The GDST Difference at Norwich High School for Girls

Posted on 10th March 2023

Recent GDST research provides clear evidence that girls do genuinely thrive, not just in a girls’ school, but in a GDST school, more than they might do anywhere else.

Norwich High School for Girls is part of the Girls’ Day School Trust – the GDST. This year, the GDST commissioned a landmark survey of over 5,000 students in state, academies and independent schools (GDST and non-GDST schools and including boys) across the UK. In the most recent analysis from the Girls’ Futures research, the GDST have this week released the GDST Difference publication.

Cheryl Giovannoni, Chief Executive of the GDST commented: “Every year, International Women’s Day provides a powerful reminder of the importance of what we do as educators to help girls learn without limits, so that they can go on to lead lives without limits. This year, to ensure our mission is aligned with what girls need for their future lives, our Girls’ Futures research will be used in shaping further the kind of education that best delivers to meet GDST girls’ needs.

“This research provides clear evidence that girls do genuinely thrive, not just in a girls’ school, but in a GDST school, more than they might do anywhere else. We found that, in comparison to girls at other schools across the UK, GDST students are more passionate about pursuing leadership positions, more comfortable speaking out and expressing their views, and significantly less likely to feel that being a girl holds them back from participating in activities. GDST girls feel more prepared to face their futures, more confident that they can overcome problems, and more able to look after their physical and mental wellbeing – an important reflection of the all-round experience girls have in a GDST school.”

“The research found that GDST girls outperform non-GDST girls in their confidence, ambition and positivity about the future, showing very clearly the unique benefits we provide as pioneering experts in girls’ education.”

Alison Sefton, Head of Norwich High School for Girls

Alison Sefton, Head of Norwich High School for Girls added: “Having just started the interview and selection process for next year’s Head Girl team, it is fantastic to see how our Year 12 students have grown in confidence and certainty about their personal goals. They each personify what we hope for students at Norwich High in that they grow in confidence, curiosity and boldness. We focus on helping our girls develop the skills and character to prepare them for the future, with confidence beyond the curriculum.

“The GDST golden threads of diversity and inclusion, wellbeing, sustainability and growing up in a changing world run through our curriculum, co-curriculum and pastoral care, and extend to every single thing we do as an organisation. It is poignant to reflect on the unique benefits being a GDST school provides all our students during the week of International Women’s Day.”

The Junior School effect

Susan Roberts, Head of Norwich High Prep School and Nursery said: “In the GDST Difference publication, the Junior Difference is highlighted. The survey results found GDST Junior/ Prep school students, more so than their non-GDST peers, are more likely to feel school prepares them to communicate well with others, understand people who are different to them, understand what is happening in the world, feel prepared to make a difference in the world, be creative, manage money, make decisions by themselves and know how to look after themselves. Our broad and balanced curriculum alongside a plethora of life-enhancing opportunities help shape our students’ worldview and social skills. The foundations for a bright future are built in early years education.”

The GDST research found:

  • Only 5% of GDST girls feel negatively about the future compared to 20% of boys and 35% of non-GDST girls aged 9.
  • Only 6% of GDST girls aged 9 say they avoid some activities because of their gender, compared to 37% of 9 year old girls and 31% of boys in the national samples.
  • GDST girls at age 9 are as confident as boys when it comes to taking risks, both at 69%, compared to less than half of non-GDST girls.
  • They are also more comfortable talking to people with different views to their own at 80%, above boys at 73% and significantly higher than non-GDST girls at 48%.
  • GDST Junior School girls are almost 20% more likely than their non-GDST peers to believe that women’s equality is an important issue.

Success at Sixth Form

Director of Norwich High Sixth Form, Hazel Packer said: “As reported in the GDST Difference publication, confidence really is key for the sixth form years. With the incredible support of the GDST, our Year 12 and 13 students benefit from a well-designed, girls-only education in these critical years. Only 12% of GDST girls aged 18 said they avoid some activities because of their gender, compared to 25% of 18 year old girls and 21% of boys in the national samples.

“GDST girls are more likely to feel prepared for the future than their non-GDST counterparts in mixed-sex schools. Our Sixth Form students are more likely than their non-GDST counterparts to want to do a job they enjoy, have a job that pays well and be their own boss. I am proud of our students who are future world ready, with impressive confidence in speaking to someone with different views, asking questions about topics that are difficult to talk about and having confidence in their own decisions, even if others disagree. They have a bright future ahead whichever pathway they choose to take once leaving school. Thanks to the extensive GDST alumnae network, they remain part of the GDST community with all the benefits this brings.”

If you would like to discover the difference for yourself, contact us to arrange a tour of our Prep School, Senior School or Sixth Form at a time to suit you by emailing