Welcome back to the new academic year | Portsmouth High School

Welcome back to the new academic year

I hope that you all had a wonderful summer and found some sun somewhere with plenty of time for rest and recuperation.  

We have returned to school with the usual frenzy of activity. There is particular excitement over the climbing wall which was installed over the summer and will be well-used as a challenging activity for girls in clubs and sport curriculum time across the age range.  I thank again all those who helped make it possible and in particular Lucinda Webb, Director of Communications, who spear-headed our campaign.

The summer saw us celebrating the most amazing examination results which were once more very high despite a climate of national decreasing top grades and arguably harder tests. We were 82nd for A level in The Times schools’ league table and many places ahead of all other local schools in both GCSE and A Level results. The girls truly deserved their success; they had worked hard and were well prepared by excellent and committed teaching staff.

I did read a comment that said in reference to GCSEs that it was impossible to prepare all students for a terminal “one size fits all” examination. They gave the example of Wayne Rooney and Stephen Hawking – both talented and gifted

men in their particular sphere and yet would require a different school process to ensure they end up gaining the best out of their education.  Kevin Stannard, Director of Innovation and Learning at the Girls’ Day School Trust writing in the Times Educational Supplement says that “exams should be about horizons not hoops” and I could not agree with him more. However, whilst we have this archaic system of testing schools must do their best to prepare students to jump through the hoops whilst also stretching their horizons and this is something we do well at PHS. With trips this summer to China, NASA and sell-out performances at the Edinburgh Fringe we have certainly quite literally stretched the pupils’ experience of other places and through expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme the girls have learned so much about team work and collaboration. The National Citizenship Scheme – a government sponsored national activity held during the summer holidays – is attended by many of our Year 11 who help in the community and work in groups with a range of other students from different cultures, schools and experiences.

We start this new academic year on a real high and I know that the girls will make the most of all the opportunities on offer to broaden their horizons.