Newcastle High School for Girls - News

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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.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Increasing Year 9 intake places due to unprecedented demand”

Increasing Year 9 intake places due to unprecedented demand

February 16, 2024
Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) is holding an extra Open Day and inviting additional applications for entry into Year 9 after taking the decision to expand. In response to unprecedented demand for places at the school, NHSG has decided to expand from a three form entry to a four form entry from September as it gears up to welcome additional pupils. This means that Year 9 will now house four form classes instead of three. Newly appointed Head at Newcastle High School for Girls, Amanda Hardie, said: “We have received unprecedented demand for this year group which has meant we were forced to operate a waiting list based on our school’s policy of no more than 25 pupils in a class. As demand to join NHSG has continued unabated through this year, we have passed the critical point to enable us to make the decision to expand.  This means that from September we will be able to take up to 100 pupils in Year 9, compared to the previous cap of 75.” She added: “Not only does the move mean that we are able to meet current demand but also that we have the capacity to take even more pupils who will benefit from the outstanding education we offer here at NHSG. Year 9 is a critical year, it is the foundation for the GCSE work that starts in Year 10 and being settled into your chosen school early enables this important work to begin in earnest.” In response to the expansion plans, NHSG has planned a Year 9 Open Day on Friday 15th March, where parents and pupils can tour the school, and pupils can experience lessons on site for themselves. Anyone wanting to find out more or to register can click on the link https://newcastlehighschoolgdst.applicaa.com/enquiry_events/30
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Newcastle High School For Girls: Legally Blonde”

Newcastle High School For Girls: Legally Blonde

February 13, 2024

A talented cast of 83 students from Newcastle High Schools for Girls performed the stage version of Legally Blonde to local audiences at the beginning of February.

Newcastle High School For Girls Legally Blonde performance took place between Thursday 1st and Saturday 3rd February at NHSG’s senior school, making full use of the professional stage facilities the school’s performing arts department enjoys.

Two casts were created which attracted audiences of 1300 across the four-show run.

Legally Blonde tells the story of sorority girl turned law student Elle Woods. Jess Grayson  is one of the two NHSG pupils who shared the star role.

Jess said:

“I can honestly say this has been one of the best experiences of my life! As a blonde myself, Elle is such an inspiring character to play. She challenges the stereotypes and shows everyone how intelligent she is while still being true to herself. Even when you leave the stage, a little bit of Elle stays with you.”

Minnie Dobson took up the lead part for the second cast. Now preparing for her A levels, she has taken part in every show since she started at the school seven years ago.

Minnie said:

“I am beginning my process of applying for drama school and taking that step into the world of theatre and I couldn’t be more grateful to have had this experience and to be part of such a strong community and family.

“I will be so incredibly sad to be moving on from this but I believe Legally Blonde and all the fantastic shows that our school put on have not only guided my career aspirations but have also shaped me as a person, and for that I will forever be grateful.”

Anna Dobson, Head of Drama and Legally Blonde Musical Director said:

“Legally Blonde explores the power of determination, friendship and embracing your true self – and our cast took the audience on an unforgettable journey filled with laughter, catchy tunes and some seriously impressive dance moves.

“I want to express my gratitude to the 83 incredibly talented cast members who have embraced their inner Elle Woods. Their dedication, energy, and enthusiasm have truly brought this production to life. Together, they have shown the world that they, like Elle, can do anything they set their minds to.”

Jess added:

“I have developed my stage craft through this experience and learnt so much – including all the little things like where a prop needs to be placed and how to rapidly change costumes in less than a minute!

“I’ve also developed as an actor, singer and performer and I’d love to start a career in acting or musical theatre. There is no better feeling than before you walk on stage right through to your final bow. It’s just magic!”

NHSG, part of the Girls Day Schools Trust, has an outstanding Performing Arts department. It includes Drama, Music, and, in partnership with Gateway Studio, Dance.

The NHSG annual musical showcases the excellent talent within the school. Every year several NHSG pupils take up places at top performing arts schools. Many then go on to achieve further success on the stage. This includes alumna Maya Torres, who started at Leeds Conservatoire in 2021 and won a BAFTA in 2023 for ‘How to be a person’ in the Short Form category.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “NHSG Shares Excellent ISI Inspection Report”

NHSG Shares Excellent ISI Inspection Report

February 2, 2024
It’s with pleasure that I share the excellent report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate following their visit last term, and which is linked below. This letter provides some guidance on the structure of the report as well as the main findings, and I recommend that you read this letter first before diving into the report itself. We welcomed inspectors in September to undertake our scheduled inspection, which was one of the first to be completed under ISI’s new inspection framework. The new approach has not only changed the process of inspection but also the wording and language style used in the reports, which are markedly different from ISI inspection reports issued before the summer of 2023. It has taken slightly longer than usual for the report to be finalised because ISI wanted to ensure consistency between the first tranche of reports published within the new framework. We have been unable to share the outcome of the report before now, although we have been bursting to do so since the excellent verbal feedback we received back in September! For NHSG, the ISI inspection provided an opportunity for our staff and pupils to demonstrate the brilliant work that takes place at NHSG every single day and I am therefore delighted that the report encapsulates and articulates so well our school ethos and lived experience. How the new ISI Framework, structure and wording of ISI school inspection reports have changed The structure and wording within ISI reports have changed and schools are no longer given headline judgements such as ‘excellent’; instead they are assessed as to whether they meet the expected ISI standards relating to five key areas. I am delighted to report that NHSG has, in formal terms, met the standards required in every one of these areas. But the report makes it clear that the school didn’t just meet the standards; they exceeded them by a considerable margin. Report findings in detail Within the attached report you will find a summary of the main findings followed by more in-depth findings relating to the five areas within the inspection framework. The very nature of the new-style report for all schools means that the written report is not as effusive as the outstanding verbal feedback we received from the inspection team back in September, and the language and style differ considerably from the old-style reports. Within these editorial constraints, however, I could not be more pleased with the outcome. Summary of inspection findings It is clear from the verbal feedback we received and the written summary in the report, that the ISI inspectors clearly recognised the NHSG culture of high expectation and performance.  Inspectors found that NHSG has a ‘strong learning culture’, and that our teachers ‘prioritise extremely positive relationships’ with our pupils. The summary also highlights the culture of pupil ‘collaboration and co-operation that exists across all age groups’. I am thrilled that ISI praise our ed tech approach, saying that it is ‘highly effective and contributes to the progress made by pupils’ across the whole school. Additionally, it’s very important for pupils that we create a seamless transition into EYFS, Year 7, Year 12 and further education and it is therefore pleasing that the ISI report notes that NHSG ‘pupils are well prepared to progress from each stage of their education’. The report covers wider aspects of an NHSG education in the summary and states that ‘pastoral leaders actively promote pupil well-being .... developing a caring and nurturing environment’.  Also included in the main findings section is that pupils of all ages ‘are tolerant, caring and sensitive towards those from different backgrounds and traditions’, that pupils ‘speak highly of the value of pupil voice’ and are ‘keen to help others and make a positive difference’.  These themes of learning culture, engaging teaching, transition, wellbeing, inclusion, pupil, voice and the wider community feature strongly through the detailed sections as you will be able to read for yourself.  Here are some of my highlights: Section 1 Leadership and management, and governance It’s a wonderful endorsement for our school, and all our staff, to read that the school’s culture and ethos is strongly promoted and most importantly that we inspire the pupils to have high aspirations and embrace challenge. This is further endorsed in the point that at NHSG the ‘atmosphere is both calm and relaxed, whilst fostering a purposeful approach to learning. This is reflected in the pupils’ enthusiasm for their lessons and their healthy ambition to perform well’. Section 2 Quality of education, training and recreation In this section, inspectors report that NHSG pupils make good progress across all areas of learning and that most teaching excites and challenges pupils.  I was also delighted to read that due to the clear and structured lessons, our pupils are ‘confident in asking questions and contribute to class discussion, are self-motivated and respond with enthusiasm to the opportunities to improve their understanding’. The imaginative use of ICT in lessons at NHSG contributes further to our pupils’ ‘highly positive approach to their work’. I’m so proud that inspectors were able to observe that NHSG pupils ‘relish the opportunities’ made available through our co-curriculum.  I certainly see examples of this every single day in school! Section 3 Pupils’ physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing NHSG is a school that provides exceptional pastoral care, where every member of the community is valued as an individual and is encouraged to be the best version of herself. As educators of girls, we understand that confidence is a key factor in empowering them to achieve their dreams, and therefore it’s a real pleasure to read that inspectors found pupils at all ages to have high levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.  In the verbal feedback, inspectors added that this was not combined with any sense of arrogance or conceit. It was also wonderful to see recognition of our embedded focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, where our pupils are individually ‘seen and celebrated’. It’s critical within any school environment that standards of behaviour promote a positive learning environment, so it was heartwarming to read in the report that at NHSG ‘pupils are kind to each other, do not tolerate poor behaviour and are confident to call out unacceptable behaviour’.  It reports here and in section 4 that our staff deal well with issues brought to their attention and that good behaviour was noted in all areas of school. I’m proud that inspectors recognised our community of kindness and the supportive relationships that exist across school. Section 4 Pupils’ social and economic education and contribution to society I am passionate about ensuring that NHSG girls know that nothing is off limits for them in terms of their future career choices and that they will go on to make a positive difference to our future society. This was reflected in this section, where there is praise for our respectful and inclusive culture, pupil voice and the way in which the girls are encouraged to contribute positively to the lives of others in school and more widely in the local community and wider society. There is also a focus on the quality of our careers guidance programme, as well as our school’s approach to challenging the girls to think about their future role in society. Safeguarding Safeguarding and pupil welfare are at the heart of everything we do and the ISI report comments on the strength of the safeguarding procedures we have in school and also states that ‘our dedicated and well- trained pastoral team have established a caring and nurturing environment within the school’. To receive an ISI inspection report of this calibre, within the rigorous new ISI framework, in my view is outstanding.  I would like to congratulate our staff, girls, and the wider school community, for everyone has contributed to this outcome. Rest assured that we are far from complacent and will continue to drive progress, through a culture of continuous improvement and reflection, so that our school is blazing a trail in its own right as a beacon of excellence and supporting your daughter to be the very best version of herself. Yours sincerely Mrs A Hardie Head Click here to read ISI School Inspection Report 2023     
Newcastle High School For Girls - “New Head announced at Newcastle High School for Girls”

New Head announced at Newcastle High School for Girls

January 29, 2024
Newcastle High School for Girls is delighted to announce that Mrs Amanda Hardie has been appointed by the Trustees of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) as the new Head of Newcastle High School for Girls. One of 25 schools in the GDST, Newcastle High School for Girls is an independent all-through day school (age 3 – 18) located in Jesmond and Sandyford in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. Mrs Hardie has been at Newcastle High School for Girls since its formation in 2014, and prior to that at Church High School since 1997. She has been 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 Academic. Amanda Hardie has been Acting Head of NHSG since September 2023 and following a rigorous recruitment process has been appointed as Head with immediate effect where she will continue to champion girls’ education within the independent school sector. Speaking about her appointment, Amanda said: “I am delighted to be appointed as the new Head of Newcastle High School for Girls. Newcastle High is a wonderful community where every pupil is celebrated as an individual and enabled to be the best version of herself, every teacher a guiding force, and every challenge an opportunity to learn and grow. It is a privilege to lead this incredible independent girls' school and I look forward to continuing to work with the amazing pupils, staff, parents and alumnae as we secure the future of Newcastle High as a beacon for excellence in girls’ education in the region and beyond.”
Newcastle High School For Girls - “December 2023 Sustainability Update”

December 2023 Sustainability Update

December 19, 2023
As part of our commitment to environmental awareness and responsibility we have implemented a number of initiatives this year that we would like to bring to your attention. In particular, the completion of the EduCate Bronze Award and Queen’s Canopy Award have provided valuable external recognition of our commitment to integrating climate change and biodiversity threat education into our core values. Members of our staff sustainability team have completed comprehensive UN-accredited training and this has been cascaded to the whole staff team via a number of internal training sessions. One significant step this year, as part of our drive to improve our waste management processes, has been the installation of a large scale wormery at Junior School that is intended to enable us to process a large proportion of our food waste without it ever leaving our site. The addition of our Worms at Work has sparked much excitement amongst staff and pupils but also draws attention to the issue of food waste and valuable lessons on responsible consumption. Pupils actively participate in the process by depositing food waste into designated “worm-food” bins. In time, we intend to utilise the nutrient-rich compost produced by the worms for landscaping and horticulture across all of our school sites, creating a tangible connection between environmental consciousness and daily practices in our school. Our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint extends to various initiatives, most notably, over this summer break, including the replacement of all of our lighting, throughout school with LED alternatives. We have also encouraged pupil participation in a number carbon buster challenges, introduced recycled paper for printing and encouraged the use of online exercise books to reduce paper usage. In addition, we have made further progress in sustainable travel, with increased uptake on the school transport system and plans for new routes in the upcoming year (see separate article). This concern, highlighted by Senior School pupils in a recent pupil forum cycle on sustainability, will be a focal point for the next 'Touch of Green Week' in May 2024. We promote sustainable living through annual events like the 'Touch of Green week,' focusing on various aspects of eco-friendly living and engage in external initiatives, including contribution to a Government white paper on independent schools' journey to Net Zero and Sustainability; raising funds for the charity 'Just One Tree', resulting in the planting of over 600 trees globally; and the introduction of accredited carbon offsetting contributions to all of our school trips. In 2024, we have further ambitious projects on the horizon, including aiming to become a plastic-free school, attaining Green Flag school status, collaborating with the Woodland Trust, and partnering with 'Energy Sparks' to significantly reduce our energy consumption. We are busy integrating sustainability into co-curricular activities too, particularly during the first week of December, where various clubs have been highlighting developments at COP 28. Finally, we are exploring new avenues to protect and enhance biodiversity on all four school sites. This has commenced with vital pond maintenance carried out by our keen eco team on a very cold and snowy Saturday this December, with the intention to improve the wildlife habitat value of our school pond. To support increasingly threatened urban bird species, such swifts, sparrows, and starlings, we intend, in the Spring Term, to initiate a pupil-led fundraising campaign to support the introduction of a greater diversity of native planting to improve wildlife habitats and installing bird and bat boxes across all of our school sites. Engaging the school community and external supporters in this initiative is intended not only to enrich the biodiversity of our school sites but also to help illustrate to pupils the collective impact that community engagement can have on preserving and promoting the natural world. We would be very pleased to hear from any parents who would be interested in supporting this initiative. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting venture as NHSG continues to strive towards creating more welcoming and nurturing environments for diverse forms of animal life.
Newcastle High School For Girls - “NHSG Transport Services”

NHSG Transport Services

December 15, 2023
At the beginning of the Autumn Term 2023/2024, we were very pleased to be able to introduce a new daily chaperoned bus service from Morpeth, adding to the six daily chaperoned bus routes we offered already. We understand the importance of providing reliable transportation options and the extension of our transport offer is part of our ongoing commitment to providing convenient and safe transportation options for our pupils from around the North East. Following the success of the new Morpeth route and increased uptake across all of our services, this year, we are actively exploring the potential introduction of three more routes from Wearside, Derwent Valley, and along the South Bank of the Tyne Valley. These additions would not only provide additional options for existing families but would also open doors for new families to join our school community. Here's why these expansions matter: 1. Accessibility: By broadening our transportation network, we are making it easier for pupils from diverse areas to access our exceptional educational environment. 2. Community Connection: Extending our transport network fosters stronger connections within our community, allowing families from across the North East to join the NHSG community. 3. Flexibility for Parents: The additional routes provide parents with more options, accommodating various schedules and commitments while ensuring that your daughters can attend school reliably. 4. Environmental Impact: Consolidating transportation services helps minimise our environmental footprint, aligning with our commitments to sustainability and responsible citizenship. If you have any feedback on our proposals please get in touch with our school Transport Coordinator, Tom Dryden at t.dryden@ncl.gdst.net