As we heard about the extension of lockdown 6.0 this week, I was comforted by some research that has come out of the UK recently, which gave me reason to remember that our girls are well positioned to be mentally tough! The study has found that girls who attend single-sex schools are generally more confident and emotionally in control than girls attending state and independent co-educational schools. AQR International’s ‘mental toughness’ research also indicates that the pandemic may have exacerbated gaps and differences that already exist between students, with girls who are mentally tougher having an advantage in dealing with the pandemic compared with girls who demonstrate less confidence and emotional control. The study of nearly 3000 students suggests that girls in girls’ schools are well equipped to deal with stress, pressure and challenges – certainly good news for Lowther Hall girls and families at this time. A variety of factors might contribute to this phenomenon in our school: a lack of unhelpful gender stereotypes, specific pastoral programs designed to intentionally foster resilience in girls and a presence of leaders who themselves demonstrate high levels of mental toughness. Families, too, play a role in developing girls who see themselves as capable and strong. Whatever the cause, we see resilience in our students each day as they adapt to changing environments, bounce back from disappointments, push through physical and mental illness and recover from setbacks. I have seen it this week – in Senior School leadership elections, in remote learning across all year levels, in adapting to virtual music camp, in managing the disappointment of cancelled or postponed events. Our girls are indeed, mentally tough and that is just as well!
You can read the research at the links below, and also a related article that appeared in the Herald Sun and an interview on Channel 7.
- AQR International. (2021, June). Soft skills development and gender: An analysis of mental toughness at UK independent schools. Chester, UK: AQR International.
- Girls’ Schools Association [UK]. (2021, June 14). New research indicates girls who attend girls’ schools are more confident and their head teachers are highly resilient.
- Herald Sun news article (syndicated in newspapers across many states of Australia, including Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria)
- Channel 7 interview
Ms Elisabeth Rhodes