Cathy Walter

Cathy  Walter

As a former teacher and senior leader in schools, I am now the Assistant Director of Education at the Girls’ Day School Trust.

Location London, UK


  • Your efforts in this area are really admirable. I would be terrified to enter a rap battle! One of our schools has just set up a Stand-Up comedy club. Some of the teachers go along to show their own vulnerabilities. However, I think we can all do a little bit every day whilst teaching.... e.g I am a terrible speller, so I used to give out rewards to students...

  • Sometimes I find it is hard to even uncover which bit of their mindset is, in fact, fixed. For example, last week I was involved in a review of a music department's exam results. Everyone was struggling to see why, from some great teaching and enthused students, the results were not as high as would be expected from the students.

    After talking at length...

  • Thanks Jim. For any others interested in how to carry out their own Action Research, I have found these guides from the NFER very user-friendly:

  • Great reflection Helen. I love how when we really stop to reflect on 'how' we are teaching it can open up such big questions as to 'why' we do what we do. Again, you may be interested/inspired to read the speech on this topic from the GDST's CEO in our annual conference.

    'To survive and thrive of course we need personal resilience, but I also believe we...

  • I think you are spot on Joanna. At the GDST we hold an annual conference and last year's focused on this very topic. You may be interested to read our CEO's speech here: ('Girls and women are already starting to make their own rules, making a difference and making the...

  • Hi @DeeKerwick-Chrisp The transcript for this audio is in the download section

  • @JohnTench I'm sorry that survey seems to be an annoying pop up. Just close it with the cross when it appears and it should take you back to the workbook download.

  • @JohnTench An interesting reflection John.
    We should be asking ourselves as educators, and challenging schools leaders, as to how schools are designed to maximise opportunities for girls to realise their potential. They might do this through considering what needs to change in:
    - the design of the schools themselves, including not just the classrooms but...

  • @AlemiCharlesB.MODI Thanks for sharing Alemi, lovely to read. How did you convince them to work together?

  • Absolutely, Vygotsky's work on the zone of proximal development refers to the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. This may well be a peer.

  • Really useful link, thanks for sharing @JohnTench

  • @AnnettePayling @JohnTench A very interesting topic to discuss, it could take up a full course!
    For interest, and further reading might I suggest:
    With review:

    And this is the book...

  • You make a really interesting point Jane. Another learner has shared this link in week 4 of this course. I think the experience of this super women would align with your suspicion: (TedX talk from the founder of Goldie Blocks - an engineering toy for girls)

  • I would agree with you. Our research also suggests that girls often also adapt their behaviour in the presence of boys, to their own disadvantage – for instance in adopting supporting or moderating roles in discussion, avoiding risk-taking in inquiry, and in their choice of subjects for study. Perhaps this is a case of needing to educate both the teachers and...

  • You might find it useful to read the GDST perspective on girls-only education:
    For interest..... Because of course, I would stress that this course is structured around themes that have a particular resonance in teaching girls:...

  • Oh Nikki, you sent me down a googling tunnel there with the Goldie Blocs suggestion! Great.
    I think our learners interested in supporting girls in STEM will be really interested by some of the ideas and approaches. Even a suggested reading list for your budding girl engineers this summer:

  • This is the interesting point for me @ChristopherBasham : 'Girls and boys do choose different roles in life and have different expectations of themselves and their environment.' But why? Our learners from around the globe have certainly shown that these 'roles' and 'expectations' are not universal.
    Don't worry, I'm not expecting you to tackle that massive...

  • Thank you for sharing your experiences @BurhaniAlizada . I will be really interested to read what your reflections are at the end of the course about what you can do as an individual to change things like this, at least with the girls in your care.

  • @FarukhPracha A quick google search provides quite a few free resources

  • It is also important to ensure the girls in our care are used to and comfortable with the ues of technology. As explained by the GDST's CEO in a recent article
    'In my view, one of the biggest challenges [for women] lies in the digital space. Whereas great progress has been made in women’s representation and participation in public life and in many...

  • Of course, many educators on this course will find our other course (currently open) useful:

  • I think in part this is to do with providing many many opportunities for students to practice the skill of peer feedback to allow it to be effective and meaningful.

  • Absolutely! I know I wish I had had more practice at this at school. It took me years in the workplace to work out that collaboration can look like disagreement and that the end product is more often the better off for that. Before that penny drop moment I would put my ideas forward, have them (what felt like) shouted down and I would back off. Now I recognise...

  • @AlemiCharlesB.MODI
    We must continue to be very careful about generalisations. The existence of gendered styles and preferences itself says nothing about whether they are ‘hard-wired’, or are themselves a response to gendered socialization. The fact is, though, that without doubt these difference affect and influence what and how girls learn.

    I will...

  • A really really interesting reflection @MeganLevey , thank you for sharing

  • Young girls appear to be better prepared for the student ‘role’ than boys –they enter school with more school-relevant knowledge, and tend to be more conscientious, have higher cognitive competencies and possess a more positive social self-concept (Fabes et al, 2014). Indeed, this seems to persist – a UK government review concluded that girls and boys relate...

  • I hope you saw my reply to your previous post about this @JohnTench but just in case.... this is the article that the Telegraph ran at the start of the project:

  • This might be a useful resource for you @almaRodriguez ... one of our teachers made this revision FAQ for our students:

  • @GarofaliaKotsimpos @JamesMacLeod @SusanSteward
    An interesting thread. More research is needed but to start you off....
    90 countries participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Confidence appears to be one of the strong factors affecting the evident disparity found in the PISA tests – where high-performing fifteen year old...

  • so pleased to read this @OyebolaPrecious See you in week 2!

  • Week 3 is open... see you there!

  • This senior leader has helped grow and sustain a culture like this. I suppose I would ask you, which do you feel you personally could start to make the greatest headway with?
    Evidence based teaching and learning strategies
    Expert staff
    Pastoral care
    Role models
    Relationships with parents

  • absolutely!

  • @IainGarioch I take your point about the need for training the teachers. Teachers are crucial because:
     Scaffolding throughout the process is critical to success.
     Expert guidance needs to be embedded at all stages
     Disciplinary thinking and strategies need to be made explicit
     Complex tasks need to be structured in order to reduce the cognitive load...

  • Great summary @ElizabethMN
    How do you think you might use this type of approach?

  • I used to find the ASE concept cartoons useful for STEM teaching. Some can be found here: for those interested in this great thread. Thank you for reminding us of these @ZoeFarrell and @JudyVatcher

    The website puts it well 'This ASE resource shows different characters arguing...

  • What sort of language are you referring to @TarandeepLChohan ?

  • Do let us know what you plan and if it works! More ideas for games like this would be really useful. Sometimes just 'icebreaker' games at the start of lesson can help students find their voice.
    The NHS commissioned some research in 2013 that found that if everyone in the operating theatre spoke (just to introduce themselves) before the operation everyone,...

  • “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

    ― Benjamin Franklin

  • And that isn't wrong @ValerieRoss .
    John MacBeath asserts that, ‘All learning is a form of narrative quest for deeper meaning.’ Viewed in these terms, the individual lesson is emphatically not the fundamental pedagogical unit, and should not be seen in isolation. A single lesson cannot be self-contained. Nor should it be expected to be all singing,...

  • Your point reminds me of how important it is for us teachers to stop and reflect on the decisions we have made in good faith already, as well considering those new things we want to try. I certainly used to pair students like this to try to achieve a calmer classroom. And it did! - so it did support an improved learning environment in a way. But if we agree...

  • You do not need to pay for the certificate but you will not be able to achieve it until you have completed all four weeks of the course.