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.
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