Durham High School played host to the inaugural “A Road Less Travelled” conference this week.

The conference, supported by the National Council of Women, featured inspirational speakers and workshops designed to broaden the horizons of local girls and encourage steps towards careers that are traditionally seen as male preserves.

In the morning there were talks from leading professionals including one of the UK’s top computing experts Professor Sue Black OBE, Dr Yitka Graham, Associate Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Sunderland and Tamma Carel, who is Director and Senior Environmental Consultant at Imvelo Ltd.

Dr Graham said: “It was an honour to be part of this wonderful conference and the wider Durham High School community.”

“Thank you to all the schools for everything they do for girls. Together we can make a difference and change the world.”

Tamma Carel added: “What an incredible morning. It was a privilege to share my story and hear the stories of the next generation of big dreamers and problem solvers.”

Before lunch Jeni Banks from Sunderland Software City held a session on networking, which the girls were able to put into practice over lunchtime with their peers, the speakers, staff from Durham High and representatives from the National Council of Women.

In the afternoon Jill McKinney, Head of Skills and Training at Sunderland Software City, led a workshop on ‘breaking down barriers’ which saw the girls working with those from other schools to deliver a presentation to the rest of the group.

Jessica, a student at Durham High, said: “The speakers inspired me to be brave, take life as it comes and strive for the best.  I feel I have been assured that taking an unconventional, less travelled path will not prohibit me from accomplishing my goals.”

Year 12 pupil Emma added: “The networking aspect of the day really helped to improve my communication skills and confidence while talking to people I have never met before: a skill I will take to University and beyond.”

As well as pupils in Year 10 and Year 12 from Durham High, there were also delegates from: Belmont Community School, Easington Academy, Josephine Butler College, Parkside Academy, Queen Margaret’s School in York, The Academy at Shotton Hall, Wellfield School and Wolsingham School.

In response to the conference, one delegate from Josephine Butler College commented: “After Durham High School hosted the National Council of Young Women yesterday, I signed up as a member today.”

Our thanks go to all the schools that took part, the speakers and workshop facilitators and the National Council of Women for their support and for attending the event.