Highfield Priory
Jul 15, 2015

Headmaster's Weekly News, Presentation Day 2015

15 July 2015

Dear Parents

Taken From My Presentation Day Speech

I was out for a walk with Albus, our cocker spaniel, at the start of spring on a fantastically beautiful day, when the fields are full of new born lambs and daffodils are popping up everywhere, and I came across this flower that stopped me in my tracks (you can all see it on the postcard in front of you).

How could something this delicate force its way up through the tarmac and continue to bloom and grow. How did it know to keep searching for the sun? How did it know to keep trying? What determination it must have, what resilience, what patience! It occurred to me that we could all learn a great deal from this little flower, especially whilst we are working away at our studies in Primary and Secondary School. Sometimes we will question why? Why do we have to do homework when we could be watching TV? Why do we have to know the area of a triangle? Why does it matter where we put a semi-colon? Why do I need to learn about things that happened in the past? Why? Why? Why? I’ll let this little flower give you the answer. You need to keep working, keep believing, keep aiming high, because one day, all your hard work will be rewarded and you will break through the tarmac and take your place in the world as a beautiful, resilient, determined individual who is ready for anything!

I look at our Year Six class and I see 22 individuals who all have very different talents and strengths that they will take with them to their Secondary School. I have watched them as they have discovered and developed these strengths and have shone in so many different arenas. Early this year, a group of Year Sixes proved the extent of their general knowledge by winning the Bolton Big Quiz out of a strong field from 12 other schools. This general knowledge and their ability to remember facts and important details was once again demonstrated in the World Book Day Mastermind challenge in which the children’s ability to read and absorb books never ceases to amaze me. This year’s final was closer than ever with only a few points splitting the top three contestants.

On the sports field, our Year Sixes, and in fact our whole school, have also excelled. Once again the boys reached the ISA Football Finals day, only narrowly losing in the semi-final. In Rugby, they won The Plate at the Rossall Budge Tournament and they only lost one of their twelve-a-side games. Our girls have not just taken on schools this year where the majority of their opponents are at least one year older and in many cases two years older, they have also beaten them and shown incredible promise for the future. Highfield came second out of 23 in the last Malsis Cross-Country event and we had three swimmers representing the school at the ISA National Finals in the Olympic Pool in London, achieving three Gold Medals. In Athletics, we won the Beech House Inter-Schools Athletics Tournament out of 11 schools and one of our athletes qualified for the Nationals in Birmingham, winning a bronze medal.

Our Year Six class led the Carol Service with superb solos, group performances and eloquent prayers and readings. In HPSED, many pupils achieved Honours and Advanced Honours for excellence in Public Speaking.

And all this before we even touch upon the National Curriculum. This class took their National Curriculum Tests in May and the results came in from the external examiners last week. We were delighted to see that 100% had been awarded a Level 4 in Maths and English. But it gets even better than that! 100% achieved a Level 5 for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar and four pupils achieved a Level 6; 90% achieved Level 5 for English Comprehension. In Maths, 86% achieved a Level 5 and seven pupils achieved a Level 6 which is the highest amount of Level sixes we have achieved from one year group. This incredible group of boys and Amy have achieved the second highest set of results for over thirteen years. And Amy, let me take a moment to say well done to Amy. Not many girls would put up with this group of boys alone but you have done it. We are all really proud of your strength of character and your calming influence within the class. Well done.

I think we can all agree that this Year Six class is rather amazing, however more than anything else, this year, it is their kindness that has really impressed me. I know there are some heartbroken Reception and Infant children out there who are really going to miss their friends and ‘big brothers’ and ‘sister’ in Year Six. They have been superb monitors and have shown really big hearts under all that rough and tumble. You are going to be greatly missed.

The school continues to expand with two forms in Reception which means we can continue to improve facilities, starting with the construction of an All-Weather Pitch which is taking place this summer.

We have also appointed new staff: Mr Sheppeck is joining us in September from Altrincham Preparatory School. Our new members of staff from this September have already made their presence felt at Highfield. Mr Murray, as well as being a very accomplished class room teacher has also delighted us with his musical skills this year in our Nativity and in the introduction of the Infant Little Voices and our School Band. Mr Drake has also been a great addition to the team, expanding our provision of sporting activities to include more children and by providing technical support for teachers and pupils.

Chess continues to flourish at Highfield, with over 12 players selected to play for the county and our players consistently being placed in the Lancashire congresses. The majority of our current players will still be here next year which bodes well for their future success.

The school has produced 4 public performances this year. Our Infants performed in The Nativity; Year Four led the acting in The Witches at The Charter Theatre, which included dancers from the age of 4 to 11; Years 3 and 5 performed in our moving and thought-provoking Letter to the Trenches in the spring term; and just last week our Year Six Class put in a brilliant performance as the cast of Frankie and Me. Performing Arts remains a real strength of the school and the confidence and standard of the performance continues to improve each year, showing that practice does indeed make perfect.

As well as saying goodbye to our Year Sixes this year, we also have to say goodbye to Mrs Sanderson who leaves us this term to start a new position at AKS. She has been at Highfield for 15 years and has been a real driving force behind many of the developments, including recently, the Performing Arts Studio and the all-weather pitch. She has worked alongside three Head Teachers and has demonstrated tremendous commitment to the school. We shall all be very sorry to see her go. I would like to thank Mrs Sanderson on behalf of the whole Highfield community and I wish her the very best of luck at AKS.

My final words are to you Year Six. Great challenges are before you and a whole new world is opening up to you. Look at the flower on the card in front of you and remember, even when things get tough “you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”.

Dates for the Calendar


Week One

Wednesday           2              Term begins 8.30am

Thursday               3              Year 2 Curriculum Evening 6.30pm

Week Two

Tuesday                8             Year 1 Curriculum Evening 6.30pm

Wednesday           9             Year 3 Curriculum Evening 6.30pm

Thursday               10           Year 4 Curriculum Evening 6.30pm

Week Three

Tuesday                 15           Year 5 Curriculum Evening 6.30pm

 Friday                    18           New Parents’ Coffee Morning


The curriculum evenings are important as they give you an insight into the year ahead for your child as well as giving you a chance to meet your child’s new teacher.

National Northern Gigafinal: Chess

6 boys travelled to Manchester at the weekend to play in the Northern Gigafinal  after qualifying in the regional rounds. All the boys did incredibly well against players from all over Great Britain including Scotland, Wales and Ireland. A special mention should go to Ivan, Daniel and Alexander who won 4 out of their 6 games and qualified for the National Plate Final. Well done!

Highfield Bake-Off

Thank you to all those parents who spent time over the weekend baking with their children. We had a wonderful array of cakes and raised an amazing £292.60. It was very difficult to judge and many children received a highly commended certificate. The final winners were: in Infants, Aadi and Diya for the best taste and Abigail S. for the best presentation; and in Juniors Noah and Genevieve for the best taste and Evie M for the best presentation. Thank you again to everyone who took part.

Mrs Hill’s Half Marathon

Congratulations to Mrs Hill for completing her first half marathon and raising £124.50. The amount will be donated to The Space Centre and HPPTA.  Thank you to everybody who contributed.

I hope you all have a fantastic summer break and I look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday 2 September.

Yours sincerely

J M Duke