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Denmark Road High School

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Monica Sims Legacy #IWD2020

A message from Claire Giblin, Headteacher:

This Sunday is the 109th International Woman’s Day.  A day for us all to celebrate the achievements of women.  With this goal in mind I would like you to know about an amazing woman who played a key role in accelerating women’s equality.

In the summer of 1943 Monica Sims graduated from Denmark Road High School.  As the tide of World War II was finally beginning to turn, she took her place at St Hugh’s College in Oxford University to read English.

At Denmark Road High School we are inspiring students to challenge the patriarchy and bring about change.  The future leaders who will be graduating this upcoming summer are driven and are fearless.  They are following in the footsteps of Monica Sims some 77 years earlier. 

Monica joined the male-dominated BBC in 1953 working as a radio producer before taking her first major role as editor of Woman’s Hour in 1964.   Benefitting from her male bosses  opting not listen to the show, she used this unexpected freedom and personal drive to promote “health, mental or social problems, religious doubts, financial difficulties, sexual orientation and childcare, all suggested by listeners’ letters” challenging the broadcasting taboos of the day. 

Monica rose to become the most senior woman in the corporation in the 1980s.  As head of children’s television she fought hard for the right of children to have “the best possible service”.  She introduced groundbreaking shows including Newsround, The Wombles and Grange Hill.  She finished her career at the BBC as controller of her beloved Radio 4. 

Denmark Road High School has reshaped its curriculum to blend oracy with academia.  Monica was noted for her ability to quickly get the making of a person and to win an argument.  She did not suffer fools.  She stood up for her beliefs even if they were unpopular or ahead of her time.  She infamously turned down the opportunity to commission the popular Sesame Street show alluding to its apparent aim “to change children’s behaviour”.  Her support for drama against the rising tide of rolling news programming was never more apparent than her refusal to break into the broadcast of a Radio 4 play to announce the end of the Falklands War.

After her retirement from the BBC she was commissioned to write a report on the shortage of women in management.  Her findings included the need for flexible working hours for women with children, the introduction of part-time working and parental leave for fathers.  The latter was the only one of her eighteen suggestions not accepted at that time.  21st century Denmark Road students are living up to Monica’s legacy; students ready to go into the world to respect people, understand people and be the voice of the people. 

Monica passed away in November 2018 at the age of 93.   She was a proud Gloucester-born Denmark Road alum.   She spoke fondly of her time at Denmark Road. Specifically she  recalled a talk she witnessed from an elderly suffragette who addressed the senior girls.  This talk took place in our wonderful school hall some 80 years ago.  It was the first time Monica was to realise the potential of women to make a positive difference in the world beyond their traditional gender based roles.   I am immensely humbled to let you know that Monica left £20,000 to the school’s Help Us Grow fundraising campaign and a further £20,000 donation to the school’s PTA association. 

With this legacy gift, the Help Us Grow campaign has now raised £63,000.   This money has already enabled us to improve the Denmark experience for our students.  £3000 of donations have contributed to the purchase of the Satchel One (Show My Homework) app.  £11,000 has been used to support our young people with the provision of a qualified counsellor.   £8000 has been spent to improve curriculum provision, funding the choice of two languages from Year 7 and providing new textbooks in Sociology.  Further donations from the PTA to the campaign have funded the creation of the Sixth Form Café and furniture for the outstanding new independent and group study rooms.  Most recently, we have used donations to support our LRC with funding for World Book Day events and the purchase of books for the Carnegie Challenge. 

Reaching our fundraising target of £125,000 will allow us to continue to offer the Denmark Road Difference that has made us the Sunday Times Southwest State Secondary School of the Year and more.  We are proud to be DenmarkRoad365 and your donations will support this.  Our IT facilities urgently require updating.  The laptops your daughters and sons use in Science, Languages and DT are now ten years old and are no longer fit for purpose.  Replacing these 90 laptops will cost £54,000.  Would you be willing to fund one of those laptops for our students to use?

Our achievements in the Arts are a defining feature of Denmark Road life.  The recent musical production of Singing in the Rain was a fantastic showcase of student talent.  However, once again we spent thousands hiring equipment.  If we did have our own it would mean improved performance quality at all events: our talented musicians, dancers, singers and actors deserve this. We need £30,000 to develop staging, lighting, sound. This would also be used by our existing Drama GCSE students and our future A Level Theatre Studies cohort beginning in September 2021.

There are three days to go until International Woman’s Day.  A call for action for an equal world.  This Sunday, I will be thinking of Monica Sims.  An astonishing woman who overcame gender bias to achieve remarkable things. 

I am proud her legacy will make a fantastic impact on our current and future students.  I am proud that she has forged pathways for our students to follow.  I am proud that she is Denmark Road.  



Please take a moment to Help Us Grow


We live DRHS 365, will you? £1 per day. A commitment of £365 per year (or £366 this year!). Set up an annual donation or £30.50 monthly direct debit.  Just complete this form


Buy DT, Languages or Science a laptop

The cost is £600, why not make a one off donation. It is easy to donate – Just Click Here 


The DRHS £10 Challenge

If parents of all our students pledged to donate just £10 per month we would raise £106,000 a year for the school.   It is easy to donate – Just Click Here  


1883 Club

Our foundation year. Donate a one off sum for £1883 or set up a direct debit of £157 per month. Members of the 1883 Club will be treated to Afternoon Tea with the Headteacher & Chair of Members (Governors) up on the roof of the Main Building. Take an adventure through the attic, explore the historic documents of the school and experience the hidden terrace with beautiful views over the site, the city and the hills beyond.   Just complete this form



International Women's Day

International Woman’s Day is 8 March 2020.   Please look out for our social media presence with #IWD2020 #EachforEqual #DenmarkRoad365 , #IMakeMyOwnWay  and #DenmarkDifference


Call for Alumni

Do you know a former student?   Please encourage them to email or visit our Alumni Association page on our website here.   If you are a former alumni - Join us in celebrating the achievements of women on International Women's Day by posting an image of yourself with your location and career / life choices.  Please use the hashtags above so we can find you.