Nothampton High School
High News

Friday 26 November 2021

How (a)Woke(n) Are Young People?

At the start of this week it was my pleasure to represent the High School at the GSA Annual Heads’ Conference in Manchester. 

President of the GSA, Samantha Price, in her opening speech to the Conference raised a topic which garnered much media coverage. She argued that using the terms ‘woke’ and ‘snowflake’ to describe young people in a derogatory way risks undermining future progress on vital areas such as sustainability and inclusion. 

Indeed, there is a growing backlash against the older generation’s use of the term ‘woke’, highlighted recently by a thread on Twitter admonishing comedian John Cleese for his apparently incorrect use of the word. Woke is actually, when used correctly, an accurate phrase to describe those of (particularly) the younger generation who have become very alert to issues such as racism, sexism, the misuse of earth’s resources and inclusion. So alert that they are willing to call out those who act or speak in ways which are unacceptable in an inclusive, thoughtful and caring society. There is a bitter irony though, that the word woke in this sense actually has its origins in African-Amereican slang. To exemplify this point, here is an early use of the term in its intended context, taken from ‘Garvey Lives!’ by American playwright Barry Beckham:

“I been sleeping all my life. And now that Mr Garvey done woke me up, I’m gon’ stay woke. And I’m gon’ help him wake up other black folk.”

So the word not only insults those about whom it is used, but is, itself, an example of cultural appropriation which undermines its origins and further offends.

Every generation of adults believes that young people speak a different language, and recently this has been compounded by comments such as ‘you can’t say anything today without offending a snowflake’.  Certainly it is fair to say that the climate protests which led to pupils ‘striking’ from school met with some criticism and questions around how exactly missing a day of schooling was helping the climate disaster. I would argue the same could be said of almost any mass protest, march or strike where the overall aim is to raise awareness of an issue and, through disruption, try to make others think about the issues. 

Another hugely impactful talk at the conference was linked to the student voice on difficult topics. To quote Claire Harvey of the Schools’ Inclusion Alliance, 

“We must teach that we have freedom of speech and behaviour, but not freedom from accountability and impact”

As a school we have been working towards a framework for becoming more inclusive and celebrating diversity in our community. It is fair to say that, during the past year or so, there have been difficult conversations resulting, at times, in inflammatory comments which were intended to call out another person’s actions, but instead escalated into arguments which did not acknowledge the right to differ or to debate respectfully. These difficult situations have, in some cases, resulted from the coverage of difficult curriculum topics. 

I believe it is a positive step that these issues have been brought into the open where they can be tackled by the whole community together. I realise we have a job to do in supporting pupils to find their voice and be heard without inciting personal attacks against others. Additionally, there is work to do with our staff to understand how to be articulate, to address difficult topics and steer productive conversations on those topics with pupils in the classroom. To this end we will be working further with the Schools’ Inclusion Alliance to master techniques and support pupils in being outraged or in an effective, sustainable and transformational way.

Links: Schools’ Inclusion Alliance

Mrs O’Doherty

The week ahead

Monday 29 November
Senior School Assembly
Hockey Sevens: U12 & U13 vs Wellingborough
Clubs (click here for timetable)

Tuesday 30 November
Hockey 1st XI vs Akeley Wood
Year 10 Parents’ Evening
Clubs (click here for timetable)

Wednesday 1 December
Year 12 & Year 13 Tutorials
Clubs (click here for timetable)

Thursday 2 December
Year 12 & Year 13 Tutorials
Senior Kangaroo Maths Challenge
Live Performance Stream of ‘I Think We Are Alone’
Hockey: U14 vs Akeley Wood

Clubs (click here for timetable)

Friday 3 December
Senior School Assembly
Year 12 & Year 13 Tutorials
Clubs (click here for timetable)

Saturday 4 December
Hockey: U12, U13, U14 & U15 vs Ratcliffe College

School Reunion welcomes alumnae from Class of 2020 and 2021

We were delighted to welcome back to school more than fifty of our recent alumnae to school on Friday 12 November for a Reunion. 

The Classes of 2020 and 2021 braved the dark November evening to join us for drinks and dinner in the school Theatre, which had been decorated in a suitably sparkly, festive manner. Excitement and energy were palpable as friends were reunited and fond memories of Business A Level (among others!) were shared. The only disappointment was that – on account of the supply chain squeeze – the Class of 2020’s favourite food, chicken goujons, were not on the menu! 

The two year groups were hard-hit by Covid-induced disruptions to their A Level studies and Sixth Form experience. So it was a real pleasure to hear all about the students’ lives since leaving the High School – at university and at work, whether it was training to be a vet, studying Maths or working for an MP. It has by no means been plain sailing for these two year groups, especially during this Covid-period, making it all the more remarkable that they have done so well and are continuing to pursue their goals.

Former member of the Student Senior Leadership Team and alumna of Class of 2020, Claudia Pieczka, summed up in her heartwarming, entertaining speech her year group’s experience of starting at university, taking a gap year or embarking on the world of work. 

“I think the best way to describe it was unexpected. The past year has been nothing like any of us had planned, starting off with the fact we didn’t have a ‘usual’ Sixth Form experience; we did much of our studying via online Guided Home Learning; we didn’t get to sit our exams due to lockdowns and Covid restrictions; nor did we have a Leavers’ week; and to top it all off we didn’t get a Freshers’ experience at uni…sometimes different isn’t a bad thing though. I believe many of us have grown in this past year and have learnt so much. There have been so many highs and lows but one thing I think we are all thankful for is the friendships we made in this school”.

She closed by saying, “While we look to the future – which is fast approaching – I am sure we will never forget our time here [at the High School] and the memories we made. I cannot wait to see where everyone is the next time we all meet again, as I am confident, if this year has taught us anything, it will be nothing like we expected”. 

The students – who are part of the GDST’s 70,000-strong alumnae network – travelled from across the country to attend the evening, reminisce with their Form Tutors and peers, and share their most recent adventures. Finally, a special mention must go to Elena C, who had travelled all the way from Edinburgh to participate! We wish them all the very best in the years ahead.

Mrs Wilmot / Mr Viesel
Director of Marketing & Admissions / Director of Sixth Form

Students compete in the Rotary Chef competition

This past Saturday, we were delighted to hold the local heat of the Rotary Chef competition with 10 of our students taking part.

Their enthusiasm was incredible and did so well to produce three dishes in 2 hours. Congratulations to Ziko, Aurelia, Sarah, Fern, Verity, Ameyal, Isla, Zara, Sophia, and Kalyani, but especially to Verity and Sarah who will compete in the regional round.

Miss Knight
Subject Leader Food

Sixth Form talk with leading academics

On Friday 19 November, a group of invited Sixth Form Humanities students were present at a fascinating talk given by two leading academics. We were delighted to welcome Professor Paul Jackson and Dr Daniel Jones from the University of Northampton to talk about Fascism & Anti-Fascism in Modern Britain.

Professor Jackson gave an overview of how fascism has developed in Britain since the 1930’s taking girls on a journey from Oswald Mosley to Rivers of Blood to the 1979 General Election. Dr Jones is the Searchlight Archivist at Northampton and discussed the TV show ‘Ridley Road’ and the real story behind the groups depicted in the story. There was time also for some great questions from the audience regarding links between Fascism and Fake News and the changing situation in the East Midlands.

Overall, it was a brilliant opportunity for the girls to reinforce their learning from lessons in History, Politics and Philosophy & Ethics.

Mr Donaldson
Head of History

Alumnae news

A surprise visit by an alumna, Sally Kettle, who left Northampton High in 1996, brought with it the wonderful news that Sally and her mum will be featuring in a new volume of the Rebel Girls book collection, published by Timbuktu Labs Inc.

Sally, who is now a speaker, well-known adventurer, event host, television presenter, and author of ‘Sally’s Odd at Sea’, was the first woman to row the Atlantic Ocean twice from East to West, and once with her mother! She kindly brought to us the news of the new Rebel Girls book, and brought to us a set of the Rebel Girls book series for our school library.

Honest and funny, Sally has been a guest speaker in school in the past and has told students tales of shark attacks, hurricanes and broken body parts; we are so grateful for her continued contact with school and watch her progress with great interest and affection.

Mrs Wilmot
Director of Marketing & Admissions

High Sports

Hockey: On Thursday 2 November, Miss Fraser alongside Mrs Jennings drove the 1XI Hockey team to Stowe. The team was ready to face Stowe, and with a good shooting drill to warm up Sarah, we were off. In the first 10 minutes, the team was playing extremely well with calm heads which led to a short corner followed by a brilliant goal from Jodie. For the rest of the half, Stowe had more of the opposition, however, the team was able to not concede a goal by halftime. A good team chat and the team was ready for the second half. Unfortunately, Stowe managed to slip a goal past us, but luckily we kept our heads up, and shortly after, Lucy scored a goal. The team played really well together, which led to a 2-1 win. Well done to all the girls that played; we hope to carry on the win over to our next games. Special mention goes to Sarah, who was voted Player of the Match by the team. Molly

Hockey: On Tuesday 16 November, the U14 Hockey team played against Kimbolton away. We performed very well, successfully defending and turning over the ball to create attacking opportunities. Northampton and Kimbolton had multiple chances to score, but it was Kimbolton who managed to capitalise first and the halftime score was 1-0 to the home side. We were quick to start after halftime and pulled it back to 1-1, but unfortunately, we conceded late in the game to allow Kimbolton to seal a 2-1 victory. Once again the team successfully defended all of their defensive short corners, and there were many stages of the game where it looked like it could be a Northampton victory. Despite the final score, we are elated with the girls’ performance; congratulations to Charlotte F who was awarded Player of the Match. Emily

Hockey: On Thursday 18 November, the 1XI Hockey team faced Quinton. The team’s morale was high and with a shuffle of positions, we were ready. Milly scored two goals in the game followed by Molly and Jodie each scoring one goal. The team came together to help each other with their new positions, which will develop a greater understanding of how each other plays in the matches to come. Well done to everyone that played, and an extra special well done to Jodie for receiving Player of the Match.

Hockey: Well done to the U15 Hockey squad who played against Akeley Wood School – we won 8-0! The goals were scored by Grace who got 3, Anna who also got 3, Harriet who scored 1, and Ruby also scored 1. Well done to Carolina who was voted Player of the Match by the team as she had a great game. Well done to everyone and we are looking forward to playing our last tournament of the season on 4 December.

Hockey: The U12A team played against Akeley Wood in a very tough match. We pushed through and we proudly say that we got our first win! The score finished 1-0 and the goal was scored by Lucy. We could have scored twice but the 2nd ‘goal’ was chalked off due to it being a tad outside the D. Our Player of the Match was Lyra, and the Akeley Player of the Match was their goalie.

Hockey: On the whole, the match went pretty well. In the first half, we were down by two points but Frankie, our goalie, was amazing at keeping many other attempts out. But during the second half, when our team had possession of the ball, we were running down towards the goal. With a great cross from Sienna, to Faith, she scored. Later on, in the second half, we did the same, except it was a good pass from Elizabeth which helped score the goal. In the end we tied 2-2. Faith  

Sports Assembly: A huge thanks to our Sports Captains for their brilliant reports and introductions in this week’s Sports Assembly. Also, a massive well done to Ruby and her dog Miley for the amazing dog agility demonstration! 

External Sport: Hi, my name is Abigail, I am in Year 8 and I am a Water Polo player. I began swimming at an early age and took up Water Polo a couple of years ago. I am currently playing as the youngest member of the regional East Midlands U14 Water Polo team and part of the Northampton Water Polo U14 team. I train six days a week which consists of Water Polo technique, speed training, and land training. I also attend extra Regional Hub training and play matches. I really enjoy Water Polo; it is fast, physical, and competitive. I hope one day I will be able to play for a higher league. Abigail

Mrs Littlewood
Acting Director of Sport

Book of the Week

Endgame by Malorie Blackman – the conclusion to the Noughts & Crosses series

Recommended for Year 8 and above

The first Nought Prime Minister, Toney Durbridge, is about to go on trial for the murder of notorious gang lord, Dan Jeavons. Tobey insists he is being framed.

There were ten seats at Dan’s dinner party the night he was killed and each guest had their own reasons for wishing him dead.

Sephy Hadley was one of the guests that night. Haunted by the

idea that she didn’t do enough to stop the death of her first love, Callum McGregor, Sephy will not sit quietly and wait for accusations to fall on her now. She has her children to protect.

It’s time that the truth is uncovered. Time for the endgame.

Miss Buxton
School Librarian

Real life Maths with Year 9!

This week in the Mathematics classroom, Year 9 students have been enjoying learning about percentage change – with a difference!

Students have been working with real life examples, looking at banks and building societies such as Halifax, Lloyds TSB and Natwest, to help understand how the changes work. Well done everyone!

Mrs Down
Mathematics Teacher

Christmas Chemistree Lecture - Thursday 9 December

Christmas Concert

Medication Reminder

Please can we remind all parents and carers that students are not allowed to carry their own medication unless this has been discussed with the School Nurse beforehand. This is with the exception of adrenaline devices and asthma inhalers.

Sixth Formers are allowed to carry one dose of paracetamol and/or ibuprofen, if necessary. However, these are for their own use and not to be shared with others.

Mrs Dunkley

Join Our Team - Minibus Drivers Wanted

At Northampton High, we are proud to have a pristine fleet of school minibuses, and we are very excited that this will be expanding in 2022. We are therefore looking to appoint several drivers for transporting pupils on morning and afternoon school runs, Monday to Friday.

If you are interested in joining our team we would love to hear from you.

For more information and to apply please click here.

Mr Nash
Marketing & Communications Officer

Term Dates 21/22

Term Dates 22/23

Northampton High School
Newport Pagnell Road, Hardingstone Northampton NN4 6UU
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