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 GDST Head Girl team raise over £9k for local charity
The Head Girl team at Portsmouth High School GDST delivered an online assembly this week where they announced the total raised for their chosen charity; The Society of St James.
29th April 2020 — In an assembly delivered online this week to the whole senior school, the Head Girl team were able to deliver the wonderful news that the school, spearheaded by the Head Girl team and Sixth Form, had raised £9718.25 for their chosen charity, The Society of St James, a homeless charity based in Chichester.
‘We were so pleased to raise this amount as The Society of St James is such an amazing charity in our local area,’ said Head Girl Chloe Wildsmith, 18. ‘As a year group we all worked so hard to put on a set of successful events throughout the year and our motivation was always to raise as much money as we could for a worthy cause as well as engaging the whole school in activities together.’
Charity Week mainly took place in November 2019 with lunchtime events, a netball match versus the First XV rugby team from the Portsmouth Grammar School and culminated in a two night fashion show. Two of the Head Girl team, plus their mums also took part in the Portsmouth Sleepover which boosted the fund raising efforts.
‘The Society of St James work with people to identify their individual needs and to find ways that we can support them to make the changes they want to see in their own lives,’ said Trevor Pickup, SSJ Chief Executive, ‘The support of Portsmouth High School will be invaluable to us and we are so grateful to the girls for choosing us as their Sixth Form Charity.’
Head of Sixth Form, Mr Rob Smith, added,
‘At Portsmouth High School we encourage social responsibility as much as academic achievements and the girls give to the community in many other ways too, offering their time and creativity to a huge range of projects. It is always encouraging to see young people engaged with the wider community.’
After the Easter holidays Year 3 were due to perform their assembly on ‘The life and teachings of The Buddha’ and it occurred to me that the philosophy of what they were going to deliver has much to offer in this time of separation and fear.
14th April 2020 — After the Easter holidays Year 3 were due to perform their assembly on ‘The life and teachings of The Buddha’ and it occurred to me that the philosophy of what they were going to deliver has much to offer in this time of separation and fear.
The Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal around 2,600 years ago. Although born a prince, he rejected his life of luxury and embarked on a spiritual life seeking to find out the cause of human suffering. After many years of practising asceticism he rejected extreme physical practises and went into deep meditation where he reached the state of enlightenment. He obtained a state of unconditional and lasting happiness which he offered to his disciples in the form of a prescription called ‘The Four Noble Truths’. The first truth teaches that suffering is part and parcel of our daily lives and that there is no escape. The second truth shows how suffering is caused by greed or wanting (even wanting things to remain the same). The third truth shows how suffering ends when we stop being greedy and the fourth offers a template for life in the form of something called ‘The Eightfold Path’.
In essence, The Buddha taught that we perceive the world in a certain way and when we find out it is not how we want it to be, we suffer. He stressed that change is inevitable and by wanting things always to remain the same we will ultimately suffer. Impermanence, therefore, is an important principle in The Buddha’s teachings, and once understood and accepted can offer a great deal of freedom. Sharon Salzberg, a New York Times best-selling author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices in the West, said; ‘Impermanence is the very fabric of our lives. It’s not just that our lives are always changing; our lives are made up of change’. This ‘go with the flow’ tenet of Buddhism offers us, in this time of universal uncertainty, the chance to reflect on what we do have and not what we have lost.
Above all else Buddhism is concerned with ‘compassion’. The Buddha left his ideal existence and family to help others. As the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama, explained; ‘This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.’ Thinking of others rather than ourselves during this unprecedented time means we need to be creative in how we stay connected and how we offer support.
Another aspect of Buddhism that can be drawn upon during this time of isolation and lock down is how to find happiness. The Buddha taught that you should not depend on others to make yourself happy but in fact true happiness is self-generated. Having a calm mind is seen as the source to happiness and good health. Being creative, painting, writing letters, cooking, walking, as well as practising yoga and meditation are all positive engagements to combat this time of negativity. As The Buddha said; ‘No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.’
Although Year 3 are unable to present what they have learnt whilst studying Buddhism they certainly have had the chance to be innovative over the last few weeks. I have gained much pleasure and reassurance from daily contact via MS Team and from receiving lots of amazing work and images. I am sure Year 3 girls have the resilience and the support they need in this challenging time ahead and will continue to be productive and creative.
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.
12th March 2020 — 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
10th March 2020 — 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.
6th March 2020 — 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.
4th March 2020 — 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.’