An architect returned to her secondary school as the guest of honour for their Commemoration Day on Friday.

Jane Duncan, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) visited Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School in High Barnet to attend their Commemoration Day.

The event on May 12 included a gowned parade along the High Street and a prize-giving ceremony in the school hall, where Ms Duncan spoke about her experiences at the school, where she discovered her dream to become and architect.

She said: “I remember an art lesson outside in the grounds at QE Girls where everyone else was sketching flowers in pots and I just wanted to sketch the buildings.

“No-one from QE Girls had ever become an architect before me, but I didn't let it put me off. I went to some architects’ studios at University College London and from the moment I walked in I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

Ms Duncan also described the pride of walking into a building you designed and “making people’s dreams come true” before encouraging the girls not to be put off by pursuing a career in a male-dominated field.

She added: “Only 20 per cent of architects in the UK are women so there’s still a long way to go, but I’m proud to say I have my own practice where 70 per cent of us are women.

“Don’t let anyone tell you what to do with your life. Follow your heart.”

The day kicked off with a parade of pupils to St John the Baptists Church for a short service, before returning to school for speeches, prizes and a cake competition.

Headteacher Violet Walker said: “Jane has pioneered the role of women in architecture and I am sure our present generation of students will be inspired by her many achievements.”