Students at the academy have welcomed three guests to speak at their ‘Women in Industry’ event, aimed at inspiring female students to aim high in their career goals.

Clare Barber, Principal, said she wants students to overcome both real and perceived barriers in their future careers. “We want our KS4 girls to attain the confidence to achieve their rightful place in society and the world of work. This might be overcoming low self-esteem for example, which can lead to the incorrect assumption that the top jobs are for ‘other women’.  As a school, we want to ensure that West Grantham girls are given the opportunity to listen to women who have achieved extraordinary things in business.  This fits in with three of our core values: courage, belief and ambition, and is also part of our vision.”

The academy’s vision states, ‘Place no limits on what can be achieved, ensuring opportunities are not restricted by self-belief or circumstance’.

The three visitors were Zoë Blake, CEO of CareLoop Health, Slava Barber Head of Human Resources UK and EU at Soloprotect, and Helen Waite, Deputy Director at the Department for Education. The guests were given a tour of the school and then met small groups of students to tackle subjects covering educational choices, resilience, and imposter syndrome amongst other topics.

Additionally, as a Ukrainian national, visitor Slava Barber was also able to spend some time speaking to two of the academy’s younger Ukrainian students.  All three reported that they thoroughly enjoyed speaking in their mother tongue about their shared culture, and what they miss about home.

Zoë Blake is CEO of CareLoop Health and formerly CEO of Kooth. She attended the event and was able to work with the year 10 and 11 students. She said, “It was an honour to be invited to West Grantham C of E Secondary Academy, and to meet the Year 10 and 11 girls.  The school has a lovely welcoming atmosphere.  I found the teachers and the pupils to be warm and engaging.  During our conversations, the girls asked insightful questions and demonstrated they were genuinely interested in understanding the role I do today and how I got there.  I wholeheartedly support Miss Barber’s initiative to bring women in industry into the classroom to help young girls to aspire to careers they may not have thought of or thought possible.”

Student Elly-May Cooper said the event was beneficial, “It was really useful, and I enjoyed it a lot. It gave me an understanding that you can do anything you put your mind to.” Fellow student Sophie Copeland agreed saying, “It was reassuring to hear and will help motivate me for my future.”

Another guest speaker was Helen Waite, who is a Deputy Director at the Department for Education. Helen said she enjoyed speaking to the students about her own career and experience within the civil service. “It was fantastic to take part in an event designed to raise the aspiration of girls.  The civil service offers jobs at all levels right across the country, including a whole range of apprenticeships.  It was great to be able to share that information and some of my own career journey in the civil service.” Helen said she enjoyed touring the academy during her visit.   “Two things really stood out for me at West Grantham C of E Secondary Academy, -the calm and organised environment, and the commitment and positivity of the staff team.  Both are critical foundations for bringing about positive change for young people.”

Students reported that they learned that with hard work and focus, no matter your background or starting point, it is possible to achieve your goals. Student, Selina Ambrose-Leigh, said, “It was really well done with a wide range in jobs. It helped to reassure me to aim for high performing jobs. I think the school should definitely do this workshop again.”

Student CJ Davidge said, “The workshop was very enjoyable, and it reassured me.” Fellow student Mabel Howard said, “It taught me more about what opportunities are open to me.”

Summing up what she learned at the workshop, student Georgi-Lea Askew had words of wisdom, “No matter what your background is, you have the power to turn it around at any moment. Your worst enemy is often yourself.”


Principal, Clare Barber said she felt the event was a great success. “Listening to students break down the reasons that foster low self-esteem or low aspirations means they now grasp how to overcome those barriers. We will continue to support all of our students to aim high in their life ambitions, and hope that events like this are overturning the myths and historical impediments that have meant that many women do not fulfil their potential. I would like to thank Slava, Helen and Zoë for taking the time to show our students that with hard work and ambition, and a brave outlook, that they can achieve anything.”