Easter 2018: Enjoy a well-earned break after a busy term

As we head into the Easter break, I am delighted to have this opportunity to fill you in on just some of the many memorable moments and success stories from another busy term and wish you all an enjoyable holiday and well-earned break.

The Spring Term is always rather a hectic one - especially so for those in Year 11 and Sixth Form who are making their final preparations for GCSE and A-Level exams. Our students’ efforts were rewarded with a positive set of School Exam results that indicate they are on course to achieve the school’s highest ever grades – as we have almost come to expect now! But the hard work is not over yet and our students now have an indication of what they need to improve and build on for their final exams this summer.

This is a particularly challenging year for our Year 11 students who are, of course, facing new examination specifications with the revised GCSE 9 – 1 number grades for the first time in the vast majority of their subjects. This means that they will be sitting more exams than in previous years, exams of greater length and also incorporating more difficult subject content. Despite the degree of uncertainty that inevitably comes with new examination specifications I have been greatly impressed with the way in which our Upper School students are working and the manner that they are responding to all of the additional support that is being offered by their teachers.

I am deeply grateful for the dedication and commitment of all of our staff who really are doing everything they can to support our students with their exam preparations and ensure that each and every one of them fulfils their potential. A daily extended curriculum, weekend revision sessions and residential trips that allow students to work more closely with their teachers and peers are among the offerings available to them to ensure they are fully prepared for their exams. Of course, we would not be able to do everything we do without the invaluable input of parents and carers and so I would like to personally thank you for your continued support.

As well as the busy exam preparations that have been taking place since January, the school has been a hive of activity elsewhere, including another fantastic school production, a number of academic successes, charity events and sporting victories among the highlights.

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If we ever needed reminding of the amazing talent we have here at Highfields, and at neighbouring Penn Fields, this year’s production of Grease was surely it. The Beast from the East did its best to throw the production into chaos by closing the school and forcing us to cancel three of the four scheduled original performance dates. The entire school was devastated for the cast, crew and staff who had put in a huge amount of work since October. 

But, as our Head of Performance Ms Bishop would say: ‘The show must go on’. And it certainly did - albeit a week late. Once the snow cleared and the ice melted, our students were back in the rehearsal studios and raring to go once again. Even a particularly nasty sickness bug that forced some last-minute cast changes didn’t hamper the students’ spirit or quality of performance.

Our annual musical productions have gained a wonderful reputation for their professionalism and this one really did have it all; a huge and inclusive cast, superb music and sound, great choreography, some spectacular individual performances and an overall feel-good factor that sent every member of the audience home with a smile on their face - including one very special VIP guest. We were thrilled to welcome back former Highfields student, Beverley Knight, to watch the final performance of the show. Despite going on to achieve international fame, she has remained an avid supporter of her former school and her presence in the crowd was a huge boost to our young performers who are hoping to follow in her footsteps.

These shows do not happen overnight. The final production was the result of months of hard work and commitment after school, at weekends and during holidays. On behalf of everyone lucky enough to have seen the production, I would like to say a huge well done to all involved.

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No sooner had the curtain come down on our annual production than preparations were already in full flow for another exciting arts and performance project, in collaboration with Penn Fields as well as Wolverhampton College. The free arts festival will take place at the Light House, in Fryer Street, on April 21st to celebrate the life and works of Shakespeare. Rehearsals are already under way for the event, called ‘Shakespearience’, which will feature free creative workshops, film screenings, an animation station, sensory room, live music and poetry recitals, as well as dance and drama performances of Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet. It promises to be a great day for all the family and I look forward to seeing many of you there. The upcoming arts festival has already gained coverage in the Express & Star and the article can be read here. A full programme of the day's activities can be found here.

Our PE and Sports department continues to enjoy great success with an ever-increasing number of students taking up extra-curricular activities as well as a number of team and individual achievements in tournaments and competitions, not least our talented Year 8 football team being crowned U13s Wolverhampton Cup champions after a thrilling final against Wolverhampton Grammar School and our U13s cricket team winning an indoor tournament. Our netball team has also produced some fantastic results, including a school record-breaking 40-0 match against The Royal School, whilst our table-tennis team did the school proud in the Black Country Games.

A successful school is built on much more than just academic results and it is pleasing to see that our ongoing drive to promote sport and extra-curricular activities is resulting in so many more students enjoying and benefiting from the many clubs and groups Highfields offers outside of the classroom. I am delighted to announce that the efforts and achievements of our sporty students will once again be recognised and rewarded with our second PE Legacy Awards in July. The inaugural Legacy Awards ceremony was held in 2017 to much acclaim and we can’t wait to stage another event celebrating the wealth of sporting talent we have here at Highfields.

The spring term is a relatively short one, but we have managed to achieve and experience so much. Students got the chance to look towards the future by speaking to dozens of industry professionals as part of our biggest ever careers fair, hundreds donned fancy dress to celebrate reading as part of World Book Day, an intrepid team travelled to Austria for a thrilling ski trip, members of the nationally-recognised Brilliant Club ‘graduated’ their intense course with top grades, students baked cakes to raise hundreds of pounds for good causes, budding engineers showcased their innovation at a prestigious robotics competition and Hospitality students got a taste of the pressures of a busy kitchen during a visit to a top Birmingham hotel. And that’s just a snapshot!

Our website is regularly updated with the latest school news and successes of our students from all year groups so please make sure to visit regularly to get a flavour of the many things we have going on. I am also pleased to announce that the latest edition of our school newspaper, The H, will be available after the Easter holiday and will once again be packed with news articles, features and opinion pieces written by our very own talented students.

Thank you, as always, for all you do to support Highfields. We should be proud of all we achieve together. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Easter and I look forward to welcoming all students back refreshed after the break ready for the busy summer term ahead.

Graham Tate

Headteacher

Posted on March 28, 2018 .

Winter 2017: Much to celebrate as we head towards Christmas

It feels like just five minutes ago that we returned to school following the summer holidays for the start of the new academic year. But before we know it, the tinsel will be out and talk will turn to Christmas so I would like to take this opportunity to fill you in on the many things going on and coming up in school.

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We welcomed more than 250 students at the start of the term in September and I am delighted to see them all settling in with ease. It’s no secret that the leap from primary school to secondary school can be a daunting one for students, leaving the relative comfort of small classrooms and friendship groups to be thrust into a high-octane environment surrounded by hundreds of peers.

It is heartening to see so many of our youngest students already making new friends, building up confidence in lessons and making the very most of the many extra-curricular activities and groups Highfields offers. School life is so much more than just study, study, study and I am pleased that so many of our Year 7 students are already embracing this by signing up to after-school classes and groups.

As well as providing students of every ability with the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities, our packed extra-curricular programme complements the curriculum to help develop well-rounded, socially skilled and confident students - and, most importantly, is fun for everyone involved. It also teaches important skills to integrate into everyday life, such as time management, commitment, teamwork and social skills. We really would love every student to get involved.

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At Highfields, we constantly strive to ensure every student reaches their potential and I am therefore delighted to report that provisional performance tables released by the Government following this year’s superb GCSE results indicate that Highfields has maintained its position among Wolverhampton’s top schools for both attainment and pupil progress.

The tables are based on this year’s GCSE results, which are currently being finalised, and have been released ahead of official league tables in the new year. Our Attainment 8 score of 51.1 out of 80 puts Highfields among the top three schools in Wolverhampton, whilst it ranks second of the city’s non-selective schools in the city under the Progress 8 measure. Progress 8 looks at the advances a student makes from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school, comparing their results with the achievements of other youngsters with the same prior attainment. Indicators show Highfields has a Progress 8 score of +0.51, meaning that every student achieved on average around half a grade more in their GCSEs in every subject than their peers elsewhere.

These results are testament to the hard work and dedication of our students and staff and it is pleasing to see that our current Year 11 students are already working hard in preparation for their exams next year to maintain these excellent academic standards. As well as attending regular after-school revision sessions they have also been focusing their attentions on life after their GCSEs as motivation to reach their potential. Our Staying in Learning Day was a great success, allowing all of our Year 11 students to take part in a range of hands-on workshops and activities to support them with both their short and long-term educational and career goals.

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One of the options available to our Year 11 students is to continue their studies on to Highfields’ Sixth Form and we are always delighted that this is what the vast majority of our students choose to do. If attendance at our Sixth Form Open Evening is anything to go by, next year will be no different. Many of our current students took the opportunity to come along to the event to speak to Sixth Form staff and students whilst we also welcomed dozens of external students interested in continuing their studies here after their GCSEs. The event gave us the chance to showcase everything our Sixth Form has to offer and I would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time to speak to visitors and make it such a success.

Outside of the classroom, it’s been another busy term with lots to tell. This year’s Autumn Festival certainly went with a bang as we welcomed more than 200 visitors through the doors for a fun-filled evening of live entertainment and spectacular fireworks whilst our talented musicians did a fantastic job of entertaining shoppers at the grand unveiling of the refurbished Co-op store in Warstones. Preparations are now under way for the annual carol service at St Bartholomew’s Church on December 12 and our uplifting Christmas Concert and Craft Fair on December 19. I am also pleased to see that rehearsals are already in full swing for our next school production, Grease. The annual show is always a fantastic spectacle and it is wonderful that more than 100 students are taking part again this year. Over in sport, our students continue to dominate tournaments and competitions in a range of disciplines. Among the many highlights include our Year 8 Boys’ Football Team being named SSAW 9X9 tournament champions for the second year in a row, Year 12 student Vishal Pal receiving the Junior Performance of the Year award from Staffs Clubs Cricket Championship for an incredible 128 Not Out innings, three students being selected for England Rounders trials and budding star, Oliver Causer, bagging silver medal in the prestigious Northern Home Counties Open.

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I am delighted to report that the wolf sculpture decorated by talented art students as part of the Wolves in Wolves project has been snapped up at auction for a whopping £1,500. The sculpture had been on show outside the Civic Centre over the summer and went under the hammer as part of a fundraising auction held at Molineux. The money will be split between local disability arts charity, Outside Centre, and chosen charities of the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Elias Mattu. Our young artists should feel very proud that their artistic talents have raised so much money for these fantastic causes. 

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Our group of Young Journalists, who produced their first wonderful edition of The H newspaper before the summer holidays, are currently busy sourcing stories for the next edition, which will be produced before the Christmas break. The first edition of the newspaper was packed with articles from around school, ranging from sport to features and even politics, and I can’t wait to see what our budding reporters produce this term. Our team are always on the lookout for news stories and features so if any students or staff have any burning issues they would like included or a news story worthy of coverage, email theheditorial@hswv.co.uk and our young news hounds will give it the publicity it deserves.

As a headteacher, there is no prouder feeling than seeing happy students working together towards a common goal of success; from our Year 7 students starting their journey at Highfields to our Sixth Form students preparing to make their mark in the world. As always, I would like to thank you all - students, staff and parents - for your continued support and helping to make Highfields a place of which we can all feel incredibly proud.

Graham Tate

Headteacher

 

Posted on November 30, 2017 .

Summer 2017: Enjoy the holidays after another wonderful term

It’s been another hectic term filled with countless success stories and personal achievements, and our students can go into the summer holidays feeling very proud of all they have achieved over the past few weeks.

It’s hard to know where to start when there are so many positive things to tell you, but a good place is by congratulating our Year 11 and Sixth Form students, who recently sat their GCSEs and A-Levels. 

We all know that the exam season can be stressful but our students approached the challenge with incredible maturity before celebrating with well-deserved proms that had all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood party. It has been a pleasure seeing the students grow and develop into confident, talented and skilled young adults and we look forward to seeing them again in August when they return to pick up their results before moving on to the next chapter of their lives.

Whilst we say farewell to our Year 13 students as they move on to university and employment, as well as some of Year 11, we are now looking forward to welcoming our new intake of Year 7 students who will be joining us in September. Having spent two days on induction with us earlier this month, I am sure they will settle into their new routines with ease.

The main focus of our Upper School may have been on exams over the past term but Highfields has remained a hive of activity elsewhere. Highlights include a brilliant Summer Song & Dance Show and Summer Concert, both of which gave a platform for our students (and some staff!) to showcase their musical and performance talents, whilst a newly-launched Community Choir is growing in strength, numbers and volume with each passing week. Staying with our packed Performance programme, I am pleased to announce that we’ve already started making plans for next year’s musical showcase, which will be Grease! Hundreds of students take part in our annual stage productions, rehearsing for months before putting on phenomenal performances in front of sell-out crowds and I am sure this year will be another huge success. Grease is an iconic musical that has transcended generations and I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing our version start taking shape when we return from the holidays.

Young artists have also been making their mark as part of the much-publicised Wolves in Wolves project - Wolverhampton’s biggest ever public art event. A handful of creative students decorated a 5ft wolf sculpture as part of the project, which has now gone out to form part of an art trail around Wolverhampton. Our colourful wolf, ‘Zeus’, has taken pride of place outside Wolverhampton Civic Centre and will be on display there until September when the wolves are auctioned off for charity. If you get chance over the summer, it’s definitely worth a trip into the city to follow the trail.

We are also celebrating the success of our budding filmmakers, who have been recognised for movies they created in school with prestigious accolades. A group of Year 8 students won a DIGI Award for their short horror film The Reckoning, whilst Sixth Form students, Ayesha Di’Angelo and Jemma Payne, also picked up a DIGI Award for their film, psychological thriller The Pretty Picture. The awards are held annually to celebrate upcoming talent in digital film and creative media so it looks like a career in cinema may be calling for our students. 

Over in the PE department, the sporting achievements just keep on coming! Students have enjoyed numerous successes over the past term in a range of disciplines, from netball to football, cricket, dodgeball and volleyball. It is a pleasure to see our sports courts, fields and pitches filled with students training long after the school day ends and they are now reaping the rewards of their efforts with countless tournament victories and individual achievements. As a way of celebrating the tremendous effort and commitment of our students, we held our first ever PE Legacy Awards this month, which culminated in a presentation ceremony the organisers of the Academy Awards would be proud of. Six students from each year group were nominated in a range of categories including Outstanding Effort, Elite Performer and Sportsperson of the year. The event was such a success that it will now become an annual fixture on the Highfields calendar. A huge well done to all of the nominees and winners.

We recently held our Community Fun Day, which takes place every two years. Everyone enjoyed a great day. In fact, I would go as far as saying it was the best we’ve ever staged. Despite early morning rainclouds threatening to dampen the day, the crowds were not put off. Hundreds turned up to take part in the festivities and the many activities on offer, including a rodeo bull, tug-of-war competitions, and ‘soak the teacher’ stocks. This year’s event was made extra special by the inclusion of our Sports Day, which saw students from all year groups competing in a range of categories to win prizes for their form groups. It was a great touch that parents, friends and members of the public were able to join us to cheer them on from the sidelines - and the sun even managed to come out for us by lunchtime! During the event we raised money for our chosen charity, Compton Hospice, and I am delighted to report that almost £1,300 was donated. That is a fantastic achievement and we are proud to be able to support such a worthy cause that is incredibly important to so many families. Thank you to everyone who gave money. 

I am pleased to announce that all of the topics I have discussed - and much more - are now available to read about in our brand new school newspaper, The H. A team of intrepid young reporters have launched the newspaper to bring you all of the latest news and information from around school so you’re always up-to-date with what’s going on and coming up. The team worked to a very tight deadline to produce their first edition of the newspaper for the Community Fun Day and it has now been emailed out to all staff, parents and students for those who weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on a printed copy. I think you will all agree that they did an amazing job to produce such a professional-looking newspaper, packed with interesting and informative articles, in such a short space of time and we look forward to seeing their upcoming editions which will be produced every term. I’m sure they will want me to remind all students and staff that if you have any newsworthy articles you would like included in future, to get in touch with one of the team by emailing theheditorial@hswv.co.uk

I would like to take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to a number of members of staff who are leaving us, in particular Ms J Langley, Mr J Birks, Mrs A Falconer, Mr A Baker and Mrs S Jevon, who have given a combined service of 114 years to Highfields. Please accept my very best wishes for the future.

From a personal point of view, it has now been a full academic year since I took the helm as Headteacher at Highfields - a school of which I couldn’t feel more proud. I would like to thank you all - students, staff and parents - for your ongoing support, without which my role would be undoubtedly more difficult.

Have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you all bright and refreshed in September!

Mr G Tate

Headteacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on July 21, 2017 .

Spring 2017: Welcome back to a busy term ahead!

Welcome back! I hope you all had a great Easter break and have returned refreshed ready for the busy summer term ahead.

I’m sure you will all agree that a rest was well deserved for our students following the Spring Term, which is always rather a hectic one - especially so for those in Year 11 and Sixth Form who are making their final preparations for GCSE and A-Level exams. We know how stressful exams can be and we are doing everything we can to support our students with their revision to ensure they each fulfil their potential. Our students are continuing to make the most of a daily extended curriculum, weekend revision sessions and residential trips that allow them to work more closely with their teachers and peers so they can enter their exams with confidence. I would like to take this opportunity to thank parents and carers for your ongoing support during this tough time.

As well as the busy exam preparations that have been taking place since January, the school has been a hive of activity, with the fantastic school production and successes in a number of academic competitions and sports tournaments among the highlights.

If we ever needed reminding of just how talented and committed a group of youngsters we have, this year’s school production of ‘High School Musical’ was surely it. For those lucky enough to have seen it during its four-night run, I am sure you will join me in congratulating everyone involved on an amazing set of performances. The show really did have it all; superb music and sound, great choreography, a huge and inclusive cast, a committed backstage crew, some spectacular individual performances and an overriding sense of fun and energy that got audiences dancing and singing in their seats.

The annual production provides our students with a wonderful opportunity to experience performing in front of live audiences on stage and this year’s cast of more than 100 students was our biggest yet. But these shows do not happen overnight. The final production was the result of months of hard work and commitment after school, at weekends and during holidays. A huge well done to everyone involved.

The show was staged in collaboration with Penn Fields School and I am delighted to say that it is just one of a number of joint projects we have been working on with our neighbouring school. Much work has taken place over the past few months, and throughout the Easter holidays, on an exciting arts project celebrating the life and works of Shakespeare which culminated in a festival at The Arena Theatre on April 23rd. The Shake of Things project was made possible thanks to ‘Spirit of 2012’ Olympic legacy funding and has seen students working alongside industry professionals in dance, drama and video production to honour some of Shakespeare’s most famous works. The final result - a day of interactive workshops and live performances - was a huge success and a credit to everyone involved.

On top of this, I would like to take the opportunity to invite you all to be part of our new community choir, also set up in conjunction with Penn Fields School. The Highfields and Penn Fields Community Choir meets every Thursday from 3.40-4.40pm and is open to all students, staff, parents and carers. There’s no auditions and no pressure to be the next Celine Dion - it’s just a fun, friendly gathering to enjoy a sing song, so we would love to see you all getting involved.

Our PE and Sports department continues to enjoy great success in terms of the number of students taking up extra-curricular activities as well as team and individual achievements in tournaments and competitions. From gymnastics to trampolining, netball, dodgeball, football and rugby, our students are excelling in a whole host of disciplines.

As a result of our ongoing drive to promote sports for all students, we have launched a consultation into the possibility of introducing a new PE Kit in the future. Two designs with different colour schemes - navy & gold and black & red - have been put forward as possibilities. Although no final decisions have been made, we believe a new contemporary kit would be more in line with the ethos of sports provision within Highfields and give our students a more professional image as they go out to represent the school in sporting competitions. Our students and Governors have already been given the chance to put forward their thoughts and the consultation will be extended to parents and carers in the near future. I look forward to hearing your views.

The build-up to exams always highlights the pressure on students and staff to maintain and build upon our academic successes but, aside from the hard work going on in our classrooms, it is always pleasing to see our students achieving so much outside of the confinements of school. Success in a law competition run by the University of Wolverhampton, budding engineers making it through to the finals of a national robotics competition, science pupils ‘graduating’ The Brilliant Club and students working with Sky Sports to create a professional video promoting Highfields’ vast extra-curricular sports offerings are among the many achievements of our students over the past few weeks alone.

Our website is regularly updated with the latest school news and successes of our students from all year groups so make sure to visit regularly to get a flavour of the many things we have going on, of which we should all feel very proud.

I am looking forward to another fast-paced term of activity and achievement ahead and I thank you all again for your continuing support.

Graham Tate

Headteacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 27, 2017 .

February 2017: A busy start to the year

It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that I was wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - and yet we’re already at the end of our first half term. The January/February half-term is always a short one but it’s been another busy few weeks for our students.

Our Upper School and Sixth-Form students have been busy with their exam preparations and I would like to reiterate the sentiments from my last blog by commending them on the mature and conscientious manner in which they approached them. Our school exam results were positive overall but they have given our students food for thought and an indication of what they now need to improve on for the real thing. 

Last year’s GCSE results were our best yet and put Highfields within the top five schools for both achievement and progress in the city’s league tables. I know our students and staff are working incredibly hard to maintain our high academic standards and I am sure you will join us in giving them your full support during this time. Exam season can be a stressful time so it was good to see a light-hearted motivational video created by a group of Year 11 students for their peers. It’s heartening to see our students working together to help each other when the going gets tough. 

Whilst we will always strive for academic success there is so much more to school life at Highfields. Whether it be fundraising activities for charity, baking competitions, visits from theatre stars and prominent businesspeople, musical performances or university trips, it is always so pleasing to see the all-round development of our students. I am proud of the extra time they commit to building on their talents and helping others.

On any given evening, the school halls, playing fields, theatre and dance studio are still buzzing with activity far past 7pm. Whether it be gymnastics, football, athletics, table tennis, basketball - or all of the above and much more - we always strive to enrich our students’ school life with a vast range of extra-curricular activities to nurture their interests and talents. Our ‘Sports Success’ section on the website (which you can link to opposite) is regularly updated with news of sporting achievements in all disciplines - and make sure you keep an eye out for the directorial talents of our Head of PE, Mr Brickwood.

I’m happy to report that it’s almost time for curtain-up on this year’s musical production of High School Musical. On top of their daily work, around 100 students have given their time at evenings, weekends (and this half-term holiday) to rehearse for the show. I haven’t personally been involved in rehearsals but my office sits directly underneath the Lyceum Theatre and, judging by the noise of dozens of students dancing around and singing every Thursday evening, I can testify that it is going to be another high-energy performance!

I hope all of our staff and students (apart from the High School Musical team still working hard!) enjoy a well-earned half-term break.

I look forward to seeing everyone bright and refreshed after the holiday.

Mr Graham Tate

Headteacher

Posted on February 20, 2017 .

Christmas 2016: Much to be merry about

As we head into Christmas, I am delighted to reflect on a term that has been filled with countless success stories, individual achievements and team efforts that should make us all incredibly proud.

There is no time of year that highlights Highfields’ close-knit community spirit quite as much as the festive period and it has been heartening to see so many examples of this in the past few days alone. 

Our school became a beacon of festivities when staff and students donned their colourful Christmas jumpers to raise money for Save The Children on the last day of term. This is one of a number of worthy causes our students will be supporting throughout the academic year and it was wonderful to see the school coming together in suitably festive fashion to raise smiles and money.

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Our annual carol concert at St Bartholomew’s Church was another great success and it was also a pleasure for us all to witness the uplifting Christmas Concert, which every year gets us well and truly into the festive spirit and highlights the wealth of talent we have within Highfields.

As well as the festive events and activities, we’ve also enjoyed other highlights on our school calendar this term - our very own attempt at the hugely popular Mannequin Challenge being a particular favourite. Hundreds of students and staff took part in the challenge in the Sports Hall, remaining silent and frozen for almost five minutes to raise almost £800 for Children in Need. It was a fantastic effort and quite an achievement that so many of you (teachers included) managed to stay quiet for so long! 

The term has been packed with many events organised to enrich our students’ academic studies and school life, including trips to football grounds, theatres and universities, visits from international musicians and workshops with industry experts. 

It is also pleasing to see so many students committing their time after school to join in our extensive range of extra-curricular sports and performance activities. We run a number of sports teams for students of all ages and abilities and they have enjoyed much success competitively this term which is testament to the efforts and dedication of everyone involved. We also have a record number of students signed up to this year’s school production, High School Musical. More than 200 students give up their evenings each week to rehearse for the show and I have been reliably informed that this is going to be our best production yet. This year we have a number of students from neighbouring Penn Fields School performing in the show whilst we are also collaborating with them on an exciting arts project celebrating the works of Shakespeare. It is great to see the two schools working together so closely on these projects and we hope to build on this relationship even further going forward.

We welcomed our new Year 7 intake in September and they are fully embracing life at Highfields. Many of them have taken up the chance to join one or more of our extra-curricular groups and are already making a fantastic contribution to the school. I am pleased to say that all Year 7 students now have their HP Stream laptops and would like to thank parents and carers for your support in making this possible. These laptops will make a huge impact on their academic progress and prepare them for learning in the 21st century.

I would also like to give particular mention to our Year 11 students, who have knuckled down to sit their school exams in preparation for their GCSEs and BTECs next year.

The exams have run right up until the end of term and I want to personally congratulate our students on approaching them so conscientiously and with such maturity. Their efforts will, I am sure, hold them in good stead for when they come to sit their real exams. With our last GCSE results being our best yet, I have every faith that our current Year 11 students will continue to raise the bar for academic standards within Highfields.

Of course we hope that once they have sat their exams they will choose to continue their education in our Sixth Form. We hosted an Open Evening to give them - and external students - the chance to get a better flavour of life in Highfields’ Sixth Form and we were delighted to welcome more than 150 visitors through the doors to get a glimpse of the fantastic courses and facilities we offer.

Whilst our students and staff are preparing for a well-earned break over Christmas, I am already turning my attention to the New Year and the many things we have to look forward to when we return from the holidays for our spring term on January 4th.

It is a term we expect will be very intense as the preparations for exams really start to build up. It is during this term that we really encourage our students to look forward and start to make choices that will pave the way for their future. In particular, we are very keen to see as many students and parents as possible at our Year 9 Course Choice Evening early in the new term. The event provides a great opportunity to pick up information and advice so all of our students make the correct subject choices to allow them to reach their academic goals and ultimately give them the best foundations to meet their career aspirations in the future. Next term also marks the start of school exams for our Year 12 and 13 students so I hope they enjoy a relaxing Christmas break ahead of what will be an incredibly busy term for them.

I would like to personally thank everyone - students, staff, parents and members of the community - who help to make it such a pleasure to be part of life at Highfields. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’ll see you all in 2017! 

Mr Graham Tate

Headteacher

Posted on December 16, 2016 .

Autumn 2016: Welcome back

Firstly, I would like to say what a pleasure it is to be talking to you as Headteacher of Highfields School. It is a true privilege to take on this role and I am looking forward to the many exciting times and challenges ahead. 

I am sure you will join me in wishing my predecessor, Mr M.Capel, the very best for his well-deserved retirement - and good luck on the golf course!

Joking aside, the legacy that Mr Capel has left is a school that works to give each and every one of its students the best possible foundation to go on to succeed in their lives and I am proud to have been given the opportunity to lead the school into its next era. The Highfields community is one in which everyone involved is proud to be a part of, and it is in that spirit which we will go forward as we work together to make a great school even better.

We’re only a couple of weeks into the new autumn term, but we’re already well and truly back in full swing here at Highfields. There’s already plenty to tell, a lot to celebrate and much to look forward to as we head into the new academic year.

As you may already know, this year’s GCSE results were our best ever, with almost 75% of our students achieving five A*-C grades, including English and Mathematics. It is a great achievement and one that we will strive to improve on even further during the next academic year. As ever we are not resting on our laurels and the hard work has already begun to prepare our current Year 11 students for their GCSE exams next summer.

                                 Click on the image to read the full article about our GCSE success

                                Click on the image to read the full article about our GCSE success

  Click on the image to read the article about our positive A-level results

 Click on the image to read the article about our positive A-level results

We waved goodbye to our Year 13 students over the summer, after they celebrated a positive set of A-level results. Many of them are now starting courses at their first-choice universities and I would like to personally wish them the very best as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. I’d also like to formally welcome our Year 7 intake and new members of staff as they too start their journey at Highfields. 

Seeing young people grow and develop is one of the many joys of working in education and it was great to welcome 252 new Year 7 students into the Highfields family this September. They are already settling in well and making the most of the school’s facilities and wide range of extra-curricular activities. From sports sessions and science clubs to drama and dance workshops - and everything in between - we are committed to enriching our students’ learning experience. We hope to see all of our new intake taking part in the varied and interesting activities on offer.

 Click here to learn more about our latest show

Click here to learn more about our latest show

I am very pleased to announce that rehearsals will soon be starting for next year’s musical production, High School Musical. Our shows are always a highlight of the school year and it’s great to see that more than 200 students have put their names forward to be involved in the next showcase. After the massive success of our past productions, I have no doubt the bar will be raised even higher next time.

 

Highfields remains the first-choice school for so many students - and we were delighted to welcome so many prospective pupils and parents through the doors to give them a glimpse of everything we have to offer during our Open Morning. I would like to say a personal thank you to the hundreds of pupils who gave up their Saturday morning to welcome our guests and help out with the dozens of activities going on around school on the day.

The feedback we have received from our visitors has been fantastic, with many commenting on how confident, articulate and polite our students are.

We have a lot to look forward to at Highfields together.

Graham Tate

Headteacher

Posted on September 27, 2016 .

Summer 2016: A final farewell

There are three very important things about Headship: Knowing when you are ready for the job, being lucky and finally knowing when it is time to go. 

My first Headship began in 2002 and I couldn’t wait to get started. For the next five years I enjoyed every minute during a period when the Blair government’s mantra was ‘education, education, education’. Those were truly exciting times with high levels of funding and an agenda shaped by ‘Every Child Matters’ which set out to transform the educational landscape, particularly in cities like Wolverhampton. 

In 2007 I was ready for a new challenge and was very fortunate to be appointed Headteacher at Highfields at the point when the school was to be completely rebuilt as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme. What an opportunity – to be part of a team to design and build a school from scratch. Very few Headteachers are lucky enough to build their own school. 2007-2012 were wonderfully challenging years as we tried out lots of new ideas, visited schools at home and abroad and engaged as many people as possible in the design process. 

The result is Highfields as we see it today – not perfect, maybe, but a great set of school buildings which have created an outstanding environment for learning. Our ever-improving academic achievements are, in part, proof of this, with GCSE results last year being our best ever (we look forward to this year’s results in August) and our previously under-subscribed Sixth Form now the first-choice for many of our students wishing to continue their education before going on to university or employment. Outside of the classroom, the extra-curricular activities provided in the state-of-the-art facilities so many of you played a part in creating are vast and wide-ranging. Whether it be nurturing the talents of budding young stars of the stage and sports field, or providing a platform for youngsters to build confidence and friendships, Highfields’ work to ensure that every pupil achieves their full potential reaches far beyond the classroom.

The 747 applications we received for 252 places in Year 7 this year is testimony to the ideas, planning and resources that have gone - and continue to go - into the school and shows just how popular Highfields has become.

Highfields will always be popular because it is a values-driven school which believes in educating the whole child. It embraces any educational changes within this framework, enabling the school to be innovative whilst retaining many of its much-loved traditions. Its Headteachers will come and go but, whatever changes and improvements they make, the school will remain at the centre of the community meeting the needs of each generation of children. This is probably why so many of the staff at Highfields were once students at the school themselves and why some members of staff are now teaching the grandchildren of students they taught years ago. And long may this continue.

My nine years of Headship at Highfields pale, of course, into insignificance against the combined years of service of Mrs O’Shea, Ms Neale, Mrs Hall and Mr Mark who, together, have spent 95 years at Highfields. It has been a privilege to work alongside such colleagues and I wish them all a very happy retirement.

Like them, I know it is the right time to go and I will take my retirement knowing that the school is in very safe hands. It was very fortunate that my knowing it was time to retire coincided with Mr Tate knowing he was ready for Headship and I am delighted he will be Highfields’ new Headteacher in September. I wish him the greatest of luck but also, as the French say, ’bon courage’ because it is courageous Headteachers who really do make a difference!

 

Mark Capel

Headteacher

 

Posted on July 20, 2016 .

Spring 2016: A bright and busy start to the year

It’s been a short half term but it’s been another one bursting with activity. As always, there’s a lot to say, but I promise to keep this blog brief!

Our Upper School and Sixth-Form students have been busy with their exam preparations and I would like to reiterate the sentiments from my last blog by commending them on the conscientious manner in which they approached them. Our mock exams were positive overall but it has also given our students an indication of what they need to improve and build on for the real thing.

I am happy to say that they are not resting on their laurels and a group of Year 11 students will be spending time at Edgmond Hall, in Newport, for a weekend of intensive study and team building as they continue to work towards their final exams. As you may know, last year’s results were our best yet and put us in 2nd position of non-selective schools in the city’s league tables. I am sure you will join us in supporting our students through this tough exam period to help them achieve their potential.

Whilst we will always strive for academic success there is so much more to school life at Highfields. Whether it be fundraising activities for Teenage Cancer Trust to baking competitions, trips to National Space Centre, performances at the Grand Theatre, First Aid training or gaining compliance in dementia care, it is always so pleasing to see the all-round development of our students and I am proud of the extra time they commit to building on their talents and helping others.

Our school does not switch off the lights when the bell rings at 3.20pm. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the halls to still be buzzing with activity far past 8pm. Whether it be gymnastics, football, athletics, table tennis, basketball - or all of the above and much more - we’re always proud of our students’ extra-curricular talents. I invite you all to a new ‘Sports Success’ section on our website to keep you up to date with the latest in our extra-curricular sporting achievements.

I’m also happy to report that the amazing set for this year’s school production of Our House has arrived and transformed our Lyceum Theatre, which means it’s not long until show time. On top of their daily work, more than 60 students have given their time at evenings, weekends (and this half-term holiday) to rehearse for the show. I’ve been told these last few days are a tense time for the whole team but I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to a great show.

I must mention the disruption caused to schools across the West Midlands due to hoax bomb threats during the past half term, although Highfields and our neighbouring schools in Wolverhampton have not been affected. We have been working closely with West Midlands Police and they have been proactive in providing us with sound advice and guidance to back up the stringent safety procedures we already have in place.

Finally, I would like to give our students enjoying their half-term break skiing in Austria my best wishes and I hope all of our staff and students (apart from the Our House team still working hard!) enjoy a well-earned half-term break.

I look forward to seeing everyone bright and refreshed after the holiday.

Mark Capel

Headteacher

Posted on February 18, 2016 .

Christmas 2015: Much to be merry about

They say time flies when you’re having fun and I can barely believe another term is almost over and we’re heading into Christmas. 

In typical Highfields’ style, the last few weeks have been incredibly busy. It has been another packed term, filled with countless success stories and individual achievements by our students. I have recently had the pleasure of presenting our Governing Body with a report detailing some of those achievements from the past term - which I am delighted to say ran into 55 pages and gives some indication of just how much we have going on here at Highfields and the huge amount we have to celebrate. 

One of the great things about Highfields is that we are such a close-knit community working together to inspire each other and achieve good things. As we head towards Christmas it has been heartening to see so many examples of this in the past few days alone. Our school became a beacon of festivities when staff and students donned their colourful Christmas jumpers to raise £663 for Teenage Cancer Trust. The students themselves voted for this as their chosen charity for the academic year and it is wonderful to see the entire school coming together to support this worthy cause.

Our annual carol concert at St Bartholomew’s Church was another great success and it was also a pleasure for us all to witness the Christmas Concert, which every year highlights the wealth of talent we have within Highfields. I should probably also give the audience a special mention for joining in with a particularly rousing finale of Slade! 


But, despite all of these wonderful extra-curricular events and activities, I’m sure our Year 11 students will be the first to assure you that this term has certainly not been all fun and games, as they have knuckled down to sit their mock GCSE exams. The exams have run right up until the end of term and I want to personally congratulate the students on the very focused and conscientious manner with which they have approached them. Their maturity and hard work will, I am sure, hold them in good stead for when they come to sit their real exams next year. With last year’s GCSE results being our best yet, I have every faith that our current Year 11 students will continue to raise the bar for academic standards within Highfields.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we are improving the way you are kept informed of successes and school activities by regularly updating our website with news and photographs to give a better insight into the many great things happening in and around school. It is because of this that I will be keeping my blog briefer from now on (which I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know), and I invite you to become regular visitors to the website to get a better idea of everything we have going on. 

Whilst our students and staff are preparing for a well-earned break over Christmas, I am already turning my attention to the New Year and the many things we have to look forward to when we return from the holidays. 

First of all, I want to tell you that the school has successfully bid for Multi-Academy Trust status, which I am pleased to say will allow it to continue to serve the local community in the same way it always has. I can assure parents that this will in no way affect daily life at Highfields, with the name, uniform, term time and school day remaining exactly as they already are. The moves have been made simply to secure the future of Highfields in the context of an ever-changing landscape of education. 

We will return to a relatively short term after the New Year and one which we expect will be very intense as the preparations for exams really start to build up. It is during this term that we really encourage our students to look forward and start to make choices that will pave the way for their future. In particular, we are very keen to see as many students and parents as possible at our Year 9 Course Choice Evening in the second week of the new term. The event provides a great opportunity to pick up information and advice so all of our students make the correct subject choices to allow them to reach their academic goals and ultimately give them the best foundations to meet their career aspirations in the future. Our ‘Plan To Succeed Day’ for Year 11 students is an equally important event to help our students fulfil their potential and look forward to life post-16. 

I would like to take this opportunity to say congratulations to our Senior Deputy Headteacher Steve Jevon, who has recently been presented with his long service award for his 25-year contribution to education with the local authority in Wolverhampton. Well done Steve - you’re almost catching me up! 

We are waving goodbye to two members of our teaching staff and I would like to personally thank them for their hard work and commitment to the Highfields family. Science teacher Rachel Cooper, who has been with us for 16 years, and Modern Foreign Languages and sports teacher Michael Smith, who has been with us for eight years, will both be moving on to pastures new in January. I am sure you will all join me in wishing them all the very best of luck in their new roles. 

I think that just about covers it! Another term has passed, and I am once again astounded at just how much we have achieved as a school. Thank you to everyone - students, staff, parents and members of the community - who help to make it such a pleasure to be part of life at Highfields. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’ll see you all in 2016! 

Mark Capel 

Headteacher

Posted on December 18, 2015 .

Autumn Term 2015: Delighted to be back

The autumn term has well and truly begun and, in true Highfields style, we’ve wasted no time in getting back into the swing of things. There’s plenty to tell, a lot to celebrate and a great deal to look forward to as we head into the new academic year. I’m delighted to be back at the helm having left the school in the very capable hands of Graham Tate during my year’s secondment with Ofsted. I must also thank him for taking over the Headteacher’s Blog whilst I was away – and raising the word count benchmark!

Highfields continues to be the same school we know and love, one that inspires its pupils to achieve great things and makes us all incredibly proud. It has been a very busy start to the term and - as I walk around the bustling learning schools filled with familiar faces and hundreds of new ones - I am constantly reminded of the important role we play in helping so many students develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they need for a successful future. Having waved goodbye to some of our pupils in the summer as they embarked on their next chapter of their lives it is a pleasure to welcome our Year 7 intake and new members of staff as they too start their Highfields journey.

 

As you may already know, this year’s GCSE results were our best ever, with 72% of students gaining 5 A*-C grades, including English and Maths. It is a great achievement and one that we will strive to improve even further during the next academic year.

 

As ever we are not resting on our laurels and the hard work has already begun to prepare our current Year 11 students for their GCSE exams next summer, which are set to be even tougher than in previous years. The new requirements for GCSE English and Maths have made them more rigorous and from now on, students who fail to achieve a grade C or above in either subject will have to continue them at school or in further education. This is part of the government’s drive to improve young peoples’ skills and enhance their future career prospects. News of these changes has caused some concern, but we welcome these changes and are dedicated to working with all of our students to ensure their continuing academic success.

It is very rewarding to see so many of our pupils opting to return to continue their studies in our Sixth Form. They will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of last year’s very successful Year 13, who achieved an overall A-Level pass rate of 99%. I am delighted that more than 100 of them have now moved on to study at university and I am sure you will all join me in wishing them all the very best for the future.

HIGHFIELDS CELEBRATES EXAM SUCCESS

 

Seeing young people grow and develop is one of the many joys of working in education and it was great to welcome 250 new Year 7 students into the Highfields family this September. They are already settling in well and making the most of the school’s state-of-the-art facilities and wide range of extra-curricular activities. We have many things to be proud of at Highfields and our extra-curricular offering is amongst them. From sports sessions and science clubs to drama and dance workshops and everything in between, we are dedicated to enriching our students’ learning experience. We hope to see all of our new intake taking part in the varied and interesting activities on offer. Click here for our extra-curricular timetable.

 

For those of you lucky enough to have seen last year’s spectacular musical production Hairspray, I am very pleased to announce that rehearsals will soon be starting for next year’s show, which I will reveal once our licence is granted. It is always a pleasure to witness the amazing singing, dancing and acting talents of our students and I know our performance staff are keen for as many youngsters as possible to be part of the next show. The response we received for Hairspray was phenomenal and I have no doubt the bar will be raised even higher next time round – no pressure team!

 

We recently held our annual Open Morning, which allowed us to give around 600 prospective pupils and their parents a taste of life at Highfields. More than 200 students gave up their Saturday morning to help out on the day and took great pride in showcasing the many things that go on at the school. The Open Morning always provides us with a great opportunity to share our school with you, celebrate the wonderful achievements of our staff and students and allow us to share our ambitions for the next year.

 

One of the first things we are doing this year is improving the way you are kept informed of our many successes and activities as a school community. Our website is the ‘window’ to Highfields for you all, which is why we will now be regularly updating it with even more news, photographs and interesting day-to-day details to make sure you are always only a click away from the very latest information. We hope you will all become regular visitors to the website and take the opportunity to interact with us and find out about all of our exciting plans and activities this year.

We have a lot to look forward to at Highfields over the next few months and I am delighted to be back sharing it with you all once more.

Mark Capel

Headteacher

Posted on October 8, 2015 .

Spring Term: A Hive of Activity

The Spring Term is always a rather hectic one, and this one has certainly lived up to expectations. It is at this time of year that the pressure really starts to mount on our students; as they enter that cycle of school exams, revision, intervention, and final preparation before examinations in the summer.  Added to this, the school has been a hive of activity with the fantastic school production, a number of appearances in the media and a visit from a government minister.

It was very pleasing to see us doing so well in the School Performance Tables this year at both Key Stages 4 and 5.  I do wonder whether this has perhaps attracted some additional attention to the school and placed us a little in the media spotlight this term. It has certainly been a great opportunity to showcase some of the excellent work that goes on at Highfields on a daily basis, and a great privilege to welcome so many visitors to the school. 


Both Nick Gibb MP, Minister for School Reform, and Paul Uppal MP were both very impressed with the quality of the work that is going on within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and equally with how clearly the students they met from STEM Club and Digital Leaders were able to articulate their ambitions for the future.

 


We also made the press for our work on apprenticeships, with the focus this term on supporting Year 9s in considering their next steps for making their Key Stage Course Choices. These very important decisions are part of the foundation for Further Education and the world of work, especially with a growing number of apprenticeships now available to school leavers.


There has been some excellent additional work in providing a real life context to their learning for students involved in hosting a national ‘Kick it Out’ event in school. This national organisation selected our school for its outstanding facilities and diverse community. Also Economics, Business and Computing students have been successfully competing in a national competition to develop a digital technology business concept.  Although many Highfields teams were successful in reaching the second stage of the iDEAS competition, hosted in the Barclays Headquarters at Canary Wharf, one group has now reached the competition final. The challenge now is to develop their concept further, with support from a team of business ‘dragons’ – we wish them every success.


We, of course, also featured on Midlands Today last week as part of a story on the issue of school admissions. It is great news that we are so popular as a first choice for parents: what is clear is that an ever-increasing number of parents are wanting a place for their child at Highfields. I think that the school looked fantastic and although I won’t be applying for my Equity card any time soon, I do feel that Highfields came over in a really positive light.


If we ever needed reminding of just how talented and committed a group of youngsters we have, for those of you who were fortunate enough to see this year’s school production of ‘Hairspray’, I am sure you will join me in congratulating everyone involved on an amazing set of performances.

The overwhelming view is that this was the best school performance yet, and one which has really raised the bar for future shows. It really did have it all; superb music and sound, amazing choreography, a huge and inclusive cast, an incredibly committed backstage crew, some spectacular individual performances and, more than anything, an overriding sense of fun!

The students looked so confident and self-assured in their performances, there is no doubt that they thoroughly enjoyed those opportunities. This high quality production was the result of undoubted hard work and commitment - rehearsals after school, on weekends and during holidays.

I am sure that they, and the audiences they thrilled, would want me to thank all of those staff who supported them but particularly Mrs Bishop, Mrs Jevon, Ms Ross, Mrs Staunton and Vickie Nash, without whom the performance would not have been possible. 

Posted on March 16, 2015 .

Autumn Term 2014: Student Successes and the Wider School Community

Three months into this term and the secondment, I would like to start by saying how much I am enjoying being Acting Headteacher and how grateful I am for the ongoing support of our staff, students and parents.

 

Certainly my life has been made so much easier by 2014’s very pleasing set of summer results at both GCSE and A2. After such a turbulent summer, in which grades have fallen both nationally and in Wolverhampton, we were delighted that our outcomes at GCSE remained strong and that our A2 results look to be the best that the school has ever achieved.  
 

Considering that wider picture of changes to the examination structure and the assessment procedures in many courses, it is a great credit to the staff and students and their parents who all worked so hard to achieve those results- all should be very proud! We also achieved 95% overall attendance last year –a reminder how attendance and academic success are intrinsically linked.


It is a privilege to lead such a diverse and inclusive school community and one of the benefits of being Headteacher is having the opportunity to routinely host visitors to the school. They are always impressed with our students and the strong working ethos within the school.

This was clearly evident on Open Morning when our prospective Year 7 students and their parents toured the school to see the many opportunities that Highfields has to offer. It is safe to say that the school sells itself and I am pleased that so many of those youngsters and parents are able to see not just the impressive set of buildings but  the even more impressive body of staff and students that make Highfields what it is.  The confidence and pride of the many students, from across all years, who led the tours around the school could not fail to impress.

Open Morning also enabled the school to show our strengthening links and commitment to the community.  One of the many successes of that day was the Macmillan Charity cake stall, selling a range of products made by some very talented – and some not so talented – members of staff.  


Our newly formed Community Engagement Team are developing a variety of initiatives to engage the community so that we can all enjoy the opportunities this school has to offer. Throughout the course of the academic year you will be able to read more about their successes on our News Blog or with the Community Activities report.

This sense of community and social responsibility is also evident in the wide range of Student Leadership opportunities that we are developing at Highfields.
 
Many of you will have read in the Express and Star about the exploits of some of our Sixth Form students in Ghana, supporting a local community build the latest addition to their school.
Read the full story in our
news blog...


This taste for adventure is reflected in the record number of students involved in this year’s Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and combines with the students’ global commitment, demonstrated in a series of Anti-Slavery assemblies presented by the Amnesty group, who have also been busy in school fundraising through some very embarrassing photographs of the staff in their childhood years. You will also shortly have the opportunity to read the Young Journalist’s debut addition of the H, a Lifestyle magazine covering a wide range of issues relevant to young people.

One of the new Student Leadership projects to emerge this year is the World War One Commemoration Ambassador programme involving Year 10 students. They have already been busy making preparations for the Centenary Remembrance.  Four of our ambassadors delivered a special assembly to Years 7-11 about the significance of the Centenary and the importance of remembrance.  In conjunction with this, the rest of the Ambassador team dedicated their break and lunch times to selling poppies, wristbands and badges around school, raising money for the British Legion. Over the coming weeks the Ambassadors will be arranging a remembrance football match to mark the 1914 Christmas truce, and looking to establish contact with a secondary school in Germany to work on a joint memorial project.

This increasing involvement of the students with the community has made the school a thriving centre beyond the school day.   Particular congratulations need to go to Mr Rowley’s Year 7 Football Team who have made a remarkable start to the season but also to the Performance team who seem to have a cast of hundreds as they make their preparations for the school’s performance of ‘Hairspray’ in the Spring Term.


I have also been very pleased with the work that has gone on in raising our students’ aspirations. Over the last fortnight Year 10 students have visited The Skills Show, Year 12 students have attended Higher Education master classes at King Edwards, Stourbridge and we have hosted both our own Futures Evening and a Jaguar Land Rover Apprenticeship event. Not bad for 8 school days!

Highfields' Futures Evening:

Jaguar Land Rover Roadshow:


Earlier this week, we welcomed Sathnam Sanghera, the successful Wolverhampton-born journalist and author, to present our 2014 GCSE students with exam certificates and awards, and to celebrate their achievements of this summer.  We expect that our current Year 11s, who should be busy preparing for their school exams, will be looking forward to similar success in 2015, as will our current AS and A2 students who have their own equally important school exams early in the Spring Term.

Others of us may just be looking forward to Christmas and some of those school events that make this such an enjoyable time of year.  

  Our special guest at this year's Presentation Evening was wolverhampton-born journalist and author, Sathnam Sanghera

Our special guest at this year's Presentation Evening was wolverhampton-born journalist and author, Sathnam Sanghera

 

We hope that you can join us at our Christmas Concert and Craft Fair on Thursday 18th December:

Further details can be found in our online school calendar.

Posted on December 5, 2014 .

Summer 2014

Summer-2014.jpg

It is hard to believe we have reached the end of term; where does the time go? It is a sobering thought that the academic year has now ended and we are busily preparing for September and a new year with more changes imminent.  

 

When I first came into teaching, preparations for the new academic year were minimal, as the new year was generally similar to the previous ones. Education and schools did not change much year on year; there would be new teachers, new classes to teach, perhaps a new exam syllabus to introduce but overall it was generally business as usual. Now, everything seems to change almost annually. At the moment we are preparing to introduce the revised National Curriculum, develop our Literacy and Numeracy provision, revise our assessment policies, prepare for new accountability measures, get to grips with the imminent changes to GCSE English and Mathematics and take our ICT programme to its next phase.  These are in addition to our development plans for increasing community engagement and offering more opportunities for student leadership. Of course, we would not want it any other way, there is a tremendous momentum within the school and this can only benefit our students who clearly appreciate the efforts of Highfields staff.

It was an unusually long exam season this year with exams starting well before half-term but students coped admirably and conducted themselves very well. Year 11 enjoyed their end of school prom a couple of weeks ago and, by all accounts, it was one of the best proms ever. Year 13 had their prom at the end of term and will soon be moving on to new and exciting destinations. Many will go on to higher education but we are seeing an increasing trend whereby more students are looking for employment and higher level apprenticeships. We expect this trend to grow as more employers see the benefits of training young people who wish to avoid the growing debts now incurred though higher education.


  The Year 11 Prom, held at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel.

The Year 11 Prom, held at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel.


One of the joys of education is seeing young people grow and develop as individuals and as we said farewell to our Year 13 students, and some of Year 11, we look forward to meeting our new Year 7 students who will soon be joining us in September. They will be joining us at a very busy time, but having spent two days on induction with us in July I am sure they will quickly settle into new routines.

A major development from September will be a re-focus on community engagement. The Wolverhampton BSF programme had anticipated that community use of the new buildings would be managed by an external provider. This has never materialised for a number of reasons and the school has now assumed responsibility for developing its own programme managed by Highfields. We have appointed  a ‘Community Engagement Officer’ who will take up post at the start of September and be a member of Highfields Community Engagement team led by Mr Brook and Mrs Clifton.  There will be a webpage for Community which will keep you updated on community events throughout the year. Another recent appointment was School Librarian who will also join us in September. The librarian will develop and manage our four Learning Resource Centres which will be very important in our continued focus on developing the literacy and communication skills of all our students, as well as creating new opportunities for students to work as young librarians.
 

As I write the sun is shining, so the holidays have got off to a great start. I hope the fine weather continues and that we all enjoy a brilliant summer holiday!

Posted on July 31, 2014 .

April 2014

NewsBlog.jpg

Towards the end of every term I present the Governing Body with a report on the extra-curricular activities that have taken place during the term. It is always a pleasure to report on these activities many of which are featured in the news section on this website. The report always highlights the quality of provision at Highfields and the willingness of many of our students to engage in their education beyond the classroom. Reviewing this term’s activities leaves me in no doubt that society’s expectations of young people are increasing all the time and that schools are working ever harder to meet these rising expectations.

It is no wonder then, that as we come to the end of a very long and busy term, there are many tired staff and students but also a very strong feeling of purpose and achievement and a clear sense of direction:

  • Years 11 to 13 are very focused on their forthcoming exams and the school will be open throughout the Easter holidays for revision classes and support;
  • Year 10 are just completing mock examinations after two terms of GCSE and BTEC courses,
  • Whilst Year 9 are close to completing their Course Choices.

Although public examinations begin very soon after we return from the Easter holidays I do hope that people will take time to rest and recharge their batteries.


Term Highlights

There have been several highlights this term. Presentation Evening way back in January was really enjoyable with 2012 Year 11 celebrating our best ever GCSE results with Rear Admiral Steve Lloyd.  ‘Oliver’ was a great success with each performance a sell-out; it is marvellous to see such inclusive productions with different students playing lead roles on different nights. The whole production was based around teamwork and it was a delight to see all the students being so supportive of each other. The Cue Zone event with Snooker World Champion Steve Davis was a huge event and well covered by BBC Midlands Today. Students taking part in the event will have a lasting memory which they will probably tell their own children about in years to come. Plan to Succeed Day was another great success with the Year 11 team introducing a new format this year. Year 11 were fully engaged in the event and parental support in the evening was tremendous with many parents signing up for future workshops designed to help them support their child’s revision and preparation for GCSE examinations.
 

 Presentation Evening with Guest of Honour, Rear Admiral Steve Lloyd CBE

Presentation Evening with Guest of Honour, Rear Admiral Steve Lloyd CBE

 Oliver Finale, Opening Night

Oliver Finale, Opening Night

 Steve Davis Snooker Day

Steve Davis Snooker Day


Student Voices

A personal highlight for me has been meeting with groups of students over lunch as part of a Student Voices exercise. A key part of our self-evaluation as a school is gathering the views and opinions of students; much of this is done through surveys but I also like to meet personally with groups of students and discuss their experience of Highfields. This is always interesting and informative and the students are always candid in their views and remarkably positive about Highfields. I always encourage them to be constructively critical of the school but there seems to be little they would like to change. They are a credit to Highfields, their parents and young people in general.
 

Gumdrop


We have launched a major initiative this term to tackle the issue of chewing gum in school or rather, to address the problem of its disposal. We are all familiar with the unpleasant and costly consequences when gum is thoughtlessly dropped; it is very unsightly, it damages carpets, clothes and fabrics and is expensive to remove.

 
At Highfields we always look for positive solutions and ask students to contribute to developing these solutions. We are very pleased, therefore, that the Eco Team have launched ‘Gumdrops’ at Highfields.

The Gumdrop is a clever recycling scheme which provides special containers for the disposal of chewing gum; these containers are then collected and recycled into products such as wellies, chairs, sunglasses and the actual containers for collecting gum in the first place! Students from the Eco-group have planned the locations of gumdrop containers and presented the scheme in assemblies.

Our intention is not to stop people chewing but persuade them to dispose of their gum responsibly and contribute to the recycling agenda. We are grateful to the Eco–group for their work and thank them for launching such an innovative solution to a difficult problem.

We are now planning to host a special eco-seminar to showcase the scheme amongst our other eco-initiatives, which will be attended by Eco Schools from across the city and representatives from organisations such as ‘Keep Britain Tidy’.

In the meantime... Happy Easter!

Posted on April 23, 2014 .