Head’s Blog

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On Wednesday, the whole school was off timetable. The First to Fourth Forms and Lower Sixth listened to a talk by Karen Power from Drug and Alcohol Education Services and carried out linked activities with their tutor. Karen also presented to parents on this important topic that evening. I hope those of you who attended found it useful. The Fifth Form and Upper Sixth meanwhile were taking part in an enterprise exercise, led by Mrs Lutwyche, requiring them to plan a festival in a day. Their brief was to come up with a business plan and to create mood boards to portray their ideas. The feedback from the girls following this exercise was hugely positive. They very much enjoyed working as mixed year group teams and having the time to work independently from teachers to design their concept and produce their final piece of work. We are going to judge the mood boards, which will be displayed in school, and prizes will be awarded in assembly after half term.

Love and friendship were in the air on Valentine’s Day yesterday at the First Form’s Lovefest in the Assembly Hall. The girls raised nearly £400 for Tinga Tinga – a fantastic total. The First Form’s enthusiasm for this initiative was impressive.

On our return after the holiday, the Upper Sixth will sit their mock exams. I would encourage them to ‘revise smart’ over half term, making good use of their time and ensuring that they also find time to relax and re-energise. Finding the right balance, which will be different for every girl, is key to performance.

The first week after half term, girls in the First to Third Forms will be able to audition for the Lower School Production. Everyone who auditions will have a part and there is always the option to help backstage if performing is not what you enjoy. Mr Kinder is looking forward to seeing the entries for House Art flood in on the first Monday back.  Mr Butler and I meanwhile are eagerly anticipating entries to the Huxley Essay Competition – this year the theme is ‘communication’. Entrants should write an essay of up to 1000 words; the deadline is Wednesday 24 April. There are three categories: First to Third Form, Fourth and Fifth Forms and Sixth Form. The holiday presents the perfect time for aspiring writers to start planning their essay.

Half term therefore is a time to rest and relax and also a time for the girls to think about what they can do to shine on their return to school.

With best wishes for a good break

Tracy Kirnig

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Open Day was a great success. Despite the weather and the difficult road conditions in many surrounding areas, we were impressed and delighted to see so many prospective parents and pupils. It was business as usual and the girls welcomed our visitors with warmth and enthusiasm, enabling them to have an insight into life at Prior’s Field. Those on the Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition were lucky to be out and about on a beautiful, crisp winter’s day – although I am sure their thermals were an essential piece of kit!

House Drama on Monday was excellent. The girls enjoyed themselves hugely and the older girls deserve great credit for their leadership of the younger ones. My thanks go to the judges: Mr Cryer, Ms Williams and Mrs McGarry. House Music on Wednesday was inspiring to watch. More girls than ever participated. Many of them have only taken up their instrument relatively recently and it was a pleasure to see how they have already made such progress.  The two minutes performance rule worked a treat and the judges – Miss Watson and Miss Brown, with keen but unqualified assistance from myself – gave the girls brilliant and constructive feedback. I am very grateful to them and to all involved.

The Surrey U12 and U13 netball tournament on Wednesday benefited from a dry chink in a wet week. Congratulations to all the girls who took part – the high level of play was impressive. There was an atmosphere of excitement and enjoyment court-side.

The whole school has been suffering with a lurgy that has been doing the rounds, and many girls and staff have been under the weather. Well done to everyone for battling through. I hope that we can all recover our strength over half term and come back to school after the holidays with renewed energy.

We have one more week to go before half term, though, and it is a packed week. We are looking forward to seeing many of you at our parents’ pastoral evening focusing on drug and alcohol awareness on Wednesday. On Thursday evening, we will be celebrating the girls’ Duke of Edinburgh achievements at the presentation evening. Do join us if your daughter is receiving an award.

Thursday is Valentine’s Day and the First Form are holding a LoveFest to celebrate love and friendship and to raise funds for Tinga Tinga. They will be selling friendship bracelets and goodies to eat and drink; there will also be a raffle and I understand there will be some glittery girls wandering around school in the afternoon having had their face painted.

Stay warm and dry on what promises to be a wet and windy weekend

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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January seems to have been a long month, but February is now here in a flurry of snow. Whilst I am not sure it will be here for long, the girls excitedly grasped the opportunity to build snowmen on the field before school began this morning.

Our first ever Prior’s Field ski team saw much more snow in Flaine. They returned triumphant with several medals between them. Congratulations to Molly, Eve and Sasha.

It seems strange in this weather that we will be talking to parents next week about the trip to Tanzania in July. Excitement is building about this adventure and I am delighted that I will be accompanying the girls again this time. It will be wonderful to see the impact of our ongoing support on Tinga Tinga.

This brings me neatly on to another charity venture, this one very much driven by some highly motivated girls in the Lower Sixth. Alice S, Emma K and Lucy N amongst others deserve huge credit for the energy with which they are leading the school in our support of Delight – the charity which channels pre-loved books to children who have limited access to books at home. I am very proud of them.

Rehearsals for House Drama have been occupying the girls’ spare moments this week. I am looking forward to watching the performances on Monday. From what I hear, they should be very entertaining. On Wednesday evening, there is another treat: the House Music Final. Do come along if you can – it promises to be a fun evening. To complete a trio of House events next week, the House Choirs will be vying for points on Thursday lunchtime. I am sure they will be much foot tapping and coordinated dance moves!

This week we welcomed Third Form parents and girls to talk about their progress as well GCSE options.  This week, on Thursday, it is the Fifth Form’s turn. This is obviously an important Parents’ Evening, as the public exams approach. I hope that the post-mock interviews the girls had with key staff this week will have highlighted areas for focus; the conversations on Thursday will provide subject context. I know that A level options forms have now been handed in. I hope all the girls are excited about the opportunities lying in store for them beyond the summer.

We are looking forward to hosting our visitors in school tomorrow at Open Day – our intrepid Fourth Form Bronze Duke of Edinburgh girls on a practice walk will appreciate the favourable, if slightly chilly, forecast.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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The cold weather this week has reminded us that it is still winter, despite the bulbs trying to convince us otherwise.

The girls have been focused and hard-working. The Fifth Form received their mock results on Tuesday morning; there were some excellent performances. The girls will each have an individual interview with a key member of staff next week, to talk about where they should focus their attention going forward. As a year group, they have coped well with the whole mock process; I hope it will give them reassurance and more confidence in the final push towards the public exams in the summer.

The school has been busy with rehearsals for House Drama and House Music. On Monday, Mr Kinder launched the House Art competition in Assembly. Entries need to be in straight after the half term break in February. These competitions are always highlights of the year for me and I am very much looking forward to watching the results of the girls’ hard work.

Last evening, a number of the Upper Sixth made their EPQ presentation to an appreciative audience. Unfortunately, I was returning from an inspection and was unable to be there.  I have heard wonderful reports, however; the girls definitely made the most of their opportunity to share their EPQ journey.

Next week, we are looking forward to seeing Third Form parents at the Parents’ and Options Evening on Tuesday. The choice of options is an important one for each girl and we hope the evening will help to solidify your daughter’s thoughts and ideas.

Open Day at the end of next week will give us all the chance to celebrate our achievements and hopefully convey to our visitors the essence of Prior’s Field. Wednesday this week was the anniversary of the founding of the school and I like to think that Julia Huxley would be proud of all that Prior’s Field continues to be.

Good luck to our first ever Prior’s Field ski team – Sasha C, Eve M and Molly B – who, accompanied by Miss Scott, are en route to France where they will compete at the British School Girls Ski Racing Championships. I hope the girls going on the U15 hockey weekend have an equally exciting trip, without the snow!

With best wishes for the weekend

Tracy Kirnig

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The first full week of term has been a busy one.

We have this week sent out offers to 11+ and 13+ applicants for September, which is very exciting. I have had conversations with several prep and primary Heads, all of whom have asked me to pass on their best wishes to the girls who left them in the last few years and made their way to Prior’s Field.

The Fifth Form’s mock exams have come to a close. I hope that, when the girls receive their results on Tuesday, they will be proud of what they have achieved and clearer about where they need to focus their attention in the months to come.

It was lovely to see so many of you at the First Form Parents’ Evening on Wednesday. We are very much enjoying having your daughters with us. Now they have been here a term, I am sure they will be very confident and proud on Open Day, when they will be part of the home team and can enjoy showing off their school to our visitors.

This morning Ms Hedley presented a wonderful assembly to the Second, Third and Fourth Forms about value. The girls, and staff, were encouraged to be affirming of each other and positive about themselves. It is crucial to young people’s wellbeing that they are able to believe in their own worth and we take every opportunity to facilitate this for the girls here.

There was much excitement yesterday morning when we saw a brief though impressive flurry of snow. As you know, we have plans in case of bad weather. The younger girls may be pleased to hear, however, that their first task, if we do close for a snow day, will be to play in the snow!

Finally there is chatter around school about sightings of street art that has appeared in various locations. The photos have been put up by Darci O, who will be assessing reactions to the graffiti as part of her Photography coursework. There has been no sign of an original Banksy yet, but we remain hopeful!

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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The calendar has been full of fixtures this term, and no less so this week. I want to thank all girls who have represented Prior’s Field – I hope you have learned how to work together for the good of the whole, and that you have enjoyed participating in competitive sport with your peers. As I look out of the window at yet more rain, I am reflecting on the huge benefits of hard courts and astroturf! Good luck to all the sports teams and individuals who still have matches to play or competitions to take part in before the end of term. And congratulations to our debaters on their success this week – they continue to be hugely impressive.

On Tuesday we held our pastoral evening on on-line safety. The audience were addressed by Lorin LaFave, who runs the Breck Foundation, and who lost her son, Breck, in tragic and shocking circumstances as the result of him being groomed whilst gaming on-line. I know Lorin well as I was Deputy Head of a school that Breck attended just a year before his death. She is an excellent speaker on such a traumatic and, often, harrowing subject and an inspiring woman. Many people intend to turn a truly horrendous experience into something positive.  Lorin was talking at Breck’s funeral about setting up a charity to support young people, and she has achieved her aim and more. We now have trained staff in school who are able to help the girls keep themselves safe. The danger of on-line activity for children is not a concern likely to go away in the near future.

Christmas has come a step nearer today with ‘Elfridges’ – a brilliantly-named initiative  by Fifth Form girls to raise money for moon cups for the children in Tinga Tinga by selling stocking fillers and small gifts to the school community. The boarders have a weekend of festive activities in store. This evening, they will enjoy a Winter supper and tomorrow they are going to see the Chiswick Lantern Festival in London. On Monday they will don their Christmas hats to sing to the shoppers at Waitrose in Godalming. Meanwhile, on Saturday, a large group of girls and several Francophile staff are going on a day trip to the Christmas market in Lille, where the hot chocolate promises to be a real treat.

Today, we have welcomed a lovely group of girls to Prior’s Field to sit the 13+ entrance exam and to be interviewed by a member of staff. It has been a delight to meet all the girls and talk to them about their interests and aspirations.

Preparations for next week are in the final stages and the excitement is building, with secret Santa’s and Christmas decorations popping up all over the school. The girls are looking forward to Christmas lunch, House Quiz, the Celebration of Christmas and, of course, RAG day on Friday. Then we will each be able to find a comfy chair and dip into Mrs Olive’s suggested Christmas reading list.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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The Christmas Fair on Saturday was a great success and put us all in the Christmas mood. My thanks to the PSA for all their hard work.

The preparations for our Celebration of Christmas on Thursday 13 December are well under way. We very much look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at what is always a very festive and atmospheric event. The musical menu promises to impress, as always; the girls are rehearsing hard with a Christmas smile on their faces, knowing that, on the performance day, the end of term will be just around the corner.

First, though, the whole school will enjoy the RAG day organised by the Upper Sixth. On Monday the girls presented an assembly, explaining to the other year groups what is in store for the day itself and where the donations will be going. The Upper Sixth’s theme this year is ‘Blast from the Past’ – an excuse for girls and staff to don an outfit from the 20’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. I am sure that the Marketing department’s camera will capture many images to share with you. The Upper Sixth also launched our participation in the Red Box Project, a charity which quietly ensures that no young person misses school because they have their period. This nationwide project provides free menstrual products for young people in local schools.  It was clear that the younger girls very much appreciated the value of this initiative and were keen to be part of it. I am proud of the girls for addressing something so personal and so important.

Yesterday, with my senior prefect leadership team and Polly Murray, an old girl and our Development and Alumnae Officer, I visited the grave of our founder, Julia Huxley, in Compton Cemetery.  Julia died 110 years ago and her legacy very much lives on in the ethos of Prior’s Field. Polly read a passage from the school history about reaction to her death, including words by Beatrice Burton-Brown, who took over as sole headmistress, who commented that ‘[Prior’s Field’s] spirit is her spirit, and will be her monument for ever…. her ideal [was] that we should live by admiration of all that is good and great, by ‘the unconquerable hope’. And by love to one another.’

Today our admiration has primarily been for each other’s Christmas jumpers, which were joyous! They are evidence of the school community’s continual enthusiasm for supporting those less fortunate – in this case, as part of the RAG fund raising activities, the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham. We are hoping that parents and guardians will join us at our pastoral evening with the Breck Foundation next Tuesday – do book your place via Eventbrite.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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‘Grease’ has been the word on all our lips this week. Pupils from Longacre School, members of Prime Time from Busbridge Church and friends and other members of the school community enjoyed a matinee performance on Tuesday and three capacity audiences were wowed by the girls’ singing, dancing and acting in the evening shows. This has been an amazing tour de force from the Drama and Music Departments and, of course, the girls, who were fantastic and clearly thoroughly enjoying themselves. The production was brilliantly cast, staged and styled and had everyone laughing out loud and tapping their feet – immersed in the pure joy of it. The last night ‘themed dressing up’ option was very popular and, I am sure, made all the difference when it came to audience participation! Well done to everyone involved.

There has also been a huge amount of preparation going on for the Christmas Fair, which takes place tomorrow. The PSA have been working very hard to ensure that this year’s fair is a success and I am very grateful for their continual support for the school. Please do come along and get ahead with your Christmas shopping.

This week I attended the GSA Annual Conference in London, with speakers presenting and roundtable discussions on a variety of very pertinent subjects such as how the landscape beyond school is changing and how independent schools can support social mobility. One debate which resonated particularly for me focused on girls in STEM subjects. The interest in Science subjects for A level at Prior’s Field is on an upward trend and we need to maintain this, to ensure that all girls are offered the widest opportunities for personal growth and for future career options. I am delighted that we have two Upper Sixth girls who have been invited for interview, one at Oxford and the other at Cambridge – both girls have a Science bias to their studies. The Sixth Form team are also supporting all the girls in our Upper Sixth in preparation for their upcoming university interviews and applications.

As the ‘Grease’ company regain their breath and energy, girls are looking ahead this week to opportunities including an Upper Sixth History of Art trip to the ‘Ways of Seeing’ exhibition at the National Gallery, a careers talk by Sarah Hardy, Curator/Manager at the De Morgan Foundation and a movie night social for the First Form.

The Fair tomorrow will tip us into the run up to Christmas and the end of term. The Upper Sixth are in charge of the girls’ celebrations which will be focused on fun and also on the importance of thinking of others at this time. The girls’ chosen charities this year are the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and Palliative Care Centre in Farnham. Our Christmas jumper mufti day next Friday will certainly put us all in the Christmas spirit.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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The ISADA conference last weekend was a huge success. We hosted representatives from a range of schools who enjoyed lectures and workshops and made valuable connections with other like-minded individuals. One of the artists who shared his inspiration was Mark Spray, with whom Prior’s Field has had a connection for some time.  Mark commented: ‘I think that was the first time I have had an audience that seemed to understand what it is I have dedicated my life to. From my perspective, that was truly touching and wonderful.’

On Sunday I popped into the ‘Grease’ rehearsal and, on Monday, there was a ‘Grease’ assembly for the Second, Third and Fourth Forms. As a result, my appetite has been well and truly whetted and I am even more excited about seeing the production. The girls are fantastic!

I must mention the English Speaking Union Mace Round 1 Debate which took place at Prior’s Field on Tuesday. Our team – Mabel O and Freya W – were two years younger than all the other teams competing and were chosen by the judges as one of the three teams to go through to the next round. This is an amazing result – I am so proud of the girls. Debating competitions are technical and fast-moving. They have shown incredible maturity and resilience to achieve this result and they should be very proud of themselves too.

On Wednesday we welcomed to Prior’s Field a large number of Duke of Edinburgh volunteers from various local schools, for their regional training day. As you will know, the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme is very popular here and we were delighted to be able to support the professional development of teachers who spend so much time supporting young people who have signed up for the scheme. The skills and experience gained en route to the award, at whatever level, are invaluable in creating rounded, confident individuals keen to help others and to grab all the opportunities life offers. There are many pressures on our young people these days and I would encourage  all our girls to engage with an activity like the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, to ensure balance in their life and – particularly relevant today, when we are thinking of Children in Need everywhere – to help them appreciate the value of altruism to society.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig