On the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

On Friday 1st July on the Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme we rededicated the War Memorial at the High School.  In his research Mr Williams of the History Dept discovered a further 31 names who were not listed on the original memorial.  What follows is the address that I gave paying tribute to some of these men and also to those who fell on the first day of the Somme Battle.

This morning we remember all those whose names are listed on this memorial.  In doing so I want to tell you some of their stories so that we can start to understand that behind the terrible figures there are real people.  I will start with a few of those whose stories have only recently been uncovered before moving on to some of those who lost their lives 100 years ago today.

I want to start with the story of Second Lieutenant Stanley Coetmore Jones who was here at School from 1881 to 1885.  He died on 3rd September 1916.  Stanley was born into a family of at least 9 children before leaving the School to work on the Thoresby Estate.  He married Henrietta Anne Hall on 4th April 1899 and they had two children.

For some years he had acted as a land agent to Lord Scarborough in connection with his Skegness estates. Lord Scarborough practically ‘owned Skegness and had been largely responsible for its growth and popularity prior to the outbreak of the war.  Stanley volunteered for service in the early stages of the conflict, and for a time acted as a voluntary transport driver in France.  Later he transferred his services to the Royal Engineers and saw action on the western front.  He was a man of fine physique, over six feet high and proportionately broad, and was greatly gifted in engineering, constructional and architectural capacities.  Two of his forbears had been Generals who took part in the Battle of Waterloo so it was perhaps no surprise that he joined up as a volunteer.  He was in his forties when war broke out and therefore under no obligation to serve his country, but in May 1915 he generously devoted his holidays to driving a motor car in France for the benefit of the YMCA.  In July the same year he underwent a slight operation, in order to qualify for more serious work, and he was then granted a commission in the Royal Engineers.  He sailed for France on July 4th 1916 and Stanley was killed in action on September 3rd.  , a brother officer wrote about him: “We had no chance of saving him.  He was killed instantaneously” and he was “a thorough sportsman and a true pal.”

It is perhaps difficult for us today to comprehend the bravery of those who volunteered to fight, this selfless act was to cost Stanley his life but was typical of so many of that generation who fought to protect the freedoms that we so enjoy today.

I now want to tell you about Captain John Leslie Butler who was to be one of those old boys of the school who was awarded the Military Cross for Gallantry.  John was born in 1891 and was at the School from 1901-1903.  He was the nephew of Sir John Robinson, a leading Nottingham businessman and founder of the Home Ales Brewery Company.  John lived in Daybrook and enlisted into the army in 1915, and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on 12th August 1916, later serving with the Royal Field Artillery.  For some time he served as a staff officer and was awarded the Military Cross in the London Gazette of 17th March 1916, the citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry when acting as forward observing officer to his battery.  Accompanied by a signaller, he laid a line across 300 yards of open ground under heavy fire.  He established communication and maintained it throughout the day.”  He is reported as having died of his wounds on the 17th May 1919, aged 28 years when serving in India and the probability was that he was detached for service with a Mountain Battery of the Indian Army.  He is buried in the Peshawar Cemetery, in India and his name is commemorated on the Delhi Memorial as well as on a memorial in St Mary’s Church in Arnold.


Next we have Second Lieutenant Sidney Wade.  He joined the army at the same time as his brother Herbert who is already on our war memorial.  Both Herbert and Sidney joined the army together (their military numbers were just one digit apart)  and they were to die less than a week apart.  Their father owned the Wade and Company tannery which had over 100 employees at its peak. Herbert Wade was another to win the Military Cross for his bravery, his citation read: “For Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  He collected a few men and a machine gun and remained within 30 yards of the enemy trenches and kept the gun in action for fourteen hours, inflicting severe casualties and being at times under our own barrage and continuous fire from the enemy.”  Sidney died having seen action of pneumonia following influenza, aged just 26 and is buried here in Nottingham at the General Cemetery.

Private Norman Clough was here at School from 1910-1912 but was called upon to make the supreme sacrifice on October 4th 1917, when only nineteen years of age, whilst in charge of a Lewis gun. This is taken from his obituary: “In the camp and trench, as at home and in his church, he carried with him the same quiet dignity and Christian influence which make him hard to be missed.  He had natural gifts for speaking and was anxious to cultivate them.  He was an exceptionally good artistic designer.  Although so young, he had proved his worth very eloquently, and his cheerful optimism will be long remembered.”

I guess many of you here today could be described as having similar “cheerful optimism” and can only imagine the horrors of this early generation who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I now want to move on to some of those who fell on this day, 100 years ago.  More than one million soldiers were killed, missing or wounded on both sides during the Battle of the Somme by the time it finished on 18th November 1916.  The first Day of the Somme 0n 1st July 1916 was a disaster for the British.  In total, 19,240 men were to lose their lives on 1st July alone, with a further 38,230 reported injured or missing.   This was the bloodiest day in the history of the British army.  In total 7 Old Boys lost their lives that day, with a further two dying in the weeks that followed from injuries sustained on 1st July.  Here are some of their stories:

Captain Elliott Johnston, another Military Cross holder.  He was at the High School from 1901-1902.  This is his story.  “On the night of the 26th gas was liberated by us (yes, the British too used gas in the first world war) from cylinders in the wood after a great bombardment.  It was the first time the Division had had to do with the abominable stuff, which brought no good fortune.  Many cylinders were burst by heavy German barrage, and serious casualties suffered by the men of the Special Brigade responsible for letting off the gas, and by the infantry assisting them.

Two hours later a raid, led by the High School’s Captain Elliot Johnston was carried out in this sector by a party sent up by the 13th Rifles.  The men, now at a pitch of excitement and enthusiasm that rendered them resistless opponents in hand-to-hand fighting, swarmed into the battered German trenches, shooting right and left, and bombing dug-outs.  They returned with one German officer and twelve other ranks as prisoners, the first captured by the 36th Division.  Their own casualties were six killed and nine wounded, suffered for the most part in the Sunken Road, where they had to lie for some time before it was possible to return to their trenches.  Captain Elliot Johnston won the MC for his daring raid.  Captain Johnston, the leader of the raid, brought in all his casualties, as well as his prisoners despite being seriously wounded.  He was to fall five days later in the greater venture.  The prisoners denied knowledge of the British gas, nor did their respirators smell of it.  It was occasionally felt that the British gas services rated too highly the effects of their devices.  Captain Johnston’s bravery was remarkable and as with the other Military cross holders I have mentioned today their bravery was often shown to the benefit of others, the men who they were leading.

Another of those that fell that fateful day was Colonel Robert Thrale.  I had the great privilege a few years ago of laying a cross in his memory at the Thiepval Memorial in France.  The first mention of his name comes in the records of the School prefects.  At that time the prefects met regularly to hear the disciplinary offences of those in the School and Robert Thrale was ‘convicted’ by them for scribbling his name on the walls of the boys’ toilets.  In Edwardian England, nobody in the School ever used the word ‘toilet’ and they were referred to as the ‘offices.’  Robert was at the High School from June 1907 until July 1910.  His lived in Lenton and his father was a stonemason.

On the 1st Day of the Somme he was serving with the Sherwood Foresters or as they were popularly known, the Robin Hoods.  Their action on this day was described thus:

“When the Robin Hoods marched out of their village just on the eve of the Somme attack to march up to the line the normally fierce regimental sergeant major standing by the side of the road had tears streaming down his face.”

They soon got bogged down in No Man’s Land and were harried by the Germans who continued to fire and throw grenades at them.  Some were captured.  Many men, including some of the officers, including William Walker ON, remained lying or hanging on the German wire in No Man’s Land until March 1917, when the Germans retreated, before they could be buried.  Robert Thrale was a medical orderly on that dreadful day and he went forward with a medical party behind the 4th wave of the Sherwoods attack.  By this time the smoke that had clouded the German trenches was clearing.  As the party emerged from the remains of the smoke cloud in full view of the German trenches, they were caught by the artillery and machine cross fire sweeping No Man’s Land.  Corporal Thrale lost his life.  His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.  Three other ONs, Richard Mellard aged 22, Lawrence Kellett, aged just 19 and William Walker were also killed in this flawed and pointless attack on 1st July 1916.  Lawrence Kellett was another listed in the prefects’ punishment book for misbehaving in singing.  Also whilst at school he was travelling by train to an away school cricket match and had been accused of using bad language on the train – he was found not guilty of that particular offence.  More positively he had scored a hat-trick for the School football team against Derby Grammar School.

Robert Thrale is recorded in the Sherwood Forester’s History.  It states that he was the Battaliion Medical Orderly.  It went on to say: ‘He was one of the lights of the medical staff.   His cheerfulness and unvarying good nature, also the fact that he was the Captain of the Battalion Football Team made him a great favourite.  He was gifted with extraordinary endurance on long marches besides having to remain behind continually with men who had fallen out and to regain his place with the Battalion, he usually spent time at the halts performing service for others.”

Another who fell on 1st July was Private Douglas Albert Mackay.  I was delighted earlier this week to hear from one of his relatives, Major Charles Ottowell.  Douglas is his grandmother’s brother on his father’s side of the family.  Major Ottowell cannot be with us today as he is actually visiting the Somme but he has sent us a Somme Cross to lay at our Memorial in memory of his relative, Douglas Mackay.

Private Douglas Mackay was at the School from 7th October 1907 until December 1911.  He joined the Grimsby Chums battalion.  There is a story of their departure for France:

“Whilst waiting on the quayside to embark, a huge hospital ship came in filled with wounded.  From the upper deck a voice shouted, ‘Are you downhearted?’ to which we replied to a man ‘NO-o-o’, Back came the voice, ‘Then you bloody well will be!”

This turned out to be true.  When they got to France they faced dreadful conditions and in particular rats, some of which were described as being as big as cats, which were to be found in the trenches.  Strangely the night before the attack they were all in good spirits:

“They shook hands with us all when they left, and went off not at all pleased at being out of the show.  We, on the other hand, were in good spirits: I don’t know why, for we all knew that there was a good chance of many being killed or wounded, but we were in good spirits and they were not assumed either – even those who moan as a rule were cheerful.  I think the fact that at last we hoped to get to close quarters with the Boche and defeat him accounted for it.”

Just prior to the attach they lit pipes and cigarettes, the men chatting and laughing.  There was a kind of suppressed excitement running through all of the men as the time for the advance came nearer.  They attached at 7.28 a.m. as the Lochnagar Mine was blown and managed to beat the Germans to the lip of the Lochnagar Crater.  Sadly Private Mackay was one of those who lost his life.  In all the Grimsby Chums lost 15 officers and 487 out of 1000, though the attacking force was probably between 700 and 800 on 1st July so this battalion were luckier than some.  Private Mackay is another of those listed on the Thiepval Memorial.

Captain William Guy Eaton Walker died on 1st July as well but his body was not recovered from the battlefield until March 1917.  He lived in Od Basford and attended the School from 1902 until 1908.  He was in the same battalion as Robert Thrale and Lawrence Kellett.  The Sherwoods suffered the loss of 77% of their men on 1st July.  The stench of decaying bodies pervaded the air for weeks to come.  Many were not recovered for some time and littered No Man’s Land or were draped grotesquely over the German wire.  Reduced to skeletons they were held together by the remnants of their uniform.  This was the dreadful reality of their stories and it is right that we today remember the horror of the situations they faced.  Captain Walker was found on 21st March 1917 hanging on the uncut German wire in front of Gommecourt Park and was then given a proper burial.

Many more ONs were to lose their lives in the months that followed as this Battle raged on.

Finally this morning I want to return to another of those not listed originally on the memorial.   I feel perhaps this is the most poignant story of all and whilst I have told it before in our Remembrance Service, it is appropriate to repeat it today.  It is the story of Sapper Robert Poole.

Robert Poole was at the High School from 1901-1902.  After school he was working as a joiner prior to becoming a Royal Engineer in February 1916.  Previously, he had been the landlord of the Griffin’s Head in Papplewick.  On 22nd June 1916, Robert was lucky enough to be granted six days’ home leave.  He had not gone abroad by this stage, being based at the Royal Engineers’ Eastern Traning Centre at Newark, only 20 miles away.

Unfortunately he was quite ill at the time and decided to use his six days’ leave to visit Blackpool with his wife, Annie, to recuperate.  When he returned, he was no better and a Dr Saunders was called for, diagnosing neuritis and actute gastritis.  He was deemed unfit to travel and a certificate to this effect was sent to the depot at Newark.  Whatever happened to that certificate is unknown but its loss was to cost him his life.

At 9.15 a.m., Saturday 15th July 1916, two weeks after the opening of the Battle of the Somme, a warrant for Robert’s arrest was received at Hucknall police station.  Poole’s home was a matter of minutes from the station so Police Constable Whitsed wasted no time in carrying out his warrant.  He went straight round to Robert’s house to arrest him for being absent without leave.  Answering the door, Robert tried to explain that a certificate explaining his absence had been sent to his commanding officer but PC Whitsed knew nothing of this and said that Robert had to come with him.  Seeming to accept this Robert said, “Oh well, I’ll get ready and go with you.”  As PC Whitsed reported to the Coroner’s court, “The next minute I heard a revolver shot, and, going upstairs, saw him sitting on the edge of the bed with a wound in his forehead and a revolver by his side.  I spoke to him about it and he said he was sorry he had done it.”  A doctor was called and he was taken to the Nottingham General Hospital, where he died at 3.30 in the afternoon.

In evidence to the coroner his wife said that “He was not a deserter.  He intended to go back to the regiment…It was done because he could not stand the disgrace of being fetched.”

A verdict of suicide during temporary insanity was returned, the jury stating its belief that the deceased was not a deserter.  He was later buried in Hucknall Cemetery.  A party of Royal Engineers from Newark attended his funeral, the coffin bedecked with flowers.  He was 30 years old.  He is regarded as a casualty of war by the Commonwealth War Graves commission but his name was not included on either the School’s or the local war memorial.  His name was added to the local memorial in 2012.

Today we remember all those listed on this memorial, those we have added today and in particular those who fell or were injured on this day 100 years ago:

Elliott Johnston, Lawrence Kellett, Douglas Mackay, Richard Mellard, Robert Thrale, William Walker, Eric Whitlock, Sydney Carter, and Henry Hooton.




Nottingham High School and Public Benefit

As an independent school we have an obligation each year to report on our public benefit – in other words the contribution that our school makes to the wider community.  I am very grateful to our Assistant Head Kieron Heath who has pulled the following information together and which we will now keep on our school website.  Independent schools are often seen as ‘islands of privilege’ so publishing this is designed to show just how much we do to work with our local community in Nottingham.  I reproduce the report in full here (forgive the length but we do so much!):

The charitable objective for our School is to advance education and training, by the provision and conduct of a primary and secondary school in or near the City of Nottingham. The principal object is met by the provision of an educational environment that will develop to the full the talents of able children.



The School is committed to broadening access by offering to eligible parents means-tested financial support with the payment of school fees.  Such support is known as a Bursary and these may be awarded in the form of a discount of up to 100% on tuition fees payable, depending on the financial, compassionate or other pertinent circumstances of applicants.

Bursaries may be made available to parents of pupils entering Year 7.

The school is a non-profit making charitable institution and has only limited resources to assist those parents who for whatever reason are unexpectedly unable to meet their obligations to pay fees for their child’s education.

Parents with a child at the School whose financial circumstances suddenly change may write to the Headmaster, explaining their situation. In some circumstances Governors in the absolute exercise of their discretion may authorise the Head of Finance & Operations to waive fees wholly or in part or to advance assistance from the Bursary Fund ahead of budgeted income from that resource.

Consistent with the school’s philosophy as much help as possible will be given to the family concerned in identifying potential sources of advice assistance and funding. The School will support the family’s applications to other grant-making bodies and this has enabled several families to access additional financial assistance from external sources.

AwarenessInformation provided by the School alerting the parents of potential pupils to the possibility of gaining means-tested financial support with the payment of schools fees is included in:

  • The School prospectus
  • The School website
  • Open Days and Taster Days
  • Exhibitions designed to market the School


The School operates a monthly payment scheme to assist those parents who wish to spread payment for School Fees over the year to better match their income streams.


The School offers a number of non means-tested scholarships at entry to Year 7 each year, by means of a modest reduction in the tuition fees based on academic potential as evidenced by the Entrance Examination. Where appropriate, a recipient of a scholarship may also benefit from means-tested assistance from the Bursary Fund.

Assistance provided

The School provided, or was instrumental in providing, the total financial assistance shown in the following table from the various methods described above.

2014/15 2013/14
Value of assistance £000 Pupils % of fees receivable % of pupils in School £000 Pupils % of fees receivable % of pupils in School
High School Bursary 969       108       8.4             11.1               873          103             7.7                10.5
External assistance * 12 n/a      47       2 0.4 0.2
Total means-tested assistance 981       108       8.5 11.1           920          105             8.1



* The operation of the School’s Bursary Fund enabled some bursary holders to access additional financial assistance from other sources.

In addition, other financial assistance totalling £103,000 was provided to 86 pupils (2014: £101,000 to 86 pupils) in the form of Scholarships.

The total means-tested assistance was provided at the levels shown in the following table.

School only Total means-tested
2014/15 2013/14 2014/15 2013/14
Percentage of fee remission Number % Number % Number % Number %
0 – 50% 31 28.7          31      30.1 29 26.9          29      28.2
50 – 75% 25 23.1          22      21.4 25 23.1          20      19.4
75 – 99% 38 35.2          39     37.8 38 35.2       41      39.8
100% 14 13.0             11        10.7 16 14.8          13      12.6
108 100.0          103    100.0 108 100.0          103    100.0


Furthermore, a significant number of families take advantage of the School’s scheme to spread payment for fees over the year.

Future plans

The School will continue to provide such support in order to ensure that the education at the School can be made available where parents are of more modest means.

The School’s Development Office has a key role to enhance relationships with alumni and other stakeholders with a view to generating additional funds to support further Bursary provision.

 Working with others in the community:

Nottingham High School is committed to working with our local and wider communities.  A number of the community partnership projects are outlined in greater detail on the ‘Schools Together’ website: http://www.schoolstogether.org/

Working with other Primary Schools:

  • Community Action: Provision of regular volunteers for placements in local state primary schools for members of our Community Action scheme to act as classroom assistants.
  • Provision of outdoor residential education opportunity in Derbyshire for Year 5 pupils from two local state primaries, funded, organised and staffed by our Community Action group.
  • Classics: Member of staff has joined the Latin Hub in Nottingham which is being set up to support Latin teaching in primary schools in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area. This is a group involving NTU, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham County Council.
  • DT: Young Engineers going to local junior school fairs. Have built robots for junior school pupils to engage with.  Providing positive role models to junior schools of high tech skills of our pupils.
  • English: Partnership with Forest Fields Primary School: use of NHS teachers to provide sessions for FF pupils, invitations to FF pupils to visit NHS for author visits coordinated and hosted by our library.
  • Junior Book Slam, approx. 200 local primary children attended last year. Berridge, Jesse Gray, Robert Mellors and Edna G Olds Schools have attended.
  • PE and Games: Participate in and host numerous fixtures with local primary schools.
  • Host Primary Schools Cricket Festival.
  • Provide cricket coaching in a number of local primary schools.
  • Enter and support a wide variety of City and County Schools sports competitions and festivals.
  • Host Primary Schools tag rugby competition.
  • Host Primary Schools cross country competition.
  • Coordination of collection of Sainsbury’s Active Vouchers to donate to local Primary School.
  • Maths: Host Nottingham High School Junior Mathematics Challenge for Year 5 pupils. Six local primary school attended last year.
  • Science: Primary school teacher training. Member of Science staff to provide INSET for KS1 and KS2 teachers, in delivery of Science, offered to local Nottingham primary schools.
  • Hosted the ‘Kitchen Sink Show’, local primary schools attended, around 100 children. Claremont and Robert Mellors School attended this last year.
  • Hosting primary school Physics Competition.

 Working with other Secondary Schools:

  • Art: Nottingham Society of Artist- annual exhibition
  • Life Drawing classes – open to all
  • CCF: Partnership with local state maintained secondary, Arnold Hill School, to help establish a CCF unit as part of the CEP (Cadet Expansion Programme).
  • Chemistry: Hosted colleague from Rushcliffe School for day to share ideas and good practice.
  • Classics: Members of Nottingham & Birmingham and Midlands Classical Associations and EMACT.
  • Member of staff is the Schools Rep on the Nottingham Classics Association committee.
  • Member of staff co-ordinates the EMACT Poster Competition. We take part in the EMACT Latin & Greek Reading Competition each year and host the regional competition some years.
  • We take 6th form students to the EMACT 6th form conference annually and have hosted the event recently.
  • We have provided training and resources to support those teaching Latin at the Nottingham Free School and Rushcliffe School in the last couple of years.
  • DofE: Hosting of Awards ceremony and meetings for Nottingham City Schools. Provision of assessors for local state school.
  • DT: Centre of excellence for high tech activities. Sharing good practice with visiting teachers from other schools developing their high tech skills and looking at developing their entries in national competitions. Link with NUAST to mentor them in VEX robotics work.
  • Economics: Working with Emanuel School and Becket School Economics Departments to share ideas/best practice.
  • English: Participation/contributions to A-level English Language Teacher’s Network (University of Nottingham—other schools include Arnold Hill Academy, Toot Hill, Redhill Academy, Rushcliffe.)
  • Partnership with Djanogly Academy – Year 7 ‘Poetry Slam’, working with our library.
  • Higher Education: Undertake a number of mock interviews for prospective Oxbridge candidates from local state schools.
  • Host an Oxbridge information evening , to which we invite all local schools – about 300 booked from outside schools for this year’s meeting.
  • Host a fair for overseas study with 21 foreign universities manning stands.  All local schools were invited.
  • MFL: Partnerships with overseas secondary schools in France and Germany to facilitate exchange visits.
  • Model United Nations: Students work in collaboration with students from other schools, taking part in the Model United Nations Conferences, discussing and raising awareness of global issues.
  • Music: Composition workshop open to pupils from any secondary school in the area.
  • PE and Games: Participate in wide variety of fixtures and competitions.
  • As an MCC Foundation Hub Programme we provide a high quality coaching programme to children from 20 local state secondary schools who are without the level of cricket provision typical of schools from the independent sector.
  • Physics: Part of an Ogden Trust Group with other local schools and both Nottingham universities competing in competitions at all age groups / attending lectures. Other schools include Trinity, Kimberly School, Nottingham Girls High School, Chilwell, Arnold Hill
  • RS: Links through the Face to Faith video conferencing with different international schools. Possibility for collaborative work with some other schools: TichoNet, Tel Aviv, Israel; Chinmaya International Residential School, Tamil Nadu, India; City Montessori School, Lucknow, India; SIES Altiero Spinelli, Torino, Italy; Taras Shevchenko Gymnasium, Ukraine; Okhtyrka Gymnasium, Ukraine

Teacher Training:

  • Regular PGCE students from local universities including Nottingham and Nottingham Trent.
  • Contact with local university PGCE students requiring assistance with data collection and questionnaires.
  • Links with ISTIP, hosting regular meetings and training for NQTs across the region.

 Working with Universities (aside from teacher training):

  • Governor links are assured through both Nottingham Trent and the University of Nottingham being represented on our Board of Governors.
  • We have regular communication with a number of universities through our access to Higher Education and Careers programmes.
  • A Psychology teacher is working closely with Loughborough University and Brunel University Sport Psychology team and PE staff whilst currently completing a PhD.
  • A number of university students have used our laser cutting and 3D printing facilities.
  • Links with and visits to the University of Nottingham Chemistry Department (eg Spectroscopy Masterclass visits).
  • Links with University of Nottingham Economics Department.
  • Drama Department has initiated link with Nottingham Trent University and their set design students.

Further educational provision across the local and wider community:

A number of staff are involved with the coordination and marking of public examination work and published educational work.

·       AQA GCSE Chemistry Senior Examiner on CH1 and CH2
·       Question writer for BMAT, IMAT and UCAM tests administered by Cambridge Assessment
·       Examiner for OCR – Team leader on a GCSE Language Paper
·       Examiner for OCR – AS Latin Language paper
·       Examiner for OCR – GCSE Latin Language paper
·       Examiner for OCR – AS Classical Civilisation Paper
·       COMP 1 Examiner AQA
·       GCSE AQA Unit 2 Moderator
·       GCSE AQA Unit 1 Senior Examiner
·       Exam marking for AQA Economics
·       Writing of text books and magazine articles for A-level students
·       Edexcel Reviewer
·       AQA Examiner
·       Reviewer of maths texts for Mathematical Gazette
·       Examiner for Pearson
·       Examiner for AQA
PE and Games:
·       Moderator Cambridge IGCSE
·       Examiner for AQA
·       Examiner for Edexcel Government and Politics
·       Examiner for AQA

Members of staff at Nottingham High School contribute to the development of other schools as governors:

  • Bleasby Primary
  • Farnsfield Junior School
  • Greenwich Free School
  • Joseph Whittaker School

 A Chemisty teacher is involved with HMC Teacher Training fair.

A Chemistry teacher is involved with Easter revision courses for A-Level students at Nottingham University run by Sutton Trust.

A Music teacher works with Cantamus, currently ranked 3rd in the world of youth choirs and based in Mansfield.

A Music teacher is a member of the Music Masters and Mistresses Association.

A Music teacher is on committee of the Nottingham Young Musician of the Year Competition.

Several music teachers are involved with music-making in the community (accompanying, conducting etc).

Members of the Drama Department provide National Youth Theatre tuition and coordinate LAMDA tuition.

A Classics teacher has led several training sessions for teachers on examining at ARLT Summer Schools and Refresher Days and also at events run by the Birmingham Classical Association at the University of Birmingham.

Our librarian speaks to local History Societies, such as the Lowdham Local History Society, about history of the School.

Within Design and Technology, some national award winning A level projects have had significant community benefits.  For example, Care Home Fall Detection and Flood Detection systems.

Links with Royal Society of Chemistry.

A number of staff are involved with contributions to organising community sport:

  • Chairman City Schools Athletics Association
  • Regional ESAA Track and Field Secretary
  • Organising committee Nottinghamshire County Games
  • Two Nottinghamshire AA committee members
  • ESAA Cross Country Secretary
  • England Girls’ Rounders U16 coach
  • Manager of MCC Hub Programme hosted at NHS – state school cricket development programme
  • Organiser of local charity swimathons
  • County Hockey Cups organiser U14 and U16
  • Hockey JAC/JPC selector

 An English teacher sat as a judge for the BBC Radio 2 ‘500 words’ Creative Writing competition

Our library reaches a wider community through blogging about School History, Books, Reading and Literacy initiatives and News.

Through the Library online Book of Remembrance, interaction and information sharing with families and organisations involved in research into War Records such as www.aircrewremembered.com.

The librarian was involved with liaising with Development Director of Nottingham bid for UNESCO City of Literature re: information on DH Lawrence, Geoffrey Trease, etc and future collaborations.

A member of staff has strong links with Trent Vineyard – Arches Charity and Soup Run in Nottingham.

A member of staff is involved with Riding for the Disabled.

Further work with our local community:

Holiday Club:

Held annually using the School facilities, this is open to children across the city during parts of both the Easter and Summer Holiday periods.  Up to 200 children a week attend each week whilst the club is running.

Community Action:

Pupils from Year 9 upwards have the opportunity to get involved with our Community Action group.

  • Hosting of annual Christmas events for senior citizens within the Nottingham community.
  • Regular provision of volunteers to the St Ann’s Allotments community project.
  • Provision of regular volunteers for placements in local state primary schools for members of our Community Action scheme to act as classroom assistants.
  • Provision of outdoor residential education opportunity in Derbyshire for Year 5 pupils from two local state primaries, funded, organised and staffed by our Community Action group.
  • Members of Community Action undertake a weekly volunteering commitment within their local community.
  • Strong links with local branch of the NSPCC, through which fund raising and collections of Christmas and Easter presents for children in our local community has taken place

Combined Cadet Force (CCF):

  • Support for Nottingham City Remembrance parade at St. Mary’s Church and the parade through the City.
  • Provision of resources, such as use of range facilities, to local ATC unit.
  • Planned support and partnership with Arnold Hill School as outlined above.


  • Helping local scout and guide groups to develop craft and design based activities.
  • Scouting impacts on public benefit from our own Scout Troop and Explorer Scout Unit – DoE service volunteering that our Scouts are involved with.
  • Hosting of Scouts DoE and Scout leaders meetings and award presentation meetings.

 Support for the Arts in and around the Nottingham community:

  • School Plays and Concerts are available to the local community as an audience.
  • The Arts Society is unique locally in encouraging large numbers of students to attend a wide range of theatrical and musical events.
  • The Drama Department facilitates the Nottingham Shakespeare Society open-book performance.
  • Drama GCSE and A level students support local theatre with regular theatre visits.
  • The English Department organise curriculum visits to local theatres and cinemas.
  • Music is very strong in the School and choirs and musical groups have performed at a wide variety of local venues, from Oakfield School to the Royal Concert Hall.

Further Community Links:

The School has had close links with a number of city centre churches, particularly St. Mary’s where the School was founded and is the venue for our annual Founder’s Day Service.  A member of staff is director of music at St. Mary’s and links have been further strengthened since a retired Deputy Head from the School took up a senior position at St. Mary’s.  The carol concert and further musical events take place in the church.

The School plays an active role in supporting our immediate community in and around the Arboretum area of Nottingham, working with the City Council to improve traffic flow in the area and promoting good behaviour and a social conscience within the community.

The provision of an extensive school bus service significantly reduces the need for car journeys to and from the School.

 Charity Fund Raising:

 Charities are supported through our School House system, which each House selecting one or two charities annually to support.  Money is raised through sponsored events such as bike rides, runs, cake sales, non-uniform days and Tutor Set collections.

This year the House charities are:

  • Coopers’: Teenage Cancer Trust
  • Maples’: Berega Hospital, Tanzania
  • Mellers’: Nottingham Women’s Refuge and Framework
  • Whites’: Aegis Trust

Whole School charity events are very much encouraged and supported.  This year money has been raised for the BBC Children in Need appeal and UNICEF.

Further to this, the links between our Community Action Group and our local NSPCC branch have led to charity collections at our School productions which has raised money to support their transport funds to assist in getting children to and from their centre.

Our librarian organised a sponsored ‘readathon’ for children’s charities.

Students and staff are involved annually in the Marie Curie Cancer Charity collection in Nottingham City centre.

In recent years our senior expeditions to Tanzania and Bolivia have involved raising money and practical help in building classrooms in areas of need.

We are always looking for new ways to develop our links with our local community so please do contact me if you are interested in forming such links.



New School Website

I am delighted to see the arrival of our new school website.  This has been many months in both the planning and the building but is now ready for us to launch.  We hope that all who use it will find it both useful and interesting.

As a school we have always made a great deal of use of social media in celebrating the success of our students, promoting the School and in passing on relevant information to all in the school community.  Our new website will collate all of this content in one place and each time we update the social media feeds, it will also automatically update the website.  This means that even on a day like today when we have had sports day we can take some pictures and these can be picked up immediately by the new website and be displayed to the world.

We are very keen indeed to receive feedback on this new site.  Do tell us what you like or don’t like and if you come across anything that does not work or that has inaccuracies please email hm@nottinghamhigh.co.uk and we will fix it.  We will also do a draw from all the feedback we get for a prize of a bottle of champagne to encourage you to get in touch.

In terms of navigating the new site please use either the menu bar at the top of the home page or for a more detailed index of the site the site map button at the foot of the page.  You can then find your way to the relevant parts of the School.

I would like to thank our Marketing Manager Amy Chambers for all the hard work she has put in to get the website to this stage.  This has been a huge task but one that she has carried out with distinction.

Further content will be added in the coming weeks as we tell the story of the summer term as it unfolds.  We have had a fantastic start to the term with sports day in the senior school today and I am looking forward to the Junior School one this Friday.  There is much to look forward to in the coming weeks.

Exam pressures

As we move into the Summer Term and the peak season for public examinations we are very aware as a school of the importance of supporting our students through this stressful time.  In my view, key to this is a successful partnership of parents, pupils and teachers.  It is very easy for us as adults to under-estimate the pressures that young people are under.  Much of this pressure actually emanates from adults – from parents who are understandably anxious to want their children to do their best and from schools who are under constant monitoring by external bodies such as OFSTED.  Exams these days are high stakes and come thick and fast over the final three years of any students school career.

So how can we help children cope with the many pressures?  In the main it is down to the School to ensure that pupils are as well-prepared as possible for the forthcoming exams.  Teachers in my own school, like in so many others, put on regular lunchtime clinic sessions and also run occasional sessions in the holidays just to ensure that we are building the confidence of our students.  Of course, the students themselves must buy into all this both by turning up to these extra sessions but also by working their way through a systematic programme of revision.  It can help if students discuss their revision plans with their pastoral staff so that they can learn how best to structure such revision and to check that it is realistic in its demands on a daily basis.  It is very important that there are regular gaps for some time off, that it allows for the fact that teenagers like (and need) to sleep in during school holiday periods and that there is time for some fresh air and exercise by way of balance.

Parents need to tread carefully at exam time.  We are as parents very well aware of just how important public examinations are but at this stressful time of the year we need to be there really just to keep morale up, to help in any ways that our children need and to remain calm.  In my experience adding to the pressures felt by teenage children is rarely helpful.  However, for some children it can help if you can work with them to devise a timetable for their revision, to help test them on some of the material and to make endless snacks to keep their morale up.  It is important for all adults to realise that children may well not work most effectively copying the way that you used to revise for your exams.  Some children really will work harder if they have music on, they are used to both working and keeping on top of their social media profiles and these are probably battles not best fought at exam time.

Parents though must also be realistic.  It is rare that students out-perform expectations at exam times.  They will, all being well, receive the grade that they deserve but this will not be a top grade in every case.  If parents feel that their children are under undue levels of pressure they should always alert the School – sometimes sensible advice is best dispensed by those you are not related to!  Above all, parents must not give any impression that their love for their child is in any way dependent on performance.  This really is a time to praise their effort rather than their attainment.  It is important that children are not placed under any greater strain by their parents.  You can best help by encouraging them to laugh, to smile, to take exercise, to rest and to stick to their plan which hopefully you can have agreed with them in advance.  Buying some chocolate can also help! It does not help to keep questioning the number of hours they are doing, nor to be suggesting that others are doing more work or worst of all that you worked much harder for your own exams.

Students though must also open up at this important time.  If they are worried about how things are going they need to talk to their parents or to their teachers at school.  Many schools have excellent counselling services that they can also draw upon.  Students in my experience are very well aware of how important the exams are but are sometimes daunted by the level of expectations that they face.  Talking to a caring adult can certainly help and yet we all find it difficult to ask for help when we are struggling.  This is why all adults have a duty of care to keep an eye on things and to initiate these conversations.

In the end it is almost always the case that most students gain the results that their efforts over the course that they have studied deserve.  There is a long summer holiday to look forward to so the next two months or so must be just seen as a period to give yourself every chance of success.  Sporting analogies can help here – the revision must be seen as the inevitable training before the big match/race – very necessary, sometimes painful but important in giving yourself the best chance in the main event.  If you are well-prepared, well-rested and have been able with parental support to retain a sense of perspective about it all you will likely fulfil your potential.  If, on the other hand, you do no training/revision and just turn up and hope for the best it is likely to end in disappointment.

I wish all those studying for their exams all the very best.  To all the parents reading please try to remain calm and concentrate on keeping your child in a very positive frame of mind and finally a huge thank you to all the teachers who give so freely of their time to support every stage of this process and who so often go the extra mile in helping out even their most challenging students.  Together we can all do this….

Independent Schools in Crisis?

Recently the Times ran a front page article suggesting that independent schools across the country are in crisis. This came as a huge surprise to me as the head of Nottingham High School as we have just had record numbers sit for entry next September to our school.  Many more families are currently expressing interest in independent education as the austerity cuts start to hit state education and with ever-growing class sizes. In fact, numbers of pupils at UK independent schools has never been higher and overall across all independent schools our exam results remain unparalleled. Nationally, nearly a third of pupils received A or A*s at GCSE in 2015 compared with just 7% in state schools (in fact the figure for the High School in recent years is just shy of 80%), and half of A Level entries were awarded A or A*, again a picture more than matched in most years by the High School.  At A Level pupils are four times more likely to achieve one top grade than in state-maintained schools.

Commentators often bemoan the fact that independent schools are so good that our pupils dominate the most successful universities and careers. How can this be when we are busy failing and going out of business?

Lord Lucas, the owner of the Good Schools Guide, is correct in saying that the best state schools are improving, but that improvement is not across the board. Many parents are not able to find a state school of the standard they want for their child and independent schools offer consistent excellence in teaching, co-curricular activities and preparation for university. Notably, 99.7% of them also work in partnership with state schools to increase opportunities for all pupils.

I have to say though that I find this constant sniping to suggest that there is a ‘battle’ between state and independent schools very distasteful.  We work with many schools across the city in a spirit of collaboration which both our own pupils and many in city schools benefit from greatly.  We open many of our sporting events and facilities to students across the city.  We have a programme whereby one of our coaches provides cricket training in city primary schools.  We support all of the local city championships in many sports and help run some of these.  We invite primary aged children in to our school for a wide variety of educational experiences.  I welcome the improvements that we are seeing in education across the city.  Yes, this increases our competition but that is no bad thing as it removes complacency and after all anyone who believes in the power of a good education must surely want this to spread beyond their own school.  I want education in Nottingham to be superb for all children and we stand prepared to help in any ways we can.

There is often lazy journalism that equates all independent schools with privilege.  This too is nonsense.  We had nearly 100 families this year apply for bursary places at our school.  We will be supporting with completely free places a good number of children from some of the most deprived areas of the city.  The parents of these children can see beyond the terminology of battles and elitism to strive to give their children the best possible opportunity.  We are probably more diverse than some of the state schools in the leafier suburbs.

I urge schools of all types to work together to give the young people of this generation the best possible education.  We need schools to meet the needs of all children and with rising birth-rates and smaller budgets there is more need than ever for schools to work together creatively and collaboratively.  I do not want to ‘battle’ with local state schools, I want to reach out to them to see how we can work together to improve education in all of our schools.  I am certain that many state school heads would want the same.

A few more interesting statistics (with thanks for these to HMC, the association for the Heads of leading independent schools):


Exam results

  • A-level.  In 2015, of all A*/A grades achieved, 49% were in independent schools, compared to 26% nationally.
  • A-level.  Independent school pupils are four times more likely to achieve at least one top grade than state school pupils.
  • GSCE.  In 2015, one third of independent school entries were awarded A*, compared to 7% nationally.

Teachers’ subject expertise

  • Oxbridge graduates.  Since 2003, 6,000 state school secondary teachers have been appointed with Oxbridge degrees (increasing the proportion in the state school workforce from 3% to 5%). The equivalent workforce figure for independent schools is stable at c.17%.

Attainment value added

  • Sixth form. In the sixth form, DFE figures show that 37% of state schools add value compared to 94% of independent schools.
  • Sixth form.  Across all sixth forms the added value average for independent schools is 0.16 and that for state schools -0.09.
  • 16-year-olds.  New research from Durham University shows that once prior attainment, socio-economic background and gender are taken into account, pupils aged 16 in independent schools have gained the equivalent of two additional years of schooling compared to their state school peers.

University entry

  • Russell Group access.  Among children born in 1970 those attending independent schools were c.2.5 times more likely to gain a degree from a Russell group university than their state school peers with the same A-level results.
  • Overall prospects.  2015 was the best-ever year for university entry for schools in independent schools.
  • Offer rates.  The offer rate for university applicants from top independent schools has increased steadily since 2011 and outpaced the equivalent figures state schools.
  • Degree classifications.  82% of independent school pupils gain a First or 2:1 degree compared to 73% of state school students.

Strategically important subjects

  • Maths and science.  Independent school candidates comprise one fifth of all A-level entries but achieve nearly one third of all A* grades.
  • Modern Foreign Languages (MFL). In 2015, 24% of such entries came from independent school candidates who, between them, secured 42% of the A* grades.
  • MFL.  In 2015, independent school pupils were five times more likely to apply to university for MFL than all UCAS applicants combined.

Sport music and drama

  • Overall achievement in sport.  Sir Michael Wilshaw commented recently that ‘overall, independent schools are producing far more elite athletes across a range of sports than we would expect… This indicates that these schools are more effective at recognising, supporting and nurturing sporting talent than maintained schools and academies’.
  • Olympians. 41% of London 2012 medallists were from independent schools.
  • Rugby.  Ofsted reports 61% of premiership players and 20 members of England’s 31-man 2015 Rugby World Cup squad came from independent schools.
  • Sports fields.  The Conservatives sold off 10,000 state school playing fields during 1979-97. Labour added a further 200 to this total between 1997 and 2010.

Soft skills

  • Assisted Places holders.  Sutton Trust research into assisted places holders (1980-97) has found that these pupils displayed much more self-discipline, self-reliance, ambition, curiosity, communication skills, cultural sophistication and self-confidence than their state school peers with similar levels of attainment. Nottingham High School was fully involved in this scheme.

Social Mobility

  • Parental profile.   40% of independent school pupils’ parents did not themselves go to an independent school.
  • Ethnic minorities.  29% of pupils at independent schools are from ethnic minorities – more than the average across the state sector.

Salaries added value

  • First 36 months of employment.  When social and income background, prior attainment, ethnicity and region are accounted for, independent school pupils achieve a 6.8% (£1,500) salary premium over their state school peers.

Career-long earnings.  When family background and prior educational attainment are allowed for, independent school pupils will have earned £58,000 more than their state school peers by the age of 42.