The Sunday Times Top 100 Independent Prep Schools in England, 2018: Seventh in England and First in the North.

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Headmaster's Welcome

Headmaster's Speech at the Year Six Prize-Giving 2018

Jul 23, 2018

20 July 2018

Dear Parents

Today’s newsletter is Mr. Duke’s speech to the school at today’s prizegiving.

“Make your own kind of music, sing your own special song.”
I love this song. I feel it encapsulates everything we are trying to achieve at Highfield. The joy of making you, YOU. You are all wonderful individuals with unique talents, gifts and personalities. It is our aim to help you to discover and develop your gifts and to encourage you to discover the strength inside yourself to tackle any new challenge that comes your way. In realising your potential during your time with us, you will leave Highfield aiming high and believing that anything is possible with the right attitude and determination
I am so proud of each and every one of you and what you have attempted and achieved this year, from our Nursery children, all the way up to Year 6. You are fearless!

I see you perform in Musical Assemblies, sometimes on instruments you have only been playing for a few months; I see you, from the age of 4 -11, on The Charter Theatre stage performing in front of an audience of over 300 people; I see you preparing for interviews and exams that will determine the next step of your life; I see our Infants holding snakes and spiders; exploring Highfield Haven and offering woodlice to your teacher; I see you conducting scientific experiments and creating fabulous works of art; I see you learning and performing Shakespeare; I see you ordering your breakfast in French; I see you on the high ropes and abseiling from great heights; I see the way you dust yourself down when things go wrong and pick yourself back up again and carry on: I see you being you and it’s wonderful!

This year got off to a very exciting start when, in November, we were awarded the National Junior and Preparatory School Award for Academic Excellence and Innovation by the Independent Schools’ Association. Highfield received this award in recognition of its long history of academic excellence as well as demonstrating excellence and innovation across the curriculum and in its extra-curricular programme. Highfield children know that challenge, stimulation and success outside the classroom motivates and encourages them inside the classroom. They continue to aim high in everything they do and I could not be more proud of each and every one of them. Highfield is one of the only schools in the country to have held its place in The Sunday Times top thirty for the last seven years, which is set to continue next year.

Our Year Six has once again achieved fantastic NCT results with 100% achieving Expected and over 70% achieving Exceeding in Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar, Maths and English. They have all passed the required exams to enter their chosen Grammar and Independent Schools. Let’s give them, and their teachers, a round of applause for all their hard work.

Highfield has been proud to present four theatrical productions across the school this year from the Infant Nativity: ‘Baubles’, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Years 3 and 5, Wind in the Willows at The Charter Theatre which involved 99 children from Reception to Year 6, culminating in Year Six’s highly entertaining performance of ‘Robin and the Sherwood Hoodies’ just this week. The children’s dramatic pursuits continue to instil in them a natural confidence and self-belief which they will carry with them for ever.

Year 6 have had success on the games field with our girls coming third in the Preston Schools’ Cross Country and being highly placed in all other tournaments. The boys reached the semi-final of the Preston Schools’ Football and reached the Plate final of the Rugby. Our amazing swimmers also won the Preston Schools’ Swimming Gala. Highfield has certainly been making its presence felt across Preston. Not content with this, however, children from across the school have also competed in County and National events in swimming, cross country, athletics, hockey, cricket and football which is fantastic. Well done!

Our musical assemblies continue to be a source of great delight for performer and spectator alike. This year, 40 children have performed in front of the school. These brave individuals are a source of admiration and inspiration to those who watch them. We have enjoyed performances on a wide range of instruments including the drums, the ukulele, the saxophone, the electric guitar and a variety of brass instruments as well as the more traditional guitar, flute, recorder and piano. The choir has also been busy entertaining the residents of Bethany House, performing in the Year 6 Musical and delivering an incredibly moving and professional Carol Service at Christmas.

The big heart of Highfield was clearly in evidence on Year 5 and Year 6’s visit to Manor Adventure this year. One of our largest groups ever travelled to Shropshire and showed real camaraderie and teamwork throughout the weekend. Supporting each other, facing fears together and celebrating success brought the children closer away from home. We hope this bond will continue to unite the children even when they leave us. As their leavers’ video said, ‘You will always be a part of Highfield and Highfield will always be a part of you.’ Be there for each other during the good times and the bad and remember that we are always here for you too. A Highfeldian should never be alone. Keep in touch with each other and with Highfield.

It is not only our Year Six children who are leaving us today we are also saying goodbye to their first school teacher in Reception Class, Mrs Diston. Mrs Diston has watched this fantastic group of children move up through the school and she has chosen their final year to be her final year with us. The departing Year Six, and all the year groups in between, have had the best start to school life in her capable and caring hands. She will be remembered by many as their first teacher at Highfield as well as Paddington Bear on World Book Day! Goodbye Mrs Diston, we wish you every success in the future. Please come up to the stage and collect a small token of our appreciation.

Andy Bradshaw steps down today as Governor after 7 years’ service. He has been an outstanding independent Governor to the school and his advice and support have been greatly valued during his time with us. We are also saying goodbye to our Chair of Governors, Mark Goodwin, as the youngest Goodwin, Henry, leaves us today. Mr Goodwin has been a parent at the school for 15 years, Governor for 13 years and Chair for 5 years. His time as Governor and Chair has seen the school go from strength to strength, with the introduction of many new members of staff and excellent school facilities. He has certainly left the school in a very strong position for the future and we will be very sorry to see him go. Mr Goodwin, Mr Bradshaw, please allow us to show our appreciation with a small gift.

Year Six, today you are leaving us but I hope you are leaving us with the strength to carry on being you. Carry on singing your own kind of music. Sing it loud and proud and don’t let anyone change who you are.

Yours sincerely


J M Duke


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.


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