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.
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.
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.