Educating girls for life, not just school
I spent the first part of last week at the annual Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) Conference in the serene Cotswolds, which was a fabulous opportunity to connect with fellow heads of girls’ schools and to discuss together the prevailing themes and challenges facing us in education. I have come away with plenty of food for thought and an abundance of reflections, providing ample material for future instalments of High News. I heard fascinating talks on the authority gap, the mental health of our adolescents, the development of inclusive cultures in schools, among others.
During her opening speech, GSA President Marina Gardiner-Legge, who also leads Oxford High School, lauded the resilience, persistence and adaptability fostered by the tailored education provided by girls’ schools. I think that our annual Senior School House Plays performance is a great example of this. Even though the students may initially consider taking part as just about singing, dancing and putting on a show, they are in fact developing vital skills of communication, collaboration and adaptability, essential tools for navigating the complexities of the modern world. Furthermore, they are also making memories that will last for years to come.
I often say in my meetings with prospective families that one of the unique joys of a girls’ school is that everything in it is meticulously designed just for them: the curriculum, the classroom, the leadership opportunities, and the very culture of the school is intricately woven around the empowerment of women. This week, I had the privilege of interviewing several Year 11 students applying for the Sixth Form Spirit Scholarship. It is interesting to hear their perspectives on the value and importance of an all-girls learning environment. Even more inspiring and commendable is their answer to what contributions they would like to make to the GDST and our school. Every one of them said, in their own way, it is vital to prepare and educate girls and young women for a world which is not equal, and to help them develop the skills necessary to confront the evident bias and challenges which still remain in many aspects of society.
This theme resonated with Marina’s speech, as she highlighted the ways in which women’s standing globally is still unequal, despite significant progress and development in recent years. From the disproportionate impact of war on women in conflict zones to the widening global pay gap and the burdens of the ‘second shift’ of home duties for working women, the challenges are vast and multifaceted. For us in schools, there is no doubt that the cost and availability of childcare is having an impact on teacher recruitment and retention, and that’s just one way in which becoming a mother can adversely affect a woman’s working life.
As Marina aptly pointed out, the world is not just unequal and underrepresentative of women, it can also be actively unpleasant for them. This stark reality was further illuminated by journalist and broadcaster Mary Ann Sieghart in her discussion of her new book, The Authority Gap: Why women are still taken less seriously than men and what we can do about it. Sieghart demonstrated the inequalities of attitude faced by women, by citing study after study which demonstrated the myriad ways in which women are systematically underestimated, patronised, assumed to be more junior, frequently interrupted. Interruptions were an interesting example. As Sieghart put it, interrupting someone fundamentally tells them you are more important than them which is a fundamental assertion of dominance. She quoted a study of US Supreme Court hearings revealing that female Supreme Court Justices were interrupted three times more often than their male counterparts, with 96% of the interruptions coming from men. These women are some of the most powerful in the federal government and yet they remain subject to the basic inequality: an excellent demonstration of the authority gap.
Therefore, it is incumbent on us to unleash the power of girls, instilling in them the confidence and self-belief required for a future that is not just designed for them but with their active participation. Students in girls’ schools, as trailblazers, serve as catalysts for a more inclusive society, and there is no doubt that the unique collective understanding of a girls’ school offers opportunities for female leadership and empowerment in an environment where every pupil can be a role model for each other.
We know every girl in our school. Education is a personal journey, one that involves igniting each girl’s curiosity and enabling her to understand herself and her aspirations, so she can navigate life with persistence and purpose, enacting positive change for those around her. As the world and other young women see more girls boldly and courageously living their lives in all parts of society, the more will be inspired to join them, confidently taking their place alongside these trailblazers.
I am encouraged that Northampton High is taking practical steps to make a real change and to encourage our girls to speak up, speak out and speak loud, where they feel equipped and ready to do what is right rather than what is easy, to be captain of their lives and make them fulfilling and meaningful. I know that we are educating our girls for life, not just for exams, university and work and we must find ways to continuously reinforce the worth and value of women in society, and to give them the confidence to know that their voices will be heard for the benefit of everyone. The skills often associated with women – collaboration, empathy, communication, integrity, moral courage – are desperately needed in all sectors and in our leaders.
Thank you for your continued support as we work together to empower and support our girls, and embrace the extraordinary magic of a girls only school.
I hope that a weekend of rest awaits you.
Dr May Lee
Monday 4 December
U12&13 vs Magdalen College
Tuesday 5 December
GCSE Borough Market Food trip
Yr11-13 Classical Film Night
Wednesday 6 December
Chemis-tree Christmas Spectacular
Thursday 7 December
Yr12 Oxford University trip
National Classical Myth competition
Friday 8 December
Christmas Jumper Day
Sixth Form mocktails and mince pies
Music Scholars Concert
Please click here to view this term’s Clubs & Activities list and timetable
At Northampton High, we are so proud of what our musicians achieve, day after day. We have had many amazing performances and moments of celebration this term across all of our music. Increasingly across the country in many schools, music is in decline. At Northampton High, I am continually reminded what music means to our students, families and community, both in school and in the wider area. The recent performances and events, notably the Scholars’ Concert and the Woodwind Masterclass, have been nothing short of incredible. We have much more to come.
With only two weeks to the end of term and Christmas around the corner, so are the Junior School Christmas Celebration Evening and Christmas concert. They are amazing occasions and this year should be even better! I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks.
A huge congratulations to the students who received a Head’s Commendation this week. This special award recognises pupils for their outstanding achievements, demonstrations of kindness and dedication to school life and we are very proud of the deserving nominees.
To celebrate this special achievement, recipients of the award were invited to decorate the Senior School Christmas tree with Dr Lee. This festive activity proved very popular with students (and staff!) and was the perfect way to reward the pupils for their hard work!
Congratulations to the following students who were awarded a Head’s Commendation this half term:
Maisie T, Evelyn H, Jess U – They have entered an external competition for retelling Ovid’s stories, and have completed projects entirely in their own time for submission. Mrs Peto
Lexi C – Over the past year and a bit Lexi has played a vital role in supporting and promoting German. She has run JS sessions and helped out with younger students. Miss Doerpinghaus
Avani A – Avani is nominated for her excellent captaining and goalkeeping at the Croydon rally. She had to deal with quite an emotional rollercoaster but showed great leadership and positivity even when things were not going to plan! Mr Rickman
Tess H – Whenever I see her she always smiles at me and will go out of her way to open to the door for you. She comes across as a lovely young lady with very good manners. Mrs Leonard-Gray
Anushka T – Anushka is nominated for her contributions to Black History Month and Diwali celebrations with Femsock. She planned and organised both assemblies involving students from all years in a superbly efficient and professional manner. The end results were incredibly moving and poignant and a true celebration of the girls at our school. Ms Eldridge
Digital Marketing Assistant
Students enjoy inaugural PSHE day
On Friday 24 November, our Senior School students participated in our inaugural annual PSHE Day. Pupils from Year 7 upwards were taken off timetable, replacing usual lessons with valuable, expert-led sessions to explore topics that aren’t always covered by the curriculum. Creating a safe space for learning and discussion is vital for the holistic development of our students, which is why PSHE plays a crucial role in our educational approach here at Northampton High.
Over the course of the day, we were thrilled to welcome lots of professionals into school to share their expertise on a variety of subjects. Our guests delivered speeches and bespoke workshops on mental health, social media, finance and careers – to name just a few of the important topics discussed. We would like to thank our wonderful visitors for their invaluable contributions to this event. The day was a true success thanks to their excellent sessions and it was fabulous to see each year group enthusiastic and involved.
This dedicated event allowed students to focus entirely on the enriching activities in front of them and we were pleased to receive extremely positive feedback from them at the end of the day. Whilst PSHE is not always pupils’ favourite subject, it was wonderful to hear that the programme of events had been engaging and enjoyable for all!
A huge thank you must go to Mr Pietropaoli for organising such a brilliant day, bursting with variety and opportunities for learning! We cannot wait for this special event again next year!
Students showcase excellence in Rotary Chef competition
Well done to Verity, Lucy, Zoe, Lily and Mila who took part in the Rotary Chef Competition on Saturday. They were tasked with producing a 2-course meal within 2 hours. They all put in a huge amount of effort, and demonstrated some fantastic cooking and plating skills. Some of the dishes included:
- Seabass with sweet potatoes and couscous
- Chicken schnitzel with tagliatelle in a tomato sauce
- Salmon with green beans, roasted carrots and mashed potatoes
- Meringue with berries
- Beef burger with sweet potato wedges
Extra congratulations go to Zoe who was awarded first place, and Lucy who placed second.
This was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to challenge themselves with skill, timing, presentation and costing; well done, everyone!
Subject Leader Food
Lydia competes at club championships
A huge congratulation to Lydia in Year 10, who recently competed at her club championships U14 Tennis final.
During the competition, Lydia had to take a brief medical time out due to experiencing discomfort in her knee. At this point, she was 0-3 down and absolutely determined to continue the match. Demonstrating true resilience, Lydia remarkably carried on playing and went on to win 6-4 and 6-0.
It was later discovered that Lydia had actually dislocated her knee during the game – an injury her spectators were totally unaware of! The mental strength and resilience she demonstrated during this competition was nothing short of outstanding and we would like to congratulate Lydia on her success at this championships. We would also like to wish Lydia all the best in her recovery and hope to see her back on the court soon!
Director of Sport
U15 Hockey vs Thornton
On Tuesday 28 November, the U15 Hockey team played against Thornton. We really wanted to implement the tactics we had learnt over the season into this game and started off well with good distribution of the ball and lots of possession. A great ball into the D led to a goal being scored by Izzy, who slipped it in from the post. We then had the confidence to drive with the ball around their players a bit more, which led to two great team goals with strikes from Anna and Katie. In the second half, we knew we were ahead so we changed up some of the team positions which created a fun end to the match. Great work from everyone! Charlotte F
U13A Hockey vs Bedford Modern
The U13A team had a home hockey fixture against Bedford Modern School. We had a strong start with Emily F scoring the first goal of the match, however, Bedford also scored before half time to make the score 1-1. Bethany played amazingly in goal and saved lots of goals in the second half, but we struggled to clear the ball from the back after Bethany’s saves. Unfortunately, Bedford scored another three goals to make the final score 4-1. Our team didn’t give up and battled until the final whistle. Emily F was awarded player of the match. Next match, we need to work on coming forward to meet the ball, breaking up the wall of opposition players for our hits and getting the ball out of defence. Kara R
U12A Hockey vs Bedford Modern
Northampton High travelled to Bedford School on a cold November afternoon. The game was a close match with Bedford scoring their first goal in the second quarter. Northampton High equalised in the third quarter with a great goal by Zoe. In the last quarter both sides were desperate to win the game , but an unfortunate last-minute goal by Bedford gave them the win . Well done everyone, great playing! Lily F
U12B Hockey vs Bedford Modern
On Monday 27 November, the Year 7 B team went to Bedford Modern for a hockey match. The first quarter of the match was 1-0 to Bedford, but our super goalie saved many goals and was helped by our defenders. In the second and third quarter, the score was still 1-0 to Bedford despite some promising attempts to score. The last quarter was a challenge and we were unfortunate to concede goals, leaving with a final score of 5-0 to Bedford. Our player of the match was our amazing goalie, Grace F. Avleen S
Physical Education Teacher
This week’s Creative Arts Spotlight goes to my Year 8 Drama class who have been working collaboratively to create a scene from ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time’ in the style of Physical Theatre.
Subject Leader Drama
Save the Children's Christmas Jumper Day: Friday 8 December
Northampton High School is delighted to be taking part in Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 8 December!
By pulling on our Christmassy knits and donating, we’ll be supporting children in the UK and around the world to keep safe, healthy, and learning. We’ll be helping them fight for the future they deserve.
Students are invited to wear ‘mufti’ with a Christmassy jumper on this day, in exchange for a £2 donation to Save the Children via this link. By donating, the funds will go straight to Save the Children and the money we raise could go towards some amazing things like:
- £2 could pay for a pair of shoes to keep a baby in Afghanistan warm through winter
- £5 could pay for a maths pack to make sure a child in the UK is ready for school
- £40 could give a family who’ve escaped war in Ukraine enough food for a month
As always, we really appreciate you supporting our fundraising efforts and would like to thank you in advance for your generous donations!
Deputy Head Pastoral
Classical Art Competition
Calling all students in Year 9 -Year 13 – this is your chance to enter a national classical art competition (with cash prizes!).
The theme is ‘Time and Memory in the Ancient World’. You can create a painting, drawing, photo, photography series, sculpture… You could explore sundials in the ancient world or take a more abstract approach to time/memory – it’s up to you to represent your idea in a creative and exciting way.
The deadline is 20 December. You also need to submit a short piece of text (500 words or less): Imagine your piece is being exhibited in a gallery and write a description of your work, which explains its link to the theme, to be displayed alongside it.
Please read the guidelines carefully, including information on how to enter here. Good luck and have fun!
Subject Lead Classics
Human Kind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman
It’s a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Dawkins, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought.
Human beings, we’re taught, are by nature selfish and governed by self-interest.
Humankind makes a new argument: that it is realistic, as well as revolutionary, to assume that people are good. By thinking the worst of others, we bring out the worst in our politics and economics too. In this major book, bestselling author Rutger Bregman takes some of the world’s most famous studies and events and reframes them, providing a new perspective on the last 200,000 years of human history. From the real-life Lord of the Flies to the Blitz, a Siberian fox farm to an infamous New York murder, Bregman shows how believing in human kindness and altruism can be a new way to think – and act as the foundation for achieving true change in our society.
Purchase through the NHS bookshop here.
Chemis-tree Christmas Show
We are delighted to share that our Chemis-tree Christmas Spectacular is returning to Northampton High School! Join Mrs Hodgetts-Tate on Wednesday 6 December for an evening of festivity, fun and fabulous science experiments, focused around this year’s theme ‘Guess the movie’.
This special science show is a High School tradition and is always popular with our school community! We are delighted to invite pupils from our Junior and Senior School to enjoy this wonderful event and hope to welcome as many pupils as possible!
World Challenge Fundraiser
In July 2024,15 Northampton High School A Level students will be participating in The World Challenge project. We will be going on a two week expedition to Vietnam where we will be volunteering and trekking as well as learning many new skills and engaging in new experiences.
To support this expedition the World Challenge team will be holding a Christmas movie night on 13 December in the Senior Hall, showing the animated ‘Grinch’ film (2018). The tickets for this event will be £4.50 and are available to purchase here. Food and drinks, including popcorn, sweets and more, will be available for Senior students to purchase on the night. Please be aware that we can only take card payments.
The film will start at 3.55pm and finish at 5.20pm and the late bus will still be available for those who require it.
All ticket purchases are greatly appreciated!
The World Challenge Team
Our school community is delighted to be supporting The Trussell Trust in their efforts to stop UK hunger and poverty. The charity supports a nationwide network of food banks and provides emergency food and support to people facing hardship. Between April 2022 and March 2023, food banks in The Trussell Trust network provided almost 3 million food supplies to people in crisis, a 37% increase on the previous year.
Food bank donations are more necessary now than ever, which is why we are asking for the help of our generous school community. We would like to invite students, staff and parents to bring in food donations for our food bank collection. Your kindness is much appreciated and will support those experiencing hardship. Thank you in advance for your help.
Diversity and Inclusion Calendar 23/24: December
Northampton High School - Where girls learn without limits
Northampton High School
Newport Pagnell Road, Hardingstone Northampton NN4 6UU
T: 01604 765765 nhsadmin@nhs.Gdst.Net