Nothampton High School
High News

Friday 15 March 2024

Technical innovation in assessment and the use of AI

As part of the wider support for the 25 schools in the GDST, the Trust has specialist teams offering training and advice on areas as diverse as health and safety and educational trips and visits. As you might expect, I work closely with the Innovation and Learning team directed by Dr Kevin Stannard, whose work (including ‘Why (and how) girls thrive in girls-only schools’) may be known to some of you already. 

You might consider this part of the GDST to be the ‘academic’ directorate, which would be correct, as they do maintain the overview of educational provision and achievement across our schools. However, the choice of words in the title ‘innovation and learning’, to me, speaks volumes about the priorities and values of the team working under Dr Stannard.

This week I attended a conference of other academic deputy heads and colleagues with responsibility for innovation and educational technology (edtech). There were two areas of focus; developments in public examinations incorporating digital technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) in schools, but with a focus on assessment specifically. We were joined by speakers from the main examination boards as well as experts from the wider assessment sector. 

You may have read that a number of exam boards are trialling digital assessments currently, with the AQA board initially planning to introduce a limited number of modern language GCSEs using on-screen technology in the next academic year. AQA has also developed an adaptive assessment for Maths that can help teachers save time when diagnosing learning gaps from earlier years. The OCR board too has come on board with this concept and has plans in place to make its Computer Science qualifications available online from 2025. Interestingly, though, some of these developments appear to have been pushed back by at least a year as the boards seek Ofqual approval for the changes.

The case for on-screen assessments has perhaps become clearer since the pandemic, but moves towards this  as a principle go back many years, with exam boards initially setting up working parties in the 2000s. The benefits of the approach have been widely understood in the world of work and there are effective digital assessments taking place in many areas of professional life already. The technology is tried and tested in this respect. However, concerns about the viability of running digital assessments still prevail within the education sector.

This is in spite of the positive views students have of the potential for digital assessments to improve their experience of testing. AQA has conducted research specifically into this, leading to a report which points to 68% of students agreeing that increasing digital learning and assessment would be a beneficial move. Young people mention reasons such as this being truer to the digital world they are growing up in, the reduced risk of examiner bias based on handwriting ability, improvements in accessibility for SEND pupils and, tellingly, the environmental benefits of reducing paper use and avoiding the mass transportation of exams.

To read the full entry, please click here.

Mr Rickman
Deputy Head Academic

The Week Ahead

Monday 18 March
Easter Egg donation week

Tuesday 19 March
Spring Art Collective
U14 Netball vs Kings High

Wednesday 20 March
ADHD Parent Coffee Morning
Yr12 Parents’ Evening

Thursday 21 March
Yr7 Showcase Event
Yr9-13 Reach Lecture
Mercedes F1 Engineer visit
Music Examination recital
1st VII Netball vs Wellingborough
U18B Netball vs Wellingborough

Friday 22 March
Music scholars concert

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

Science week; what is time?

This year, Science Week has the theme of Time. I googled the word ‘time’ and there are so many different uses of the word, from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘time management’ and many philosophical concepts in between. I settled on a theme of ‘once upon a time’ for my whole school assembly and shared with the young audience my personal timeline that led me to this current moment.  

Along the way I shared the choices I have made and the consequences, both good and bad that those choices had, but all came good in the end. Looking back at the timeline whilst writing the assembly made me think about all the good memories in my school days, both primary and secondary and how important it is to make the most of the time you have in school, taking all the opportunities on offer. 

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of delivering a Science Week assembly to the Junior School, which is one of my favourite assemblies as the pupils are all so keen and focussed on your every word. The STEM Ambassadors in Junior School helped with the assembly, and we taught the girls how to make an egg float, tie dye some milk and stab a potato with a plastic straw – all practical experiments they can do at home in a short period of time. It has also been an absolute pleasure to spend time with Years 3 to 6 in my lab in Senior School this week, concocting Harry Potter science spells. The girls’ expressions of awe and wonder at interacting with chemistry were a joy to behold.

So far it is only Tuesday in my week and we have put time in a line, shared a timeline, thought about good times, made the most of time in school and used a short amount of time to show some awesome experiments. Many uses of the word time and many uses of time itself.

On Tuesday I had the pleasure to take some Year 13 students on their final trip with Northampton High, and we ventured to Cadbury World.  How is STEM related to Cadbury World, I hear you ask? Well, everywhere: In the manufacturing process, in the factory’s health and safety, in the psychology of the advertising and in the physics of the machinery needed to make a million Creme Eggs.  We were also treated to an interactive timeline of the development of the Cadbury factory and the movement to fair wages and a 5-day working week. Some of the girls were surprised this had not always been the case, and that ‘in the olden days’ you worked all day, every day. Who knows where the Year 13’s timelines will take them after their time at Northampton High?  

There have been mini science experiments in the Junior School foyer on a daily basis, which have captivated parents and girls alike. Lots of challenging questions being asked about how long a boat can float and how we can make a Skittles colour wheel just from water and the brightly coloured sweets.

We concluded Science Week with talks led by students past and present. Alexa Dykes – who left 4 years ago – gave the Reach Lecture on her time at the High School and her lasting message to the current students was to reach for your goals and even if you do not make it at the first attempt, to keep trying and use your time here wisely, seeking support, taking the trips, participating in the clubs and preparing yourself for future challenges. On Friday morning, Senior School was treated to a student-led assembly on #Women in STEM and their pathways for the future, and how time management and having a good time fits into their plans.  

In summary, we have ventured down the rabbit hole of time and had a wonderful time exploring!  We have investigated, trialled, explained and discovered many uses and meanings of time. I hope your daughter will be able to tell you about some of the Science Week-related experiences we have shared.

Mrs Hodgetts-Tate
Head of Science Faculty

GDST Languages Festival at Sydenham High

What a great experience! Being invited to represent my school in language learning was a very big honour and has enabled me to express myself more confidently to an audience. Poem Recitals in another language is definitely easier said than done. Whilst it was a nerve-racking session, my friends and I will probably never forget the passion and confidence we all had in our voices, empowering us to be great speakers.

The Language Festival was such a memorable event, it was definitely worth the 3-hour journey! Year 7 competed in a Spelling Bee competition, Year 8 had Linguistic challenges, Year 9 performed in the Poetry Recital and Year 10 collaborated with students from other schools to create a sketch in MFL based on a literary text that they performed in front of a large audience.

In the afternoon, everyone enjoyed a Kahoot challenge. It was such a great time to learn and bond with friends and teachers! Can’t wait for next year!
Maysha C, Year 9 German Poetry Recital winner

Intersectional Feminism workshop

Last Friday marked International Women’s Day 2024, and in celebration of the event we were delighted to see Anushka in Year 12 host her very own workshop on Intersectional Feminism. Taking place in the Junior Hall over lunchtime, it was fantastic to see almost 60 pupils from across Senior School join her for the session.

In her presentation, the newly-appointed Head Girl explored a number of important themes and posed several thought-provoking questions to the attendees: ‘Who’s a feminist?’, ‘Do feminists hate men?’, ‘What does intersectional mean?’. Outlining the four waves of feminism, Anushka highlighted the power of social media at present and explained how this gives us further access to the views of others and provides a platform for movements such as the #MeToo campaign.

The workshop was accessible for all and Anushka did a fantastic job of breaking down key terms and ideas for pupils in the younger years. After identifying what ‘intersectional’ means, the group explored examples of discrimination throughout history and in the present day. A poignant comparison was made between a picture of Iranian women protesting in 1970 and young Iranian girls protesting in 2022.

The session proved extremely informative, with students from Year 7 to Year 13 learning something new about the society we live in and the perception of women throughout history. It was particularly shocking to learn just how many people still don’t identify as a feminist in the UK and across Europe. Anushka revealed that a 2018 YouGov poll found only 34% of women in the UK said “yes” when asked if they were feminist – a truly disheartening statistic.

Concluding the presentation, Anushka encouraged her peers to take action and use their voices to #InspireInclusion. Speaking on the importance of having open conversations, broadening horizons and taking initiative, she inspired attendees to be active in the fight for gender equality.

Miss Price
Digital Marketing Assistant

Spring Art Collective

Following the overwhelming success in recent years, our Spring Art Collective is now a well established Art, Craft and Design exhibition that we are delighted to be hosting for the third time next week. The artwork created by our students and school community never fails to impress and we would love for you to join us on Tuesday 19 March to view and purchase the pieces on display!

This year, we are thrilled to be exhibiting a ‘Mini Masterpiece’ lucky dip created by pupils (Years 6-10) and staff. The pieces are beautifully unique and a fabulous demonstration of the creative talent here at Northampton High. Listed at £5 each, as a minimum donation, we are delighted to share that 100% of the proceeds will be reinvested in the school’s Creative Arts Faculty to support the purchase of a greenhouse for the Food Department. We would like to thank you in advance for your generous donations.

All other elements of our Spring Art Collective will operate as it has in previous years, with 20% of proceeds going towards our local chosen charity, Art and Creativity at Hope. The main exhibition will comprise over 150 pieces of art, carefully created and professionally framed by our talented school community. The standard of work is truly exceptional and showcases the dedication our students, teachers and parents have poured into their projects.

As always, the Spring Collective promises to be a special celebration of our artists, providing pupils with the opportunity to exhibit their work professionally and receive commission for their art. We would be truly delighted to have the pleasure of your company at this special evening and look forward to a thriving and joyful event.

Mrs Beacroft
Head of Creative Arts Faculty

Red Nose Day 2024

We are very proud to have raised over £400 for Comic Relief today and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated via our JustGiving page!

Comic Relief supports incredible projects and organisations that are making a difference for people across the UK and around the world. Your donations contribute to a number of causes, whether that is providing shelter for those that need it, putting food on plates, filling the shelves of baby banks, or offering someone to talk to.

As part of our Red Nose Day celebrations, we were delighted to host a whole school mufti day in exchange for a contribution towards our fundraising efforts. We are very close to hitting our target of £500 and would like to kindly encourage those who are yet to donate to make a difference by supporting this brilliant cause!

Please click here to donate. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

High Sports

U15 Indoor Cricket County Cup
On Friday 8 March, the U15 team competed at the County Ground for the Indoor County Cup competition. They beat Oundle with an over and a half left, then beat NSG, scoring 80 runs with 8 balls remaining. Well done to all who played and especially Katie and Abi who were both players of the match!

U12A vs Wellingborough
On the Monday 11 March, the U12A team played against Wellingborough School.  The team worked hard and played amazing netball, but couldn’t quite keep up with Wellingborough, sadly resulting in a 15-25 loss. Well done to the two players of the match, Grace F and Erin A, and a huge congratulations to the whole team. Erin, Captain

U12B vs Wellingborough
The U12B team also played Wellingborough on Monday. The first quarter was tough and we took our time to get into the match. We brought them back in the second quarter with 4-11 and by the third quarter the score was 7-16. In the end the score finished 18-7 to Wellingborough. Our player of the match was Anashe. Well done all! Avleen, Captain

Ice Skating
We are delighted to share that Erin will be competing at BIS Young Stars at iceSheffield on Monday 18 March. Her goal is to qualify for the Team GB Development Squad and we would like to wish her the very best for the event! We look forward to sharing the results shortly!

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, please click here. Get creative and have fun!

Miss Kilby
Subject Lead Classics

Easter Egg donations

This Easter, Northampton High is proud to be supporting The Trussell Trust in their mission to help those facing hardship and poverty.

Over the next week, we will be kindly asking for Easter Egg donations to support our efforts and help spread joy to those who need it most over this period. Collection points have been set up in our Junior and Senior School foyers and we look forward to gratefully accepting your kind contributions.

The chocolate eggs will be given to the Weston Favell Centre Food Bank and distributed to families locally. We kindly ask that all donations are made by Friday 22 March.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and support.

Neurodiversity Parent Coffee Morning

As part of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we are delighted to be hosting a Parent Coffee Morning on Wednesday 20 March, 9-10:30am.

The theme for this session is ADHD, and we are delighted to be welcoming ADHD Wise UK into Northampton High to lead the discussion. All parents are invited to join us for this engaging and informative talk, exploring how best we can support our neurodiverse pupils.

What's on at Northampton High - Spring Term

Book Review

Dark Matter: The New Science of the Microbiome by Dr James Kinross

Why are we living longer, but not happier?The microbiome – our inner ecosystem of viruses, bacteria and other microbes – is critically important to our health and wellbeing.

It is given to us by our mothers at birth, adapts with us as we age, influences our moods, determines how fast we run and even who we choose as a partner.

Yet it is only now, as we are beginning to discover the microbiome’s enormous potential, that we are realising it is in grave danger, being irrevocably destroyed through the globalisation of our diets, the war on bugs and the industrialised world.But we can look to reverse this damage. Drawing on cutting-edge research and years of clinical experience, Kinross shows how to unpack the microbiome’s secrets, explaining that if we work with, not against, our microbes, we can live better, healthier lives.

Miss Buxton
School Librarian

Save the Date: Spring Art Collective

Reach Lectures - Spring Term 2024

The weekly Reach talks are an opportunity for students in Years 9-13 to explore areas far beyond the school curriculum, broadening their horizons and developing their skills of curiosity and critical thinking. We are excited to offer this programme to our students and are very grateful to all our speakers for giving up their time to share their expertise with us.

Any parents who might be interested in contributing to the Reach lectures in 2025 are encouraged to email

Miss Kilby
Reach Coordinator

Save the Date: Speech Day

Diversity and Inclusion Calendar 23/24: March

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