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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor