Tag: Head’s blog

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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 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

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It was lovely to welcome the girls back to school on Tuesday after the fantastic Bank Holiday weekend.

Public exams have begun in earnest for the Fifth Form and the corridors are still. Girls in other years, however, continue with exam preparation in school. I can sense the girls’ focus as I walk around the school. This time of year presents them with a challenge and an opportunity to show us and themselves what they have achieved this year.

I am thrilled that our connection with Delight, the charity working with primary schools to support learning through the arts and books, continues. Sixth Form girls have visited a number of schools this year presenting assemblies and collecting unwanted books which, having been counted and packed by a team of girls at Prior’s Field, have been passed to Delight. This week, a number of Second, Third and Fourth Form girls helped with the next stage of the process: distributing books to children at local primary schools. They visited Guildford Grove Primary School where they helped each child to select two free books that he or she might like to read. As a keen reader as well as an educationalist, I am hugely supportive of the concept behind this charity. If you would like to know more about it, do take a look at http://delightcharity.org.uk/what-we-do/.

Baroness Mary Warnock is a Prior’s Field Old Girl and I was fascinated to read her thoughts in the TES this week on why her 1978 report on special education was, and still is a landmark document for all of us who are passionate about providing the best possible inclusive education for every child. We are hugely proud to count her amongst our Alumnae.

On the subject of Alumnae, we have welcomed a number of old girls to Prior’s Field this week. The visit of Khursheed Khurody was the trigger for a number of other alumnae from her year group (1983) to visit at the same time. It was a pleasure to chat to Khursheed and her family; Khursheed has fond memories of boarding and the English families with whom she stayed at half terms and exeats. Another old girl, Catherine Valentine, a sports agent for Olympian Helen Glover, amongst others, and a keen sportswoman herself, was very impressed with our current sports facilities, and almost wished she could be a school girl again so that she could play on the astro!

This weekend, our intrepid Fourth Form Bronze Duke of Edinburgh girls depart on their practice expedition. It looks as though the weather will be kind. The Bronze Award is potentially only the first step on the Duke of Edinburgh journey. I do hope the girls really enjoy the experience which can be hugely beneficial in so many ways, and can spark a love of the outdoors that lasts forever. I have been invited to Buckingham Palace to see a number of our older girls receive their Gold Award later this month. Who knows, the invitation may be for some of our current Fourth Form in a few years’ time.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig

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A shorter message from me this week as I was away from school for two days at the Boarding Schools Association annual conference in Brighton. A packed programme kept us all busy with speakers, workshops and information. This is an event valuable for sharing innovative ideas and discussing current trends and concerns. Boarding remains a popular option for parents and Prior’s Field is very much part of the modern boarding story.

Back at base, in Godalming, the school was still buzzing after PF Alive on Saturday- a fantastic event thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and, I think, even more so by the girls themselves. The joy and sense of fun was palpable, the girls giving us huge smiles as they strutted their stuff on the catwalk. This was a tremendous community event and I must thank all the staff involved, particularly Mrs Rusholme, the Music department and our incredible compere, MC Pratt. The combined contributions of staff, the PSA and our amazing caterers made the evening a great success.

This morning the Upper Sixth presented their final assembly: a wonderful celebration of the girls’ time at Prior’s Field, with a video created by our very own Holly H incorporating messages to the girls from the whole school. We will miss these young women when they leave us in the summer. We still have three weeks of their company, however, before their exam leave begins.

Today we are saying good luck to the Fifth Form as they embark on study leave. I know that the girls still have plenty of study to do between now and their well-deserved rest and relaxation at the end of June, and we will see many of the girls who are coming in for revision workshops in the next few weeks. I look forward to celebrating the girls’ achievements with them in August.

With best wishes for a warm and sunny Bank Holiday weekend

Tracy Kirnig

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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

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