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Newcastle High School For Girls - “In conversation with Emma Barnett – NHSG’s new Head of Junior School”

In conversation with Emma Barnett – NHSG’s new Head of Junior School

May 15, 2024
Following a competitive recruitment process, Emma Barnett has been appointed as Head of Junior School for Newcastle High School for Girls’ (NHSG). We chatted to her about her career, her future plans for the Junior School, and what makes NHSG such a special place. Can you tell us a little bit about your career to date. I’ve actually been with NHSG, or at least with Church High one of its founding schools, since I graduated. That’s over 25 years and I’ve loved every moment. I began as a class teacher and am absolutely delighted to now be the Head of the Junior School; it’s a real honour. Over the years, I’ve seen pupils join our Junior School, continue right through NHSG until age 18, go on to achieve great things beyond school, and then return as parents bringing their daughters back to the school. That really is testament to how special the school is. You’re clearly passionate about the Junior School at NHSG. So what is it that makes it so unique? The sense of community is really special – we have great relationships with both the parents and the pupils which we build on from a girl’s very first steps into Nursery and school at age 3 or 4. We work in partnership to support the girls to develop a real love of learning and intellectual curiosity from day one, and then we nurture it to set the foundation for all future learning. We do this brilliantly at NHSG. Another trait of NHSG that really stands out for me is how progressive we are. We embrace change, for example, we’ve always been clear that the role of tech isn’t simply confined to computing skills - it’s an enabler to learn in more flexible, dynamic and creative ways across all curriculum subjects. You can find knowledge at the click of a button these days, but it’s what you do with it and how you apply it that really sets young minds up for the world. Our Junior School classrooms are stimulating places that encourage lively discussion. A classroom where the girls are talking more than the teacher is a genuinely exciting place to be. Why are you passionate about an all-girl education? Despite great strides, sadly, there are still some barriers faced by girls and women. Our new generation of girls are too young to see those barriers but with the absence of boys competing for attention and opportunities in the classroom, they are free and confident enough to pursue whatever they want to do. Nobody is going to suggest to them that they shouldn’t become a scientist or a footballer one day. They literally have the whole world at their fingertips from the age of three and, as they grow older, they’ll be better equipped and empowered  to compete for those roles because they’ll have never doubted their right to succeed in traditionally male-dominated sectors. The world is their oyster. What are your future aims for NHSG Junior School? For me it’s about ensuring that what we are teaching and how we teach it remains dynamic and future focused. So this will involve keeping abreast of what’s going on in the world, and continually auditing, reviewing and reflecting on what we are doing. This extends to the the pastoral system in school too. Technological development, particularly connected to social media, means that new challenges are faced regularly, even for younger girls, and we need to acknowledge and address these issues.  Society is changing rapidly all the time, and we have to change with it. As long as the girls are happy, feel safe, secure and confident in their learning environment they will do well and achieve great things.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “NHSG shortlisted in TES Schools Awards”

NHSG shortlisted in TES Schools Awards

May 3, 2024
Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) has been shortlisted in this year’s TES Schools Awards – a prestigious awards programme dubbed the ‘Oscars of Education’ that celebrates the best of education across the UK. NHSG is shortlisted for the Independent Senior School of the Year award and is the only North East school to be shortlisted in that category. The TES Schools Awards recognises the very best teachers and schools from UK state and independent schools, across early years settings, primary and secondary. The shortlist was compiled by a panel of judges including school leaders and experts. The schools and teachers they chose showcase the best of education across the sector within 21 award categories, covering all areas of school education. Amanda Hardie, Head at NHSG, an all-through 3 to 18 all-girl school, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted for this award, and it is an honour to have the work we are doing here at Newcastle High recognised nationally in this way. It is an incredibly exciting time to be at Newcastle High as we deliver on our vision of empowering future-ready girls who are leaders, trailblazers and world-shapers, paving the way for themselves, and those who come after them.” NHSG’s submission focused on its three current priorities: academic excellence, growing pupil numbers and innovative curriculum design. Able to evidence impact through its pupil voice feedback and consultation schemes and driving its strategy forward with a newly formed Academic Leadership Team, the school is working with teaching staff to develop pedagogy and to ensure effective and inspiring teaching and learning takes place across the school. Its innovative curriculum design, including a forward-looking STEM curriculum, informed by NHSG’s collaboration with regional universities and Sage, is ensuring that pupils are equipped with the future-facing skills in tech, including coding, cyber-security and AI. By reaching as many girls as possible through increased pupil numbers and outreach work, NHSG is ensuring that more girls are able to pave the way for themselves and to shape the world around them for the better. Jon Severs, Editor of TES Magazine said: “Congratulations to all the shortlisted entries – the standard was so high this year despite the challenges schools face. It is critical we celebrate excellence and share it widely so we can ensure that the fantastic work happening in education is properly recognised.” Winners will be announced on 21st June at a glittering awards night at the Grosvenor Hotel, Park Lane in London. This year also marked the first time TES operated this awards programme internationally with the TES Awards for International Schools. To view the full shortlist online, please visit https://www.tes.com/en-gb/schools-awards.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Do you have a passion for girls’ education? School Governing Board Opportunity”

Do you have a passion for girls’ education? School Governing Board Opportunity

April 30, 2024
If you have a passion for empowering girls through the delivery of an outstanding education and are able to give time and expertise to supporting a school in delivering its aims then please read on. We are looking to recruit a new member to the NHSG School Governing Board (SGB). This is an advisory board where you will have the opportunity to contribute to the future success of NHSG by:
  • Considering and providing constructive feedback into the strategic development and performance of the school through the context of a local lens and overall GDST strategy
  • Acting as an Ambassador for the school, and for GDST, within the local community
  • Supporting the Head and school Senior Leadership Team by acting as a critical friend, and by having an active interest and presence in the life of the school, including supporting events and fundraising initiatives
As a member of the SGB, you will be expected to:
  • attend termly informal and formal SGB meetings
  • scrutinise SGB papers and reports as appropriate
  • take an active interest in, and contribute to, the life of the school for the benefit of the pupils and all those within the school community.
  • Attend GDST-led training and events
In return, you will join an engaged and friendly board and staff team who are focused on the delivery of the school’s vision to be a champion of excellence in all-girl education and to empower girls to be the leaders, trailblazers and world shapers of the future. What skills do I need? We are seeking applications from a wide range of professions and commitment and dedication to the role, plus a passion for NHSG and girls’ education, are the prerequisites. You should be an experienced professional who is highly regarded within your field and able to fulfil the strategic requirement of the role. Role Job Description GDST At a Glance Guide SGB Council Regulations What else do I need to know? This is a voluntary role with a tenure of three years. How do I make an application? If you would like to apply for the role, then please submit your CV along with either a covering letter or a personal statement explaining why you are interested in the role, to Ms I Williams, i.williams@ncl.gdst.net There are no restrictions to the format you use for your application. The deadline for application is: Friday 17th May 2024. The SGB Nominations Committee will review your application and successful applicants will be invited to discuss their application further on Tuesday 11th June 2024. Final stage applicants will be invited to meet the Chair of the SGB as well as the Head of NHSG on Thursday 13th June 2024. If this is an opportunity that excites you, and you believe you can contribute to the ongoing success of NHSG, we’d love to hear from you.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “GDST Creative Writing Competition success for Talulah”

GDST Creative Writing Competition success for Talulah

April 4, 2024
We are delighted to announce that Talulah, Year 7, has won the Year 7, 8 and 9 category of the GDST Creative Writing Competition for her entry ‘The Village of Kindness’. This year, the theme for the GDST Creative Writing Prize was ‘Kindness'. The entries were judged by Ewa Jozefkowicz, an alumna of Notting and Ealing High School. Ewa Jozefkowicz was a student at Notting Hill and Ealing High School (Class of 2005). She always loved writing and is now a children's author. Her debut novel, The Mystery of the Colour Thief, published by Zephyr (Bloomsbury), was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. She has since written five other mystery books for middle-grade readers. Her new series for early readers, The Woodland Explorers Club, is launching in May 2024. The judge said, about Talulah's entry, "A treasure of a story. Dystopian yet hopeful. It made me so sad to think that our memories could be replaced by The Cloud or AI, but it's a topic that you handled brilliantly. The emotion was palpable and the characters so vividly drawn. I was truly impressed!" Congratulations Talulah. You can read Talulah's winning story here.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Newcastle High School for Girls appoints new Head of Junior School”

Newcastle High School for Girls appoints new Head of Junior School

March 21, 2024
Following a formal recruitment process that attracted a strong field of candidates from across the UK, we were delighted to announce the appointment of Emma Barnett as Head of Junior School at the beginning of March. Emma Barnett is already known by the school, its pupils and parents, having served as Assistant Head of Junior School since 2022 before being promoted to Acting Head of Junior School in September 2023. Amanda Hardie, Head at NHSG, an all through 3 to 18 all girl school, said: “As a long-standing member of the Senior Leadership Team Emma brings with her an in-depth understanding of the school and its pupils meaning she will really hit the ground running as she takes over the reins. Emma’s passion for all-girl education, dedication to the success of the school and exciting vision for Junior School shone through at interview and I am very much looking forward to working with her as we build upon the success of NHSG and continue to shape an exciting future for our school and the girls.” Emma Barnett said: “I’m thrilled to have been appointed as Head of Junior School – it’s such a special place and I look forward to leading the school forward and continuing to build relationships with parents and girls to ensure our Junior School remains the leading choice for girls in the North East. “My vision is for our Junior School to be a trailblazing school with an outstanding academic offer, delivering a future facing and dynamic curriculum focused on prioritising the needs of individual pupils alongside an innovative personal development programme to ensure every girl is happy, focused and empowered to be the very best version of herself.” With an outstanding Early Years provision, NHSG welcomes girls aged 3 and above to its Junior School which is situated in a stunning woodland setting in the Sandyford area of Newcastle, has access to dynamic indoor and outdoor classrooms and programmes a vast range of clubs and activities. All Junior School pupils also enjoy a seamless transition to NHSG’s Senior School in Jesmond, with regular introductory days on site, and lessons delivered by subject specialists from the senior school. NHSG is one of a family of schools, the Girls’ Day School Trust, which has 25 schools across the country.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Giving Girls the Competitive Edge in STEM”

Giving Girls the Competitive Edge in STEM

March 8, 2024
It goes without saying that girls and women need access to cutting edge, dynamic teaching and learning programmes if they want to succeed in the traditionally male-dominated world of STEM. Cutting through the pervasive stigma about women in STEM requires a competitive edge. Which is why at NHSG we’re proud to go over and above when it comes to our innovative academic programmes and industry collaborations. But we also know that girls and women need another secret ingredient to succeed: confidence. And that’s something that NHSG girls develop in spades. NHSG alumnae have been trailblazing in STEM for over a century – and they continue to make waves today. From the revolutionary engineering scholar, Rachel Mary Parsons (an alumna of Central Newcastle High at the turn of the 20th century) who not only instructed thousands of Tyneside women in engineering factories as men went to war, but also lobbied for women’s career rights, to more recent NHSG alumnae such as Rosie Hurcombe, who has just completed a 13 month Car Build Industrial Placement for the Mercedes-AMG Petronius Formula One Team. The impact, prestige and importance of the work that NHSG alumnae go on to achieve is testament to our investment in STEM and confidence building – but how do we do it? Confidence Confidence needs to be nurtured from an early age as girls develop their curiosity and educational preferences. If a three-year-old girl displays an interest in building blocks and construction, she needs to be encouraged and empowered to build on that (excuse the pun!). This is where all-girl schools come into their own. In 2022, the GDST commissioned the Girls’ Futures report, a piece of research that indisputably confirmed that ‘girls only’ education can and does have a measurable impact on gender bias when taking part in activities. In response to the statement ‘I avoid some activities, subjects and hobbies because of my gender’, only 9%of GDST girls agreed with this statement, compared to 37% of girls nationally. This is perhaps because, while there isn’t a lack of female role models in STEM, they are not adequately communicated in wider educational settings. For example, Teach First’s research found that not a single woman’s name explicitly featured in the national curriculum for GCSE science, yet, in contrast, over 40 male scientists were mentioned. At NHSG we work closely with our alumnae community to ensure that girls are able to engage with inspirational role models. In fact, as part of our ‘Trailblazing in….’ assembly programme, Dr Emma Milner, Class of 2014, spoke to girls across school about her PhD in swarm robotics as part of  preparations for NHSG STEM week in March It’s also important to note that, when girls are learning and developing in all-girl settings – from nursery right through to Sixth Form – nobody will ever suggest that an activity ‘isn’t for them’. This builds confidence that not only encourages more engagement in STEM subjects and activities from an early age, but also embeds confidence and a belief that girls and women deserve their rightful place in STEM just as much as boys and men. Developing a competitive edge Of course, even with this confidence it helps to stand out above the rest, and this is why our curriculum is packed full of dynamic opportunities for girls to develop their skills and interests. According to PWC, only 5% of leadership positions in the UK tech sector are currently held by women. The conscious or unconscious bias to recruit ‘people like me’ can make it harder for women to cut through in these circumstances. Which is why we support girls to build a CV and portfolio that is genuinely undeniable. Other examples of initiatives include our cyber security programmes, and the fact that this is further embedded into our GCSE Computing curriculum. We are one of the few schools in the country able to deliver this, and our links with Sunderland University have also enabled our pupils to access exciting projects such as a cyber security escape room. We also teach robotics and take part in the VEX robotics competitions, as well as enjoying a link with Nissan that allows pupils to visit the manufacturing site and observe how robotics is transforming production in the car industry. The Wonder Challenge for KS3 and KS4 is another great initiative that we have signed up to, challenging Year 9 and 10 pupils to form mini construction companies, and F1 in Schools is a fantastic educational project and competition designed for teachers, informed by engineers and endorsed by Formula 1. In November 2023, two teams of NHSG pupils won the overall Regional Championship as well as the Best Engineered Car and Fastest Car awards. Our annual STEMpowerment Exhibition, held during British Science Week, brings some of the biggest names in STEM to NHSG to demonstrate and share some of the brilliant new technologies that are shaping our world. And in Junior School, our Science Fair sees pupils working with parents to create their own STEM Exhibits. All of this is done with a combined aim of exciting, inspiring and empowering girls in STEM. We are 100% committed to transforming the future for girls in STEM at NHSG and we will continue to identify exciting collaborations to be part of, while developing our increasingly competitive and ambitious core curriculum. With only 17% of women working in the tech industry, it is clear that without the intervention of initiatives to bring about positive change, men will continue to dominate the sector. That’s something we simply cannot settle for. If girls and women feel unable to take their rightful place in the world of STEM, then the world will be missing out on some of society’s brightest talent and creativity. We’re here to make that change.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Newcastle High School for Girls looks to the future with the appointment of new Head”

Newcastle High School for Girls looks to the future with the appointment of new Head

March 1, 2024
Amanda Hardie has been appointed Newcastle High School for Girls’ (NHSG) new Head, charged with leading the school’s continued development on behalf of its all-girl pupil community. We chat to Amanda about her plans, what makes Newcastle High so special and how girls and women are forging successful careers that are changing the face of society. Congratulations on your new role. How are you feeling about what lies ahead for you and for NHSG? It’s an incredibly exciting time. I am taking over the strategic leadership of the school, having spent my career dedicated to providing an outstanding all-girl education at Newcastle High and previously at one of its founding schools. I have inherited a school that is already in an incredibly strong position, with excellent A Level results and a firm position in top school rankings. To now be able to build upon those solid foundations will be an absolute honour. Newcastle High is a truly wonderful community where every girl is celebrated for who she is and empowered to be the best version of herself. I think what we all value the most as staff is seeing the girls grow into talented young women, from their early days with us in nursery and junior school – right through to waving them off as university life beckons and hearing of their success as they become part of our active alumnae community. So I think a huge part of my role will be listening to what’s important to the girls, keeping abreast of educational and technological advances that can create increased opportunities for them, and for NHSG broadly, and continually driving innovation in all that we do. You’re a long-standing member of the senior leadership team, most recently in the combined role of Head of Junior School and Senior School Deputy Head of Academic – as well as serving as Acting Head since September 2023. How will this experience influence your new position? Having such in-depth experience of both the Junior and High School environment is invaluable as it allows me to know every girl across school as an individual and to create a more consistent pathway through education for our pupils. Planning the curriculum with this all-through educational journey in mind means that every stage will build effectively and seamlessly on the one that went before it, and pupils will be incredibly well prepared for what comes next as they move into the year above. We are also able to familiarise junior school pupils with the senior school environment before they move up, which helps with confidence building. This is something that NHSG really prides itself on, and why we welcome girls from ages 3+, preparing them for future happiness, confidence and success. Why is an all-girl education so important to NHSG? Research shows that there are many benefits to an all-girl education, not least an improved sense of confidence that makes a huge difference. The Girls Day Schools’ Trust, the family of schools to which  Newcastle High belongs, is at the forefront of  educational research on this topic, and recent figures show that GDST girls feel less negative about the future, are more comfortable taking risks, and are less likely to avoid certain subjects because of their gender when compared to girls who attend mixed schools. This is why we see so much success in traditionally male dominated subjects, particularly STEM subjects, where we have seen many NHSG alumnae forging dynamic We regularly invite alumnae back to speak to our current pupils and their talks are always genuinely inspirational. Hearing from impressive women who once attended the school talking about their careers and experiences highlights to our pupils what they are capable of achieving in the future. How do you encourage interest in STEM subjects at NHSG? I think the first factor to consider is that there is zero room for discouragement. Girls can sometimes feel like imposters in mixed environments where boys might dominate certain subjects and take up more space in the classroom. But from the moment girls walk through the doors of NHSG, right their first steps in nursery, they are encouraged to follow their passions – which might involve playing football or building constructions from a young age. They do not feel inhibited by the presence of boys in the learning environment and therefore are free to learn without limits. We also work proactively to encourage take up of STEM subjects, working with regional and national partners and taking part in competitions and other initiatives. For example, we have recently signed up to The Wonder Challenge for KS3 and KS4 that sees pupils from Year 9 and 10 form mini construction companies. We have also invested heavily in our core academic offer, with the introduction of Design and Tech into the curriculum. Collaborations with Sunderland and Newcastle Universities have also opened up opportunities, as well as industry partnerships, for example our work with Nissan which ties into our robotics teaching. We still don’t see enough representation in industry – according to PWC only 5% of leadership positions in the UK tech sector are held by women – but things are changing and I’m committed to ensuring that Newcastle High is at the forefront of that change in our region, driving this interest and engagement from an early age and contributing to greater gender equality in STEM going forwards. What other opportunities are available for girls at NHSG beyond the exciting STEM developments? NHSG is a school where every girl is celebrated as an individual and is encouraged to follow her passion and interests.  Whether that passion is for Languages, Art, Humanities, Literature – the list could go on! -  our broad and exciting curriculum provides endless opportunities for girls to challenge themselves, to learn and to grow. For example, our school is alive with artists who show incredible creativity and drive, linguists who are inspired by native speakers and provided with opportunities to develop mastery of their chosen languages, actors who hone their craft with expert guidance and who produce the most phenomenal performances worthy of the West End and historians who are perceptive in their analysis of the past and who show curiosity and insight. Whatever it is that sparks the intellectual interest and passion of each girl, there are opportunities for her to pursue this and to take her learning way beyond the norm. Where do you see the school in five year’s time? My long aim is that NHSG will be the independent school of choice for girls in the region, where academic success is a given, where there is exceptional pastoral care, where girls have high aspirations and are inspired by strong female role models and know that nothing is off limits for them in terms of their future career choices. I think the core principles and ethos of the school will always remain - that is to provide a supportive environment in which girls thrive and learn without limits, and where we encourage a balance of happiness and ambition. The only way girls can achieve is if they are confident and comfortable in their learning environment but are adequately challenged to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to reach their full potential. But I do see us continually evolving, particularly in terms of our academic offer and our award-winning facilities, and much of that will involve always looking beyond academia – generating impactful external partnerships and keeping an eye on what is happening in the world.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Newcastle High School for Girls showcases budding fashion talent”

Newcastle High School for Girls showcases budding fashion talent

February 29, 2024
This fashion week season budding young designers from Newcastle High School for Girls have presented their own annual Art and Design Fashion Show, exploring themes including mental health, the human body, punk and Peaky Blinders. Taking place on Wednesday 14th February over two performances, the Newcastle school’s catwalk played host to an array of stunning designs from pupils in Years 9, 11, 12 and 13. In addition to creating their own designs, all Year 13 Textiles pupils also chose their own themes, music and choreography for their collections. Charlotte Morrow, a Year 13 pupil who is planning on studying fashion at university in September said: “Peaky Blinders was my initial inspiration, which led me to explore Romanian fashion and how it has influenced some of the Dolce and Gabbana runways shows. I was really taken with the religious imagery and that is what influenced the heart design and the white Devore train in my own designs.  I wedded that with the industrial vibes of Peaky Blinders and the smart tailoring of the time including ties and pinstripes and added the signature flat caps to reinforce the feel. “I definitely think when it comes to runway shows the more drama the better and it’s been great spending time on something so creative. When I saw it all come together in the final show it made all the hard work really worth it.” NHSG’s fashion show is an annual event open to audiences including staff, pupils, parents and the general public. This year, over 100 pupils took part including those from the school’s unique Textile Design A-Level – an academic offering that enables students to design and create a fashion collection from initial concept through to garment-making and putting on the runway show. Alison Goldie, Head of Art at NHSG, said: “The Fashion Show is one of our most anticipated events and it never disappoints! The originality, craft and flair on the catwalk this year was outstanding, and it’s a wonderful way for the whole school to come together and celebrate the artistic talent that thrives at NHSG.” NHSG has an outstanding reputation as a centre of creative excellence and sees many of its pupils following Art and Fashion related courses – subsequently entering a highly competitive industry that contributes over £29 billion to the UK economy. Among the school’s alumnae are Lauren Anderson, Charis Younger, Evie Turley, Jenni Moore, Chloe Cooper and Caroline Legg, who all currently work in fashion or are studying for a degree in fashion. Highly successful designer Fiona Sinha also attended NHSG before going on to study fashion at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, where she met design partner Aleksandar Stanic and, together, under their label SinhaStanic, they went on to work for Alexander McQueen’s McQ label.