My last View from the Top of this academic year – and I have had a very changing view this week. Initially, the corridors were fairly quiet with the majority of the girls out on one of the array of Activities Weeks trips arranged this year. Some of the Fifth Form were in school, on a Childcare Course, and the Lower Sixth have been very busy looking ahead to their UCAS application next term. The Bronze Duke of Edinburgh girls spent a day route planning before setting off on their expedition. Yesterday, the school was full again, the girls abuzz with stories from their recent adventures, and rehearsals for Speech Day started in earnest. I know we will be treated to a fantastic display of talent tomorrow.
I must thank the Sports Department for organising an exciting Sports Day again this year. The sun was shining as the Houses paraded around the top field, to start the festivities. Micky Burton-Brown remained with us all morning and very much enjoyed being part being part of the school community. Ms Fernandes has included some Sports Day results in her report below. Congratulations, not only to those who won their event, but to every girl who took part at whatever level – I was struck, as usual, by the solidarity amongst the girls and their readiness to offer support to their peers.
I am proud too of those girls who show commitment to their interests out of school. This term I have heard of fantastic achievements in a variety of sporting and other activities. Imogen W has qualified with her crew to take part in the British Rowing Junior Championships in a ; a group including Neave, Lily, Amber, Gemma, Freya, Georgie, Mabel, Katie, Lily and Martha got up at 3am last Sunday morning to take part in a sponsored 20km walk to raise money for Shooting Star Children’s Hospices; Claudia C has been selected for the South East of England team for this year’s National U18 Eventing Championships; Robyn M and two girls joining us in September are currently in a production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre; at the end of July, Lottie R will be swimming in five events over five days at the English Nationals – recently she and 99 other swimmers attempted to break the 100x400m relay record and raise money for Cancer Research UK and did so in style, smashing the record by 24 minutes – if you would like to add to their wonderful fundraising total of over £30,000, you can do so via this link. Please do continue to send in information about your daughter’s interests and achievements out of school – they are part of who she is, and we very much enjoy celebrating the whole of her!
Yesterday and today were all about celebration. The Upper Sixth Leavers’ Party was bitter sweet and primarily an absolute joy. We are all so proud of the whole cohort and look forward to hearing about their adventures in their brave new world. Today, our Awards Assembly was full of smiles and, at lunchtime, I ate cake with the very many girls who have been awarded a Head’s Commendation since half term.
I hope to see many of you tomorrow at Speech Day. I wish you all a wonderful summer full of experiences and opportunities.
The temperature has risen at a similar pace to the run up to the end of term.
One of the hottest tickets this week was to our Lower School Production, ‘Alice in Londonland’ on Tuesday and Wednesday. As always, the Drama and Music departments supported the girls in producing a spectacular show, written in-house by Mrs Horton and Mrs Hedley, whose creativity is always so inspiring. I watched the performance on both evenings and it was a real showcase of talent. Unusually this time, a pupil played a crucial part in the technical team; congratulations to Lucy N on her involvement.
Another hot ticket was to the Surrey Schools Tennis League Championship at St George’s this week, where, in the 14&U category, Prior’s Field won! Huge congratulations to Romana B, Jessenia B, Sophie Q, Kira T, Hannah A and Maddy H.
The Boarders laid on a fantastic spread for their Pink Tea for Breast Cancer on Monday. The cakes sold out faster than ever before and over £150 was raised.
The MasterChef competition yesterday was a joy. The girls produced imaginative and skilful dishes, so much so in fact that chief Judge, Chef Ricky, said that judging the competition was the hardest thing he has ever done! Well done to all the girls who took part and in particular to the winners: Anna C and Lucy H, Emily H and Daisy M, Lucy W and Maya L, Yoyo C and Natasha J.
Yesterday was a particularly jam-packed day. In the afternoon, we welcomed members of Busbridge Church’s Prime Time group to tea, cake and music in the Rose Garden. It was a perfect afternoon and truly magical. I spoke to several of our guests, including a number of retired nuns from Ladywell Convent, who were all as equally charmed as me. It is a real privilege as well as a pleasure for girls and staff to be able to support the local community in this way.
Thursday ended with the last parent briefing before the Tanzania and Tinga Tinga trip leaves. The excitement is mounting as the supplies and gifts we are taking with us continue to multiply outside Ms Troup’s office. Having visited Tanzania several times now, I know that the trip will be interesting, inspirational and possibly even transformational for both students and staff.
Lower Sixth parents and guardians came to a Parents’ Evening last night, running simultaneously with a ‘pop up’ Creative Arts exhibition for the year group. This worked really well. Following discussions with their teachers, the girls now have a portfolio of tasks to action over the summer in preparation for their final year at school.
This morning, for Founder’s Day, the school had a special visitor in Micky Burton-Brown, grandson of Ethel-Burton Brown who was Headmistress of Prior’s Field with Julia Huxley and also following her death. The girls sat rapt as staff and girls spoke about Ethel – a very bright girl who, via History at Girton College Cambridge, became a renowned expert in Classical Civilisation who was also at the forefront of progressive education for girls in the early 20th century. Mr Burton-Brown then painted a touching and humorous portrait of his grandmother and the family connection with Prior’s Field. You will know that I regularly visit Julia Huxley’s grave to mark important times in her life. Today, I went with staff, Sixth Form students and Mr Burton-Brown to place flowers on the Burton-Brown grave, in memory of both Ethel and Beatrice, remembering the very large part they played in fashioning the school we are today. It was moving to see flowers from the school sitting alongside those from the family.
This weekend, the first Activities Week trips depart to Paris, Pembrokeshire and the Port Lympne Reserve in Kent. Next week, girls are looking forward to the Big PF Adventure, water sports at Hawley Lake, three different mystery day trips and the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh qualifying expedition. Meanwhile, in Godalming, a number of Fifth Form are participating in a two day course on ‘Looking after other people’s children’, covering amongst other things focused First Aid, nutritional needs for the young and baby care, involving each girl looking after her own robot baby. The Lower Sixth will be looking ahead to life beyond Prior’s Field at their UCAS Conference. On Monday evening, they will attend the Careers Dinner where alumnae and other speakers will shed light on many potential avenues of exploration for the future. My thanks go to all the teaching staff who will accompanying the girls on their various activities this week (the Silver Duke of Edinburgh qualifying expedition is already under way on Dartmoor) and next week, as well as to the support staff who have worked so hard to ensure that everything goes smoothly. I am planning to drop in on some of the more local venues and I know I will see happy faces.
With best wishes for a sunny weekend
The funeral takes place today of Mrs Karen Bryant, who worked at Prior’s Field for 34 years. She was secretary to five Headmistresses and eight Bursars. Her other administrative roles in the school included School Secretary and Centenary Coordinator. In the latter role, Mrs Bryant contributed hugely to the beginnings of our now very well-established archives. The school will be represented at Mrs Bryant’s funeral by Jane Bickerdike, current Head’s PA, and Mrs Mary Claire Cook, who knew her for many years as a colleague.
The end of term is accelerating towards us as the school becomes even busier and the level of the girls’ excitement mounts.
This week Charlotte C, Gvantsa G and Summer W represented Prior’s Field at the BSA Boarders got Talent final in London and their wonderful musical performance made Mrs Jones very proud. Well done, girls, for reaching the final.
National Boarding week reminded us why so many of our girls love boarding. We celebrated with a rounders match organised by the Sixth Form House, an amazing BBQ and a Treasure Hunt for the First, Second and Third Forms.
Congratulations are also due to Romana B, Kira T, Sophie Q and Jessenia B – our 18&U tennis team – who have qualified for the Aberdare Cup UK National Finals. This is a fantastic achievement and, as Mr Martin, the Head of Performance of the Tennis Academy, comments, an incredible success for Prior’s Field as it is the first time the school has qualified for the national finals, which take place in July in Nottingham. We will all be waiting excitedly to hear how the girls get on.
There were many highlights in what was a very busy week. The latest Classics and Cakes was very well-received and was particularly successful, showcasing a range of talent. Thank you to the girls and congratulations to all the Music and peripatetic staff. God and the Big Bang was an innovative, stimulating and fascinating Religious Studies and Science immersion for our Fourth Form girls who were impressed by the expert speakers and were themselves impressive with their contributions to the discussions.
New Girls’ Tea was, as ever, a hugely happy event. It was lovely to see our new First Form already making friends and exploring opportunities, including a tantalising taste of our Clubs Carnival, which will take place next term. It was also really delightful to see our PF Peers, Uniform Ambassadors and Prefects supporting and interacting with the younger girls. Standing in front of a room full of excited new girls full of trepidation is the beginning of a journey for them that will end with a similar yet very different feeling of excitement and trepidation, when they leave the Upper Sixth ready to embark on the next stage of their life. For me and colleagues, it is strange but also completely normal to say ‘hello’ to new faces yesterday and ‘goodbye’ to familiar faces in two weeks’ time.
On Wednesday evening, I only just managed to catch the end of the Fourth Form Parents’ Evening as I was a guest at the St Hilary’s Heads’ Dinner, for the Heads of future schools for the Year 6 children. The theme was 1920’s Glitz and Glamour and it was a delightful evening to share with St Hilary’s. I hope to see parents and guardians of Lower Sixth girls at the Parents’ Evening next Thursday. Do remember to visit the ‘pop-up’ Creative Arts exhibition when you are here.
The Lower Sixth in fact have a busy time ahead of them as some of them embark on a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course this weekend, while others start their Chartered Management Institute Level 3 Certificate in First Line Management next week. This is a nationally recognised adult management qualification that helps prepare young people for leadership roles. The course will be delivered by a highly experienced manager from StudyFlex Ltd and will cover modules in Personal Development, Information and Communication, Developing Good Working Relationships, Project Management and Coaching. Both courses provide an exciting opportunity for the girls to enhance their CV and develop skills to make them stand out when applying for higher education and future careers.
On Monday, girls and staff may have a tea clash or a double date with cake! Our annual Pink Tea, arranged by the Boarders, will raise money for breast cancer research while, in the pavilion, girls in the summer Sports Teams will be enjoying a special treat. Next week sees more exams, this time in the Music Department – good luck to all the girls involved. On Wednesday the Fifth Form will enjoy one of their rites of passage moving up the school: mocktails with staff in the Rose Garden. The next day, some of them will depart to complete their Silver Duke of Edinburgh qualifying expedition on Dartmoor.
On Thursday, mouths will be watering at the Prior’s Field MasterChef Final. I always think that the judges should really have the lion’s share of the tastings! In the afternoon the Boarders welcome once again the Prime Time group to afternoon tea in the Rose Garden. It is clear to see that the girls, whilst being perfect hosts, enjoy this event just as much as their guests!
Finally next week sees the culmination of huge amounts of work and impressive levels of commitment from both girls and staff to produce this year’s Lower School Production: Alice in Londonland. The reputation of Mrs Horton of Ms Hedley is now legendary and I have no qualms in encouraging you to beg, steal or borrow any spare ticket that might be available. I hope to see you there.
With best wishes
Stop Press: Well done to Alice S who single-handedly sold 85 ice-creams at lunchtime today and, in doing so, raised £170 for Tinga Tinga.
The weather this week has made revision easier for the girls taking exams. Absolutely no sun to distract them! Well done to all of them and particularly the Fifth Form and Upper Sixth for their resilience – the end is in sight and has already arrived for some!
The rain has also failed to prevent other activities continuing. The First Form Alice in Wonderland social went ahead inside on Monday and the girls’ enjoyment was certainly not compromised. Yesterday it was rather surreal – and marvellous – to look out of my study window to see girls uni-cycling in the rain, as if they were born to it! I am hugely impressed at the progress all the girls in the Circus Club have made. Several members of staff are itching to join in.
On Tuesday, we welcomed current and past Governors to say farewell and thank you to Neale Andrew and Caroline Colvin, who have both given 12 years of service to the school as Governors. We are indebted to Andrew and Caroline and to all our Governors for their time, energy and experience.
As billed last week, yesterday we held our inaugural Junior Schools’ Debating Day. The event was a great success and we have had some very positive feedback. Our own girls were wonderful debating ambassadors. Congratulations and thank you to Emily A, Freya A, Georgia B, Emilia C, Sophie F, Poppy H, Greta L, Robyn M, Lily M, Mabel O and Freya W.
This afternoon we are welcoming to the A Level Creative Arts Open Exhibition the Mayor and Mayoress of Guildford, the Mayor of Godalming and Alistair Burtenshaw, Director of Watts Gallery. I am sure they will be as impressed by the girls’ work as the visiting parents and friends. Do join us if you can. Lower Sixth parents and guardians will be able to see the girls’ current work at Parents’ Evening on Thursday 27 June.
Next week is another busy week. Classics and Cakes makes a come-back on Monday with a mouth-watering selection of musical performances. On Wednesday, Mr Starnes is hosting ‘God and the Big Bang’ for Fourth Form girls. Four expert speakers – Dr Matt Pritchard, Anna Pearson, Hannah Malcolm and Michael Harvey – will speak to the girls and engage them on the questions where religion and science might seem to collide. It promises to be a fascinating day. Fourth Form parents will already be aware of Parents’ Evening on Wednesday evening. The girls seem to have really enjoyed Taster Day today. I popped into several lessons and there was a real sense of interest and enthusiasm about the step up to Sixth Form and the opportunities available.
New Girls’ Tea is on Thursday next week. We hope the sun will be shining on a day which is always exciting for both girls and staff.
Finally, a thank you to the pupils and staff working hard on the Lower School Production: ‘Alice in Londonland’. Rehearsals have been continuing during the week and at weekends. Remember to book your tickets for what promises to be another extraordinary production.
With best wishes