Northampton High School has been exploring the concept of turning ‘Can We’ into ‘We Can’ which is used to describe the way that a community is made more by the membership of every individual. The school has a long history of welcoming pupils from all backgrounds and all walks of life so as to ensure they open up access to their unique approach to girls’ education.
To allow their whole community to achieve its full potential, it has created environments for the variety of views, experiences and insights that exist amongst them. This is because it believes that by being able to share opinions, being open to different points of view, listening with respect, and learning to articulate views clearly, the pupils can all contribute to and benefit from Northampton High being greater than the sum of its parts.
The school shows belief and believes in others and as a result, pupils at Northampton High are bold and fearless, free from stereotypes, where they can express their ideas and know they will be listened to, they trust in their own abilities, and are alive to every opportunity in and out of the classroom.
The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) of which Northampton High School is a member has a long history of welcoming pupils from all socioeconomic groups. The GDST have supported over 6,600 girls in this endeavour since 1998 and at any one time, one in 10 of pupils across the 23 fee-paying senior schools are receiving a level of financial support.
GDST schools today provide more bursary places than the national average for independent schools. Every girl deserves the best education she can get and at Northampton High School that is very much part of the GDST’s mission. In 2022, nearly 10% of new joiners in Year 7 and Year 12 were on bursary programme and this has been possible thanks to the generosity of their parent and alumnae community.
Parents sometimes choose a GDST school because they somehow feel more ‘grounded’ – modern rather than traditional, friendly rather than formal, democratic rather than hierarchical. That sort of culture is, I hope, very much the Northampton High culture too.
We want to be connected to the real world, we want to be part of our local community, and we want our girls to leave us with a sense of balance and perspective having gained experiences from a diverse student body. Having pupils from different sorts of back-grounds in our school, from ages two to 18, enriches all our lives and we will continue to strive hard to promote this critically important priority for the benefit of all our pupils.
There are many examples of how Northampton High successfully encourages and celebrates everyone sharing different ideas. The school is committed to diversity, inclusion and real change in which every girl – no matter her background – can learn without limits.
Inclusion makes diversity successful. Since 2020, the school has engaged with its students through an annual Undivided survey to learn more about their experiences of diversity and inclusion; it also has regular student voice workshops to capture insights on what will Northampton High look like in five years’ time if it is a truly inclusive community; there’s an ongoing CPDL programme for staff to stimulate debate and share best practices (external and internal) on inclusivity and unconscious bias, and the school also recently introduced a new inspiring umbrella installation in the school atrium in support of the ADHD Foundation to celebrate the many strengths that come from thinking differently and to change the perception of neurodivergent people.
Above all, we recognise that to bring about meaningful change and to be undivided in our commitment to putting girls first, where every individual is valued, respected, and included, we must do that with generosity and consideration, both require us to be brave.
The idea of community is fundamental to the school’s mission statement ‘we believe in our girls, and they believe in themselves’ and it was this which drew me to join Northampton High School. I already knew the school by reputation and the phrase was of particular significance as it chimed perfectly with my personal vision of education: simply, that happy girls learn best.
I began my role as Head in July 2022 and am thrilled to lead such a special community whose values align closely with my own. With over 15 years of academic and pastoral experience, I thoroughly enjoyed leading changes such as broadening the curriculum, developing a school culture that truly embraces diversity and actively promotes inclusion and belonging, maximising pupil numbers and voice, and establishing community outreach programmes.
Northampton High School has inclusivity at our heart, and I am committed to embedding this spirit even further. You can see, feel and witness equality for all students and staff in the school; inclusion in all its aspects is embedded and in action here.
Only in a richly inquisitive environment which fully embraces diversity of thought and opinion, background and identity, and in which everyone has a voice and a welcomed place, can learning and discovery truly flourish. Students are at the heart of my leader-ship at Northampton High and I aim to ensure that we continue to attract a diverse body of students with the potential to benefit from a Northampton High education, as well as offer an inspirational, life-changing, challenging and supportive education that equips them to thrive beyond school.
Northampton High School is guided by its mission statement – that everything is tailored to the individual – and this is key to the success of girls and the essential ingredient that makes the education unlike that offered anywhere else. The mission statement is more than just a strapline: it is the lived experience of the school as well as an ideal to which we all constantly aspire.
Dr May Lee
Northampton High School GDST
Find out more about Northampton High School GDST at www.northamptonhigh.co.uk, or call 01604 765765.