Nothampton High School
High News

Friday 27 March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

What a difference a week makes…

Over the past few days parents, staff and students have been adapting to a very different way of working and all have shown resilience and consideration for others, despite the initial challenges. Many of you have kindly taken the time to write in praise of teaching colleagues and their unstinting support of your daughters, and I wholeheartedly join you in thanking them. I thank you, too, for your support of the staff and the girls. None of us knows what the immediate future holds, but by working together we can ensure the best possible educational experience and care for our students.

Below, senior colleagues offer their observations on Guided Home Learning Week 1 and give some important information and advice for the coming weeks. Others share their experiences of teaching and learning whilst apart, and there is an invitation to all to share their experiences during this extraordinary time.

There is much to absorb, and therefore I will be brief. As always, however, I wish you good health and happiness and I invite you to get in touch should you need any additional help or advice at this time.

Very best wishes,

Caroline Petryszak

Academic (Senior School)

We have been grateful for the many positive messages from parents and guardians, saying how much the ongoing contact and sense of purpose that has been created through the Guided Home Learning programme has been appreciated by students.

Teachers are keen to maintain the personal touch by being available during the day as much as possible via ‘live links’. They have been doing this in different ways, by text conversations in Microsoft Teams, on email or through Firefly messages, and, increasingly, via live video or audio calls on Teams or Google Meet, where appropriate, for the students involved.

Apart from the early glitches with Firefly, we have been pleased by how well the technology has held up – this is, in part, testament to the support of the technical expertise available to us at the GDST.

In terms of work set, we are still getting used to the new programme, of course, and initial indications are that many students are taking longer to complete tasks than we might have expected. This varies from subject to subject and across year groups, and we have asked teachers to respond flexibly where possible. One approach might be to pause the programme of study and run a review lesson every now and then, to ensure that everyone is at the same point in the learning. Teachers will also continue to add extension tasks for anyone who is forging ahead. In terms of feedback, teachers will be selective about which tasks they choose for detailed marking and we will continue to ensure that students have a good understanding of specifications and markschemes, so that they are able to conduct self-review as part of the feedback process.

For parents and guardians of Upper Fifth and 6.2 students, you will be anxious to know more about exam grading. Unfortunately we are still somewhat in the dark at the moment while we await more guidance from the QCA and exam boards. Meanwhile, we have one priority and that is to ensure we have as much evidence of current achievement as possible from the exam groups. Any extrapolated grading will be based (at least partly) on this information and the boards will be looking for evidence of improvements from the mocks – which we are confident we can provide. Teachers will let students know what additional work they should submit and when; please reassure them that this extra work will not be a waste of their efforts.

Mr Rickman
Deputy Head Academic

Pastoral Care and Guidance

At this very strange time, it is more important than ever for all of us to be kind to ourselves.  Our PSHEE virtual learning programme will include a range of Wellbeing ideas to help students keep mentally fit and well.  

Not only are staff, parents and students all getting used to working from home, with the technological and logistical challenges that this poses, but daily life is far from normal as well. This can be unsettling. Children are getting used to not having their classmates with them all day and not having face to face conversations.  

Maybe parents and children are sharing facilities at home and working around computer systems that seem different.

Taking your daily dose of exercise requires planning and even the basics of food shopping provides a challenge. Add to this the fact that many of us are worried about our own health and the health of our family.

Managing workload is something that staff and pupils have been grappling with this week.  Everyone wants to feel busy and productive, but it will take time to settle into proper routines. In the meantime, I urge our parents and students to only do what you can reasonably do.  Ensure you take time to listen to or play some music. Remember to exercise and do things you find fun. Learn a new hobby and, yes,…watch some Netflix (other streaming services are fine too!). Try and find your own structure that works for you and this won’t necessarily be the same as your timetable in school.

For parents, you may be struggling with your own worries and juggling home-working with supervising your child’s school work and answering their questions about the crisis.

This link is a Blog post by a pastoral care expert and may offer some advice to parents wondering how to manage their child’s time, worries and questions at the moment.

Mrs O’Doherty
Deputy Head Pastoral Care & Guidance


In order to ensure students are logging in and accessing work we need them to begin registering themselves next week via Firefly (for Junior School pupils, parents can do this if necessary). 

There is a link on the Firefly Homepage to ‘Guided Home Learning Registration for Pupils’. Please could you or your daughter follow this link by 10am daily (from Monday 30 March) and register on the correct page. There is also a box to tick if your daughter would like someone to get in touch with her about any concerns / worries she has about work. This will be directed to the form tutors / class teacher to respond.

Mrs O’Doherty
Deputy Head Pastoral Care & Guidance

Sixth Form

All our 6.2 students are continuing to work on their A Level content with the aim of ensuring that we have as much evidence as possible to support the award of the best possible teacher-assessed grade in due course. There are, for example, Biology and Psychology mock papers before the end of next week and Geography NEAs to complete for some students.

UCAS is operating as normal, with further offers being made this week and students making their Firm and Insurance choices when they are ready to do so. 

We are awaiting further information about when university places will be confirmed and how and when Clearing will operate this year.

We are currently putting together a full programme of support and resources for both 6.2 and 6.1 students, which will be personalised for all students. More about this programme will be shared with parents and students in due course. Trust are also developing resources for all GDST schools to access.

Mrs Cantwell
Director of Sixth Form

Nursery and Junior School

As we enter uncharted learning territory, I have been amazed at the creativity of our staff, parents and students in making sure that Guided Home Learning is successful.  We have been overwhelmed by the quality of work that the girls are sending in, and the teachers’ responses and feedback has shown how quickly we can adapt to distance learning strategies.  

Many of the girls have gone above and beyond the expectations of the class teachers, challenging themselves to undertake research projects in areas of personal interest; we have found out so much about our girls over these first four days. 

We continue to refine and innovate within our system; we have now added daily staff recommendations; learning sign language, baking cakes, play dough making and scavenger hunts have been our first few suggestions.  For further ideas, do please check out our Twitter feeds (@nhsjuniorschool @chrisbaileynhs) as we are retweeting some amazing ideas from the world of education.  

Thank you for your positive comments this week; so many of you have been sending in supportive messages and they make a real difference.  Please ensure that you and your families find some time for your own wellbeing; whether that be exercise, reading or completing a jigsaw, staying healthy in body and mind have never been more important.  We can’t wait to see our girls’ learning next week.

Mr Bailey
Head of Junior School

Connecting with the community

The current lockdown, due to Coronavirus, has necessitated us all to adapt our lives to deal with the changes the pandemic is having on our homes, schools, and work places.

However, this new COVID-19 world has seen our focus turn not only to the changes to the way we work, teach and learn, but also to our community, and how we might be able to help others. Indeed, this week we saw 504,303 people sign up to help the NHS in its fight against Coronavirus in the first 24 hours of the Government’s plea for volunteers, double the government’s recruitment target.

Schools are key to their local communities, and we are always keen to share our facilities with wider society. Many initiatives are year-round, such as offering our facilities as for NHS Blood Donation, and some are specific to the current crisis.  For example, we have responded today to a request for protective safety glasses from Northampton General Hospital A&E department.

Many of us will have already offered our individual help to organisations or task forces in our immediate localities too, or have simply supported members of the community or keeping in touch with a grandparent from afar.

There are many ways to care for one another while staying safe as our family, friends, colleagues and neighbours navigate COVID-19.

  1. Look after yourself, to look after us all and flatten the curve.
  2. Check in on elderly neighbours.
  3. Reach out to people in self-isolation.
  4. Volunteer your time.
  5. Get involved with mutual aid groups/community response groups.
  6. Make social distancing fun with video chat.

We are keen to hear about ways you have been able to help others during this time – maybe it is volunteering at a Food Bank, or Community Resilience and Response group. Perhaps it is helping a neighbour with shopping, or walking a friend’s dog (while social distancing of course). Please contact Mrs Wilmot and/or Mr Nash at or with information about how you and your family are helping the effort, with a photo where possible, and we will share this over the coming weeks.

Mrs Wilmot
Director of Marketing and Admissions

Teachers' experiences of Guided Home Learning

Guided Learning online has been a great way to communicate with my lovely classes. I have enjoyed using Teams to have video conferences with Sixth Formers as we are in the middle of analysing complex texts in the Anthology.

The use of Teams enables us to have discussion and share insights about the texts. I am quickly improving my use of Google Classroom and am enjoying the opportunity to give quick and direct feedback to my classes about their work. It is great to hear from all students through these platforms and check in with them so I know they are well and understand the work set.

Miss Robinson, Subject Leader Theology and Philosophy

The girls across the Nursery and Junior School have been working hard all week, sending in a huge range of work; camouflage models, newspaper articles, physical activity photographs, poetry and so much more. 

Thank you parents for your positivity and support in this first week; your feedback means a lot to us.

Mr Bailey, Head of Junior School



It has been a challenging week to try and adjust to new ways of working, particularly given the short notice and uncertainty over exactly what was to be expected of girls in Upper Fifth and 6.2, as well as initial difficulties with available Broadband width given the sudden increase in internet traffic. This week has mainly been about experimenting with the various different options we have to deliver content to our students to see what works best for each class. 

The use of Microsoft Teams to allow meetings with smaller A Level and GCSE classes has been excellent, both as a means of keeping in touch and also delivering some content. Also the use of Explains Everything to produce short video tutorials to ensure that independent learning is still guided by effective teacher input has also been valued by some of the students. Marking the work and giving feedback to students has been fairly straightforward as we are used to being emailed work by students (although it is not a time efficient process compared to physically taking in and marking a class set of books).

I guess what we all miss the most is the instant dialogue and feedback with students in lessons, which can only be partially mitigated through chats in Google Classroom or Teams. Ultimately we will all come out of this having greatly improved IT skills and will be very much looking forward to getting back in front of our classes.

Mr Earp, Head of Humanities



Many of the Year 3 girls are enjoying communicating with myself and Mrs Purvey-Tyrer via email for the first time.

They are getting into the routine of completing their Maths and English work and are keen to let us know about the other activities they have been doing with their families, such as gardening and running.

Mrs Dadge, Curriculum Coordinator and Year 3 Class Teacher 



Hello everyone! I’ve been asked to share some of my own reflections on remote teaching and I will try to keep it brief and entertaining. I really wouldn’t say I am much of an expert on remote learning or using technology, but then again I think everyone is pretty much on the same learning curve as me so perhaps my comments will be helpful.

Firstly, try to emulate profound patience. This is only the first week of an international crisis and a complete paradigm shift in education. Just as we need national unity to prevent the spread of a pandemic, each of us needs to be profoundly patient with one another as everyone finds their feet. I’ve tried teaching in a variety of ways this week and, despite the best of intentions, it feels a bit like PGCE training year when you make foolish little mistakes. Furthermore we have no idea who is being affected by this virus in their personal lives and everyone’s priorities will be realigning. It will take a while for normal service to resume.

My second realisation is that providing remote teaching to students gets exponentially more difficult the younger the student. Parents shouldn’t assume their children will get an equal experience out of this first week or in later weeks. With my A Level class we can be up and running with a live-streamed lesson on a new online platform within seconds. It can, however, take 20 minutes for a younger student to find the spacebar on a keyboard. Some older students will quickly claim there are “network connectivity problems” whilst watching Netflix. Of course, I am exaggerating, and we know there are Broadband problems across the region right now, but these should improve quickly.

Final thought for the week, teaching and learning is fundamentally a social activity made up of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of little interactions between people. Proximity is vital for teachers to communicate effectively. During a pandemic the risk we pose to each other and our loved ones means proximity cannot be the main priority. Therefore we must ensure that opportunities to communicate are used efficiently. Please encourage students to only email fully completed and substantial pieces of work at fixed points in the day. I’d always advocate that teachers are superhuman but I’ve never met someone who went into teaching because they’re really good at inbox admin as hundreds of emails pour in at any time of day (or night).

Mr Loveday-Hill, Teacher of Theology and Philosophy and Year 6 Teacher



As we approach the end of the first week of Guided Home Learning I look back to the 1970s when I was off school due to strike action, and I can remember trying to do the work that was set from handwritten worksheets copied on a machine that you turned by hand – we have come a long way since then!

I have quite enjoyed using Microsoft Teams for my lessons; I miss the interaction with the staff and students but I quite like trying something new. I hope my pupils have adapted to the situation and I hope they feel they are making progress. What I must say is that even after a week I am really looking forward to teaching in front of, dare I say, an old fashioned whiteboard and actually talking to my students face to face.

I hope everyone keeps safe and that all students adapt to this situation and I am sure I will see you all soon.

Mr Ball, Head of Mathematics



Teaching from home: a two-part story in the H-T household. I have adapted to teaching from home quite well, I think. I tried out Google Classrooms and Teams video call with my Lower Fifth and 6.1 classes to make sure we could all access the work, and how to set work on there before school closed, so I was quite confident when Monday morning arrived and I had to ‘teach’ from home.

So far so good. We have managed to talk face to face with my 6.1 classes on Teams video call and seems to be all OK so far.  The work is accessible and the students seem to be doing well.  It was a bit different for Lower Fifth girls, as the resources I added weren’t as clear, but we have remedied this with some slight changes and resilience on both our parts. My Upper Fourth class has been working on extended activities at home and I can’t wait to see the results of this.

I think the major difference I have had to overcome this week is trying to teach from home with my 4 year old here too.  We have decided a sensible timetable for both of us, where we have quiet time, playtime and structured learning time.  The major difficulty I have is when I am on a video class call and she pops up in the background!

The students have taken well to it though, and have included her in the conversation.  I’m not sure how much she understood of equilibrium, but you never know!

The work for Reception girls has been set through their Homeshare app, Tapestry.  I have enjoyed trying to do some writing with my daughter, and have a huge appreciation for her teachers for their infinite patience and their never-ending enthusiasm.

I do think this different way of teaching has its place and it is proving very useful, however there is no substitute for actual face to face teaching.

Mrs Hodgetts-Tate, Head of Science

Students’ experiences of working at home

Whilst learning at home seems like a daunting task at first, especially in such an uncertain time for our year group, after a couple of days it is starting to feel much easier.

With guidance from the teachers, we can get on with our work from home and easily hand in marks or scan documents (just about!) meaning the lessons are seeming more and more like normality.

Video calls with teachers are still something to get used to but still being able to ask about work is reassuring and helpful so we can still make progress through this difficult time.

Jess, U5H


This week has been quite an unusual school week to say the least. I have found myself waking up an hour later, being glued to my laptop and sneaking in snacks every hour or so!

When teachers informed us last week that the plan was to use the platform Microsoft Teams to communicate during this isolation period I have to say I was slightly terrified. If you know me, you will know I am not much of a Tech Wizz at all! However, I have to say that Microsoft Teams has not only transformed my digital abilities it has also made me appreciate technology like never before.

This week I have been able to have five ‘normal’ lessons all thanks to the call service on Microsoft Teams and the dedication of teachers. As well as this, teachers have been uploading videos and Powerpoints to aid the Guided Home Learning. Despite not physically being there, I have found that teachers’ support and input is still very much present.

I would like to thank the teachers for all of their efforts in continuing their great standards, and I look forward to seeing what the next week of virtual learning has on offer!

Daria, 6G1

Please see below a selection of photos from some of our students who have been working from home in different ways:

We have both found working at home very enjoyable, as it provides the experience of working slightly differently and not in a classroom environment. These skills will be useful in the future when we have to work at university or if we choose to work from home. It can be very hard to stay focused and on top of work but we have both learnt valuable lessons from it.

Due to spending so much time together at home, we have both had lots of fun baking, including vegan baked oats (which can be seen below), and going for long walks.

We are both working to the timetable, as if it were a typical school day, which has proven to be the most effective system. Sophie is in smaller classes, due to being in Sixth Form, so is able to use Microsoft Teams to ‘Facetime’ her classes and teachers, which has been extremely helpful in providing feedback and assistance in real time. Lucie has found that the teachers are providing plenty of support through the platforms such as Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams.

We wish everyone health and a wonderful week.

Sophie, 6C1 and Lucie, L4S

Experiences of students who have worked in School this week

“Firefly was a bit difficult and there was quite a lot of tasks, but the work was fun.” Arna, U3S

“I enjoyed coming, it was good fun and I liked being with my friend.” Kyla, L4H

“There were a lot of tasks that were very fun and had a lot of breaks.” Annie, L4S


“I enjoyed going down to Forest School because we could play games there. We played a game where we were Ninja Cat and Ninja Dog. We had to collect some things, like rocks and flowers and acorns and pine cones so we could stay like that and it was really fun.” Holly, Year 1

“Right now is my best thing this week – I am having lots of fun cutting pictures out from a magazine and sticking them onto another bit of paper. I am making a shopping list for people who would like to be shopping. I am putting things that I like on the list like a singing thing and a doll and some face paints and an Elsa castle.” Amelia, Year 1

To view more photos, please click here

Experiences of teachers who have worked in School this week

The key workers’ children really enjoyed playing with clay and painting with beetroot in Forest School.

Mrs Waters, Preschool and Forest School Leader


Being in school has been very strange this week, but it has also been quite lovely. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with different girls and to talk to parents who are doing such a vital job keeping the NHS going. On Monday morning the girls in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 worked incredibly hard. We looked on the Firefly pages and decided to do some number bonds in our Maths lesson and then, after we had been outside for break and had a snack with the bigger girls, we created acrostic poems about SPACE.

Miss Brandon-Jones, Year 5 Teacher


Our Junior school students have been having a great time working on their learning activities and enjoying the outdoors.

Mr Loveday-Hill, Teacher of Theology and Philosophy and Year 6 Teacher 

Earth Hour: Saturday 28 March, 8.30pm

This Saturday 28 March, the Northampton High School Eco Team will be participating in ‘Earth Hour’.

Earth Hour is a campaign started by WWF, which encourages people to switch off their lights and electronic devices for just one hour, to help raise awareness for climate change.

Taking place at 8.30pm, the campaign, is the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, in which millions of people worldwide come together for nature, people and the planet.

The Eco Team here at school are delighted to be able to participate in this event, and we would like to invite you, if you can, to join us in taking part from your home. Please click here to find out more information regarding the event.

Mr Earp
Eco Team

Ideal reading during difficult times

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse

Charlie Mackesy’s illustrated fable has become a word-of-mouth bestseller, inspiring all who read it to have courage in difficult times, and showing how love and friendship build resilience.

For more recommendations and reading suggestions during this difficult time, please click here to view the March edition of the Penguin Newsletter.

Miss Buxton
School Librarian

Invitation to share experiences and photos

We have really enjoyed hearing about our students’ experience of Guided Home Learning this week. It is, of course, new to all pupils, staff and parents, across the country at this most unique of times.

Our teachers have been doing their utmost, as you will have read, to polish their own skills in the digital classroom, while supporting the girls who are also grappling with significant change in routine, teaching and learning styles, their contact with friends and their physical learning environment.

We would really love to hear from our girls and their teachers about their experiences of Home Learning, about how they have found this new way of working, and what opportunities this has brought. It would be brilliant to hear from girls and colleagues from across the school with their views on what they have done differently and what might they would like to take from this experience. 

We are asking our pupils to send a short comment and photographs (photos could be of a lesson, a screenshot of digital working, a project, a piece of work (written or otherwise), the student’s workspace, activities undertaken or snapshots of physical exercise) to or and we will share them over the next weeks. 

We are, as always, impressed and inspired by how brilliantly our school community has embraced and adapted to these new challenges, and look forward to hearing from girls of all ages in the coming weeks.

Stay well and look after each other!

Mrs Wilmot
Director of Marketing & Admissions

Open Day - Friday 1 May 2020

Term Dates

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