Reflections on exam results

As this year there was only room for Years 11-13 at Speech Day I thought that I would use my blog to share the reflections I made on our public examination results for 2017.

This year over 65% of all passes were at A*/A grade – this is our second highest figure ever but to put this in context the only time we previously achieved this level was when the A Level exams were fully modular allowing students multiple resits.  This year in many subjects our students were having – for the first time in many, many years – all of their work assessed by a terminal exam at the end of the two year’s work – thus I think that it is fair to claim that these are our best ever results simply on the basis that so many of the exams were one take only.

Our % of A* grades was 28.3% – this is the highest figure achieved by any year group at the High School since this grade was introduced back in 2010 – again a really significant achievement and showing both the quality of our teaching and the hard work and determination of this year group.

38 students gained 3 grade As or better. 12 students gained at least three A* grades – another record.  In addition, this year 13 of our students secured Oxbridge places (8 boys and 5 girls) and whilst Oxbridge is not the first choice for all of our brightest students  we believe that there is no school in the region that was more successful in this respect. The same is true with applications to Medical courses this year with 12 successful in gaining places to read Medicine. Of course, we also had many students getting into their first choice universities with an amazing 80% being in this position and several others able to ‘trade up’ their choice of place following superb results.

When I set out our vision for the School to move to co-education a central part of this was the benefit that it would bring in the classroom.  Our A Level results confirm that this has indeed shown to be the case.  Indeed, the Times newspaper reported that across the country this year mixed schools achieved the best results – a ringing endorsement for the move that we have made.

Another central part of our vision for our move to co-education was to move the School into the top 50 of independent schools across the country.  In terms of League table positions these look primarily at the % of A* and A grades achieved and this year I was absolutely delighted to read that we finished in 35th position nationally – well ahead of all of our local competition (NGHS 137th; Loughborough Grammar 74th; Trent College 147th) and by some way as the top school in the region. Thus, another key goal has been achieved.

Table below created using results taken from the respective School’s websites on results’ day:

School Our results NGHS Loughborough Boys Loughborough Girls Trent
% of passes at A* 28.3% 17% 21% 18.5% 13%
% of passes at A*/A 65.4% 47% 56.1% 46.4% 44%

League tables can be a crude measure of school success but they are useful to us in comparing where we are with respect to the other schools parents in the area have the ability to choose from.  The top of the tables are dominated by schools in London and the South-East, much wealthier areas with many more potential students, but to put our results in context we are in the top six of all independent schools north of Oxford in the same company as prestigious schools like King Edward’s in Birmingham, Manchester Grammar School and RGS Newcastle and ahead of similar schools to ourselves in Bristol, Portsmouth, Leeds, Bath, Exeter, Norwich, Chester, Warwick, Solihull and many other places besides.

One final thought on the A level results.  I went back to the original entrance exam results for all of these pupils to compare how they did then with how they have done in their final exams.  If we look at the grades of the five pupils who came lowest in the initial entrance exam, between them at A level they gained 2 A* grades, 9 A grades grades, 2 Bs and 1 D grades.  Three of them gained three A grades or better. Even more impressively one is heading off to Oxford and another to medical school. This is just another sign of how much value the School adds over the years and just how effective we are at getting the best out of every student – at the High School dreams really do come true.

It is fair to say that at GCSE level I was concerned as to what picture might emerge following some modest mock exam results but I need not have worried and I am delighted to report that we had our best year since 2013. This year an impressive 74.2% of all of our passes were at A* or A grade and almost 48% at A* grade alone. For almost half of all subjects taken to be passed at the highest grade is simply stunning so well done to all of you in last year’s Year 11.  29 pupils (10 more than last year) gained a full set of A* and A grades and nine gained a full set of A* grades. Amongst all the fantastic success we have had this year one factor stands out for me and that is the progress made by some of our GCSE students.  It is fair to say that there were a few in this year group that had a great deal to do after their mocks but thanks to their hard work, the support of their families and the structured support given by so many of our staff so many of them were able to pull their grades up.  There were a few that had originally only been offered provisional places when they joined in Year 7 who were able to secure really positive results and thus will be returning for the Sixth Form.  Education is all about getting the best out of each individual and for many of us on the staff it is these stories of remarkable added value delivered by the school that we find most rewarding.

In terms of the GCSE League tables we again finished as the strongest school in the area and in a very pleasing 74th place nationally – again placing us as the top school in the area.  We were particularly delighted with the progress that many individuals made between the mock exams and the final exams.


Response to Michael Gove

Last week in the Times former Education Secretary Michael Gove suggested that not only should the charitable status of independent schools be ended but also that that VAT should be charged on school fees.  He was critical too of the support given to private school cadet forces.


He went on to say that “the fees for these schools are all more than £30,000 per year.” ‘They are out of reach for all save the very wealthiest’ he goes on to say.  He then questions just who gets the bursaries that are offered.


How wrong can Mr Gove be in one article?  It is though a concerning attack on the private school system.  It is particularly disappointing that he seems to see all independent schools as the same.  We do not charge even half of the fee he quotes.  We offer bursaries to well over 100 children, many of them from the most deprived parts of the city.  This year we had over 90 applicants from families desperate to give their children a brilliant education and one which sadly is not always available to them in the Schools in their local neighbourhoods for which Mr Gove had responsibiility until recently.  We could take many more of the deprived students Mr Gove states that he is so keen to support if only the government would work with us to find creative ways of extending the reach of independent schools.


Of course, if all of Mr Gove’s plans were to be adopted it would be a major challenge for the independent sector and many smaller schools might not survive.  If this were to happen the state would have to take them all into the maintained sector at considerable additional cost to the public purse.  The Independent Schools council quotes research from Oxford Economics in 2014 which found that the saving to the taxpayer from the 500,000 pupils in Independent Schools Council schools not being in state education is worth £3 billion, while the tax revenues generated by these schools is £3.6 billion. ISC schools additionally contribute £9.5 billion to the UK economy and the sector supports well over 200,000 jobs in the UK.  Can the state really afford to take on the extra burden – each child transferring from an independent school would cost the state £5,500 to educate?  What too would he propose to replace all the fantastic work being done by schools like ours in supporting children in maintained schools with a wide variety of activities.  Would the government really start to fund the Sunday cricket coaching that we provide to local children, or organise a cross-country event for over 400 primary aged children or provide opportunities for children across the city to hear about Oxbridge entrance.  The opportunities that he criticises us for providing in CCF are also opened up to a local state school – would he really replace the support that we are able to give them in setting up in due course their own contingent?  Would he really pay for the local primary school in one of the toughest inner-city area to take their children on a residential weekend?  His plans would decimate the fantastic work that so many schools do to support those in the local area.


Sadly he does not list those really deprived areas of Nottingham where we are offering bursary places too but places like St. Ann’s or the Meadows are very similar to those that he does name such as Knowsley or Sunderland and our bursaries reach into these communities.  Teachers working in primary schools in these areas, many of them suffering cuts to budgets, see the fantastic opportunity that our education with a bursary offers and recommend their students to us.  In return a charity linked with our school helps to fund such things as breakfast clubs or residential trips in these same schools.


It would make much more sense for the government that Mr Gove supports to take up the offer of 10,000 extra free places in schools such as ours which the Independent Schools Council has offered.  This would entail the government transferring the money which they are already paying to send these children to state schools to us and we would then top up the additional costs of these places.


Mr Gove wants to take the additional money his scheme would raise so that he could offer it to the most disadvantaged children in society – those in care.  He is clearly just completely unaware that schools like mine are already supporting such children in our schools and thanks to our bursary provision they are given a fantastic opportunity and superb pastoral care.


He speaks of those attending our schools as the ‘global super-rich’ – I am not sure that our parents would recognise this group in our school.  As I have said before, our parents are much more likely to be taxi-drivers than hedge fund managers.  Many more of our parents are making huge sacrifices because they believe in the importance of education in a way that governments of whatever political hue seldom do.


Mr Gove, please come and visit schools such as mine which provide a really amazing range of opportunities to all of the children we educate irrespective of their background.  Many of those on bursaries with us will be the first from their families to reach university and many of them will go on to give back in society in so many ways just as Ken Clarke, a former Tory politician of considerable reputation, has done since he came to our school on an assisted place.  Perhaps Mr Gove should read the section in Ken Clarke’s autobiography when he talks of the contribution that Nottingham High School gave him as a result of his supported place.

Far from being the problem that Michael Gove suggests we are, why not see us as part of the solution?

What did school give you?

Over the half-term holiday I have started to read Old Nottinghamian Ken Clarke’s autobiography entitled “Kind of Blue.”  In Chapter two he talks in some detail about his school days and in particular what he gained from them.  He was a pupil here at the High School from aged 11 until completing his A Levels.  He came to the School on a city scholarship and talks movingly about this being a great age for social mobility allowing him to eventually go from being a watchmaker’s son in Bulwell to becoming in later life Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Chancellor.


As well as telling the story of his time at the High School he speaks about what his school years gave him.  There is no doubt that he learnt academic rigour at the School and is full of praise for those of his teachers who inspired him.  He says that his economics teaching was in effect the only formal education he had to become Chancellor of the Exchequer!  It also taught him the importance of working hard – up until he joined the High School he had been well ahead of his peers but upon arrival had to push himself to thrive.  It was during his school years that he developed a love of cricket – not as a player, he scored a duck in his one outing for the school team, but as a spectator at Trent Bridge.  The School gave him his first exposure to foreign travel – a History trip to Bruges. This gave him a love of mediaeval architecture and Flemish painting which he still enjoys today.  During his time at school he also developed a love of Jazz – again this has remained a lifelong interest.  His love of politics was fostered in the School’s debating society, like so many of our ON politicians.  At that stage he admits that his views veered quite widely across the political spectrum but it taught him the rudimentals of public speaking.  Standing for a role of responsibility in the Debating Society gave him his first electoral defeat.  Above all his interest in Politics was inspired by a trip to Parliament organised by History Teacher David Peters where he witnessed an aged Winston Churchill and on another occasion Nikita Krushchev was a visitor to Parlliament at the same time.


It is a very warm account of his time at the School and it made me reflect on just how those things you are exposed to at School become the influences for what you go on to do and enjoy in the future.  In my own case such things as my love of football were generated by the many debates at school as to whose team was best.  These were the days before televised football so we could all dream that our team really was the best – and I am still dreaming this today!  Like Ken Clarke, I too was inspired by particular teachers and it was because of one of these, Geoffrey Scott, that I developed my love of History which set me on the road to teaching this subject.  It is also due to a teacher that I ended up following this career – I was looking to take a gap year and one of the staff suggested that I took up the opportunity he was aware of to teach mainly sport in a prep school in Devon.  I enjoyed it greatly and this again was to inform my later career choice.  My first incursion into helping to run a school came when I was one of a few students who led a protest about the standard of food at the School I attended.  We had led a boycott of one meal in protest and then I was invited to sit down to help the School with finding a solution to the issues.  This exercise taught me that we actually achieved far more from our talking than through our protesting!  Importantly it gave me a sense of justice and a belief that by making a strong case anything is possible.


I hope that all those at the High School today are also being inspired in ways that will live with them far longer than they are at school.  Whether this be in a love of foreign travel or a passion for Music or theatre, or by developing those skills which will equip them to be so successful in the years beyond school.  The influence that a school has is truly life-lasting and it is our role as educators to provide as many opportunities as we possibly can so that such passions are inspired.


I would love to hear from anyone reading this as to those things that they first encountered at school have gone on to be passions that they have taken forward in life.  I will use the best of them to inform a future assembly I am planning on this topic.


What did your school give you?

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:

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

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.