Nothampton High School
High News

Friday 15 September 2023

How curiosity is key to learning 

To start simply: learning is the quintessence of existence. Each passing day, week, and year, throughout the entirety of our lives, we are incessantly engaged in the pursuit of knowledge. Every new experience; every repeated joy that lands differently because this time round we are older and we respond in a new way; every challenge we overcome – we learn. At times, we uncover something new and delightful; at others, we learn what we don’t like, and shape our life more closely around the familiar things that matter. Nevertheless, this process unveils the profound essence of being alive. 

Now some of this learning is pragmatic and utilitarian – and this is no vice. In dire circumstances, such as marooned on a desert island, we would need to acquire the skills necessary for survival such as learning to fish. Sometimes we learn for a numeracy assessment, a vocabulary test, or obtaining a driver’s licence. In such cases, the learning is narrow and focused, necessary, and efficient, serving the immediate purpose. We acquire the skills or knowledge we need and we move on. 

Yet, we must also embrace a kind of learning that is open-eyed and open-ended, driven solely by the spirit of discovery. This type of learning enriches, inspires and motivates, seemingly serving no particular practical purpose but ultimately equipping us to live widely and wisely. 

We acknowledge that school education is important, as it serves as a pragmatic gateway to future opportunities such as access to university and fulfilling careers. However, it is evident that over the decades, education has become increasingly narrow in focus. The prevailing culture of testing, learning objectives and exam results leaves no room for curiosity, unless that curiosity aligns with the prescribed lesson plan. There is simply not enough time for it in the eyes of many hard-pressed teachers. 

That being said, many of us may remember fondly eccentric teachers who, with no apparent awareness or constraints of exam board requirement, meandered and rambled endlessly and delightfully about topics that were fascinating and gloriously silly, even if not immediately useful. But back then exams carried less weight, universities admitted students with mixed grades, and the level of competition was less fierce. 

In our present, more purpose-driven and rigorously structured educational world, every school faces the challenge of nurturing curiosity. To do so, courage and being 10% braver is paramount. We must contend for space in the curriculum to explore beyond the pre-determined, prescribed content. We must champion digression, cross-references, red herrings and even occasional blind alleys. We should set aside lesson plans to address students’ questions that lead to topics unlikely to be assessed, allowing them the freedom to be curious, to embrace challenges, and to take calculated intellectual risks. This approach stretches their existing skills and abilities, potentially bringing lifelong benefits to them. 

To read the full entry, please click here.

Dr Lee

The Week Ahead

Monday 18 September
Y13 Parent Coffee Morning

Tuesday 19 September
Y9 Parent Coffee Morning
Y12 Westminster Trip

Wednesday 20 September
Y11 Parent Coffee Morning
Y12 Reach Seminars

Thursday 21 September
Y12 Welcome Parent Coffee Morning
GDST Regional Festival of Sport
GDST Northern Rally

Friday 22 September
Y7 Pizza & Disco Evening

Year 11 GCSE Geography Trip

On Monday 11 September, the Year 11 GCSE Geographers embarked on their residential to Somerset in order to undertake the mandatory fieldwork element for their course. On the first day, they completed an urban study of Taunton, investigating the extent to which the town fits urban models, concluding that because of the town’s lack of industrialisation Taunton only fits typical UK urban structure to an extent.

The highlight of the trip was the second day, where the students visited the beautiful Porlock Bay and conducted an investigation into how longshore drift has changed the shingle ridge, which at 5km in length is the longest continuous shingle/pebble barrier along the west coast of Britain.

The students were excellent ambassadors for the school, with the staff at Nettlecombe Court stating how impressed they were with the group. They will eventually use the information gathered during the trip to prepare for their Paper 3 examination on geographical skills in June 24. Well done to Year 11 and thanks to Mrs Curtis for her help staffing a memorable and successful trip.

Mr Earp
Head of Faculty Humanities

Students enjoy annual Clubs Fair

Did you know that there are over 100 clubs and societies on offer here at Northampton High School?

Last Friday, we hosted our annual Clubs Fair for students to learn more about the extensive range of extracurricular opportunities they can enjoy at school.

At this special event pupils are encouraged to sign up for a number of activities that spark their interest and challenge their abilities. It was wonderful to see how inspired they were by the many possibilities on offer and we look forward to watching their hobbies evolve throughout the year!

Miss Price
Digital Marketing Assistant

Creative Arts Spotlight

It was so exciting to welcome a new set of students who are interested in analogue photography. I grew up shooting film on SLR cameras and in my sixth form days, I remember loading up film and watching my Art teacher demonstrate how to make a contact sheet in the darkroom and line up the ball bearings on the spool so that we could learn how to develop our own negatives.

This week, Rose, Imogen and Annabel enjoyed examining and playing with old video cameras, lenses and camera bodies…alongside their modern smart phones. Watching my students holding this equipment and working out how to wind on and press the shutter release button was fun for all of us, so new but so old at the same time. I look forward to updating you on our progress through our digital and analogue adventures.

Mrs Beacroft
Head of Creative Arts Faculty

Lyra competes in the ‘Play Your Way To Wimbledon’ finals

Lyra had the fantastic opportunity over the summer to compete in the LTA ‘Play Your Way To Wimbledon’ 14&U Singles National Finals held at The All England Club, SW19.  Only 48, out of thousands of players from around the country, progress to the National Finals and Lyra competed brilliantly in her group matches under fine summer sunshine, against some of the highest ranked girls in the country on Wimbledon’s famous grass courts.

The experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity, at such a young age, to immerse herself in the full Wimbledon experience and she thoroughly enjoyed it.  Lyra also had a personalised tour of the historic Grounds, including the museum with the actual Championship trophies and Centre Court itself!

Students perform on 5 day cruise ship!

In August, six Northampton High School pupils had the opportunity to perform on a cruise ship with their dance school. Mayhew School of Performing Arts were approached by the ships’ dancing agency to perform two shows every evening during a five day cruise along Northern Spain.

Alongside 10 other pupils from the dance school, Caitlin (Year 13), Ques-Li, Lucie (Year 12), Lexi (Year 11), Siena-Louise (Year 3) and Emily (Year 2) were fortunate enough to be selected. They had the most incredible time, performing like professional dancers to full audiences, and when they weren’t rehearsing they enjoyed their time exploring the two ports; La Coruna and Bilbao, swimming and eating lots of ice cream! The midnight buffet was a huge hit most nights, especially after the girls sang in the evening karaoke!

The girls also met members of the cruise ship’s dance company and found out how they had become full time dancers. Each of the pupils loved their time at sea and found the experience truly inspiring! Congratulations to our fabulous dancers on this special achievement!

Mrs Littlewood completes IRONMAN Wales

On Sunday 3 September, Mrs Littlewood woke up at 3.00am in preparation to participate in IRONMAN Wales.

For those of you unfamiliar with IRONMAN competitions, they are triathlons of the most brutal variety!

They involve a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike ride followed by a marathon (26.2 mile run).

IRONMAN Wales is one of the toughest races with the swim being in the sea, and the bike and run involving many hills.

Some of you may know that last Sunday’s event was Mrs Littlewood’s second attempt at completing this race as, unfortunately, she had to DNF (Did Not Finish) in her first attempt last year after not quite meeting the cut off times.

This disappointment only made Mrs Littlewood more determined to come back fighting this year and that is exactly what she did. She had an incredible race, swimming extremely strongly in the sea and powering through on the bike and run to complete the race in an amazing 16 hours.

We are so proud of Mrs Littlewood’s achievements in this race, showing true commitment, courage, determination, perseverance and for being 10% braver. Congratulations Mrs Littlewood!

We must also say a huge congratulations to Mr Josan, one of our parents who also completed this race. He excelled too, finishing in a remarkable time of 13 hours. Both are true inspirations to our students and have proved that anything really is possible!

Mrs Blake
Director of Sport

Indi to participate in Blenheim Palace Eventer Challenge

During the summer break, Indi represented Northampton High School at Hickstead. Indi’s dedication and passion for horse riding is commendable, and we are proud to have such a talented student in our school community.

Indi has also been selected to represent her Pony Club, Oakley Hunt West, at Blenheim Palace Eventer Challenge today. This is a very prestigious competition and to be selected is very exciting. We look forward to sharing the results shortly!

Northampton High celebrate achieving the Eco-Schools Green Flag

The school community is delighted to have been re-awarded the Eco-Schools Green Flag, this time with Distinction, which is a first for us!

We would like to congratulate the many students and staff who have played a vital role in securing this prestigious award, namely the wonderful Eco Team members who have shown true dedication to improving environmental awareness within school and beyond.

A huge well done and thank you! We look forward to sharing more on this wonderful achievement over the coming weeks!

Mr Earp
Head of Faculty Humanities

Northampton High is an established Pony Club Centre!

Northampton High School has become the first school in the country to be recognised as an established Pony Club Centre! 

The Pony Club is an international, voluntary youth organisation for young people, where members enjoy coming together to participate in a range of fun activities! Despite the name, no pony is required; furthermore, no interest in ponies, horses or other animals is required! It is an all-inclusive membership club that promises lots of fun and an opportunity to earn badges and certificates!

The Pony Club is a new extracurricular activity for our students to enjoy and takes place every Monday at 12:15pm in S7. We would like to encourage as many pupils as possible to find out more about this wonderful opportunity, and we look forward to watching the club grow!

To learn more, please email, or pop along at lunchtime on Monday!

Mrs Hodgetts-Tate
Head of Science Faculty

Health and Wellbeing support

This week myself and Mrs Giordano spoke to our Sixth Form students about the Medical and Wellbeing team at Northampton High School, as well as the monthly confidential sexual health and wellbeing clinic that is available to them. The Medical/Wellbeing team will be offering regular drop in clinics, health promotion information and year group teaching sessions throughout the year.

We also wanted to remind students of our amazing Wellbeing HQ, which we encourage all pupils to access when they are needing support, advice or a bit of positivity! We look forward to helping the students enjoy a happy and successful year here at Northampton High!

Mrs Dunkley
School Nurse

Join our Equestrian Team!

Does your daughter ride? Does she have access to a horse/pony to compete? If so the school’s equestrian team would love to hear from you!

We have riders competing in dressage and in showjumping at 40cm to 110cm. For more information please email

Mrs Hodgetts-Tate
Head of Science Faculty

Book Review

A Woman’s Game: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Women’s Football by Suzanne Wrack

This is the astonishing history of women’s football: from the game’s first appearance in England in the late nineteenth century to the incredible teams that, at their height, drew 53,000 spectators to Goodison Park, through to its fifty-year ban in the UK and the aftershocks when restrictions were lifted. Following the game’s meteoric rise in recent years, Suzanne Wrack considers what the next chapter of this incredible story might – and should – be.

Purchase through the NHS bookshop here.

Miss Buxton
School Librarian

European Day of Languages

We are looking ahead to celebrating the European Day of Languages this month and have an exciting week-long programme of events planned for the week beginning Monday 25 September.

During this week, we would like to showcase careers involving languages (or those who studied Languages and have gone on to do something different!). If you, a member of your family, a family friend or an alumna of the school feel able to contribute, we would be very grateful!

Please contact if you can help or would like any more information.

Mrs Peto
Classics & Latin Teacher

School Transport parking

We would like to kindly ask our parents/visitors to avoid using the bus parking bays at the front of the school when picking up and dropping off.

These parking bays are exclusively for school transport vehicles and we ask that, for the safety of our passengers, pedestrians and school community, that these are kept empty. Thank you for your cooperation.

Mr Stubbs
Operations Manager

What's On - Autumn Term

Save the Date: Year 7 Pizza & Disco Evening

Save the Date: World Challenge fundraiser

Join us on Friday 13 October from 6:45-9:15pm for Northampton High School’s first rock concert!

We look forward to welcoming students (Year 5 upwards), siblings, parents and staff to the event and hope to raise funds for World Challenge Vietnam 2024. To book your tickets, please scan the QR code above or click here. Thank you!

Laura, Hattie and Emma
Year 12 students

Children's Activity Morning at Dobbies

In Conversation With... Jasmine Birtles

The GDST’s next In Conversation With… event features alumna Jasmine Birtles, who will be speaking to Miss Rosie McColl, Head of Brighton Girls, via Zoom.

Jasmine has built a stellar career in the traditionally male-dominated world of finance, as a money expert, speaker and writer. She is fluent in all aspects of money and the economy, from how to get out of debt, to stock market movements. She is also the founder of – her own advice website.

Jasmine will be discussing her career highlights, offering some of her invaluable advice and sharing her memories of her time at school. If you wish to attend this virtual event, please click here.

Northampton High School - Where girls learn without limits

Term Dates


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