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Headmaster's Welcome

Headmaster's News, Friday 18th of July, 2023

Jul 18, 2023


18th July 2023

 

Mr Duke’s Speech from Prize Giving

As we gather here today to mark the end of another extraordinary year, I am filled with a profound sense of pride and gratitude. This year has been a testament to the spirit and unwavering dedication of our school community.

We were hit with adversity at the beginning of the year when our Nursery building fell victim to an arson attack. The fire was shocking and devastating to the whole Highfield community, but with the natural resilience of youth and the taught resilience of Highfield, our school and community quickly bounced back. We refused to let the thoughtless actions of others affect the Highfield spirit. I am proud and grateful to be a member of such a caring and supportive community. There were so many beautiful, powerful and positive moments in that first term that they far outweighed the negative act of arson itself. I witnessed our Nursery staff and pupils rising to the challenge of making themselves a new home within the school with smiles on their faces and determination in their feet; I witnessed our PTA raising funds to provide new equipment, toys and games for our Nursery children; I witnessed families laden with donations eager to support the school and replace some of what was lost; and, something I will always remember, I witnessed a former pupil returning to the school to hand me his pocket money. Ana Claudia Antunes once said, ‘Life keeps throwing me stones. And I keep finding the diamonds.’ Well, after coming through a global pandemic and an arson attack together, I think we all have a pocketful of diamonds to sustain us in the years ahead.

Our students have shown remarkable growth and progress in their studies this year, demonstrating their thirst for knowledge and their determination to reach their full potential. Their hard work, coupled with the guidance and support of our exceptional teaching staff, has led to countless moments of triumph and intellectual discovery. In the NCT Examinations we achieved 111 English and 111 Maths 115 SPAG which is significantly above the National Average. The children also did exceptionally well in their Grammar School and Independent School Examinations. Our School Geography exhibition saw the children researching the world around them and producing many models to support their investigations, including a Volcano, a Sea World and a Sustainable House. The Mastermind final saw Ayesha and Hanna battling it out to the finish, with Ayesha being crowned champion.

Beyond the classroom, we have witnessed awe-inspiring musical assemblies that have showcased our students' remarkable musical talents on instruments ranging from the trombone to the flute. These musical endeavours have allowed our students to express their creativity and nurture their love for the arts as well as building their confidence performing in front of a large audience.

At Highfield, we work hard to build the children’s confidence and self-belief. The school productions are an important part of this, from our pre-schoolers’ Christmas Dance performance; to our Infant Boogie-Woogie Nativity; to our Junior Christmas Concert; to the Years 3 and 5 performance of Archibald’s War; to the Year 4 production of The Jungle Book at the Landmark Theatre; and culminating, last week, in our Year 6’s final Highfield play: Jill and Fred’s Hysterical, Historical Adventure. Through these performances, our students have embraced the power of storytelling, teamwork, and self-expression. They build confidence each year and enjoy celebrating each other’s moment in the spotlight.

Sporting success has also shone brightly throughout this year. Our students have exhibited remarkable sportsmanship, dedication, and skill in various competitions and tournaments. We celebrate not only their victories but also the lessons they have learned through hard work, perseverance, and resilience. This year our hockey players reached the final of the SMH tournament, we won the Division One of the Preston Schools’ Swimming Gala, we were runners up in the ISA Kwik Cricket tournament and semi-finalists in the Preston Girls’ Football Tournament. Individually, Zaidan, Aibhlin, Grace and Wei Ann all qualified for National events with Aibhlin winning gold in the long jump and relay, and silver in the 75m. Naina has represented England at tennis, Aibhlin has represented the North and the County at hockey and Lyla has represented Preston North End Football Club and has joined the FA England Women’s Pathway.

As we celebrate the accomplishments of our pupils, we also bid farewell to those who are leaving us this year to continue their journey in new schools. Our Year six students, some of whom were once babies in our Nursery at just six months old, are now embarking on a new chapter of their lives. Although it is hard to say goodbye, we know that they are leaving us equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values to pursue their dreams and ambitions with confidence and self-belief. We hope they will continue to aim high, attaining new heights and making a positive impact in their communities.

Today, we also pay tribute to our long-serving staff, whose dedication and commitment have shaped our school's legacy. Their years of service have touched the lives of countless students, leaving an impact on their education and personal growth. Their passion, resilience, and support have made our school a nurturing and inspiring place to learn and thrive. Each member of staff is greatly valued by us all, but today I would like to mention those who have served twenty or more years at Highfield:

Mrs Haythornthwaite, Miss Macklam, Mrs Bennett, Mrs McIlwaine, Miss Catherall, Mrs Wilson, Mrs Hayes, Miss Jewitt and Mrs Jones.

I would also like to extend a special mention to Mrs McIlwaine who is leaving us today having dedicated an astonishing 27 years of association with our school community. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation and we wish her every happiness in the future. Please join me in showing her our appreciation as I invite her up to the stage to receive this gift.

Parents, I would like to thank you for your support, trust, and partnership during your child’s time with us. We are grateful for the privilege of working alongside you in shaping the lives of your children and preparing them for the next step on their journey. I hope you will keep in touch with Highfield and share your child’s news with us as they continue on their way.

As we look to the summer break and embark on a well-deserved period of rest and rejuvenation, let us enjoy carrying with us the memories, achievements and challenges that have defined this year. I hope they will lead us on to embrace greater challenges and inspire us to even greater success in the future.

Thank you all for your belief in Highfield and your belief in our Highfield Family. Together, we have created a school where community is central to all we do, where dreams flourish, ambitions thrive and futures are transformed. Together, we are Highfield and we should be very proud of that fact.

I hope you all have a fantastic summer break and I’m looking forward to welcoming you back on Tuesday 5th September.

Highfield Priory School

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