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

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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

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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 .

Half-Term Blog

It seems ironic that in my previous blog I began by saying how the new term started with good weather and now as I write there are howling gales all around.  I hope there will be some improvement next week so that staff and students can enjoy a much deserved break. It has been a hectic term so far and students have coped exceptionally well with the very poor weather of recent weeks. We are fortunate in having excellent social spaces around the school but it is to the students’ credit they have been used so well during the many wet breaks and lunchtimes we have experienced.
 

Many of the staff and students will be very busy over half-term; Year 11 students will be in school for three days as part of their preparations for exams whilst the cast of Oliver will be busy rehearsing throughout the week.

We are very much looking forward to Oliver and tickets are on sale in school with performances beginning on Thursday 27th February.

For more details and a sneak preview of some of our rehearsals, click on the link opposite.

 
Calendar

Careers guidance has been a major focus this term as Year 9 make their Key Stage 4 option choices. We were delighted that over 90% of Year 9 parents attended a very successful Options Evening and Careers Fair. In developing our provision for Careers guidance Mr A. Jeavons is very busy forging strong links with local businesses and employers. 

In January, the school hosted its first business link event for a local Wolverhampton employer. PayCare Ltd used the school’s facilities to hold its company marketing strategy meeting and Highfields’ BTEC Catering students provided them with a buffet lunch whilst two of our A Level Business students were invited to participate in the actual marketing strategy meeting. 

We hope that this will be the first of many such events in order to provide students with real life experiences of the world of work.

You can read about the PayCare event in our News Blog.

 
News Blog
PayCare - Business Link Event

Although the opportunities for sporting fixtures have been much reduced by the weather, students continue to enjoy a range of provision.  Our gymnasts competed in a regional competition in Stoke and four Year 8 students competed in the Black Country Table Tennis Championships.  Our Sports Leaders hosted a successful multi-skills event for local primary schools this week and the 4th March will see former World Snooker Champion, Steve Davies, in school as part of a national coaching programme introduced to Highfields by Mr T. Rowley.


The Steve Davis Snooker Day is currently being advertised to students on our digital signage system around the building. If your son or daughter is interested in this tactical sport, please make sure you encourage them to sign up to the tournament!


After half-term we plan to launch a new section, ‘Student Enrichment’ on the website which will give detailed updates on the many activities undertaken by students beyond the classroom.  The intention is that students will help to keep this section updated and provide more detailed insights on life at Highfields.

In the meantime, enjoy half-term. Let’s hope it stops raining soon!

Posted on February 18, 2014 .

Happy New Year

Happy New Year and welcome back to Highfields!

There has been a very positive start to the new term helped by some good weather, particularly at lunchtimes, enabling students to make the most of outdoor facilities.


Timber Tangle

Students may remember, from the old buildings,  the ‘Timber Tangle’ and the outdoor basketball hoops which I am pleased to announce will be back in use very soon; we have had to address several health and safety issues which have delayed their return to use.

Students using the Timber Tangle, previously situated near the South Block of the old building, back in 2011.


Students using the Timber Tangle, previously situated near the South Block of the old building, back in 2011.


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Year 11 Presentation Evening

The first highlight of the new year was Presentation Evening where last year’s Year 11 received their Examination Certificates and Achievement Awards.

Guest of Honour was ex-pupil Rear Admiral Steve Lloyd who inspired the audience relating his time at Highfields to his career experiences in the Royal Navy. In a very accomplished speech he demonstrated to students the relevance of their studies at school to their future lives and careers.

Photographs from the event can be found here.


Spring Term

Spring term will be very busy as Upper School and Sixth Form prepare for important public examinations. Middle School also has a packed agenda; Year 10 Parents Evening was well attended last Tuesday with 80% of parents meeting with subject teachers.

The Year 9 Options Programme will be launched on the 29th January by Mr Brook and his team. This will be the beginning of a very detailed and in-depth programme to ensure that all students are able to follow an appropriate and personalised curriculum programme in Years 10 and 11.


Student Leadership Projects

The Young Curators are currently on track in planning their first exhibition and have identified a name for the exhibition area. Choosing a name was not easy and the group had several different ideas and suggestions. We asked them to present their suggestions and arguments to the Senior Management team who were very impressed by the depth of arguments and quality of presentations. It was clear that a great deal of thought had gone into the process and that the group wanted a name which would capture students’ imaginations and encourage them to engage with the exhibition space. After much discussion the space will be named ‘ Evoke’ and we look forward to seeing how the students will design the signage and future marketing materials.

The Eco-Group have been very busy. In addition to their usual agenda we have asked them to look at solutions to the problem of chewing gum which has re-emerged as an issue in school. Rather than take the usual sanctions route to solving the problem the group are looking at how chewing gum could be re-cycled and create a positive outcome from a negative issue.

The Digital Leaders held their first meeting this week and are now busy working on a scheme to launch their programme. Inevitably, it will be several weeks before they ‘go public’ given the need for their personal training and development before they can deliver to other students.

Friday, this week, will see the launch of the Sport Activator’s Programme for Year 10 students and BTEC Sports students. This will be another opportunity for students to gain leadership experiences and take on responsibilities which will prepare them for future careers. Combined with their academic successes these opportunities and experiences aim to give our students the skills and qualities for future success. This focus on student engagement is a major feature of our next School Improvement Plan which the Senior Management team are currently finalising for presentation to Governors in late February.

So a busy term ahead for everyone which I hope we will all enjoy!

Posted on January 20, 2014 .

Have a Happy Christmas!

I always find the most difficult part of writing a blog to be the opening sentence. My intention is that the blog should be quite general and wide ranging so it becomes difficult to begin with a specific point. Anyway, that’s the opening sentence or two taken care of!

As usual it has been a very busy term and students and staff are looking forward to the Christmas holidays. It has been a busy final week with Year 11 completing their mock exams and coursework and finishing the term with a rewards trip to the Birmingham Christmas markets on Friday. The Carol Service at St Bart’s was well attended and staff and students enjoyed carols, readings and drama, including a brilliant version of the Christmas story from Rev. Ben Whitmore. Tonight, we are looking forward to the Christmas Concert which will be held in the Lyceum; tickets are free but we are hoping to raise funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

I had a very enjoyable afternoon on Wednesday interviewing applicants for the role of Digital Leaders. 30 students applied for these posts and 14 were shortlisted for interview. I never cease to be amazed by the quality of our young people; their applications came in a wide range of digital formats with some very original adaptations of well-known software which surprised even Mr Johnson, our Microsoft expert. One of the interview questions asked the applicants to describe an achievement of which they were really proud and it was very encouraging to hear the surprising range of accomplishments that the students had achieved between them. The Lower School students gave a very good account of themselves and contributed to some very interesting discussions. In the end we appointed nine Digital Leaders from Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. You will be able to follow their activities on the website in the New Year.  In January we will be introducing new opportunities for Sports Leaders so watch this space.

Students’engagement in school life beyond the classroom is such an important part of their education. It is through clubs and extra-curricular activities that they develop their wider social skills, meet new friends and work with their teachers and support staff in a different environment.  I was very pleased, therefore, in my termly report to Governors, to outline the impressive range of extra-curricular activities that have taken place this term. These include the re-launched Film Club which attracts around 60 students per week – I was able to pop into the club on Tuesday and enjoy 3D cinema in the Lecture Theatre. STEM Club (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) goes from strength to strength and competitive table tennis in now attracting large numbers. 45 students are signed up to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and have completed their practice expedition. Students have visited Germany and Spain, won a catering competition with a visit by Gastronaughts Chef, Stefan Gates to Highfields as first prize. They have raised over £1500 for various charities and contributed to performing arts and sporting activities on a wide scale. These are just a flavour of what is happening across all areas of the school; you can get the full stories by visiting our blog.

Governors always enjoy hearing of the students’ involvements and achievements beyond the classroom. They recognise the importance of academic progress and qualifications but also place a great emphasis on pastoral issues, the personal development of the students and links with the community. Full Governors meet twice a term but the majority of their work takes place in committees which meet throughout the term. To ensure an appropriate balance between academic and pastoral developments and enhance the community dimension of the school, the Governors have just reorganised their committee structure. From January there will be three committees; Curriculum, Pastoral and Community, and Finance, Premises, Resources and Personnel. As always there is a very full agenda for these committees and the unpaid work of the governors is very much appreciated by the school.

As term ends we will be saying farewell to several staff. Rosalynn Fisher from Maths is moving abroad, Melissa Hicken from Student Services is returning to the commercial world and Anthony Gouldstone is taking his formidable IT knowledge and skills to the world of industry. Sue Shield, the Headteacher’s P.A.  is retiring after 23 years at Highfields. Mrs Shield will be sorely missed by the school, she has been an outstanding member of staff and is very much part of the fabric of Highfields. We wish her a very healthy and happy retirement!

A white Christmas looks very unlikely but there is always the possibility of snow in January so we have updated our procedures for adverse weather which you can find under Letters/Notices.

 

Have a happy Christmas!

Posted on December 19, 2013 .

Mid Term Blog

My previous blog mentioned the introduction of the Young Curators Programme and I am pleased to write that we have now appointed a team of 11 curators from Years 10 to 13. The competition for places was very tough with 38 strong applications. The curators had their first meeting with Nicola Shipley, the Arts Professional, and are now planning the future of the school’s art gallery.

The Young Curators' Programme is designed to enrich students’ experience of school and give them opportunities to develop leadership skills.  A similar programme for Digital Leaders will be launched through assemblies next week. This programme will be led by Mr Johnson who has just been appointed as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert! Mr Johnson is now one of the 250 international experts appointed by Microsoft from a field of 23,000 applicants; he is one of just ten experts appointed for the UK. The Digital Leaders will work closely with Mr Johnson in leading ICT innovations at Highfields and play an important role in supporting students and teachers in the use of ICT.

Dhol Drummers opened the Autumn Festival show

Dhol Drummers opened the Autumn Festival show

It was great to see so many people attending our Autumn Festival where over three hundred tickets were sold with the audience enjoying Shakespeare, Diwali, food and fireworks. It is on these occasions that we really do appreciate the versatility of our new buildings.


To view photos from the Autumn Festival, visit our online gallery.



On the issue of buildings we now feel much more settled than this time last year and have a good understanding of the buildings, how they work and their future potential. We now feel confident in addressing the matter of community use and the Governing Body have agreed to set up a governors’ committee to review community use and explore its future provision. I will keep you informed of future plans and developments.

Inevitably, the exam season has begun. A small number of Year 11 students have recently sat their full GCSE examinations in English and Maths whilst the rest of Year 11 have taken a mock exam in Maths. Sixth formers applying to Oxford and Cambridge are busy in their preparations and we wish them well in their applications.

It was good to see our Link Governors in school last week. These are members of the Governing body who focus on particular aspects of the school to ensure that the governing body are kept well informed on the work of the school. Last week’s visits by six Link Governors focussed on ICT, Sixth Form and the examination outcomes in each of the Learning Schools. As governors are all volunteers who give their time freely to the school we really do appreciate their efforts and contributions.

For more information on the School Governing Body please click here.

Posted on November 14, 2013 .

New Opportunities

I am delighted to report that our new website is attracting people’s attention with nearly 40,000 hits since its launch in September. We are continuously developing new pages to keep people updated on everything that is happening at Highfields. An important addition will be a new section entitled ‘Enrichment’ which will focus upon the many extra-curricular activities offered by the school.

We are also working very hard on the development of our Virtual learning Environment (VLE) which will eventually link with our website. This is a huge piece of work which requires very careful planning. We have appointed three VLE ‘champions’, Mr Smith, Mr Beesla and Mr Lee who will work under the leadership of Ms Campbell in developing the use of the VLE in the classroom. When this phase has been completed we will introduce the ‘Parents’ section which will enable all parents to engage even more closely with their child’s curriculum and progress at school.

This is the time of year when many parents with children in Year 6 of primary school are choosing a secondary school for 2014-2015. We held our Open Morning on 28th September and were pleased to see so many parents making the effort to visit Highfields and gather information to inform their choice. As I write there are tours of the school taking place; to date we have had 84 families taking tours. We really do recommend this approach in ensuring that parents make the right choice for their child. If you would like to visit the school with your child you can make an appointment through Reception on 01902 556530.

Next week we will launch the Young Curators Programme. This is a new development which I will introduce to Years 10-14. The programme requires eight students to work with an arts professional in curating the Highfields Gallery which we opened last July. The idea developed from the BSF Public Art Programme and aims to continue the legacy created through Public Art. Nicola Shipley from Project Dandelion will lead the Young Curators who will organise three exhibitions per year. The group will select their own themes for exhibitions and lead on every aspect of exhibition work including the sourcing of exhibitors, marketing, budgeting, and installing and de-installing materials. The range of activities on offer means that the project is not restricted to students studying Art. It is an ambitious project but will provide excellent opportunities for our interested students to forge links with the creative industries. A Young Curators page will be included on the website to keep you informed of the project and future opportunities to visit the gallery.

We are pleased to announce the appointment of our ‘Senior Six’ - Ashley Millman, Head Girl, Christos Makarounas, Head Boy, Pavit Bangur and Dan Cole, Deputy Head Boys, Lilly Hyatt and Safi Goollam-Kader, Deputy Head Girls. Congratulations to each of them on their appointment. The Head Boy and Head Girl will attend Full Governing Body meetings as representatives of the student body.

Congratulations to Mr Brook, Head of Middle School who attended Buckingham Palace this week to receive a well-deserved award for his work with grassroots football. Mr Brook manages a local team and works with national groups to develop equality and diversity in football at a grassroots level. He is an excellent role model for our young people.

Posted on October 14, 2013 .

A New Term

Headteacher’s blog! A new departure for Highfields so it is with some trepidation that I begin my first ever blog. I remember as a child starting to keep several diaries but never managing to keep them updated for very long. I hope to do better with this blog where my intention is to keep you updated weekly on what’s happening at Highfields, its many successes and other information that may be of interest.

It has been a very busy start to the new academic year and the school has quickly settled into its usual routines. I was delighted to see so many parents at the Welcome Evenings where we were able to share with them our recent examination successes and our ambitions for 2013-2014. Developing our communication systems is a key theme for this year and this new website is the first improvement of the year. I hope you find it much more user friendly and easier to navigate than the old website. Our ambition is that parents will see the website as their first ‘port of call’ in keeping themselves updated with what’s happening in school. You can follow the school on Twitter @Highfields_sch which will provide you important school notices.

Of course all this depends on technology and as we all know technology can be unreliable at times. Last week was particularly difficult in school when our wireless cloud was flooded by major interference from a local mobile phone mast when it switched to 4G. The effect was to create gridlock on our wireless channels making it very difficult to send or process information. Our IT team have worked tirelessly with our suppliers to find solutions to counteract the effects of this interference and minimise the impact of any similar events in the future. Such incidents are incredibly inconvenient but they do serve to provide valuable reminders of our vulnerability to new technology and the importance of retaining some of our more traditional approaches in schools.

This Saturday (28th September) will see our annual Open Morning where parents and prospective parents are invited to visit the school. It is our showcase event and staff and students take great pride in sharing the school with you.  There will also be tours next week where you can see the school in action on a working day. If you are able to spend some time with us at these events we would be grateful for any feedback.

So, first Headteacher blog completed! I have kept it brief so as not to set a precedent. My homework now is to learn how to set up links in my blog which may be of interest to parents. If there are any particular issues you would like to know more about contact us on yourviews@hswv.org.uk.

Posted on September 24, 2013 .