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Denmark Road High School

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2009-2011 - Centenary



Term 3 began with an absolutely fantastic concert at Gloucester Cathedral to celebrate the Centenary of the High School on the Denmark Road site.  It was quite overwhelming to see over 200 students from the school standing, in front of the audience, for “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana at the beginning of the concert and for “Oh When the Saints” at the end.  The music department with their usual gusto provided the audience with a most amazing repertoire, no mean feat as we had only been back at school for a week after the two-week Christmas break.

The talent evident on this occasion was indeed awe-inspiring and I must thank the soloists: Sophie Coles who left in 2004; Elin White and Laura Wells in Year 13 and Lori Warsop and Jennifer Costin in Year 12.  The sound filled the cathedral.

Not many schools could boast of having such excellent musicians.

It would also be remiss of me not to thank the two Head Girls: Jennifer Crockford, nee Gardiner, Head Girl 1959 and Kathleen Bace, Head Girl 2009 for their most interesting reminiscences.

I am sure that all the youngsters taking part will not forget such a splendid occasion, and especially the excitement shown on the faces of the music staff: Mrs Day, Mrs Bowman, Mr Haynes and Ms Marshall when they stood in front of the performers and urged them to excel.  My grateful thanks go to them for putting on such a magnificent concert, which was certainly a fitting celebration of this key milestone in the school’s history.

Centenary Concert was held in Gloucester Cathedral

Centenary Concert was held in Gloucester Cathedral

Centenary Concert comments from 7C

"It was a great experience to be part of a once in-a-lifetime concert."

"The cathedral was filled with people with a musical talent."

"I thought it was lovely when the older Head Girl gave a talk, she gave me a real feeling of what it was like all those years ago."

"Gloucester Cathedral was filled with the smiling faces of the parents!"

"The first act took place - the pupils in Years 7 and 8 made everyone beam!"

"When I first heard of the Centenary concert I thought it would be just a classical few songs then off to bed. I was wrong.  It was AMAZING! "

"I was really proud to be a part of the school, especially on its centenary. The experience was great."

"The cathedral was packed out with parents, grandparents and guardians, all awed by the pupils' stunning performances."

"It was a fitting tribute to such an incredible school."

"The concert was incredible! Everyone enjoyed it and the singing was amazing!"

"The centenary concert was a magical moment for all musicians, teachers and performers. It burst to life with 'O Fortuna’”.

"The Centenary celebrations were breathtaking, I really enjoyed them. Everyone was perfectly rehearsed and the music was so exciting!"

Centenary Cake Competition

We were delighted to receive over 50 entries and they formed a wonderful display. The students had been extremely creative in their interpretation and we had trees/ ties/stripy blouses adorning the tops of the cakes.  The winners were as follows:

Under 14 category - Wallis Day 9QE

Highly commended:

Laura Hayward, Katie Adams, Grace Gowell, Jessica Wright, Guilia Forster, Alice Williams, Emma Elley, Katie Williams and Charlie Goble.

The cake competition held on the same day as the concert was a great success, it was amazing to see the various ideas for cakes based on the school theme.  The whole school enjoyed the cakes during the morning.  Thank you to all the girls who took part in the competition.

This term has been very busy in many other respects, especially with various AS and A2 examinations occurring.  It has also been a key time for coursework to be completed for GCSE.  I am reassured to learn that most students seem well on-task; the half-term break will be the time when this work will need to be completed.

I am very grateful to all staff who accompanied various trips over half-term.  Staff and students visited Queens College, Kalino, Uganda which was a unique experience.  It is the last year of our link with Queens College as no further money is available from the British Council to continue to develop the link.  Staff and students are also going skiing to Austria and visiting Berlin.  I hope that these trips are very successful and that the students thoroughly enjoy the experiences.

We welcomed back Mrs Heidi Clemmitt (KS3 Director and SENCO) from maternity leave and Mrs Penelope Maidment (SSCO Co-ordinator ).  Thanks go to Mrs Joanna Leggett and Mrs Jayne Biles for covering Mrs Clemmitt’s maternity leave. We were very lucky indeed to cover the maternity leave with two such experienced teachers. My thanks go to them for their support of the PE department and the school.

Chamber Concert at St John’s Church, Gloucester
On 25th February a group of forty students from Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 came together to put on a concert for St John’s Church. We were welcomed into a bright, warm and comfortable modern church and put on one of our Chamber Concerts to a packed audience. There were many items in the concert – from solo voices and instruments to student compositions. Some of the highlights were a Year 9 song compiled and performed by Erica Jane Alden, Rebecca Crump, Lucy Cooper and Jasmine Bryan, an accomplished piano performance of Ibert’s The Little White Donkey by Korinna Barnard, a beautifully atmospheric performance of Rodney-Bennett’s Four Calling Birds by Francesca Lane, a theatrical interpretation of a song from Wicked by Erica-Jayne Alden and Emily Samways, accomplished flute solos by Emily Arnold and Emma Nield,  a stunning original composition from Chara Tan and an evocative and profound part  of Kol Nidrei by Naomi Soanes.

The the Head Girl, Head Boy and the two Deputies for the academic year 2009-2010. All will be taking up their posts in April 2009 after the Spring Break.

Head Girl – Chloe Foy, Head Boy – Matthew Gowell
Deputy Head Girls – Ruth Whyman and Rosie Harris

Thank you to Kate Bace (Head Girl 2008-2009), Sam Coles (Head Boy 2008-2009) and their Deputies, Rosie James and Nikki Singhera, for all their support and hard work during the past academic year. They have worked tirelessly to improve things and have certainly developed the School Council. I personally owe them a great debt of gratitude.

On Tuesday, 3rd February the whole of Year 7 took part in a very enjoyable and interesting technology day.   Everyone (with the exception of the people who were snowed in!) got a chance to participate in making foam finger puppets, look at dolls and toys from long ago with the people from Cheltenham Museum, make ‘Little Miss’ moving toys, watch the poor conditions of the people working in factories in China and finally make ballistas.  Making our finger puppets was a fun activity. First we picked its colour skin, then its tabard.

Finally we sewed around the edge to create a finger puppet.  The one made by Amy Charley was amazing and very well sewn.  Next we went to a room where Mrs Manning gave a talk about the appalling conditions that people in China work in for exceptionally long hours each day in a hot stuffy room with very poor seating arrangements.

After 2 years of fund-raising we have done it! We have managed to raise £5000 for the borehole in Uganda.  Students and parents/carers may remember that our partner school, Queen’s Comprehensive College in Kaliro, Uganda, had no running water and the girls had to walk many miles each day to the river to get water. We as a school, decided in 2007 to fund-raise and give Queen’s School a borehole with the help and support of Water Aid.  Many students have washed cars, held cake sales, participated in a 'readathon', wore odd socks and took part in many other money-making activities – and it was all worth it as we met our target.

We also had some help from Year 6 at Coney Hill Primary School who heard that we were about £200 short of our goal in January so decided to help us.  Through cake sales and sponsored walks they managed to raise over £900!  We thank them for the generous donation of £500 to our appeal (the rest is going to a wildlife charity).  So on Monday 23 March 2009 the email arrived to tell us that drilling for the borehole had begun at Queen’s College and we hope the work will be completed by Easter.

Well done everyone at HSFG and Coney Hill – when you clean your teeth next time using running water, think of the girls at Queen’s College and how much you have helped them - the water may not be running, but at least the tap will soon be outside their door. Thank you all very much.

March 5th was World Book Day and we marked this in school by holding quizzes for Year 7 and Year 8 students.  Teams were faced with some challenging questions about their school, history, films, and, of course, children’s literature.  Our Year 7s needed to know how many players there are on a Quidditch team, who wrote The Wind in the Willows, how many netball courts the school has and the identity of the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ in the Crimean War. Year 8s were tested on questions such as who won the first golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which classic story features Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg March, the name of the skeleton in the Science Department and the year of the sinking of the Titanic. After a very close contest, the Crème Eggheads of 7L achieved the top score for our Year 7s.

Well done to Charlotte Griffin, Gabby Rogers, Helen Green and Elly Swift. The curiously named Bible Bashers of 8D triumphed over some strong competition to win the Year 8 quiz, so well done, too, to Ellie Davies, Aimee Raistrick, Zoe Etherington and Jade Healey.  We were very grateful to Ruth Whyman and Miss Smith for being our quiz masters. They both did a splendid job!

And the answers?

There are 7 players on a Quidditch team, Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows.  There are 4 netball courts and Florence Nightingale was The Lady with the Lamp.  Augustus Gloop won the first golden ticket, the March sisters are in Little Women, the skeleton is called George and the Titanic sank in 1912.

The High School for Girls Leavers’ Concert 2009

On Wednesday, 18th March we staged the annual Sixth Form Leavers’ Concert
to a packed school hall. This was the fantastic celebration of some highly accomplished and committed musicians, who have served the High School music loyally for many years.  It was a real privilege to hear the solos and ensembles that the girls had prepared, mostly under their own guidance. Tabi Leask performed a Schubert Impromptu with great panache and expression, followed immediately by an oboe trio (2 oboes Sophie Mullins and Laura Gerrish and cor anglais Naomi Barnes). The Cooper twins (Ellie and Abbie) gave a stylish, lively account of Mozart’s Papageno’s Aria, followed by a mellow performanceby Sophie Mullins of Cimarosa’s Oboe Concerto. Jo Barnard then delighted the audience with an evocative performance of Debussy’s first Arabesque.

The first half concluded with a bubbly performance of Hot Dixie by Katie Anderson, Amy Williams and Vicky Stephens and a fully choreographed version of Plink Plank Plonk by the strings.

In the second half we were treated to an atmospheric flute solo by Laura Gerrish, followed by Laura Wells’ stylish account of the Viola Concerto by Telemann, accompanied by the Baroque Group.

The concert was completed by Vicky Stephens’ jazz interpretation of Flight of the Bumble Bee, Bumble Boogie, the virtuoso emporium solo Song of the Brother played by Lori Warsop and finally Elin White’s assuredly romantic interpretation of the slow movement from Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto.

The Year 13 musicians have done so much for music on so many levels, and we wish them every success in their future careers, musical or otherwise. 

Mrs Sawicka visited Weihai in China

A number of headteachers and teachers from Gloucester City and Cheltenham were privileged to go to China to establish links with schools in Weihai.  It was an amazing experience, as I had never before set foot in that part of the world. Our link school is Weihai No. 2 High School, whose principal is Mr Liu. It is a school of 4,500 students, 400+ staff and is spread over two campuses. The students are all 16-19 years of age and have had to take examinations to secure a place at the school. Students are taught in classes of 70 and are all enthusiastic about their learning. Achievement is high. The British Council, the Education department of Weihai and the Foreign Affairs department have matched us perfectly with the  School. 

Year 12 Physics Trip to Oxford -  31 March

Year 12 Physics students spent a day in Oxford, accompanied by Mr Hards.
The Department of Materials Science put on a circus of practical activities especially for our students. This meant that they were able to experience using top quality equipment under the supervision of some of the country’s best scientists. In the afternoon, students were given a tour of a college, and were able to ask a tutor general questions about University admissions.  They should now be able, confidently, to tackle any examination question on the properties of materials.

On 25 April 2009 it was the Old Girls AGM and lunch

It was an excellent occasion attended by 120 Old Girls. The number has grown year on year from my first AGM. The association put to the vote a change in their name and it was unanimously carried: it will be called the Former Students’ Association from now on so that the boys do not feel left out. I met not only many former students but also former staff, including two headteachers, Miss Elizabeth Miles and Miss Enid Castle. This was a real pleasure indeed, as inevitably their leadership has contributed to the success of the High School. I was also delighted to hear from a former student that she was willing to write the history of the last 25 years of the school, up to and including 2008. We must try to capture the history of this last quarter of a century from 1983.

Summer Show  - 9th & 10th July

Following the success of the past two summer productions in the school hall, we are locating to pastures new and using the Picturedrome (formally the New Olympus Theatre) in Gloucester.  Auditions took  place place and all parts were cast by the Easter Holiday.  All students who auditioned were part of the show.

When we first stepped into the Picturedrome Theatre in January 2009, we immediately felt the rush of excitement that only a real theatre can provide. Six months later and that same buzz has been fully appreciated by the whole cast, production team and audience – a total of some 900 people – who have all experienced first hand the same thrill of live theatre.

“Let friendship double up our powers” (Finale)

The whole moral of Bugsy has been fulfilled in our production – the team, cast and crew, have developed over several months, united in the single desire to create a thrilling, lively and entertaining production.  Friendships across year groups and ages, and between staff and students, have developed throughout the production, leading to an environment of mutual support and cooperation.

“You give a little love and it all comes back to you.”

It has not always been easy! There have been tears of laughter, tears of sadness and frustration, endless worries and massive fulfilment! Through it all, a true team ethos developed as we have all supported one another through the high and low points!

Massive congratulations and thanks go to the fantastic cast superbly led by Sarah Webb (Bugsy Malone), Alice James (Blousey Brown), Sophie  McAdam (Fat Sam), Emily Green (Dandy Dan), Jo Marley (Tallulah) and Ellie Neate (Fizzy). Also to terrific cameo parts: Erica-Jane Alden, Ellie Pickett, Jennie Cosh and Josie Palmer.

The show would have been impossible without the inspiring direction of Ms Picthall and Mrs Day, the energetic backstage work of Mrs Dunnett, the administration and production help from Mrs Bowman and Mr Haynes, and the whole PE staff for various help from driving, to stage door and prompting.

Everyone’s already asking “What’s next year’s show going to be…..?”
What’s for sure, we shall certainly want to use the theatre again!


Farewells to Staff July 2009


Mr Malcolm Willis has worked as Deputy Head at the School since 1995.  He has been excellent in this role as he has a vast amount of knowledge about the school, from details about the computer network and how the boiler works, to the curriculum map of the school and all the timetabling requirements.  He has been an excellent critical friend to me personally and a reflective advisor.  I could not have wished for a more loyal colleague as my Deputy.  He has also been an excellent teacher of Chemistry and there are countless students who have indicated that he has sparked  creativity in them so  that they could achieve their goals  whether at Medical School, Veterinary School or indeed doing Chemistry at University.  Students in Mr Willis’ care have said that they have experienced a remarkable growth in confidence in both knowledge and skills in his lessons.  I am also grateful that Mr Willis will still continue teaching Chemistry, for another year.  We hope Mr Willis enjoys all the things he has planned during his retirement, especially the travel to far off- places and being able to do what he wants, when he wants.

Mrs Mary Hill started work on 1st January 1974 as Mistress in Charge of Biology from Selwyn School in Gloucester.  Mrs Hill left in May 1976 on maternity leave and returned in April 1982 as a part-time member of staff to the Biology department.  I have been reliably informed that she can name most plants from either their seeds or leaves.  Mrs Hill’s lessons are inspirational and I am aware of the fact that she is often judged to be an outstanding teacher.  Mrs Hill has had a tremendous impact on the students in her care and we all wish her a long, relaxing and energetic retirement.  

Mr Richard Beever joined the High School in September 2006 as a mature entry into the teaching profession after having a fulfilling career in the Electricity Supply Industry. He was inspired to teach because of the teachers he had at school and because of the years he spent training, both school leavers and graduates, within the industry. This role enabled Mr Beever to lead on several trips where young people did Bronze, Silver and Gold expeditions.  We wish him all the very best for his new life in the South of England.  We will miss his fantastic cakes in the staff room.

Pastures New

Mrs Laura Parker joined the High School in September 2005 as a newly qualified teacher to teach History/Politics to A Level.  Mrs Parker has been an outstanding professional who has taken every opportunity to develop her knowledge and skills.  She took on the role of Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator in September 2007 and developed the provision for our gifted and talented students.  In April 2009 she took on the role of Team Leader for the DEAL.  She has been a huge driving force in the success of this curriculum and she has worked tirelessly to ensure that the students have an absolute fantastic experience.  She leaves to join Tadcaster Grammar School in Yorkshire, in a promoted post as Subject Leader: Skills for Life.  We wish her every success in her new job.

Mr James Playford came to the High School as Curriculum Director for Technology in September 2009 from The International School of Florence.  In his short time here he has worked on raising the profile of the Technology subjects.  Due to family circumstances, Mr Playford is moving to Pocklington School in Yorkshire where he will take up the position of Head of Technology.

Miss Georgina Ostridge  joined the High School in September 2009 as a Cover Supervisor from Brockworth Enterprise School, Gloucester.  Her former Head described Georgina as “reliable, great with the students and always willing to help”.  She has been excellent at her job and has enjoyed being in the classroom; consequently, she is now embarking on a PGCE course at the University of Gloucestershire, in order to teach History.  We wish to thank Georgina for all the work that she has done at the High School and wish her all the best for her training as a teacher.

Miss Hayley Staple began work at the school in September 2008, from Gloscol, as a Science Technician.  She has worked effectively and efficiently in the provision of support in lessons to all the Science teachers.  Scientists know that without the dedication and commitment of technicians many lessons and certainly experiments would not run smoothly. We wish her every success as she too embarks on her PGCE, to train as a Science Teacher.

In April 2010, the School became a Foundation School.


Farewell to Staff July 2010


Ms Lynn Vale started at the High School in September 1993 as Head of English and became Head of the English Faculty in January 2001.  Ms Vale was an excellent Head of English and Head of the English Faculty as she had a meticulous approach to the work, but also took every opportunity to ensure that the students had a good experience.  Her love of English was very clear in her lessons which I have had the privilege to observe over the last few years.  Her lessons were extremely well planned and executed.  She believed in having a fast pace to lessons and ensuring that students learned something new from each lesson.  In January 2006 Ms Vale became an Acting Assistant Head and when I arrived in the school her role became permanent.  She was also given the responsibility of Strategic Lead for Learning and Teaching.  We hope that Ms Vale enjoys her retirement and finds time to do all the things she has been saving up to do.

Mr Keith Davies joined the teaching profession after working for 23 years as an engineer in the Electricity Supply Industry at various locations around the country.  He retrained as a teacher in 1997 and taught in Ipswich and Great Yarmouth.  He joined the High School for Girls in September 1999 as a Teacher of Science, and during his time here has worked as a Science, Physics and Mathematics teacher.  He has also been an examiner for Physics.  He has been a valued colleague within the Science department and the students have thoroughly enjoyed his lessons.  I know that Mr Davies is looking forward to cycling around various parts of the country and taking extended holidays.  We wish him all the very best in his retirement.

Mr Benjamin Clare-Gray joined the school in November 2010 to cover part of Mrs Kelly’s maternity leave.  He worked in the Religious Studies department and made a positive impact on the school.  He was particularly proactive in getting involved in school life, especially the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.  

Last Thursday, I received a letter from OFSTED indicating that as we were an “outstanding School” in September 2006, then our school was looked at and evaluated by Her Majesty’s Inspectors in an “interim assessment”.  This assessment helps to decide whether a school needs to be inspected in the coming months, or whether it can be deferred.  As a result of this assessment we were deemed to have continued to have performed at an “outstanding” level, therefore we would not be visited by OFSTED before September 2011.  This is excellent news and I wish to thank all my colleagues for enabling me to continue to develop the school and maintain such a high level of performance.  
New Staff
It has been a very busy time for the High School over the past few months and I am delighted to announce the following new appointments:
Deputy Head ......................................................  Mr McShane
Acting Director of Post-16 ...................................  Mrs Lloyd-Owen
Curriculum Director for the ADaPT Faculty ............  Miss Leathart (Previously Technology Faculty)
Team Leader for the DEAL and PLTS ....................  Mr Haynes
Subject Leader for Technology ............................  Mr Silverthorn
Subject Leader for Biology...................................  Mr Scott
Core Curriculum Leader for Science ……………………  Ms Cundy
Year 9 Co-ordinator ............................................  Mrs Dunnett
Teacher of Mathematics ......................................  Mr Yip
Teacher of History/Politics ...................................  Miss Sams
Science Technician .............................................  Miss Lloyd
Lead Cover Supervisor ........................................  Mrs McClelland
I want to wish Miss Irvine and her partner and Miss Whittaker and her partner very sunny and bright days, for their weddings, full of lasting memories as they both get married over the summer holidays.  Miss Irvine will return as Mrs Le Prevost and Miss Whittaker as Mrs Major. 
Further congratulations go to Miss Davies who got married in May – her name changes to Mrs Priest from September.  We wish you long health and happiness together.  Although Mrs Thornton, Assistant Head and Director of Post-16, is not leaving us until part-way through September, it is an opportune moment to wish her some rest before her nights are disturbed by her new arrival.  We wish to thank her for everything she has done for making the Sixth Form experience such a success.