We are very proud to announce that, last week, PGHS was awarded the full Lancashire Equality Mark! We are the first secondary school in Lancashire to achieve this award, which is given to schools that can demonstrate a commitment to embedding equality throughout their practice and who enable all their students to thrive in a supportive learning community.
For the past three years, our school has been working towards the Lancashire Equality Mark. There are six different strands, and all must be achieved before the school can be awarded the full mark: Socio-economic, Race, Religion, Gender and Gender Variance, Sexual Orientation and Disability. Last term, we were working towards the final strand of the mark: disability. We were very pleased to be awarded this mark and, subsequently, the full Lancashire Equality Award.
Working towards these different strands has created lots of opportunities within our school to celebrate our diverse and amazing school community. We have enjoyed celebrating International Women’s Day, where we were able to welcome some of our incredible PGHS alumni back into our school, including Dame Sue Ion and the BBC’s Nazia Mogra. We have also sought lots of opportunities as a school community to broaden our knowledge of equality in the wider world, such as in our research competition for Black History Month, or our sessions with ‘Solutions Not Sides’ during our school drop down days. Last year, we even held our very own ‘Unitee’ fashion show, which challenged each form to create their own T-Shirt inspired by the theme of unity!
Last week, a representative from Lancashire County Council visited PGHS to see what we have been doing as a school to ensure and promote equality. We are incredibly proud with the feedback we received from the council, which described our work on ensuring inclusivity as “exemplary”. They also said our learning environment was “particularly inspiring” and wanted to pass on their congratulations to all staff and pupils in school.
We are looking forward to finding yet more opportunities to celebrate and support our diverse school community. Myself and Mrs Hall are excited to be working with our newly elected School Respect Council Leader, who is full of exciting ideas about different ways that we can continue to promote equality in school.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was ‘Break the Bias’, and calls for people to imagine a gender-equal world that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination; that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive; and a world where difference is valued and celebrated.
As a school, we wanted to celebrate women with connections to the school community so we invited former students and staff to take part in an assembly to reflect on the challenges faced by women today. It was our pleasure to interview the BBC presenter Nazia Mogra, Dame Sue Ion, and also Professor Suzanne Ost who all attended Penwortham Girls’ High School in their formative years.
They shared their insights into what had driven them to achieve success and highlighted the importance of our school’s core values; resilience and ambition. They additionally highlighted the importance of integrity, being ethical, and the value of a positive mindset.
This week is Empathy Week 2022 and we are promoting the importance of empathy during assemblies scheduled for every year group. Empathy is strongly linked to our school core values which include social responsibility, compassion, dignity, and resilience.
Empathy Week is a global schools programme that uses the power of film to develop the skills of empathy and leadership in students across 40+ countries and 6 continents. So far over 100,000 students have been engaged in the previous two years, even through the pandemic. This year the theme is for Empathy Week is ‘Passion and Purpose’ and beyond the assemblies, there is an opportunity for your daughter to become involved in an ‘Empathy Action Project’ and work alongside the Respect Council.
As a school, we are aware that peer and online abuse is an increasing issue and we want to form a focus group of students we can work with to ensure that all students are informed, know how to stay safe and where they can access help and support if they need it.
Additionally, we have also been provided by the Department for Education with a supply of free period products to enable all learners to participate fully in education by making period products available as and when they are needed. Research shows that 1 in 14 girls say they have missed schools as they could not afford or access period products. We have found that some girls are hesitant to access these free period products and we want to ascertain their views so they can access period products freely when needed.
We are aiming to get a sound representation of student voice and action from across the school and make a real positive difference.
Penwortham Girls’ High School is to be awarded the Silver Rights Respecting School Award by UNICEF UK and is the first secondary school in Lancashire to achieve it.
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights.
The Rights Respecting School Award is granted to schools that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children and young people to respect the rights of others in school. Silver is given to schools that make excellent progress towards embedding the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into its ethos and curriculum. There are over 1200 schools across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales that have achieved Silver and over 500 schools that have been awarded Gold, the next step up and highest accolade granted by UNICEF UK.
Sharon Hall, Deputy headteacher said: “We are very proud to have gained the Silver Rights Respecting Schools Award which recognises the hard work the students, staff and the wider community have put in to learning about the rights our students enjoy. The RRSA has a positive impact on students and the school as a whole – encouraging discussion, helping students to articulate their views and ensuring they learn about the experiences of children around the world.”
The Award recognises achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of a school’s planning, policies and practice. A Rights Respecting School is a community where children’s rights are learned, taught, practised, respected, protected and promoted.
We will be supporting PIES (Partners in Education Swaziland) through our Tombola at the Penwortham Christmas Markets. Here is some information about them to show you just how influential the money we raise will be.
They are a small North West of England based registered charity with eight Trustees who raise money to provide the necessary finance to meet their Mission Statement: To provide support in terms of food, education and loving care for the most vulnerable children in Eswatini (Swazliand). They do this through fund-raising events, regular and single donations and sponsorship.
In Eswatini, they run two purpose-built care centres which provide food each day, pre-school education and, through community representatives, loving care which the children so desperately need.
What will the money we raise go towards?
Provide a hot meal and basic education each day
Seek out sponsors for their school fees
And most importantly give them the love and affection they most need
This week was Antibullying week across the UK and the theme was ‘One Kind Word’. We supported Antibullying week by hosting odd sock day. The girls showed their support by wearing an array of colourful and unique socks to school.
We have also hosted assemblies for each year group highlighting the importance of our six school values and promoting the importance of ‘One Kind Word’. These are some of the quotes Year 11 students chose to share at the assembly:
“Carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day, someone might do the same for you.”
I chose this quote because it’s putting a really thoughtful message across that it’s important to act out of the kindness of your own heart, to make others feel good, rather than for your own personal gain. Carla
My quote is from Oprah Winfrey and she said, “When you make loving others the story of your life, there is never a final chapter because the legacy continues. You lend your light to one person and he or she shines it on another and another and another.”
I’ve chosen this quote because I think it shows that no matter how small you think your act of kindness might be, you never know how many people it could potentially influence. It’s not just the person who you do something for/ say something to who is affected- it reaches much further than that, and has a greater impact than you would ever know. Ellie
“Never underestimate the power of a single act of kindness. Your act may just be the added lift that someone needs to go from falling to flying”.
I chose it because I think that sometimes people forget to be kind to others. This quote helps us to understand the importance and significance of such a simple act. Eva
“If kindness were to be profiled into a shape, it would be the most beautiful shape anyone would have witnessed”
I chose this quote because it presents the power of kindness and shows how beautiful kindness can be in the eyes of a person. We shouldn’t take it for granted and intend to want to spread it amongst everyone. Hidayah
My quote is, “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be” by Nelson Mandela.
I chose this quote because it really highlights how you never know when someone will be in need of your kind actions and you never know what anyone is going through, therefore be kind to everyone no matter who they are. Aisha
To link in with Anti-bullying Week, Year 7 have spent the last few weeks understanding online safety, bullying and cyberbullying..
Year 8 have also been looking at discrimination, racism, prejudice and stereotyping for several weeks now. Again, this has strong links to antibullying week and the theme of ‘One Kind Word’. This week, students looked at ageism, especially towards the elderly.
Year 11 have explored social injustice and looked at the cases of Stephen Lawrence and Sophie Lancaster.
In form time, via the student bulletin, all students have looked at the relevant articles and suggested strategies and support. The articles are below.
One Kind Word – Student Reflections
This week, to further discuss the important issues raised in our Anti-Bullying Week assemblies, we have also had the opportunity to explore issues around bullying in our English lessons.
Students have looked at the role that social media can play in spreading negativity and cyber-bullying. They have also considered the power of positivity and have discussed the importance of the theme for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week: One Kind Word.
We tasked our students with writing a short speech, explaining why it is important to spread a message of kindness and to encourage others to be more kind. Here are a few extracts from inspirational speeches created by students in Year 7 and Year 10:
“Just smile. It’s contagious. It can start with just one person smiling at someone on the way to school. They then put a smile on their face and smile to someone else. Then they pass it on and soon, lots of people are smiling and you would know that you started it. Be the main character. Smile at someone, today.” Megan H (Y10).
“This year, we should spread kindness. You could spread it in many different ways. An example of this is something as simple as smiling, or holding the door open for someone. One kind word is all you have to say to put a smile on someone’s face. The best way to spread kindness is with the thought of getting no reward.” Sara D (Year 7).
“Saying one kind word can improve someone’s mood and brighten their day. If you treat people with kindness, it creates a domino effect of positivity – by giving a compliment to someone, it can elevate them and they’ll pass on the positivity to others.” Louise P-R and Stevie M (Year 10).
“This week is it Anti-Bullying Week and the theme is ‘One Kind Word’. This is our challenge to you – to spread just one kind word. It’s not that hard, just one simple word is all we are asking for. You might not realise this, but one kind word can go a long way. Even if you only pass on a few kind words, it will mean a lot to whoever you say them to and it will be sure to make them smile and make their day!” Aurora S-W and Chloe A (Year 7)
“A compliment, no matter how small can brighten up someone’s day and after a while, this good deed will come back around to you and your day will also be brightened. Even if you feel like you aren’t good enough, a compliment will help to validate you, even if it is from a complete stranger.” Maia F (Year 10).
“This year and every year from now on, everyone should be kind. You don’t just want to be kind for one day! That won’t make a difference. However, if you are kind every day it will make a difference and make the world a better place. If you smile at someone, then that person smiles to another person and another and another that is spreading kindness. Kindness comes from the heart.” Lucia V (Year 7).
Next week is national Anti-Bullying week and we will be supporting the campaign by celebrating ‘Odd Socks’ day in school. This will take place on Monday 15th November and the girls are invited to wear two different socks, the brighter the better! The rest of your daughter’s school uniform should be worn as normal.
We want to take the opportunity for the students and staff to celebrate Anti-Bullying Week positively. This event is aimed at raising awareness of the issue and we are not asking for any donations. We will be holding assemblies and selling wristbands, rulers, and badges during the week to highlight the issue around bullying and its impact.
The national theme this year is ‘One Kind Word’ and you can get more information on the website below;
This half-term, our students have been creating t-shirt designs for a national ‘UNITEE’ competition. The competition asks students to design a t-shirt inspired by the theme of unity. Each form had selected their chosen design and these designs were then brought to life by Mrs Freer in our Technology department. On Friday, the time came to see these final designs in a celebratory virtual fashion show.
The fashion show involved staff from across the school modelling the designs created by the different forms. There were some excellent model poses and it was great to see so many of our teachers getting involved and showing off their modelling skills!
At the start of the assembly, we also wanted to take some time to remember Zaynab from Year 10 who tragically passed away this year. Zaynab had written about the importance of unity and the power of young people to grow and make the world a better place. Her friends read her thoughtful words at the start of the assembly and it was a moving reminder about the importance of uniting together.
We were very excited to welcome two guests to join us in our show. We were able to hear from Mike Haines OBE, the creator of the UNITEES national competition. Mike Haines spoke to us about how important the message of unity was to him personally and spoke movingly about how he was inspired to create the competition to combat hatred and extremism in the world and instead spread a message of tolerance and understanding. After watching our virtual show, Mike contacted us to let us know how impressed he was with our designs. He said, “I have watched that video four or five times now. It is brilliant. A really massive well done and congratulations to your school, teachers, staff and the amazing girls. You all did such a wonderful job and all the designs are of the highest order. I am seriously impressed.” We hope to be able to invite Mike to speak at the school again in the future, hopefully in person!
We were also lucky to be able to welcome our local MP, Katherine Fletcher into our school to see our designs and answer questions from our new student leadership team during the assembly. Katherine took part in our International Women’s Day celebrations earlier this year and it was brilliant to be able to welcome her into school in person. Katherine was also impressed with the designs created by our students, especially the design created by 10H!
We were so impressed by the creativity and compassion shown by our students throughout the competition. The winners for the national competition are to be announced later this month, but we have also held a school competition to find out our winning designs from each year group. We can’t wait to celebrate the winning designs!
We are very proud to announce that Penwortham Girls’ High School has been awarded two more Equality Marks from Lancashire County Council! We have achieved the Gender Equality badge and the Sexual Orientation Equality badge following a recent visit from the Council where Mrs Hall and I were asked to demonstrate all the work we had done to promote and ensure equality in these areas.
The Lancashire Equality Mark is awarded to schools who ensure that they actively embed Equality throughout all their practice and enable all their students to thrive in a supportive learning community. There are six badges to work towards and we have now achieved five of these badges! We currently have the Race, Religion and Socio-Economic badges in addition to these two new awards.
We had an accreditation visit from the council which was a fantastic opportunity to discuss and share all the different types of events and plans that we have put in place to ensure all our students feel able to thrive in our school and to celebrate our diverse community. We were very proud of the feedback we received from the council, who described our approach towards promoting gender equality as ‘exemplary’. They mentioned being particularly impressed with how we celebrated ‘International Women’s Day’ as a particular focus, but also said it was evident that equality is something that is promoted across the whole school. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the amazing contributions that everyone across our school community, and the wider world, have made to our celebrations. Myself and Mrs Hall were very proud to talk about the interviews with Dame Sue Ion and local MP Katherine Fletcher that were expertly conducted by our Deputy Head Girl Tegan L. The council were also very impressed with all the work that our Year 10 Respect Council have made throughout this year!
We are continuously looking for more opportunities to promote equality in our school and to celebrate diversity and unity. Later this term, we will be hosting our ‘Unitee’ fashion show, which we are looking forward to as another occasion where our students can celebrate the wonderfully diverse world we live in! The fashion show promises to be an exciting and creative event – complete with a special guest judge!
We look forward to now achieving the final Equality Badge, which will make us the first school in Lancashire to receive all six awards in the last three years!
A huge thank you to everybody who took part in the SMSJ competition. The essays were incredibly moving and inspiring. It was so difficult to choose the final 10.
Certificates to the 10 finalists who have been passed through to the national competition go to: Keira W Maariya A Naadiya A Maddy L Antonia S Safurah H Bethany W Maisie W Molly B Jennah K
Please don’t be disheartened if you weren’t in the final 10 this time! We hope to read all of your entries again next year and hopefully read the work of lots of new philosophers too!
Congratulations to Keira W who is our PGHS winner!
When asked why Keira decided to take part in the essay, she replied that she wanted to use lockdown to explore new hobbies and expand her essay writing skills. Keira expressed an interest in philosophy and wishes to take it as an A-level for college. Keira recognised that this was a great opportunity to start exploring topics and debates that are of a philosophical nature.
You can read Keira’s fantastic essay below. Name: Keira W School: Penwortham Girls’ High School YR10 Essay Title: Is suffering a necessary part of the human condition?
Human suffering happens every day, everywhere around the world, through various ways and different degrees. It is all around us, yet we do not always see it. Just because we don’t see it, it does not mean that it doesn’t exist.
On the occasions we do recognise the suffering, a common question we tend to ask ourselves is, “why do we suffer? What is the meaning behind it?”. There are no easy answers to these questions because there will always be a different meaning or perception to a singular person suffering or feeling pain.
The definition of suffering itself is ‘to undergo or feel pain’. People will decide whether they are suffering or not based on events in their life. For example, striving to be able to save enough money to purchase the newest phone only for a newer version to be released not long after. Another example is when you fall in love to then find out your love is not reciprocated.
These two situations are opposites, one is heart break while the other is a materialistic loss but result in suffering.
When you have your first heartbreak, you are most likely going to be the lowest you have ever been, and it’s going to feel like your entire world is crumbling all around you. However, feeling this pain will help you grow, and you will learn from it.
There is a meaning behind every emotion you ever feel; “the root to suffering is attachment”- Buddha. So, getting attached to that phone or attached to the one you love.
To suffer, you must feel pain, and to feel pain you must go through life. In life you’re always going to have moments when you lack motivation to do anything, but this is just life. There will only ever be one person who can get you out of this state of mind, and that’s yourself. Others can help or you can find methods to assist but ultimately you are the one responsible in controlling or stopping your own sufferings.
It is difficult for another to truly understand the full force and impact of your sufferings, they can empathise but never fully understand as we are each uniquely individual with varying pain thresholds and coping mechanisms.
Suffering is part of the human condition, yet it’s the doorway to your personal growth and expansion. It’s an inevitable part of life. Suffering is part of existence, and even the most picture-perfect life on the outside often has a deep core of pain in the past which you know nothing about as an outside observer.
Suffering is not “necessary” to the human condition, but it is “inevitable.” We lose grandparents. Eventually parents pass away. We get jobs and lose jobs. We meet the perfect someone, then lose that someone. We become ill or live with some form of disability. Suffering is an inevitable part of life and will have a knock-on effect to others, such as if a child is born without sight, their suffering will cause additional suffering to the parents, siblings and spread out to other members of the family or close friends.
I see two different types of suffering; one is not necessary and could even be argued to be avoidable. The other is part of the physical experience and the awakening in spirit in which you grow and learn from. Life is hard to explain. “A fire burns down a forest, a new one grows in its place. Ten years later, that forest is healthier than the forest that did not burn down”. So, suffering could be the path to growth as those that do not suffer do not grow in that way.
Everything good in life is considered good because we compare it to the pain and suffering of the opposite. Without hate we wouldn’t understand love. Without grief of death, new life or existence wouldn’t be appreciated as much. Without sadness, we would not learn to embrace happiness and joy, like bringing a new home to your children or simple joy to be found in the smiles of a baby. Suffering is a given in life – you cannot avoid it.
The human condition causes all human made suffering and natural suffering is made worse by the human condition. It is inherent to life in general.
It’s not about necessity. Life is about ups and downs, it cannot be only ups or only downs, we have happy moments and sad moments where we suffer but, the most important thing is that in these sad moments you learn and empower yourself to better your resilience and coping mechanisms to handle your suffering more effectively.
I do not believe that we become successful or happy without suffering, you ask me why? I say that’s life. You cannot escape suffering. There is not a human being who has never suffered; we all do. Therefore, human suffering is not a necessary part of the human condition, but rather is an inevitable part.