Blackheath High School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Blackheath High School's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Blackheath High School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Head teacher,
Carol Chandler-Thompson
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance club
Blackheath High School is an all-girl school in south east
London. Head teacher Carol Chandler-Thompson discusses
Blackheath High’s unique curriculum and multifaceted co-
curricular sector that enables the school to provide girls with the
opportunities that they need to excel in life and the confidence
to be the change they want to see, at a time when it could not
be more significant.
Blackheath High has been educating girls since 1880, and this historical pedigree has
rendered us specialists in what we do. Our single-sex environment from ages 3 to
18 encourages students to ignore gender stereotypes. Girls relish ballet, football,
science or art with equal passion. One of our clubs combines motorcycle maintenance
with philosophy, enabling girls to develop their love of engineering alongside a
questioning intellectual approach. We place strong emphasis on positive female role
models, often drawn from our talented network of parents, teachers and alumnae.
We believe that it is not enough to tell girls they can achieve anything they want – we
need to show them. We focus on cultivating courage and building intellectual agility
and emotional resilience. Our alumnae have gone on to flourish in a range of fields
from investigative journalism and diplomacy to engineering and fashion design.
Our all-girl environment enables us to directly tackle issues that traditionally hold
girls back in the workplace: excessive perfectionism, aversion to risk and “imposter
syndrome”. We foster a culture where individuality is valued, a questioning approach
is encouraged and courage is celebrated. Consequently, students develop a healthy
mindset and positive habits. A recent partnership with the Positive Group has enabled
us to work innovatively with teachers, girls and parents to nurture the emotional literacy
and skills that will be all-important as the girls and staff navigate life’s challenges.
»Head teacher: Carol Chandler-
»Founded in 1880 by
Allen Olney
»Based in Blackheath Village,
Greenwich, near Greenwich
Park and Canary Wharf
»No. of students: 732 – 364
seniors aged 11-18 and 368
juniors aged 3-11)
»No. of staff: 72 teaching staff
and 62 support staff
»First purpose-built all-through
school of the Girls’ Day School
Trust (GDST)
Blackheath High
»Destinations of school leavers: On average, 65-75 per cent of
girls go to Russell Group universities; a significant percentage
to art foundation courses and a small but growing number into
apprenticeships or employment
»No. of different languages spoken at home: 36 (from Arabic to
»No. of pupils in senior school receiving income-based fee
assistance: 50
»No. of state schools involved in local outreach projects with
Blackheath High: 10
»No. of subjects offered at A level: 27
»No. of co-curricular clubs and societies on offer: at least 80 every term
The Girls’ Day School Trust
We are leading a movement in girls’
education and value our membership
of the GDST. As the leading provider of
girls’ independent education in the UK,
the GDST’s commitment to connecting
and mobilising young women is a
long-held mission to help girls realise
their potential and make a meaningful
difference in the world. Never has this
aim been more relevant in society.
For Blackheath students, this means
not only do they benefit from
belonging to a network of over 70,000
talented alumnae but they can also:
»Compete in a GDST choral
competition at Cadogan Hall
»Be inspired at a 25-school-strong
hockey rally by the gold-medal-winning
former England hockey captain
»Work with head girl teams from
25 other schools at a residential
leadership course
»Take part in a 10km walk alongside
other GDST schools to raise funds for
female education in other countries
There is no doubt that as a group
of schools we are stronger, and the
beneficiaries of this interconnected
approach are the students and
alumnae themselves.
We are fortunate to be in a
cosmopolitan corner of South East
London. We benefit from a wealth of
cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious
influences and consequently many of
our students speak English as a second
language at home. We see this as a real
advantage – such diversity is celebrated
and valued at every level. At a micro
scale this might pertain to a flexible
approach to uniforms that respects
religious sensibilities, while at a macro
level it entails thinking carefully about
the cultural and international nuances
of the curriculum provided and its
relevance to the students.
The school is small with no more than
70 students per year group. This has
enabled us to place a premium upon
the value of developing meaningful
and positive relationships. Rather than
forcing children through a large-scale
“production line” style of education,
our emphasis is upon finding the
right conditions for every student. For
example, a sixth-form tutor regularly
meets with their tutees to review
progress and coach in the setting of
personalised student targets.
Co-curricular opportunities
Something Blackheath High has
worked very hard to develop in recent
years is the breadth of opportunities. Varied sporting
activities ensure there’s
something for every girl
We focus on
courage and
agility and
Highlighting best practice
We are passionate about co-curricular
activities and academic enrichment.
This provides girls with valuable
“soft-skills” such as dedication,
teamwork and persistence, and creates
a balanced approach that girls can
take with them when they leave.
We now offer an array of clubs and
enrichment activities that the girls love.
Whether it’s martial arts in Mandarin
or debating in the Model United
Nations, girls are spoilt for choice.
Our “Wollstonecraft” lecture series
and enrichment programme offers
students a combination of fortnightly
inspirational lectures with elective
courses designed to foster academic
curiosity and risk-taking.
The impact of this is seen both in
the skills that girls transfer to their
academic studies and in providing both
inspiration and aspiration. Freeing
students from the stifling constraints
of public examinations and controlled
assessment is immensely powerful. As
an independent school, we cherish our
freedom to provide a broad range of
opportunities for all students.
On the horizon
We are fortunate to be benefiting from
a multimillion-pound redevelopment of
our senior school site. To be completed
by year’s end, the redevelopment
will transform the facilities available
to staff and students by maximising
creative spaces, bringing state of the
art teaching facilities and transforming
the sixth form buildings.
We are committed to giving back to
our local community. The atmosphere
of the school is compassionate,
supportive and open-minded, and we
will continue extending that warmth
to our local partners and neighbours.
The school has links with many
charities and volunteer groups, such
as the SHINE programme where staff
and students devote their Saturday
mornings to supporting girls and
boys from local primary schools. We
also sponsor a unique initiative at the
Greenwich Royal Observatory to teach
GCSE astronomy to local state school
students, alongside our own, which
has been incredibly successful.
We regularly invite local state school
partner schools to benefit from
our university access and career
networking events. We plan to
continue extending this approach
wherever it is meaningful for partner
students and teachers. At least 50
girls – 14 per cent of senior school
students – benefit from means-tested
fee assistance, many with a full 100
per cent bursary.
Recent collaborations have been led
by our vibrant student-led Feminist
Society, which is working with similar
groups in neighbouring schools to
raise awareness of shared issues – an
inaugural conference on International
Women’s Day will look at these
mutual challenges and the role of
feminist societies in schools. What we
like most about this initiative is that
it is students setting the agenda for
discussion and organising themselves
around issues that matter to them. I
never cease to be impressed by the
passion and engagement of the girls
from our school, which gives heart for
I never cease
to be
impressed by
the passion
of the girls
from our
school, which
gives heart for
the future
SHINE, opening the
school to the community


This article was sponsored by Blackheath High School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister