As Head of Wakefield Girls’, Heidi-Jayne Boyes leads a high performing academic and support team which delivers top academics and empowers girls. Absolutely Yorkshire meets her
How long have you been Head of Wakefield Girls?
I joined Wakefield Girls’ in 2018 hot on the heels of several years at The Girls’ Day School Trust. My move to Wakefield Girls’ gave me an irresistible opportunity to run a wonderful historic school steeped with a long service of empowering girls and a unique chance to deliver an education that is relevant for the 21st century. I feel that my 12 years working in a girls’ only environment has prepared me for the biggest role yet.
Over the past four years we have adapted our teaching and learning framework to help all the girls we teach make even greater gains with each developing the cognitive skills, values, attitudes and attributes needed to succeed in her learning and life. Yorkshire is very important to us and we enjoy active roles in the community. Highlights include hosting an event as part of Wakefield’s wonderful Artwalk and musical concerts at Pinderfields Hospital and supporting lots of local charities; our students have devoted just under 2,000 hours to community projects. I’m delighted we’ve also made our mark as Yorkshire Cricket champions, under 14 Yorkshire Netball champions, West Yorkshire Athletics champions and Wharfedale Music Festival winners. We value smiles as much as success and we have re-looked at how we positively manage wellbeing. We now have over 50 student and staff mental health first aiders throughout school. Not stopping there, we are also about to launch our powHER panel full of wonderful female role models for our students, ensuring true diversity and inclusivity. We all truly believe that Wakefield Girls’ is, and must remain, a place that will enrich all our lives.
What do you look to offer today?
Over the last four years we’ve become accredited as a world class school for our teaching framework, ranked as one of the North’s top 10 independent schools by The Sunday Times and have grown with 6% more students coming to enjoy learning, leaving us extremely well equipped and ready for their future choices. The challenge, therefore, is keeping our consistently small classes and providing the innovative academic, extra-curricular and personal support programmes that develop each student so each is intellectually and socially confident, work-place and life-ready with a global outlook and concern for others. Each year we are improving our campus and thinking of new ways to introduce learning with girls’ needs and preferences at the fore. Our Pathways to Success programme is a great example of this, where we are fortunate to be supported by many of our high achieving alumnae who share their advice with our students. One in five of our students receive either a bursary or scholarship assistance and it is very important to us that students who show academic merit, continue to benefit from bursaries and scholarships every year.
As we start the new academic year, what can students look forward to at Wakefield Girls’?
A warm welcome, whether it is for the first time or a welcome back. We have plenty of events to help settle our students, new or returning, into the new academic year. Everyone will be out of school the first week back on team building activities, which is a great time to reconnect, build friendships and develop new skills. Our academic year hinges around all the things that will help girls succeed as adult women – whatever field they enter, whatever challenge they face. We’re very proud of our academic success, but equally our well balanced, positive and uplifting culture. Our school is imbued with the values needed for students to become accomplished committed women and along the way we have plenty of traditions that we celebrate as well as competitions and activities that we enjoy. We continue to offer our very popular EDGE programme so everyone can take part in a selection of extra-curricular activities from the amazing 95 we have on offer – a great way to develop new skills, friends and passions.
School aside, can you pick out three places you think benefit girls?
As children grow and enjoy different things, it’s very hard to pick out just three. The galleries, theatre, sporting clubs and museums in Wakefield are fabulous. The Hepworth (named after our famous alumna), Theatre Royal and Yorkshire Sculpture Park are favourites as they provide all things connected to what I think girls need – opportunities to be courageous, resilient, to grow in confidence and experience new things. How these elements work together in their boldest way, with academic learning, is (in my opinion) what matters most and the key to success for girls, now and for the future.