Some of these examples come from the work of Mulberry Schools Trust in recent years.  These are the type of opportunities that Mulberry Schools Foundation will extend to partner schools and communities nationally and internationally.

Giving voice

…to children, young people and other communities less often heard and to provide platforms for leadership through those voices.

Partnership of Equals

Mulberry Schools Foundation held its first conference, “Partnership of Equals”, at the QEII Conference Centre in October 2018. The Foundation built on Mulberry School for Girls’ track record of Women’s Conferences that celebrate the power of student voice and promote positive action for social change. The conference was in large part designed, organised and hosted by students and the 400 delegates were school students from London, Manchester and Somerset.

The conference provided a space for student voice and visibility and brought young people together with diverse role models to consider important issues of gender equality, through the lens of the creative arts. Stories of success and struggle were exchanged with youthful passion and innovation, empowering those who have yet to make their way in the world.

Participants in the conference worked together over 18 months preceding the conference to consider the effects of gender inequality on both women and men. Students raised many issues that were explored further in the conference. Delegates committed to further action in their home schools following the conference.

I’m inspired to defy expectations of me that are purely based on gender.

Student delegate

I’ve seen that leadership needs compassion as well as decisiveness.

Student conference leader

Girl Leading

Following Michelle Obama’s launch of “Let Girls Learn” at Mulberry School for Girls in 2015, the school launched “Girl Leading”, a residential camp which develops girls’ leadership skills, with a focus on increasing access to education for every girl around the world. The programme raises students’ aspirations, builds their confidence, encourages them to make themselves heard, enables them to learn from successful women and supports them in leading a creative response to gender issues.

The Foundation is extending this programme to other schools across the UK and will be developing a similar programme for boys. The model will be packaged by the Foundation for other schools to use, nationally and internationally.

Spending a week in a safe environment in the company of other girls has had a tangible impact on some of our most challenging students and I have not seen some of them so happy and excited before. Students have come out of their shells, challenged their own behavioural habits and walked away with a new confidence.

Accompanying staff member

Youth-led conferences

For the last 18 years, Mulberry School for Girls’ annual Youth Conference has brought together Sixth Form students from across the UK to explore equality, social justice and cultural identity. The conference is curated and hosted by young people and offers challenging discussion, powerful speakers and workshops with inspirational activists and artists. Students engage with one another on issues they care passionately about and confirm their power to make a difference in their communities. The Foundation is extending the frequency and reach of similar conferences led by those without automatic voice. We will share the model with other schools and pilot international participation.

The programme helped me find my voice. I developed leadership skills as I had to lead meetings, share my ideas and take responsibility for different tasks. Everyone came together and helped each other, which increased my desire to be involved.

Student conference lead

I loved sharing my personal experiences and opinions with students from different places and hearing very different perspectives. I knew that the ideas had to come from us and enjoyed this feeling of being in control.

Student participant

Today I’ve learned that you can defy the stereotypes placed upon you.

Student participant

Collaborating as artists

In August 2018, 30 students and staff from Mulberry Schools Trust performed a brand new piece of theatre at the Edinburgh Festival and later at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London. The play, Cry God for Harry, England and St George!, was devised by students over six months.

Cry God for Harry, England and St George! was inspired by Mulberry’s ongoing work with the Donmar Warehouse alongside Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Shakespeare productions. The play examines questions about what it means to be British and what makes a great leader, drawing from Shakespeare’s portrayal in Henry V. Students were inspired by the leadership exhibited by teenagers in Florida following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. They also wanted to respond to a specific Islamophobic threat that occurred during the creation of the piece.

Mulberry Schools Foundation will facilitate wide-ranging collaborations with artists that enable young people to present their ideas creatively through high-quality performance in renowned venues.

Leadership, Islamophobia and Shakespeare – only Mulberry could put them together with such creativity.

Audience member