We recognise that each individual has her own dreams and we enable every pupil to reach her goals aspirations. We don't just prepare students for academic success when they leave us, they carry more than just a fine set of A Levels; they are confident and purposeful students who are ready for a bright future and equipped to take their place in the world.
Portsmouth High School has a total of 421 pupils, with 78 pupils in the Sixth Form.
School announce Head Girls and Senior Prefects for 2020-2021
The new Head Girl and Senior Prefect Team has been announced with Charlotte Kellagher following in the footsteps of her sister, Rachel, who was Head Girl 2018-2019.
Portsmouth High School is delighted to announce that from April 2020 the new Head Girl team at the school will comprise of: Head Girl, Charlotte Kellagher and Deputy Head Girls, Ruby Dale, Yradne Botha and Georgie Howell.
The girls will be assisted by House Captains and Senior Prefects. The wider team will take on roles in pupil voice, marketing, charities and encouraging younger pupils to get involved in the life of the school as well as a large fundraising ‘Charity Week’ initiative in November.
Head Girl Charlotte Kellagher, (second in from right), 16, said:
‘I’m so excited and honoured to have this opportunity. The Sixth Form are a close group and I hope that we will do the school proud as a Head Girl and Senior Prefect Team. I am looking forward to a wonderful year ahead and I hope I do my sister, Rachel, proud who was Head Girl in 2018-2019.’
Every year, the Sixth Formers lead the school in raising thousands of pounds for their chosen local charity and they give to the community in many other ways too, offering their time and creativity to a huge range of projects whilst juggling their academic studies and university applications.
Sixth Form at Portsmouth High School is an exciting and vibrant place to study. A dedicated Head of Careers and an experienced team of Head of Sixth Form and tutors offer outstanding support at all stages of the Sixth Form experience.
Head of Portsmouth High School Sixth Form, Mr Smith, said: ‘I am certain that these girls will be excellent role models. They will be great ambassadors for the school and the wider GDST and continue to promote the core values of Portsmouth High School and inspire the younger generation. They will be instrumental in the school’s charity week where, in previous years, they have raised an average of £10,000 for various good causes.’
Portsmouth High School GDST hosted a challenge day for primary schools with questions set by the UK Mathematics Trust
This week, Portsmouth High School hosted local primary and junior schools for their annual Mathematics Challenge Day.
The schools taking part were: Arundel Court Primary, Fernhurst Juniors, Highbury Primary, Hook with Warsash Primary, Newbridge Primary, Westbourne House School and Portsmouth High Prep School.
The visiting girls from Years 5 and 6 were faced with some stretching mathematics challenges covering numeracy, shape and space activities including group rounds where they had to collaboratively answer questions and relay rounds where basic algebra, amongst other skills, was required. The questions were provided by the UK Mathematics Trust.
‘The day is about having fun doing mathematics,’ said Mr Paul Goldbrum, Head of Mathematics at Portsmouth High School. ‘It is a chance for girls in teams to come together to solve mathematical problems in a supportive and enthusiastic way and dispels the notion that mathematics can’t be fun. With the guidance of Portsmouth High School Year 10 girls, they have been encouraged to think beyond their comfort zones.’
Portsmouth High School’s Year 10 pupils were each allocated a school to mentor.
Mrs Nice, from Hook with Warsash Primary School, said:
‘The girls have enjoyed a good variety of activities. The Year 10 Portsmouth High School girls have helped them with the challenges and are fabulous role models for the younger girls.’
Mrs Barker, from Westbourne House School, added:
‘The girls have all enjoyed working together as a team taking part in the different challenges.’
Somaya, from Fernhurst Junior School, said:
‘I have really enjoyed the day. It has been fun but really challenging.’ Tabitha from Westbourne House added: ‘It has been a different way of learning maths and so much fun.’
Emily, from Portsmouth High School Year 10, said:
‘It was fun to get to know the girls and work with them. They have been so excited when they have got the answers right but challenged to keep going if they didn’t get it right the first time.’
Jessica, from Year 10, added;
‘It has been fun to encourage a love of maths for the younger girls.’
The day finished with a mathematics relay with a selection of puzzles involving shape, space and logic questions, where speed was essential, and the ability to stay on your feet.
The winning team was Hook with Warsash and Westbourne House coming in a close second.
‘We got top marks in the logic round and we have had so much fun,’ chorused the girls from Hook with Warsash, ably assisted by Daisy from Portsmouth High’s Year 10.
From ITV and Maritime Archaeology to the British Army and the Met Office
During National Careers Week Portsmouth High School alumnae return to talk to current girls about their careers, routes and plans for the future.
In a week long initiative, Portsmouth High School invited back recently left alumnae to talk to the girls about their, sometimes not straight forward, journey to where they currently are in their careers. In morning assemblies, aptly named ‘Girls Like You’, the senior school heard experiences from alumnae and what they had learned at Portsmouth High School to help them with their choices.
Mrs Sammy Davies, Head of Careers at Portsmouth High School said:
‘We tell the girls here that they are embarking on a life of careers rather than a career for life. It is truly inspiring to have the alumnae return during National Careers Week, as young women in a range of formidable careers.’
The first morning saw Ellie Webb and Bria Grange from the Class of 2015 talking to the girls. Ellie, Head Girl in 2015 is currently pursuing a career with the British Army. She is due to commission from Sandhurst in April having left school and reading International Relations at Exeter University. She described Sandhurst as ‘Hogwarts with guns’.
‘Use all the skills and opportunities you are given at PHS,’ she said. ‘And be part of something bigger than yourself.’
Bria Grange, Deputy Head Girl from the same year left PHS and went on a gap year before going to Bristol University to read Geography. Bria is currently working for the Met Office in Cyprus as an operational meteorological technician. ‘Enjoy your teaching and being taught. I am having to self-teach my maths now and believe me it is not the same as having the wonderful PHS teachers. I miss them all.’
On Wednesday morning, Sophie Stevens, another Deputy Head Girl from Ellie and Bria’s year told the girls:
‘Fully embrace the life at PHS. It’s okay to say something isn’t for you and make a change. It is never too late to change your path and always believe in yourself.’
Sophie left PHS thinking she wanted to be an actress but her path took her to a career in law. She is now training to be a criminal barrister.
Flo Evans, who left in 2014, went to the University of Bath and read Biology. Flo is now working as Head of Marketing for Acumen in London. ‘Work hard at school because that gives you choices,’ she told the girls.
The next day bought Daisy Turnbull, Deputy Head Girl from the Class of 2016 and Millie Ansell, from the Class of 2019 back to school.
Daisy is a Maritime Archaeologist; ‘If you are offered placements, grab them with both hands as they are invaluable.’
She took up work experience with Portsmouth High School Partners in Education, The Mary Rose Museum during her time at school and whilst at the University of Southampton and spent time with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. She is has worked with MAP on an underwater project in The Black Sea and was part of the team who discovered the oldest, intact medieval vessel discovered. She is currently with Wessex Archaeology.
Millie is a Cultural Affairs Intern at Portsmouth City Council. She started university but found the course was just not for her. Having interned previously with Portsmouth City Council she approached them again and was immediately offered a job;
‘It is not the end of the world if it doesn’t go according to plan,’ she said. ‘Keep all your options open.’
The final day, Friday, saw Connie Cha, Deputy Head Girl from the Class of 2007 return, alongside Eleanor Wheeler, from the Class of 2015.
Connie left PHS and first went to drama school. Several years on and via a non-linear route from setting up her own business, Tax Forward, and working with Deloitte, she is now Head of Finance for Eve Sleep.
‘I enjoy being an accountant as it gives you an insight into the business of businesses,’ she said. ‘No experience is ever wasted.’
Eleanor left PHS in 2015 having loved working behind the scenes at PHS drama productions. Eleanor is now a television camera operator for ITV London.
‘I would never have even got an interview had I not taken all the work experience and unpaid internships that I was offered. Now my days are spent shooting footage for ITV News at 6.00pm; from parakeets in London to red-carpet events in the evenings, via politicians in the middle of the day.’
‘The common theme,’ said Headmistress, Mrs Jane Prescott, ‘is for the girls to grasp every opportunity given to them and that life and work can take a series of different routes which you could never envisage.
‘To give our girls an insight into some of the careers and opportunities that recent leavers have experienced is very inspiring for them. They are girls who have recently sat through exams and university applications and now find themselves in the world of work. We are so grateful to our alumnae who stay in touch with us regularly and spare the time to return to school to talk to the girls.’
Best-selling author and Portsmouth High alumna Lucy Foley returns to school
The school were delighted to welcome back alumna, Lucy Foley, from the Class of 2004, whose recent book, The Hunting Party, reached No 1 in The Sunday Times best-seller list and her latest crime novel, The Guest List, has just hit our shelves.
Portsmouth High School Sixth Form were thrilled to have one of their favourite authors, Lucy Foley, visit them to talk about her writing challenges and her latest book, The Guest List, which has just hit UK shelves.
Lucy Foley, from the Class of 2004, was visiting the school to judge the prestigious final of the Girls’ Day School Trust public speaking competition. She arrived earlier in the day to spend time with the Sixth Formers.
Lucy left Portsmouth High School and read English at Durham and UCL universities. After graduating and still viewing herself as more of a reader than a writer, she went into publishing, latterly at Hodder & Stoughton as Assistant Editor. Here she realised her dream of becoming a writer:
‘There was something less intimidating about seeing first drafts than the glossy hardback that you pick off the shelf,’ she said. ‘It made me realise that a novel starts as just a Word document. It felt doable.’
Lucy’s career path armed her with all the understanding she needed to become an author and in 2015 her debut novel, The Book of Lost and Found, was published. This work of historical fiction and its two successors, The Invitation and Last Letter from Istanbul have been described as “sweeping, multi-generational epics.” Her first crime novel, The Hunting Party, reached number one in the Sunday Times’ paperback fiction list.
One of the most impressive feats of Lucy’s writing is her ability to gift readers such tangibly vivid and descriptive settings and as a huge advocate of reading herself, is a positive role model to her readers. Lucy’s engagement with wide-ranging and mysterious destinations radiates from the pages of each of her four skilfully crafted novels and her fifth, The Guest List, has just been published to wide acclaim: “Lean, pacy and terrifically twisty,” says Waterstones and “thrilling” says a Times review.
‘I loved creative writing and reading when I was at school,’ she said. ‘I’ve still got some great school friends, some of whom have been amongst the first readers of my books.
‘I try to have a clear idea of the start and ending before I begin writing a novel,’ she told the Sixth Formers. Publishers look for great characterisation; they want to feel as if characters “are someone they would recognise as they walk through the door”.’
Lucy added that crime fiction requires more careful plotting but to ensure that you “leave room for things that might surprise you”. She even confessed that the killer in The Guest List was originally another character.
Sixth Former, Hannah said:
‘It was so lovely to meet Lucy and hear first-hand about the intricacies that go into writing a book. It was particularly inspiring given that Lucy herself is an alumna of the school, and has gone on to have such a successful writing career.’
Fellow Sixth Former, Kendra added: ‘It was a very valuable experience to meet Lucy, as not only did she give an insight into being an influential author, she also showed us just how much a PHS girl can achieve when she puts her mind to it!’
English teacher, Mrs Katie Wood, (Class of 1999) added:
‘As someone who has fond memories of Lucy from our schooldays, following her writing career has been an inspiring and thrilling process for me. Having her back with us, sharing her experience and insight so generously, was a wonderful and unique experience for the next generation of budding writers and avid readers at PHS - and we are incredibly grateful for her time and wisdom.’
Lord Mayor and local MP judge finale of six week Fun on Saturday programme
A grand finale of presentations took place on Saturday from local primary school girls to the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Portsmouth, Stephen Morgan, MP and Councillor Rob Wood for the final of our Fun on Saturday outreach programme.
Portsmouth High School’s six week Fun on Saturday programme closed last weekend with a grand finale of presentations delivered by the children to an audience of parents, staff and families. Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor David Fuller, the Lady Mayoress and Councillor Rob Wood, cabinet member for children and families, judged the presentations and awarded prizes to the winning team.
‘The key objective of the programme was to support Year 5 able, gifted and talented learners in local schools in a manner that extends the curriculum opportunities available,’ said Mr Graeme Field, Assistant Head at Portsmouth High School and programme coordinator.
The Fun on Saturday programme, which has been running since early January, hosted eighteen girls from local primary schools undertaking an array of tasks each weekend. Put into groups of two the girls were set the task of ‘building their own country.’ Pupils from St Swithun's Primary, St John’s Primary, Milton Park Primary, Highbury Primary, St Jude’s Primary, Cottage Grove Primary and Newbridge Primary schools took part.
The finale saw the judges watching excellent presentations from the children who have been engaged throughout the programme. Comments from teachers and parents have emphasised how the young people have developed confidence and self-assurance as well as their knowledge in a range of subjects including mathematics, science, English and geography.
‘It has been a tough job being a judge with such talent in our city schools,’ said Stephen Morgan MP. ‘Well done to all pupils for taking part!’
‘This is such a wonderful way to encourage many children across the city to broaden their horizons,’ said Councillor Wood. ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed judging these excellent presentations. In seven years of judging this was the most difficult by far.’
The winning team was Marie, 10 from St Swithun’s Primary and Tahaani, 10, from St Jude’s Primary with their presentation called ‘Polar Island’ with the judges commenting on the clarity of their delivery and care taken of the island’s population including issuing warm jumpers. Polar Island was described by the girls as shaped like a polar bear, with rivers and forests stretching for mile with the country standing for equal rights and environmental protection.
‘I think that Fun on Saturday has been really fun,’ said Marie. ‘I loved making the shield and extracting the salt in science. It is great to win as our Polar Island is the best country in the world.’
‘I loved geography,’ added Tahaani. ‘That is where we planned everything we were going to do. I am so happy to win but I also want to say congratulations to all the other girls who took part.’
Mrs Mitchell, mother of Marie, added:
‘Thank you so much to St Swithun’s and The High School for working together to give the girls this wonderful opportunity. Marie has really enjoyed the last few weeks and grasped every opportunity for devising a new country. Thank you also to the judges who gave up their time to judge and have so encouraged the girls.’
‘We are sad this has finished,’ said Mrs Valentine, mother of Lily. She has had such an amazing time. Thank you Portsmouth High for running this wonderful programme.’
BBC's Anjana Gadgil judges public speaking competition
BBC's Anjana Gadgil and best-selling author, Lucy Foley, both Portsmouth High School alumnae, were amongst the judges for a Girls' Day School Trust public speaking competition.
Portsmouth High School, GDST, was delighted to host the finals of a prestigious public speaking competition last week.
Five girls from across other Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) schools made emotionally compelling speeches in front of three expert judges; Anjana Gadgil, BBC Television Presenter, BBC South Today, Lucy Foley, best-selling novelist and Cheryl Giovannoni, Chief Executive of the GDST and an audience of girls, teachers and parents as they took part in the final of the Chrystall Carter public speaking competition. Students are given a topic relating to societal issues of today and must give a confident argument of their view on that topic. They must also be able to engage with the audience and deal with challenging questions posed to them after their speech.
Sarena from Croydon High School, Inaya from Notting Hill and Ealing, Cordelia from Sheffield High School, Rosie from Wimbledon High School and Eleanor from Oxford High School took part in the finals of the competition which has been held since 2001.
The competition was set up in memory of a GDST employee, Chrystall Carter. Mr Michael Oakley, the then Chief Executive, two former colleagues of Chrystall’s, Peter Warren and Colin Ward and the current Chief Executive, Cheryl Giovannoni attended the finals at Portsmouth High School as well as the prestigious judges.
‘Every one of the Presentations was excellent and the winner outstanding,’ said Michael Oakley. ‘The standard overall was probably the highest I have seen.’
The six minute speeches ranged from ‘Memory is the most important part of identity’ to ‘Fake news has always been around. In fact all news is fake in some way’. The judges chose Sarena from Croydon High School as the winner of this year’s competition for her speech ‘The fear of racial other is inherent in every nation. We should be embracing otherness rather than attempting to eliminate it.’
‘It is shocking to hear that I have won,’ said Sarena whose parents and grandmother were in the audience. ‘The experience as a whole was out of the ordinary for me because I’d never done anything like it - so it was a bit daunting at first and I felt privileged just to be able to listen to the other speakers let alone take part. I have just been happy to be here, let alone win.’
Cheryl Giovannoni, Chair of the Judges and Chief Executive of the GDST said:
‘It has been a brilliant afternoon with five talented finalists who give me such confidence in the future. Congratulations to Sarena who was outstanding. And to Eleanor from Oxford High who was a worthy runner-up.’
Anjana Gadgil, Portsmouth High School alumna from the Class of 1996, added:
‘This has been an inspirational afternoon. The girls have tackled complex subjects with so much confidence.’
The school celebrated its 138th Birthday with daffodils, creme eggs and a service at Portsmouth Cathedral.
Portsmouth High School celebrated its 138th Birthday just before half term with a resounding service at Portsmouth Cathedral.
The school was founded on 21 February 1882 opening at Marlborough House in Osborne Road and moving to Kent Road in 1928. In 1939, as the war started, the school was evacuated out of the city to Hinton Ampner and Adhurst St Mary; two country houses in Hampshire. The school returned to Southsea in 1945. Many of the alumnae who were at school during that time still keep in touch and return to the school’s birthday service.
‘It was absolutely wonderful to be at the school’s 138th Anniversary Service in Portsmouth Cathedral,’ said Mrs Rhoda Zeffertt (née Goldman), from the Class of 1956. ‘Hearing the young ladies reading the lessons and hearing the choirs singing so beautifully, it was magical.
‘The warmth and friendship one felt throughout the event is something I will always remember. Here's to you Portsmouth High School; I am proud to be part of your history.’
Mrs Jill Hancock, who was Head Girl in 1953, added: 'It was so lovely to come back to the Cathedral and remember such fond memories of the school.'
In 1909 the school adopted the daffodil as their school flower. Perhaps this was because of the gold colour; perhaps it was because the school's birthday is in February, when few other flowers are available. Since then, daffodils have been a part of birthday celebrations, on cards, in decorations, and worn on uniforms as part of a collection for Marie Curie. All the girls also enjoyed a crème egg each which are traditionally given to all pupils to celebrate the school’s birthday.
‘Celebrating the school’s Birthday is a very special time for Portsmouth High School,’ said Headmistress Mrs Jane Prescott.
‘Traditions such as the daffodils and crème eggs are still remembered by our alumnae and are embedded into the culture of the school. These much loved customs reinforce our values of receiving a good education, personal responsibility and a strong work ethic.’
Mohammed Rahman, Year 5 teacher explains his philosophy on inspiring young mathematicians.
In the 1998 thriller, Pi, the main character opens the film by stating his assumptions about life;
"1: mathematics is the language of nature. 2: everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. 3, if you graph the numbers of any system, then patterns emerge. Therefore; there are patterns everywhere in nature.”
Both number as well as vocabulary are indeed the language of the world around us. This forms the ethos behind all of my mathematics lessons, so what exactly does a mathematics lesson at Portsmouth High Prep School look like? Something that I firmly believe in is that learning time is precious. Each pupil is prepared for learning as soon as they enter the classroom with a thinking question or a ‘keeping skills sharp’ activity which recaps a core mathematical skill.
Our girls are taken on a ‘learning journey’ which facilitates independent learning through pupil’s own choice of task and difficulty level. Learning rarely happens in isolation at Portsmouth High. Pupils regularly collaborate with one another, especially during a weekly open ended investigation known as ‘Number Explorers.’ This is their chance to freely explore numbers and discover which patterns do in fact emerge. Walk into any mathematics lesson and you will experience our girls interacting productively with one another as well as with the teacher. Furthermore, there is no such thing as flying under the radar in a mathematics lesson as every pupil will be actively involved in the learning process.
My goal is to always challenge and inspire pupils, by planning imaginative tasks for them to tackle. Pupils in Year 6 learnt about the place value of large numbers. They recently became air traffic controllers and analysed live flight information, ordering the altitude of different aircraft and ensuring that they were a safe distance apart. An air traffic controller was then invited in to talk to the girls about their real-life experience in the role. We are also incredibly fortunate with our beautiful grounds. Pupils in Year 4 explored parallel and perpendicular lines found outdoors in the environment around us.
Context is what elevates mathematics from the abstract to something tangible and relevant. When learning about proportion, pupils scaled ingredients up or down from real recipe cards depending on the number of guests invited to a dinner party. In exactly the same way that the best quality writing is produced with a clear purpose in mind, learning in mathematics must also have a purpose. Whether it is learning about written division methods by splitting a meal bill or analysing the school’s energy consumption data for a report into sustainability, purpose is key.
The power of music to stimulate learning can never be underestimated. One of the most memorable moments in the year is when the girls learn about the BODMAS song. It is always such a pleasure to hear the lyrics echoing around the school corridors after this unit of work as the girls joyfully sing about the order of operations. Finally, I like to conclude a lesson by leaving pupils with a question to consider. Think of it like planting a seed, something to take away which will hopefully grow in a multitude of directions. Mathematics is the language of nature after all.
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