Nothampton High School
High News

Friday 6 October 2023

A princess, a spy and a socialite walk into a hall…

It’s not often you find yourself at an event with a doctor turned investment banker, a former spy chief, the brains behind Made in Chelsea, and – among others – not one, but two princesses. When it does, it’s a day to remember.

The High School’s Student Senior Leadership Team had been invited to attend a conference organised by the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools, entitled “Inspiring Future Female Leaders”. Our minibus set off early in the morning heading towards the winding lanes of rural Kent via the glamour of Newport Pagnell Services and the M25. Perhaps characteristic of our Year 13 students – aside from occasional conversations about Taylor Swift and other apparently popular figures – the journey became an impromptu personal-statement-editing and flashcard-wielding revision session. I was struck subsequently that the girls had preempted one of the common threads of the later conference: that you have to put in work and effort to be successful in your chosen field, that you have to be proactive in grabbing opportunities that come your way and that, in the words of Georgina Seccombe, Team GB’s Chef de Mission, “no-one’s going to do it for you”.

If individual effort and dynamism were two of the keywords that connected various speakers’ contributions, another was collaboration. We arrived just in time to hear the Head of Benenden College, Samantha Price, describe collaboration as a specific strength of female leaders, a view that was echoed by Dr Amy Jadesimi and others. Again, in the minibus on our way back to school, it was the girls themselves who showed that they understood this not in theory but in practice, working together to organise SSLT drop-in sessions to help younger students and developing plans to share with Years 12 and 13 to improve the Sixth Form Common Room. I would like to think that this ready focus on positive collaboration has been instilled in part through the High School’s expertise in girls’ education.

Dr Jadesimi, who is now Chief Executive of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base, also made a thought-provoking link between women as leaders and global sustainability. Arguing that sustainability is part of “the way women think”, she outlined how women are “critical” to future social and economic development and that sustainability “won’t come without gender equality”. She cited research that indicates that gender equality adds 3% to a country’s GDP, with other studies suggesting potentially even higher economic gains. The High School’s lively and successful Femsock and EcoTeam societies perhaps indicate how much these concepts are indeed integral to the ways young women, in particular, are thinking. 

What about the barriers to leadership that women faced and continue to face, especially in the workplace? While the focus of the conference was on sharing practical approaches to developing as leaders and on inspiring young women to pursue leadership opportunities, speakers were candid about some of the challenges and outright discrimination they had faced. Baroness Manningham-Buller, former Director General of MI5 and – more importantly perhaps – a former student at Northampton High, shocked the audience with descriptions of the institutional sexism that she encountered, especially in the early days of her career. But, in common with other speakers, she emphasised the ways in which strong mentors and a network of allies, as well as a focus on one’s own goals, can enable individual women to begin to challenge such entrenched barriers. I suspect her sense of humour helped her too, as she shared some wonderful stories about her career in MI5 (I would love to recount them here, but we were all sworn to secrecy).

A challenge that was recognised by HRH Princess Basma bint Talal of Jordan among others was the ways in which there is a tension between working life and family life that impacts women disproportionately. Baroness Manningham-Buller’s advice – “don’t be unkind to yourself” – chimed with Samantha Price’s opening statement to “prepare to get things wrong”. As they already know, there aren’t going to be solutions to all the challenges our young people face before they get started in the world.

We were also privileged to hear from three other speakers: Dame Didi Wong, Amber Atherton and HRH The Princess Royal. We came away from the day with a strong sense of some key themes, as described. Above all, though, I felt that, given the calibre of the young women at the event, the future is absolutely not as bleak as we are sometimes led to believe.

Mr Viesel
Director of Sixth Form

The Week Ahead

Monday 9 October
Yr12 GDST LEAD event at LSE
Music masterclass

Tuesday 10 October
GDST Sports Rally
Dobbies Halloween session

Thursday 12 October
1st Team Hockey vs Kimbolton

Friday 13 October
Whole School Open Morning
Yr11 Nifty Lifts STEM day
Music scholars concert
SF World Challenge charity gig

Empowering Girls for a Changing World 

The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), in partnership with research agency YouthSight, has undertaken a remarkable initiative that has led to the creation of the Girls’ Futures Report. This report has sparked a national conversation about women and their attitudes towards leadership. In short, girls are more inclined to showcase their leadership capabilities rather than mere pursuit of leadership titles. 

Subsequent media headlines have cast a spotlight on the relatively low levels of interest girls had in being ‘the boss’, revealing a profound shift in the ambitions of young women. Instead, they wanted to do a job they enjoyed, they wanted to do something purposeful, they wanted a sensible balance in their lives – but they were less interested in leadership for leadership’s sake. They were far more focused on earning respect than wielding authority, and ultimately, they want to change what it means to be a leader. It is also clear, then, that girls want to reshape the workplace so that it fits them, their preferences and their aspirations and they place a great deal of value on their wellbeing.  

What can we discern from these revelations? Firstly, it is worth celebrating that the GDST is at the forefront of this conversation in its 150th year which reflects its enduring commitment to shaping the future of girls only education and women in leadership. Secondly, the views girls had about work-life balance seem to mirror the broader trends observed among Generation Z, encompassing both young men and women. Employers are increasingly recognising the need to adapt their practices and to engage a new generation of employees who expect a more sensible balance between the different parts of their lives. Thirdly, girls just seemed so sensible in their responses, and I applaud them for being 10% braver! They asked what the point was of being the boss if you really did not enjoy it. Aristotle would be very proud of them. They had a strong sense that happiness was more important than mere titles and this preference for fulfilment underscores the changing paradigm of leadership. 

And therein lies a challenge for all of us who are leaders. In a world undergoing constant transformation, we do need young women to lead, whether in an official capacity or not. We need changing leadership models for a changing world – more collaborative, more open to new ways of doing things, more listening to and supporting others and improving society. This more expansive leadership style is better for girls – and for all of us. 

One of the aspects of the ‘GDST difference’ was that GDST girls displayed a greater propensity for risk-taking, innovative problem-solving, and a readiness to assume leadership responsibilities. At Northampton High, we actively foster these attributes through a myriad of roles and responsibilities, such as the Sixth Form Student Leadership Team, House Captains, Form Representatives for School Council, Learning Ambassadors, Undivided Champions, Eco Team, Sports Captains, and many others. These roles help to cultivate our girls’ maturity, organisation and sense of service, and through this process they are able to lead their teams in the ways that suit their skills and personalities. More importantly, we can’t just pick our extroverts, our most obvious ‘natural’ leaders for these roles, we need to tap into leadership talent in all its diverse forms. 

But what about at national and international level? What can we do to encourage girls to take the lead? They need not just the confidence and the skills but also the role models. When scanning the landscape of world leaders, few female role models come to mind. The business world remains male-dominated, and men often occupy top positions in educational establishments. That is still particularly true in the independent sector, though not in girls’ schools. Anyway, I doubt Heads are the first port of call to provide the inspiration girls need. Their peers are often a more effective source of that.

Now more than ever, it becomes incumbent upon us to empower girls to lead in their own way. They aspire to a type of leadership where measures of success are multidimensional and not necessarily reliant on traditional measures such as salary, prestige or power. 

To read the full entry, please click here.

Dr Lee

Black History Month

On 2 October, Northampton High School welcomed Anthea Davis Barclay, poet, writer and motivational speaker to kick off our Black History Month celebrations. Students from Year 12 and Year 9 have reported back on the day’s events.

We started off the week with an assembly titled ‘Celebrating our sisters’. Anthea taught us ways in which we can celebrate our friend’s accomplishments and support our friends during hardships. She also shared the inspiring story of Venus and Serena Williams and how they supported each other despite being doubted by many people. Later on in the day, Year 12 were fortunate enough to attend one of Anthea’s workshops. Anthea spoke about the Windrush generation and the effects it had on making up modern day Britain. We then engaged in activities that highlighted issues teenagers face today and how to overcome problems such as unconscious bias and stereotypes. Overall, the experience was very insightful and definitely taught us some important lessons.

Esther W 

Anthea expanded our understanding of Black History Month and kindly presented one of her brilliant poems during the Senior School assembly. In her workshop with Year 9 she spoke about the racist disadvantages she has had to deal with since childhood. She bonded with the year and enjoyed sharing her poetry. Thank you Anthea for helping the students of Northampton High School understand what amazing things you do.

Nirali S

Celebrating Languages Week at Northampton High School

Here at Northampton High, we love languages. On Tuesday 26 September it was European Languages Day, and naturally we took the opportunity to celebrate languages for the entire week. The Languages Faculty created a rich and wonderful programme for students to enjoy, and our fantastic Language Leaders demonstrated their passion for languages by hosting two fabulous assemblies and helping in various workshops.

Pupils had the opportunity to learn Turkish and sample home-made Turkish food. It was great to have teachers from various departments involved in our celebrations showcasing the many talents of our staff community. Mrs Kaur taught our students some greetings and then we continued by writing our names in Punjabi. Mrs Wilmot, a keen Russianist, volunteered her Russian skills, and the students were very quick to pick up the language.

Later in the week, students put their dancing shoes on and practised their salsa steps. Pupils were also able to demonstrate their creativity through bracelet and keyring making, as well as painting their nails in the flags of the world. There were lots of happy and smiling faces as students showed off their flags to friends and teachers.

Whilst Senior School students were busy experiencing new languages, Junior School students also participated in the fun! A group of keen and enthusiast Year 11&12 German students taught Year 5 students the German Fliegerlied song.

Whilst some students were dancing, others were busy being creative as they designed their T-shirts in a workshop.
There was a real buzz and sense of excitement around the languages week and we are very much looking forward to next year.

Aylin Doerpinghaus
Subject Leader German

High Sports

U18 Netball County Plate

On Tuesday, the Netball 1st VII team travelled to Kettering to play in the County Plate against 6 other schools. As it was the first match of the school year the team was newly formed, but we quickly found our rhythm and communicated well, resulting in deserved wins against all schools. Most notably we won 13-0 against Corby and 11-2 against NSG. Despite two people dropping out, and finding replacements last minute, we adapted with ease leading to our first place win in the tournament. Special shoutout to Roja and Ruby for being the joint Player’s player for their great attacking plays, and Lucy for stepping in last minute. Janice H

Caoimhe places 5th at World Championships

On Saturday 30 September, Caoimhe and 13 other dancers from her Irish Dance School travelled to Kent to compete in the Open platform Irish Dance World Championships.

Caoimhe had three dances to perform on stage and at only 8 years old, did an absolutely marvellous job! We are proud to share that Caoimhe completed her Premier reel, Beginner reel and Light jig in front of three judges and a packed hall of parents, dancers and teachers.

Finishing in an incredible 5th place overall, she was delighted to stand on the podium to receive her trophy. Caoimhe has been dancing for 18 months and this is only her third Feis. We are constantly amazed by our talented student body and we would like to share our warmest congratulations with Caoimhe on this huge achievement.

Creative Arts Spotlight

Well done to Natalie in Year 9 who created these fantastic, seasonal pumpkin spice cupcakes. She carefully handmade the pumpkins with fondant icing and they finish off her cupcakes perfectly. Well done, Natalie, you are a talented baker!

Miss Knight
Subject Leader Food

Students enjoy featuring in filming project!

This week, we welcomed a camera crew into Northampton High School to help with an exciting video project! Showcasing our wonderful school and fantastic student body, we were delighted to feature lots of pupils from across our Nursery, Junior School, Senior School and Sixth Form!

Select students were thrilled to take part and we are so proud of them for their brilliant contributions to this project!

A big thank you to our wonderful staff and parents for being so accommodating and enthusiastic about this fun shoot. We look forward to sharing the project with you shortly!

Book Review

Manifesto: On never giving up by Bernadine Evaristo

In 2019, Bernardine Evaristo became the first black woman to win the Booker Prize since its inception fifty years earlier – a revolutionary landmark for Britain. Her journey was a long one, but she made it, and she made history.

Manifesto is her intimate and fearless account of how she did it.

From a childhood steeped in racism from neighbours, priests and even some white members of her own family, to discovering the arts through her local youth theatre; from stuffing her belongings into bin bags, always on the move between temporary homes, to romantic adventures and eventually finding her soulmate; from setting up Britain’s first theatre company for Black women in the eighties to growing into the trailblazing writer, theatre-maker, teacher, mentor and activist we see today – Bernardine charts her rebellion against the mainstream and her life-long commitment to community and creativity. And, through the prism of her extraordinary experiences, she offers vital insights into the nature of race, class, feminism, sexuality and ageing in modern Britain.

Purchase through the NHS bookshop here.

Miss Buxton
School Librarian


Senior School
Pupils will have the choice to remain in their sports kit following their first engagement in a sporting activity (lessons or lunchtime clubs) for the remainder of the day.
Pupils must be wearing the full, correct sports kit.
Between October half term and May half term pupils will be expected to wear either the sports leggings or tracksuit bottoms whilst wearing sports kit and not partaking in sporting activity.
Pupils must have a change of uniform with them to allow them to change should they get wet.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Swap Shop

We are delighted to share that we will be hosting Swap Shop every Friday from 2:00-3:30pm in the Junior School Hall.
Uniform for students of all ages will be available to purchase.

Medical notice

As we head into cough and cold season, please can I share with you the current NHS guidance about when to send your child to school.

It is usually appropriate for parents and carers to send their children to school with mild respiratory illnesses. This would include general cold symptoms: a minor cough, runny nose, or sore throat. However, children should not be sent to school if they have a temperature of 38°C or above. We would encourage you to read the NHS guidance.

Please email if you have any other questions relating to medical or wellbeing issues.

Mrs Dunkley
School Nurse

In Conversation with... Emilie Weaving

The GDST’s next ‘In Conversation’ event features Shrewsbury High School alumna, Emilie Weaving, who will be speaking with Darren Payne, Head of Shrewsbury High via Zoom on Monday 23 October, 1-2pm.

Emilie was a finalist in the GDST Trailblazer of the Year Competition 2022. At age 31, Emilie has certainly paved her own way in the traditionally male-dominated world of engineering. As a Mechanical Engineer, Emilie has eight years of development and testing experience, from diesel engines to motorcycle helmets and military vehicles. She is passionate about encouraging women to pursue a career in the field, and writes about her STEM lifestyle in her blog, The Female Engineer.

If you wish to attend this virtual event, please click here.

Save the Date: World Challenge fundraiser


Join us on Friday 13 October 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 click here. Thank you!

Laura, Hattie and Emma
Year 12 students

Athletics Club - Autumn Running Club

Children's Activity Morning at Dobbies

Kings Camp

We’re excited to have Kings Camps return with their Sport and Activity camps, giving children an active and screen-free week this October!
30+ years’ experience in operating sports and activity holiday camps, @KingsCamps get 5 – 17 year olds active, having fun and learning together! There’s over 30 sports and activities for children to get involved in throughout the week!

For dates, prices and booking visit or call Kings Camps Membership Team on 01142632160.

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