GSA website: Help is just a click away

Girls’ schools have set up a website to reassure parents who are worried about their daughters. Will mums use it?

The Girls’ School Association (GSA) is capitalising on its long experience by launching a new website aimed at parents who are bringing up daughters.

Early responses to show that the site has the potential to be a worldwide winner. Five thousand people accessed it in the first three weeks, many from Asia and others from continental Europe and the US, and word is spreading fast. “As far as we know, it is the only site dealing specifically with issues concerning girls,” says Jill Berry, the head of Dame Alice Harpur School, Bedford and president of the GSA.

The site offers articles and guidance on subjects such as the developmental stages of girls, how girls can reach their full potential, eating disorders, bullying, internet safety and relationships. It discusses how to encourage a teenage girl to develop interests, how to help a girl settle at a new school, and what to do about unsuitable friends. Most articles are written by present or former heads.

“The GSA is a tight-knit bunch,” says editor Alison Morris, a former head of Manor House School, Surrey. “We all tend to know each other, and have many years of experience between us. There isn’t a problem that hasn’t passed through our doors over the years, and we know to whom we can turn to deal with different issues.”

The site is responsive to news stories and has turned its attention to anorexia; guidance for single and divorced parents; and the question of whether dyslexia is a myth.

“People can post comments, and we are hoping to draw them in to debate issues,” Morris says. “We want the site to be fully interactive, and a forum where parents can talk to and support each other.” One of the first mothers to contact the site wanted to know where she could buy clothes for her larger daughter, and got suggestions from other parents.

The idea for the site sprang from research commissioned by GSA in 2007 about how parents went about choosing schools for daughters. A thousand parents were asked about this and other issues. They sent back a clear message that they would welcome an advice source on social and educational topics, from questions of body image to personal safety.

Their desire for help reflects an age of mounting parental anxiety, where the confidence of both mothers and fathers can be low and no one seems too sure how to bring up children. Heads of both state and independent schools say they spend more time than ever helping parents with aspects of their children’s education and welfare, and many privately admit astonishment at the high level of support parents now need.

Alison Morris says the site’s resources tap into a well of experience and wisdom, and are intended for all parents, regardless of where they send their children to school. However, as fee-paying schools brace themselves for the effects of recession, the site is also seen as a marketing tool to spread the word on the advantages of independent, single-sex education for girls. It offers help in finding schools, case studies of families who use them, and advice on how to find the fees to pay for them.

Jill Berry says: “Of course, we are championing the cause of girls’ schools, and we wouldn’t want to be dishonest about this. However, we also offer lots of sensible advice from people who really care about girls and who understand the issues about girls’ learning. These issues are not only to do with independent schools, and anyway, girls’ schools are, in themselves, very diverse, including schools of all types, from the highly academic to those catering for pupils with special learning needs.”

The site includes the weekly national newspaper column written by Vicky Tuck, principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College, and offers Top 10 tips for parents. These include: keep listening; set boundaries; and remember that academic success is only one way of succeeding.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot