Norwich High welcomes new Head of Product Design, Mrs Louise Ryan

Posted on 8th June 2022

Norwich High School for Girls on Newmarket Road in Norwich has welcomed alumna Mrs Louise Ryan as their new Head of Product Design. 

Louise was introduced to Product Design when a student at Norwich High, taking both a GCSE and A Level in the subject. She then went on to study Product Design at undergraduate and masters level at the University of Leeds. Having moved into the corporate world after graduating, working in marketing and project management including for a Norfolk-based telecommunications company, Louise trained as a Teacher at Exeter. Her subsequent positions have seen her teach Product Design, most recently as Head of Design & Technology at Wymondham High Academy. 

Louise said: “Taking up this position at Norwich High feels like coming home to me. As an old girl, everything has quickly come back to me about life as part of this special community; from the extra curricular clubs to assemblies and prizegiving. 

“I’m so thankful that I was introduced to my subject during my time at Norwich High. As well as making a double seater swing chair for my GCSE coursework – which is still in pride of place in my parent’s conservatory, I received the Arkwright National Engineering Scholarship at Year 11. This opened so many doors, and reinforced my interest in pursuing a career within engineering, architecture and design. For my A Level Product Design project I went on to make a desk based on the internal structure of aeroplane wings. Product Design is a subject like no other, bringing together the scientific technical principles of materials and processes alongside the creative design and practical world of manufacture. 

“Good design should sit effortlessly in everyday products and what I love about Product Design is the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. Being able to design and then physically make products is not only creative and highly challenging but also fun.”

Mrs Louise Ryan, Head of Product Design at Norwich High School for Girls

A special atmosphere 

“Coming back to Norwich High seventeen years after I left after Sixth Form, it has been incredible how much the special atmosphere of the school has still had an impact on me. There are Teachers here who taught me, so I am adjusting to them now being my colleagues! The school is very familiar but in so many nice ways, and it is great to see how much has changed physically and to get to know new colleagues including my fantastic team in the Product Design department. 


“The Norwich High environment, in my experience, has always been a place where girls can achieve anything they want to. All my school friends have moved into their careers with the same mindset and have not compromised in their career aspirations and life decisions. It was instilled in all of us from the beginning – you don’t have to compromise and why would you. Having subsequently taught in other educational settings and worked in the corporate world, I realise how special Norwich High is and what we all gained from the mindset and tools we learnt during our time at school. Unfortunately, Product Design and Engineering remains a male dominated subject and more male students take up the subject than girls in school and university. 

Individual attention 

“There are no reasons why boys and girls can’t both enjoy the subject – although in my experience, boys and girls do approach the design process in a different way in general. A lot of the time, girls are more creative, take their time, and are more considered in their design approach which can be a real benefit. Within the small class sizes at Norwich High, we can offer individual attention – particularly for practicals, and we can really take projects forward to a very high standard of finished product.

Girls can be themselves 

“Overall and across the entirety of school life, the great thing about teaching in an all girls school is the lack of comparison. Students can completely and utterly be themselves; there isn’t the pressure to be a certain way. Students can join in with sports, be musical, be academic – everyone supports each other and that’s a great place to be. 


“I am really excited to be in the role and to take the department forward. We have plans to focus on innovation – using new equipment including introducing more graphics into the design process and  finished products to move beyond traditional manufacturing techniques and allow even more  creativity. We have an element of freedom and I am passionate about instilling a love of Product Design in students by taking their learning in new directions.”

Alison Sefton, Head of Norwich High School for Girls commented: “It has been fantastic to welcome Louise to the team. She is a brilliant teacher with broad and relevant experience and very exciting ideas for her department. Product Design is a very popular subject amongst our students at GCSE and at A-level where the most important factor is an individual student’s interests and ideas. I am consistently blown away by the incredible products which students of all ages make. That Louise is an alumna is extra special and will help inspire the students even further.”