Earlier this week I came face to face with my high school, head of languages teacher as I arrived a few minutes late to a presentation…she didn’t look impressed. I scurried past her and took my place in the auditorium as she addressed the parents of years 5/6 pupils at the Holly Lodge Girls College open evening… as Head Mistress.
The look she gave me instantly transported me back to the corridors of lower school at Broadgreen High School where I’d loiter about waiting for my best friend Leah to finish registration. My own group tutor had a much more lax approach and allowed us to do whatever the hell we wanted providing he’d seen out faces long enough to put a tick in the box next to our names (Ahhh Mr Burgess, what a legend). Mrs Tinsley was strict, yet calm and effortlessly commanded control. Her form group would sit, backs-straight and silent at their desks for the 35 minute period completely focused on whatever school news she had to report each morning while we arsed about at the window pulling faces and doing our best to get our mates into trouble. Eventually Mrs Tinsley would grow bored of our antics (and the lack of authority imposed by our teacher) and rocket out into the corridor to send us all skittering back to our form rooms. I thought she was a bit of a nark and could lighten up a bit…which is ironic as now I respect her authority and I think she’s an excellent head teacher! Oh to be 13 again eh?
My eldest daughter will be off to senior school shortly and our first port of call for admissions was Holly Lodge Girls College (or Holly Splodge as we called it back in 1994). Mrs Tinsley welcomed parents warmly and only after a brief chat later on, realised she had taught both my ex husband and me (about a hundred years ago) at a different school. She went on to address the disappointing Ofsted report which had graded the school down following an outstanding grade just a few years earlier. Mrs Tinsley really felt that result, she explained just how committed her staff are to improving on the already impressive GCSE grades the students are achieving and how proud she is of the girls who helped raise the national average in Maths specifically. Having watched a short video of year 11 opening their exam results and explaining to camera just how they felt about their outstanding grades I couldn’t help but feel like Ofsted had missed the mark a bit.
Around the school there are constant reminders of the positive ethos of the school. Confidence, Determination, Resilience. The girls are encouraged to support one another, and to complete work thoroughly and to the highest possible standard. All great qualities to carry into any work place or further education. I was impressed.
The facilities at Holly Lodge are second to none. Two year 8 girls excitedly showed us around the state of the art recording studio complete with 8-track style software and radio studio. Year 7 girls taught my girl how to conduct an experiment with hydro-chloric acid in the Science labs while I got lost reminiscing about HND Fashion and Textiles with the Arts faculty surrounded by sewing machines and tailors dummies. The English staff spoke at length about the positive changes in reading material within the subject and Ellie talked animatedly about her love of Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. She was ecstatic to learn about theatre trips and joint ventures with the drama department. Along side finger print technology in the canteen and an interactive homework website (for sneaky parents to check up on progress) I’d say Holly Lodge is leading the way in terms of nurturing girls into successful, confident women. Ellie absolutely loved it and despite being the first open evening event we’ve attend, she’d adamant Holly Lodge is right for her.
Note to self, never be late for meetings with the Head Mistress!