As another school year draws to a close it’s time to pat ourselves on the back again and reflect on some of the amazing things that have happened here over the past few months.

We feel very at home with our new branding now, which was introduced at the start of the academic year and features on all of our literature and in our marketing materials. Everybody has embraced the new look and feel – it’s really encouraging.

It’s been madly busy of course, but in a good way. We pack so much in to every moment that sometimes it’s hard to keep track. There have been some momentous highlights this year. The United Nations trip stands out of course – I still fill with pride when I think about what Jenny and Rachel have achieved; it’s so inspiring and it goes on and on, with both girls regularly writing blogs for the Huffington Post.

We also officially opened our fantastic performing arts centre ‘the space’ and there have already been some incredible performances in there. From the various Junior School concerts and productions, through to the phenomenal performance of ‘Grease’ on the official launch night, this facility never fails to impress. I actually believe that having a real stage and theatre setup boosts the girls’ confidence – you can see it in their faces when they’re up there, so proud. It’s also been wonderful to use ‘the space’ for our various awards evenings. Keeping these events ‘in house’ makes them so much more personal and provides a real sense of belonging.

Our girls have been busy with their GCSE and A-Level revision and exams and now have to wait until August to see how they’ve done. I have every faith in them, but whatever the outcome, they will have our support as ever. Those two magical days in August are always so special and I can’t wait to share in the celebrations.

We’ve been lucky with the weather on Sports Days in both the Junior and Senior schools. Parents enjoyed watching and the girls enjoyed taking part in the various events which work so well in uniting the House groups. The Senior School event was particularly special this year as it was Mrs Skinner’s last ever one here as she now leaves to enjoy her retirement and a well-earned rest. Mrs Skinner has been at the school for 34 years as a PE teacher so she takes a fair few memories with her. I’m sure one of those memories will be the sea of Mrs Skinner masks that greeted her at Sports day as the girls and staff showed their respect and appreciation in their own unique way. She’s been a lynchpin of the House system heading up Hastings with huge amounts of support and organisation, particularly enjoying the much loved House Performing Arts Festival. I know I speak for all of us when I say: “Thanks Mrs Skinner, we’ll really miss you.”

On the subject of goodbyes, we have one or two others to add; it’s inevitable at the end of a school year and it’s always a day of mixed emotions.

I feel a certain sense of déjà vu in saying goodbye to Ms Susanna Beharall. She’s left us before and come back in other guises, this time in the English Department. Thanks for stepping in again in Susanna, and you know you’re always welcome back!

On to Mr Brian Jones who joined us in 2014 initially to cover maternity leave in Economics and Business Studies, but ended up staying for three years! He’s proved a great addition in the subject area and also in the staff choir who are now lacking some tenors if you know anybody who can sing.

I’ll be very sad indeed to say goodbye to Mrs Marie Soar who’s been at the school since February 2008. Marie originally joined us as Admin Manager but since 2012 took up the reins as Director of Development for the performing arts centre. You only have to look at the place to see what a fantastic job she’s done over the years, it really is astonishing when you think of the money we needed to raise for this project to come to fruition. Thanks Marie, you’ve worked so hard and deserve the rest that’s on its way.

What to say about Mrs Pip Flewitt who also retires this year? Well, where to begin! Mrs Flewitt has been the face of our Sixth Form for such a long time having initially joined us in 2001 as a teacher of English, and followed with leading roles in Years 12 and 13. Pip has always been there for the girls in their final years at school, steering them through the trials and tribulations of exams, celebrating with them and offering support where needed. Her smiling face and endlessly cheery disposition will certainly be missed. We all hope that she enjoys every moment of her retirement, resting in the knowledge that our Sixth Form is safe in the hands of Mrs Erin Skelton who has already settled in so well.

I can’t end without congratulating our wonderful, smart, funny, extraordinary girls on their achievements this year. Our end of year assembly gets bigger and bigger as we have more and more awards and prizes to distribute, it’s really quite something. Everything they have done, and continue to do, makes me so proud, and I hope they all have an amazing summer break, including those currently on route to NASA on the GDST Physics trip with five of our sister schools. And not forgetting the continued, invaluable support from our parents who are every bit as extraordinary as their girls. I hope you all enjoy some quality time together over the summer and come back with lots of exciting news for us, ready to take on another fantastic year at NGHS.