Nothampton High School
High News

Friday 10 May 2024

Prep – why bother?

The vexed question of homework and its impact on learning and family life.

Homework is an age-old educational practice that has been a subject of serious debate for decades – not just among academics but also between parents and (recalcitrant) children. And, to an extent, might not the children be right? The simple fact that homework has always been a facet of school life does not mean it has intrinsic value. Still, something seems to tell us that continuing the learning from school into the evenings and weekends must have benefits, surely? ‘Well it was good enough for me…’

In recent years, academic research has shed more light on the nuanced benefits of homework and how it can be effectively utilised to bolster a pupil’s learning journey. It has also, however, pointed out the negative effects of unnecessary and time-consuming work given seemingly simply as a Pavlovian response to the lesson bell ringing. In the words of educationalist Kieran Larkin OBE, ‘what should schools and students do to make homework worthwhile? It’s not about the length of time spent on it. It’s about using the time spent on it for a reason.’

At the High School we refer to work beyond the classroom as ‘prep’. This might be used in some schools simply as a traditional synonym for homework, however, it is much more than that for us. Many parents and guardians may not be aware that the word only relatively recently came back into use at the school, following the findings of a working party led by our School Consultant Teacher, Debbie Hill. 

Mrs Hill’s remit in school, as well as in the wider GDST, is to support evidence-engaged practices in teaching and learning. Her support meant that we had access to the most pertinent research around the issue, and three surveys were also carried out by the working party. The primary outcome of the consultation was the creation of an acronym: ‘prep’. 

The acronym consists of four elements that we considered to be important in making the most of any work to be completed outside the classroom. These are expressed as verbs, placing the emphasis on action rather than passivity, and teachers are encouraged to think about which element they are focusing on when setting work. Some even offer a menu with suggested tasks under each heading:

P – prepare. Homework should help pupils get ready for the next stage of their learning in school. For example, pre-reading, watching a ‘flipped classroom’ video, where the teacher has explained a concept in advance, or simply learning something important for a lesson, such as some vocabulary.

R – reflect. Studying outside of the classroom should be an opportunity to engage higher-order thinking skills (HOTS), such as asking wider questions about the topic, analysing different perspectives and synthesising ideas; all important elements of reflection.

E – explore. Sometimes the best learning takes place when we least expect it to, for example, when reading about one topic opens doors to new areas of interest, or if when challenged with a problem to solve, pupils learn how to find answers for themselves.

P – practise. One of the most useful processes for embedding learning comes through repetition. This is most helpful when preparing for assessments but should not be restricted to rote learning; inventive approaches including the use of technology can make working in this way a joy.

Thus, prep is not merely a means to extend the school day; rather, it becomes a crucial tool for reinforcing and internalising concepts learned in the classroom. When managed well, prep fosters a deeper understanding of subject matter by providing opportunities for independent practice and application of knowledge.

To read the full blog entry, please click here.

Mr Rickman
Deputy Head Academic

The Week Ahead

Monday 13 May
GDST Regional U15 Hardball Cricket

Tuesday 14 May
U13A Tennis

Friday 17 May
GDST Summer Athletics Rally
Yr12 GSA event at UCL

Please click here to view the summer term’s Clubs & Activities list and timetable

Why girls only?

On 2 May, Northampton High School marked another significant milestone, celebrating 146 years of expertise in girls’ education. Reflecting on my own positive experiences of a girls-only, all-through education has only fuelled my passion and commitment to what I am continually doing at Northampton High School GDST. Here, we do more than education; we empower young women to tackle life’s challenges and break societal expectations. This article discusses why schools like ours are pivotal in nurturing capable, confident young women ready to create a more equitable world.

The benefits of an all girls’ education are manifold. A quick look at the toy and clothing industries, children’s literature and television shows reveals how deeply ingrained societal messages about gender roles are from an early age. These messages not only reinforce outdated gender norms, but also limit girls’ aspirations and reinforce stereotypes. For instance, many ostensibly female children’s clothes emphasise passive states rather than actions or achievements – being cute, being pretty, or being a princess.

Similarly, girls’ toys often align with this narrative, emphasising the cultivation of appearance through activities such as jewellery-making, hair-styling, make-up. Take, for instance, Lego Friends, marketed as a female version of Lego, perpetuates traditional gender roles despite the fact that girls don’t necessarily require a separate version to develop spatial awareness, as other traditional boys toys encourage. Arguably, the toy industries have become increasingly gendered over the past few decades and the reason is utterly cynical. The motive is to manipulate consumers into buying different toys for each gender, preventing them from recycling toys when they have children of the opposite sex.

However, girls and young women are not passive victims; we are agents of our destinies as much as men. We may not, as a general rule, be as physically strong, but we are every bit as brave. In essence, the imperative of championing the cause of girls’ only education looms larger than ever before.

In a girls’ only education setting, opportunities are limitless, with everything designed with girls in mind, including the classroom, curriculum and culture. Hence, it is no surprise that girls are more likely to take STEM A Levels, engage in sports like football and cricket, or participate in activities like debating club in an all girls’ school than in a co-ed. Girls have the space to be seen and the voice to be heard; they are inspired to think for themselves and enjoy and celebrate success, however they may define it.

There’s an inescapable truth: girls learn differently from boys and thrive in an environment specifically designed just for them. This is why I am a strong advocate for single sex education for girls; the unique learning styles and needs of girls warrant a tailored educational approach that fosters confidence, curiosity, collaboration and critical thinking. In such environments, girls are free from judgement and societal constraints, and they learn to tear up the rulebook on what they can and can’t achieve. A classroom devoid of gender-based expectations regarding academic strengths or weaknesses, and free from the fear of embarrassment or labelling, provides girls with the freedom to experiment, test their assumptions and confront their limitations – essentially, it allows them to truly learn.

It’s there in the research and evident in my daily observations at Northampton High. Our girls can try and fail without judgement, forge their own identities, assume leadership roles or support their peers, and build self-confidence, self-worth and self-knowledge. Our Sixth Formers take leadership roles as part of the Student Senior Leadership Team and Heads of House and deliver them in their way, be that collaboratively, authoritatively or creatively, influencing through teamwork, persuasion and co-operation. We are modelling the world we want to see. Moreover, we prepare them for a co-ed world by discussing and encouraging healthy relationships, exploring how a mortgage works and providing the emotional support they need to navigate life.

In today’s world, girls-only education is more important than ever. Girls learn best through discussion and exploration because more areas of their brain are dedicated to verbal functions, while a greater part of boys’ cerebral cortex is concerned with spatial and mechanical functioning, resulting in their shorter concentration spans than girls. In classrooms without boys, girls can flourish. They feel more free to pursue a wider range of subjects, to participate more actively in lessons, challenge others’ views, take leadership roles, work collaboratively and contribute meaningfully towards an equitable society.

We must continue to recognise and champion the importance of girls’ only education in shaping a brighter future for all. At Northampton High, we are proud to provide a diverse and inclusive community that empowers our girls to believe there is nothing they cannot achieve and that everything is possible.

Dr Lee

Farewell Year 13

The time has come to bid farewell to the wonderful Class of 2024 and congratulate them on a very special Northampton High journey.
Year 13 have truly embraced their final week with us and have enjoyed celebrating their time here with customary leavers’ traditions. Last night, the group were joined by staff and parents for their special Leavers’ Reception where they reflected fondly on precious school memories.
Today, staff and students have dressed up according to the chosen theme, ‘The Wild West’. With their fabulous outfits on display and everyone in high spirits, the school community gathered in the theatre for a special farewell assembly featuring the infamous leavers’ video!
To our departing Year 13, well done for all you have achieved and good luck in your next chapter!

High Sports

Equestrian News
Five girls competed at the Eventer Challenge at Dallas Burston (near Southam) during the Easter break. The team included Nancy, Maisie, Esme, Lexie and Lily. All the girls rode really well and took third in the 70cm! It wasn’t to be in the 80cm, but great to see all the girls supporting each other when it didn’t quite go to plan. These horses are great levellers! 

Nancy had a good afternoon on Lui, finishing 5th in the 90cm and 3rd in the 1m class, qualifying for the National Championships. All in all a great day!

U12A&B Cricket vs Akeley Wood
U12A: On Monday 29 April, the U12A team played against Akeley Wood School in a brilliant cricket game. The result was a win, with the end score being 264 runs to us and 260 to them. We started on 200 each and showed great support whilst fielding and batting by cheering each other on. As the captain, I did the ‘three cheers’ at the end and both teams selected a batter and bowler of the match. Amelie was selected as our batter of the match and Grace P as our bowler of the match. We showed great resilience, outstanding teamwork, and we were also able to identify some things we need to work on. We even stayed for cricket club afterwards and worked on our fielding skills! Grace P, Captain

U12B: We had a great game with a number of boundaries hit. The final result was a win to the High School: 275 to 239 runs. Avleen, Captain

U14&U15 Cricket vs Thornton
U14: We produced some great fielding with some balls being stopped before the boundary. We showed effective communication and good decision making in the batting pairs with lots of runs being scored; plenty of 4’s and 6’s!
Results from 2 innings played: 1st Innings  NHS  268 -Thornton 253. 2nd Innings  NHS  330 – Thornton 288
Players of the Match: 
Bowling – Frankie, Batting – Olivia

U15A: On Tuesday 30 April, the U15A team played a friendly against Thornton. We travelled away with high hopes and enthusiasm. The team showed high spirits throughout, with some great individual performances from Leela S , Anna C and Savannah. Overall we finished with a winning score of 254 runs. Player of the Match went to Rose N. Great work from all! Katie F, Captain

GSA Football Festival
The Year 6 and Year 7 football team travelled to Kings High to play in the GSA Football tournament.

Our first and toughest game was against Mary Erskine School and unfortunately we lost 2-0 with player of the match going to Tinashe. Our second game in the pool was against Badminton. In this game, we managed to secure a 4-1 win, with Lily scoring one goal and Amelie scoring a hat trick to receive Player of the Match. We lost our third game 4-0, and Player of the Match was Lily F.

We progressed into the shield and our first game was against Bedford which resulted in a 2-0 loss. Tinashe achieved Player of the Match once again. In our second match we took an early lead against Edgbaston after a goal from Amelie, however, we failed to secure a win and lost 2-1. Lily was Player of the Match.

Our last game was against Thornton College and we ended the day on a high, with Amelie scoring to win the game 1-0. Tinashe received Player of the Match for the third time! Player of the Tournament was Lily and our final position was 17/22 schools. Well done to everyone who played – the standard was high and the effort was too! We look forward to the next tournament! Amelie, Captain

U15A Cricket vs Quinton
The U15A team travelled to Quinton House on Tuesday 7 May for a cricket fixture. The team departed from school with good enthusiasm and spirit. We arrived early to get some practise in, which definitely paid off. After losing the toss, we were put into bat. Everyone batted amazingly, with some excellent performances from Emily K and Abi S, hitting boundaries all across the pitch. After an amazing batting performance and a score of 125, we were ready to bowl. Once again everyone bowled amazingly, with notable performances from Leela S , Lucy H and Anna C who all bowled wonderfully. The team took a total of 9 wickets, which is amazing! Quinton totalled 36 runs which meant we came away with a convincing win of 92 runs. Great performance girls!

District Athletics
For the first time in a number of years, the District Athletics Event had sun and perfect weather conditions (usually it rains…..a LOT!). The Year 9 and Year 10 teams travelled to Daventry to compete against the other schools in our District in a range of athletics events. Notable performances in Year 9 came from Veronica C in Long Jump, Emily K in Javelin, Lily G in High Jump and our fabulous relay team of Ava, Lucy, Grace and Emily who dominated the race from the start and won by a remarkable distance! This meant that the Year 9 team came 3rd out of the 11 schools participating. Notable performances in Year 10 came from Charlotte in Shot and Long Jump, Evie in Triple Jump and Tobi in Discus, resulting in a 3rd place finish for the Year 10 team overall.

Please keep us posted on performances and any news as we love to share these with the NHS community. 

Mrs Littlewood
Teacher of Physical Education

Asthma awareness

World asthma day is the first Tuesday in May. The aim is to raise awareness of asthma and its sufferers. According to the NHS ‘Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties’. According to the British Thoracic society over 8 million people or approx 12% of the population have been diagnosed with asthma. 

The theme for this year’s World asthma day is ‘uncovering asthma misconceptions’. It’s actually a myth that sufferers should have asthma symptoms, in fact, they should live well and in complete control. Having a clear plan devised by a health professional will help to manage asthma effectively.

At Northampton High School, we have many students who have asthma or carry an inhaler for different reasons. Students should carry their inhaler with them at all times in case of an emergency. We encourage yearly asthma reviews with a GP or practice nurse to ensure that they have good control of their asthma. An asthma action plan should be devised and should be shared with the school so best practice can be maintained. The plan looks at triggers, what to do in an asthma attack, when to call 999 and any other medication taken.

Please do not hesitate to contact if you have any health related questions. If you have any concerns, please see your GP for further advice.

For more information and advice, please visit NHS-Asthma and Asthma UK- advice for your child

Clothing donations for 'Annie' the musical

The Drama and Textiles departments are asking if you have any checked or floral pyjama bottoms that you could donate to us for our up-and-coming performance of ‘Annie’.

These can be any size and colour and they will be cut up and altered, therefore they will not be returned. Please bring these to Miss Lycett in the Creative Hub. Thank you.

Annie Production Team

Classical Art Competition

All students in Y3-13 are invited to enter a regional Art Competition on the theme of Landscapes of Roman Britain. The judges are looking for creative entries that explore Roman Britain in a visually interesting way, using any medium from pencil to collage, oil, watercolour, ink or photography. As well as your art piece, you need to submit a description of your work (up to 500 words), explaining how it links to the theme.

There are cash prizes for the winners! The last date for entry is Monday 3 June. For information on how to enter, pupils should check their email from Miss Kilby. Get creative and have fun!

Miss Kilby
Subject Lead Classics

Duke of Edinburgh Award: Volunteering in the Library

As part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award Yr 10 girls often volunteer in the Library as a way of giving back to the school community. This includes general housekeeping tasks and the opportunity to creat displays or a presentation. Dhanvi C and Dharmini 10S took advantage of this opportunity and have created the following promotional presentation, with age recommendations are included. Click here to view.

Miss Buxton
School Librarian

Save the Date: Arts Festival

Save the Date: Cultures Day

Save the Date: Speech Day

Diversity and Inclusion Calendar 23/24: May

The One Day Film School

Code Ninjas Northampton

PQA Stage & Screen sessions

Made for Girls

Term Dates

Northampton High School
Newport Pagnell Road, Hardingstone Northampton NN4 6UU
T: 01604 765765 nhsadmin@nhs.Gdst.Net