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Newcastle High School For Girls - “Shruthi: Embracing diversity regardless of experience #DiversityWeek”

Shruthi: Embracing diversity regardless of experience #DiversityWeek

June 21, 2021

To celebrate Diversity Week we asked pupils, alumnae and staff to share their thoughts on why diversity and inclusivity is so important in today’s society. In this article, Shruthi, Diversity Lead within our Sixth Form Leadership Team, talks about why we should embrace diversity.

When I was twelve years’ old I was racially abused. I was about to get on a bus when a man pushed in front of me and said ‘do they not teach you manners where you’re from’. This was followed by ‘why don’t you go back to where you came from’ and various other slurs that I won’t go into. I felt scared, alone, unsupported and therefore unable to retaliate.

When I finally got on the bus I was shaking and panicking that he was going to attack me again. For a long time afterwards, my older sister accompanied me on my bus journeys because I was too frightened.

This is why diversity and inclusion is so important to me.

When the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement hit the headlines in 2020, I began researching the topic and educating myself more and more about the ongoing issue of racism and discrimination. Through this knowledge I have become even more passionate about being an ally. And when I think about it, I can see now that if someone had stood up for me that day on the bus, the ongoing impact might have been far less distressing.

You can be an ally even if you don’t have lived experience of something. And it’s easier than you might think.

There are many ways people show their support for a cause or community. Footballers taking the knee before a game is one example. It could encourage fans to follow suit or to learn more about what they are trying to say and why. It’s only a start, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. And if we all take responsibility and do our little bit we can make a big difference.

Of course racial discrimination isn’t the only form of discrimination and intolerance we see. The LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse communities also experience discrimination and ignorance on a daily basis. So at NHSG we are doing a lot of work to educate ourselves and others in these areas as well.

Neurodiversity is still often misunderstood as we don’t talk about it enough. People with learning differences, such as dyslexia, and those on the autism spectrum or those with ADHD don’t necessarily need more support, they may simply need different support to what we traditionally see in the classroom or workplace. I feel lucky that at NHSG we are able to enjoy an education that encompasses many different learning styles and techniques – such as group, interactive and presentational work, as well as reading and writing. We all have the ability to do brilliantly and be a success if our differences are acknowledged and celebrated – nobody should feel that they have limits placed on them.

The other benefit in acknowledging and celebrating our differences is that we learn so much and get to take part in so many different festivals and events, broadening our horizons and giving us a better perspective on the world. At school, for example, we celebrate Christmas, Divali, Eid and a whole host of other festivals. We are becoming more and more cultured.

While learning about all these differences and getting to grips with the new terms we use in society might seem daunting, it actually gives us all an opportunity to grow as people. We may not directly understand the significance of a term or ‘label’, but acknowledging it can have a hugely positive impact on somebody who may not have felt able to fit into a ‘standard’ group or category. Being welcomed and acknowledged for who you are and being able to meet and relate to people who share some of your experiences can be life-changing for people.

We all have a lot to learn every single day and, as long as we are doing our best, we shouldn’t call out everyone who makes a mistake with the language they use or assumptions they make. Instead we should call people in. We should use it as an opportunity to learn and grow together. We should start more positive conversations, always using kindness and understanding.

Everybody deserves respect and kindness. And now, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, that is more important than ever.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Mr Tippett: Why It’s Important For Schools to Discuss Mental Health”

Mr Tippett: Why It’s Important For Schools to Discuss Mental Health

May 14, 2021

To conclude our series of articles for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, Mr Tippett discusses the importance of talking openly and honestly about mental health in school...

As we mark another Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re thrilled to be getting back into a more settled routine when it comes to school and education.

However, after over a year of disruption, we need to be aware that children and young people, as resilient as they are, may need our support now more than ever.

I mention the resilience of younger generations because they’ve had a tough time from critics in the past. We’ve all heard the ridiculous ‘snowflake’ narrative directed at young people, and, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth, particularly during the last 14 months.

Children are curious and positively engaged in the conversation around mental health, and that actually puts them in a much better position to respond to challenges.

If anything, it makes them stronger, better equipped. But even so, when we consider the disruptions we’ve all been through, we have to remember that social contact with friends and fellow pupils is such a significant part of a child’s life in terms of wellbeing, learning and development, so the loss of contact is undoubtedly going to affect them greatly.

Many pupils of all ages have found this latest lockdown more difficult than the previous one. There’s probably something in the cumulative effect of disruption, with each day going by adding to feelings of loss, anxiety and isolation.

They’ve experienced disruption to their routines, their face to face interactions with friends and teachers, and their normal activities that they can no longer participate in. All these things combine to create stress, anxiety and unhappiness.

In spite of this wholesale lifestyle change we’ve all been through, our pupils have clearly coped really well with the different stages of lockdown, demonstrating their resilience and adaptability admirably.

However, their return to school isn’t a return to normal, and we need to manage expectations, further adjustments to the way we need to do things and the build-up of anxiety that is no doubt currently still lingering inside all of us.

Children express their anxiety in different ways and at Newcastle High School for Girls, we support them as well as we possibly can by providing a range of services – a holistic approach if you like.

We have a school nurse and a school counsellor available for children of all ages, and we also cover mental wellbeing topics such as self-esteem and resilience in PSHE classes.

We’re also part of the Girls’ Day School Trust, GDST, and through them, we have access to the GDST Positive Project, working with the Positive Group on lessons and activities designed to help the girls understand and in turn regulate their emotions and anxieties.

Interestingly, we find that the passion and inspiration around the School’s work on mental health and wellbeing often comes from the girls themselves so, whilst we do work with external organisations and professional services, having our Year 13 Head Girl Team leading an assembly and sharing their experiences of mental health are perhaps some of the most powerful ways we have found to engage younger pupils on this vital topic.

So as important as these support structures are, I think that the single most important thing we can do to help our children and young people at school is to encourage a truly authentic, open and supportive culture where nobody is judged – where it’s OK not to be OK.

Probably the most concerning situation for me isn’t where we see an influx of pupils informing us of their worries and challenges, it’s where we don’t hear about such problems.

If young people keep their struggles to themselves, that’s when there is the potential for problems to fester and get worse.

How can we respond if we don’t know what we’re responding to?

I’m concerned about the longer-term impact on young people, and that is obviously an unknown right now. We’ve never been through anything like this before.

The media talks about learning loss and the learning gap that has manifested itself due to the pandemic, but there’s also a mental health gap and you really can’t over-estimate the impact of that.

So how can schools and parents work together to address this? I think the answer is two-fold and includes both a proactive and a reactive response.

If parents can actively start conversations with their children about how they are feeling, how they are managing with these changes and adaptations, if they can promote an honest and open culture of mental health conversation in the home, it will complement what we are trying to do in schools.

Additionally, it’s important for parents to know that they are not on their own when it comes to their child’s mental wellbeing.

All schools will have some level of support in place and it’s important to find out what support is available, who to speak to with any concerns and how to tap into and engage effectively with school wellbeing programmes.

Secondly, we need to react quickly to any challenges as they arise – and before we reach crisis point. As a school, we’d much rather hear from parents who have concerns that something might not be right, even if there’s a chance that they could be worrying about nothing.

If we can intervene quickly we can work together to nip any problems in the bud and stop them progressing into something bigger or more serious.

But I think it’s important to note that every child is different, every child expresses themselves in their own way and every child will have experienced the lockdown differently based on their circumstances, personality and pre-existing wellbeing challenges.

So while we are of course delighted to be looking forward to more consistency than we’ve had for some time, we’re also going to be working hard to keep our eyes open to any apparent struggles and concerns, and we’re certainly not going to expect all to adapt perfectly to the new normal.

We are all, after all, human, and the best thing we can do is move forward with empathy, understanding and an honest and open dialogue.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Mental Health Awareness Week: Tibby, Class of 2017”

Mental Health Awareness Week: Tibby, Class of 2017

May 12, 2021

For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked pupils, alumnae and staff to share their thoughts on mental wellbeing. In this article, one of our fabulous former pupils, Tibby (Class of 2017), shares her experience of recovery from depression and anxiety. Tibby is also giving a talk to pupils as part of our awareness week activities.

I left NHSG in 2017, having spent many happy years there and enjoying taking on the role of Deputy Head Girl in Year 13.

My first year at university was really enjoyable too. I went to Bristol to study medicine and, as difficult as moving away from home for the first time can be, my first year flew by with barely any problems – at least nothing out of the ordinary anyway.

When I started my second year, however, I noticed a real change in myself. I became incredibly anxious and depressed and it all became too much. I was also recovering from a knee injury at the time so my favourite pastime, running, was no longer an option to keep me feeling healthy and happy. I felt so frustrated and piled so much more pressure on myself which made things ten times worse.

Yet at the time, I simply couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did. I just kept thinking that nothing bad had really happened to me, so why was I struggling with anxiety and low mood? It didn’t make sense to me.

Eventually, I had to take a year out because I wasn’t able to function properly. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t enjoy things that I used to, I had no energy, a really low mood and I’d also lost a lot of weight. I had been prescribed some medication, but my mood wasn’t lifting and I just wasn’t myself at all. I was in completely the wrong headspace and, whilst I could have potentially scraped through that second year, I knew I wasn’t able to give it my best.

So, that Christmas, I went home and stayed there, deferring my second year of university study.

I started with a new CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) therapist in Newcastle, and my doctor reviewed my meds and switched me to a new type of antidepressant. The therapy and new medication combined really started to take effect, and I noticed day by day that things were gradually improving.

For example, each day I noticed that I wanted to eat a little bit more. I also found my energy levels rising and I started getting out and exercising a bit too. I also starting doing yoga classes and I took up painting, which really helped too as it’s such a mindful activity. I was gradually starting to feel happier.

That was just when Covid hit and lockdown started. However, in some ways, lockdown worked out quite well for me as my sister, Molly, came home too so it was the four of us back in the house together again which was really nice. Having Molly there also encouraged me to exercise more, because we would do workouts together which helped me stick to it.

I also took on a job as a receptionist with a GP practice which not only gave me a routine again, but it also kept me involved in medicine in some way.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over this time it’s that speaking to someone about your mental health is really important. I believe that one of the main reasons it got so bad for me was because I kept it all to myself. I kept thinking it was all in my head and that I should just keep going and push through it. I talked to a few of my friends but it took a while to open up to my sister and my parents. As soon as I opened up to family, however, I felt such palpable relief.

It’s important to remember that a mental health problem is just as real as a physical health problem. People might behave differently when they become unwell but it’s worth stopping and considering why that might be. Being there, listening without judgment and being kind are the best things you can do for someone who is struggling.

But you also need to be kind to yourself – listen to yourself and take a breath where you need to. It wasn’t the end of the world taking a year out, I’ve actually had quite a nice year and it’s not been as scary as I thought it would be.

I also think that what I learnt from being unwell will probably be really helpful for me in my future career as I’m studying to be a doctor. If I can understand how it really feels, then maybe I can more effectively help others, and perhaps it can make me a better friend, too.

Today I’m feeling much better. I’ve gone back to uni and am enjoying my course. I’m repeating my second year, but I’m in a much better headspace now and I’m so glad I gave myself the time to recover. Finally, things feel like they’re on the up again.


Newcastle High School For Girls - “Head Girl, Isabelle, on why school is the best place to start conversations about mental health…”

Head Girl, Isabelle, on why school is the best place to start conversations about mental health…

May 10, 2021

For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked pupils, alumnae and staff to share their thoughts on mental wellbeing. In this article, current Head Girl, Isabelle, talks about why raising awareness in school is so important.

At NHSG I feel lucky that we’re able to have such open and honest conversations about mental health, and that we are proactively supported and encouraged to do so. However, it’s a sad fact of life that mental health stigma still exists, which is why talking more about mental health before we leave our supportive school environment is so important.

As Head Girl I’m part of a pupil leadership team that promotes mental health awareness to all girls across all years. We regularly consult with Mrs Franks-Doyle, Deputy Head Pastoral of Pastoral Care, and participate in assemblies and awareness events – including this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

So why the focus on mental health specifically?

Everybody has mental health just as everybody has physical health, and we all experience some sort of struggle at some point in our lives. Some might experience short term mental health problems relating to difficult life events – such as exam pressures or starting a new school, while others might have diagnosed mental health problems that need to be managed over a lifetime. Either way, it’s important to remember that nobody reacts in exactly the same way to these struggles or diagnoses, and signposting to specialist support is a great way to help.

Our approach to mental health awareness this year is more focused. Rather than considering mental health in its broadest sense, we are focusing in on some specific areas that we feel many of our peers will find relatable, as well as exploring some of the more common mental health problems.

Between Monday and Friday we’ll be holding events, talks and discussions on: female empowerment and sexual harassment; eating disorders; anxiety and depression; the perils of perfectionism; and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). We’ll launch the week with an assembly to let everyone know what we’ve got planned, and this will be followed later in the week with talks from alumnae, our school nurse and other health professionals. We’ll also hold information stalls so girls and staff can drop by and chat, and there will be an anonymous question box so girls can confidently and discreetly ask about anything that’s worrying them or about a topic that they just want to learn more about.

But we know that we have a responsibility to do more than take part in annual awareness days and weeks - after all, mental health problems don’t take time off during the rest of the year! With this in mind we’re setting up Mental Health First Aid training for Sixth Form girls at NHSG to create additional support resource that will be available throughout the year for all the pupils. If, for example, the counsellor has a waiting list, or somebody feels unable to speak to a teacher for whatever reason, there will be fully trained Sixth Form pupils on hand to offer their support to anyone who might be struggling. This also creates a strand of support that is highly relatable because, at the end of the day, as Sixth Formers, we’ve been there – we remember what it was like to start high school and to manage our GCSE revision. We hope to launch this new initiative in September once all of the training and planning is in place.

Why is this work so important?

If we weren’t delivering these talks and providing peer support resources, there could be so many girls struggling alone, not knowing where or how to ask for help. I’ve been there myself and, when I was finally able to open up to someone and realise I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling, the sense of relief was huge. However, even if we are lucky enough to complete school without such struggles, it’s good for us all to learn more about mental health so we can be there to support our friends and family.

What about stigma?

Stigma, which often stems from a lack of knowledge, can really impact people who are struggling. If comments about OCD or depression are blasé, the people who might be experiencing those problems could feel ashamed and believe that they should just ‘get over it’ or they may feel unable to ask for help. Language is also key – suggesting that we are ‘depressed’ because there’s no pasta at lunch or that we ‘have OCD’ because we like to arrange our wardrobes in a certain way might not sound like much of an issue, but it could have a detrimental impact on someone living with OCD or depression. It belittles what they are going through – even if we don’t mean to cause them harm.

So it’s important that we have these conversations and raise awareness while we are still in school. If we educate ourselves more now about mental health, when we leave school and head into the real world each one of us could make a significant difference by just being there for someone or challenging stigma.

We can all make a difference now and in the future if we invest in our mental health learning today.

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

April 22, 2021

Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG)  – Sunday Times’ North East Independent Senior School of the Year 2020 – has announced its new Head of Junior School with transformational plans to refresh its curriculum and boost its co-curricular activity programme.

Amanda Hardie, current Acting Head of Junior School and NHSG’s Deputy Head, Academic, will be taking over the role permanently with immediate effect, bringing with her a wealth of experience and passion having worked in a girls-only setting for almost 25 years.

Michael Tippett, Headteacher, NHSG said: “Amanda Hardie has made an immediate impact on our educational provision at Junior School and I’m extremely pleased she will be taking on the role permanently.

“When I took over as Head in 2018 I knew it was paramount to strengthen the academic attainment at the school, and to deliver a seamless transition from Nursery through to Sixth Form. We’ve seen excellent results in this area with an uplift in GCSE and A Level grades, and Amanda has played a key role in this success.

“Since taking on the role of Acting Head of Junior School in December, Amanda’s rapid introduction of a new activities programme, and the robust curriculum review currently underway, are both testament to her outstanding ability and drive. I now look forward to seeing her longer-term plans for Junior School and I’m confident it will go from strength to strength.”

Amanda Hardie became Deputy Head, Academic at NHSG Senior School in 2014 following the merger of Church and Central High. Prior to this, Amanda was Director of Studies at Church High and had previously qualified as a teacher of Religious Studies and English after graduating from Oxford University.

Amanda said: “My vision for Junior School is in essence very simple - I want the girls to flourish and be supported from day one so that they become the very best version of themselves. I will be working alongside the experienced staff at NHSG so that every girl will be enriched academically and creatively and all within our truly warm, happy and caring school environment.

“The heart and soul of NHSG Junior School will remain very firmly in place while at the same time a review will be underway in terms of the curriculum and we are already introducing exciting new initiatives which will be available immediately. We are excited to further empower our pupils from day one, enabling them to be the leaders, trailblazers and world shapers that they have every potential to be.”

NHSG Junior School already boasts an outstanding teaching curriculum and inspirational facilities, including woodland grounds, wildlife areas, sports facilities and outdoor classrooms. Amanda’s appointment will serve to strengthen the already impressive offer with additional activities including the Bright Sparks and Creative Sparks programmes, increased concerts, music clubs and school productions and age-appropriate leadership opportunities. Additionally, from September, girls from Years 3 and 4 will spend time at Senior School once a week to experience the Senior School sport facilities.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Doing the Debating double in Senior School”

Doing the Debating double in Senior School

February 17, 2021

We are very pleased that one of the activities that has continued unabated during lockdown is Debating. As we found in the summer, it lends itself particularly well to online platforms such as Zoom and Teams and, indeed, all competitions have now been held online since March last year.

As is our custom at NHSG, we entered teams for both the Cambridge and Oxford competitions this year. We have a long and successful history of qualifying for Finals’ Day, which is of course always – until last year – held in the revered Union Society of each university, a streak which was continued last year when Liv Urwin and Jessica Spearman qualified for Finals, only to have it cancelled at the last minute as the country went into full lockdown.

Liv and Jess were back in the ring on this occasion, with Cambridge qualifiers on Saturday 16th and Oxford on Thursday 21st January, along with our other experienced debaters and some brave Year 10 novices, who would probably not have been able to compete had the events been held ‘live’ as usual.

We are thrilled that, from both qualifiers, we have got teams through to both Finals’ Days in March, a feat that we have only achieved once before. Successful in breaking to Cambridge were Emma Gibson and Ishika Jha, who both also made it through to Oxford, with teammates Liyanah Riyaz and Emma Scanlon.

Even though the girls will sadly not have the special experience of attending the competitions in person at Oxford and Cambridge this time round, I am sure they will all rise to the occasion, and have set themselves up very well for next year, when we all earnestly hope that Debating will return to the hallowed rooms of Frewin Court and Round Church Street.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Double dance success in Year 13”

Double dance success in Year 13

February 17, 2021

We were delighted to hear news of two of our A Level Dance pupils winning places at prestigious Dance Schools.

Lucinda Lant - London Studio Centre

We speak to Lucinda Lant in Year 13 who was recently awarded a place on the degree course at London Studio Centre, where she will be studying their Musical Theatre pathway, to find out more about her passion for Dance and plans for the future.

What is it that makes Dance so special to you, and what’s your favourite style of dance?
Theatre makes me feel so alive and I strive to be involved in the Arts in any possible way. This offer fills me with anticipation for the next three years. I love the way that dance allows me to express myself and my individuality, and I adore exploring the huge range of dance styles and the endless possibilities of choreography. I’ve trained at Marian Lane School of Dance since the age of 3 in predominantly Ballet, Tap and Jazz, and there I not only developed my technique and performance skills, but the skills I need to survive in such a challenging industry. I am so grateful! I was also a Royal Ballet and Elmhurst associate from the age of 8, meaning the majority of my training was in Ballet. However, over time I’ve found my favourite style of dance is either Commercial or Contemporary, as I find those styles give me the most freedom and allow me to express myself the most. Ballet is crucial for any style however, as it builds up technique, and I don’t think I’d be as strong in other styles if it wasn’t for all of the incredible training I have had within the Classical Ballet field. I began my training in contemporary dance at Phoenix Academy NE in 2017, where I had the chance to work with so many industry professionals and was given numerous performance opportunities which enabled me to develop my performance skills even further.

What’s your favourite Dance performance memory?
My favourite performance has to be in Grease last year. Cha Cha has always been one of my dream roles and the experience was incredible. Grease is such a fun musical and the music is just so uplifting. I’m so relieved we managed to perform it before Covid-19 hit us all a month later!

Why did you choose your Dance school?
London Studio Centre has such impressive alumnae, including Zizi Strallen, Elizabeth Hurley, Tamzin Outhwaite and Jason Pennycooke, which drew my eye to the school. After further research I discovered that in my 3rd year I’ll get the chance to tour with a company too, which sounds like such a fantastic experience. I think this school in particular will nurture me as an individual, and embrace my unique qualities, in a way that other schools wouldn’t. They also pride themselves on having a huge amount of links with the industry and a clear focus on student welfare, which I think is very important as this industry can be so demanding at times! I also had many discussions with all of my incredible dance teachers, (who know the industry much better than I do). They all agreed that London Studio Centre is the best school for me as an individual, which is so important as each school offers something completely different. It is located near the West End, which means I’ll be able to experience a lot more theatre, which I think is key when training in musical theatre and will also enable me to support the Arts after such a difficult time of darkness.

What are you most looking forward to in the next stage of your Dance journey?
I’m most looking forward to meeting other young people who share the same passion and drive as I do, all working towards similar goals in such a brilliant atmosphere. I’m extremely excited to work daily with industry professionals, expanding my skills not only in styles I’m comfortable with, but also those I haven’t yet had the chance to explore.

What are your ambitions for the future?
The Arts industry is constantly evolving, hence why I find it so exciting. Musicals are being developed as we speak and, who knows, there may be a future role for me that hasn’t even been written yet! Out of all the many musicals that exist, I would love to be involved in Mary Poppins or Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The choreography in both of these productions is fascinating to me and it would be a dream to be involved in either. I also love acting and any opportunity to participate in acting for screen would be incredible.

Do you have any words of advice for younger NHSG pupils dreaming of becoming a professional Dancer?
Try not to let others affect you. The dance industry is competitive and being an individual is so important, so don’t shy away from being yourself. Not everybody’s going to love the way you are, but it’s better than blending in, I promise!

Georgia Morrow - Urdang Academy

Georgia Morrow was awarded a place on the degree course at Urdang Academy, also in London, where she will be studying BA (Hons) Degree in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre. Here are her thoughts on her future plans.

What is it that makes Dance so special to you, and what’s your favourite style of Dance?
I have been dancing and performing since the age of 3, and there is simply no better feeling then being up on stage in front of an admiring audience. The joy that I feel when dancing is something I just can’t put into words; therefore, it was probably one of the easiest choices I had to make when deciding what career I wanted to pursue. My favourite style of dance would have to be Musical Theatre Jazz. The choreographer Bob Fosse has always inspired me and watching some of his work such as Chicago has inspired my ambition to be in one of his Musicals.

What’s your favourite Dance performance memory?
My favourite performance memory would have to be when I performed at the Sunderland Empire. We were the first act in the second half; therefore, the curtain was down whilst we were on stage ready to perform. As the music began, the curtain started to rise and to see such a beautiful theatre full of people was a moment I will never forget.

Why did you choose your Dance school?
I chose to study at the Urdang Academy as it’s one of the UK’s most renowned conservatoires for training in professional Dance and Musical Theatre. It is based in the heart of London, home of the West End, and therefore full of exciting opportunities. Also, one of the academy’s key values is ‘Everyone, Individual’ which has stuck with me since reading it. I am so excited to be a part of a college with such an accepting ethos at its core.

What are you most looking forward to in the next stage of your Dance journey?
I can’t wait to start my professional training every day in specialist studios, taught by industry professionals who are still working in the art form. I’m really looking forward to moving to London and making new connections with like-minded people who enjoy the craft just as much as myself.

What are your ambitions for the future?
One of my biggest ambitions is to move to Paris to be a part of the Moulin Rouge cast, performing on the stage of the most famous cabaret in the world. For my 16th birthday, my Mum and I travelled to Paris for the weekend. We watched the production one night and I have been in awe ever since. The movement combined with the costumes was truly inspiring and something I’d love to involved with.

Do you have any words of advice for younger NHSG pupils dreaming of becoming a professional Dancer?
Always ask questions! Don’t be scared to ask anyone questions if you don’t quite understand something, even if they are older than you or you feel intimidated. Also, involve yourself as much as you can in activities relating to your craft to get your name out there. Even if someone doesn’t recognise your face, most likely they will remember your name and will be drawn towards you because of that. The Musical Theatre and Dance industry are relatively small, therefore the more connections you make early on in life, the easier it will be for you when you want to enter the industry professionally.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “NHSG reaches semi-finals of coveted Chrystall Prize”

NHSG reaches semi-finals of coveted Chrystall Prize

February 17, 2021

The GDST Chrystall Prize is named in memory of Chrystall Carter, long-time Legal adviser to the GDST. It was set up by her husband, Richard, in her memory and to mark her commitment to the girls in the schools she represented, her pleasure in their success and her belief in the power of reasoned argument.

Arguably one of the most prestigious prize across the GDST, it is open to girls in Year 11 who must speak for seven minutes without visual aids, hold the audience’s attention, engage their interest and then take three minutes of questions. This is no mean feat, particularly as Covid-19 prevention measures meant that the competition had to be hosted digitally for the first time.

We are immensely grateful to our IT team and the judges who successfully wrestled with the technology and we should congratulate all the competitors who brilliantly rose to meet the challenge of presenting to a virtual audience from home.

The five finalists did not shy away from tackling issues of the day. Our own Emma Scanlon opened the afternoon on the subject of the UK’s weapons trade ‘To our shame the UK is the second largest exporter of arms in the world. Discuss’. Described by the judges as a ‘force to be reckoned with’, Emma’s powerful argument was strongly supported by her outstanding responses to some very tough questions.

Emma was followed by Hava Janjua from Nottingham High School who spoke thoughtfully on ‘Being young is overrated’. Next up was Millie Sadiq who presented a compelling argument for tackling Islamophobia and the false representation of Muslims and Muslim stereotypes through education with ‘Do the general public think that all Muslims are terrorists’. Next up was Rose Bridsen from Birkenhead who convincingly persuaded us that without money, it is difficult to live in a moral society with ‘Morals or Money: Which one is necessary to survive?’
Last but not least, Jess from Belvedere Academy proposed with great conviction that it was time to disrupt the established educational system with ‘Given the recent focus on alternate ways of assessing student performance, is it time to abolish GCSEs?’

The judges deliberated at length and clearly found the quality of research, understanding and delivery were in all cases exceptional and impressive. In the end it was Millie’s effective use of personal experience and convincing examples in support of her well-considered and purposefully made argument that persuaded the judges to choose Millie as the winner of the regional semi final. Well done Millie and we wish you the best of luck at the final in Portsmouth GDST.

Our brave judges, with the unenviable task of picking a winner of the Chrystall Prize, were:

Beth Ashbridge, an alumna of Central Newcastle High School, Durham University and the University of Cambridge. Beth worked as a Research Fellow in the in the Cell Biology Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City before switching gears and applying her scientific background to the field of intellectual property. In 2019 Beth graduated from Fordham University School of Law with honors and is now an attorney in Goodwin’s Intellectual Property Litigation Group training to be a litigator.

Nicola Candlish, an alumna of Newcastle Church High School, Nicola has a BA Hons in Music and PhD in Electroacoustics from Durham University and is an experienced Company and Stage Manager who has toured the UK and Worldwide with opera, ballet and musical theatre and have included Hamlet’s Castle in Denmark, the London Palladium,The Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, The Royal Albert Hall and many more. After a successful decade in live performance Nicola returned to working in education, running the Opera Department at the Royal Academy of Music. Here she produced 20+ operas and project-managed the course during the construction of a new theatre. Nicola is currently Chief Executive of British Youth Opera.

Cinzia Hardy, a graduate of the Guildford School of Acting & Dance (Musical Theatre), Surrey; Trinity Laban (MSc Dance Science, Hons) London; and trained with Monika Pagneux in Paris. Following a career as an actor and movement director, Cinzia founded performing arts company November Club in 1991,and has produced and/or directed all the company’s multi-award winning productions. Cinzia has led training for National Trust staff and room guides on storytelling and effective interpretation techniques. She stepped down from November Club in December 2020 to pursue freelance projects.

Sowmya Pulle, alumna of Newcastle Church High School is an award-winning communications professional and a qualified journalist with a background in print and radio. She later moved into marketing and PR working with some of the region’s biggest employers in policing, housing and technology. With a passion for supporting equality and diversity, Sowmya has also held a variety of volunteer positions that tackle gender inequality and BME issues, including leading the set up and chairing the first BAME staff network in Northumbria Police, talking about these issues over a decade ago. She is currently a senior marketing and communications manager for technology company SSCL.

Thank you so much to Beth, Nicola, Cinzia and Sowmya for their time and invaluable input.