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What says..

Built around the school, city and region to embed a love for and pride of their heritage, the girls are hooked into each topic by relevant trips and visits early in the term. Child-initiated activity is key; mornings are spent in small group numeracy and literacy, creative work and knowledge and understanding activities. Afternoons are spent outdoors in forest school (whatever the weather), on Spanish, PE, dance, drama and music. Experiences range from making habitats for new animals they have created in year 1 to lighting fires and using bow saws and knives in year 6...  

 

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What the school says...

Our Junior School is a special place, a place where imagination comes alive, talents are nurtured, friendships are fostered and girls develop a confidence and independence that is recognised by all who meet them.

Academic excellence will always be at the heart of what we stand for but we know that you also want your daughter to feel happy, and enjoy an education which will inspire and excite her, draw out her unique abilities and open her eyes to an exciting world of wonder and discovery.

Girls in our Junior School thrive and whether your daughter joins us in Nursery or at a later stage, you can be assured that she will be in the very best learning environment for girls.
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What the parents say...

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All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head of junior school

Since 2011, Angela Charlton BA Fine Arts from Newcastle (early 50s). Always knew she wanted to teach and in 1997 became deputy head of Fellside Community Primary School. Seconded to Oakfield Infant School as acting head teacher three years later and gained her first headship there in 2000 before moving to Portobello Primary School in Birtley in 2003, where she built an ‘outstanding curriculum’ (Ofsted) and defied demographics by increasing pupil numbers significantly.

Embedded the creative curriculum into the school's teaching, led the logistical conundrum of operating the school in situ through the massive Chapman House refurbishment programme in 2013, followed by preparation for the merger of Newcastle Church High with Central High, opening as Newcastle High School for Girls in 2014.

Sees the merger of the two schools ‘as a wonderful opportunity to create new traditions, moving on whilst taking the best of the past’. A chance to rethink core values - curious, communicative, caring, composed, collaborative, creative, courageous and confident – and refresh the curriculum incorporating more cross-curricular approaches, pertinent for the modern world. Endorsed by parents who say that the head ‘has built a very creative environment and the curriculum has been changed to reflect that too. It’s not just about mathematics and English (although they are at the core of everything)’.

Engaging, warm and vivacious she rightly sees herself as a ‘people person’, detecting and nurturing strengths in others, an aspect of her role, which gives her great fulfillment. Very creative, an ideas person she works in close partnership with her mathematician deputy, a dynamic duo.

Has always worked in co-educational settings before current post but has clearly converted to a girls only setting, quoting GDST research into girls’ learning styles and advocating convincingly that ‘being set up for girls allows them to be more adventurous’.

Openly states that ‘she loves the job’ and can think of no better occupation than ‘developing the minds of young people’. Obviously an evangelist, her daughter is now a teacher and has taken up her first post in the north east.

Art is in her DNA and newly built garden studio at home allows her to relax and unwind - when not in the kitchen cooking up something special.

Entrance

In-class assessment (morning or day long depending on age) and report from current nursery or school. For early years informal group work ‘looking for social interaction and readiness’. For older intake, a taster day followed by an in-class assessment day. Most join from nurseries into nursery or reception, some recruitment into juniors from state schools (particularly middle schools) and other independents.

Exit

Virtually all to senior school unless family moves out of area.

Our view

Follows the national curriculum though augmented by a creative curriculum, forging links between subjects. Built around the school, city and region to embed a love for and pride of their heritage, the girls are hooked into each topic by relevant trips and visits early in the term. This focus on north east commitment chimes with the headmistress whose vision is to educate young women to play their part in the future improvement of prosperity in the area.

Parents are offered flexible nursery sessions in the bright and light accommodation with excellent outdoor play area that is integral to the teaching areas. Each new autumn starter is given a cardboard box to decorate over the summer which provides an insight and conversation piece for the new arrivals.

Child-initiated activity is key; mornings are spent in small group numeracy and literacy, creative work and knowledge and understanding activities. Afternoons are spent outdoors in forest school (whatever the weather), on Spanish, PE, dance, drama and music.

Most progress to reception where maximum class size is 20 but increases to 24 in key stage 2. Extensive outdoor curriculum every day, often linked through the creative curriculum. This is further enhanced through forest school accreditation where experiences range from making habitats for new animals they have created in year 1 to lighting fires and using bow saws and knives in year 6. All juniors have PSHE, philosophy, music, dance and sports lessons.

As part of the sensitive transition to senior school, Y5 and Y6 have a morning’s science, PE and Spanish specialist lessons in senior school each week. There is a lot of cross-fertilisation of pedagogy and working across both the junior and senior sites eg the junior head accompanying the senior school classics tour to Greece.

No key stage 2 Sats; instead girls have an externally validated termly assessment that tracks their progression. For the academically more able there are extension groups and mathematics challenge competitions, such as the annual GDST junior mathematics conference. Year 6 takes part in the Virgin £5 Challenge, a format similar to a mini Young Enterprise.

Small percentage of SEN, mainly dyslexic, and an extensive range of recognised interventions are used. Differentiation of curriculum in the classroom for others identified as needing learning support and there is lots of communication and reviews with parents. There are a few EAL and strategies include a spelling and reading group to test understanding, one-to-one phonics, handwriting and reading sessions to ensure understanding and correct pronunciation.

Starts them young with sport, lots of specialist teaching in traditional team sports from year 2, making the most of the two all weather pitches, a real bonus for a junior school. A large hall makes a great space for dance and gym and each year group works on a dance piece to perform in whole school assemblies. Weekly swimming at local pools, including RGS’s, a short bus ride away. Lots of GDST competition and local galas, with particular success in netball, hockey and swimming.

Music strong and built into the curriculum for all girls. Large uptake of individual music lessons. Orchestra and active choir with year 6 making it to the final of the GDST Young Choir of the Year competition at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. Performance opportunities through local music festivals, outreach singing to local elderly residents and Christmas concerts. Instruments introduced in lessons and creative curriculum links music to other topics – one example Djembe drumming skills honed during a study of Kenya.

Lots of drama in class assemblies and year group performances as well as the Shakespeare Schools Festival for year 6, and aspiring thespians were preparing for Macbeth when we were in school. Co-curricular speech and drama and musical theatre classes available at extra charge from external providers; weekly in-house drama club.

As you would expect when head is an artist, the art facilities have two excellent spaces and as one parent told us, ‘The girls adore having her for art lessons too. She has really inspired my youngest daughter who showed very little interest in art previously’.

Educational visits abound and usual residentials, culminating in Lancashire PGL adventure centre for year 5 and cultural trip to Edinburgh for year 6.

Girls are looked after from 8.00am – 4.30pm in school, with additional charged after school club until 6pm. A number of holiday clubs including dance, drama and art weeks available for pupils and external attendees alike.

Situated in the affluent suburb of Sandyford, on a leafy and extensive green five acre site, the heart of the school is housed in a grade II listed John Dobson designed mansion originally named Villa Real dating from 1817. A century later it became Nazareth House, a children’s home, and extended in 1939 to house over 70 children. It closed in 1996 and reopened in 2000 as Central High Junior School. Underwent extensive, sympathetic and costly renovation and refurbishment in 2013, though with hindsight the décor would have been better not to shout Central’s purple everywhere when the merged school has been branded with a rather different hue of blue/green teal.

Accommodation well laid out, plenty of space and light, flexible spaces filled with matching furniture, all curved lines and round tables. Great facilities, as you might expect in a modern, architect-led design - designated art, science, Spanish, library, music class and practice rooms with a simple but beautiful chapel used for all whole school celebrations – and film nights. Wide corridors, with a rather corporate feel as disappointingly lacking wall decoration – though we have since learned that our visit was ‘between displays’. Fortunately not the case in classrooms, decorated with examples of the girls' work. A nice touch - each room named after a renowned female role model appropriate to its use.

The lovely and extensive grounds house a dance hall (converted ex-laundry) and dining room. Beyond the free flow EYFS outdoor learning area lies the adventure playground and all weather pitch. The large playground doubles as netball/tennis courts and there is a greenhouse and raised beds for Go Green and the gardening clubs whose produce is used by the kitchen and enjoyed by the girls who grew them. The crowning glory and an intrinsic part of the curriculum is the forest school, a tree shrouded area with dipping pond, fire pit, ducks and bug hotel.

Strong pastoral system with emphasis on circle time and PSHE programme. Phase leaders work together to ensure that children are and feel safe and ‘know that they can come and talk to staff in an open an honest way’. Pivotal to this is the pastoral lead who, when not in her quiet room, is a constant visible presence around the school, particularly at break times. Trusted by girls, she is able to counsel on worries before they become issues.

Parents say, ‘Girls being girls squabble at times, but having Mrs Bowman on hand is such a comfort. She can sort anything out and is a wonderful addition to the school’. Even goes as far as buying nut-free treats for a child with a severe allergy so ‘that she never feels left out when birthday treats are brought in by parents’. An example of how staff here go above and beyond.

Four houses, led by house captains, democratically elected by their peers, meet up with their senior school counterparts to ensure continuity. House points awarded for good behaviour and work, inter-house competitions. Staff choose school and food forum representatives after consideration of candidates’ application letters. Digital leader is a techy post with blog responsibilities, helping to run Code Club with younger pupils and liaising with Y8 senior school pupils on BBC micro:bit.

Girls of Daring leadership programme is an award scheme like a mini Duke of Edinburgh. Years 5 and 6 follow a programme of mindset and reflection in the spring term as part of their PSHE philosophy.

Enthusiastic, articulate girls, willing to challenge and be challenged yet considerate of others’ views and perspective. They ooze self-confidence without being arrogant or ill mannered. Overwhelming majority transfer to senior school as parents ‘choose school for whole educational journey’. Predominantly middle class intake, professional families and the very wealthy alongside those from more modest backgrounds; lots of siblings and those with a family connection to the two predecessor schools. Brothers go to Royal Grammar, Newcastle Prep or local high achieving state primaries. Extensive transport services by fleet of chaperoned school minibuses shuttle between junior and senior school and to strategically placed hub, filling the gaps in the private bus service and public bus, metro and train links.

Parents feel well informed about their daughters' education. One parent told us that ‘the new Twitter account is also a lovely window into the girls' day at school‘. Maths and English reports in autumn and spring followed by parents’ evenings, though parents say, ‘we have normally had lots of contact with the
teachers before that’. Full report at end of each academic year. Parents’ forum meets each term; very supportive with evidence of their fundraising around the school.

Tucked away from surburban streets in a tranquil oasis, the school offers an excellent education in an environment where girls are nurtured and encouraged to be the best they can. Opportunity has been taken to refresh the curriculum and there is a real feeling of dynamism and energy. A ‘joined up’ junior school that holds dear the core values that are further developed in the senior school and incorporated in the words of the new school song, written by the first team of prefects in the merged school.

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