School focus: High Storrs school
With performing arts taking centre stage, High Storrs is a hub for creativity and that creative flare is something that shines across the school.
Whether it be computing and science, or technology and art, students at the secondary school in Bents Green are encouraged to explore their passions and develop talents whilst also achieving academic success.
The school prides itself on offering an array of subjects and extra-curricular activities, including a large drama department and active student council.
Headteacher Claire Tasker said: “When I joined the school just over two years ago, I was told the school productions were amazing.
“But they are jaw-dropping – definitely worthy of the Crucible. We did Guys and Dolls last summer which was just stunning and are doing The Crucible by Arthur Miller this summer which will be immense.”
No matter what the subject matter, it is clear that both the staff and pupils care and feel strongly about everything they do with innovative thinking both inside and out of lessons.
“The drama team are just passionate and wacky,” Mrs Tasker added. “They’re performing in IKEA in about three weeks time, they’re doing a Swedish play and thought what better place than to put it on. We all thought that is bonkers, but that is so High Storrs.
“And that, sharing things they’re passionate about with people of the community is a very High Storrs thing to do.
“We’ve even got two girls who are fundraising to rescue four chickens who will come and live in our piazza, and again that is High Storrs – young people that care passionately about all sorts of things, bring them into school and engage others in those passions.
“That came across as we had a lot of our students get involved in the climate change strike. We also have a brilliant student council whose voice is heard by the school staff, it is a respectful and appropriate voice and they are professional young people.”
The student council have been able to implement recycling bins, specific areas where students can use their phones in school and are working on a High Storrs reusable cup to reduce plastic waste.
And the school will be hosting their first Eco-Expo at the end of March, billed as a ‘one-stop-shop for individuals and families who are looking for a more sustainable lifestyle’.
Elsewhere High Storrs excels in maths and English, with 60 per cent of pupils in the last academic year achieving grade 5 or above in the new reformed GCSEs.
Perhaps unconventional for some, High Storrs also operates a non-uniform policy which Mrs Tasker said allows students to express their individuality whilst being comfortable to focus on learning but also abiding by rules.
She said: “Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that we are laid back because of no uniform but we’re not. We have high expectations of young people in terms of their achievement but more importantly how they treat each other and how they treat the community.
“It is part of the design of the school and speaks to who we are, the uniform isn’t important and we want children to be comfortable to learn.
“Learning in all senses of the word – history, geography, maths – but also learning about each other, the planet and about the kind of world we want to live in and the clothes don’t matter.”
High Storrs are part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Healthy Minds project, which aims to support the emotional health and well-being of children and young people within schools.
They have also been working with the Amy Winehouse Foundation, who have been delivering a number of workshops and assemblies to all students – except those in Year 7 – about building resilience and where to access support when your resilience wears thin.
Mrs Tasker said: “We’ve also just launched a big section of our website, and we have a special evening coming up for parents of how they can support their children with those mental health worries and issues.
“It is a growing thing in schools and is something we are having to catch up with and actually we can’t provide mental health first aid particularly in schools, but what we can do is do more to spot the signs and put early help in place to signpost where children can go.
“All the stuff we do with the Amy Winehouse Foundation, the CAMHS Healthy Minds and the new part of our website is about flagging up the importance of mental health.
“We have a dedicated hour a week to PSHE for Years 7 to 11 and it means we can add sessions in about mental and physical well-being, drugs. the influence of social media, and we’ve got the time to talk about those with young people.”