thirsk pupils in a science classroom doing a chemistry experiment

Upper School

Hello and welcome to the Upper School section of the website.

My name is Nicola Stimson and I am the Head of Upper School and I also teach Drama at Thirsk School and Sixth Form College.

I have worked as Head of Upper School for a number of years and love what the role entails. It is such a pleasure to be part of the student’s transition from Lower School to Upper School, a time when Year 9s are presented with new choices and changes to their Curriculum in most subjects. It is always bitter sweet when we get to the end of Year 11 and see students onto the new part of their lives, be that Sixth Form, College or apprenticeships. Having guided students through some of the most important educational years it is always wonderful to see students successfully move on.

I am a very practical worker – my teaching of Drama certainly shows that.Where something needs doing my theory is always ‘let’s get it done’. In Upper School there’s always lots to be doing and lots to be done!

What is Upper School

At Thirsk our Upper School Team is made up of Years 9, 10 and 11 with each year group being led by a Head of Year. Students generally stay with their tutor from lower school and with their tutor group of peers as they move from Year 8 into Upper School in Year 9. The transition is seen in some small thing like a move of yard location and a different colour tie to more focused changes such as level of challenge within the curriculum and Year 9 sees students making choices around their GCSE Options, Year 10 is the start of that GCSEjourney with work experience opportunities for all and Year 11 becomes the pivotal year of examination.

Meet the Team

The Upper School Pastoral Team is made up of 3 Heads of Year (who rotate only within Year 9, 10 and 11), the tutor team for each year group and the Inclusion Unit. Together we are responsible for the safety, physical and mental health and wellbeing and support of the students in Upper School, carefully monitoring their progress, behaviour and attendance in close contact with parents and carers.

The Upper School Team work very closely with the Lower School Team to make sure that the transition from Year 8 to Year 9 is a successful one. Having spent 2 years with the same Head of Year we want the move to a new Head of Year to go well for all.

Mr Ian Henderson - Head of Year 11   
Miss Gillian Dolan - Head of Year 10  
Mrs Shona Head - Head of Year 9  

Life in Upper School

As Head of Upper School I share the very high expectations of students that Ms Marston in Lower School has in terms of standards of behaviour, uniform and punctuality. Nothing changes as they move to Upper School – in fact the expectation is perhaps higher as they gain much more independence in their school life.  

We continue to praise and reward our young people with termly rewards assemblies to highlight positive behaviour for learning and praise students who have been ready, respectful and safe in their time in school and those who indeed go above and beyond in terms of our vision and values and have ‘Been More Thirsk’.

On a weekly basis we send virtual postcards home for our ‘Monday Marvels’ – the top positive point scorer within the week -and students are also awarded monthly postcards for receiving only positive points in school and for a very high level of attendance. The Upper School Heads of Year also hold regular breakfast gatherings where the top scoring students in terms of attitude to learning and positive points are invited to celebrate.

Upper School also marks a variety of different opportunities that are opened up to students. In Year 9 there is a full and detailed Options Process supported by our Deputy Head. Students will be given a wealth of advice and guidance around selecting subjects to move forward into GCSE studies. In Year 10 students can become involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme that is run at school. The Peer Mentor scheme, new to Thirsk School this year, is an opportunity for Year 10 students to show some leadership skills and work with the younger students at Thirsk in a supportive manner. At Thirsk we still highly value the work experience programme and offer a weeks service to all students at the end of Year 10. Year 11 of course is a very busy year where all students will receive a careers appointment with an advisor, be interviewed by SLT about progress and future plans and be guided through the rigor of GCSE studies and exams.

 Thank you for visiting this page; I hope you have found the information both useful and informative. Should you wish to have a face to face meeting or conversation, or have any queries or problems, please feel free to contact myself, or any of the team on the email addresses below.

We look forward to working with you to maximise your child’s potential and extend our invitation to you to join us and be part of the Thirsk family. Students joining us part way through a year or new to a year group will be offered a bespoke transition which is unique to their learning needs.

Nicola Stimson
Head of Upper School

Contact Details:



HOY 10

HOY 11

01845 522024