Founded in 1875, Norwich High was the first GDST (Girls’ Day School Trust) school outside of London. The school quickly outgrew its original home, which was situated minutes from Norwich’s iconic marketplace, moving to the much larger Assembly House within only two years. It was in this period that nurse Edith Cavell experienced her first taste of formal education at Norwich High, at the age of 16.
The school officially moved to its current site in 1931. Since then, the school has continued to grow, taking over the full 14 acre site including Lanchester House, our Sixth Form Centre.
Our school’s motto, “Do thy best and rejoice with those who do better” can seem slightly old-fashioned but its sentiment certainly is central to our schools’ continued success. Girls at Norwich High School thrive on their own learning and are supportive, encouraging and proud of the successes of their peers.
Whilst I started this article talking of the school’s physical history, I believe that Norwich High School’s legacy is made by girls. Over the last year, I have met with numerous inspiring alumnae who have cemented this belief. These range from Hannah Springham, who works in TV production and was the first female director of Top Gear, to The Hon. Alice Walpole OBE, whose inspiring career journey includes 33 years in the Foreign Office and a diplomacy role in Iraq for the UN – plus she’s a mother to six children (including two sets of twins). They are both game changers in their own ways.
At Norwich High School we give girls the tools for a future world of work that will be skills rather than just knowledge based. From design thinking to coding, creative thinking and problem solving via online collaborations, we empower them for many different types of careers. This has been instilled since Norwich High was founded, with astronomy and wood carving as part of the curriculum way back in 1876. As an all through school we nurture girls from as young as 3 to become confident, aspirational young woman, leaving us at 18 with the resilience to reach their goals.
“One of our amazing prep school students campaigned to create real afro hair wigs for children after being told that it wasn’t possible.”
Each girl at Norwich High has her own iPad and is well prepared for using the Google Education suite – significant skills recognised when receiving Apple Distinguished School status in 2019.
Daily collaborations with teachers and peers are all done on one device and girls are confident with tools such as Google Meet, Classrooms and a wealth of other apps used across the school to support teaching and learning.
We are a large enough school to provide many rich opportunities, but small enough that every girl is known and valued. We are ambitious for every girl, whatever her interests, and can offer her a wealth of opportunities to discover new avenues.
Opportunities and new initiatives this year have been significant. These range from a new F24 racing team where girls get to build a car and then race it against other schools, to signing up to the Halo Code to give our students the freedom to wear all afro-hairstyles without restriction or judgment. This was inspired following one of our amazing prep school students, who campaigned to create real afro hair wigs for children after being told that it wasn’t possible.
Being one of 25 GDST schools also opens up a wealth of opportunities for our whole community, including our Limitless Learning programme for recent leavers, the popular GDST Talks online parent seminars and our networking opportunities for over 70,000 alumnae.
“We are a large enough school to provide many rich opportunities, but small enough that every girl is known and valued.”
What I am truly impressed with at Norwich High is our peer support programme. We currently have a Big Sister programme, Headucate Mental Health Ambassadors, a buddy system for our lower school, academic and induction support from our Sixth Formers.
All of these initiatives have proven immensely valuable to girls of all ages, with our unique and broad offer winning us Wellbeing Initiative of the Year at the TES Independent School Awards 2021.
Girls at Norwich High are always ready to help each other, whatever their ages or background. There is an exceptionally strong sense of community; a community which lasts throughout their time here and long after girls have left the school.