Head’s Blog

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My first blog – perhaps a broadcast from our YouTube channel next?

Last weekend the clock was turned back – a cricket match was played by Prior’s Field girls, emulating their forebears in the school’s infancy who were some of the first school girls ever to play the game.

We have also been reminded in the news this week of another woman who made history – Dame Millicent Fawcett – an intelligent and inspiring suffragist, who would surely have been known of by the innovative and forward-thinking women at Prior’s field at the time, who is now commemorated with a statue in Westminster.

It is facile to talk about how times have changed – facile, but true and very relevant when considering the report in the Times this week of the view of the well-known historian, Bettany Hughes, on the merits of boarding. The modern boarding experience is very much at odds with many of the public comments which have been prompted by Ms Hughes’ opinion. To be a boarder today is to have all the advantages and opportunities that come from being part of two families: at home and in the boarding community. Prior’s Field boarders, who are here because they and their family have chosen that path for all the right reasons, enjoy wonderful events like the amazing St George’s Day Medieval Banquet which took place on Monday. More importantly, however, they reap the benefits of modern thinking about and awareness of the issues facing adolescents – issues not widely understood even in the recent past – and pastoral support from experienced staff who, every day, interact with the girls with kindness and emotional intelligence.

All our girls – both boarding and day girls – also benefit hugely of course from family support and, at Monday’s PSA meeting, we thanked four parents who are stepping down from the committee, having been stalwart, committed and hardworking members for a number of years: Mrs Kingsbury, Mrs Hone, Mrs Cox-Cunningham and Mrs Leach. My thanks go to them and to all the PSA, for supporting the school in so many different ways. This weekend the PSA will be helping once more, as staff, girls and parents come together for PF Alive. Everyone is very excited and the preparations are gathering momentum. I look forward to seeing those of you lucky enough to have a ticket tomorrow evening.

Finally, we welcomed this week a whole community of new residents, who we hope will provide for the girls a new interest, learning opportunities and … honey!  A colony of bees, tended by the very enthusiastic Mr Swansborough, is now living in my garden.  All we need now is for the sun to return and the flowers to bloom – then the bees will be as busy as the rest of the school!

With best wishes for a lovely weekend

Tracy Kirnig

We have continued to have a steady stream of visitors through the Rose Garden and beyond, following the AppArt trail, which is growing daily as new pieces seem to appear overnight. I have watched out of my window groups of excited children from St Hilary’s and Moss Lane examining the display, and yesterday we welcomed First Form friends and family who came to our Relatives’ Day, one of my favourite Prior’s Field events. The First Form were excellent hosts and tour guides and proudly showed their guests around their school, pointing out their favourite spots and interesting sights – like the Head, for example!

Another treat this week has been to listen to some of Mr Butler’s and Mrs McGarry’s Second Form girls read their creative writing, which was powerful, evocative and, frankly, quite terrifying! I look forward to hearing more after the holidays.

I have had the privilege over the last few days of attending as a guest two local school productions: ‘My Fair Lady’ at Manor House (with acting Director of Music for the show, our very own Mr Pratt) and ‘Hoodwinked’ at Longacre. They were both a complete joy to share with smiling parents and staff. The hat-trick was completed when Mrs Wilcock saw ‘The Jungle Book’ at St Hilary’s, another huge success. Congratulations to everyone concerned with all those shows; the hard work is worth it for the pleasure they bring.

Our own girls who attended the Annual Sports Dinner on Tuesday were both inspired by the speaker, Rachel Morris, and inspiring, as many received awards for their achievements. The celebrations of sporting success that evening were a precursor to our Presentation Assembly this morning, when a multitude of awards for a huge number of activities, both academic and co-curricular, were presented to many girls who were quite rightly beaming with delight.

Last night, our Digital Awareness pastoral evening was an important event with an outside speaker; the parents who came were very engaged and interested. We plan similar talks for the future and I would really encourage you to attend so that we can work together to ensure that your daughter is equipped for life beyond Prior’s Field. We will let you know when we have firmed up the date of our next event.

I am conscious that, for many, the holidays mean revision and I know that girls will be working hard to make progress towards their goals. I do hope, however, that everyone has the opportunity to have a rest. Let’s hope that we see more of the sun than snow in the weeks ahead.

With best wishes for a happy Easter

Tracy Kirnig

Head

As I look outside my window, I know that spring is here as there are fascinating and beautiful pieces of art peeping out of bushes and hiding around every corner. AppART is here and this week we have already welcomed several groups of prep and primary school children to wander around the Rose Garden and take part in an Art workshop with Miss Thorpe from the Art department. It was clear from the excited noise in the Oak Hall, when the girls and boys came in for their snack and were displaying their creations, that they had had great fun.

Another real treat this week was Mothering Sunday at the weekend, when the boarders invited me to join them and other invited guests from Busbridge Church Primetime Group. I was immensely proud of the girls who charmed and made conversation with the group of mainly elderly visitors, who would otherwise have been on their own, despite some having children of their own.

On Tuesday, we welcomed several families of prospective pupils to ‘Meet the Head’ and other members of the Senior Leadership Team. They were shown round by smiling girls, eager to show off their school – so eager in fact that one family nearly had a tour of the kitchen!

It was lovely on Wednesday to see so many of the Fourth Form and their parents at Parents’ Evening. I have been fortunate enough recently to have been able to find the time to observe several lessons, across all the year groups, and I have been so impressed by the way in which the girls really do throw themselves into academic study.

As always, however, Prior’s Field girls frequently manage successfully to combine work and play. This week, the U13 gymnasts impressed at their competition away to Guildford High. Yesterday evening, the audience and VIPs, including me and Mr Taylor, at the Rotary Schools Concert at G Live were treated to a fantastic Prior’s Field contribution, including a wonderful ‘Les Misérables’ medley, reminding us just how amazing that production was last term. And finally, today, in a special assembly, seven Sixth Formers received a Young Leaders in Service Award, a testament to their commitment to giving to others whilst developing themselves and their own life skills for the future. It is remarkable that these girls have been able to contribute huge quantities of time for this award, whilst also achieving in their academic studies, music and drama.

Finally, I leave you with the image of the Head very nearly photo-bombing a form group photo! The girls all so enjoyed the opportunity with their friends to capture on camera this special time in their lives – before they move on to the next one!

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

Head

 

Whilst the north-west of England continues to have snow, spring seems to have arrived at Prior’s Field. It is hardly credible that the boarders (and I!) were sledging down the slopes in the school grounds last Friday on tea trays! Some of the girls also took the opportunity to use the wintery background to add to their Art and Photography portfolios with stunning results.

On the subject of snow, or skiing, we were excited this week to learn that, thanks to Molly in the First Form, Prior’s Field now holds the British Inter Schools U12 Grand Slalom title. Molly’s achievements this season are awe-inspiring and a testament to her drive and commitment.

Rock and Pop on Monday was another celebration of achievement. The girls who played and sang were extremely good and gave a performance that was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. It was super to see so many girls invest such a huge amount of energy and emotion in what was, for some, an experience quite outside their comfort zone.

This phenomenal week continued on Wednesday with House Art: an opportunity for girls in every year group to display their skill in Art, Photography and Textiles. Creative Arts Scholars’ parents and invited guests, including the new Director of Watts Gallery, Alistair Burtenshaw, thoroughly enjoyed admiring the pieces before the judges made their decision. Prince Charles, who has been in the press this week, calling for more Creative Arts teaching and learning, would have been more than impressed with the astounding display of talent.

There was plenty of noise in the Drama Studio yesterday when the Fifth Form received their IGCSE Maths results: every girl achieved at least a C grade and 55% achieved an A*. Even the sun came out to celebrate with the girls, as they posed by the unicorn for a photograph. I am very proud of their achievement, and grateful for all the hard work put in by the Maths Department to support them.

It seems that Prior’s Field girls were involved at the start of the global women’s movement celebrated this week on International Women’s Day. A Prior’s Field girl, Margie Wetzler Coit, wrote in the school magazine in 1909 about the International Women’s Suffrage Conference she attended in London. This week, Prior’s Field girls’ achievements seem to embody the advice of one of the speakers at that conference to ‘follow the gleam’!

The First Form trips to the Robertson Nursing Home continued on Monday, and I know how much the residents enjoyed these visits, and how appreciative their families are that our girls are connecting with their family members in this way. This weekend, I have been invited to Mother’s Day lunch with the boarders, and I am looking forward to sharing the day with several members of the Busbridge Prime Time group who are also coming along.

I hope you too are able to enjoy a special time this weekend with your family.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

Head

 

PF Old Girls SnowThis 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 
Tracy Kirnig 

PF Old Girls SnowThis 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 

Tracy Kirnig 

‘We are our choices,’ wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, and in school this week there has been an atmosphere of supporting the girls across the board in making choices and key decisions as they look ahead at the next chapter of their educational journey and beyond school.
At the beginning of the week, the Fifth Formers were busy with their post mock GCSE interviews. These sessions were an invaluable opportunity to reflect and analyse on their performance, and to support the girls in making appropriate improvements to their preparation for their exams later this year. We very much welcomed the opportunity to continue these discussions with Fifth Form parents yesterday evening.
On Monday, the Third Formers were introduced to the process of choosing their GCSE options. Mrs Wilcock guided them through the next steps, which include the Third Form Parents’ and GCSE Options Evening taking place on Thursday 1 February next week.  Sixth Form were also busy reflecting on a huge array of impressive university offers, whilst undertaking a number of academic trips and lectures which support their studies.
Decision making is also at the fore for so many of the parents whose daughter has received the exciting news of the outcome of her application to join Prior’s Field at 11+ or 13+. We look forward to hosting a significant number of them at Open Day alongside our first time visitors on Saturday 3 February.
Continuing the theme of progression and options, I want to draw your attention to a couple of forthcoming events. The first is open to all ages: a fascinating series of Careers Talks on Monday afternoons, delivered by a host of professionals willing to share their path to their chosen careers, and the sense of fulfilment they gain from their work.
The second series of events is aimed at the Fifth Formers, who have been  invited to the Sixth Form Loft to meet the Heads of Department to explore A Level options over a hot chocolate.  And as another more contemporary author wrote – ‘You just need a little perspective. Warmed chocolate can give you that.’ –  Giada De LaurentiisParis!
Have a wonderful weekend
Tracy Kirnig

‘We are our choices,’ wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, and in school this week there has been an atmosphere of supporting the girls across the board in making choices and key decisions as they look ahead at the next chapter of their educational journey and beyond school.

At the beginning of the week, the Fifth Formers were busy with their post mock GCSE interviews. These sessions were an invaluable opportunity to reflect and analyse on their performance, and to support the girls in making appropriate improvements to their preparation for their exams later this year. We very much welcomed the opportunity to continue these discussions with Fifth Form parents yesterday evening.

On Monday, the Third Formers were introduced to the process of choosing their GCSE options. Mrs Wilcock guided them through the next steps, which include the Third Form Parents’ and GCSE Options Evening taking place on Thursday 1 February next week.  Sixth Form were also busy reflecting on a huge array of impressive university offers, whilst undertaking a number of academic trips and lectures which support their studies.

Decision making is also at the fore for so many of the parents whose daughter has received the exciting news of the outcome of her application to join Prior’s Field at 11+ or 13+. We look forward to hosting a significant number of them at Open Day alongside our first time visitors on Saturday 3 February.

Continuing the theme of progression and options, I want to draw your attention to a couple of forthcoming events. The first is open to all ages: a fascinating series of Careers Talks on Monday afternoons, delivered by a host of professionals willing to share their path to their chosen careers, and the sense of fulfilment they gain from their work.

The second series of events is aimed at the Fifth Formers, who have been  invited to the Sixth Form Loft to meet the Heads of Department to explore A Level options over a hot chocolate.  And as another more contemporary author wrote – ‘You just need a little perspective. Warmed chocolate can give you that.’ –  Giada De LaurentiisParis!

Have a wonderful weekend

Tracy Kirnig

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God, the Universe and Everything Else
There has been a distinctly astronomic feel to the first ten days of term!  The stratospheric start to the New Year saw the focus on Fifth Form mocks and aiming high as the girls gallantly entered a demanding exam schedule.  Results were out today, and many saw the benefit of their hard work over Christmas, come to fruition. We look forward to discussing the results in more detail at next week’s post exam interviews with the girls and with you at Fifth Form Parents Evening on Thursday.
Elsewhere the Second Form were in Heaven at their chocolate inspired social;  Fourth Form were tackling the taxing issue of ‘God and The Big Bang Theory’ at an event at Guildford Cathedral whilst we are eagerly anticipating next month’s Huxley Lecture which features the BBC’s Face of Space.
Chances to meet an inspiring space Scientist and Broadcaster like Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock only come around once in a Blue Moon and in anticipation of her appearance at the annual Huxley Lecture at Prior’s Field on 20 February, we have been looking at up moon for inspiration. Thrillingly, for the second time this month we are expecting a Full Moon on 31 January, it’s called a Blue Moon and is technically also a Super Moon. We hope there will be an equally super turn out at the event next month! Please invite friends, neighbours and extended family to join us tickets are on sale via https://pfhuxley.eventbrite.co.uk.
Looking forward into next week, our Sixth Form Chemists will visit Reading University to take part in a Spectroscopy Workshop and girls in the Upper School will have the opportunity to hear a fascinating talk giving an insight into the science of Criminology.
Tracy Kirnig

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God, the Universe and Everything Else

There has been a distinctly astronomic feel to the first ten days of term!  The stratospheric start to the New Year saw the focus on Fifth Form mocks and aiming high as the girls gallantly entered a demanding exam schedule.  Results were out today, and many saw the benefit of their hard work over Christmas, come to fruition. We look forward to discussing the results in more detail at next week’s post exam interviews with the girls and with you at Fifth Form Parents Evening on Thursday.

Elsewhere the Second Form were in Heaven at their chocolate inspired social;  Fourth Form were tackling the taxing issue of ‘God and The Big Bang Theory’ at an event at Guildford Cathedral whilst we are eagerly anticipating next month’s Huxley Lecture which features the BBC’s Face of Space.

Chances to meet an inspiring space Scientist and Broadcaster like Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock only come around once in a Blue Moon and in anticipation of her appearance at the annual Huxley Lecture at Prior’s Field on 20 February, we have been looking at up moon for inspiration. Thrillingly, for the second time this month we are expecting a Full Moon on 31 January, it’s called a Blue Moon and is technically also a Super Moon. We hope there will be an equally super turn out at the event next month! Please invite friends, neighbours and extended family to join us tickets are on sale via https://pfhuxley.eventbrite.co.uk.

Looking forward into next week, our Sixth Form Chemists will visit Reading University to take part in a Spectroscopy Workshop and girls in the Upper School will have the opportunity to hear a fascinating talk giving an insight into the science of Criminology.

Tracy Kirnig