Together we inspire
At Highfield and Brookham, our teaching looks beyond the core curriculum to skills learnt through a diverse range of co-curricular activities. We encourage children to find their passion, something they truly enjoy, and watch them flourish as they learn and develop new skills doing something they love.
Outstanding Music Teaching
Music is a hugely important part of early education, helping support numeracy, literacy and concentration while building performance and self-expression skills. All children benefit from weekly music lessons with our specialist music teachers, Mr John Mühlemann and Mrs Mary Hall, as part of their main timetable. Many children, particularly from Year 3, opt for additional music lessons to hone their musical talents.
Our facilities are superb and we ensure we offer something to inspire all ages, musical tastes and abilities, including a Rock Club and concerts that embrace everything from music to dance.
We offer children plenty of opportunities to perform. Those new to playing in front of large groups can do so in less formal environments, such as our weekly Cushion Concerts. As their confidence grows, our termly concerts are the perfect stage for the children to prepare to perform in more formal settings in front of a bigger audience. Performing is a crucial cog in becoming a courageous learner as it involves independence, self-motivation, teamwork and diplomacy.
Our Music School is always a hive of activity with most children opting to learn a musical instrument. They have the choice of no fewer than 12 instruments to learn, including cello, guitar, piano, saxophone, clarinet, drums, recorder, oboe, violin and flute. Vocalists are catered for too.
Whatever a child’s musical ability or style, there will be opportunities to be inspired, learn, perform and, above all, enjoy the many benefits of music. Extra-curricular opportunities include our dynamic concert series. We stage an annual Rock Concert and outdoor festival – ‘Highfest’ – and formal spring and summer concerts. We also have choirs for all ages, including our parents, and a bi-annual choral tour. Not to mention the School Orchestra and multiple ensembles.
Children can choose to take ABRSM exams – the exam board of the Royal School of Music – and each year we see a phenomenal number of Merits and Distinctions. Our success is further proven by the multiple Music Scholarships awarded to our children to top senior schools such as Wellington, Cranleigh, Bedales, Kings School Canterbury, Oundle and Seaford College.
We are immensely proud of our Drama provision, focusing as we do on developing performance while building confidence and self-esteem. These are skills that are at the forefront of any child’s personal development.
What we are particularly proud of is our unerring ability to stage quality productions across all age groups every year. Many schools put on one whole-school production per year, but all of our year groups – from Nursery right up to Year 8 – stage at least one performance every year. And these productions include every pupil, whether behind the scenes or in the leading role.
This is all done under the expert eye of Mrs Sarah Baird, our specialist Head of Drama.
Drama is non-exclusive and we encourage every child to seize these opportunities to express themselves. It also develops skills that benefit all areas of learning, so children can be brave and take risks which helps build confidence and self-esteem.
There are plenty of opportunities for all of our children to perform, even the smallest ones, in assemblies and presentations in front of their classmates, parents and teachers.
Self-confidence is gained from each performance and it’s these little victories that lead children on to future success. We feel that the courage and communication skills developed from these dramatic opportunities really can take children far in the years ahead.
Excellence in Art and DT
We create exciting and challenging projects in both Art and DT, paving the way for real ‘eureka’ moments for the children. We treat the two subjects entirely separately and have a designated DT workshop and Art Studio. Other schools are not so fortunate.
It gives us and our dedicated teachers the chance to ignite a creative spark in even our very youngest pre-prep children as they learn to draw, paint and make collages which, in turn, helps develop their fine motor skills. The children have the freedom to experiment and take risks, learning from their mistakes along the way.
As children move up through the school, they have further opportunities for creative expression and personal discovery which helps them to develop problem-solving, lateral and critical-thinking skills. Our specialist teaching focuses on fundamental skills but always with an emphasis on providing an encouraging and inspirational environment.
The Art Studio has fantastic resources and even houses its very own kiln – and life in the Art Studio is never dull.
Pupils explore all media types, including clay, printmaking, painting, mixed media and digital media, as we instill in them a growth mindset as they learn to appreciate that Art is a universal language through which anyone can succeed. It’s safe to say that, just as in all other areas of the school, individuality is wholeheartedly embraced.
DT is equally revered by the pre-prep and prep school children, offering excellent opportunities for them to share ideas and work together to turn creative ideas into wonderful reality.
In DT lessons, under the expert guidance of departmental head Mr Jamie Dew or skilled assistant Mrs Martin, the children work on a range of projects covering manufacturing, computer-aided design, needlework, woodwork and metalwork. These projects allow the children to use a range of different equipment and machinery, including our very own 3D printer and precision laser cutter. In all DT projects, there is a commitment to encouraging enquiring minds, thought processes and reasoning, and the application of effective peer and self-assessment are developed in order to inspire children to become independent learners.
Commitment to Teaching Essential Life Skills
We know that parents are keen to see their children developing skills beyond those of a purely academic nature, abilities such as teamwork, problem solving and independent thinking.
Right from pre-prep, Mrs Kim Martin, our specialist Forest School teacher, works with the children to teach them how to make and use simple tools, create dens in the woods, and cook around the campfire. Children hunt for creepy crawlies, dig in the mud and learn about the natural environment around them, experiencing first-hand the changing seasons and changeable weather.
The freedom of the natural environment helps children develop their creativity, make their own choices and take risks, which develops their resourcefulness and resilience. Team working and collaboration thrive in such an environment as children diligently work together on their myriad activities. Children who find the confines of the classroom a challenge will often thrive outside. They problem solve effectively, thus gaining confidence, and their increased self-esteem invariably translates into success back in the classroom.
Our children get outside whatever the weather, donning their waterproofs, warm coats and wellies. They may get messy, they may get wet, but their learning capability simply knows no bounds.
At the prep school, the Keys programme for years five to eight focuses on the development of life skills that are vitally important for the children’s futures – at senior school, university, and in the workplace. Without the pressure of assessments and exams, children often exceed their own expectations and recognise their extraordinary potential. Many Keys activities are new to the children so, with no prior knowledge or experience, they must learn to take risks.
Year 5 children take on a diverse range of activities such as Yoga, Bushcraft and Orienteering, while pupils in Year 6 focus on personal skills such as happiness, strength, resolution and empathy via a variety of activities from Study Skills and Touch Typing to Photography and Thinking Skills.
Year 7 children are given the opportunity to improve the school environment, which nurtures kindness, thoughtfulness and respect. They work on mindfulness and charity projects and help the younger pre-prep pupils. In Year 8, the children take part in something truly unique to Highfield – our Highreach programme, which involves invaluable work with three local charities: Stepping Stones, Hollywater School, and The Peak Centre Trust. We place huge importance on our pupils understanding the importance of service and care in the wider community and our Highreach programme enables our older children to gain first-hand experience.
An excellent and very broad educational experience, combined with first-class pastoral care, great facilities in a wonderfully inspiring location