The week began with the First Form Alice in Wonderland-themed social. The Rose Garden rang with the laughter and chatter of the girls as they enjoyed the Chef’s incredible creations. This is a wonderful Prior’s Field summer tradition, eagerly anticipated by all. Even the weather played ball this year!
We received fantastic news last evening. Dr Smith took a team of Prior’s Field Second Form girls – Natasha, Alex, Isabel and Izzy – to the University of Brighton yesterday, to take part in the University Challenge at the Salters Festival of Chemistry. The girls won the competition, beating teams from 19 other schools. We are all thrilled and so proud of the girls. We should also congratulate Mrs Olive who, accompanying the trip, attended her first ever Chemistry lecture!
GCSE exams finish today and A Levels will finish next week. The girls deserve the rest awaiting them. We are looking forward to celebrating with them in August. Students in other year groups are receiving the results of their internal exams, and should be equally pleased about what they have achieved. It is the time of year when we can all reflect on how far girls have come, as well as looking ahead to their aspirations for next year.
Fourth Form girls have been looking ahead this week to the Sixth Form! They have each enjoyed an individual chat with a member of the Sixth Form team about their thoughts and ideas for Sixth Form studies, and have hopefully learnt a little about life in the Sixth Form House. We have had some very positive feedback from both girls and parents. I do hope that we have triggered some interesting thought processes which can continue both at home and at school.
This afternoon, the Upper Sixth are showcasing their impressive art, photography and textiles work at the A Level Creative Arts Private View, from 4pm-6pm. Do come along if you have a chance – the pieces displayed are truly stunning.
Also this week, preparations have been continuing for the Lower School production, A Midsummer Night’s Moonlit Mashup, Activities Week and Speech Day. The end of term is starting to accelerate towards us, as always at this point in the year. Everyone is very excited about the opportunities and events in store in the next few weeks, with the lovely long summer holiday beckoning beyond.
With best wishes for the weekend
The half term break was a time for rest and relaxation for the First to Third Forms and revision for the Fourth Form (hopefully with a bit of rest and relaxation too!). The Fourth Form exams run slightly into next week; the girls have been focused and working hard, keen to show us what they can do. We look forward to celebrating their achievements.
I had the pleasure of visiting St Ives School on Tuesday and attending their annual Year 6 luncheon. I, Mrs Sapseid and Ms Troup are looking forward to our other visits to primary and prep schools in the coming weeks.
The Art department have this week been working hard in preparation for the GCSE Private View this afternoon. I have had a sneak preview and can divulge that the work on display is absolutely stunning. I would encourage parents of all girls in any year group to come along and see the exhibition, and the A level Private View on Friday 15 June. I am confident you will be impressed by the incredible standard of the work on show.
I and Mrs Westerman, Joint Head of Sixth Form, have very much enjoyed this week interviewing almost half the year group for a position on the Senior Prefect Leadership Team next year. It was marvellous to read the girls’ fluent and mature application letters and wonderful, in interview, to hear the girls talk about how much they feel they have gained from their years at Prior’s Field and their wish to give something back. The girls spoke about how much they admired the girls in the Sixth Form as they themselves moved through the school. They were united in their praise for the current Head Girl and Upper Sixth prefect team, and in particular their efforts with fundraising and volunteering for charity. We have all been thoroughly impressed with the current Upper Sixth as a year group, and their achievements have clearly had a major impact on the Lower Sixth following in their wake.
Finally, this afternoon, we will be saying goodbye to Richard Green as he retires as Chairman of the Board of Governors. This is a chance for the school community to thank Richard for all he has done for Prior’s Field, although there will be a final opportunity at Speech Day on Saturday 7 July, an event which I hope you all have in your diary.
With best wishes for the weekend
This week has been dominated by attempting to anticipate the weather! Prior’s Field seems to have escaped the worst of the snow and we were one of the last schools standing yesterday, with about two-thirds attendance. Today, whilst the forecast beat us and the school was closed, the boarders, for whom the school is of course their home, have enjoyed a varied programme of activities and had the opportunity to enjoy Prior’s Field in the snow, like many girls before them.
Our Year 6 guests enjoyed their boarding taster last weekend; I very much enjoyed meeting them on Saturday and I know they enjoyed a packed day with the boarding team and the boarders themselves. On Saturday, I also had the privilege of watching the Lower Sixth rehearse for their devised performance exam. The progression between the rehearsal and the actual exam on Wednesday was striking; the audience, comprising parents, staff and other supporters, were treated to an inspiring performance of great power.
We welcomed two speakers to school on Monday. We are very grateful to Nick Stylianou, son of our very own School Secretary, Mary Stylianou, and Sky News reporter, for coming to talk to the girls and for fitting us into his very busy schedule – although I understand that Nick’s planned assignment on a boat in Devon the following day was cancelled! Laura Bates is a modern feminist writer well-known for her strong views about the need for meaningful sex education and her readiness to speak out for women. She spoke on Monday to the Upper School about her belief that gender equality is right for everyone, a current topic which provokes much debate. Arguably a controversial figure, we were fortunate that Laura, who is currently very much in demand by the media especially, was able to spare the time to visit us.
We were also pleased to welcome Richard Evans, (above), Head at Great Ballard School who was keen to re-visit the site after a number of years and before some of his pupils join us in September.
Despite the weather, the First Form Parents’ Evening was extremely well-attended. I enjoyed chatting to some of you and getting to know you a little better.
I do hope that the white stuff lasts into the weekend and that all of us, young and not so young, have the opportunity to have fun in the snow.
With best wishes
I hope the half term break brought everyone an opportunity for calm and time to recharge the batteries. We have certainly started back at an exciting pace.
The Upper Sixth began their mocks bright and early on Monday morning. This week will make the approaching public exams seem much more real. I am sure that the girls will benefit greatly from the mock experience, in terms of awareness of both where they are now and where they need to be in a few months’ time.
Meanwhile, a group of First Form were visiting our neighbour, the Robertsons Nursing Home, on one of a series of trips connecting with the First Form PSHE programme, encouraging altruistic thinking and broader communication skills. Julia Huxley would be thrilled that the spirit of philanthropy she so valued is still being nurtured, even in our youngest girls.
On Monday evening, the Boarders enjoyed a wonderful themed supper for Chinese New Year; we were treated to a feast which most of the girls bravely attempted to negotiate with chopsticks – with varying results! The planning that went into the evening was superb. My thanks go to the Boarding staff and our wonderful Catering team.
We were thrilled on Tuesday to welcome Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE, to speak at our Julia Huxley Lecture. At a pre-event drinks event, staff and Governors chatted with invited guests, including Perdita Hunt, formerly Director of Watts Gallery, Professor Gao of Surrey University, Jane Whittingham (Head at St Hilary’s) and Matthew Bryan (new Head at Longacre). Later, everyone present sat enthralled while Maggie spoke to us about her own personal journey, via thirteen schools and accompanied by the challenge of dyslexia. She left us in no doubt of her passion for her subject (astro-physics and engineering) and her enthusiasm for encouraging more young women to explore the possibility of a career linked to science. Her vivacity was infectious and her advice to reach for the stars, whatever your personal stars may be, resonated with the entire audience. The Head Girl, Beatrice, spoke eloquently for us all when she thanked Maggie for inspiring us all to think beyond the obvious.
On Friday, we are hosting a sell-out boarding taster experience for Year 6 girls. We are very much looking forward to welcoming them back following their entrance exams and the boarding team are very excited about the programme of activities which are planned.
One of my favourite tasks this week will be judging the Huxley Essay Competition. Thank you to all those girls who have entered this time. I am always so impressed by the girls’ appetite for these contests which, married with the growing interest in debating across all year groups, is a testament to their ability to construct and present arguments, listen and exchange views – life skills so essential for the future. Prior’s Field Partners in Learning, involving the Lower Sixth and younger girls and now under way, is another initiative which will bring so many benefits to all the girls involved.
Lastly, I must congratulate all the girls who are currently putting so much time and effort into their sport. The calendar is bursting with fixtures, and training sessions. Sport is a crucial part of a rounded education and I am delighted that, at Prior’s Field, we recognise its importance and value, and will continue to do so despite changing academic pressures. Do come along and support the girls if you can. It really is a privilege to witness their talent and enthusiasm.
With best wishes
First Former Molly continues with a brilliant ski season. Not only did she win the English Alpine Championship U12 in Bormio Italy, but she also had the fastest overall run and won the DHO Alpine Trophy. We are all so proud of Molly’s hard work and dedication, and wish her good luck for her next competition in a couple of weeks’ time at the Interschool’s Trophy in Pila, Italy, where she will represent Prior’s Field.
Sixth Former Holly has been shortlisted for the final of an art documentary competition called SPoKE, she is only one of eight students to reach the final stage. We recently reported that she had received a raptous response from the rest of the school when she previewed her documentary in assembly. More news to follow after the award ceremony on 1 March – Good luck Holly!
Head’s Commendations for Lottie and Anika in Third Form for excellent work in French
The Assembly Hall roof was raised on Tuesday night by Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, MBE, when she inspired us all to ‘Reach for the Stars’. In a speech completely aligned with Prior’s Field’s philosophy, Maggie encouraged the audience to dream big and aim high, sharing how this ethos had enabled her to achieve so much in her life. She recounted her childhood, and underlined that by being an opportunist, she has opened many doors for herself – even fulfilling childhood dreams of meeting the Clangers and Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhura)! In a lecture brimming with humour and humility, Maggie explained that many scientific careers are not attracting girls and offered a three pronged approach to plug that gap – role models, relevance and creating science wonder.
She certainly inspired the entire audience to find their inner scientist, and has earned her place in the Hall of Fame that she mentioned needs to recognise more female scientific idols. After the lecture, Maggie answered questions from the enthusiastic audience, and happily took part in a book signing, spending over an hour chatting with audience members.
Mrs Morwood reports ‘The Fifth Form historians went on a fast and furious trip to the Royal Army Medical Museum before half-term. The girls were given an excellent revision session run by the museum curator where they were using primary sources from the collection to answer GCSE exam questions. The girls had an impressive wealth of knowledge on medical history and impressed the curator with their enthusiasm in the subject matter. The tour around the museum’s collection was also very useful for the girls as it not only spanned our whole period but also focused on one of our key themes which is of medicine and war. The museum had kindly tailored the visit as a bespoke revision session and it was hugely valuable to the girls at this stage in their studies as they now focus on revision and exam practice. This is a fantastic museum and, being local, we were able to gain maximum exposure from a very little time out of school and achieved a great deal in the two hours.’
The Creative Arts Department has been very active over the last few weeks with both the Fifth and Sixth Form students visiting London art galleries before half-term as part of their GCSE and A-Level coursework, additionally a number of lucky artists travelled to Florence in the holidays for the annual art culture trip.
Miss Thorpe reports on the Tuscany trip which has been a school tradition since 1933, when a group of our young PF artists first journeyed to Tuscany on an art cultural trip. ‘Students were enriched by the beautiful architecture of several Tuscan cities including The Leaning Tower of Pisa and The Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and Camp di Sienna. Over the five days there was lots of walking as well as climbing these historic sites including The Leaning Tower of Pisa and The Duomo where the challenge was to climb more than 500 steps to the top of the dome. The prize was magnificent views of the city of Florence surrounded by the Tuscan hills. This experience was even more special as the view was bathed in the famous Tuscan light.
Visits to The Uffizi and Accademia museums in Florence gave students a unique insight into art history, some of the highlights included Michaelangelo’s David and Boticelli’s Birth of Venus amongst other famed masterpieces. One painting of particular interest included a recently restored work by Leonardo Di Vinci which he had left incomplete. It showed his working process and even had his finger prints still visible on the work.
During the trip, students were encouraged to produce drawings in their sketchbooks as well as photograph the many sites and document their experiences. A major highlight for the students was the excellent Italian cuisine and in particular the delicious Gelato.
A guided tour of Sienna gave further insights into Italian history and culture and a perfect end to the trip was the carnival at San Gimignano where confetti was thrown around the streets in the family party atmosphere. Special thanks goes to the Art department for their hard work and valued insights. They very much enjoyed the company of the young students.’