upReach calls for private girls schools to boost gender diversity in the workplace by opening up career events and guidance to local state school girls.

On Dads4Daughters day, upReach call for private girls schools to open up the exclusive career opportunities they provide to girls from less advantaged backgrounds. (x)

John Craven, CEO of upReach, said, “If Clarissa Farr, and the Girls School Association are serious about addressing gender diversity, they should open up the exclusive career opportunities that they offer girls at their private schools to girls from local state schools. Every girl should have access to these opportunities, not just the 8% of girls who go to private schools.”

Many top companies have partnered with private girls schools to help attract female recruits and close the gender gap. The Girls Days School Trust,1  a network of 26 private girls schools, boasts about how their “exclusive Insight Days” organised with top employers such as PwC, Rolls Royce and HSBC, offer an opportunity to “get your foot in the door and see how businesses work from the inside.”

However, private schools educate only 8% of the population, meaning those girls at state schools – 92% of girls – miss out on these opportunities. This is an enormous missed opportunity for society to raise opportunities for women and close the gender gap in the workplace.

Girls from less-advantaged backgrounds can suffer from what the Social Mobility Commission recently dubbed a double disadvantage2  in the workplace – being female, and being from a less advantaged background. Those girls from low performing state schools don’t have the extra-curricular, work experience and networking opportunities available to those at private schools, meaning they are less likely to secure graduate employment, or to progress to senior positions within the workplace.

For example, top private schools often have strong parent networks, work experience and career guidance opportunities. The ISI3 stated that St Paul’s Girls School (where Clarissa Farr is headmistress) has an “excellent” careers programme, with regular themed career forums and work experience opportunities.

upReach welcome the leadership that Clarissa Farr has taken in the Dads4Daughters initiative. However, while schools such as St Pauls’ have a stranglehold on opportunities for women, the opportunities for the 92% of girls at state schools will remain limited. We call on Clarissa to show similar leadership by opening up all the careers forums and other events that her school organise to girls from local state schools – and calling on other girls schools to do the same.

upReach believe that these exclusive events deepen the social mobility crisis, extending the advantages that students from wealthy and connected backgrounds have accessing top careers. At a time when girls from lower socioeconomic groups suffer a double disadvantage, we challenge employers and those taking part in the Dads4Daughters campaign to do their bit for social diversity too by ensuring new opportunities for women are extended to girls from state schools, not just those at elite private schools charging £25,000 per year in fees.


John Craven,   Chief Executive, upReach

Tel No.            020 3096 7893  

Email               john@upreach.org.uk


Notes to editors:

upReach is a charitable organisation supporting less-advantaged undergraduates to secure top jobs. Through partnerships with top employers and universities, upReach deliver a comprehensive programme of professional development. Learn more at upreach.org.uk.

1   See Appendix 1 for Girls Day School Trust marketing material.

2   Sam Friedman et al refers to this “double disadvantage” in the Executive Summary of this report for the Social Mobility Commission: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/586000/Social_Mobility_-_The_class_pay_gap_and_intergenerational_worklessness.pdf

3   See Appendix 2 for details of the Independent School’s Inspectorate’s report of St Paul’s Girls School.


Appendix 1 – Top employers have created exclusive partnerships with top private schools

As the Girls Days School Trust put it, their “exclusive Insight Days” offer an opportunity for their girls to “get your foot in the door and see how businesses work from the inside.”


Appendix 2 – ISI Report on St Paul’s Girls School

As noted by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Careers programme at St Paul’s Girls School (where Clarissa Farr is headmistress) is “excellent” with regular themed career forums and work experience opportunities.


Page 5 – “The careers and higher education programme is excellent and is particularly well organised from Year 9 upwards, with regular themed careers forums available for all girls. Those in Year 11 are given individual advice on subject choices for the sixth form, and can carry out work experience at the end of the year. A strong focus is given to the preparation and appropriate choice of applications for university.”


Appendix 3 – Girls Day School Trust schools – Asking alumni to give back

As with most private schools, the Girls Days School Trust use their alumni to provide unique opportunities for their current students, that aren’t available to those who aren’t at private schools.


Offer careers support – This could include:

  • Internships and work experience in your own field
  • Careers talks at your old school or at others in the GDST network
  • University advice based on your own inside knowledge of quality of education, social life, admissions procedures, facilities and other practicalities.

“We’re delighted so many of our alumnae help give new generations of GDST girls a successful start in their lives beyond school. If you’d like to join them there are several ways in which you can help.

We believe that the Alumnae Network is an ideal community to support a mentoring programme, especially given the “common bond” so many tell us they have with other GDST former students. Our alumnae continue to learn and develop throughout their lives, long after leaving school. With an Alumnae Network of over 70,000 there are many ways that former students can support and guide one another both professionally and personally.

This scheme only started in 2014, and has already been hugely successful. Experienced former pupils help other alumnae at critical stages in their personal or professional development, and the feedback from mentors and mentees alike has been overwhelmingly positive.

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