We’ve only been back at school for a few weeks since Christmas and there is already so much to share with you, and it’s all good.

I’ve already expressed my pride and delight in our write-up by the Good Schools Guide, confirming what we already know – that this is an amazing, happy and successful school at which to study. Now I can add that this is also a happy and successful school at which to work, and that’s really important and means a lot to me.

We were recently invited to take part in the ‘Best Companies’ survey during which a series of questions were put to staff regarding how they feel about where they work, and the responses to this have been truly uplifting. As a result of this survey, I’m thrilled to be able to say that we are now officially extraordinary, in that we are a 3* school – one of only three GDST schools to have obtained this rating. This is significant for many reasons, not least because I believe that if my staff are happy then this reflects on the girls themselves, and a happy girl is a successful girl after all. We all know that teaching, and every other role in the school in fact, can be incredibly busy and sometimes stressful if we’re honest; it’s not easy maintaining such high standards and it takes a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication. So receiving such positive feedback to these questions is very rewarding as it means that my staff have faith and confidence in the school and its leadership, in their teams and working environment, and that they genuinely love what they do. I’m very grateful to everybody who completed the survey – we need to know how people feel in order to address any issues that might arise. The happiness and morale of the staff equates to the wellbeing and success of the girls – it’s a win-win situation.

I’ve had a lovely couple of weeks since our entrance examinations took place, talking to lots of girls and their families. It’s been a pleasure to meet so many bright and eager girls who have been a joy to interview and who are clearly very excited about joining us. Our numbers are looking very healthy indeed, which shows just how much there is still a place for girls only education in our society. I can’t wait to welcome them all in September; I just know they’re going to love being part of something this special.

I’d also like to say ‘well done’ to all of the girls who took part in ‘Blue Stockings’ – our first drama production to take place in our amazing new performing arts centre ‘the space’. It must have been quite a daunting prospect to be the first to tread the boards of our new theatre, but our girls did incredibly well and performed exceptionally over the three nights of the show. Bearing in mind that some of these girls were also taking some of their mock GCSE examinations while all this was going on, I’m really impressed with how well they coped, full of confidence as always. The staff involved should also be very proud, the resulting production was slick and talented and everything went incredibly well given that we hadn’t performed here to an audience before. I can’t wait to see our music and drama productions go from strength to strength as we find our feet in this fantastic venue. You really should come along and watch anything if you can – it’s quite spectacular.

Now for some incredibly exciting news about two of our Year 13 girls who have only gone and got themselves invited to the United Nations no less! This is HUGE news for them, and for us and the GDST who have made their trip to New York possible. Jenny Raw, our current Head Girl, and friend Rachel Wibberley, are both members of the National Council of Young Women Great Britain. The NCYWGB was founded here at school by alumna Barbara Maddison who is a member of its parent group, the National Council of Women, and Jenny and Rachel will be the only delegates of this group representing the UK at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 61) in New York in March. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of these two girls and this amazing opportunity that has opened up for them. They are currently gathering the views of other girls and young women in order to help put together the Youth Statement which will be read out at the opening of proceedings in New York. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how topical all of this is, especially at the current time given the state of affairs since the American presidential elections and the outcome and aftermath. But I don’t want to steal their thunder, so why not take a look at their online blog at this link which they have put together in order to collect the information they need, and keep us all updated. This will become especially exciting once they get to the USA in March, and as you will see, the girls are literally counting down the days.

How can so much good news and excitement come from just three weeks or so? I feel sure that 2017 is going to be an amazing year for us – there’s an awful lot going on, and if these first few weeks are anything to go by then we’re in for an incredible journey.