Head’s Blog

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Joining in the fun at Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

We started this week on a high with a record-breaking hymn practice in assembly – 7 hymns in 7 minutes – great fun! Where was Roy Castle?

There is a sense in school that all the girls are settling in and an almost tangible buzz about lessons. Teaching goes on, of course, both in and out of school. Our Fifth Form Geographers have been on a residential fieldwork trip this week in Shropshire and Snowdonia – an opportunity to view the reality of physical geography in a stunning location. Meanwhile, my first lesson observation of the time was a Biology lesson outside in the Rose Garden.

The boarders this week enjoyed a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – house warming with a difference. It was a chance for all the girls to get to know staff outside lesson time, to help them to feel part of this community which is their home from home while they are here. Do look at the photos of the mad hats below.

Next week, we will welcome Tania Szabo, the daughter of the Special Operations Executive agent Violette Szabo, who suffered under the Nazi regime in 1945 at Ravensbruck concentration camp. Tania will be talking to Fourth and Fifth Form historians who are studying Germany in that period as part of their course.  Next week is also Languages Week – I am brushing up my Swahili and looking forward to having hot chocolate with all our overseas boarders on Tuesday.

Looking a little further forward to 29 September, we have 80 families pre-booked for our Open Day and preparations are well under way. Just a reminder for Fifth Form parents and girls that we will also be holding our Sixth Form Open Evening on Thursday 4 October.  I do hope to see you there and that you are excited by the programme of events scheduled over the coming weeks to introduce you to what life in the Sixth Form will be like.

Classics by Candlelight is a treat in store for next Thursday and rehearsals for Grease are under way. The list of girls interested in joining the Tanzania trip has been growing and everyone is already very much looking forward to next July.

Today many of the girls and staff are wearing jeans and raising money for Jeans for Genes. It is so important for us all to realise what a gift it is to have good health. We will be reminded of this again next week when we are treated to the fruits of the Sixth Form’s culinary skills at the MacMillan Coffee Morning.  I am very proud of the girls for supporting charities such as these with such enthusiasm.

The storms have kept away so far although the weekend promises to bring us some wet and windy weather. Do enjoy the September sun when you see it.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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The first full week of term has flown by. The girls have thrown themselves back into their life at school and are already immersed in their learning.  Next week, they will be able to start their clubs and activities, which are such an important part of their school experience.

It was lovely to see so many new, and some well-known, faces at our information evenings for parents of new girls and the Lower Sixth on Tuesday. I hope you all gleaned important and useful information.

This week, we were delighted to welcome members of the PSA to school, first for the termly committee meeting and secondly for the reps’ breakfast this morning. It is very appropriate at the beginning of the new school year for me to thank all the members of their PSA for their invaluable support to the school, for which we are very grateful.  This term, of course, we are looking forward to the PSA Christmas Fair on Saturday 24 November – one for the diary as a prime Christmas shopping day.

The Boarders’ activities for this term began with a talent show, judged by Mr Rood, Ms Ritchie, Miss Kindersley and me.  The girls did not hold back and the evening was full of laughter and applause.

One of the highlights of the week was the whole school photo on Thursday – my first as Head. The weather was kind and we were able to capture the whole Prior’s Field community, smiling in the sunshine – a wonderful modern addition to our archives.

As you are aware, this is an important term for those thinking of coming to Prior’s Field next September. Our Open Day is on Saturday 29 September and our aim is to start welcoming prospective pupils and their families for a visit to the school after that date, by which time we hope that the First Form and other new girls have had time to adjust and to feel that they are an integral part of the school family. I would encourage Fifth Form girls and their family to come to our Sixth Form Open Evening on Thursday 4 October, and hope to see many of you then.  The girls will also enjoy a chance to experience life in the Sixth Form for a day.

I understand just how important a decision it is to choose a secondary school, or even a Sixth Form, for your child. Knowing your child’s personality and needs will help you find the right choice. I know as a parent myself that big decisions do not get easier as a child grows, and they tend to develop a mind of their own! Please be assured that any of the staff here would be happy to talk to you about any particular aspect of your child’s future education, up to A level and beyond. Our aim is for your daughter to leave Prior’s Field at the end of the Upper Sixth confident and ready to face the modern world and we are very excited to be able to walk beside her on her journey.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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Whether letter or number grades, Prior’s Field today demonstrated they have a proven formula to GCSE success.  Despite the new style tougher GCSE the school were celebrating a haul of the top level 9 grades, 52 in total and an overall 57% 9 to 7 (A* -A) equivalent.

Standout pupils with top grades throughout and a hat-trick of level 9s in each Science were:  Millie Webb with five grade 9s, three A*s and two grade 8s; Poppy Wagerfield with five grade 9s, three A*s, one A and one grade 8 and Imogen Henderson with four grade 9s, four A*s and one grade 8 and one grade 7.  Other fabulous results were gained by Natasha Cocksedge with four grade 9s, three A*s and one B and Jess Laffan five grade 9s, three A*s and one grade 7.

Standout departments with 100% grades 9 to 7 were Chemistry, Biology and PE. Physics reported 80% grades 9 to 7, Geography 76%  grades 9 to 7 and Maths 67% A* to A (iGCSE).

The school has taken a decisive strategy over the last few years to invest in facilities, teaching and co-curricular opportunities which truly support the notion that women can excel in science.  They built a super new science facility with smart board technology and A Level only lab space.  They have also encouraged the girls to embrace extra-curricular science opportunities such as the Big Bang Science fair, Salters Festival of Chemistry and invited leading female scientists such as Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock in to inspire the girls.

Head Tracy Kirnig said:

“We celebrate our choice of a broad cohort on a daily basis and even more so on a day like today where all of our girls have secured the most amazing results.  We are particularly proud of our phenomenal Science, Maths, PE and Geography results which prove how serious we are about ensuring that girls have every opportunity to succeed in their chosen career path”

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Record Breaking Results with 50% A*-A’ and 76% A*-B 

Nothing could dampen our spirits this morning as we awoke to a wave of wonderful news.

Every member of staff has been brimming with excitement this morning as we welcomed our class of 2018 back across the threshold to unveil their incredible results, which are true testimony to the hard work, ambition and commitment of the Sixth Form girls and staff alike.

The breadth of A*s and As is spread wide across all departments with equally excellent grades in the Arts, Sciences and Humanities. Chemistry, Geography, Art and Textiles performed particularly well. Every girl collecting her results today got her first choice of university and the range of destinations includes: Manchester, Exeter, Cardiff, St Andrews, Imperial College and even Iowa!

Amongst the girls celebrating their creative talents are: Anja Cox Cunningham with 3A*s in Geography, Art and Textiles who will commence an Art Foundation course at Manchester University. Flora Hickman who has also achieved A* in Art along with an A in both English and History which sees her ably on her way to St Andrews to study History and finally Erin Saunders whose A* in Art, A* in Textiles and A in English guarantee her Graphic Design place at Leeds University.

There is also a distinct strength in the Sciences this year: Holly Giles has achieved an A* in Biology, A*in Chemistry and an A in Maths with that her long-held desire to pursue a medical path by studying Biomedical Science at Cardiff. Other students eager to experiment with a scientific career are Maya Tanfield who mastered an A in Maths, A*in Chemistry and A in Biology and will be heading to Imperial College in London to study Biological Sciences and Beate Wehrmeyer whose 3 As in Biology, Chemistry and Psychology will secure her place at Bath University to read Biomedical Science with an Industry placement.  Also aiming to study Biomedical Sciences but demonstrating a perfect balance between her scientific and creative prowess is Kari Webb who secured A* in Textiles, A* Biology and A in Chemistry and will be heading to Exeter.

Not to be outdone, but unable to collect her results in person is Daisy Phillips, the first graduate of the Prior’s Field Tennis Academy who received an unconditional scholarship from IOWA university and her A* and 2As in PE, Biology and Geography illustrate that she is both a knockout success on and off the court. She has started her US studies already.

Head, Mrs Tracy Kirnig commented “We pride ourselves on playing to our girls’ strengths and it is wonderful to see that by allowing them to choose the mix of A Levels that they want to pursue, we help them achieve beyond expectations.  The reformed A Level criteria has not presented any barrier for us and I am delighted that these results resoundingly confirm that Prior’s Field has a proven formula for success.”

 

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And so the end of term has arrived, in a blaze of sunlight!

The whole school community have enjoyed a wonderful week of brilliant end of year lessons interspersed with festivities and fun – Founder’s Day, Sports Day, Fifth Form mocktails and prom, Activities Week and the Upper Sixth leavers’ dinner last evening. Preparations for Speech Day are nearly complete; tomorrow we will celebrate together the girls’ achievements over the last year and say farewell to our Upper Sixth, who leave us sad to go but excited and ready to move on to the next stage in their lives. I am immensely proud of the whole year group.

I wish all the girls a wonderful summer holiday, full of adventures and possibilities. We look forward to welcoming them back to school in September, refreshed, reinvigorated and ready for another year of challenge, opportunity and success.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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We were extremely fortunate in a week when so many events were planned, many outside, that the sun has shone continually.

The Lower School Production, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Moonlit Mash Up’, was a real highlight which showcased the girls’ incredible talent and saw some girls who we do not normally see on the stage really shine. Congratulations to everyone involved, particularly Mrs Horton whose script writing and adaptation skills are so outstanding.

Thursday was a very busy day for the Sixth Form team. During the school day, the Lower Sixth took part in a leadership training day led by Kim Wells, a Leadership Coach who is also Director of Teaching and Learning at Caterham School. I was able to attend parts of the day and could see that the girls were absorbing and learning whilst enjoying the interactive and interesting activities that had been planned. Mrs Westerman and I are very excited about the prefect appointments which we will shortly be announcing. In the evening, the Sixth Form Team welcomed Fourth Form girls and parents to the Sixth Form Showcase, an event designed to give Fourth Formers an idea of what life in the Sixth Form will be like and an opportunity to talk about subject and career aspirations. I hope the girls were inspired by what they saw and heard. We would very much like feedback as this is a reformatted event, so do let us know what you thought.

On Thursday afternoon, I was enticed by the sound of music into the Rose Garden, where Boarders were hosting a group of visitors from Prime Time – a group at Busbridge Church offering a varied programme for anyone retired or semi-retired. Everyone enjoyed a delicious cream tea in the beautiful sunshine. I know that the Prime Time members really enjoy spending time with the Boarders, who are able to chat easily whilst also demonstrating great respect and consideration; I am very proud of the girls.

Today, we have had a packed day. Announced as always by the ringing of the Old School Bell, staff and girls adjusted their traditional floral corsage and went into the hall for Founder’s Day Assembly. This year the focus was on the anniversary of the culmination of the suffrage movement, which ultimately triggered the enactment of the Representation of the People Act 1918, giving women over 30 with property the right to vote. The girls heard about Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst, and how the movement impacted on Prior’s Field girls and the local community. After a short break, the school reconvened outside for the new addition to Sports Day: a colourful and feisty House parade of girls and staff dressed in red, blue or purple, some with face paint, waving banners and singing chants – a combative prelude to the competition to come. This afternoon, we will be sheltering under hats and parasols, while we watch the girls impress with their athleticism, before the popular final event: the dog show!

The day will be rounded off with the Fifth Form Mocktail party, an event to which I know the girls are very much looking forward and which will form part of their Prior’s Field memory book as they move on into Sixth Form.

Next week, the school will feel empty as it will be Activities Week. However, the buzz will return on Thursday, as we make the final preparations for Speech Day. I do hope to see you there.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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Watts Gallery featured twice in my day on Monday. I had a visit from Perdita Hunt, OBE, former Director of Watts Gallery, who will be our speaker at Speech Day. Perdita’s career has been interesting and varied, and she is now involved with a multitude of charities and organisations. I am very much looking forward to hear her speak on Saturday 7 July. On Monday evening, I was fortunate to be invited to the private view at Watts Gallery of the exhibition ‘James Henry Pullen: Inmate – Inventor – Genius’ – a fascinating display of the work of a man unable to communicate, incarcerated in an asylum for 70 years and yet capable of extraordinary creative work. I do encourage you to take your family along to this astonishing and inspiring exhibition.

Nicola Smillie from St Martin’s School in Solihull visited us this week and was very impressed with the girls she met. Another visitor to school this week was Emma Wheeler, the Head of Religious Studies at Benenden School who is conducting some research into the teaching of Islam in schools; our own Head of Religious Studies, Mr Starnes, is now assisting Emma with this interesting project.

We welcomed to New Girls’ Tea yesterday 75 girls who will be starting with us in September. The Rose Garden was buzzing with conversation as the girls and their parents and guardians chatted with staff. Of particular interest to all was the gazebo housing samples of the new uniform. Feedback was unanimously positive – even the Third Form PF Peers who crept in amongst the new girls to have a look gave their seal of approval. It will be very exciting to see our first entire cohort wearing the uniform when they arrive on the first day of next term.

The exams are now over and the end of term is looming large. There is plenty of excitement on the agenda, however, between now and then. The Lower School Production – ‘A Midsummer Night’s Moonlit Mayhem’ – is being performed next Tuesday and Wednesday and promises to be fantastic. On Monday, those girls in the Second Form not involved in the production will take part in a cross-curricular day put together by Mrs Morwood, themed on the Renaissance.

With best wishes for a sunny weekend

Tracy Kirnig

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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

Tracy Kirnig

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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

Tracy Kirnig

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Our wonderful Chef and Catering Team outdid themselves on Saturday when they provided the most sumptuous Royal wedding picnic for the Boarders. Having seen the menu presented to the Royal family and their guests, I am certain that the Prior’s Field spread was far more impressive! The Boarders thoroughly enjoyed watching the wedding, oo’ing and ah’ing in all the right places. It was a lovely occasion for the Prior’s Field memory book.

This week the First, Second and Third Forms have been sitting their internal exams. The girls have been working hard and keeping calm.  I am very proud of them.

The Lower Sixth meanwhile have been putting the final touches to their senior prefect applications, which have been flying in. The letters of application I have received have been so impressive in their maturity – full of wisdom, ideas and enthusiasm. We have a hard task on our hands to choose between these young women, all so keen to step up and take on an important leadership role within the school.

Yesterday, Ms Troup and I escaped the Godalming rain and went to Buckingham Palace to meet not the Queen but, in our case, the Countess of Wessex, who presented four of our current girls (Katie A, Flora H, Holly G and Georgia S) and three former pupils (Sinead K, Holly D and Sophie P) with their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. It was a wonderfully joyous occasion which it was a privilege to attend. Nearly 3 million awards have been achieved since the scheme started in 1956 and more than 275,000 people are currently working towards an award. This transformational scheme promotes resilience and enterprise and builds confidence and self-esteem. I am delighted that Prior’s Field girls throw themselves into it with so much gusto, supported by staff members just as evangelical about Duke of Edinburgh as I am. Please do encourage your daughter to take part and join me on a future trip to the palace!

Finally, today we have said goodbye to the Upper Sixth as they depart on study leave. They have treated us to a wonderful day with a surprise breakfast of cake and personal messages for staff, morning activities organised by the Second Form focussed on giving to others and a delicious lunch for the whole school. We wish the girls the best of luck for their exams and look forward to celebrating their successes in August.

With best wishes for half term

Tracy Kirnig