film, food and drink, as well as vocabulary, alongside student performances of dialogues and sketches in French, German or Spanish, songs and poetry recitals.

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Career support At the GDST, we understand the challenges that women can still face in life and work, so we help our girls develop the skills and contacts to help give them a competitive edge. Our unique CareerStart programme equips GDST girls with vital skills to succeed in life outside the classroom. It gives them an edge when applying for university, and in searching for work placements and gap-year opportunities. Practical sessions help with interviews, with memory and presentation skills, and with the basics of independent life such as personal budgeting. It also gives them a boost in the resilience, negotiation, leadership, teamwork, enterprise and creative skills they’ll need, not just at university, but throughout their working lives.

Career & leadership conferences & seminars Over the years, the GDST has developed links with global businesses – select companies who recognise what GDST alumnae can offer, supporting the commercial awareness and employability of our girls. These include insight days with Aberdeen Asset Management, Ericsson, Rolls-Royce, Gardiner & Theobald and accountants BDO and PwC. Also, in addition to the Nomura GDST Scholarship, Nomura offers: • an interactive ‘Introduction to Banking’ day for Year 12s • a ‘First Step’ programme, with places reserved for GDST students in Years 12 or 13 For more information on these, please go to

Every GDST girl automatically becomes a member of our 65,000-strong GDST Alumnae Network from across all generations, and across all our schools, which provides a range of resources and social and professional contacts to help her make her way in the world. This includes ex-pupils currently at university who advise on life there and the courses on offer, professionals who share expertise and ideas, and give the inside scoop on different careers. It’s a practical head-start in a big and busy world – no other single school or organisation has a network anything like it. Our support doesn’t end when a student leaves school. The GDST Alumnae Network organises a programme of social, cultural and career events, and facilitates professional networking groups in law, the City, and science (including technology, engineering and health and medicine). It also offers an exclusive mentoring scheme, bringing together experienced alumnae to mentor other former pupils at critical stages in their personal or professional development.

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Every year GDST girls go on to study at some of the top universities and progress into sought-after careers. We have a great track record in helping our Sixth Formers get to the universities of their choice. The extent of our support is considerable. Girls aspiring to Oxford or Cambridge can get a flavour of life there at our annual Oxbridge Conference. They benefit from university-level seminars by leading figures from the two universities, and presentations from our own schools, from business, and beyond. They’re helped with interview techniques, and also with building their confidence and resilience. We also have courses to help prepare for pre-interview admissions tests.

We give more specific advice and guidance too. We run courses to help prepare for specialist aptitude tests for girls who want to read medicine, or law, such as the BMAT, UKCAT or LNAT. Our teaching staff have years of experience in preparing girls for university entrance – and so does the GDST as a whole. We pool our resources to help everyone as much as we can. Our Engineering & Architecture Conference for Sixth Formers gives them an insight into studying engineering or architecture at University, with a chance to hear from employers in both fields. Sixth Formers can also participate in the Young Leaders’ Conference. Once a year, senior GDST pupils come together for a long weekend, working in teams towards a common goal, a charity challenge. Along the way, they get team-building activities led by Army trainers, and first-hand inspirational advice from well-known leadership figures. The event culminates in presentations highlighting their individual contributions.

Prizes and scholarships As well as individual school awards, there are GDST prizes and scholarships available exclusively to our students. These range from travel to classics, law, poetry and all-round achievement. • Laurie Magnus Poetry Prize (all ages): schools submit one poem in each of the three age categories. Prizes are: Senior (Years 11-13) £300 / Middle (Years 7-10) £100 / Junior (Years R-6) £100.

• Pearson and Silver Awards (Year 12): financial assistance towards courses or projects with a classical content. In 2015, ten students received between £150 and £500 each.

• Anne Hogg Modern Foreign Languages Prize (Year 10): for students taking two or more modern languages.

• Somerville and Gurney Awards, incorporating Henriette Dent and Dame Kitty Anderson (Year 12): a general essay exam paper, open to students who receive a bursary or scholarship. First prize £500 / second prize £300 / third prize £200. Honourable mentions may also be awarded.

• The Chrystall Prize for Public Speaking (Year 11): the winner receives a £100 book token and the runner-up a £50 book token.

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• Lorna Cocking Scholarship (Year 13): open to students who receive a bursary or scholarship and who would benefit from financial support during their undergraduate degree to make the most of their time in higher education. Tenable for three years, annual value £1,000. • GDST Travel Scholarships (Year 13): for students taking a gap year or travelling in the summer before their university course. In 2015, 14 students were awarded between £250 and £700 each. • Minerva Prize (Year 13): £500 prize for all-round achievement.

• Frederica Lord University Scholarship (Year 13): open to students who receive a bursary or scholarship and who are studying at one of the universities specified by the founder. Tenable for three years, annual value £1,000. • Nomura GDST Scholarship (Year 13): secures a place on Nomura’s highly competitive two-week Women’s Immersion Program during the student’s first year of university. They participate in workshops, skills sessions and panel discussions, and gain support from mentors within the business. Previously students have received £500. • Johnston Memorial Scholarship (Year 13): open to students who receive a bursary or scholarship and are intending to read law at university. Previously the winner has been awarded up to £2,500 over two years – the exact amount and duration is announced annually. The winner also has the opportunity of a week’s work experience with the GDST’s Legal team.

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Sharing expertise, widening opportunities

The power of four Our starting point is to set out what we want girls to be, and to be able to do, as a result of a GDST education.


GDST girls welcome new challenges, and meet them with resourcefulness and resilience. They are enterprising and adventurous, willing to take the initiative, and not afraid to aim at tough targets. They can apply their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts, are creative and can adapt to situations requiring new ways of thinking. They have experience of, and aptitude for, leadership.


GDST girls put value on connectivity – in creating and sharing knowledge. They are receptive to new ideas and are keen to learn new things and new skills. They seek to participate critically, considerately and constructively in their community, society and environment. They tend to be engaged in life-enriching interests and activities, and are determined to see things through.

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GDST girls are secure in their knowledge, and unwilling to take things for granted. Motivated by a spirit of enquiry, they seek to explore and evaluate ideas and arguments in a generous, critical and constructive way. They are able to reflect on, communicate and defend their own views, and are respectful of the views of others. They are equipped to grapple with big ideas and make connections.

Our size and scope allows us to invest in our people by developing and promoting talented teachers throughout our network. Staff benefit from GDST-wide training, and sharing knowledge and best practice between schools is encouraged. Staff work together to develop a broad and balanced curriculum that supports, stretches and challenges every girl. They have opportunities to participate in the wide range of training offered by the GDST. Central training and staff development courses range from e-safety, science in the creative curriculum, girl-friendly learning, and the emotional aspects of teaching & learning, to training for teaching assistants in supporting reading, and many more.

There is financial support available for professional development and external qualifications. Staff enjoy the chance to collaborate with colleagues from other schools and participate in communities of practice and cross-school initiatives. They also benefit from subject collaboration areas on the GDST intranet, coordinated by subject champions, where they share specialist resources, exchange ideas and develop cross-school links.


GDST girls are intrinsically motivated, are self-directing, and take responsibility for their own learning. They value fairness and act with integrity, are aware of themselves and their impact, and are aware of and respectful towards others. They are sensitive to and appreciative of culture, context and community. They are collaborative and supportive in team situations.


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100 Rochester Row, London SW1P 1JP T 020 7393 6666 The Girls’ Day School Trust, a limited company registered in England No. 6400. Registered Charity No. 306983.

The GDST Difference  

GDST schools and academies share an ethos and a proud heritage of girls-only education, and a belief that together we can achieve so much mo...

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