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Newcastle High School For Girls - “NHSG Reece Award, encouraging a new generation of engineers”

NHSG Reece Award, encouraging a new generation of engineers

November 20, 2023
Newcastle High School for Girls is delighted to be able to offer two Sixth Form means-tested bursaries with the generous support of the Reece Foundation. The Reece Foundation was established in 2007 by the inspired mechanical designer Dr. Alan Reece. One of the most successful engineering entrepreneurs of his generation Dr Alan Reece was a passionate believer in engineering as a provider of prosperity and enjoyable employment, he created The Reece Foundation to promote manufacturing and support education relating to engineering, mathematics and physics. In 2012 the next generation of the Reece family took over the family business and they have continued to run the Reece Foundation with the same objectives, to encourage a new generation of engineers, focusing on the improvement of education in engineering and related scientific and mathematical subjects and since 2014 this has included supporting Sixth Form bursaries at Newcastle High School for Girls. Engineering is part of everybody’s lives and should be for everyone. Together, NHSG and The Reece Foundation are widening access to careers in engineering. Gender stereotypes should not dictate the outcome of women’s career potential or the direction it takes. Engineers are helping solve some of the world’s biggest problems, by overlooking half of the population of potential engineers we are overlooking huge potential talent and restricting diversity of thought. NHSG is uniquely placed to support the next generation of young female engineers and with thanks to The Reece Foundation we are able to offer the brightest and most able potential engineers access to an outstanding education without financial barriers. Together we are delivering their mission to improve access to education in engineering and prepare future engineers for a flourishing career in the field for the benefit of not just the North East but our global society. Applications for Reece Awards are invited from girls in maintained secondary schools who will be completing their GCSEs in summer 2023. Successful candidates will be able to demonstrate a strong interest in, and aptitude for, engineering as a future career; will be predicted grades 7 - 9 in maths and science subjects at GCSE; and will be prepared to follow A Levels in STEM subjects (sciences, technology, mathematics) which will equip them for application to university engineering courses. For more information about our Bursaries, Awards and Scholarships, and how to apply, see our NHSG Awards Brochure here.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “How NHSG’s ‘Life 360’ initiative prepares Sixth Formers for a world beyond academia”

How NHSG’s ‘Life 360’ initiative prepares Sixth Formers for a world beyond academia

October 25, 2023
By Amanda Hardie, NHSG Acting Head The transition from school to university life is huge – a monumental shift in independence for girls as they leave our Sixth Form to embark on degree level study. But what about life beyond higher education? How can we prepare girls for that? I remember when I was studying at Oxford University, a fellow student confided that she didn’t know how to write a cheque and it caused quite a challenge for her. It seems strange, doesn’t it, that an obviously bright, academic achiever wouldn’t know how to make this basic financial transaction. However, that’s where the problem lies – if we assume that everyone knows how to do these day-to-day tasks, nobody will ever show them. And if nobody shows them, when these tasks present themselves, they can quickly become significant barriers. In fact, this need for wider support was raised in a recent major study conducted by the GDST, The Girls’ Futures Report 2022, where over 1300 nationally representative girls from a range of schools (state, private, co-ed and single sex) were surveyed. Results showed that girls are demanding an education in more practical and hard skills; 70% of senior school aged girls saying they want more financial education, and they also highlighted how they wanted to know more about how the real world works. That’s where NHSG’s Life 360 programme comes into its own. Life 360 is an enrichment programme that we launched in September 2023 to provide sixth form girls with a holistic suite of learning activities that will empower them to make the most of the opportunities life brings their way. We consulted with pupils to ensure that we were designing the most responsive and relevant programme for them, and we run the sessions every week during Year 13. The programme incorporates four key strands: financial literacy, global political understanding, UK citizenship and social responsibility. We know that many NHSG girls are socially and politically aware, and they may often be tuned into news and politics, but that doesn’t mean that they know the fundamentals of how our political systems work, or that they understand the history of the international conflicts that are sadly affecting many countries today. Equally, while some may have a basic understanding of budget management, including university finance, they might not understand the tax system or how pensions, interest rates or mortgages work – and why they’re needed. This is something I discovered as a parent of a graduate who recently headed into the world of work – when faced with taxation and the need to make decisions about pensions she felt she needed more understanding, despite her otherwise comprehensive academic journey. The social literacy strand helps pupils become proactive, responsible and independent members of society, for example through learning principles of self-defence, understanding organ and blood donation systems, knowing how to spot signs of coercion and being aware of safe driving practices – to name but a few. It’s all about how to better contribute to society, but also how to maintain your own safety and independence. These are all topics covered in our Life 360 programme, and, in line with our broader academic curriculum, all classes are taught by subject specialists to ensure that girls are learning from the best. We are able to achieve this by running the sessions on a carousel basis, so girls are learning in smaller groups with subject specialists before rotating on to the next session. We also bring in experts from outside of school to talk to girls about these key areas, ensuring they hear directly from industry experts. Alongside this programme we also run a creative wellbeing strand where girls have a fortnightly opportunity to start their day with a mindfulness activity such as music, dance or art. This is to encourage relaxation and social connection – without any added pressure. In fact, all of the above-mentioned strands are delivered without any focus on a particular assessment outcome – girls won't be sitting exams or delivering coursework, and there will be no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ in the Life 360 programme. It’s about having the opportunity to learn and to create, to enhance the girls’ existing life skills and prepare them for today’s world. Life 360 is part of our future facing approach to education which runs through everything we do, ensuring that we empower our girls to be the very best version of themselves in every sense – not just in terms of academic success. We are so proud of the girls in our community, both in terms of our current pupils and those who have gone on to achieve such outstanding success, and that’s why it’s important that we provide these practical skills that they can apply later in life. Building solid foundations will put girls on the front foot, enabling them to confidently navigate the world around them, manage their resources effectively and play an invaluable proactive role in their community and beyond.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “6 ways your daughter is playing a proactive role in protecting the planet at NHSG”

6 ways your daughter is playing a proactive role in protecting the planet at NHSG

October 20, 2023
Climate change is everybody’s business, which is why at NHSG we not only raise awareness and provide teaching on the topic, we incorporate it into everyday school life – from nursery right through to sixth form. For sustainability to become an automatic part of all our lives we absolutely have to see it as an inherent part of societal responsibility, rather than a ‘nice to have’. So, since 2022, we have been working hard to improve, coordinate and monitor our green activity through completion of the GDST Sustainability Educate Bronze Award. The point of this award is about so much more than a bronze badge, however, and, as such, it has served as a catalyst for longer-term activity and impactful change within, and beyond, the school grounds. Perhaps most exciting of all, is the fact that your daughter has been playing a hugely proactive role in this. Here are some of the things our pupils have been involved with:
  1. Weekly sustainability club
Our weekly club, led by the pupils themselves, ensures that pupils have a voice and provides them with a formal structure and platform from which to initiate the change that they want to see. We have always promoted a collaborative approach with our pupils and we are committed to hearing their views and ideas and working with them to make them a reality. This is an approach that runs through all of our activities, including our sustainability programmes. This highly engaged and proactive group meet weekly to discuss the issues currently facing the planet, and the ways in which they can make a positive difference. Many of the activities and events listed in this article were originally thought up by this group of passionate and dedicated eco-warriors.
  1. Carbon buster challenges
As part of the Bronze award programme we were given the opportunity to select three carbon buster challenges to implement within the school. These challenges have been designed to create opportunities for ongoing behaviour change that contributes to the preservation of our planet. The three chosen by NHSG included bike servicing sessions, to ensure that pupils felt encouraged and supported to cycle to school safely, saving on fuel and emissions; a food waste campaign, requiring all girls to empty their food waste into containers to enable us all to monitor and visualise just how much is going to waste; and regular book swap events – saving on print, paper and energy whilst encouraging a love of literature and further extra-curricular learning.
  1. A Touch of Green Week
This is an annual week-long event that takes place every May, aiming to increase awareness and re-boot and re-energise the school community’s interest in sustainability. This year we focused on recycling through a range of creative and social events such as quizzes, and a second-hand fashion show – which inspired another planned activity that the girls themselves put forward – regular clothes swap sessions where rails will be placed in changing rooms so girls can bring their unwanted clothes and exchange them for something new from one of their peers. We also encouraged the wider school community to consider how they travel to NHSG on a daily basis and to opt for walking, cycling or public transport. The junior school also put on their own specific activities including ‘walk on the wild side’, which asked them to take one thing they often do indoors (e.g. reading) and transporting it to their garden or other outdoor space.
  1. Meat-free Mondays
We all know that veganism is about so much more than a love of animals, and many choose the plant-powered way of life due to its positive contribution to climate change - including a reduction in the greenhouse gases that are associated with meat production. As such, every Monday, our menu is entirely meat-free, allowing us to play our part.
  1. Recycling and Litter Picks
To encourage increased recycling, we have removed all bins from the classrooms and introduced ‘waste stations’ that pupils use to dispose of materials in a more effective, eco-friendly way. Many of our pupils also take part in regular litter picks, that not only help the environment directly, but also serves to encourage other members of the community to think more carefully about litter disposal after seeing the generous work of NHSG pupils. This term we have also taken delivery of our new wormery at Junior School, where thousands of worms are munching their way through our waste food and creating compost. We’ll be sharing more news of this exciting initiative once our worms have settled in!
  1. The Just One Tree partnership 
Just One Tree is a fantastic initiative that works with schools and other organisations to plant more trees around the world. Trees absorb CO2, restore biodiversity and generally make the world a better and brighter place! It costs just £1 to plant a tree, and, at NHSG we are responsible for the planting of 603 trees, while between us all across the GDST, through our ‘wear green days’ and many other initiatives, we have already grown an entire forest (approximately 10,000 trees!). Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without the continued support of NHSG’s parents and carers and we’d like to thank you for encouraging your daughter to take part in some of these initiatives. Should you have any further ideas or opportunities you would like to share with us, please email me  e.waton@nhsg.gdst.net I recommend you visit the GDST sustainability page on their website too so you can see how we are making a difference across our whole family of schools: https://www.gdst.net/about-us/sustainability/ By Mrs Emma Waton, Head of Science and Biology  
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Managing Eco-Anxiety”

Managing Eco-Anxiety

October 20, 2023
You might not have heard the term eco-anxiety before, but you’ve more than likely seen the effects of it. Eco-anxiety has actually been around for some time, but it’s only quite recently that we’ve started talking more about it. Understanding what eco-anxiety is and how serious and prevalent it can be can help us more effectively support the children and young people affected by it. What is eco-anxiety? Eco-anxiety describes a specific type of anxiety where somebody feels distressed or frightened about climate change. Of course, everybody experiences a degree of anxiety from time to time, but when it impacts on day to day life, it can become overwhelming and quite serious. And it’s the same with eco-anxiety. It might be something that your child is worrying about at night, causing them to lose out on sleep. Or perhaps it is distracting them during the day, taking their focus away from the things that make them happy or that help them to learn and grow. While we have been discussing climate change for some time, we need to acknowledge that the level of information – much of it frightening – received by our children can be all consuming. Whether they’re seeing it on TV, in newspapers or on social media, there are many doom and gloom scenarios related to climate change that are, frankly, terrifying. The problem, however, is very real. So how do we maintain the conversation about climate change to make the future brighter for our young people, without negatively impacting on their wellbeing in the present? The NHSG approach Because sustainability is a topic that is threaded through almost everything we do – from the curriculum to how we dispose of litter or the food that we eat at lunchtime – it’s important that we embed these messages from a very early age. However, we don’t want pupils to feel scared every time we bring up the subject – which is inevitably what can happen if they feel bombarded by relentless images of polar bears losing their homes or rainforests burning down. So, instead of picturing what will happen if we carry on as we are, we try to explore the more positive effects of activism. This might include how beautiful and fulfilling the world will be if we plant more trees, recycle and save energy. Of course, we can’t shy away from the facts, especially when it comes to topics that are covered in the curriculum. For example, in Geography, pupils might learn about Brazil and deforestation – which of course can be hugely concerning. However, rather than skirt around this, we try to normalise the conversation, as well as making sure that we follow it up with a solutions-focused lesson that enables pupils to feel empowered and able to play a part in protecting the planet. For our younger pupils, we also ensure that they are able to see how these solutions fit into daily life in school, so they are supported in making those connections between what they are learning about in their lessons, and what they are already doing on a day to day basis (for example, using recycling stations in classrooms, or using iPads instead of paper). What drives eco-anxiety? In addition to the overwhelm of information received, one of the biggest causes of eco anxiety is this idea of relentless sacrifice i.e. to make a difference you have to stop this or that. Sometimes these sacrifices can seem to big and daunting. For example, giving up meat or giving up riding in the car. This is why the onus needs to be on the sustainable lifestyle changes individuals can make that will make a positive difference. We have meat-free Mondays at school – it’s not about encouraging everyone to become vegan, but about showing how just a small change to your diet on one day of the week can help the environment. We also know that eco anxiety is fear of the unknown. Children these days are so much more apprehensive about being outside – many simply don’t go out and play and spend time amongst nature. That’s why we are lucky to have the NHSG forest school for our early years pupils, and challenges like our ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ initiative that encourages children to spend some time outdoors doing something they wouldn’t normally do such as camping or hiking with the family. Finally, anxiety can be borne of feelings of hopelessness. Many girls have told us that they are weighed down by this feeling of pointlessness – what difference can they, as an individual, make to this huge global problem. This is why we teach our pupils about the ripple effect – how that actions of one person can ripple out to inspire others, building on and amplifying the impact they are making. The younger generation are used to living a more sustainable life so they are well-placed to make good choices, but we have to facilitate the opportunities for them to do so. We also need to talk about eco-anxiety – so that girls who are experiencing it don’t feel alone in it. This isn’t something that will go away any time soon, but if we make a concerted effort to support our pupils at home and at school by looking at solutions-focused approaches to learning about climate change, and empowering them to make a small difference both directly and as a result of the ripple effect, we will be contributing to their wellbeing both now and in the future. By Mrs Abi Shaw, Junior School Teacher and Junior School Sustainability Coordinator
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Thea ready for A Level challenge after success at GCSE”

Thea ready for A Level challenge after success at GCSE

August 25, 2023
Thea ready for A Level challenge after success at GCSE Thea Jeffares is ready for the challenge of A Level study at NHSG after receiving top grades in all her GCSE subjects. She said:I have been really nervous over the last week and imagining the worst, so it’s a big relief and I feel very happy.  A big thank you to my teachers for always pushing me and believing in my ability. They helped me to reach my potential. Now I can put GCSEs behind me and properly move on.” With one grade 9, eight grade 8s and a 7, Thea has an excellent foundation for Sixth Form at NHSG where she plans to take A Levels in English Literature, History and Politics. Explaining the reasons for her choices, Thea said: ‘I’ve always loved English so that was an easy choice. I hadn’t originally selected History for GCSE but had a last minute switch and absolutely loved it, particularly the topic on the Cold War topic. There’s a Russian unit in the A Level syllabus so I am really looking forward to learning that.’ Thea is thinking about studying Law at university so added that “Politics feels like a good fit”. Planning on throwing herself into Sixth Form life, Thea also expects to be out on the school courts and pitches: “Sport is my thing so I will be getting involved over the next two years.” ‘When I was in Year 7, I thought Sixth Form looked cool and since then I have always wanted to be in it, and now it starts next week! In Sixth Form you are treated more like an adult and you have a bit more independence. So it’s like starting again while still being at NHSG.” “Being at an all-girl school is the best environment - 100%. No-one is afraid to be smart and it’s the most nurturing environment. Coming to Senior School here was THE best decision.”
Newcastle High School For Girls - “GCSE Celebrations for Catherine”

GCSE Celebrations for Catherine

August 25, 2023
Catherine Brettell was still taking it all in on GCSE results day as her results envelope revealed an outstanding set of grades - four 9s, five 8s and a 7. She said: “My GCSEs have been out of mind for most to the summer but obviously I have been thinking about them more over the past few days. I am particularly pleased with my 9 in Geography and grade 8 in Chemistry!” Catherine also took a moment to praise her teachers who helped her achieve such great grades: “They are always involved and dedicated to you doing well,  They want you to do as well as you do so I am very grateful.” Now Catherine is looking forward to studying her chosen A Level subjects of Biology, Geography and Psychology in more depth in NHSG’s Sixth Form. She explained more: “I enjoy trying to learn how things work so these subjects appeal to me. Biology and Geography are my favourite subjects and my older sister Eleanor studied Psychology A Level here at NHSG and now also at University so she gave the course a glowing review.” Without a firm decision on what the future beyond Sixth Form holds, Catherine is planning on enjoying Sixth Form and seeing where the next two years take her. She’ll be focusing on her studies and her love for Drama and Singing. “I’ll definitely be auditioning for next year’s School Musical Legally Blonde where I would love to be Emmett.”
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Nerves replaced with joy for Afefa”

Nerves replaced with joy for Afefa

August 24, 2023
While Afefa Aymon Zamil admits to being a little nervous before opening her GCSE results this morning she says her parents were more nervous than her. Nerves soon gave way to joy, as Afefa and her parents learned she had collected all top grades at GCSE with two 9s, six 8s, and 2 7s. Afefa said: “Going into my exams I felt I had done everything I could and I am really happy with my results particularly English Literature where I have more than exceeded my grade prediction." She added: “All my teachers have been so helpful and put in extra time and care for me -  reassuring me as well as encouraging me to have high expectations for myself. Everyone wants you to do well here.” Planning on taking three A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Politics, Afefa says she is keeping her options open. “I am aiming to be dermatologist as I have real interest in skincare and it seems like it would be a great profession for me. I have also selected an essay based A Level to keep my options open too as I am also interested in taking a Law degree. I am going to be doing lots of work experience over the next two years to help me with my decision.” As she contemplates what Sixth Form at NHSG will be like for her, Afefa aims to “have some fun and remain calm throughout Year 12 as well as to stay on top of my work."
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Top grades at GCSE means Iona is running on a high”

Top grades at GCSE means Iona is running on a high

August 24, 2023
Cross County runner, Iona Johnstone, was on a high after learning she had achieved all top grades at GCSE today. After receiving seven grade 9s, three grades 8s and a grade  7, Iona said: ”I was quite nervous this morning but I was excited to see what I could achieve. I’m in shock as my results are better than I thought I could ever achieve and I have exceeded my own expectations. “I am particularly pleased with my English and Spanish grades as I found these subject hard, but also very happy with my Science and Maths results as I love these subjects.” Starting at NHSG’s Sixth Form in September, Iona will be taking A Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry.  “There is so much to explore in these subjects which help explain how the world works to provide a greater understanding of the universe.” Iona is an outstanding Cross Country athlete and competes for the North East in inter-county and national competitions and she is aiming to remain at the top of her sport while at Sixth Form as well as taking her learning to the next level. “After A Levels, I would like to go to Oxbridge to study Physics or Maths.  What I have achieved today will give me a great foundation for that and I am so excited for the challenge of A Levels.” With obvious high aspirations, it’s no surprise that Iona has also set herself another challenge to achieve Grade 8 in Music while in Sixth Form too. Iona plans to celebrate her success with her sister Sophie who collected outstanding A Level results from the school last week. She said: “NHSG provides a really supportive environment – we never worry that our ideas are irrelevant and or inconsequential. The staff and pupils all help each other and it’s these relationships that make a huge difference to what you can achieve.” And, if you are about to start your GCSEs this year, Iona’s advice is: “Know that you will be building on your skills throughout the course. You will shock yourself with what you can achieve – there’s no limit if you work hard and consistently.”