The Elizabeth Godolphin Award
Lady Elizabeth Godolphin, the founder of Godolphin, was a woman of energy, tenacity and vision. The Elizabeth Godolphin Award (EGA) is a two-year programme available to girls studying their A-levels at Godolphin and has been designed to offer girls an extension to their academic education.
At the launch, Mrs Emma Hattersley, Head said: “As educators I believe it is our responsibility not only to help our students achieve optimum academic results but also to educate them for the broader challenges of life and work beyond school. The Elizabeth Godolphin Award will directly address the skills deficit that many organisations have identified in young adults emerging from education. The award will facilitate Godolphin leavers who are confident, independent individuals and who can articulate an informed point of view on a range of subjects both globally and within specific communities. It will also teach competence in a raft of practical skills spanning topics including for example: computer literacy, financial matters, and communication and presentation skills. The overarching idea is to give our girls an accredited qualification that will carry weight and meaning in practical terms and also give them a real edge as they progress into the world.
We are very proud and excited to launch this new initiative and to name it after the school’s founder, Lady Elizabeth Godolphin. We feel the award fully endorses the spirit of her original passionate commitment to providing an excellent and useful all round education for girls but places it firmly in a 21st century context. I hope many generations of Godolphin girls will benefit from achieving an EGA and that it will boost their confidence, expertise and employability.”
Guest speaker at the launch was Mr John Beard, who has had a career in businesses recruiting both newly qualified graduates and school leavers. He was proud to lead a company that was consistently in the top ten of The Sunday Times Best Companies annual awards and his three daughters were educated at Godolphin. He said:
“Sarah and I have had three girls at Godolphin, with the third leaving last summer …… which we calculated was our 117th term of school fees. The mix of what our three daughters are now doing/planning to do probably covers the range of options that most of you fifth and sixth formers are now considering. Our eldest daughter, Hannah, went straight to university without a gap year, our second, Jenny, took a gap year and started university a year ago and our youngest, Raggy, is just starting her own gap year and is healthily sceptical about the merits of further education.
With regards to business I have spent most of my career to date in the drinks industry, both in the UK and internationally from the developed Western European and American markets to the developing African, Asian and Eastern European countries. Principally focused on well -known international spirits brands, my apologies therefore to any parents, award sponsors (and, indeed, certain members of staff) if they have been persuaded to attend today’s launch purely on the expectation of a tutored malt whisky tasting!
So let’s start with my view as an employer of young people coming in to the workplace. The obsession with exam league tables is well documented and has been topical again over the last few weeks as annual exam results are published. There is no doubt that the pendulum had swung towards purely academic results and my sense (as with any pendulum) is that there will be a healthy correction over the next few years. Yes, of course exam results are important, but on reflection, I don’t think this was ever a meaningful topic of discussion when interviewing people for roles within our company. Frankly, every CV shows a summary of GCSE’s, every CV sets out which A-levels were studied and almost all show some form of Further Education qualification; from an employer’s perspective exam results are not everything.
As a company we would focus on two over-riding questions:
– What else does he/she do with their time?
– Will their character fit in to, and help develop, our own business culture?
So firstly, what else is someone doing with their time? It may be a surprise to you to hear that most people conducting interviews are desperate to find something interesting to chat about with the candidate, which often means finding something they may vaguely have in common. So, a series of possible post Elizabeth Godolphin Award CV alternatives, loosely based on our own experience of Godolphin as parents.
The classic CV entry of “I love travelling” versus “I raised £3,000 to secure a place on a three-week trip to Kenya, helped build an orphanage and met my personal goal of reaching the summit of Mount Kenya”
“I enjoy sport” versus “lacrosse taught me that as teams we achieve more than individuals, endurance and determination helped us to win, and taught us how to win with a level of humility”
“I enjoy mixing with people” versus “learning about Emotional Intelligence means that I can now better understand how my behaviours are likely to impact others whether in a school, college or work environment”
All of these points are life skills that The Elizabeth Godolphin Award is looking to offer sixth form students, and from a business perspective, they have never been more important. Life skills which will stand you in good stead as you leave school, life skills that will help you in the work environment and life skills that you will find yourself still using when you are bringing up your own children in years to come.
From a business viewpoint the second observation is about ‘Character’. Most businesses and schools talk about their culture, although arguably not all deliver on the words that they display around buildings, on coffee cups and screensavers. This was something that was at the heart of The Sunday Times Best Companies initiative that Mrs Hattersley mentioned in her introduction. The best businesses and schools genuinely believe that their own culture (how we do what we do, not just what we do) makes a significant difference to help Attract, Retain and Develop key staff whilst delivering superior performance. Whilst it is generally accepted that the culture of a business comes from the top (does the Chief Executive live and breathe the values of the company all day, every day) my experience is that a culture also positively evolves due to the character of individuals, particularly those that are just starting out on their careers. For me character can be captured in four key headings, namely Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Personal Humility and Ambition to fulfil one’s potential.
So you see there is a very direct link between what The Elizabeth Godolphin Award is offering, the resultant ‘Personal Interests’ that are arguably the most interesting part of any CV and the softer skills that the best companies are crying out for.
So after 117 terms of school fees and parents’ mornings, what have I learnt as a parent? Again, two key points:
– Parents evolve
– Parents are learning too!
On the first point, at prep school I just wanted our three girls to be happy. In fact, that was often the only question I asked of teachers at a parents’ morning – “is she happy?” At secondary school parents want their children to “ do well”, whatever that might mean, be it academic, drama, music, art or sport…. and some parents want all of these! Beyond school I am now realising that as parents we are returning to wanting our children to be “happy and healthy”, benefiting from the life-defining softer skills that they have learnt through their time at school.
On my second point, parents are also having to learn a tremendous amount themselves through sixth form. How to embrace the new flexibility of the sixth form (weekly boarding, nights in and ‘independent study periods’ more commonly known as ‘frees’), how to support and advise as to what their daughter might do next after school, ie university, college, gap years, networking, work experience, internships etc, and, over and above the academic elements of the school, how to encourage participation in all that Godolphin has to offer in order to help to ‘build character’, grow the individual and best prepare their daughter for the exciting yet possibly daunting chapter beyond school.
In summary, the Elizabeth Godolphin Award looks to be embracing many of the very attributes that attracted us as parents to Godolphin in the first place (the rounded education and girls striving to fulfil their broadest personal potential in a supportive environment, rather than an academic crammer), with the Award bringing this under one umbrella in a structured and logical framework: “Rounded and grounded” as the head of the Confederation of British Industry (the CBI) described it last month. From digital to emotional literacy, from debating to presenting, from team work to personal development this new award captures the essence of the school’s ambition for its girls in the years ahead. Please seize these opportunities while you can, equipping you to go out in to the big wide world full of Elizabeth Godolphin confidence.
Thank you.”For further information on the Elizabeth Godolphin Award please contact Mrs Bethan Ferguson and for further information on joining Godolphin’s dynamic Sixth Form, please contact the Registrar.