Blackheath High School GDST’s £18 million redevelopment was officially opened on May 2 with a star-studded line-up including prominent women’s rights campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and ITV News anchor Charlene White, writes Laura Burgoine…

Criado-Perez, the author of Invisible Women who led the campaign to put Jane Austen on the £10 note, was invited by the school to mark the official opening of its new facilities. Addressing Blackheath High parents, teachers, alumni and students, Criado-Perez’s speech touched on the need to give women the freedom and power to flourish, saying: “The way for women to escape the straight jacket society puts them in is not to denigrate them, but to raise them up.”

Channelling Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, the campaigner concluded her address by saying she hoped the all new Blackheath High School would provide the necessary space for girls to maximise their full potential: “I hope these spaces opening today give the room to flourish for generations of Blackheath girls to come.”

Criado-Perez’s speech was part of Blackheath High’s ongoing ‘Wollstonecraft Speaker Series’ where inspiring figures are invited to the school to speak to the students about their lives and careers.
Joining Caroline in marking the occasion was former Blackheath High alumna and ITV London news anchor Charlene White.

The evening was officially opened by Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO of GDST, whose vision it is to shape the future of girls’ education.

Together with the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), Blackheath High school has invested £18 million over five years to provide new state of art the facilities. These include a brand-new library and resources centre; specialist teaching environments for Art, Design and Technology and Music; cutting-edge Mac suite; and Apple technology in all classrooms for teaching and expansive gallery and exhibition spaces.

As well as investing in the girls’ learning development, the school has created a wellbeing Sedum roof garden for girls to relax and enjoy which sits above an architecturally designed courtyard with “Mini-Louvre” at the heart of the school. Also added is ‘The Pod’, a contemplation space for meditation and idea generation.

Blackheath High has also boosted its sports offer by adding a brand-new top of the range fitness suite and outdoor games court to complement their existing multi acre Sports Campus, along with a brand new Sixth Form Centre to inspire a mature, pre-university atmosphere.

Head at Blackheath High School GDST, Mrs Carol-Chandler Thompson said: “Tonight, was one of my proudest moments as Head at Blackheath High. These new amazing facilities are going to provide our girls with the very best learning environment for them to grow and become leaders of the future.

“It was only fitting that an unstoppable woman like Caroline was here to deliver a keynote speech that will inspire our girls to really make the most of these wonderful new surroundings.”

Photo: Ian Jones