Newcastle High School for Girls - News

News from NHSG

Read our latest news stories, or explore our archive - it's a great way to learn in more detail about some of the activities at NHSG. There's always something happening!

Newcastle High School For Girls - “PE GCSE a welcome addition to school curriculum”

PE GCSE a welcome addition to school curriculum

October 31, 2020

The very first GCSE PE Course at Newcastle High School for Girls is thriving, with an impressive 21 Year 10 girls opting to study the subject this year.

The girls have two years to perfect their practical and master the theory aspects of the curriculum and so far they have made a brilliant start.

The course will see them play in a variety of familiar sports such as Badminton, Cricket, Netball and Hockey, as well as perform in their own individual sports such as Irish Dancing, Ice Skating and Rowing. We also have the opportunity to introduce girls to some new sports and experiences, such as Climbing. All of our GCSE pupils will master the skills and reach new heights!

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Creativity across Year 1”

Creativity across Year 1

October 20, 2020

Girls in Year 1 have been thoroughly engaged during their weekly Art and Dance lessons which ensure that they are developing their creative skills with confidence.

Art lessons have taken place indoors and outdoors, making the most of Junior School’s beautiful grounds. The girls have been putting their drawing skills into practice, taking inspiration from both observation and their imagination. They have embraced the opportunity of exploring charcoal as a creative tool, which they used to draw their own homes. They have also used watercolours and a variety of brush techniques to produce Autumnal pictures. All these wonderful pieces of artwork are now displayed around the classroom which has given it a beautifully seasonal feel.

Creativity in an outdoor setting has been in abundance too. After researching Andy Goldsworthy sculptures, the girls were very excited at the prospect of collecting natural materials to create their very own land art. They worked in small groups to produce these striking sculptures and demonstrated strong communication and cooperation skills too.

The girls have displayed an equally enthusiastic approach to Dance lessons this term, coming up with imaginative ideas and exhibiting careful control and coordination when performing movements. They were also able to express mood and feelings during their dances and have particularly enjoyed using streamers for our focus on patterns. The girls have taken real pride in their performances in front of their peers, evidenced by smiles of delight throughout lessons in the Mauritia Hall. It has been a pleasure to see their confidence levels soar throughout this term and we look forward to seeing them improve even further after a well-deserved week of rest.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Grease was the word!”

Grease was the word!

October 3, 2020
Grease has certainly been the word around Senior School for the last nine months, with the announcement of the musical in June last year and auditions starting as early as September! Between 30th January and 1st February, NHSG was well and truly transformed into 1950s Rydell High to host our very own production of Grease . Over 1400 visitors crossed the threshold of Newcastle High to watch the four show sensation (with Saturday night a complete sell-out) in the Hall’s impressive auditorium space. The company comprised of two casts; the Burgers and the Milkshakes. Mrs Dobson, Head of Drama and Director of Grease, describes the difficulties she faced with the casting process: “With so much talent and enthusiasm from all the girls, we decided that a recall audition would help to single out the most talented performers. At the recall, I asked the girls to really ‘sell themselves’ and avoid modesty. I felt certain that this would help us to eliminate some of the more hesitant performers. But, NHSG girls lived up to their reputation of being confident and ambitious and then proceeded to wow me with their stunning delivery.” The Performing Arts team deliberated over several meetings and after a sleepless night (quite literally), they realised that there was too much talent and too few parts. There was only one option: two casts! The ‘Burger’ and ‘Milkshake’ teams were born and double rehearsals began. It’s safe to say the two gifted casts brought equal amounts of energy, vitality and passion to the ultimate musical classic and the audience was astounded by the fancy footwork and vocal talent exhibited by each and every girl involved. The atmosphere in School prior to the performances was electric, with many friends and family of NHSG opting to gather in our pop-up diner and bar area to enjoy some pre-theatre refreshments, before exitedly awaiting the call to take their seats! The show did not disappoint, bursting with hits such as Summer Nights , Greased Lightnin’ , Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the One That I Want, complemented by fun, high energy choreography. The unexpected appearance of Kennicke’s bright red Ford convertible also made a delightful addition to the show; confirmed by the gasps of surprise from across the audience! The girls really gave it their all and did themselves proud on stage but it was particularly wonderful to learn about the friendships that had formed between cast-members off-stage, cemented by their shared passion for delivering a spectacular musical for our School community. The show was an absolute pleasure to watch, and the good news is, there are only three months to wait until the next big NHSG musical reveal!
Newcastle High School For Girls - “Our very first virtual Reunion for Alumnae”

Our very first virtual Reunion for Alumnae

October 3, 2020

It was with a heavy heart that we were forced to cancel the Church High Reunion in June 2020 and the inaugural NHSG Reunion in May 2020. With government restrictions still in place, we were unable to go ahead with the Newcastle Alumnae Reunion planned for Saturday 3rd October which we hoped would be in its stead.

With the pandemic continuing to adversely affect our way of life, we knew we had a responsibility to support our wider community, some of whom have found themselves alone for extended periods over the past six months. We set about arranging an online gathering for all of our Alumnae groups on 3rd October, providing an opportunity for everyone to reconnect with old school friends via a Zoom e-tea party.

We were a little unsure as to how many Alumnae would want to take us up on our offer of a virtual Reunion so we were delighted when the responses to the invitation came flooding in, expressing delight at the opportunity to enjoy ‘elevenses’ with those that may have previously struggled to join a Reunion in person.

The morning of the Reunion soon came around and it was an absolute pleasure to see the familiar faces of Alumnae of all ages, from across the globe (well done to those extremely early risers!), take over our screens when the clock struck 11.00 a.m.

Attendees were greeted with a live video address from Mr Tippett, who touched on how NHSG has overcome the difficulties it has faced during the pandemic. Many of our ‘old girls’ remarked on how interesting it was to find out exactly how the school has been operating in these unthinkable circumstances.
Then there was a chance for school friends to catch up ‘in person’ with a series of private ‘breakout rooms’. As it was our very first virtual Reunion we were a little anxious about the technical hitches we might face on ejecting our trusting participants from the main meeting space into their rooms but, thankfully, all went rather smoothly! The only complaint at the end of the event was that it just hadn’t been long enough.

While our Alumnae had no problem passing the time with nostalgic discussions, some light-hearted entertainment was provided by way of a quiz on the history of both of NHSG’s founding schools.

We are so pleased that the event was a success, and plan to schedule more virtual reunions in the near future, keeping our resilient Alumnae community connected in the only way we can at the moment.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Samantha Rocks talks lockdown, learning and looking to the future”

Samantha Rocks talks lockdown, learning and looking to the future

August 30, 2020

We spoke with Samantha, NHSG Head Girl 2020/21, about taking on the role of Head Girl during a national pandemic. This is what she had to say...

‘Sweet and sour’ is how I would describe lockdown.

Older girls previously buried in books and deadlines re-programmed their lives within minutes. Plenty delighted in the premature end to their studies but my heart sank for those denied an opportunity to exhibit their full potential and robbed of end of school traditions. With no predecessors’ hand-me-down on ‘How to be a Head Girl at home’, it was here I first came face to face with the protagonist of 2020; change. Change, again, is both sweet and sour. I quickly decided I didn’t like change; I was fearful of the landscape of free time in front of me and set out to have a plethora of perfectly productive days.

“Everyone was fearful – however, I thought if I could help somebody become a little less fearful, this would be a significant achievement.”

On reflection, I am very proud of my school. The Guided Home Learning system drew us closer to normality, a new normality. School forum, Mental Health Awareness Week, Diversity Week, a Black Lives Matter assembly, Sports Day, pastoral care, co-curricular clubs, guest speakers and much more, were made very much available to us. The hardship certainly began with lack of structure, yet, as meetings, clubs and a school timetable developed, I recognised a productive utilisation of my time. Change was not so bad.

Now, to summarise the ‘sweet’ experiences. The compassion and kindness, the pure goodness of selfless society when faced with unprecedented challenges. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to reconsider my future and brought about the realisation that I no longer wanted to be a doctor. Now, I am applying for Law and truly excited by the prospect of studying this at university.

Lockdown brought me time to tick things off my to-do list that had been expanding for months. I started to read classic literature, such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, and submitted an essay to a university essay competition. I have also learnt to appreciate. I appreciate that heroes don’t always wear capes, and they often come with IT expertise! I’ve learnt to appreciate my big family unified in my not so big house (perhaps with the exception of when I can’t get to sleep for a noisy big brother and sister). I’ve learnt to appreciate just how lucky I truly am. Most importantly, I’ve learnt to appreciate health.

In early February, I outlined my vision for NHSG and the impact I hoped to have during my time as Head Girl as part of the school’s new selection process.

Mental illness, especially in the form of body dysmorphia and abnormal eating habits is prevalent in young girls. My vision was to address this through various channels, for example, inviting professional guest speakers and dieticians into school to challenge misconceptions and produce a new normal – away from the unattainable ‘perfection’ portrayed so abundantly in the media. Unfortunately, I have had first-hand experience of a family member with eating disorders, and therefore feel well equipped to address this issue.

I would also like to play a part in boosting House allegiance and making House events appeal to a wider array of pupils. I suggested three new house events; a great House Bake Off, an annual Go Green challenge (in which houses compete to improve the environment) and finally, a house style University Challenge to give our phenomenal intellectuals an opportunity to shine. Some other proposals include half-termly trips to different universities – why should five different families travel to the same university? - and increasing the involvement of Alumnae in work experience opportunities.

Finally, I will promote hard work, motivation and drive, as well as inspiring professionalism in school life. I am keen to nurture an appreciation of academic achievement – for me it is something to be proud of in the same sense that drama skills and sports success are celebrated.

We’re already half way through the Autumn term and I know there is a lot I wish to achieve. It is exciting to work towards my aims, and I feel emboldened by the challenges lockdown has exposed me to. Above all it has taught me to embrace, rather than fear, change.

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Newcastle High School for Girls pays tribute to girls receiving A Level results today”

Newcastle High School for Girls pays tribute to girls receiving A Level results today

August 13, 2020

Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) has paid tribute to their pupils receiving A Level results today amid circumstances that no one could have envisaged at the start of the year.

With public examinations cancelled and NHSG moving to a programme of online Guided Home Learning during the lockdown, the Year 13 cohort has risen admirably to the challenges faced in their final year at school.

In recognition of this, as well as congratulating pupils on their achievements, NHSG is celebrating the girls’ impressive resilience in the face of adversity.

Michael Tippett, Head at NHSG, said:

“In these unprecedented times, I commend the girls receiving their A Level results today for their adaptability, their maturity and their determination to remain unfazed in these recent months; they have truly reflected the spirit of an NHSG and GDST girl.

“I am extremely proud of each and every one of them and offer my congratulations to them for their strength of character as well as their A Level results as they now embark on the next stage of their educational/career journey. The majority of the girls will be able to take up their places at university and other higher education institutions and I wish the whole cohort every success.

“I would also like to pay tribute to our staff whose professionalism during this period has been exemplary. Their rapid response in moving to our full programme of online teaching and learning after school facilities were closed to the majority of pupils ensured they provided the very best support for the girls in their final year in school while demonstrating their commitment to delivering an outstanding education for the girls throughout these difficult times.”

Without exams, A Level grades have been calculated differently this year, and although schools have submitted estimated pupil grades to the examination boards, the examinations boards have used a statistical process based on school historical data and national data to calculate the final grades they have awarded.

Michael Tippett added:

“There has been much national debate on the efficacy and fairness of the approach taken by examination boards, and I feel that it is right that schools should challenge any perceived flaws in the system that are affecting their pupils.  At NHSG we are reviewing the grades awarded to each pupil and where we see discrepancies we will make an appeal to the relevant examination board once these processes have been clarified by OfQual and the examination boards.”

“A Level qualifications are critically important in determining our pupils’ next steps, and it’s important that we continue to support every girl in achieving the best possible outcome.”

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Record numbers sign up to inspiring Change Makers Summit”

Record numbers sign up to inspiring Change Makers Summit

July 9, 2020

The pandemic has truly highlighted the enormous benefits of being part of an organisation as unique and forward-thinking as the GDST. Schools across the network have pulled together to create some fantastic online resources and experiences for girls over the past couple of months, one of which was the iconic Change Makers Summit on Thursday 21st May.

More than 25,000 young people from across the UK joined the virtual host, Norwich High School for Girls, for its Inspiring Change Makers Summit 2020. This inaugural online conference followed on from its pioneering Inspiring Females programme launched four years ago. This year’s event reached more young women than ever before from across the state and independent sector – and was supported by an illustrious roll call of exciting women leaders from chef Prue Leith to engineer extraordinaire Yewande Akinola.

The original plan had been to stage this year’s event at Norwich Football Club after the resounding success of last year’s summit at Chelsea Football Club, but after lockdown restrictions were implemented across the UK, the online conference took shape.

Kirsty von Malaisé, Headmistress of Norwich High and founder of the award-winning Inspiring Females programme, said: ​“We wanted to create this event to continue our mission to inspire, educate and empower young people, at a time when young people might need it the most. So many are facing a range of challenges, from students in Year 11 and 13, who have questions about their futures after having examinations cancelled, to those at the beginning of their senior school years who may be missing out on so many rich extra-curricular and pastoral opportunities.”

Chief Executive of the GDST, Cheryl Giovannoni, launched the day with a focus on successful female world leaders, who have been particularly inspiring during this pandemic, and closed with a call to action – to just go for it, to “Own your dreams and make them a reality. Never be too afraid to tackle the things you want to do in the world”.

The day’s sessions were pre-recorded and timetabled so that girls were guided through the conference with an element of synchronisation. All of the content was designed to inspire, engage and empower our future changemakers and there was truly something for everyone; from Diplomacy and Sport, to Creative Arts and Law. The speakers also discussed practical methods for harnessing your passions, achieving your goals and being the best you can be. It was brilliant to watch alumna of Central High, Jo Ashbridge (pictured below), delivering a session for this inspirational event. Jo is the founder and director of architecture charity, AzuKo, and her passion lies in humanitarian work, disaster relief and sustainable development. She set the girls a project using design as a tool to improve lives, just as she has in her own career.

Joining Jo in the line up of change making females was Prue Leith and Yewande Akinola, Olympic hockey champion Kate Richardson-Walsh; Tram Anh Nguyen, Co-founder of the Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship; Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive of the Diana Award; England netballer Ama Agbeze, and Sunday Times Style Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy.

“A real silver lining for us at this time has been the good will and kindness of our speakers who have all volunteered their support to deliver such a broad selection of sessions – keep fit, meditation, yoga, keynotes, interactive sessions, careers talks, one-to-one Q&As and live panel sessions, charity and social enterprise awareness, and so much more – all shaped into a full day’s programme for young people to engage in,” said Mrs von Malaisé.”

Girls who took part left feeling thoroughly inspired. Here are a selection of comments from girls across the GDST network:

“I learnt that I don’t need to have a fixed plan for my life ahead of me; it is allowed to change.”

“I learnt how to know my own strengths and use them effectively to improve myself and my performance.”

“We can all be change makers if we put your minds into it.”

“Shyness is a superpower!”

“I’ve learnt that mistakes are okay, in fact, they’re amazing! It’s important to remember that no one becomes successful through immediate triumph; they’ll have failed many times before. Fail = First Attempt In Learning.”

“The meditation/breathing exercise that can help you become super confident in stressful times.”

“Be like a chameleon, don’t be afraid of change.”

“I should try and leave the world in a better way than before.”

“To believe in me.”

“We can all be change makers if we put your minds into it.”

“I’ve found new ways to improve my productivity.”

“I learnt that you don’t have to go down the traditional route to be successful in life..”

Newcastle High School For Girls - “Quick-fire questions with 2019/20 Head Girl, Katie Dixon”

Quick-fire questions with 2019/20 Head Girl, Katie Dixon

July 9, 2020

Describe your school experience in three words?

An absolute blast.

Who was your best friend?

I’ve got a really close group of lovely friends, but I will give a special mention to Anna O’Donnell because we have been such good friends ever since we were in Year 7.

Any mischief?

When we were in Year 9 my friends and I would order Dominos pizzas and eat them in our locker room every Tuesday lunch time (taking advantage of Dominos Two for Tuesday deal!). We find it hilarious to look back on, we acted like it was mission impossible sneaking them into the building and then we would stash the empty boxes in the spare lockers. This went on for a few months and by the time we were discovered we had roughly 30 pizza boxes to clear out!

Favourite teacher?

Mr Tippett! I’ve enjoyed working closely with him this past year on the forum executive committee, and we’ve had a lot of laughs. He was also a really good sport and took part in making a TikTok with us on our last day, despite TikTok being banned!

Let’s talk about the food…

Lunch is one of the highlights of my day, I’ve always enjoyed the school dinners and love that you can take whatever you want from the counter. Bacon and hash browns from the common room regularly set me up for the day!

Where was your favourite place at school to hang out?

I spent most of my free time in the common room because it’s such a great space to chill and all the Sixth Formers hang out there.

Sporty or outside field lingerer?

I’ve enjoyed playing netball and hockey the whole way through school, and I’ve made so many friends and memories going all over the country for different matches and competitions. I was also lucky enough to be a part of the NHSG netball team that won Trust netball for the first time in decades in 2019. The sports tour to Australia was the culmination of many happy years of sporting activities in school, and it really was the trip of a lifetime.

Other than Head Girl, did you win any prizes or awards?

I was awarded an honorary scholarship when moving into the senior school and I also achieved an academic excellence award for my GCSEs. My most recent award was the Miss Belton Drama Award which I won for my performance in the school production of Oliver! in which I played Fagin.

What advice would you offer your younger school-age self?

Take advantage of all the opportunities and don’t hesitate to get involved in things. I was hesitant to do the school musicals when I was in Years 7 and 8 because none of my close friends were doing them. They became the highlight of my year, and you make so many more friends when you do co-curricular activities.

What are your plans now school has finished?

Hopefully in September I will be going to Newcastle University to study Medicine, which I’m very excited about!

How have you and your friends have found lockdown life?

Although I’ve found lockdown a bit boring at times, I have tried to keep myself entertained by running and baking, and I have a quiz night with my friends every week on Zoom. It’s great that we can now meet some of our friends outside, and we’re enjoying going for walks and picnics while the weather is nice.

Thank you for sharing those answers, Katie, and for being a star Head Girl this year (on and off the stage)! We are disappointed we haven’t been able to say farewell in the usual way but we wish you the best of luck with your start in Medicine and we hope you can tell us all about it in the near future.