Principal's Blog

#OwnYourVoice, are we living our vision?

09 November 2022

A few months have passed since we launched our fresh vision for Surval Montreux and articulated our ambition that every Surval girl will challenge herself, own her voice and lead her journey. Like all key concepts in the world of social media, we quickly started consistently using the hashtags #challenge, #own, #lead.  And like so many things in education, we predictably reduced it to an acronym: COL.  As acronyms go, it is actually very apt in our French-speaking environment and brings to mind famous mountain passes of the Tour de France - or less famously the “col” heading up to Mont Grammont which all Surval girls successfully reached on our inaugural COL adventure weekend earlier this term.  It is fortuitously a very fitting image to associate with our ambition for Surval girls.


During our most recent quality assurance visit one of Bellevue’s Directors of Education sought to establish, like all good inspectors, whether we are doing what we say we do - whether our vision means something to the students or whether it is just words.  When quizzed, Challenge was quickly referred to by girls.  We evidently still have a bit more work to do to ensure Own and Lead are also on the tip of their tongue!  


Perhaps it is easier to demonstrate examples of challenge, but there is certainly no shortage of examples of girls owning their voice in daily school life at Surval.


It is demonstrated every day through the manner in which girls voice their opinions and emotions and advocate for their own and others' needs in boarding and academic life. They learn to use their voice responsibly and in a considerate and considered way in order to express themselves.


Girls are given more structured opportunities to own their voice through organised groups - ‘Student Voices’ - where they are empowered to take the initiative and lead events in the school: the Student Council which has recently designed and organised the set up of our new Common Room; the Etiquette and Events Management club which recently led our very successful student and staff social lunch; our Social Enterprise group working with Race4Good to lead a service project for real impact in a community affected by climate change in the Arctic. 


I adopted the phrase  ‘own your voice’ after taking part in a Women in Educational Leadership programme entitled ‘Owning your Leadership Voice’. One strand of this leadership development programme focused on gaining clarity about your ‘story’ and how to tell it with colour. What do you want to say, why is it important and how can you say it for maximum impact? Of course, this is not just applicable to women, but in a world where there is still a level of disparity and barriers, perceived or real, it is particularly important that women learn to tell their story with impact.  


Through our Surval Communication and Etiquette courses, we are seeking to instil in girls a presence and cultural awareness which will give them the self-awareness to walk into diverse personal and professional situations in future with self-assurance. We want girls to develop the confidence to voice their opinions, to believe in their strengths and to step up to leadership opportunities.


With our commitment at Surval to #OwnYourVoice, the more we can do to support our girls in developing a natural inner and outward confidence, the more we are empowering them for their future. Our priority for the second half of term is to ensure that next time the girls are asked about COL, they don’t hesitate in shouting out Own Your Voice!



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