Author Archive

Rocking the Stage at Party in the Park

NHEHS Rock BandGlastonbury may have taken Somerset by storm this year, but in Ealing, our Jazz and Rock Bands stormed the stage at Pitshanger’s annual Party in the Park.NHEHS Rock Band

Opening the event at 1pm last Sunday, 30th June, our Rhythmic Rockers, aka Generation XX, nailed their performances of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and Daft Punk’s, Get Lucky, while our Jazz Band performed Glenn Miller’s In the Mood and Weather Report’s Birdland, to tumultuous applause. 

Rupa Huq MP, NHEHS alumna, who, along with Ealing’s mayor, Cllr Gulaid and MP, Steve Pound, officially opened the days’ events after the girls performed, referring to her time at NHEHS as “the best school in the world”.

Party in the Park is an annual event in the heart of the Pitshanger community. The event itself was first enjoyed as a celebration for the new Millennium and has been going strong ever since. NHEHS were proud sponsors of the event.

 

Great debaters come from somewhere. Why not your school?

Being able to argue your own opinion – and then respect the views of others is a skillset we desperately need, argues NHEHS Headmaster, Matthew Shoults.

How do you get pupils and staff across the school enthusiastically involved in debating? You start with a debate question you know they’ll all be keen to argue against.

For the last two years, I’ve taught public speaking and debating to Year 7 girls. In my early foolishness, I left the topic of talks open to personal hobbies and sat through endless speeches about pet dogs from one class.

After the 20th speech I made a decision. I established the girls’ first practice debate over whether dogs were a menace to society.

There were initial howls of protest, yet a week later both sides represented their views to the hilt, and their peers listened, questioned and respected that the argument was not necessarily one-sided.

This then promoted the launch of a series which saw teachers debate alongside their pupils. We’ve covered the merits of JK Rowling’s creation – with several die-hard Potterheads on both the panel and in the audience – the perils of automated vehicles, the commercialisation of Christmas and many, many more.

It’s been incredible to see the 11-year-old students absorb conflicting arguments at a time when in public debate, and on campuses, there seems to be more of a tendency to stick our fingers in our ears. The rise of identity politics, and the habit social media has of creating echo chambers, are both well reported tendencies. The latter in particular insulates us from hearing, or wanting to hear, the other side of the argument.

Perhaps even more worrying is that in universities, which should be bastions of free speech, there are so many cases reported of an unwillingness to host speakers, or to accept the research of individuals, who challenge an apparently totemic belief. The ease with which offence is taken seems to have caused an increase in the range of speakers deemed unfit for student consumption.  

Yet if school students have the ability to hold up to the light unpopular ideas in a critical manner, undergraduates should also be able to do so. As one undergraduate put it when interviewed on the question: “By restricting the speech that students can hear at university via no platforming, we are being restricted from developing our moral and debating muscles that we need to argue against and defeat racist, sexist, and discriminatory views.”

We have been here before. In the The History Man, published in 1975, Malcolm Bradbury brilliantly satirised campus hypocrisy through the figure of Howard Kirk, an academic who exercised complete intolerance towards students with non-marxist views, including getting one expelled from the university. The call for open discussion, and the need to hear opposing views, has not gone away. It is perhaps more pressing when it is easier to become encased in one set of opinions as social media keeps us in a bubble we find comfortable.

It is therefore all the more heartening to hear my students willing not only to hear, but to represent, views they strongly oppose.

Debating has a particular power: it is a kind of safe space for free speech. Its structure allows and also compels those taking part to inhabit uncomfortable views.

As we prepare young people for a world where an emphasis on social, non-mechanisable skills, will be even more important in a more global existence, debating is one of the best ways to prepare them to take on challenging ideas, to understand cultural differences and to be able to thoughtfully consider rather than hide away from alien values.

This article appeared in The Times Educational Supplement on 28th March 2019. http://www.tes.com/news/great-debaters-come-somewhere-why-not-your-school

Teachers Beware!

By Sofia Stidham, Year 10 Journalist Leaders

To all teachers who do not want their eardrums to burst, I would recommend staying out of the main hall on Monday 1st April. Why? Because house shout is taking place.

House shout has been a house event at NHEHS that has happened every year, even before I came to this school. As you know, there are 3 houses: Nightingale, Hepburn and Eliot (all named after inspirational women) and we all compete with each other to win the ultimate prize of house points in order to win the house cup. The house captains choose a hymn for each house as well as three songs that fit a set theme (this year it is the ‘noughties’). From the three songs that are chosen, the whole house will vote for one of those songs that they want to sing. We all have a few practises with our house before the house shout, but they all seem to go very quickly, and there are some dance moves you need to learn and sometimes harmonies too!

On the day of house shout, you are encouraged to wear face paint in your house colour and accessories, and everyone always looks as if they are going to war. When you enter the main hall when house shout is about to begin, your ears will begin to ring. Everyone in all three houses are screaming “N”, “H” or E” at the top of their lungs, and house shout hasn’t even started yet!

The house that sings first is picked out of a hat, and the tension builds as they do. Then when it is time to preform, you watch the other houses, and you either think: “We’re actually better than them” or We’re doomed”. Some houses tend to be better at the hymn, whilst others are better at the song, but it is the house that does well in both that wins.

All in all, house shout is a fun and iconic event that puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day. To everyone participating: good luck, and to all the people watching: good luck to you too.

Why I Love Science

Why I Love Science by Sofia Stidham, Year 10 Journalist Leader

This week is science week at NHEHS. I love science, and I feel as though everyone else should too. But why? I asked some people in my year to find out why they love science as well:

“It’s so interesting to know how everything in the universe works.”

Science is an explanation. It can answer all of your questions and is proven to be true through experiments and research. It is a way of understanding yourself, the animals and the world around you.

“It is logical”

According to Google, ‘logic is essentially the study of reasoning or argumentation… It helps steer us toward the truth’. Scientists argue for their theories, and the theories steer us towards the truth, which means that science is logical. Logic is very important and is used in our day to day lives.

“Discoveries can be made every day because of science.”

Life changing cures are discovered every day, and they save lives. Things like vaccinations prevent us from getting particularly harmful diseases and antibiotics heal us. It will be incredibly helpful in the future too.

“It is fun, and it links to itself.”

If you are fascinated by a particular topic in science, it will be enjoyable to learn about it and you will want to learn more about it and study it. As well as this, science can be practical and exciting in the experiments that you can do.

“Once you’ve learnt the facts you can apply them in different ways to the world around you.”

To conclude, science may not solve all our problems, but it answers many questions that humans have and helps people suffer less.

Three things about NHEHS that the prospectus can’t tell you

By Sofia Stidham, Year 10 Journalist Leader

Unfortunately, the school prospectus cannot fit everything about the school inside it, which is why I have decided to write about a few things which I think you should know about Notting Hill.

1.The food is amazing

If you have ever been a student (or teacher) at Notting Hill before, you will know that this statement is completely true! At break time you are given snacks such as: croissants, flapjacks, crisps, cereal bars, biscuits, fruit and more. As well as this, at break you can order a packed lunch that you can get if you want or have a lunchtime club at an earlier time.

Lunchtime is a very busy time in the dining hall as everyone is extremely hungry, but the food never disappoints! There are two main sides of the dining hall: the classic and the café. The classic side has a main and a vegetarian option with a dessert, whilst the café side has a main wok and a vegetarian wok, sometimes it has jacket potatoes and soup and it has some cakes as well. There is also a salad bar! My personal favourite is the chicken pie.

2. There are posters almost everywhere around the school

 

When you walk through the school, everywhere you turn there is a poster. Most of them promote events that are happening this term including competitions, charity events and clubs.

Each form chooses a charity to fundraise for and have a whole week to do it. On the Friday lunchtime of that week, there is a charity event that we have to organise and promote ourselves. Some past examples of charity events include: teacher vs student dodgeball, watching a film or TV show, karaoke and decorating cupcakes.

3. House events

There are three houses: Nightingale, Hepburn and Eliot. House events are held to get house points but you can also sign off your distinctions. The House University Challenge is coming up soon, but my favourite house event is the House Shout! This is when all members of all three houses gather in the hall to sing (or shout) a song according to a theme that they have practised as well as a hymn.

I asked a year 10 student about what she liked about the house shout, she stated, “House Shout is an innovative way to cultivate team spirit. It allows the students to participate in an event whilst learning sportsmanship and having fun.”

 

Watch this space – we will be revealing more things about NHEHS that you wouldn’t find in the prospectus.

Half the World in Half Term

China, Russia, Italy! Three amazing trips in two weeks.

Ten days in China

A once in a lifetime opportunity! 41 girls from Years 10, 11 and 12 travelled to Beijing, Xian and Shanghai with five of their teachers in a cultural extravaganza designed to put their enthusiastically learned Mandarin to good use. 

First stop Beijing where the girls visited Tiananmen Square, wandered the Forbidden City, saw the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace (after a boat ride), saw Pandas at the zoo and went to the Olympic Park. They also walked part of the Great Wall of China and learnt to drink tea the Chinese way!

An important part of the trip was a visit to Beijing No 80 High School, with whom NHEHS has an exchange relationship. The girls met their fellow Chinese students for a language exchange (and some Mandarin lessons).

An overnight sleeper train took them to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors. They also cycled along the ancient City Wall, visited the Bell and Drum towers and even had a calligraphy lesson. Another overnight train to Shanghai where they saw the Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai Museum, the Bund, cruised the Huangpu River, spent time looking at the street art in Tianzifang, navigated the subway and experienced shopping in a local supermarket. Mandarin skills were then put to serious test in the local street market where prices for keepsakes were haggled hard and fast!

 

Back to Europe, through Russia

Moscow and St Petersburg next! 23 girls from Years 11-13 travelled to Russia on a 6 day History trip to complement their work in A Level Russian History while for GCSE students it was a chance to see some key Cold War sites.

From Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow, they then boarded an overnight train to St Petersburg, where they saw life through the eyes of Tsars with guided tours of the city and famous palaces such as the Winter Palace. A final night of folk dancing rounded off this amazing trip.

 

And on the way home, via Italy!

Celebrating their love for Latin, 31 girls from Years 9 and 10 took a whistle-stop tour of classical Italy taking in Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum in just four days! 

In this culture packed trip, the girls revelled in the majesty of the key sights of Rome; the Pantheum, Coliseum, Capitoline museum, Paletine Hill and Spanish Steps. They also made their wishes at the Trevi Fountain and re-enacted scenes from their Latin learning in the Forum. 

From Rome to a beautiful villa in Oplontis and then on to explore the extensive site of Herculaneum with an overnight stay by the sea in Sorento. Final stop, Pompeii for another vibrant snapshot of classical life.

Plenty of time was allowed throughout for gelatos galore, pizza and for chic shopping! When in Rome, after all…!

Watch Out Lord Sugar!

Putting their leadership skills to the test, our six strong Head Girl Team (Phyllis, Rosie, Cameron, Sharuka, Francesca and Rinda), took part in an Apprentice style team challenge in Bath during the last weekend in September, in a special annual event organised by the GDST, the Young Leaders Conference.

During the three days, “Young Leaders” from across the 25 schools within the GDST listened to inspiring talks by female role models and in a task reminiscent of the popular entrepreneurial TV show, demonstrated their leadership skills by participating in an Apprentice style challenge. Split into groups with girls from other schools, the teams were tasked with devising a campaign for a charity using social media to raise awareness and produce a promotional video. And just as they do it on TV, the girls then had to prepare presentations to pitch their ideas to the charity and to the sponsors. All this in an extremely tight time frame!

“We had from Friday evening until Saturday evening to submit our campaign ideas and then on the Sunday morning, we actually pitched our ideas to the charity and also to potential sponsors” explains Cameron, Games Captain at NHEHS. “It was a really fast paced couple of days because there were so many elements to consider. We also had to find time to conduct market research in Bath”.

Phyllis, Deputy Head Girl added: “We very quickly learnt that we all had to pull together as a team. Tasks were allocated according to our skillsets; putting everyone in their strengths and working to each other’s strengths. We learnt how not to micromanage and how to respect everyone’s roles”.

A couple of the campaigns the girls devised included a #Tap4Tap app to enable Frank Water, a charity installing taps in villages within Nepal and India to easily receive donated funds and a #LeanOnMe campaign for the Rainbow Trust, a charity that raises funds for terminally ill children and their families, using the slogan “we can’t stop time but we can make the most of it”. The social media campaign included a competition asking entrants to take pictures of the people who they have felt supported them to capture the #LeanOnMe sentiment.

As part of the conference, the girls heard from Ann Daniels, one of the first women in history to reach the North and South Poles as part of an all woman team who has been described by The Daily Telegraph as one of the Top 20 Great British Adventurers of all time. They also heard from Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute who said:

“It’s vital we give young women the leadership skills they need early on to fulfil their own potential and unlock the potential in others. The reality of today’s workplace is that young women are faced with a `glass pyramid’ where men dominate the majority of senior roles. Equipping young women with confidence, resilience and the skills to lead, will help give the next generation of female leaders the chance to thrive and benefit from a more gender inclusive environment”.

Full of Fun at the Fair

The School Hall was bursting with excitement today as the Extra-curricular Clubs Fair got underway. Subject reps across the sixth form were on a serious recruiting mission for a vast array of before-school, lunchtime and after-school clubs.

With a choice of over 60 Clubs covering topics as far reaching as Feminism, Robotics, Philosophy and Coding as well as a huge choice of sport, drama and music, the girls used their creative efforts to promote their passions. A group of drummers lured crowds towards the music department, a team of MI5 special agents promoted the Code Breakers club while a sausage-and-dog combo wondered round advertising the Backstage Pass Club (the Theatre Tech Club). Clever robots were on display to promote the Vex and Lego Robotics Clubs and amazing masks and sculptures were used to encourage sign-ups for the ever popular Art Club. 

Teachers were on hand to help with newer clubs such as “Sapere Aude” and “The Only Way is Ethics”, new philosophy clubs this term which aim to challenge with questions such as “why is it ok to eat animals but not humans”, while the Feminism and Politics Clubs is aiming to bring big issues of the day to life through exciting and thought provoking debate. Cloud 9 Weather, another relatively new club makes use of the School’s very own and unique weather station on the roof to give girls the chance to explore forecasting.

And with a full and extensive gamut of sporting and music clubs also on offer, girls throughout the senior school were spoiled for choice. Sign-ups were impressive and enthusiastically received. The buzz undisputed.

Clubs begin next week.

A Passage to India

The long summer holidays offer the chance to recharge, travel to far flung places, grab new experiences. For our Assistant Head and Year 3 teacher at the junior school, the summer break offered an opportunity to do all three.

In an initiative organised by the Girls’ Day School Trust, several teachers from the GDST across the UK, traveled to India in August to work with and support the teachers in a school in Bangalore.

Together they spent three and a half weeks working with teachers and over 60 children in the Florida English School. Under the guidance of the Limited Resource Teacher Training team, which runs the initiative, they shared teaching methods and strategies relating to phonics and demonstrated concepts like having a positive mindset in the classroom.

“It was entertaining and also extremely rewarding sharing the phonics songs we teach in the UK. The first time we sang “A, A… Ants in your Pants” to the teachers and children we had slightly dumbfounded faces – they teach reading very differently. But by the end of our three weeks, they were enthusiastically singing along with us. As a teacher, this is very validating.

In a country with limited resources, the emphasis on using creative techniques is really important. In the UK, we revert to google to show pictures of a “zebra” for example. But in India, we had to rely on drawing images to demonstrate our ideas and this makes for a challenging but equally, more creative experience.

For sure, my time in India has made me more confident and creative in the classroom. My year 3 class will definitely be exposed to a myriad of stories this year”.

 

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