“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.
We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence.
But we rather have those because we have acted rightly.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” (Aristotle)
Do these words sound familiar? I hope so as they grace the home page of our website which I hope you all visit often!
Aristotle’s words encapsulate what we do here at Highfield. We achieve excellence by working hard on a daily basis. Not just academic excellence, although we are very proud of our academic status as the top Independent Preparatory School in the North West. No, also excellence in Swimming, Athletics, Art, Music, Chess, Public Speaking and Drama...I could go on. But I think the excellence I am most proud of is the children’s pursuit of personal excellence –that determination to be the very best that they can be at all times. We see it in the way they conduct themselves through the corridors of the school –although I think Amarillo may have changed the way I view those corridors now! We see it in their pleases and thank yous; the way holding a door open for another is second nature to them; we see it in the playground as they care for each other; we see it in their straight backs and engaging eye contact; their firm hand shake and their clear voices. We see it every day in each and every one of them and we see it in the boys and girls of our Year Six class. We couldn’t be more proud of them.
These children have worked so hard this year and have achieved fantastic results which have enabled them to take their next step into the school of their choosing. 10 children gained a place at Grammar school, 1 achieved a scholarship and all children who took Entrance Exams were accepted by their chosen Independent School. These amazing achievements were then supported by being the guinea pigs for the new style of National Curriculum Tests, in which the children achieved well above the National Average in English and Maths. In Year Six, we also have outstanding Chess players, including the 1st and 2nd Under 11 players in the county and a National Rapidplay Champion. We have a Mastermind champion, a district cricketer, a regional swimmer, an expert in Tae Kwando, a published poet, a rooky Lifeguard and World Championship BMX competitors.
Excellence then is not an act but a habit and it is a habit that is shared by all the children at Highfield.
The school has had a very successful year. In October, the school moved up once again to the 14th best Independent Preparatory School in the country and 1st in the North West and Lancashire. We were also Runners Up at the ISA awards for Excellence and Innovation in Provision for our unique work in HPSED and our consistently excellent National Curriculum Test results.
This was followed by a stunning performance in the swimming pool from our school swimming team who won four out of the six age group trophies in the Northern ISA Swimming Gala out of 21 schools. Seven swimmers qualified for the National Finals at the Olympic Pool in London where Oliver C was awarded a special award as the Best Junior Swimmer in the country. This award was presented to him by the ISA Ambassador for sport who visited Highfield in March. Our swimming team went on to win the Preston Schools Gala and the Beech House Gala. They were invited to the Preston Sports Awards at The Guild Hall where they were presented with a Runners Up award in the best under 18s team category. An outstanding year for Highfield swimmers –well done!
This triumph set the scene for our year of sport in which we have been celebrating the opening of our new all-weather pitch: a wonderful facility for the children of Highfield. The all-weather pitch was finished in October just in time before the rain began and storms Abigail through to Desmond took hold. Thanks to this new facility, the children were able to maintain a very active sports programme during this period which is something we would not have been able to do previously. We have also hosted more home matches and the new surface has been the envy of many Preparatory schools who have to share theirs with their Secondary school. We played our first hockey match against Rossall School and the Year 4 boys were the first to play a competitive football match winning 10-1 in the ISA Cup. The pitch has also hosted a number of other events, including an Alumni hockey event which saw a number of old girls and boys, some of whom are now international and county players, coaching our present children before playing an exhibition match. We welcomed a variety of sporting superstars to Highfield to coach and inspire the children with their stories and their skill, including a county cricketer, England footballer, GB hockey player, England netballer (and former Head Girl) and an England Seniors Tennis Player.
This year we have had our largest ever choir with over 80 pupils! They performed a wonderful arrangement of songs at our Carol Service and provided the music for our Year 6 performance. Members of the Choir have also entertained the public at Barton Grange and the residents of Bethany House which has been a wonderful experience for the children. The quality of the singing has been excellent and the children have really been given a chance to express themselves as a group. Well done to our Choir and to Miss Macklam for the hard work she does each week to ensure the Choir is such a delight for our ears!
The children have amazed themselves and their audiences this year with their school productions. Our Infants, led by Year 2, astounded us with ‘Straw and Order’, this year’s Nativity. At the start of the Spring Term, our Year 4s and Miss Burns’ dancers formed a cast of 96 children to present this year’s production of “Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations” which they performed in front of over 300 people at The Charter Theatre. This was followed in the Summer Term by the moving Year 3 and 5 play, Archibald’s War, which told the story of the evacuation of children during World War 1. This Tuesday and Wednesday, our marvellous Year 6, supported by our choir, gave us “Go For Goal” which commemorated the anniversary of England winning the World Cup and linked closely with the school’s celebration of sport this year. The children’s confidence and stage presence never ceases to amaze me and also the progress they make from Year 2 to Year 6. Every year, I see children who were once quiet and shy stand there, holding the audience in the palm of their hand. A very rewarding moment for all concerned.
Just recently, Highfield underwent a new style of Inspection which focuses on the whole school’s compliance with regulations and a full inspection of, and written report for, our Early Years. There were four inspectors who looked at every aspect of the school over a two day period. The feedback from these Inspectors was excellent with their comments focusing on the passion and dedication of the teachers as well as the high level of care and the quality of the teaching. They were also very impressed by the positive interactions between the staff and children in the playground and around the school. Coupled with this, the school was fully compliant with all regulations. The full report has been included.
We have been delighted to have Mrs O’Shea back with us this year and to celebrate her 36th year of association with Highfield. When her picture was put on Facebook, former pupils responded in their thousands, re-telling their fond memories of Mrs O’Shea –in particular “Cuddle Time!” We hope Mrs O’Shea will not be going far and that we will be able to keep pestering her with supply days and school trips.
We are also saying goodbye to Miss Patel who has been working throughout the school, but particularly in Key Stage 2, for the last three and a half years, offering valuable support to the Junior School teaching staff. We have been very fortunate to have her with us and although we are sad to see her go, we are excited for her as she embarks on the next chapter of her life as she prepares for her wedding day. We wish her the very best of luck and every happiness for the future.
It is hard to believe that Miss McShane has only been with us for one year as she has become so much a part of Highfield, and has been a real source of inspiration for the children. Her levels of energy and enthusiasm have not just revitalised the children but the staff as well. She has introduced a host of new activities which have increased the children’s participation in, and love of, sport. She is planning to start her Bitesize Bootcamp which she will be running at Highfield in September and I know this will be popular with the children. I am delighted that this means we will not be saying goodbye but we would like to say thank you to you for all that you have done for us at Highfield during your time here.
Our PTA has worked tirelessly throughout the year supporting our school events and organising many memorable experiences for the children. The Christmas and Summer Fayres were, once again, hugely successful and a real testament to their hard work and commitment to Highfield. This year also saw our first evening event for parents for many years with Mr Murray, accompanied by members of his group, All Saints, hosting a Cabaret Evening. It was an outstanding event and I know that parents will have to get their tickets very quickly for next year’s event as it is sure to sell out early. The money raised from all these events this year has helped to buy new resources for the school like ipads, headphones and hockey goals. The new project next year will be the gradual renewal of the interactive whiteboards and projectors which were originally bought by the PTA. The school has also raised £951.26 this year from a variety of charitable events throughout the year. This money will be divided between Derian House and Baby Beat, chosen by the children.
We are what we repeatedly do…excellence then is not an act but a habit.
Your teachers cultivate this habit and instil the pursuit of excellence in you throughout your years at Highfield and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all your teachers from your first years at Highfield all the way through to Mrs Haythornthwaite today. We always encourage you to aim high in everything you do and when you leave Highfield, I am confident that you will continue to seize hold of opportunities and strive to be the very best people that you can be. We are very proud of you Year Six, Class of 2016!
Mr J Duke