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.
Charlie Walker, British adventurer, inspired Year 11 girls at Portsmouth High School to 'make their own mistakes; giving up is not an option.'
18th January 2021 — Year 11 girls at Portsmouth High School celebrated the end of their spring online assessment period with a virtual 'Aspire Day' which, this year, included a virtual presentation from British adventurer and writer, Charlie Walker.
Aged just 22, Charlie set out on a bicycle journey that was to span 4 years and cover more than 40,000 miles through 60 countries. It was his first long journey. He was young and naive; powered by curiosity and a lust for life. Challenges on the road included crossing the Sahara twice, pedalling illegally through Tibet in winter, and battling with mosquitos and churned mud roads in a Central African monsoon. Yet, the biggest surprise was the kindness of strangers he encountered. Along the way Charlie was invited into mud huts, mosques and monasteries, lonely yurts and lavish embassies. His epic journey took him across the Tibetan plateau, Mongolian steppe, Congolese jungle and Arctic tundra, travelling over 50,000 miles by bicycle, foot, horse, raft, ski and dugout canoe.
When asked by his parents how long he would be away for he worked out, on a basic map, using his thumb as a gauge on how many miles he could cycle in a month;
‘Four years,’ he replied. ‘I wanted to keep life simple and stripped down. It wasn’t until I reached Singapore that I was daunted by the ambitious task that I’d undertaken.’
When embarking on this seemingly endless task, Charlie never believed he would finish. However, as the odyssey unfolded and confidence grew, the idea of completion gradually shifted from impossible to inevitable.
In the afternoon, the girls were tasked to work in groups to plan their own epic journey which they then presented back to the rest of their tutor groups.
The winning teams were awarded a £10 Amazon voucher each after they designed intrepid, exciting and well-planned expeditions inspired by the morning’s presentation.
‘You need to have three things,’ Charlie told the girls. ‘Positivity, passion and self-confidence. Make your own mistakes; giving up was simply not an option.’
The girls asked many questions from how did he communicate if he wasn’t familiar with the language to how did he deal with loneliness.
‘I found it really hard being on my own. I’m generally a sociable person,’ said Charlie. I found being on my own one of the hardest things.’ ‘The fermented horse milk and fried spiders legs were amongst the most difficult to eat.’
Emma Corti, 16, said:
‘I found Charlie’s talk was so inspirational and gave me lots of ideas for future travels in places I would never have thought of.’
Sofia Syed, 15, added:
‘His stories were so interesting and showed a lot about the similarities and differences in life across the world.’
Mrs Wood, Head of Year 11, added: ‘during lockdown our pupils' worlds have shrunk dramatically as they stay safely at home. After two weeks of intense work, following a taxing period of revision and uncertainty, I really wanted to give them the opportunity to revisit the great outdoors (albeit through the power of technology for the time being) and consider the opportunities and excitements that await them in the future. The pandemic has forced us to reconsider many things which we may have taken for granted a year ago, like, for example, the freedom to travel. Charlie's presentation was so inspiring and has certainly helped spark the flame of adventure for our Year 11s.’
Portsmouth High School Charity Week - the 'fashion' show must go on
The Head Girl team led the Sixth Formers in a tremendous 'Night at the Movies' Fashion Show recorded and put out online for the school community to enjoy all in aid of the deaf children's charity The Elizabeth Foundation.
11th December 2020 — Portsmouth High School’s Sixth Form put together a Fashion Show with a twist this year. The annual event is usually performed live over two nights at the end of the school’s Charity Week in November. This year the show was postponed until the last week of term due to COVID-19 and put online for parents, the girls and staff to enjoy.
The theme this year was Night at the Movies and the girls wrote their own choreography for the walks and dances, hosted the event and encouraged donations to their chosen charity, The Elizabeth Foundation. Walks included show stoppers from Sister Act, The Greatest Showman, Mamma Mia!, Love Actually and The Lion King. The staff joined in the fun and put together a walk based on popular songs.
Charity Week at Portsmouth High School has been running for over 25 years and is always organised entirely by the Sixth Form. Led by the Head Girl Team, the girls use business acumen and entrepreneurial skills to negotiate with local shops and liaise with local businesses to put on the show. It was a glittering success and raised thousands of pounds for the girls’ chosen charity, The Elizabeth Foundation.
Head Girl, Charlotte, 17, said:
‘We’ve had so much fun putting the fashion show together. It has been challenging given the circumstances, but we’re so glad we have been able to create something that raises both our spirits and donations for the Elizabeth Foundation. The Foundation provides such an important and unique service to help children with hearing loss learn to communicate,’ she said. ‘This, along with the friendly and open nature of the people working there, made us certain that this charity would be perfect for the Head Girl Team and Sixth Form to support this year.’
Daisy Cole, Year 12 student, added: ‘I was involved in the fashion show and absolutely loved it. It was such a fun way to bond with everyone in the Sixth Form and would highly recommend to the younger years to get involved themselves when they’re in Sixth Form.’
Girls who had watched on a link were so enthusiastic about the event:
‘It was so good,’ said Isabelle in Year 8. ‘It seemed like such a great community spirit and the Sixth Form all seemed so happy performing.’
‘I thought the costumes and dances were really good,’ added Khushi in Year 7. ‘My favourite was The Lion King and I loved all the different movie themes.’
‘The girls did an incredible job,’ added Head of Sixth Form, Mr Rob Smith. ‘As ever the show was a wonderful showcase of their amazing creativity and brilliant humour.’
'Good night, sheep tight' Portsmouth High School Pre-School Nativity
It all got too much for Sammy the sheep in the Portsmouth High School Pre-School Nativity.
4th December 2020 — The highly anticipated Portsmouth High School Pre-School Nativity took an unusual twist this year. It was performed in-house, filmed and then sent to parents online. The cast performed a full script, including many songs, and delivered a fantastic performance. Mary (Thea aged 4) delivered a beautiful solo and one of the shepherd's sheep (Sammy) got so sleepy he fell fast asleep for the duration. A brilliant performance by all.
Sammy woke up after the performance was over and said: 'Are we going to do the play now?'
England rugby player, Jodie Ounsley, endorses school's support for deaf charity
Portsmouth High School were delighted to have a personal message from England rugby player, Jodie Ounsley, wishing them support for their Charity Week supporting The Elizabeth Foundation
16th November 2020 — Portsmouth High School’s Head Girl team and Sixth Form launched their week-long Charity Week this morning with a whole-school Fancy Dress Parade. This has been a slightly different year for the Head Girl team with them leading the pupils via online Zoom assemblies and imaginative ways of communicating with the school community. The Fancy Dress Parades took place across the school within year group bubbles.
The Head Girl team, led by Head Girl, Charlotte Kellagher, 17, are supporting a Portsmouth based national charity; The Elizabeth Foundation. The Foundation was founded in 1981 by Shirley and David Metherell, whose daughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 22 months. In response to a lack of local services, Shirley and David set up The Elizabeth Foundation to support other parents of young children with hearing loss. The charity they established has gone from strength to strength over the ensuing years.
‘The Elizabeth Foundation provides such an important and unique service to help children with hearing loss learn to communicate,’ said Head Girl, Charlotte. ‘This, along with the friendly and open nature of the people working there, made us certain that this charity would be perfect for the Head Girl Team and Sixth Form to support this year.’
At an assembly on Friday, Ms Sam Straker, the Fundraising Coordinator from The Elizabeth Foundation, visited the school in person. The school also heard from England Rugby player, Jodie Ounsley, an ambassador for the charity, via video link.
Jodie, 19, the first deaf female rugby player to be selected for an international sevens squad, was born profoundly deaf, attended weekly sessions at The Elizabeth Foundation as a youngster before moving to a mainstream school aged four-and-a-half and is thrilled to have the chance to help the charity in any way she can.
‘Portsmouth High School, you are making such a positive impact,’ said Jodie. ‘By supporting The Elizabeth Foundation you are enabling the teaching of deaf children with the skills they need for the next stages of their lives. You really do make a difference and a big thank you from me on behalf of The Elizabeth Foundation.’
Sam Straker added: ‘We at the Foundation are so delighted that the Head Girls and Sixth Form are supporting our charity. With an early diagnosis we can support babies and young children with hearing loss. ‘
Deputy Head Girl, Ruby Dale, added:
‘We are all really excited for charity week because the whole Sixth Form has put lots of hard work and careful planning into all the events. Even more work has gone on than previous years because of the current circumstances. We can’t wait for everyone to get involved and have fun!’
The girls spearhead fundraising activities throughout the year to generate money and raise awareness of the charity and the fundraising culminates in Charity Week every November.
Charity Week at Portsmouth High School has been running for over 25 years and is always organised entirely by the Sixth Form. The week is made up of talent shows, live music and other events. It culminates in a two night Fashion Show where the Sixth Form use business acumen and entrepreneurial skills to negotiate with local shops and liaise with local businesses to put on the show. The Fashion Show will take place in early December.
Head of Sixth Form, Mr Rob Smith, said,
‘Our girls have always greatly valued the idea of looking out for others and taking positive action in the community. This message feels especially important and poignant when set against the backdrop of the pandemic. Full credit to our Sixth Form girls who have, whilst navigating all of the current restrictions, displayed great ingenuity and creativity to put together this wonderful week. A brilliant dose of fun to carry us through the lockdown.’
'There is not such a thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes’
Girls from Portsmouth High School take their lessons outside on Outdoor Classroom Day.
5th November 2020 — Portsmouth High School GDST celebrated Outdoor Classroom Day joining 100,000s of children around the world to celebrate the joy of the outdoors.
Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement to make time outdoors part of every child’s day. At Portsmouth High School the girls spend much of their time outside in Forest School lessons, Beach School lessons or enjoying the magical grounds of the Prep School.
‘I love playing outside in the sunshine and even the rain and getting muddy,’ said Kitty, aged 5. ‘It's my favourite thing to do.’
Beatrice, aged 8, added:
‘Forest School helps me relax and enjoy nature which is really important to notice during our busy days at school.’
An Outdoor Classroom was installed at the Prep School two years ago and this half term two brand new Outdoor Reading Rooms were installed at the Senior School in memory of a much loved drama teacher, Mrs Rosemary Comrie.
‘We are so fortunate to have such large and mature gardens at Portsmouth High School right in the heart of a busy, bustling city,’ said Mrs Joan West, Forest and Beach School Lead.
‘Green space is so important for us as all but particularly for children. Being outside supports a healthy and active lifestyle whilst offering crucial opportunities for exploration and imaginary play. Children who are exposed to green spaces learn to care for the world around them and look after their environment. Good mental health and well-being is fostered during exposure to natural light, trees and plants. During these testing times there is no place I'd rather be than round a campfire or planting bulbs with a group of girls.’
In the Senior School girls have been enjoying the new space.
Matilda, 11, said:
‘I enjoying sitting in the very calming room listening to the sounds of being outside.’
Lauren, 16, added:
‘This is a lovely outside space to share with friends and spend time immersed in books.’
Head of Portsmouth High School, Mrs Jane Prescott, added:
‘Our youngest pupils enjoy using our outdoor space to forage for leaves and insects; the learning is all year round and develops as they grow older. They soon are able to form their own assessments of risk whilst pushing their own boundaries through exploration. The older girls can take time out of their busy school schedules to read or draw outside. There are studies that suggests regular outdoor activity puts children ahead academically than their more sedentary peers. Certainly there is much to be learned about the environment and children are much more likely to look after their play parks and grounds if they understand the harmful impact of litter, for example.
‘“There is not such a thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes” my geography teacher used to say as we measured and observed the natural landscape on field trips sometimes in a gale. I might not have thought it at the time but she was right. All we need is the right outdoor gear and a positive attitude to enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors.’
Portsmouth High School alumna, Lowena Hull, shortlisted for Women of the Future
Lowena Hull, alumna of Portsmouth High School, GDST, has been shortlisted for The Women of the Future Awards in the Young Star category.
8th October 2020 — Portsmouth High School, GDST, are delighted to announce that Lowena Hull, 18, from the Class of 2020, has been shortlisted for The Women of the Future awards in the Young Star category.
The Women of the Future Awards celebrates women who are ‘moving the needles’ in their sectors with their leadership and challenging stereotypes. The shortlist features playwrights, an environment activist and a creator of hyper-realistic artificial voices.
Lowena, now at Cambridge University studying Physical Natural Sciences with modules in maths, chemistry, physics, and materials science, said:
‘I am absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted for these prestigious awards, alongside some other amazing women role models. Combining my disciplines with experience in programming, I am hoping to work for an organisation such as the UK Space Agency. I believe that by partnering science with satellite data and technology, significant advances can be made in addressing the key issues facing humanity in the future, both globally and locally. I have completed several practical projects in the space-related field, including two ‘Astro Pi’ competitions, with ESA and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and my winning entry for the UK Space Agency ‘SatelLife’ Competition. Alongside this, I will continue with my volunteering: mentoring girls in STEM through online workshops and presentations and promoting the importance of girls being able to experience technology from a young age.
‘Using media and by being an active role-model in the field, I hope to continue to inspire others. I am also looking forward to returning to volunteering in person at my local Raspberry Jam. I am always keen to attempt new things, often in areas with which I am unfamiliar, using the experiences both positive and negative to improve and learn. I am passionate about inspiring other girls to ‘have a go’, even if the outcome is not what you expect, it will always provide invaluable opportunities to discover and grow.’
Gareth Bethell, Senior Communications Officer, UK Space Agency said:
‘All of us at the UK Space Agency were blown away by Lowena when she was the overall winner of our SatelLife Competition in 2019, which asks young people to come up with ideas on how satellites can be used to improve life on Earth. Not only was her entry a fantastic idea and a worthy winner but she proved to be brilliant at communicating her idea with knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence. Since winning the competition Lowena has been a fantastic advocate, encouraging other young people to take part and we are confident she has an exciting career ahead of her in whatever she chooses to do.’
Headmistress of Portsmouth High School, Mrs Jane Prescott, added:
‘Lowena is passionate about promoting the profile of girls in STEM, not only on a local, but also a national scale. She is a volunteer with the Young Scientists Journal, teaches children at her local Raspberry Pi coding club and taught girls here at school. During the pandemic, she has given her time to help run online technology meetups for girls in STEAM across the south. Lowena inspired girls in the school and in the wider community by being an active and enthusiastic role model in STEM.’