Nothampton High School
Junior News

Junior News – 26 April 2024

In considering how to sum up this week in Junior School, there was one thing that came to mind immediately, and that was celebration of success.

This came to life in earnest this morning in our Celebration Assembly, when pupils from Reception to Year 6 were celebrated, as they are each week, for their varied and impressive personal achievements.

This might be with a Star Learner certificate, acknowledging special efforts in Science, or English or Maths, it might be a trampolining success or a Brownie badge, or other achievements in a football tournament, outside of school.

Even our youngest pupils were confident to come to the front of the Junior Hall, proudly receive their certificate or special mention, and accept the community’s congratulatory applause. We have all heard that success begets success, and have seen this in action in our own professional lives. 

Yesterday evening, I was exploring the link between celebration and pupil outcomes, and these are widely understood. Stanislas Dehaene says in How We Learn (2020) that rewarding pupils’ efforts is one way we can help them to develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset is a belief that intellectual abilities can be developed, as opposed to the fixed mindset where intellectual abilities are believed to be unchangeable (Yeager and Dweck, 2020). 

Creating an environment in which the act of learning is celebrated in preference to the demonstration of learning (through assessment scores), could help students to recognise their growing intellectual ability, and thereby develop a growth mindset. This could be beneficial to student outcomes because research tells us that people with a growth mindset “are more likely to thrive in the face of difficulty and continue to improve”, with a stronger effect being observed in those who are at risk for poor outcomes (Yeager and Dweck, 2020). So, developing pupils’ growth mindset through celebratory activities might contribute to improved student outcomes, as well as supporting wellbeing and providing immediate motivation.

Connecting with peers, family members or other personal networks to celebrate successes may also contribute to the construction of social communities and support, which in turn can lead to improved pupil outcomes. 

Sharing successes of all types and sizes with pupil peers may also contribute to feelings of ‘connectedness’ with peers, staff, and the school. According to Di Malta et al. (2022), feelings of connectedness help to mediate the relationship between ‘academic performance and wellbeing and between loneliness and wellbeing’. Pupils who are less satisfied with their academic performance arguably are less likely to celebrate small moments of success which may contribute to feelings of disconnection and loneliness.

The power of celebration on pupil outcomes and wellbeing is interesting to understand, however the ‘real life’ experience of seeing this in action is already convincing enough. At this morning’s assembly, the girls sat attentively, listening for the announcements of pupil successes, and were genuinely excited and delighted by the incredibly diverse, wide-ranging individual achievements of their peers. This celebration of success at school not only recognises and shares the many talents of our pupils within the school community, but also builds pupil self-esteem and increases confidence. This is all part of positive reinforcement which is key to a student’s learning and development.

Celebration on a smaller scale happens every day, not only in assemblies, of course. Acknowledging a small ‘win’ in Maths (as personally observed this week in Year 6 Maths), for example, gives us the courage and confidence to tackle the next question, and to take a risk and conquer the next level of challenge.

This was only one of the hundreds of positive observations I have made this week – every one of them heartening and affirming. Northampton High is certainly a special place to be and it is a privilege to be part of the community of enthusiastic, kind and happy pupils and a team of dedicated, caring staff.

Wishing you a lovely weekend, and looking forward to next week and all that it will bring.

Best wishes,

Mrs Amanda Wilmot
Acting Head – Junior School

Dehaene, S. (2020) How We Learn, Penguin Books Ltd.
Yeager, D. S. and Dweck, C. S. (2020) ‘What can be learned from growth mindset controversies’, American Psychologist. 

Nurturing healthy friendships

The ability to establish and maintain healthy friendships, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, resist peer pressure and collaborate are important in life, and in school. However, it is nearly inevitable that during her school years, your daughter will experience some form of friendship issue and encounter the ebb and flow of social dynamics.

We recognise that the dynamics of friendship typically change at secondary school, as girls gain maturity, social circles evolve and teaching groups change. Girls are better able to assess what is going on as they get older, they can see the potential for destructive situations, so they develop skills to make sure the painful things do not happen. They exercise caution and are more careful in choosing their friends.

In an all-girls learning environment, their sense of identity and self-worth is partly dependent on the feedback they get from their peers. Girls do not learn well when they are unhappy so an emotional issue can mean they start underachieving.

We share some proven approaches to equip you to best support your daughter to navigate school friendships, and to enable her to thrive socially and academically.

Accept it is going to happen

Accepting that changes in friendships are inevitable is perhaps the most significant step in helping your daughter navigate these relationships. As children grow and develop, they are changing, expressing themselves in different ways and learning along the way. Consequently, friendship groups will evolve, someone will try and find a new friendship, and one child may feel ignored. Something may go wrong in a group and, in trying to navigate a complex situation, girls can make poor choices and handle it badly. Friendship dynamics can get messy, and if we add social media into the mix with words pinging via messaging and text, and the margin for error is amplified.

When challenges arise, encourage your daughter to take a step back and reflect on the situation. Ask whether this is just one individual having a fleeting lapse in judgement rather than a deeper problem. Or, perhaps a friendship has become unhealthy and it is time to gradually distance herself and gravitate towards different friends. Acknowledge your child’s feelings and reaffirm that it is okay; people change and grow and will not always remain close friends. Empower her to make informed decisions about her social circles.

Cultivate open and honest communication

Maintaining open and honest lines of communication between yourself and your child will in turn help to forge stronger relationships with her peers. Find the time and space to listen and let your daughter share her thoughts and concerns.

Do bear in mind you will never get the whole picture and ‘the truth’ is multifaceted and usually does not exist objectively in the way you would like it to be. What we hear is one person’s account of their experience of a situation. Our reflex is to automatically believe our child has been wronged, but be open to the idea that there is likely to be another child feeling exactly the same way.

Modelling conversation by naming the difficulty is a good way to encourage conversation. This is helpful when dealing with more tricky conversations. In this case, we encourage families to use the rose bud retrospective: what is positive (the rose) and what is challenging or bad (the thorn) and what is growing or is something you are excited about (the bud). Parents can drop this into dinner or bedtime routines to encourage a healthy review of the day, but on the same token, parents must model this and share a review of their own day.

Champion resilience 

Resilience is the ability to do well despite challenges in life. It helps us adapt successfully and bounce back from adversity, failure, conflict and disappointment. When faced with friendship turbulence and difficulties, resilient children still experience anger, rejection, grief and pain, but they can function and recover.

Coping strategies and emotional resilience can buffer the effects of any negativity among friends. Help your child develop problem-solving skills, teach them healthy coping strategies, and provide emotional support. For example, empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence and it is a critical skill for building and maintaining positive, healthy and meaningful friendships. We can encourage our girls to consider the feelings of others and to act with kindness in order to navigate conflicts with compassion and understanding.

Develop self-confidence and self-belief

Promoting assertiveness skills can help girls establish and maintain healthy boundaries in their friendships. Through our COACH programme at Northampton High, where our co-curricular and extracurricular activities and events are designed to help our girls to become confident communicators and critical thinkers, we are engendering a culture where speaking up and speaking out is actively encouraged. We believe that by promoting an environment that values self-expression and autonomy, we are empowering our girls to navigate peer pressure with confidence and integrity.

At home, encourage your daughter to express her opinions, stand up for herself and assert her personal boundaries. Developing the ability to say no to something that makes a child feel unhappy, unsafe and uncomfortable is important, and can protect them from giving in to peer pressure as they go through school.

Friendship turbulence, fallouts and problems at school happen and most are, thankfully not due to bullying. Mostly, there is no winner or loser, or clarity around what occurred. Friendships change and can simply get messy. By helping your daughter to practise friendship skills such as listening, sharing, compromising and negotiating can all be effective in addressing friendship issues. Likewise, by supporting your child to navigate the complexities and intricacies of friendships you are equipping her to develop healthy and supportive relationships in life.

‘Friends come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ – Brian A. “Drew” Chalker

I love this quote – the friendships your child has now might be for this moment or it could be for a lifetime, but it is important to know that this will change and evolve. Supporting your child through these times can be joyful but they can also be challenging and upsetting but it is about being there in all those moments to support your child in navigating friendships as they grow.

Dr May Lee

Parent Notices

Swap Shop: Our team of Swap Shop volunteers would really appreciate any uniform donations you may have for our Swap Shop sales, especially summer dresses and PE clothing. You are very welcome to drop any donations into the Junior School office any time. Many thanks for your support.

Playground Snacks: On Fridays, pupils may bring in a small treat for a snack, such as a biscuit, a small chocolate bar, etc. Please do not send pupils into school with lollipops as snacks, as these could be dangerous as girls move around at break time. Many thanks.

News from our classrooms: Nursery and Preschool

It was a soggy start to the week at Forest School but we continued with our plans.

To observe ‘Earth Day’, we made our contribution to our planet by planting a tree. The girls helped to dig a hole in the soil and after the tree went in, they helped to fill the hole back in.

We have revisited the ‘feely box’ activity as a way of encouraging language skills, feeling what’s inside and having a guess before finding out what is in there.

We have been practising our mark making skills in various ways; in sugar strands with brushes, dinosaurs in paint, pencils following lines practising our

pre-writing skills, as well as mark making on the screen. We made pear pastries in our Cooking session, working independently to scoop the pear slices into the pastry and fold it around the pears. Our sounds this week have been ‘t,r,s’, and we have used the sound boxes as a starting point to introduce the sound and also find other items starting with the same sound.

This week in Preschool, we have been looking at how we have grown over the years and introducing the language of age stages – newborn, baby, toddler and child. We have had lots of “oooo’s” and “ahhh’s” when looking at our own photos, and the girls have been proud to show their friends their photos too. Mrs Hunter and Mrs Mallard have also printed a photo of themselves as a baby which the girls were surprised at!

The girls have compared the different learning stages we all aim to achieve, such as learning to walk and talk as a toddler, going to school and learning as a child and learning to drive as a teenager or adult. This has reminded the girls that we are always learning new things, no matter how old we are. We also had the chance to taste some puréed baby food this week which was a rather interesting activity!

News from our classrooms: Reception

Our new theme ‘Our Natural World’ has started with a Rainforest role play. The class are enjoying being jungle explorers, camping, and finding out about the animals that live there. The story ‘Doris the Loris’ has introduced some creatures, and the class produced great sentence writing from this stimulus.

We have been looking at the famous painting ‘Surprised’ by Henry Rousseau and recreating our own jungle scene, whilst in Maths, we are working with the numbers to 20, sequencing, writing and using a number line.

We are also very excited to have some caterpillars in the classroom and we are watching their development very closely!

Year 1 French Focus

Year 1 have just completed their topic on animals.

Before half term they gave a brilliant performance of the story we had been looking at, and this week they showed off their knowledge of French colours by colouring in some beautiful butterflies.

Miss Ingrouille has been incredibly impressed with the class’s pronunciation, and also with the kindness and support that they have been showing each other.

Year 2 French Focus

In Year 2, we are currently wrapping up our ‘Carnaval des Animaux’ topic.

We have met many animals and learnt about musical instruments in French. We have listened to sections of ‘Carnaval des Animaux’ by Saint-Saens, and identified how certain instruments are used to represent the animals.

Mrs Hill has been impressed by the musicality of the pupils in their pronunciation and their progress in mastering new vocabulary.

Year 3 French Focus

In Year 3, we are learning how to form plural nouns using different animals. We have drawn our own farm animals and labelled our drawings accordingly.

Some pupils have also challenged themselves to describe the colours of the animals.

Year 4 French Focus

In Year 4 this week, students have been consolidating their knowledge of weather expressions in French.

They concentrated on memorisation skills and correct spelling, really impressing Mrs Black with the accuracy they achieved.

The highlight of the lesson was the Quizlet competition, where students worked in teams efficiently to recognise the correct translation for weather expressions.

Year 5 French Focus

This week, Year 5 began their new topic looking at the solar system.

Students used their knowledge of colours from our previous topic to enable them to identify and describe the different planets.

Miss Ingrouille is looking forward to seeing the girls’ creativity later in this topic when they have the chance to create their own planet!

Year 6 French Focus

In Year 6, we have continued to develop our language skills, discussing and writing about types of houses and the rooms and items in our houses. Pupils have shown that they understand how to use adjectives correctly in French, and can develop longer sentences using connectives and opinions.

We have also worked on the use of negatives and how to use the preposition ‘de’ for possession. In addition, we have been learning how to tell the time in French using the 24-hour clock, and revising our larger numbers.

The pupils have even enjoyed an authentic game of lotto! Miss Romano has been particularly impressed with the authentic pronunciation of numbers such as “vingt” and “trois”.

Cricket v Winchester House - 24 April 2024

U11A: Well done to everyone who played in Wednesday’s match against Winchester House. The U11A’s showed grit, determination and an incredible team spirit. Unfortunately we lost the match but we stayed positive throughout the entire game. Well done to Annabelle R for getting Player of the Match for batting, and to myself for getting Player of the Match for bowling and fielding. Both teams started off with a total of 200 and the final results were Winchester House – 261 and Northampton High – 226. Well done to Victoria FL and Zara J for getting some great wickets, setting Winchester House back by 15 runs. Great job to Hester L for getting some powerful shots and to Cora S, Amelie N and Victoria FL for showing a great skill level after just one cricket training session. Overall, the U11A team had a positive start to the season and I cannot wait to see the incredible talent this team has developing and progressing over the games to come.

Angelie B – Captain

U11B: This week, our U11B team played Winchester House and were hoping for victory but unfortunately we lost. The final score was 239 runs to us and 274 to Winchester House. The Player of the Match was Poppy P and a big well done to all the girls who played.

Diya B – Captain 

U10A: We played pairs cricket and the match went really well. We got an outstanding 67 runs and we won by 39 runs. However, the team we were playing – Winchester House – did pretty well too. A couple of us scored sixes and most of us scored four. I ran someone out and so did Olivia H. Annabel P was chosen as Player of the Match. We did very well at fielding and batting in particular, but we need to work on our bowling and keeping the ball nice and straight all the way to the wickets so we can get the other team out. The U10A team won with a score of 244 (1W) – 228 (1W).

Avani A – Captain

U10B: This was a close game between the two teams. There was strong bowling from Jesleen R and Eloise C during their overs and excellent communication between myself and Cristina S-R to score runs. I was named Player of the Match. The U10B team won with a score of 253 (1W) to 249.

Imogen O – Captain 

News from outside of the classroom: Year 4 Ceramics Workshop

Miss Sanderson and I were delighted to welcome Year 4 to the Senior School Art Department for our annual Ceramics Workshops.

This year we have turned to the natural world and lighting as inspiration for our clay project. We made sea urchin tealight decorations and they look fabulous, worthy of any interior. Students learned new sculptural processes including coiling, hollowing out, slipping and scoring and creating negative shapes.

Year 4 added decoration and surface texture using a range of tools including rubber kidneys, wooden modelling tools and of course the best tool for ceramics – our hands!

We are excited to see the results after these stoneware sculptures have been biscuit fired. We will then begin the process of applying glazes – watch this space for a progress report.

Well done girls, another successful workshop. We cannot wait to see them on display for The Arts Festival on 26 June.

Mrs Mel Beacroft
Head of Creative Arts Faculty

News from outside of the classroom: StepMentor Programme

Last term, our Sixth Form students ran the StepMentor initiative as part of their GDST Enterprise elective. The programme has now concluded but proved very successful, and the girls who took part really enjoyed the sessions.

“I enjoy it lots because you never know the next song and it’s a big surprise.” – Grace B

“When you start dancing you can’t really stop”, I loved the forward rolls because I hadn’t really tried them before. – Agnes R

“I loved doing gymnastics because of the handstands and cartwheels.” – Lily P

Weekly Awards

Star Learners of the Week:

Amber G, Marine A, Sophia R-N, Rosie B, Isabella B, Agnes R, Amariah S-A, Evie H, Olivia H, Eliza A, Cordelia B, Angelie B, Maya R, Daisy S

Gymnastics Club:

Congratulations to Siéna-Louise D B, Amelia K, Aurelia M, Lily P, Agnes R, Aurelia T, Artemisia U who were awarded certificates for taking part in the Gymnastics Club run by our Sixth Form students.

External Achievements:

Maia S – awarded a Gymnastics Grade 6 certificate
Robyn F-W – awarded Horse Riding skills stamps for trotting holding onto the reins with one hand, and no hands!
Penelope J – awarded Star of the Week in her Trampolining lesson
Georgina P – achieved her Storytelling badge and helper Rainbow badge
Jasmine I – achieved her 50m Swimming certificate
Ella K – performed on stage with the Opera Boys Tour in the PQA Choir at Castle Theatre, Wellingborough
Emily T – awarded 1st place Ballet and 2nd in National at the Northampton Dance Festival
Siéna-Louise D B – achieved 2nd in her Ballet solo, 1st for Character group, 1st for small Ballet group, 1st for large Ballet group, 1st for National group, 1st for Greek group and 2nd for Modern group at the Northampton Dance Festival
Rayna N – moved Swimming group from Otters to Crocodiles
Grace B – performed on stage with the Opera Boys Tour in the PQA Choir at Castle Theatre in Wellingborough, was invited to take part in the Lionel Cox Tennis Tournament, achieved 1st place in her Swimming League and invited to go to the District trials
Isabella B – achieved Player of the Match for her Football team and awarded an intensive Swimming course attendance achievement
Orla D  – awarded her Skiing ESF badge (got down all the slopes, including red and black)
Caoimhe H-T – awarded a Blue Peter Book badge and was awarded the following dancing trophies from the Leicester City Irish Dancing Championships – 3 x 1st, 2 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd and 1 x 5th
Rhoda J – achieved a Merit in her Grade 1 Piano exam
Olivia T – awarded Player of the Day, received a medal for taking part in an Arsenal Football Tournament day and played at a UK Youth Football Tournament, winning all their group games but lost in the semi final
Annie T – awarded a Blue Belt in Karate, achieved her Skiing ESF badge (Alpine Skiing Ability) and became a seconder in Brownies
Avani A – awarded Bronze Swimming squad at a new Swimming club
Eloise C – competed in a Netball League and came 3rd and 4th out of 19
Annabel P – competed in a Netball League and came 3rd and 4th out of 19
Leah W – achieved a Merit in her Grade 2 Singing performance exam
Diya B – awarded a Gymnastics Level 3 badge and certificate
Aurelia T – took part in a Stage School performance at the Deco Theatre and moved up to Stage 3, and was awarded a Distinction in her Grade 3 Singing exam

Birthdays This Week

This week, we wish a very Happy Birthday to the following members of our Junior School family:

Maya R, Daneka S, Mehiera J and Daisy P

Save the Date: Speech Day

Northampton High School Swim Clubs

Pauline Quirke Academy

Term Dates

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