How do you feel about being appointed as the Head of Junior School at NHSG?
I’m absolutely delighted! I have loved being able to spend more time in Junior School since taking up the role of Acting Head of Junior School at Christmas.
My new role provides such an exciting opportunity to build further upon our whole school ethos and ensure that there is a completely joined up approach to curriculum development, teaching and learning and our extensive co-curricular provision across Junior and Senior School.
What can you tell us about your background before taking up this role?
Up until December 2020 I was Deputy Head Academic in Senior School and I’m so pleased that my new role allows me
to retain that responsibility alongside the headship of Junior School, as it’s a role I really love.
I have worked in girls’ education since 1997, initially at Church High School where I was Director of Studies until the merger with Central High School in 2014, when Newcastle High School for Girls was established.
Can you sum up what is so special about NHSG Junior School?
Where do I start? It would be easy to list our outstanding facilities, the excellent teaching, the stunning woodland grounds or the sporting opportunities on offer but it is so much more than that. NHSG Junior School is a warm, welcoming community made up of amazing individuals.
Our girls talk openly about the sense of belonging they feel as part of the NHSG family and our school is the perfect size to ensure that each girl is known and valued as an individual.
Alongside an inspiring curriculum, which we regularly review to respond to a changing world, we offer an extensive co-curricular programme that challenges girls to develop their skills, independence and confidence. Plus, our membership of the Girls’ Day School Trust offers our girls so many additional opportunities beyond those available in our region.
What can you tell us about your vision and aims for the Junior School?
My vision for Junior School is to build further on the current provision in place to engender a truly inspiring learning environment where academic excellence is a given.
Junior School will provide an outstanding foundation for eventual progression into Senior School, and staff across Junior and Senior School will collaborate regularly to ensure that each stage builds effectively upon the previous one across the full range of subjects and co-curricular activities. This will ensure each individual girl can follow her passion.
Does happiness come before academic performance when children are at Junior School?
Happiness goes hand in hand with academic performance for girls in Junior School. Our aim is to ensure that our girls flourish in a warm, nurturing environment where they are supported to take risks, step outside their comfort zone and develop their skills through a wide range of curricular and co-curricular opportunities.
Our staff are experts in the education of girls and our curriculum is designed to encourage independence, creativity and enquiry.
When girls feel safe and happy they are more likely to flourish academically, and when they flourish academically they get a sense of achievement that brings happiness. It’s a winning formula.
NHSG seems to have an impressive co-curricular programme – can you tell us what’s on offer at the Junior School?
For September 2021 we have redesigned our co-curricular programme to ensure that all girls are given the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities.
A number of music clubs will run each week, including choirs, a Junior Orchestra and Samba Band. Alongside this, a programme of sport will be on offer and from Year 3 this will take place on our Senior School site so that our girls benefit from the facilities on offer there.
Girls from Year 2 to 6 will also have the opportunity to participate in a carousel of creative activities that will run throughout the year on a Wednesday evening and on Thursday evenings we will offer Year 2 to 6 an academic enrichment programme that will inspire curious young minds.
Children have had a tough time over the past year, what’s been the biggest issue and how do you plan to support them to get back on track?
This year has been incredibly tough on children, despite our best efforts to ensure that our girls were supported through a programme of lessons each day as part of our guided home learning provision.
It was tough on parents, too, many of whom were trying to work from home alongside supporting their children with school work.
Some of our youngest children will not remember a time when social distancing didn’t exist. They’ve missed out on hugs with grandparents, family and friends.
Our assessment programme has allowed us to identify any academic gaps resulting from the time spent working at home and we have clear plans in place across Junior School to address any concerns identified.
Well-being activities, pastoral support and opportunities for fun, laughter and happiness are also a priority for us.
How do you unwind away from work?
I get so much pleasure and fulfilment from my career and I have always been so grateful for the opportunity to work in such an amazing school.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Under normal circumstances, that would include lots of travel, as I love exploring new places with my husband and two teenage daughters.
Covid-19 has meant that hasn’t happened this year, but I’m hopeful that one day in the not too distant future I will need my passport again!
NHSG was named Sunday Times North East Independent Senior School of the Year in 2020. To find out more about what’s on offer for girls aged 3 – 18, visit: newcastlehigh.gdst.net