Our Stars Shine Brightly on GCSE Results Day 2016

Still on a high from sharing A-Level success with our girls last week, it was an absolute pleasure to do the same with Year 11 girls collecting their GCSE results today – what a great day it’s been. GCSE1Our girls have stepped up to the mark again and done us proud with 44% of passes at A*, 73% at A* to A and 92% at A* to B – I am SO proud of these girls right now, especially as their efforts defy the trend reported in the news today of a decline in GCSE grades. We are right up there as one of the top schools in the region with our GCSE results and this makes me very happy, and the girls should be very pleased with themselves too. Eleven of them obtained 9 or more A* grades out of which four girls got A*s in ALL of the subjects they took. It was great to share these special moments with those who received that news today – Connie Brown, Lucy Mackie and Fiona Selwyn – I know your parents are as proud of you as I am.

GCSE2What is really exciting too is the broad range of subjects that saw A* grades awarded, not just the traditionally under-represented STEM subjects like Maths and the Sciences, but Languages and the Humanities too. A huge pat on the back for Geography particularly, with 100% of grades at either A* or A, that’s brilliant. All of this goes to show how good we are at what we do, and how adaptable and multi-talented our girls are; they really can turn their hand successfully to anything they choose, and I don’t just mean academically. All of these girls have embraced the whole of school life and have thrown themselves into all sorts of other activities from sports to music and emerged as great all-rounders, which is the best way to face whatever lies ahead.

GCSE3These results round off our 140th anniversary year in style and I can’t wait to welcome the girls and their parents to our Celebration and Awards Evening in September at which all of us can share in the pride of their achievements. I know with these results our girls have the best possible opportunities to continue their academic success in the Sixth Form, where they can also expand their horizons through a multitude of enrichment activities which further equip them with additional life skills such as leadership, confidence and resilience.GCSE4

 

Today has shown un-categorically that our teaching and learning provision, geared specifically to how girls learn, is what helps make us so successful. I’m so proud of everybody here – it’s been a real team effort.

 

A-Level Results Day – Do the Maths

I’m so delighted to have shared in the celebrations and successes of our girls today as they collected their A-Level results. What a tremendous sense of achievement for them, and pride for me as new Head of the school – I’d like to congratulate them all on a fantastic set of results, making all of their hard work and commitment worthwhile.

I know that every single one of them put in a lot of work and they all did really well, but I really do have to mention a couple of our girls who were outstanding in gaining A*s in every subject they took.

Blog1Well done to Olivia Dadge who achieved A* grades in ALL of her subjects and can now take up a place at St John’s, Cambridge, to study Engineering – one of her passions for which she previously won a prestigious Arkwright Scholarship. Olivia has embraced STEM subjects throughout her time here and has reaped successes in Maths and Science Olympiads along the way, and secured work experience at Rolls Royce as well as presenting an independent Engineering project at Atkins.

Blog2Bhuvana Sudarshan also did exceptionally well with A* grades in all of her subjects and is now able to pursue her studies in Medicine as desired. Bhuvana too, smashed traditional stereotypes with her subject choices and successes throughout school, becoming the Ogden Trust Physicist of the Year in 2015, enjoying continued success with the Gold CREST project and spending time in work placements at a pharmaceutical research company and a renal dialysis unit, as well as managing the Year 7 Chemistry Club and running Science workshops at local primary schools.

I’m also particularly pleased that our Maths results were so great, as Maths tends to be swept under the carpet as a subject chosen by girls. Our pass rate in Maths at A-Level was 100% at grades A* to C, 27% of which were A*, 73% were A*/A and 85% were A*/B. This is something to be really proud of.

Blog3

And even when things didn’t go quite as planned for some girls, it was inspiring to see them determined to get those university places they wanted, overcoming any setbacks and remaining positive throughout.

In a time and society in which some may question the value of single-sex education for girls, I think today has proved that it is still hugely viable and the best environment for girls to thrive in, both academically and emotionally. Watching our girls today, seeing their thrilled and happy faces, sharing their brilliant news with family and friends, and feeling their infectious optimism for whatever the future holds has truly lifted my spirits. If happiness is a measure of success, then I can say without a doubt that is has been a wonderfully successful day.

Let’s Face the Music

So here we are at the end of a super year, the highlight of which for me of course, was becoming Head of this amazing school after Easter, and watching it grow and progress in so many ways. I count myself very lucky to have received the support of staff, girls and parents alike, which has made my settling in period so easy and enjoyable. Now as we enter the summer holidays, I feel I can look back and appreciate all of the amazing things that have happened during my Headship so far, and ensure that there are many more to follow.
String Orchestra
We’ve been through a lot during the summer term and packed a lot in – open events, performances, trips and celebrations; the school seems to thrive on these and is endlessly lively. It has of course been our 140 year anniversary and we have managed to incorporate this into so much of school life themed lessons, assorted challenges, a wonderful garden party at the Junior School and our Summer Arts Festival most recently. During each of these unique events the one thing that has struck me the most is how much talent there is present at the school, from the very youngest girls right up to the Sixth Form. I’ve seen some wonderful acting and dancing, heard outstanding music and singing, and marvelled at fantastic sporting achievements.Rounders Club It has become clear from this that these are areas in which we surpass, and parents agree, from what I have gathered at my meetings with them. I’m delighted therefore to announce that our timetable of extracurricular activities for the coming year has been designed to promote excellence as well as provide opportunities for ALL girls to become involved. Music and sporting activities will be available on different days of the week across the whole school – every girl should be able to participate in both of these if she so desires. With Mr Rolfe’s expert involvement, enthusiasm and musical skill having produced success after success in the Junior School, I’m really thrilled that his music club provision will now extend to the Senior School too, enabling the whole school approach that is so important in maintaining levels of excellence, interest and of course fun, across all year groups.
Swing Band 1Our girls throw themselves wholeheartedly and enthusiastically into everything they do, revelling in their successes and accepting their defeats with good grace, which is as it should be. They will have so much to choose from, so many ways in which to develop their skills, have fun, gain confidence and experience not only in school, but outside – it promises to be a really exciting time, especially as our new Performing Arts Centre is nearing completion and should be open in the autumn.

With that, I hope that all of our girls and staff have a wonderful summer break, relaxing, having fun and enjoying  precious family time together, and come back to us refreshed and ready to take on another exciting and successful school year. I hope to be able to congratulate girls and parents alike when exam results come out in the summer, and see parental involvement and inclusion grow even more in the new year – we’ve already seen what can be achieved by this, and things can only get better. In a world which appears to be rapidly changing and presenting us with new challenges, we pride ourselves on remaining steadfast and doing what we have always done and what we do best – providing an excellent educational experience for girls.

Revise, Rest, Repeat – Exam Season at NGHS

We are a few weeks into the summer term now and at a crucial crossroads, particularly for our Year 11, 12 and 13 girls as they enter their last few days of school before their GCSE and A Level exams begin. There has been a lot of talk lately about the whole business of academic testing and the amount of pressure students feel under, but we all know that at this point in their lives, exams matter for these girls – their futures depend on them.

Julie Keller 5We have always done really well with our exam results, consistently ranking in the top 100 in the country despite tough competition. I believe that it is vital for girls to do well, especially in their A Levels, as they continue to be compared to their male counterparts, not only in the classroom but in the world of work beyond – we need to redress this balance, and I firmly feel that an all girls environment is the perfect place to begin to achieve this.

But academic success should not come at the expense of happiness – a happy girl is a successful girl and we provide the best pastoral care we can to ensure that every girl feels safe and well and happy throughout her time at school and of course, during exam time.

So as our girls embark on study leave and then on to their exams, I hope that they get the balance right. Study hard, ask for help if you need it but don’t sacrifice your wellbeing. Remember to rest and have some fun when you can. The school is such a supportive environment and I’m sure that our exam results will reflect this and we will once again see successful and confident young women, ready to take on the world, and win!

Welcome to the Summer Term

JKRFirstly, let me welcome you all back to school after what has hopefully been a wonderful and relaxing family break, or an exciting and fun-filled adventure on the ski trip to Italy for those of you who were there.

As I start out in my new role as Head of NGHS I need to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Mrs Gorham for paving the way in what promises to be an exciting time ahead, and also to congratulate Mrs Handford-Smith on her appointment as Deputy Head.

Saying goodbye to Sue at the end of last term was a bittersweet experience for all of us and many tears were shed, some of sadness and many of laughter at great memories shared. The wonderful performances across the whole school at her final assembly, and the fabulous array of gifts and good wishes received were a testament to her success and popularity among the staff, girls and parents alike. Stepping into her shoes is an honour and a privilege and I look forward to continuing the championing of the all girls’ education that we pride ourselves on and continue to provide exclusively.

For blogI feel very lucky to have had the chance to familiarise myself with girls, staff and procedures at both the Infant and Junior School in my role as Acting Executive Head there since September, and my prior role as Deputy Head of the whole School – it’s a truly special place, one I will be incredibly proud to lead.

Sue and I have been working closely together, particularly in the past year, to ensure the transition will be seamless. My goal as Head remains the same as always – to give each girl the opportunities and support she needs to become the best she can be.

I wish Sue all the very best in her retirement and look forward to an exciting and successful future for all of us here at Nottingham Girls’ High School.

Goodbye and Farewell

NGHS 17 - CopyAs you will have most probably heard, I am retiring at the end of the Spring term after the most amazing 10 years as Head of NGHS. I have been overwhelmed by the wonderful messages of thanks and best wishes from colleagues, parents, pupils, alumnae and many other supporters of the school.

When I am asked about what makes NGHS so special I always say the girls. They are NGHS. They are amazing. They excel in so many areas not just academically. They have an appetite to take on new challenges and develop new skills. They are bright and energetic with an abundance of enthusiasm for life. It is so rewarding to see them mature and turn into beautiful, confident and successful young women. I will miss them all. I will miss them telling me about their adventures on D of E, their sporting and musical achievements and their personal successes.

Sue and Juniors Sue and girlsSince arriving at NGHS in 2005 I have seen many girls progress through the Junior and Senior Schools and it is wonderful when they come back to visit and tell us about their new roles and how they would not be where they are without the help and support of the dedicated staff at NGHS. Working closely with such a committed team of professionals has been a pleasure, and I would like to thank all of my colleagues for the support they have given to me over the years. On this note, I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate Julie Keller on her appointment as Head. I could not be more pleased with this appointment. I have worked closely with Julie and I know that the school is in safe hands. Her wealth of knowledge of the girls, and her excellent insight into the whole school will ensure that the transition will be seamless.

On a personal note, I am looking forward to spending more time with my expanding family. With the recent arrival of my wonderful grandson Harry, and another on the horizon, there will be plenty to keep me occupied – and of course there is Scooby, my mischievous spaniel – who always keeps me on my toes!

ScoobyOne thing which I have missed is having the time to pursue my many interests. I love reading, walking and travelling and I am looking forward to spending more time on these activities.

However, there are already dates in my diary for school events which I am really looking forward to and so will not be a stranger by any means.

There have been many wonderful achievements over the past 10 years and these would not have been possible without the support and hard work of everyone at NGHS. I will miss you all and wish you all the very best for the future.

Students put their best foot forward to Show Racism the Red Card

IMG_0530 - Copy It’s been 135 years since the Nottingham Girls’ High School football club was established – challenging the opinions of the time, from people who thought that it was too dangerous and simply improper for young girls to ‘imitate the pursuits of men’. We’ve come a long way since then (thankfully!), especially when it comes to women in sport.

Today we still encourage our students to challenge stereotypes in all areas of life and to be aware of current issues and conscious of how they might tackle them. This came in to play at the recent event we attended at Nottingham Forest FC, organised by the UK’s anti-racism educational charity, Show Racism the Red Card, which works with high-profile football players and clubs to help tackle racism in society.

IMG_0520 - Copy

Our student football team receives training sessions with the NFFC coaches and we are lucky enough to have them come in to school and work closely with the girls on a regular basis. Fifteen of those students were invited to spend the day putting their football skills to the test, receiving a tour of the grounds and enjoying a question and answer session with NFFC player Britt Assombalonga.

At Nottingham Girls’ High School we nurture the sporting potential of our students and have built quite a reputation for being an active, adventurous school because of the opportunities we provide our students outside of the classroom.

IMG_0555 - Copy  IMG_0549 - Copy

This event was fantastic not only because our girls were able to put their sporting prowess to the test on professional ground but they were able to learn more about another important cause. One that they can now help spread awareness of. It’s incredible to see how our students inspire each other in and out of the classroom – or in this case, on and off the field!

Last year alone our students dedicated over 3,500 hours of their free time to worthwhile charities, project and initiatives.

We are proud of our 140 year history and it’s absolutely fantastic that we’ve got our own Senior football team and are developing a Junior football team. To see our girls today learn from the expertise of NFFC coaches and championship players and have the opportunity to work with them on an ongoing basis is a sign of how times, opinions and expectations for what women can pursue and achieve have changed – for the better!

Yueh-Chia Wins National Engineering Scholarship

Yueh-Chia at presentationWell we’ve had a wonderful start to the New Year and our girls and staff have all returned from the festive break refreshed and ready to go!

We’re also celebrating the outstanding achievement of our Year 12 student Yueh-Chia Lo, who outshone over 1,500 other candidates to win a highly prestigious Arkwright Engineering Scholarship.

The Arkwright Scholarship is renowned internationally and identifies young people who demonstrate the potential to be future leaders in the engineering industry. Even though almost 80% of the scholars are typically boys, our girls have bucked the trend for the second time in as many years. Yueh-Chia’s win follows Year 13 student Olivia Dadge, who was awarded the same coveted scholarship last year.

Just 8.2% of engineering professionals are women – an awful statistic in today’s society. Yueh-Chia is a beacon for young female engineers and what they can achieve with drive, passion and talent. I’m excited to see Yueh-Chia go on to fulfil her massive potential – no doubt she will do great things.

To achieve what she has, Yueh-Chia underwent a rigorous selection process that included a two hour aptitude exam and an interview hosted at a top engineering university. Out of 30,000 eligible students across the UK, only 397 Engineering Scholarships were awarded in total – the fact that one of those was awarded to Yueh-Chia is testament to her tremendous ability.

The Arkwright Scholarships provide students with a £600 financial award to enhance their A Level studies and orchestrate a range of opportunities to develop their learning, understanding and experience of engineering including company visits and mentoring.

Respected by leading universities and companies, the scholarships are supported by top engineering employers and organisations such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, National Grid, Balfour Beatty, Microsoft Research, Thales, The Royal Air Force and The Royal Navy – a mark of its stature.

At Nottingham Girls’ High School, we will continue to lend every support to the next generation of girls who want to pursue a career in fields of STEM and look forward to celebrating the success of our next Arkwright scholar.

Christmas – Time to Reflect and be with Family. Guest blog by Julie Keller, Acting Executive Head, Infant and Junior School.

JKRAs we head towards the end of 2015 and the first term of our 140th year draws to a close now is a great time to reflect on everything our students have achieved and look forward to the Christmas break – spending time together as families over the festive period.

2015 has been a fantastic year at Nottingham Girls’ High School and 2016 looks set to be even better with some amazing milestones and opportunities on the horizon.

This term has been brilliant. The girls raised over £1,000, holding a Mad Hatter style tea party as part of a coffee morning campaign to mark 125 Years of NSPCC East HatterMidlands with alumna Jenny Farr. We hosted a Christmas party for Nottingham’s senior citizens and, who could forget our Celebration and Awards Evening where we kick-started our year of anniversary celebrations and rewarded the incredible achievements of over 220 students.

This of course followed a fantastic summer which saw a team of our bravest, boldest girls conquer Kilimanjaro, and Nottingham Girls’ High School celebrated outstanding GCSE results, with a 99.1% pass rate at A* to C, and a 99.3% pass rate at A level – incredible achievements which confirmed our  place as one of the region’s top independent schools.

XmasThat being said, as well as our academic excellence, we also recognise the importance of quality time together as a family, especially during holidays and do not set homework for Years 7, 8 and 9 at this time, providing instead, free time for pupils to explore and pursue activities they enjoy.

It’s a break from learning with an emphasis on independent thinking and self-exploration as well as quality family time.

Students, please take Christmas as an opportunity to reflect on all of your achievements over the past term, spend time with family and friends and enjoy some rest and relaxation. We can’t wait to welcome you back in 2016, refreshed, ready and raring to go for the new spring term.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Pretty Curious – Exploring STEM

NGHS 17 - CopyThe first years at school are so important. It’s a time to develop each girl’s confidence, to find where her passion lies and give her the chance to explore new subjects and develop an appetite for STEM, or indeed any subject.

So it was to my delight to see the latest initiative from EDF Energy, its ‘Pretty Curious’ campaign, which aims to spark the imagination of young

girls, inspiring them to stay curious about the world around them, and continue pursuing science-based subjects at school – and in their careers.

In the UK, only 1 in every 7 people who works in science, technology, engineering and maths is female – so it’s fantastic to see a large blue chip company like EDF recognising the importance of addressing the balance.

That’s why we engage our girls in all subjects from an early age to give them the best chance to develop a love of any subject. At a single sex school like ours, girls are more likely to go on to pursue STEM subjects. Because all subjects are gender neutral there’s no pressure to conform to traditionally female subject choices. No one will ask why you’re doing a “boys’ subject”. Such a thing just doesn’t exist here!

There’s a real opportunity to ignite a passion at a young age. We encourage our girls to explore the fascinating side of STEM subject study by holding regular events and extra-curricular activities, including our recent Maths Matters event where Nottingham Girls’ High School alumnae and members of the Nottingham business community came together to talk about maths and its career applications.

My favourite quote from the night was from Nottingham Girls’ High School alumna, Sarah Thomas, who read Mathematics with Statistics at The University of Nottingham, she said: “With a passion for your subject you can get wherever you want to be.”

I couldn’t agree more! Every day I recognise the same curiosity, determination, intrigue and focus in our girls, which are promoted in EDF’s campaign and I am with them – I’d like to see the number ‘1 in 7’ grow – it’s about time it did.