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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.