As we reach the end of a long and exceptionally hot term, it’s time to reflect before everybody takes a well-earned summer break.

It has of course, been exam season, and I have every faith in our girls who sat their A-levels and GCSEs these past couple of months. We have worked really hard on the curriculum to give them the best opportunities possible, and they in turn have worked hard at their studies. I can’t wait to see the girls on the two results days in August – they’re always such special occasions, as are the celebration evenings which follow.

We’ve had some super open events, in fact two Senior School taster days this year, catering for a large number of Year 5 girls eager to experience the NGHS offer. There have also been many other visitors through our doors here, and in the Junior School, showing an encouraging and increased interest an all-girls education across all year groups. It’s an exciting time for us, and it will be lovely to welcome new faces in September.

Love it or hate it, you won’t have failed to notice a certain sporting buzz around the place, and there have been some great sporting firsts here too. Our first rowing event was a great success; our first GDST cricket squad captained by our very own Jaya Sekhon from Year 13, and of course third place for our football team in the Independent Schools Football Association U13 National Finals, along with all of our usual in-house sporting successes – it’s been a great year.

Our relentless pursuit of action and adventure goes on, across all areas of the school, with some incredible trips and experiences. The Junior and Senior Choirs have both enjoyed fabulous trips to France; our netballers have been well acclimatised in this heat for their current tour to Antigua, as have the girls who are currently on the World Challenge to Costa Rica with Miss Lynn – what a fantastic adventure; we can’t wait to hear all about it.

I am, as ever, grateful to the dedicated staff here for all of their hard work during this year. The teachers, support staff, estates and catering staff, all work together to keep things running smoothly and make this school a wonderful, cheerful environment in which to work. Inevitably, we have to say goodbye to a few folk at the end of the year, some of who have stepped in as cover or supply, and others who are retiring to enjoy a well-earned rest. So, a heartfelt “thank you” to Ngoc Tran in Maths and Steph Dann in Outreach, who both started early in the year and have thrown themselves enthusiastically into their respective roles and so many other activities in school. Steph is going on to university to do a PGCE and we know she’ll make an amazing teacher. Rosie Malone started at NGHS in 2012 on maternity cover and has been here ever since! A consummate professional, Rosie has applied her teaching skills in all Humanities subjects as well as PSHE, and we shall really miss her. We will also miss our three retirees this year: Helen Talbot, who is currently on the Netball Tour to Antigua, also started in 2012 on maternity cover and stayed on to teach PE at Junior and Senior level, as well as PSHE. Helen’s looking forward to lots more travel and spending more time with her family in Yorkshire. Another cover teacher, Eileen Thorne, stepped in when Dr Critchley went on paternity leave in 2009. She’s since taught all of the sciences and took on ‘Maths in Motion’ achieving a place in the national finals with her team. And lastly, Jenny Towle is having another go at retiring! She tried last year but ended up coming back to teach part-time Biology having originally started teaching here in 1996. Jenny is actually an alumna of the school too, and is famed for using songs in her lessons to help girls to remember facts. We’re not sure that anybody can really follow that, so we’re REALLY going to miss her. We wish all of them the very best for the future.

I have really enjoyed opening up this blog spot to other members of my staff too. I think it’s great for you to hear their thoughts and views directly, as each and every one of them plays a vital role and brings their own unique self to the NGHS family. So with that, let me wish you all a wonderful summer break, and leave you with this from Claire Bale, our Director of Marketing, as she concludes her first full term with us:

One term in – my first impressions of NGHS
Claire Bale, Director of Marketing

As the school year draws to a close, so does the end of my first full term as Director of Marketing here at NGHS. The buzz of the girls is starting to quieten as exams finish and we head into the summer holidays, giving me a chance to reflect on my time here so far, and the many reasons I have fallen in love with Nottingham Girls’ High School.

The girls

All the way from Reception to Year 13, the girls really do make this school special. They’re bright, fun, positive, eloquent, confident, so supportive of each other and incredibly cool. I hope I was a little bit like them many years ago!

The staff

Every member of staff I’ve met here has been passionate about giving our girls the most amazing, holistic education possible. I’ve had a million and one ideas sent through to me, have shadowed some incredibly talented teachers, and shared hysterical laughter with the team here (the lip synching leavers’ video to Pharell Williams’ ‘Happy’ springs to mind!)

The dogs

Of course I can’t forget two popular members of the team – Saffy and Delilah, the school dogs. I’ve never worked anywhere with dogs before, and I can honestly say it’s wonderful. The joy they bring the girls is palpable, and when they pop into the Marketing Office, everyone can’t help but smile. The girls take their care seriously, walking them during break, being gentle with them in the playground, and they really enjoy having them here as part of the NGHS family.

The atmosphere

It’s hard to describe this, but there’s something unique about the atmosphere here. It’s not just the beautiful mixture of old historical buildings and state of the art facilities like The Space, it’s the hum of everyday activity, the excited chatter and laughter; it’s walking to the dining hall and seeing girls celebrating reaching the top of the climbing wall, watching the Year 1 girls hold hands as they walk across the playground, hearing music coming from the open windows during summer term and the way the light pours into the big bay windows of the Marketing Office while the girls have their lessons on the lawn. There’s something about NGHS you just want to bottle.

The parent community

I’ve been lucky enough to meet many parents over the last few months. What a positive, vibrant, inspiring group of advocates! We all value talking to parents on an ongoing basis, and have so many helpful conversations – whether it’s ideas for fundraising, feedback on what we’ve done well and could do better, or sharing successes and progress of the girls, there’s always a conversation going on across the SLT, tutors, teachers and support staff because we all work together to do our very best for the girls.

The food

It would be remiss not to mention the food. I have quickly become extremely spoiled, and it’s going to be a long hard summer without the catering staff and the amazing choice of food every day (I’ll probably lose some weight over the holidays though!).

Thinking back over the last few months, there are a few memories that particularly stand out.

Shadowing Mr Cox Year 5 girls. So smart – writing recipes for Tudor pottage with their iPads and computers; so astute – running their own emotional barometer and keeping their gratitude journals; so polite – looking after me for the day including giving me a tour of the Junior School, and so generous – sharing their ingredients with me during cooking class, lucky me!

Attending the weekly tots sessions for two and three year olds. I’ve got a lovely bunch of toddler friends and their parents who I look forward to having fun with every week – getting active in the gym, making pizzas, exploring Upnah Wood or banging and crashing musical instruments. It’s always an energising way to end the week.

School productions in The Space. You forget you’re watching a school production, the venue and the quality of the girls’ performances has blown me away. Guys and Dolls, The Witches and Aladdin, I’ve loved every one of them.

Year 13 Leavers’ Day. Oh my goodness, what a day! Inflatables, fun and games, a huge amount of laughter right across the school community and watching the Sixth Formers sharing the equipment with the Junior School later in the day was just lovely.

And the Year 13 Celebration Event – listening to speeches from our Head, Julie Keller, Head of Sixth Form, Erin Skelton, and our Head Girl, Fiona Selwyn made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end because they were so heartfelt, positive and genuinely an inspiration to everyone listening, and that’s why we’re all here, to inspire and support our girls on their journeys through school and the world beyond it.

This last term has been energising, inspiring and exciting. The GDST is leading the way in giving girls the best education possible, and our girls are heading into futures where anything is achievable.  What a meaningful mission to be on and a great team to be part of.  We are certainly in exciting times. Women are about to smash the glass ceiling, and our girls here at NGHS are heading into their extraordinary futures.