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.
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.