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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

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After the welcome break of half term, this week has flown by.

My start to the week was interspersed with fireworks. On Monday, at the Boarders’ spooky supper, the costumes were impressive and the display put on by Dr Smith and Mr Swansborough drew the requisite ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the watching girls and staff.  Well done to Alice T for her wonderful costume. Sofia S and Ella W won a prize for their incredible make up and Mr Jones and Miss Austerberry were highly commended for their spooky appearance. On Tuesday, it was a pleasure to attend the Longacre School display – another treat on a perfect evening for fireworks.

In the latter part of the week, Mr Kinder, Mrs Horton, Ms Fernandes, Mr Pratt, Mrs Morwood and I have very much enjoyed meeting the Fifth Form girls who have applied for a scholarship for Sixth Form. The girls have approached the process with a great deal of maturity and I hope they have benefited from the process. We are very excited about watching this year group progress to Sixth Form where they will continue to grow in confidence and to discover more about themselves.

This week continues at pace with a number of girls coming for a boarding taster tonight prior to our Preview Day for prospective new First Form for September 2019. This is always a delightful day to be part of – the girls’ joy and enthusiasm is infectious. Staff are looking forward to assuming their persona for the day, which is themed around the stories of Sherlock Holmes, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose daughter attended Prior’s Field.

This evening, we are welcoming delegates to a conference Prior’s Field is delighted to be hosting for ISADA, the Independent Schools Art and Design Association. ISADA is an association for the professional development of art and design teachers within the independent sector. It holds two or three conferences a year that usually take the form of a weekend meeting at an independent school, incorporating lectures, demonstrations, workshops, visits to galleries, exhibitions of students work, and a tour of the host school. I am looking forward to meeting all the attendees this evening.

The rehearsal schedule for ‘Grease’ is ramping up and everyone is becoming increasingly excited about the show. The girls have been working tremendously hard and I know it will be a production that will leave a smile on your face. As the press continue to report extensively on the amount of time spent by young people on their devices, it is clear that the ‘Grease’ company are completely committed to being part of the show and to giving whatever time is needed to ensure it is a success.

Remembrance Assembly this morning in this special year was moving and relevant, as we learned about a previous Head, Beatrice Burton Brown, who lost her fiancé in the First World War and about how the war empowered the women of that generation and opened their eyes to previously unconsidered possibilities and opportunities. Beatrice never married and went on to be Head at Prior’s Field for 25 years. We remember her and other women of that era whose pioneering efforts and legacy are the backbone of women’s independence and equality today.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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The highlight of my week this week was being able to join the First Form on their bonding trip in the South Downs. The girls were impeccably behaved and so lovely to each other. I glowed with pride when the tour guides in Hastings commented on how much the girls know about history, how responsive they are and what a pleasure it is to be with them. This was particularly gratifying as the tour guides were with the girls on the third day of what has been a very tiring – if thoroughly exciting! – adventure and activity trip.

‘Here came the girls’ on Wednesday evening, when the audience were treated to a fantastic menu of performances. This is always a superb evening of entertainment and this year was no exception. Sadly I was unable to be there this time (as I was learning how to light fires with the First Form at the time!), but I have heard fabulous reports.

Thursday saw the Fifth Form experience Sixth Sense, a glimpse of what their life in the Sixth Form will be like. I would encourage all the girls to consider applying for a Sixth Form scholarship, even those who are already scholars. The scholarship process itself can be a hugely stimulating and beneficial experience.

Sport is a permanent feature of life at Prior’s Field and we often have cause for celebration. This week, I feel I should make a special mention of the U14 and U16 netball teams who are through to the Surrey Finals Day – what a fantastic result. Well done girls.

Over the holidays, Sofia S will be having her head shaved to raise funds for Momentum Children’s Charity. Momentum Children’s Charity supports children with cancer and life-challenging conditions, living in South West London, Surrey and West Sussex. The charity offers tailored practical and emotional help to the entire family, through their unique support programme at home and in hospital, which includes therapy services, counselling, holidays, experiences and children’s ward refurbishments. You can watch a video about the charity here. Please do support Sofia with her fund raising through her Just Giving page.

My final treat of this half term will be gatecrashing the first part of the reunion sleepover of the class of 1978. I am sure the 40 years that have elapsed will give them much to talk about in between their school day reminiscences.

It has been a very busy first half of the autumn term and I know that staff and girls are looking forward to some rest over half term. You never know, our Indian summer may continue!

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

History has been made!!

Two of our netball teams have qualified for Surrey Finals Day which is absolutely brilliant! The U14’s showed incredible determination and were faultless on the day winning all 6 of their matches while the U16’s worked with the same determination and finished with 4 wins, 1 draw and a loss. Huge congratulations to the U14’s and U16’s for getting through and good luck for Finals Day.

The U15’s also had a great performance during their tournament and finished the day with 2 wins, a draw and 2 losses. They were placed 3rd overall and narrowly missed out on getting through to Finals Day.

Our teams have also been competing in the Independent Schools Netball Cup and Sister ‘n Sport Netball National Championships. The standard is incredibly high and our teams have put up a really good fight. Unfortunately, we suffered losses with 1st VII v Channing School (ISNC), U16 VII v Brighton College (SNS) and U14 VII v Sevenoaks (2nd round of SNS).

In other netball matches we won with the U13D & U12D teams against George Abbot, The U16B team drew with GHS while the U15 B&C and U14D lost to GHS.

The U15 and U13 gymnasts took part in the Surrey Tumbling competition at Guildford High. The standard in the U15 competition was really high and the girls completed their tumbles showing good execution, whilst it was the first opportunity for many of the U13 girls to compete at such a competitive level. Both teams finished in a very respectable 8th position.

On Wednesday last week we hosted our annual PF Cross Country run. The atmosphere and spirit of all runners was fantastic! Four age groups competed (U10, 11, 12, 13) with a real variety of schools winning across the board. Congratulations to our own second former Christina who came first in the U13 age group and to the team who were placed 3rd overall.

In the swimming pool, our swimmers enjoyed a really friendly and incredibly close competition with Notre Dame. The U13’s drew 30 points each whilst all other age groups had a very marginal loss by either 3 or 7 points.

Last but certainly not least, hockey matches have also been on the go. The U12 A&B teams are really working well as a unit and proving to be unstoppable on the pitch. They both comfortably beat SWPS during the week. On Saturday a big block fixture took place against Gordon’s School with most matches very well contested. Congratulations to the 1st XI, U14’s and U12A’s who all won their match. The U13A and U12B teams drew 1-1 while the U13B’s lost.

Yet again it has been wonderful to have so many of our girls involved with the many matches and in the range of sports.

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The leaves are now well and truly turning, as we are blown into the last week before half term.

The Scholars’ Concert at the Guildford Institute on Tuesday was well attended by both parents and music lovers who come every year. Once again the audience was extremely impressed by the high quality of the performances. If you would like another talent fix before half term, do remember that Cabaret Evening is on Wednesday. The girls have been working hard on pieces focused around a celebration of 100 years of inspiring British women: ‘Here come the girls’ – it is an evening not to be missed.

It has been very interesting to follow the debate on social media this week about the future of Common Entrance. It is exciting to see the prep school curriculum evolving. I had an interesting conversation with Neil Brooks, the new Head of Cranleigh Prep school, when he visited this week and I am very much looking forward to going to Longacre on Tuesday to help with their year 6 mock Common Entrance interviews. Prior’s Field continues to welcome girls at 13+ as well as 11+ and 16+.

In the next week, girls are going out on some amazing trips – to Ypres, Cheltenham, Rome, the Peak District, Croatia.  We will bring you news of their exploits after half term.  I would, however, like to address the First Form in particular and to wish them a wonderful time on their trip to the South Downs. I hope they enjoy the adventures that are planned for them and also the experience of being away together as a year group. The girls have settled in at Prior’s Field so well; we are proud of them all.

This morning in assembly we said goodbye to the four girls visiting as part of an exchange programme from Ruyton School in Melbourne. Abby, Nicola, Miranda and Angie have thrown themselves into life at Prior’s Field for the last four weeks. Huge thanks to the families who have hosted the girls here; I am sure their Prior’s Field buddies embarking on the return visit next year will have a fantastic time.

Today the whole school is taking part in Bright your Write – a Second Form initiative to raise funds for Tinga Tinga. The girls are hoping to buy exercise books and other stationery to send to Tanzania. We have all been challenged to use only bright colours on paper, boards and in emails today – and it has been a joy. The simple things really do put a smile on your face.

Wednesday was World Mental Health Day but, in fact, not a day goes by now without a news article about mental health, particularly in the education press. It is very much at the forefront of our minds here, in the context of both girls and staff.  I hope it would not be too bold of me to suggest that parents and guardians might also benefit from making more time to look after your own wellbeing, and set a good example for your children.  Perhaps you could have a family challenge over half term to try a few days ‘off grid’ or to go for a daily leaf-kicking walk?

With best wishes for a mindful weekend

Tracy Kirnig

The fast pace in the PE department has certainly continued over the past 10 days with all age groups taking part in a number of fixtures recently.

The seniors had their Hockey County Tournament this week and played exceptionally well. Against some tough competition, we came away with one draw (CLFS) and two losses (Reigate Grammar and St George’s, Weybridge). The 1st XI also convincingly won their hockey match against Woldingham whilst narrowly losing their netball matches (1st & 2nd VII) against George Abbot.

The U15’s have enjoyed netball matches against Manor House. The A team had a marginal loss while the B team brought home a win. On the hockey pitch, they dominated play from start to finish and had a resounding win against Christ Hospital.

The U14’s took part in a netball competition we have entered called SISTERS n SPORT National Cup. They travelled to Walthamstow Hall and had a fantastic game. They are now through to the second round. The hockey team travelled to Farlington to play in their first 11 a side hockey match. The match ended in a draw and was great preparation for their County Tournament which took place yesterday. During the tournament the team showed tremendous improvement and progress throughout the day and came away with one win (St Theresa’s) and two losses (St John’s and St George’s).

The U13 A&B’s have had two hockey matches, one against Copthorne Preparatory School and the other Sutton High. In both matches our teamwork was clinical and proved too strong for the opposition. The U13 C&D netball teams travelled to St Edmund’s and had a great time on the court. Both teams enjoyed success from this fixture.

The U12’s, like the others, have also been busy both on the hockey pitch and netball court. On the netball court the A&B teams beat The Royal but unfortunately lost their matches against Tormead. The C&D team have played against Tormead while the E&F team took on St Catherine’s. All teams put up a good fight but suffered narrow defeats when the final whistle was blown. The U12A netball team have also played their Sister in Sport match against Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls. Leading for the first half of the match the team looked set for victory, however, the pressure set in and unfortunately we lost by 1 goal.

The U12 A&B hockey teams took part in our annual PF Tournament last week Saturday. Playing in only their second match of the season, they went from strength to strength during the event. The A team finished third overall whilst the B team were runners up.

Off the court and pitch, our junior runners took part in the Junior Schools Cross Country Cup competition. Six runners competed with the top four scoring for the team. Our girls had a fantastic run and have been awarded first place overall. Congratulations to the following Second Former’s: Christina who came first, Evie who came second, Molly placed 9th and Eleanor 15th. First Former’s Katie and Jessenia came 18th and 19th respectively. An exceptional achievement to have the entire team within the top 20 (out of 50) runners.

On the Tennis court we reached the quarter finals of the 14&U Sutton SV Winter Regional Tour with our Academy students Sophie and Jessica playing extremely well in the high standard Grade 3 tournament at Sutton Academy.