Mulberry School for Girls is a high achieving, over-subscribed and successful girls’ comprehensive school for pupils aged 11 to 18. It is a place where girls’ talents and abilities are nurtured in a safe creative space and where they can develop their ambitions and the power for self-determination. Our aim is that all pupils should leave the school as highly qualified, confident and articulate young women with a wealth of experience in the wider world. Outstanding academic achievement is very important for future success, as is the need to develop ‘Confidence, Creativity, Leadership’ and a life-long ‘Love of Learning’. We believe these things will enable our pupils to lead enriched, happy and fulfilled lives, making a contribution to their own community, to British society and to global well-being.
Mulberry is an inclusive school with a wealth of multi-agency support employed by us to support pupils and their families. Provision for special educational needs is excellent. There is an outstanding enrichment programme which includes Global Classrooms, women’s education conferences, Girl Guides, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Mulberry Theatre Company. Links with employers in the City are extensive: Bank of America Merrill Lynch is a key sponsor. Mulberry’s arts education programme is well-known in London and we count the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Court Theatre and Southbank Centre amongst our valued partners. There is also a strong family provision with a range of events, classes and courses for parents. Please look through our website. We hope you will come and visit.
To launch the ‘Let Girls Learn’ campaign in the UK, the First Lady of the United States of America visited Mulberry School for Girls on Tuesday 16th June 2015. She met with students and discussed how the U.K. and the U.S. are working together to expand access for adolescent girls completing their education around the world.
On arrival at the school, Mrs Obama was greeted by members of the school community including students, staff, governors and other friends of the school. She viewed Mulberry’s Fiftieth Anniversary Community Tapestry, and signed the school visitors’ book. Four hundred students were waiting outside to welcome her with warm cheers as she walked through the school courtyards and towards the Mulberry Tree, where she was presented with flowers and treated to a performance from a choir as well as a dance and spoken word performance. She then took part in a roundtable discussion about girls’ education with other prominent public figures before addressing the school about the ‘Let Girls Learn’ campaign.
‘Let Girls Learn’ was launched because, when a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family and her community. Girls’ attendance in secondary school is also correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower birth rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS, and significantly higher earning power. The initiative will support community-led solutions to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from going to school and staying in school. Despite the fact that over three quarters of pupils are entitled to the pupil premium at Mulberry, the school has consistently proved that socio-economic disadvantage need not prevent students from achieving academic success and flourishing as individuals. We enjoyed discussing our shared values during the First Lady’s visit.
As well as launching her campaign, Mrs Obama also delivered a very personal message to the “smart, powerful, creative, accomplished young women of Mulberry School for Girls”. She compared her own start in life to that of those in the audience, describing how she grew up “in a neighbourhood a lot like this one, where people work hard to make ends meet, where families are tight knit with strong values”. She gave an inspiring speech, telling girls that “with an education…you all have everything you need to rise above all the noise and fulfill every last one of your dreams …the world needs more girls like you growing up to lead our parliaments, and our boardrooms, and our courtrooms, and our universities. We need people like you tackling the pressing problems we face.”
Dr Ogden, Head Teacher of Mulberry School for Girls, commented:
“We are delighted to be welcoming Michelle Obama to Mulberry School for Girls. The First Lady is one of the greatest, most inspiring women of our time and her visit is an honour for us. Her use of her platform as First Lady to drive change for girls and to break down barriers in access to education is critical for a civilised world. The moral imperative is clear and the business case supports it. This is the call to get behind her global campaign.”
For fifty years the school has pioneered excellence in education for girls and young women in one of the country’s most challenged boroughs. Mulberry supports pupils to develop into confident young women, able to take their place in public life, and the visit from First Lady of the United States was a brilliant contribution to this aim.
On 7th March, we were delighted to welcome a special guest for International Women’s Day: leader of the Metropolitan Police, Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Commissioner Dick joined us for a special event to celebrate successful women. The first female commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in history, she is an inspiring example of a woman who has risen to the top a traditionally male-dominated field, a success story which represents a significant step for gender equality in this country.
As the Commissioner arrived at Mulberry, she was greeted outside by the Police Cadets who delivered a police salute in formation to welcome her into the building. She visited a simulated MUN debate and a special meeting of Feminist Fridays exploring the life and work of the Indian Suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh. She then joined an audience of our students and students from Mulberry UTC and Green Spring Academy Shoreditch, where she gave a keynote speech about her career, her pride in the British police force as an organisation committed to keeping British communities safe, and the progress that has been made at the Met in creating an inclusive environment where gender inequality is possible.
We were also joined by Detective Inspector Tor Garnett, who gave an inspiring speech about the Police Now training academy hosted at Mulberry in recent years, and the fantastic successes of some of the female graduates of that programme.
Our students were able to participate in a Q&A in which they asked questions about building positive and trusting relationships between the police and local communities.
The event in the Main Hall was followed by a roundtable discussion on how the Tower Hamlets community can work together to tackle knife crime amongst young people.
Commissioner Dick was given a warm farewell by our students and Prefects, who cheered and waved police flags as she left the building. We would like to thank Commissioner Cressida Dick for giving us her time, and for engaging so honestly and openly with our students, staff and community.
Girl Leading: How it began
Girl Leading is Mulberry’s first ever leadership camp for girls. The idea for Girl Leading began to take shape when Michelle Obama visited us in June 2015 for the UK launch of her girls’ education campaign, Let Girls Learn.
Speaking to an audience of our students and staff, and students and colleagues from our partner schools, Mrs Obama told us that, in 2015, 62 million girls around the world were out of school: out of school not because they didn’t want to go, but because the barriers that stood in the way of their education were simply too great for them to overcome alone. Girls were kept from the classroom by a variety of factors, ranging from vast and complex issues – such as conflict and unrest in their home countries – to smaller and more localised issues, such as a lack of clean and functional toilet facilities in their school buildings.
Hearing this, our students were galvanised into action. They recognised that, despite the significant challenges many young women in Tower Hamlets face, having access to a high quality education opens the doors to opportunities that girls who are denied the chance to go to school simply do not have. Our students told us that they wanted to find meaningful ways to help girls around the world to get the education they deserve. We sat down with them to listen to their ideas, and it was through this consultation process that Girl Leading began to emerge.
Working alongside our students, we settled on a final format for the event:
From December 2016 – April 2017, a Student Leadership Committee (SLC) made of up of 15 Mulberry students – 5 each from Years 9, 10 and 12 – would take the lead on planning and designing all aspects of the Girl Leading programme.
There would be a residential weekend at Kilve Court residential education centre in Somerset, taking place from 21-23 April 2017. This event would be attended by our SLC and by 50 students from 10 partner schools based in London and Somerset, along with teachers from all participating schools.
At the residential, expert speakers and facilitators would join us to lead panel discussions and skills-based workshops, all with a focus on leadership. There would be a particular focus on leadership that drives forward positive social change.
The Mulberry Extended Learning team would deliver workshops on girls’ education, so that students could grow to understand the barriers standing in the way of girls’ access to education, and the importance of working to bring those barriers down.
The SLC would play a key role in hosting, leading and managing the event.
Students would end the residential by planning their own independent leadership projects, which we called Personal Leadership Challenges, or PLCs. PLCs would support the work of the Let Girls Learn campaign in increasing girls’ access to education around the world.
Using a bespoke planning framework developed at Mulberry, students would put together a detailed plan at the residential, carry out their plan at their own schools, and then evaluate their work.
Students would return to Mulberry three months after the residential to share impacts and outcomes of their PLCs – both the impacts they had made in increasing girls’ access to education, and the impacts on their own development as confident leaders. Our SLC would host this event.
Through the Girl Leading programme, we aimed to enable a self-sustaining cycle of girls’ leadership: girls at school in the UK, inspired and equipped to be confident and effective leaders, would use their leadership to create educational opportunities for other girls around the world. This in turn would furnish the chance for girls everywhere to develop as confident leaders in their own right, and to work towards opening up opportunities for the next generation.
Girl Leading was successful in making a positive difference to students across our main aims.
Both the residential and the PLC segment had a markedly positive influence on students’ confidence and self-belief. Students’ confidence in their leadership abilities also increased, particularly when given the chance to practise leadership independently through their Personal Leadership Challenges.
Students met a range of role models at the residential, and role models helped boost their confidence in their own ability to be successful. Access to role models was underpinned by the chance to learn new skills through workshops. Students also felt that their PLCs had given them opportunities to try out new roles, practise new skills, and refine skills they’d learned at the residential, which had been a further confidence boost.
Perhaps the biggest impact of the programme was in inspiring girls to take action to help other girls around the world: nearly all participating students felt the importance of helping other girls very strongly, and the vast majority of girls were able to take action effectively through their PLCs. This had had a really positive influence on girls’ confidence and self-belief, and had made them feel part of a girl-led movement for change.
The Donmar Warehouse is a world renowned theatre located in the heart of Covent Garden in London’s West End. Over the past 22 years it has built an international reputation as one of the UK’s leading theatres. Since 1992, Donmar productions have received over 100 international awards for productions at its 251-seat Covent Garden home, in the West End and on Broadway. Actors who have worked at the Donmar include Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Raine, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Eddie Redmayne, Karen Gillan, Rachel Weisz and Gwyneth Paltrow. This is a unique opportunity to experience world-class theatre in the heart of Tower Hamlets.
HENRY IV is one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated and most frequently performed history plays, which tell the monumental story of the power struggle for the throne of England. Originally written as a play in two parts, this production combines action from both plays to create a single epic story.
The play follows the story of Prince Hal, who has decided to leave the royal court and spend his time in bars and on the street with the unscrupulous Sir John Falstaff. This is a cause of great concern and frustration for Hal’s father, King Henry, who is also dealing with rebellion in the country which threatens his rule. Hal must decide what he wants to make of his life, whose influence to follow and what his destiny will be. The play looks at the role of parents and children, addressing questions of honour and duty, national identity and individual responsibility. In this ground-breaking production, the action takes place in a women’s prison, where the female prisoners are performing their own production of Henry IV. This setting gives the production an extra dimension, establishing a world in which there are no men, giving women the opportunity to take on these traditionally male roles and explore issues of power and influence.
HENRY IV is directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whose films include Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady.
We believe that Shakespeare belongs to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnic origin or social background. Shakespeare’s plays have the power to make you see the world differently, to inspire confidence and to change lives. In one of the schools workshops which accompanied Phyllida Lloyd’s previous all-female production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, teachers heard one girl from Mulberry School speak in public for the first time. With such a powerful impact, we knew that it couldn’t end there. The week’s residency at Mulberry School for Girls will allow us to build on this vital work and share the production with the wider community in Tower Hamlets. We want to share Shakespeare with all aspects of the community and challenge what people may think about our national playwright. This will be a very powerful production, suitable for a wide range of people, and will have particular resonance for women and girls.
The Donmar will be running free workshops introducing HENRY IV throughout the week at Mulberry School. This is a perfect opportunity for you to learn a little bit more about the play, the characters and the story before you see the production. Workshops will take place every day at Mulberry School for Girls throughout the run of the production. If you are bringing a school group, it is also possible to arrange for a workshop to take place at your school.
Please click here to download the press release
For more information please contact the Headteacher’s Executive Assistant on 0207 790 6327.
Mulberry School for Girls has been working in partnership with Jools Voce, Theatre Maker and Actor, to address the question: Could Doctor Who be female?
In July 2014, a model Tardis appeared outside the school, and Jools played the role of a mysterious investigator, trying to track down the newly regenerated Doctor. Not sure what this new Doctor would look like, she enlisted the help of Mulberry students, asking them if the next Doctor Who could be female. On average 70% said no. After further investigation it was agreed that the Doctor was a scientist, diplomat, traveller warrior and healer. They concluded that the Doctor needed to be: curious, brave, fierce, mysterious, patient, generous, peaceful, sensitive, romantic, humble, sociable, calm, energetic, adventurous, compassionate, trustworthy, open-minded, strong, powerful, tolerant, wise and willing to learn. Considering these qualities, when asked again if the Doctor could be female, on average 70% said yes.
At Mulberry Schoool’s ‘Educating Twenty First Century Women: Passion, Possibilities and Power Conference’, in October 2014, Jools returned in the role of the regenerated Doctor. On this occasion, for the first time ever, the Doctor regenerated as female. She faced an imminent attack on London (with a fellow actor playing the role of an invading alien). Delegates were asked to send her messages, telling her what kind of woman she needed to be to save the world. The Doctor and her companion also asked the delegates’ help in delving into the Tardis’s infinite wardrobe to find a new costume befitting a traveller, healer, diplomat, scientist and warrior. The delegates were consulted with the questions: How does a woman dress in this world? How do the powerful dress? How will the Doctor dress to get the job done? Panels at the conference encouraged young women to follow their passions in strong female roles in the arts, to create possibilities for themselves in STEM, and to pursue powerful leadership positions.
Mulberry School will feature at the ‘WOW: Women of the World Festival’ at Southbank Centre in March 2015, asking the question: Could Doctor Who be female?