Some “exciting” changes have been made to our boarding provision.

For the first time in a decade, Highfield and Brookham Schools has significantly revised its approach to boarding to meet ever-increasing demand and ensure the school remains current and at the forefront of boarding practice in a modern world.

With around 130 children on the boarding roll, the school has a thriving boarding community, and the changes reflect that.

One such change sees boarding provision extended to children in Year 3, brought about by demand from parents. Previously, children could only board from Year 4, but now the youngest children will join Year 4 and Year 5 children in the school’s Junior Boarding House.

In another change, Steps To Boarding – their own take on flexible boarding – has now been extended to the end of Year 7 and offers a gentle start to the boarding process and gives children the chance to test the water before becoming a full-time boarder at either prep school or senior school.

Around a quarter of the boarders board full time and 25% take advantage of the Steps To Boarding programme, while half of the boarders choose the new weekly option, which covers Monday to Saturday which launched this September.

Full-time boarding is particularly popular with Armed Forces families, London-based children, international pupils and locally-based children who want a taste of full boarding before moving to senior school.

Complementing the logistical changes, the junior and senior boarding houses have been part of a school-wide summer refurbishment programme, with senior dorms, bathrooms and landing benefiting from new flooring, lighting and electrical systems while an overhaul of the plumbing system has ensured that the school continues to operate as sustainably and efficiently as possible.

Work on the senior common rooms next summer will complete a seven-year refurbishment programme.

And underpinning all the changes is the appointment of Mikayla van den Berg, who joins Highfield and Brookham as Director of Boarding and a Designated Safeguarding Lead having previously been Head of Boarding at Oratory Prep School in Reading.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “Boarding is very much a personal choice. It’s important that parents know that their children are safe, happy and well cared for while they are away from home. The fact that we have such healthy numbers of happy and contented boarders is testament to the strength of the offering that we provide and these exciting changes can only enhance that reputation further.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools has secured a grant to support one of its many environmental projects.

A huge advocate of a greener and more sustainable way of life, the school aims to be fully carbon neutral by 2030.

And it’s been helped in its ongoing quest thanks to a £4,250 grant from the South Downs National Park Trust as part of its Bee Lines scheme, which aims to protect, nurture and support our busy pollinators.

The thriving nursery, pre-prep and prep school, which sits in 175-acre grounds on the rural borders of Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey, will use the cash to extend its wildflower-planting project. The grant will cover the hire of a specialist rotavator for two weeks and 15 kilos of wildflower seed mix which can cover more than 6,500 square metres of land.

Jasper Marks, the grounds manager at Highfield and Brookham who made the grant application on behalf of the school, has already earmarked two areas of the school’s nine-hole golf course, the area around the artificial hockey pitch and the Lime Avenue pathway as the latest sites to planted with wildflowers.

The grant comes just four months after Highfield and Brookham pupils sowed wildflower seeds across the site to mark Earth Day, with the primary aim of giving a helping hand to our prized but threatened pollinators – bees and butterflies.

The South Downs National Park Trust set up its Bee Lines scheme to establish or restore pollinator habitats, with grant applications open to any businesses within Britain’s newest national park. Sites in Selborne, Alice Holt and Buriton are among a number which have already benefitted from the Trust cash.

The school has made a strong commitment to the environment, with regular green activities undertaken by pupils, such as building hibernaculums for wildlife and growing their own vegetables, dovetailing with the school’s ongoing eco programme, which is underpinned by its impressive biomass boilers which provide 85% of its heating and energy needs. Most recently, Highfield and Brookham was awarded a silver certificate by Green Tourism after a successful pilot scheme run in conjunction with the South Downs National Park Authority and was named as a finalist in the environmental practice category of the Education Business Awards.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “We are immensely proud of our ongoing environmental work but we know that there is so much more work to do. This wonderful grant from the South Downs National Park Trust is another step in the right direction and soon legions of butterflies and bees will be able to take advantage of a special little wildlife haven set aside just for them.”

A residential holiday scheme for disabled children celebrated its sixth year.

First hosted in 2018 Highfield Highreach Holidays, a week-long respite break, has gone from strength to strength with 23 children attending this year’s holiday.

Highreach is hosted at Highfield and Brookham Schools in Liphook and is focused on supporting families from the local area. This August families joined from across Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire as it is one of the very few affordable residential respite holidays in the surrounding areas.

Year-on-year half of the cost of the residential holiday is covered by fundraising from the Highfield and Brookham school community to accommodate families who cannot afford the high price of many commercial respite care schemes.

Asking for volunteers is another crucial way of keeping running costs down. This year there were 58 volunteers who made the respite holiday possible.  

The volunteers, 41 of who were returning volunteers, found the experience rewarding and a genuinely lifechanging opportunity. This year 30 of the volunteers were former pupils of Highfield and Brookham. They have had the privilege of an independent education and it is their way of giving back. In addition, there were eight members of staff from Highfield and Brookham including owner and chairman Bill Mills.

Of the 58 volunteers, 13 have volunteered for all six holidays.

During last year’s holiday the children and volunteers were joined by Ofsted inspectors. Highreach received the top accolade of ‘outstanding’ in every category.

According to Ofsted “the actions of the residential holiday scheme contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people”.

Highreach only runs for one week once a year, but this short amount of time has a huge impact on the children attending. Children have access to a multitude of amenities, everything from an indoor swimming pool and performance theatre to outdoor woodlands and a full-sized competition Astro. Each of these resources are used with an inclusive outlook. So, for those holidaymakers who have sensory needs there is plentiful staff who can supervise them during quieter times so they can still gain the most out of the week.

Proud Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer said: “Challenging perceptions is the ongoing vision that underpins Highreach, from the abilities of the children on the respite scheme to the young volunteers that make it all possible.

“Too often in society people are defined and restricted by their abilities and disabilities; preconceptions about what they should and shouldn’t do. This week proves that nothing can hold these amazing young people back.” Find out more about volunteering, fundraising or attending at

Our young athletes have secured a record medal haul at a prestigious national meeting.

The seven talented competitors picked up five medals between them in the National Prep Schools Athletics Championships at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.

The one gold, one silver and three bronze medals is the biggest return that our children have had at the championships, which are the pinnacle of prep school athletics each year.

And it comes hard on the heels of news that five Year 8 leavers secured sports scholarships to some of the country’s leading senior schools.

In Birmingham, Emily Sherlock struck gold in the U14 girls’ triple jump with a winning leap of 10.30 metres but had to settle for silver in the U14 girls’ 100m in a time of 12.45 seconds having been fastest qualifier in the heats.

Valentina Rollason secured a bronze medal in the U13 girls’ high jump by clearing 1.35m, missing out on gold by just 11 centimetres, and Tiggy Walder claimed bronze in the U12 girls’ 1500m in a time of 5.26.04.

And Millie Valentine completed Highfield and Brookham’s impressive haul by winning a bronze medal in the U12 girls’ shot putt event with a throw of 6.94m, which was good enough for third place and only an agonising eight centimetres behind the gold medal winner.

Completing Highfield and Brookham’s septet at the iconic Alexander Stadium, Clemmie Coller, Cristo Porter and Imogen were just outside the medal places – Clemmie finishing fifth in the U12 girls’ 800m in a time of 2.44.78, Imogen Knight placing sixth in her U13 girls’ 1500m heat and Cristo placing eighth in the U13 boys’ 1500m in 5.08.97.

Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer said: “We have such a wonderful array of talent in all areas of school life, such as academia, art, dance, drama and music, and I’m delighted to say that sport is well and truly in that list too.

“Throughout the year we reflect on the amazing sporting achievements of our children at both internal and external events and the success of our boys and girls in Birmingham is a great example. It really is testament to both the ability and desire of our children and the excellent coaching and support that they receive from our dedicated teaching staff.”

A successful scheme built on kindness, care and compassion is entering its tenth year at an independent school in Liphook.

The Peer Listeners project has for a decade offered children at Highfield and Brookham Schools a friendly sympathetic shoulder or a kindly listening ear.

The listeners themselves are a dedicated and trained group of pupils from Year 8 at Highfield, the oldest children at the thriving prep school on the border of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

The children apply for the scheme at the end of Year 7 and are selected via an interview process involving Zoe Thesiger-Pratt, Head of PSHE and Wellbeing, and English teacher Lucy Hendry, with around ten pupils typically chosen.

Mrs Thesiger-Pratt, who has been involved with the scheme for the past seven years, said: “It gives the peer listeners an element of responsibility and they all love helping the younger children. We talk to them about developing their listening skills and how to be an active listener – just be a listening ear when others need it. These are great skills to develop.”

The peer listeners typically deal with matters such as friendships, siblings or exams.

“For the younger children, it means they have the comfort of someone to talk to who is more like a big brother or big sister. It means they can ask for advice without going to a teacher, as sometimes this can seem a bit overwhelming,” added Mrs Thesiger-Pratt.

Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer said she was delighted that the pastoral scheme had reached a significant landmark.

“When I think of how many children who have moved through the school in the past decade with the extra safety net of the peer listeners, I’m filled with an enormous sense of pride.

“We take our pastoral responsibilities incredibly seriously and the fact that we have no shortage of Year 7 children coming forward each year to take on these important roles speaks volumes of the kindness and character of the young people that we have within our school community.”

Highfield and Brookham has recently been shortlisted for two national awards for their pastoral provision – Independent School of the Year Awards and National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education.

The future of our planet is in safe hands – if the commitment of caring children at Highfield and Brookham is anything to go by.

Our pupils showed not only maturity beyond their years in terms of awareness and knowledge of the plight of our home planet from the ever-growing threat posed by climate change but also a steely determination to put things right.

And this was ably demonstrated by the young eco warriors at both pre-prep and prep schools on Earth Day last Friday – a special day set aside in 1970 to “diversify, educate and activate an environmental movement worldwide” which has carried on ever since.

In a change to regular lessons, the children embarked on a series of day-long green activities aimed at tackling climate change and protecting the natural environment; everything from the creation of colourful mini-Earths by the pre-prep’s youngest cohort, to be hung on trees in the Nursery at Brookham, to the design and production of workable wind turbines by the enquiring minds of young engineers in Year 8 at Highfield.

Year 2 children recycled old milk cartons to produce decorated bird feeders while Year 3 pupils worked alongside children in Year 4 in a fine example of cross-school harmony and collaboration as they dug deep to consider the threat to wildlife caused by masses of harmful plastic in our oceans. They also produced beautiful ‘nature jewellery’ in the form of bracelets using recyclable materials and planted a young silver birch tree in the school grounds to help curb rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which are a known driver of climate change.

The scourge of ocean plastic, with a shocking eight million pieces finding their way into our seas on a daily basis, was also probed by children in Year 5 and Year 6 who considered ways in which we can clear the deadly detritus in our oceans in order to help marine life survive and thrive.

They also headed out of the classroom to monitor bee activity as they considered the consequences of a threatened bee population on mankind’s very survival, with the busy buzzers pollinating our crops and therefore impacting on food production.

Thoughtful Year 7 and Year 8 children had a brainstorming session on a ‘nature timeline’, discovering what has already occurred environmentally and what could be done to restore the balance, while all the year groups staged a mock IPCC conference to debate climate change from differing global perspectives.

Phillip Evitt, Headmaster at Highfield School, said: “Climate change is an incredibly serious issue that affects each and every one of us and we all have a duty to do our bit. These are worrying times but what gives me great heart for the future is the way in which the children at Highfield and Brookham have taken up the challenge with open minds and big hearts with a real willingness and desire to make our world a better place.”

Today’s date will be an incredibly significant one for thousands of mums and dads up and down the country. Tuesday 19th April will have been ringed in thick red marker pen on many a household calendar for many months as a crucial reminder of the date of their child’s most significant educational milestone to date – the allocation of their primary school place. While the majority of families will get their preferred primary school place for a September 2022 start, sadly some won’t. So, faced with that undoubtedly disappointing scenario, what should you do? According to Brookham’s Headteacher, Sophie Baber, the first and most important thing is don’t panic.

“Don’t let your child see that you are upset,” she said. “In fact, I would strongly advise you not to open the email in front of your child. The last thing you want is to transfer any stress or anxiety on to your child.”

If an application has been unsuccessful, according to Mrs Baber there are four options: parents can choose to accept the alternative offer of a school that has enough space, put their child on the waiting list of their preferred schools, make an appeal or, if they are able and willing to, consider paying for private education.

 “Once you have processed the offer and collected your thoughts, it’s time to accept the school place you have been offered,” she said. “While this may seem counter intuitive, it’s important that your child has a school to go to in September. If you don’t, the chances are that you could lose your place and be offered an even less desirable option. This will not affect your right to appeal. I would then advise phoning your preferred choice of school. This may prove challenging at this time. If you think it’s brilliant, the chances are so will lots of other parents. As a result, the phones are likely to be busy and the waiting list may be long. Once again don’t panic, if you cannot get through, leave a message and follow up with an email asking to add your child to the list.”

And Mrs Baber added: “Remember, there is always movement, places come up all the time and it’s not uncommon to be offered a place on the first day of the new school year. If you don’t get a reply to your email within a couple of days, check that your message has been received.”

Once your child’s name is securely on the waiting list, it’s time to consider appealing. Mrs Baber advises: “You have the right to appeal but, if you are to be successful, you need to have a solid case. Your reason could relate to a mistake in the admissions arrangements or the suitability of a school to meet your child’s needs. It is important to note that each local authority will have a slightly different process, so it is imperative to check out your local authority’s website. Don’t forget to have all your supporting evidence in a digital format, so that it can be uploaded and submitted all at the same time. You may want to consider employing a solicitor or a member of a schools’ appeals organisation to help.”

But she warned that going to appeal is “extremely stressful” and the chances of success were “limited”, leaving one further option that parents may wish to consider. “There are some truly outstanding independent schools around,” she said.

“With nurturing smaller class sizes and an enviable breadth of curriculum, delivered by specialist teachers, this is a brilliant back-up plan. If you are in the fortunate position of being able to afford this option, you will find that many independent schools will be open for admissions all year round. If financially this seems an impossibility, it is worth picking up the phone and asking about any bursaries on offer.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools are open for admissions, so if you are interested in finding out about places in Reception and Year 3, contact Charlotte Cottrell on or call 01428 722005.

A brave Highfield and Brookham pupil has taken a huge leap of faith – abseiling from the roof of a 13-storey building in London in honour of her cousin.

Daisy W took the plunge from the top of the Pelican Hotel at St George’s Hospital in Tooting in memory of Izzy Wilson, who died of leukaemia two years ago.

The fearless Year 6 pupil joined a group of Izzy’s friends and family for the daring descent and raised a whopping £8,138 for the Izzy Wilson Smile Fund.

The fund was set up in 2020 to “make children’s lives better during their time at St George’s” in line with Izzy’s wishes and now stands at more than £100,000.

Daisy, 11, said: “I was really excited about doing the abseil at first but as soon as I stepped back off the building I thought ‘do I really want to do this?’ But when I reached the bottom I was so happy and wanted to do it again!”

Embarking on her first big fundraiser, alongside Izzy’s schoolfriends and family, Daisy said the initial target had been £1,500.

“The amount of money raised was absolutely amazing,” she said.

“Izzy and me were really close, she was like a sister to me, and hopefully all of this money will help make children’s lives in the hospital a little bit better.”

Izzy, who attended Broomwood Hall School in Northwood, was cared for at St George’s Hospital for nine weeks and was eager to give something back.

Highfield School Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “It never ceases to amaze me the extraordinary lengths that our children will go to to help others. Their selfless ways mean they always seem to find new things to do for the betterment of others.

“At the tender age of just 11, what Daisy has done is nothing short of remarkable. An abseil at any age is a pretty scary prospect but Daisy has been incredibly brave and helped raise lots of money for her cousin’s wonderful cause. I know I speak for the whole school when I say we are immensely proud of her.”

Gangsta Granny, Cruella de Vil, Willy Wonka’s Oompah Loompahs and The Midnight Gang have been brought to life at Highfield and Brookham Schools.

They were joined by a wealth of weird and wonderful literary characters of all shapes and sizes as children celebrated World Book Day.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the global phenomenon, the children began the day with a colourful parade in their year groups as part of a best-dressed character competition before taking part in a series of literary-themed activities and lessons.

Appropriately, the school library was a hive of activity as children got creative with a ‘Reading Rocks’ initiative, using all manner of arty paraphernalia to decorate rocks in the style of their favourite characters or books, and puzzled over an emoji quiz which revealed the identities of famous book titles.

But it wasn’t just the children who were bitten by the World Book Day bug as the teachers brought their favourite alter egos to the party too, with appearances by the likes of Harry Potter, Yorkshire vet James Herriot, Cleopatra and Tintin.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “World Book Day is a day that we all look forward to each year as it gives pupils and staff alike the opportunity to really let their hair down, use their imaginations and immerse themselves in all things literary.

“The colourful costumes were simply a joy to behold around the school all day and the effort that the children went to was extraordinary. I never thought that I would ever be in a school lunch queue with the Oompah Loompahs!”

The first World Book Day in the UK took place in 1997 to “encourage young people to discover the pleasure of reading”, according to founder Baroness Gail Rebuck – and children at Highfield and Brookham certainly don’t need asking twice to open a book and start to read.

“Reading is an incredibly important part of education and reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success,” added Mr Evitt. “There really is nothing quite like a good book. In the midst of our technological age, the opportunity to lose oneself in a favourite book, to let one’s imagination wander, to visualise characters and settings and to form opinions of those very characters and settings is incredibly special.”