Private girls’ school axes ‘head girl’ role in progressive move to be more modern and inclusive

St Paul's Girls School Hammersmith head girl

A private girls’ school in London has axed the “head girl” title and replaced it with “head of school” in a bid to be more inclusive and modern.

St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, London, which charges £26,000 per year, said its main reason for phasing out the “head girl” title was because many of their students feel that they are young women rather than girls.

Sarah Fletcher, high mistress at St Paul’s Girls’ School, said in a statement that “binary connotations” were also a factor in making the decision, adding that the school “would never encourage a student to ‘be’ anything in relation to their identity”, according to the Evening Standard.

“We want our students to be happy as themselves,” she said.

“Our focus is on providing a respectful, kind, safe and non-judgemental environment in which our students are free to explore their own identity.

“Young people are talking about gender identity and our role as a school is to equip the staff with an understanding that supports students’ ability to reach to them for support and navigate this safely.”

Senior students at St Paul’s Girls’ School asked for the ‘head girl’ title to be scrapped

A school spokesperson told the Standard that the change was suggested by “senior students” at the school who felt that “head of school” would be “more modern, age appropriate and inclusive” than “head girl”.

The spokesperson noted that the decision actually brings the school back to its traditional roots, explaining: “From our very foundation in 1994 and for decades afterwards, the senior student was called ‘head of school’, so in making the change, we are confirming, not denying, our ethos and traditions.”

The decision will also come as a relief to the seven non-binary students at St Paul’s, who will no longer have to be misgendered if they are selected as head of school.

The highly exclusive St Paul’s Girls School counts actress Rachel Weisz among its past pupils, and has just 778 pupils today.