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Thank you to our fabulous Durham High School girls, staff and all of the parents who have made my first term as Headmistress so special. There have been so many wonderful things happening in and out of school, as you have seen on previous newsletters, with this week being no exception. People often think staff start to unwind as the end of term approaches…… not at the High School. We have been busier than ever.

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of welcoming distinguished guests, girls, staff, governors, ex colleagues, parents and grandparents to our annual Carol Service at Durham Cathedral. What a truly beautiful occasion it was. Our girls were the most articulate readers, telling the Christmas story, and our choirs were angelic in their performances. I was bursting with pride. Thank you to everyone who was able to come and support. If you missed it, we will be releasing some photographs towards the end of the week on our social media platforms.

The Christmas story is all about giving, and I am so proud of all our pupils for the help they give throughout the year to those less fortunate than ourselves. Our girls in Pre-Prep and Prep have raised a phenomenal amount of money for St Cuthbert’s Hospice, whilst completing their Elf Run. In total they raised a whopping £1402.05. I joined in for a ‘short’ stint when our Year 5 and 6 girls were completing their run. It was a joyous occasion, with Christmas tunes, playing in the background and many smiling and laughing faces. What was particularly impressive was those girls in the Prep choir who, after an afternoon of running around the Sports Hall, supported the Parents and Friends in the afternoon with some beautiful carol singing around the Christmas tree!

Our Head of Year team works tirelessly to provide the best pastoral support for your daughters in Senior Department. On Friday break time, the team and I wanted to give the girls an extra treat, so we set up our production line making hot chocolate, cream and marshmallows. We sang along to Christmas classics while the girls chatted and enjoyed their drinks. Team work is such an important quality to have, and we have it in abundance at the High School. Our Pre-Prep and Prep girls enjoyed their treat today, as part of their last day celebrations.

Other highlights of this week include sharing Christmas Dinner together on Monday lunch time. Thomas Franks, our Catering Providers, delivered a fantastic service, with a beautifully cooked Christmas lunch, with all the trimmings, including Christmas crackers for the girls. It was heartwarming to see them donning their Christmas hats and reading the jokes to each other.

On Monday after lunch, I had a visit from our girls in Reception, who were all dressed in their sparkly outfits, ready for the Pre-Prep Christmas Party. They came delivering Christmas gifts and we had a lovely chat on the sofa in my office about the dancing and games they would be enjoying that afternoon. It made my day girls, thank you!

This morning, whilst Pre-Prep and Prep were having their celebration assembly, Senior Department were holding their annual House Lip Sync competition. It was a pleasure to be one of the judges, however, it wasn’t any easy decision as the effort all round was fantastic! The staff had a surprise entry again this year and I had the pleasure of dressing up as Olaf, as part of our Frozen Extravaganza. It’s so important to me to give back to the girls as much as possible, and they love it when the staff are prepared to get stuck in and have some fun. I had a blast!

The last highlight was the Senior Department celebration assembly, led by myself and the Sixth Form Prefect Team. There is always so much to celebrate at the High School, from individual sporting and musical successes, to art, science and English triumphs, it is a reminder that achievement comes in many forms.  At the start of the assembly, we marked the third week of Advent by lighting the third candle on our Advent wreath. This candle represents joy. It is called the “Shepard’s Candle,” and is pink because rose is a liturgical colour for joy. Well done to our Year 7 girls who read the advent prayers and lit the candle. They have done a fabulous job since the start of advent. We finished the assembly with a rousing rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas, with actions too! As you can from the photo below, my coordination was not on point today! Thanks to the Sixth Formers for their wonderful contributions. They are the best role models for our younger girls.

Thank you to for all our Christmas wishes, cards and gifts we have received, they are very much appreciated.

May I wish you all a happy and Holy Christmas and every best wishes to you and your family for Christmas and the New Year. I have recorded a Christmas message which can be viewed by clicking the link here.

New Year

A reminder that Monday 8 January is a staff INSET Day. All pupils will return to school on Tuesday 9 January.

Christmas Jumper Day – Humanitarian Aid Fundraising

We held a Christmas Jumper day in school on Friday for the cause, and we have raised over £200 so far. If you would like to support and make a donation, please visit our JustGiving page here. This is running alongside our school collections made last week. The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity, for people recovering from disasters and the impact of climate change.

Art Alumnae Visit

Thank you to one of our more recent Old Girls, Poppy, who returned to school to show us the fabulous work she is doing as part of her Textiles degree at London College
of Fashion. Members of our Textiles Club, including Poppy’s sister Faith who is taking GCSE Textiles at DHS, were absolutely fascinated with all she shared and asked lots of great career related questions.

Netball Finals Visit

A group of pupils headed to Motorpoint Arena Nottingham last week, to watch the England Netball Vitality Roses play South Africa’s SPAR Proteas and win the match 53-50! Well done to the Roses who clinched the three-match series 2-1 to lift the Vitality Netball International Series trophy. A big thank you to the PE department and Mrs Henderson for supporting Miss Coulson on the trip, and to the girls, who thoroughly enjoyed the game and were a credit to the school.

Excellence Book

Congratulations to Charlotte, Lucy, Freya and Harriet who signed the Excellence Book. Charlotte and Lucy were nominated for their dedication and commitment to the musical life of the school. Freya and Harriet were nominated for producing excellent Royal Geographical Society competition entries.

Ginny, Rayah, Eliana and Zarah also received nominations for excellent pieces of work in Biology. Ginny made a beautiful nerve cell model out of textile materials, Rayah produced an exceptional model of a plant cell, Eliana created an excellent palisade cell and 3D leaf model. Zarah made an outstanding model of a white blood cell. Dhian produced a phenomenal report in Geography on improving Kibera, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, which was deemed to be of a GCSE standard, even though she is only in Year 8.

Holocaust Talk

We welcomed Professor Marek Szablewski, a Physics lecturer from Durham University, back into school last week to deliver a talk to pupils in Year 8 and 9 as part of their studies in English, RE and History. He spoke about the Holocaust and his own family’s history, including his grandfather Stefan, who was a revolutionary socialist and undercover detective during the Nazi occupation of Poland in the Second World War.

Elf Run

Pupils in Pre-Prep and Prep took part in a sponsored Elf Run on Friday to raise money for St Cuthbert’s Hospice. All year groups took it in turn to run, walk and skip around Sports Hall in return for sponsorship from their friends and families. Thank you to all who supported this great cause. Well done girls!

Hot Chocolate

The Heads of Year served hot chocolate and marshmallows to girls in Senior Department as part of Christmas Jumper Day. A treat that was enjoyed by all!

Carols around the tree

The Parents and Friends held a wonderful ‘Carols around the tree’ event in the Pre-Prep and Prep Hall on Friday afternoon, to mark the end of term. The Prep Choir led parents and family members with beautiful renditions of some Christmas classics, as they tucked into some delicious mince pies.

House Football

All pupils in the Prep Department took part in the House Football competition last week. The girls showcased their fantastic skills, which have been developed in PE lessons this term. Each of the Houses showed fabulous teamwork and competitiveness. The results are as follows:

Y3 and Y4

1st – Booth

2nd – Heath

3rd – Neville

4th – Tempest

Y5 and Y6

1st – Heath

2nd – Booth

Joint 3rd – Neville and Tempest

Parents’ Guide to Gifting Technology this Christmas

When you gift a device that can access the internet, you’re not just gifting the device itself: you’re giving a portal to the entire online world. And while that includes all the fun bits, like chatting with friends and finding new favourite games, it also comes with a whole host of potential safeguarding risks. In the offline world, we teach children and young people how to be safe. We show them how to cross the road carefully, talk to them about stranger danger and what to do in an emergency.

When children and young people are introduced to new devices and given access to the online world, those same safeguarding principles should be applied – and prioritised. Just as you wouldn’t drop your child off at the playground unsupervised on their first trip there, so too should first encounters with online spaces be accompanied and guided. Amidst the Christmas morning excitement and enthusiasm, pausing to do safety set-ups together and talk about online safety might seem a bit ‘bah humbug’. However, you’re not only helping to keep your child or young person safer online, but also beginning to build their cyber resilience.

So, over the 12 Days of Christmas this year, here is 12 ways to keep your child or young person safer on their new devices.

Swimming record breaker

There was more swimming success for Poppy in Year 8 at the weekend, with first place and personal bests in the 50m Fly (34.07 seconds) and the 50m Breaststroke (41.28 seconds).

Poppy also took part in the 1500m Freestyle for the first time, taking first place and recording 20.33.9, which is a club record for the age groups 12 and under, 13 and under and 14 and under. Well done on these incredible achievements, Poppy.

Show jumping selection

Amazing opportunity for Olivia Davison and her 2 horses Fabby and Rubin, who have been accepted into the British Showjumping Gold Development programme.

The Programme intends to support riders aiming to establish themselves at the 1.40m-1.50m level; as well as supporting riders that are aiming to be selected for World Class
Performance Pathway Programme.

Lip Sync Challenge

All Senior Year groups took part in the Lip Sync Challenge this morning, as they tackled Christmas classics including All I Want For Christmas Is You and Sparkle and Shine from Nativity. Congratulations to Neville, who were the overall winners.