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Après ski

Four Girls' Day School Trust schools recently joined up to take 97 girls to the French Alps for a lesson in collaboration

Posted by Hannah Oakman | July 07, 2016 | Sports & Leisure

At the end of the spring term, four Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) schools joined forces and took 97 girls to the slopes of Alpe D’Huez in France. Portsmouth High School Juniors joined girls from Northampton, Ipswich and South Hampstead High Schools in a collaborative trip across the GDST. Girls took to the slopes, from beginners to high level performers mixing with new friends from dawn until dusk. 

Planting the seed

Sport is an integral part of Portsmouth High School, the GDST and all 26 schools across the country. Sports rallies and fixtures between groups of schools are regular occurrences and supplement the large amount of regular sport at a local level.


The GDST holds conferences and leadership seminars every term for junior heads. Ross Urquhart at Northampton High School had run a successful ski trip for several years and, at one of such collaborative events, the idea of extending to other schools within the network was germinated.

This is the second year that the trip has run, rising from three to four schools. The school is hoping to extend the idea to incorporate six or seven schools within the Trust in 2017.

I put skis on for the first time and it felt strange… By the end of the week feeling confident enough to zoom down the mountain -  Olivia Davies, year five student at Portsmouth High school

Making connections 

The trip enabled the group to have their own ski clusters within the French ski school, making links with like-minded pupils and colleagues that will last far beyond the week’s trip. Many of the girls keep in touch with each other afterwards and a central email database allows them to contact each other.

Paul Marshallsay, Headmaster of the Junior School at Portsmouth High School, said: “It was particularly gratifying to see those that had been on the previous trip enjoy connecting with friends they had made last year. The obvious benefits of skill acquisition and physical exercise go alongside building grit, independence and language skills. At every point we were complimented on the attitude of the girls, regardless of which school they came from. This opportunity for collaboration between our schools show that the GDST is an organisation where girls can.” 


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