Work on our progressive curriculum which blends the stepping stones for academic achievement with the development of essential life skills has put Highfield and Brookham in the running for a prestigious national award.

We have been shortlisted in the ‘Prep School of the Year’ category of this year’s Independent School of the Year Awards.

It follows the implementation last September of the Skills Builder Accelerator Programme, which offers a structured approach to teaching and assessing essential skills such as teamwork, creativity, problem solving and leadership, and ensures that our children are equipped with skills that will serve them well throughout education and beyond.

Using the Skills Builder framework, we introduced a ‘Keys Diploma’, which is a unique opportunity for children from Year 3 to Year 8 to receive recognition for the abilities not measured by exams. Instead, merits and distinctions are awarded based on engagement and commitment across the eight skills in all areas of school life – academia, sport, the arts and enrichment.

Suzannah Cryer, Highfield and Brookham Head, said: “We are incredibly honoured to have been shortlisted for Prep School of the Year. As a school which has a strong record of feeding some of the very best senior schools in the country, we are always looking at ways to stay at the forefront of education.

“We also actively seek feedback from our parent body on a regular basis and a survey this year revealed a strong desire for an increased focus on skills to ensure that our children develop competencies that remain valuable in an ever-evolving world.

“As a result, we are one of very few schools to achieve the Skills Builder Silver Award in their inaugural year of implementing the programme. We are now actively pursuing the Gold Award, thus demonstrating our dedication to continuous improvement.”

The Independent School of the Year Awards are run by Independent School Parent magazine and the finalists will be unveiled in early September.

Highfield and Brookham was recently named a finalist in the annual Education Business Awards for its environmental work and has been named a finalist in the ‘Pastoral Development of the Year’ category in the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education for its Beehive wellbeing project.

Athletes from Highfield and Brookham School are celebrating a strong showing at a prestigious national meeting.

The eight talented competitors secured a bronze medal, three personal bests and two school records in the National Prep Schools Track & Field Championships at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.

Phoebe Gibbon picked up a bronze medal with a fine leap of 3.92m in the U12 girls’ long jump event, making it six medals in the past two years for Highfield and Brookham athletes at the championships which are the pinnacle of the prep school athletics season.

And it comes hard on the heels of news that eight Year 8 leavers from the thriving prep school on the border of Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey have secured sports scholarships to some of the country’s leading senior schools.

Xander Apps narrowly missed out on a medal as he finished fourth of the 14 competitors in the U12 boys’ javelin with a throw of 25.78m, but he did have the consolation of securing a new middle school boys’ record, eclipsing the 24.10m set by Harvey Platt in 2011.

Tiggy Walder claimed a personal best and set a new senior school best in finishing sixth of the 15 runners in the U13 girls’ 800m in a time of 2min 30.79secs, breaking by almost two seconds a record held by Florence Gray since 2008. In the same race, Clemmie Coller clocked a personal best time of 2.33.27 as she claimed eighth place.

Completing Highfield and Brookham’s octet in the West Midlands, Olivia Turner, Cristo Porter, Imogen Knight and Tiger Ellis finished outside the medals but performed with distinction – Olivia finishing sixth in the U12 girls’ high jump by clearing 1.25m, Cristo placing sixth in a tough U14 boys’ 1500m race in a time of 4min 47.81secs, Imogen securing ninth place out of the 14 competitors with a good leap of 4.05m in the U14 girls’ long jump and Tiger Ellis notching a throw of 6.17m to claim 11th place out of 15 in the U12 girls’ shot putt.

Proud Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer said: “Fresh from four wonderful summer term sports days in which every child in the school is involved, eight of our very best athletes have performed on the national stage in Birmingham and done themselves and the school incredibly proud.

“Simply reaching the national finals at Alexander Stadium and following in the footsteps of some of the world’s top athletes was an amazing achievement in itself. To go a step further and win a medal, gain a personal best, break a school record or make it through the heats of their respective events is real testament to not only the children’s ability but also their desire, determination and pride and we couldn’t be more proud of them.”

A scheme which helps children secure an independent school education that may otherwise be out of reach has been boosted to the tune of £27,000.

The amazing amount for the Highfield School Centenary Bursaries Fund was raised through an incredible whole-school effort involving every year group at Highfield and Brookham in Liphook.

The occasion was Giving Day, a two-day fundraising extravaganza which saw nursery, pre-prep and prep school children work together to raise money through a series of challenges unique to them.

Challenges included a car wash, rowing marathon, bake sale, swimathon and colour run, and the cash – an impressive £27,017 – was raised through sponsorship of each year-group activity, raffle tickets for unique prizes donated by Highfield and Brookham teachers, proceeds from a family golf day and the sale of wristbands which gave children access to fun stalls and activities throughout Giving Day.

The coffers were swelled further by corporate sponsorship from estate agent Knight Frank and care provider Ranger Home Care. Sushi specialist Little Fish and Silver Linings Wellbeing put on a wellness retreat for parents, while the Hawkley Inn and Gilco ice cream donated a percentage of their takings from their food stalls at the Giving Day.

To add extra spice to proceedings, and to encourage people to dig deep for the bursaries’ fund, brave staff members, including Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer, faced daring forfeits for every £5,000 raised. Mrs Cryer and Mrs Hunter, Head of Pre-prep, were doused in a heady mix of iced water, custard and baked beans while Mr Figgis, Head of Upper Prep, had a close shave with a razor.

Highfield and Brookham has awarded 22 bursaries since the fund’s inception in 2007. The bursaries are covered jointly by the fund and the school, covering all school fees and providing additional support for music lessons, sports equipment, school trips and uniform. This year, three children who are being supported by the Bursaries Fund have secured fully-funded places at their senior schools ahead of starting in September.

Mrs Cryer said: “The amount of money raised by our whole school community on Giving Day was nothing short of phenomenal and will help ensure that we can continue to offer life-changing opportunities for children for years to come.

“The way the children selflessly set about their year-group challenges with such energy and enthusiasm in order to reach their goals and raise as much money as they possibly could fills me with an enormous sense of pride.”

And she added: “The purpose of the bursary is to make a difference in a child’s life, not just academically but also physically, emotionally and socially. Ours are awarded to children we believe will gain the most from attending, ensuring they reach their full potential.

“These are the children we believe will engage with all of the opportunities Highfield and Brookham has to offer – ensuring they build life-long skills and develop long-lasting positive experiences and relationships.”

Cricketers from Highfield and Brookham School have been crowned national champions.

A rain-curtailed final in York meant we shared the title in the IAPS U13 boys’ competition with Millfield.

Millfield were left chasing a tricky 79 for victory and were a wicket down early in their reply when the heavens opened and left the St Peter’s School outfield waterlogged. With no further play possible, the two coaches agreed to share the spoils.

The result meant a first national cricket title for a Highfield and Brookham U13 side, which was this year made up of Year 7 and Year 8 children who battled their way past Barrow Hills, Seaford College, Brighton College and Bede’s to take their place among the last four on finals day at St Peter’s.

Victory against Watford-based St Martin’s in the semi-finals set up a tense final with Millfield before the inclement British weather had the last word.

The shared national title triumph in North Yorkshire completed a good year on the cricket pitch for Highfield and Brookham as the U11 boys were crowned IAPS cricket festival champions at Merchant Taylor’s School in Northwood in May.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “We were absolutely delighted when our Year 6 cricketers won an IAPS title in May, and now our boys have followed suit in the oldest age group. It really has been a wonderful summer of cricket.

“It was a very tense day in York for head coach Richard Dunn and his young players, but they proved at every stage of the competition that they are truly united, encouraging each other and sharing in each other’s successes every step of the way. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Highfield and Brookham is in the running for a national award thanks to its new wellbeing hub.

The Beehive, which was unveiled last September, has created such a buzz that the school has been named a finalist in the ‘Pastoral Development of the Year’ category of the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE).

Named after parallels were drawn between busy bees and children at Highfield and Brookham, not least when it comes to community, effectively working together and looking after each in other in the hive, The Beehive is regularly used as part of the school’s continued commitment to top-level pastoral care.

The bright and friendly space, which is staffed throughout the day by teachers expertly trained in mental health first aid, is a place where children can relax, reset and regulate their emotions whenever they need to. It also hosts visits from wellness experts, to promote good mental health among the pupils and staff.

The Beehive was opened officially by Alicia Drummond, founder of Teen Tips, an organisation which supports mental health and wellbeing in children and adolescents through on-site and online training, and marks another exciting chapter in the ongoing pastoral story at Highfield and Brookham.

In the past two years, the school has created space in the children’s busy days to allow time dedicated to their mental health in the form of weekly wellbeing workshops, featuring activities such as ‘Journaling and Scrapbooking’, ‘Cards and Board Games’ and ‘Lego and Chill’ while ‘Be With the Boys’ and ‘Go With the Girls’ are run by the school’s Peer Listeners – a group of trained and compassionate Year 8 children who offer younger children a friendly face or a kindly listening ear.

And it was an overwhelmingly positive response to the wellbeing workshops that provided the trigger for the rural boarding school to invest in the development of its very own wellbeing centre.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, spoke of her delight at the school being named an award finalist.

“We’re exceptionally proud of our pastoral provision but we are always looking at ways that we can make it even better for the benefit of our children and staff. The Beehive has proved incredibly valuable for pupils, staff and parents alike and to have our ongoing work recognised once again by NAPCE is something that fills us all with a real sense of honour.”

Pupils at Highfield and Brookham have further strengthened their links with a school in Italy – meeting some old friends along the way.

Nine children, all academic scholars, spent a week at Istituto Comprensivo di Fontanellato e Fontevivo as part of an exchange programme which has been running since 2018.

The visit gave the English children the opportunity to get reacquainted with some of their Italian counterparts who have spent time at Highfield and Brookham over the past few years, most recently last September. Two more Italian children will head to Liphook again at the start of the autumn term.

Fontanellato, an historic town north-west of the city of Parma in northern Italy, is no random choice for the school exchange as it has a big wartime link to the Mills family, owners of Highfield and Brookham School.

Former Headmaster Peter Mills, father of current chairman Bill Mills, escaped from a German prisoner of war camp in Fontanellato in 1943 with a little help from locals, guards and a kindly camp commandant, making his way along a route through the Apennines known as the ‘Freedom Trail’ after an armistice between the Allies and Italy which Germany refused to recognise.

Now, in peacetime, sections of the Freedom Trail are walked only by people keen to gain an understanding of a significant piece of history, such as the academic scholars from Highfield and Brookham.

While in Italy, the scholars took in the wonderful sights and sounds of the Parma region, including time spent in and out of the classroom with their hosts, a tour of the 12th Century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and a trip to a cheese factory where the world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano is produced.

The children then ventured 90 minutes north-west to the vibrant city of Milan, home to the impressive Duomo Cathedral, the ornate Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the inspirational Leonardo da Vinci Museum, named in honour of the legendary artist and inventor.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “We have such a wonderful relationship with our friends from Fontanellato, and it’s heartening to know that the links between our two schools are as strong as ever.

“For our children to be reunited with friends that they made during their time with us in Liphook is incredibly special and adds so much to what is always an enriching and enlightening trip.”

And she added: “We are already looking forward to welcoming two more Italian children next September for the next chapter of this lovely story.”

A charity which provides week-long residential summer breaks for disabled children has been boosted to the tune of £3,900.

The “amazing” sum was raised at the annual May fair at Highfield and Brookham School, with all of the proceeds going to Highreach Holidays.

The fair was run by the Friends of Brookham and featured an array of fun games for children, a ‘tattoo’ and hair-dying station, arts and crafts and a popular resale table, with once-loved items finding grateful new homes.

Pimm’s and strawberries also proved hugely popular on a sunny day.

Highreach Holidays is hosted at Highfield and Brookham and is committed to supporting local families. It runs for one week every August and the charity covers half of the cost of the residential holiday, making it one of few affordable residential respite holidays around.

The cost of these holidays is met by ongoing fundraising initiatives within the school community and a healthy group of volunteers, many of whom return year on year, including former pupils of Highfield and Brookham School.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, an independent nursery, pre-prep and prep school in Liphook, said: “Highreach is a charity that is incredibly dear to us and provides the most wonderful holiday experience for disabled children and offers a vital break for their carers.

“We raise funds throughout the year and rely on a bank of wonderful and dedicated volunteers to ensure that the cost to families is kept as low as possible. And it’s through the sterling efforts of the Friends of Brookham that events such as the fabulous May fair are able to generate the kind of amazing funds that they do. Their efforts really do make a difference.”

Highreach Holidays, which has been running since 2016 and was declared ‘outstanding’ by inspectors late in 2022, returns from August 2-10.

Highfield and Brookham School is in the running for a national award.

Underpinned by our aim to be a carbon neutral school within the next six years, we have been named a finalist in the Environmental Practice category of this year’s Education Business Awards.

Situated on the leafy borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex and within the boundary of the UK’s newest national park – the South Downs National Park – we are one of five schools with strong green credentials to be shortlisted.

Highfield and Brookham was named in the final five at the Education Business Awards 12 months ago and hopes to go one better this time around after implementing a school-wide project aimed at cracking down on food waste. The initiative has already seen a reduction of 20% in leftover food since its inception in October.

The project was conceived after an eco brain-storming session involving the school’s boarding community, was put into operation by catering manager Marco di Michele and his skilled kitchen team, and has been embraced by the whole school, pupils and adults alike.

The catering team got creative in their quest to lower the school’s carbon footprint and reduce food waste. They repurposed excess food, including turning ripe bananas which were left over from our inter-school cross-country event in February into smoothies and banana bread, using the flesh of carved Hallowe’en pumpkins for soup and the seeds for homemade bread, and turning leftover soup into pasta sauce. Furthermore, our skilled caterers drastically cut their use of cling film, instead using more reusable containers to store food, and now use unbleached and biodegradable parchment paper in cooking. The school also uses a local supplier and seasonal produce.

Highfield and Brookham is no stranger to environmental initiatives and has long championed a greener and more eco-friendly way of life.

Other initiatives include extensive wildflower planting to help nature’s pollinators, a school-wide recycling scheme, vegetable plots cared for and tended by our pupils and a thriving ‘eco club’ in which our youngest pupils look at ways in which they can help the environment, including building bug hotels, composting, and planting perennial flowers.

The school also has biomass boilers which provide 85% of the energy required to heat the school and its indoor swimming pool.

The Environmental Practice Award recognises a school that goes above and beyond when it comes to minimising its impact on the environment, as well as providing quality environmental education to its pupils.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on Wednesday 12th June.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “To have our environmental work recognised in national awards for a second successive year really fills me with immense pride.

“We take our responsibility to sustainability incredibly seriously as a school community and our young people are totally engaged in our long-term vision. They are the future and they are determined to do their bit and make a difference in any way they can, big or small.”

Children at Highfield and Brookham have used their trip to the iconic Globe Theatre as inspiration for creative writing in English.

Last week’s trip to the historic London landmark, which nestles unassumingly on the banks of the River Thames, gave Year 7 pupils the chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the 16th Century playhouse before savouring at close quarters a spectacualar performance of Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.

The electric blue scaffolding and bright oranges set the show alive. I was surprised when the cast came out into the audienc, it made me feel I really was there with them

Emily Law

The captivated children got a fascinating insight into the secrets of a working theatre, including the wooden ‘pillars of Hercules’, which have the appearance of marble, and the ‘heaven and hell trapdoors’, through which actors enter and exit the stage, while also getting top performance tips such as stage presence and voice projection.

But, just as importantly, they gained an invaluable source of inspiration to use during their English lessons back in the classroom. Currently studying King of Shadows by Susan Cooper, which links Shakespeare’s world and his writing with the present day, the children wrote compelling first-person pieces based on their experience of the trip to the Globe, using emotion, vivid descriptions and colour to portray their feelings.

My favourite two characters were Benedick and Beatrice because they worked so well together and they were very funny. There was one point where they danced a masque and the masks they wore were exquisite

Wilf Walters

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham and former Head of Drama at the nursery, pre-prep and prep school on the rural borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex, said that school trips were an ideal way for subjects and studies to be brought to life, be it academic, sport, drama or art.

“School trips are a wonderful way to engage children in various subjects, giving them the chance to appreciate their studies from a different and usually more active perspective. It arms the children with knowledge, skills and a wonderful understanding of their subject,” she said.

“Year 7 had an amazing day at the Globe Theatre, one of London’s most iconic theatres, and their enriching experience will have far-reaching benefits in the classroom. They have already shown that benefit during their English lessons and they are sure to put some of the skills they learnt into practice on the drama stage.”

Highfield and Brookham School is excited to announce its inaugural Giving Day, a two-day fundraising extravaganza taking place on Friday 28th June and Saturday 29th June 2024. This exciting event aims to raise vital funds for the Highfield School Centenary Bursaries Fund, ensuring deserving children have the opportunity to experience a Highfield and Brookham education.

The Giving Day promises to be a fun-filled event for the entire school community. Every child, from Nursery to Year 8, will be actively involved in age-appropriate sponsorship challenges and fundraising initiatives.

The little bakers in Nursery will be whipping up delicious treats for a delightful bake sale. Our youngest athletes in Reception get ready to participate in a sponsored walk. Year 1 will nurture a love for plants with a plant sale and put their agility to the test in an obstacle race. Year 2 will embrace a simpler life with an ‘off-grid’ day, learning valuable lessons about sustainability. Year 3 will be holding a read-a-thon, celebrating the joy of reading. Year 4 will embark on a sponsored colour run, virtually conquering the distance to Paris. Year 5 will put their football skills to the test in a sponsored football challenge. Make a splash! Year 6 will make a splash as they participate in a sponsored swim challenge. Keeping with the water theme, Year 7 will run a car wash and also support Year 8 in their 24-hour row.

To add some extra excitement and motivate the fundraising efforts, for every £5,000 raised, a member of the senior leadership team will face a daring forfeit. Mr Figgis, Head of Upper Prep, has bravely pledged to allow a pupil to shave his head.  We can only wait and see if the children can reach their ambitious target.

There will also be the opportunity to bid on exciting promises donated by Highfield and Brookham staff in a special raffle. From bagpipe lessons and scuba diving adventures to a coveted lunch in the Head’s office, there’s something for everyone.

Parents can also enjoy a day of friendly competition at the Family Golf Day, generously sponsored by Knight Frank. They can also choose to relax and recharge with a selection of wellness classes thoughtfully offered by Silver Linings Wellbeing. All the fun will culminate at the outdoor rock concert, Highfest, on Saturday afternoon with a bar generously sponsored by Ranger Home Care.

All funds raised during the Giving Day will directly benefit the Highfield School Centenary Bursaries Fund.  These bursaries provide transformative educational opportunities for talented and deserving children who might not otherwise be able to afford a private education.

Join us on the 28th and 29th of June for a fun-filled and impactful Giving Day. Together, we can change lives.

The impact of the fashion industry on the environment has come on the radar of children at an independent school in Liphook.

The pupils at Highfield and Brookham learned of the devastating effects modern fashion production trends have on our planet as part of their studies to mark Earth Day.

Based at a nursery, pre-prep and prep school which has made a strong commitment to a greener future for our planet and which aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, the children are no strangers to environmental issues and have been heavily involved in a wealth eco initiatives such as cutting food waste, recycling, planting trees and growing their own vegetables for use in the school kitchens.

On Earth Day, which was marked nationally on Monday, the children discovered that mass production of cheap clothes has high environmental consequences, not least because most are made of polyester, a man-made petroleum-based fibre which requires large amounts of fossil fuels for manufacturing.

Polyester, which the children found far outweighs natural resources such as cotton and wool in the the production of ‘fast fashion’ – or inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends – is non-biodegradable and can take anywhere between 20 and 200 years to degrade.

The children also discovered that it is also one of the leading causes of micro-plastics in our oceans because when polyester clothing is washed, plastic leaks out and finds its way into water courses.

And a high turnover of cheap clothing also resulted in high volumes of waste going to landfill each year, the children found.

Having had an interesting and informative assembly on the links between the fashion industry and environmental harm, the children were tasked with delving into fashion brand sustainability and researching the life cycles of plastics.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “As a school community, we are committed to a greener future and try to do our bit for the environment any way we can. We have already made good strides but we know that there is a very long way to go.

“But arguably the most important thing is that our children are fully aware of the problems facing the planet we call home and are fully on board with the all the green measures that we put in place. Awareness among the younger generations is essential, their buy in and determination to make a difference equally so.

“And the way the children set about their environmental task on Earth Day was amazing and gives a tremendous amount of hope for the future.”

Having last year been named a finalist in a coveted national awards scheme which recognises pastoral excellence in schools, Highfield and Brookham is hoping to go one better this year.

The school has put forward its wellbeing hub – otherwise known as The Beehive – in the pastoral development of the year category in the initiative run by the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education.

Highfield and Brookham takes its responsibility to pastoral care incredibly seriously and is always looking to implement new ideas and put rigorous new protocols in place to meet the ever-changing demands of modern life – for its children and its staff.

The Beehive was opened officially last September by Alicia Drummond, founder of Teen Tips, an organisation which supports mental health and wellbeing in children. It was named after parallels were drawn between busy bees and children at Highfield and Brookham, not least when it comes to community, effectively working together, and looking after each other in the hive.

It is essentially a safe and supportive place for children to meet, talk through any issues with either an adult or their peers, or simply get away from it all for a little while on occasions when life can feel a bit overwhelming.

Nestled between the pre-prep and prep school buildings, The Beehive provides a calm and welcoming environment for individual and group sessions. The hub is staffed throughout the day by a mental health first aider and serves as a refuge for students to de-stress and recharge.

During breaks, children can visit The Beehive on their own initiative, seeking solace from a bustling playground environment or using it as a trusty meeting place with friends.

The Beehive also hosts wellness experts who help promote good mental health among the school community.

One of the essential elements of the hub is that it is a fluid space, with the school’s dedicated pastoral team constantly assessing and reflecting on the use of the hub to adapt to the needs of the children.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “The health and wellbeing of our children is at the heart of absolutely everything we do. We work really hard on our pastoral provision, making sure it is robust, relevant, and fit for purpose.

“So being recognised and named a finalist in the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education last year gave us tremendous heart and told us that we are on the right track, and the addition of the Beehive adds another vital string to our wellbeing bow.”

The long wait for anxious parents facing the first significant milestone of their children’s education is finally over.

Parents of three and four-year-olds yesterday found out which primary schools have offered their child a Reception place, starting in September. Parents who have children in infant schools that end at Year 2 will also have been eagerly waiting to hear about their junior school of choice and a place for their child starting Year 3.

And while the vast majority of families will have got their preferred primary school place – the figure was 92% in 2023 with that figure rising to 98% for one of their top three choices according to Government statistics – some won’t.

So, faced with that undoubtedly disappointing scenario, what should you do?

According to Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School in Liphook, there are four options available to parents: accept the alternative offer of a school that has enough space, put their child on the waiting list of their preferred schools, appeal the decision, or consider an independent school.

“Once you have processed the offer and collected your thoughts, it’s time to accept the school place you have been offered,” said Mrs Cryer, who took on the role at the independent nursery, pre-prep and prep school on the border of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex in September 2022.

“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.”

Mrs Cryer stressed that such a move would not affect any right of appeal to the local authority’s initial decision.

“Once you have accepted the place on offer, I would advise phoning your preferred school and asking for your child to be added to their waiting list,” continued Mrs Cryer, who said that places come up all the time and added that it was not uncommon to be offered a place on the first day of the new term.

In terms of appealing, Mrs Cryer said to be successful parents must 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, but it’s also worth remembering that each local authority will have a slightly different admissions process so it’s imperative you check the details on their website.”

However, the respected Head, who has just opened a bright, new wellbeing hub which is a wonderful addition to an already strong pastoral offering at Highfield and Brookham, cautioned that appealing was “extremely stressful” and that the chances of success were “limited”.

Private education could prove to be a very useful option for some families in order to help parents avoid such an emotional minefield. 

“There are some truly outstanding independent schools around,” said Mrs Cryer.

“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 impossible, it’s worth picking up the phone and asking about the funded bursaries on offer.”

To discuss Reception and Year 3 places at Highfield and Brookham School, email Charlotte Cottrell at admissions@highfieldandbrookham.co.uk or call 01428 728000.

A pointed conversation about the environment has led to a man who restores and races vintage cars to have a radical rethink on green fuel.

William Medcalf, founder of Vintage Bentley in Hill Brow, near Liss, was chatting casually to his daughter Charlotte on the way to school about his passion for old cars when the six-year-old told him that his business and the cars he races were “bad for the environment”.

Charlotte, a pupil at Highfield and Brookham, explained to her dad that as part of her year group’s spring term theme of transport the children had been looking at ways in which all forms of travel had changed and evolved over the years, including fuel.

The conversation gave Mr Medcalf food for thought as he sought an alternative to traditional fuels, and his research led him to a German company which specialises in fossil-free synthetic fuel which drastically cuts carbon dioxide emissions, a big driver in climate change. Current production processes show a critical 77% drop compared to fossil fuels.

Synthetic fuels – or e-fuels – are produced by extracting carbon dioxide and water from the environment, or from other sources such as farming waste. The water is split by electrolysis, making hydrogen, which is synthesised with the carbon.

Having run numerous tests under laboratory conditions, Mr Medcalf took to the track to see how the synthetic fuel compared to petrol-guzzling cars, and the results were an unmitigated success as he raced to back-to-back victories at Goodwood and Castle Coombe. And he hasn’t returned to fossil fuels since.

Now he plans to race his Bentley at the Goodwood Revival meeting in September, with the prestigious track in West Sussex showing its green credentials by only allowing cars running on synthetic fuels to race.

In light of this, and with his daughter’s words ringing in his ears, Mr Medcalf is taking a closer look at the environmental impact of his business as a whole, for example tracking carbon consumption and calculating amounts for offsetting and capture while also reducing the amount of carbon the company produces.

With the likes of Charlotte and her classmates and teachers at Highfield and Brookham driving change, the future of our planet looks brighter, a great deal brighter indeed.

Our fun-loving children have been caught flouting the rules.

Virtually the whole pupil body at Highfield and Brookham were spotted sporting home clothes, trainers, jewellery, painted nails, beanie hats and baseball caps of all shapes, sizes and colours last Friday in a clear breach of school uniform policy.

But there was no need for any serious reprimands or phone calls to parents as it was all in a good cause.

The occasion was the annual Break The Rules Day fundraiser, with a healthy £1,636.64 raised for the Highreach Holidays charity which provides week-long summer holidays for disabled children.

In a fun twist to proceedings, Mikayla van den Berg, the school’s Director of Boarding, wore full school uniform for the day, along with her boarding staff colleagues, with playful pupils going around armed with tape measures, rulers and checklists to ensure that the uniforms were up to the expected standard. Apparently, Miss van den Berg’s uniform passed the strict inspection.

The children were asked to donate cash for every rule that they broke on the day, with all the money going to Highreach.

Highreach, which has been running since 2018, provides holidays for children with physical and learning disabilities. It was declared ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors in its most recent inspection.

The charity is totally dependent on year-round fundraising to host the holidays every August and relies on a committed bank of volunteers, including many former pupils of Highfield and Brookham who return each year.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School, said: “Like most schools, we take a pretty dim view of flagrant rule breaking, but we also have a strong sense of occasion and we’re delighted to make a fun exception, especially for such a wonderful and much-loved cause as Highreach.

“The children really went to town, bringing a real splash of character and colour to the school day, and raised an amazing amount of money for a brilliant cause.”

It’s not every day you see Gangsta Granny, Captain America, Mr Bump, Willy Wonka and Rapunzel in the same place at the same time, but that’s exactly what happened at Highfield and Brookham School on Thursday.

The occasion was World Book Day when literary-loving children from the nursery, pre-prep and prep school dressed up as their favourite fictional characters in honour of brilliant books.

On a day intended to celebrate and nurture a love of reading and literature, the young bookworms left no stone unturned as they morphed into some of the best-loved personalities who are magically brought to life on the pages of many a children’s favourite.

Harry Potter, Matilda, Alice and Wonderland and Thing dazzled in their colourful costumes as they paraded up and down the sports hall, joining oompah loompahs, dinosaurs, pigs and foxes on a fantastic journey of imagery and imagination.

And the fun didn’t stop there as the pre-prep children were joined by the older children for a heart-warming morning of reading and creative book-related activities.

Children (and staff) at Highfield and Brookham are no strangers to the wonders of World Book Day, which was instigated in the UK in 1997, and Head Suzannah Cryer said the day was “as brilliant as ever”.

“There is always a great sense of excitement and anticipation when World Book Day comes into view each year. Our children love reading and put an awful lot of thought into which of their favourite book characters they can represent. The result is absolutely magnificent; colourful, creative and charming in equal measure. They never disappoint,” she said.

A purge on food waste at Highfield and Brookham is already reaping environmental rewards.

The school has cut meal waste by a fifth since it began a pupil-initiated crackdown in October, reducing the amount of food thrown away by an incredible 1,260kg and lowering its carbon footprint in the process.

This represents a drop of more than 20% in fewer than four months and boards containing the relevant facts and figures of Highfield and Brookham’s food waste reduction drive are produced each week so that pupils can see for themselves the positive impact that their green initiative is having on the environment.

The drive began as pupils challenged the school’s catering department to produce a zero-waste meal per week, with excess food and ingredients repurposed for tasty and nutritious alternatives, including using pork from a lunchtime roast in a healthy evening stir fry, turning ripe bananas which were left over from our inter-school cross-country event in February into smoothies and banana bread, using the flesh of carved Hallowe’en pumpkins for soup and the seeds for homemade bread, and turning soup into pasta sauce.

The children are delighted to have provided the inspiration for the school’s environmental project, which covers its four mealtime sittings – boarders’ breakfast, pre-prep lunch, prep lunch and boarders’ supper – as well as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks and match day sports teas, with the food waste weighed and logged after each sitting.

Furthermore, the school’s dedicated chefs work from a menu-purchasing planner and boarding numbers are carefully monitored to allow the chefs to order and prepare the correct amount of food for each sitting. The school also has open culture of children coming back for seconds at mealtimes, but only after they’ve eaten what is on their plate in the first place, with children also encouraged to ask for a small or big portion in the first place.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School, said she was delighted by the early impact of the food waste project and praised the ingenuity of the boarding community in making the whole school aware of the need to cut down on food waste and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

“As a school, we take our responsibilities to the environment very seriously,” she said, “and this is another great example of how, if we all work together, we can really make a difference. Reducing our weekly food waste by a fifth is a great start but we still have a very long way to go and we won’t rest on our laurels.

“And I couldn’t be more proud of our boarders who got together to consider ways in which we could help our commitment to the environment further and try to lessen the impact of climate change. It really gives me great heart that with these caring children at the helm in years to come, the planet will be in very good hands.”

Highfield and Brookham has long been a champion of all things environmental and aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.

An incredible 1,200 pupils from 19 schools converged at an independent school in Liphook for its annual cross-country competition.

The yearly run across the sports pitches and through the vast woodland at Highfield and Brookham School attracted children from independent and state schools across Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

The eager young runners, aged eight to 13, had to tackle tricky routes ranging from just over three-quarters of a mile to just under two miles consisting of woodland trails, varied terrain and plenty of mud. They also had to deal with the additional challenge brought about by a deluge of rain which fell on the course in the days leading up to the race.

But the determined girls and boys who competed in a dozen races, dug deep as they tackled slippery slopes, energy-sapping mud on the flatter parts of the course and squally showers, with Highfield and Brookham runner Max Reid taking top spot for the host school in the U9 boys’ race.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School, said: “Our annual cross-country competition is always a popular event on the sports calendar, a fact borne out by the incredible number of runners representing an amazing number of schools.

“To say conditions for the young runners were difficult would be an understatement, with persistent wet weather before and during the race adding to the degree of difficulty of an already challenging course, but the children showed great strength of character and real resilience as they put their best feet forward in the name of their respective schools.

“I’m immensely proud of all the boys and girls who took part and who were a real credit not only to their schools but also to themselves.”

There were medals for the top three finishers in each race and trophies for winning teams in each race, with the top four finishers from each school counting toward the team totals.

Results

Girls:

U8: St Hilary’s

U9: Edgeborough

U10: St Hilary’s

U11: Amesbury

U12: Churcher’s College

U13: Westbourne House

Boys:

U8: Aldro

U9: Highfield and Brookham

U10: Feltonfleet

U11: Twyford

U12: Hall Grove U13: Royal Grammar School, Guildford

Young rockers from Highfield and Brookham School proved they’re made of stern stuff after belying their age in a school music competition.

Talented six-piece band Granite didn’t make the top two of the 13 schools taking part in the annual Battle of the Bands competition at Prior’s Field School in Godalming but they did hugely impress the judges as the youngest band on show.

And the boys didn’t come away empty handed as talented drummer Henry Fisher was named best individual performer on the day – something made all the more remarkable by the fact that Henry

was on crutches and had to drum with his non-dominant leg.

While many schools included sixth-formers in their line ups, the prep school quintet from Highfield and Brookham – made up of guitarist Dougie Hogg, bassist Albie Black, vocalists Gabe Church and Rory Lett, Theo Dunfield-Prayero on keyboards and drummer Henry – proved that age is no barrier to talent as they raised the roof by performing Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer and Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses to an appreciative audience which included judges from Guilfest and The Boiler Room.

Impressed by the mature performance of the Highfield and Brookham musicians, one judge said: “You’ve got so much talent for how young you are and you were perfectly in tune the whole time. I’m a bit blown away, I can’t find the words.”

Another described the performance as “excellent” before citing the bassist’s “excellent moves on the stage”.

And a third judge enthused: “It’s so nice to see guys of your age just have so much enthusiasm, energy, love for music. It really was an amazing show. Keep going because you’re going to be the next rock stars!”

The boys, who are coached by guitar specialist Mark Rood, are well known around the school having previously performed on Rock Day and at HighFest, which showcases the school’s musical talent.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “Music is such an integral part of school life and we are lucky enough to have not only dedicated and specialist teachers but also talented pupils who have the maturity, drive and talent to make their mark with their chosen instrument.

“Seeing the result of that dedication and desire in Granite’s incredible performance at Prior’s Field was nothing short of amazing and I couldn’t be more proud of the five boys and Mr Rood. The world really is their oyster and there is no limit to what they can achieve.”

Picture courtesy of Simon Drake Photography

Highfield and Brookham School, known for its nurturing and academically rigorous environment, today announced its membership in the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE). This partnership reaffirms the school’s commitment to fostering excellence and potential in every child.

NACE, a leading UK organisation, empowers educators to tailor learning experiences for high-achieving students. Recognising the crucial role of setting high expectations and fostering a growth mindset across the board. Highfield and Brookham aligns perfectly with NACE’s values.

“Joining NACE reflects our unwavering commitment to nurturing every child’s potential,” says Suzannah Cryer, Head at Highfield and Brookham School. “Their expertise perfectly complement our existing pedagogy, which emphasises high-quality, challenging teaching for all.”

Highfield and Brookham emphasises a “rich education based on experience and robust research delivered by passionate teachers,” ensuring an intellectually stimulating environment for all children. The school believes in meticulously crafting and implementing a curriculum that intrinsically accommodates diverse learning needs. This approach fosters high expectations and enriches the educational experience for every child.

“NACE membership opens doors to valuable resources, collaboration opportunities, and professional development for our dedicated educators,” Mrs. Cryer adds. “This strengthens our ability to provide an outstanding education that empowers each child to flourish.”

By joining NACE, Highfield and Brookham School demonstrates its ongoing commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. This partnership further solidifies the school’s position as a champion for personalised learning and fostering the full potential of every child.

Highfield and Brookham has been long recognised for its broad and rigorous curriculum and for sending children on to the top senior schools in the country.

The life and times of a famed Scottish poet have been celebrated in fine style at Highfield and Brookham.

Honouring the memory of the legendary Robbie Burns, the children revelled in a heady mix of the Highland Games, Irn-Bru, bagpipes and haggis on Thursday.

The grand occasion was Burns Night, which is celebrated all over the world on the anniversary of the poet and lyricist’s birth on January 25, 1759.

Boarders at the co-ed nursery, pre-prep and prep school on the rural borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex were treated to a traditional haggis dinner, with proud Scotsman and Year 6 teacher Simon Gunn piping in the haggis and making the address, before four ‘clans’ converged on the school sports hall to compete in their very own Highland Games.

Running, crab walking, wellie wanging, caber tossing and the Hercules hold tested the strength, agility and guile of the children, who donned colourful face paint in the quest to secure bragging rights for their clan.

And the Burns Night festivities, organised by Lewis Campbell, another proud Scot on the staff at Highfield and Brookham, proved the perfect pre-cursor to some traditional ceilidh dancing as the school celebrations continued into Friday.

Pre-prep children were joined by their prep school peers for a whole school ceilidh which proved a fitting finale and offered a toe-tapping tribute to ‘Rabbie’ Burns, with the Virginia Reel, the Highland Barn Dance and The Flying Scotsman the order of the day.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School, said: “We are proud of the diversity within our school community, not least a healthy number of patriotic Scots among the staff and pupils who pull out all the stops every year to celebrate Burns Night.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Mr Campbell, our superb catering team and the talents of Mr Gunn playing the bagpipes, our boarders had the most wonderful and entertaining evening. To end the celebrations with a whole-school ceilidh really did put the icing on a very rich cake and I was left filled with pride.”

Children at Highfield and Brookham School are continuing to reap the rewards of their dedicated wellbeing hub.

The Beehive was opened officially last September as a place for pupils of all ages to “relax, reset and regulate their emotions whenever they need to” and is regularly used as part of the school’s continued commitment to top-level pastoral care.

Individual and group sessions are regularly held in the bright, snug and welcoming space as part of Highfield and Brookham’s wellbeing offering, including visits from wellness experts, to promote good mental health among the nursery, pre-prep and prep school’s pupils and staff.

This week, Year 5 children were treated to a visit from Chrissy Sundt Dolan, of Silver Linings Wellbeing, who worked with small groups to gently encourage the use of simple wellness techniques that the young learners can put into practice themselves whenever they feel the need.

With a big focus on breathing techniques, the children said they found the sessions “calming”, “refreshing” and “fun”.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “The health and wellbeing of our children is paramount and we take our responsibilities very seriously indeed. In a fast-moving world, taking time out to look after mental health is very important, a sentiment which applies to both adults and children.

“The Beehive is a wonderful addition to our pastoral care offering and the benefits to the children of having somewhere calm to stop, think and breathe is there for all to see and is really reflected in the classroom and beyond.”

And she added: “Not only are we lucky enough to have teachers and staff members who are wonderfully dedicated to all aspects of pastoral care and wellbeing, we also have wellness professionals among the parent body such as the excellent Chrissy who graciously give of their time to help the children.”

Highfield and Brookham was twice named an awards finalist in 2023 for its pastoral provision – in the ‘Student Wellbeing’ category of the Independent School of the Year Awards and in the ‘Raising Awareness’ category of the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education.

There was a real buzz around the school this week as an expert beekeeper flew in to say hello.

Michelle Ernoult, of The Little Honeybee Company, gave an engaging talk and demonstrated some of the tools of her trade to fascinated pre-prep children.

The inquisitive youngsters bombarded Michelle with brilliant questions about her busy pollinators, gained an understanding of the hierarchy within a bee colony, and got to look at all the pieces which make up a working beehive.

There was also the chance for the children to get a close look at the equipment needed to tend to honey-producing bees, such as the smoker which beekeepers use to make the bees a little drowsy while collecting honeycomb and the obligatory suit and netted headgear which keeps beekeepers safe while the bees are buzzing around.

Michelle’s visit to the busy bees in pre-prep ties in with the spring term Year 1 topic which asks the question ‘why are bees important?’

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said the children loved Michelle’s visit.

“Bees are a particular favourite with a lot of children as they see them as colourful and friendly and associate them with producing tasty honey,” she said, “and our children are no different.

“It was wonderful for the children to get such an insightful look at the work of a dedicated beekeeper and gain more of an understanding of the important role bees play in the natural world.

“We were delighted that Michelle could join us and give the children some food for thought as they embark upon their new topic.”

As part of an ongoing environmental drive, Highfield and Brookham has embarked on a wildflower planting programme in recent years in order to safeguard the future of our essential pollinators. Recently, the independent nursery, pre-prep and prep school on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex received a £4,250 grant from the South Downs National Park Trust as part of its Bee Lines scheme. The cash will be used to expand the wildflower-planting scheme.

Christmas hampers stacked full of donated goodies have swelled the coffers of two good causes.

Beautifully presented by parent body the Friends of Brookham, the hampers were raffled and £1,200 was raised which will be split between Liphook Food Bank and Highreach, which provides week-long summer holidays for disabled children.

The hampers, made up of goods donated by parents, included festive treats such as chocolates, wine, tea, fruit, biscuits and preserves.

The charity windfall from the hampers comes hard on the heels of Highfield and Brookham raising £2,400 for the food bank and Highreach via its annual Christmas fair, which is run by Highfield Parents’ Association with help from Year 8 prep school children.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “Every Christmas our parent body work hard putting together the most delightful festive hampers and every year they are much sought after, a fact reflected by the amazing amount of money the school has raised for two charities very dear to our hearts.

“I’m truly grateful for the time and effort spent putting these wonderful hampers together and to everyone who supported the raffle.”

Highfield Highreach Holidays is hosted at Highfield and Brookham and is committed to supporting local families. It runs every August and the charity covers half of the cost of the residential holiday, making it one of few affordable residential respite holidays around.

Liphook Food Bank, which is based at Liphook Junior School and is open for collections from 9.30am-11.30am on Tuesdays and Fridays, provides weekly food parcels for families and individuals who are struggling financially. People in need should call 07871 287295 or email liphookfoodbank@gmail.com.

Our successful festive fair has provided some Christmas cheer for two charities.

The popular annual fundraiser at Highfield and Brookham School, complete with snow machine, fun games, craft stalls, hilarious racing pigs – not real ones! – and warming food and drink, netted a cool £2,400.

The cash will be divided between two charities, with Liphook Food bank receiving a donation of £1,400 and £1,000 going to Highreach, which provides week-long summer holidays for disabled children.

Run by the Highfield Parents’ Association, the fair this year featured a ‘gift tree’ containing pre-labelled tags for boys and girls of various ages. Visitors take tags and buy appropriate gifts which are handed over to Liphook Food Bank before being donated to families who are struggling financially. Eighty-nine presents have been donated so far.

Liphook Food Bank chair of trustees Glynis Blake praised the school for its “incredible generosity” at what can be a difficult time for families.

“Christmas will be that much brighter for the children who will now have a toy,” she added.

“The money you have raised will mean we can buy more food, so the children will have fuller plates as well as a toy this Christmas – all thanks to you.”

Highfield Highreach Holidays is hosted at Highfield and Brookham and is committed to supporting local families. It runs for one week every August and the charity covers half of the cost of the residential holiday, making it one of few affordable residential respite holidays around.

The cost of these holidays is met by ongoing fundraising initiatives within the school community and a healthy group of volunteers, many of whom return year on year, including former pupils of Highfield and Brookham School.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said she was delighted that the school could help make a difference to people’s lives.

“Liphook is a tight-knit community and we are very proud to be part of it,” she said.

“Our children never pass up a chance to give back to the community or help people who are perhaps finding things challenging.” And she added: “We’re delighted that the money has gone to two such wonderful causes which do so much amazing work for so many people.”

Six prep and senior schools are joining forces in the new year to extol the virtues of a country education.

Senior figures from leading prep schools Highfield and Brookham, Ludgrove and Hanford will be joined by top senior schools Marlborough College, Radley College and Downe House at the Educating Outside London event at Beaufort House in Chelsea.

It will be held on Wednesday 7th February, from 6.30pm-8.30pm.

A representative from each of the six schools will give a brief talk on the positive benefits of being educated away from the capital. Topics will include the importance of keeping schools mentally healthy, the arguments for and against co-education and single-sex schools, the advantages of having plenty of outdoor space in which to learn and play, and whether boarding or day attendance is right for your child.

Highfield and Brookham, which is set in 175 beautiful acres on the rural borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex, is a co-educational nursery, pre-prep and prep school for children aged 2-13 whose children regularly move on after Year 8 to Marlborough, Radley and Downe House, as well as other leading senior schools across the country. Included among them are a healthy number of scholarship recipients each year.

Over the years, many parents have cited Highfield and Brookham’s vast natural outdoor classroom as a big factor in their decision to choose the Liphook-based school for their children’s education; a sentiment doubtless shared by parents of children at Hanford, based at Blandford Forum in Dorset, and Ludgrove, which occupies 130 acres in rural Berkshire.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “Being blessed with such big and wonderful grounds, outdoor learning naturally plays a big part in our everyday curriculum. From building dens at forest school to tending our vegetable plots and from undertaking science experiments to painting among the daffodils, our children gain so much from being outside.

“The fact that the children have the time and space to learn, to play, to think and to breathe in such a safe and nurturing setting is truly wonderful for their wellbeing and their mental health, and we find that it pays handsome dividends back inside the classroom.”

And she added: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with such prestigious schools in February to fly the flag for rural education. We all have a common link; we all have the health, happiness and wellbeing of our children at the heart of everything we do, and we look forward to meeting city-based parents who might be considering the switch to a countryside education for their children.”

The Educating Outside London event, which has been running successfully since 2015, is primarily aimed at parents of children aged under-10 who are considering a move to a rural school. Places are limited. To RSVP, visit bit.ly/3GvMSxh.

Our creative pupils have designed their own Christmas cards – and raised money for charity along the way.

The annual Christmas card design competition at Highfield and Brookham is always a festive favourite and gives prep school children the chance to see their personal designs become reality thanks to printing company Cauliflower Cards.

And as the individual cards go on sale to proud parents, a portion of the proceeds goes to Highreach, a charity which offers week-long residential breaks for disabled children every summer.

Highfield and Brookham each year raises hundreds of pounds for Highreach through the festive card competition.

Children from Year 4 all the way through to Year 8 have the option each year to design their own Christmas cards, from which individual year group winners and an overall winner are picked by school staff members who are given the chance to vote.

Harry E, Elsa Z, Isla A, Tiggy W and Iris G were named as the respective year group winners while Tiggy was also name overall competition winner.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “Like most schools, we have a busy and varied run up to Christmas with a great many festive events going on, and one of the most popular is the annual Christmas card design competition.

“It’s amazing to see the variety of the entries and the creativity and imagination shown by the children year on year, but most of all I’m always so impressed by the sheer quality of the entries. It really is wonderful and is perhaps a good indicator as to why our children earn senior school art scholarships every year.”

And she added: “Warmest congratulations to not only our winners but to everyone who took part. They should all be very proud of their festive artwork.” Christmas trees, strings of coloured lights, reindeer and starry skies featured prominently among this year’s competition entries.

A charity which offers residential holidays for disabled children has received a cash windfall after our annual fireworks display went with a bang.

In keeping with the spectacular lightshow in honour of Bonfire Night at Highfield and Brookham School, Highfield Highreach Holidays had its coffers swelled to the tune of a dazzling £3,300.

The proceeds – up almost £1,000 on last year – came from sales of food and drink on the night and cash donations to the charity.

The annual bonfire and fireworks extravaganza at the independent nursery, pre-prep and prep school on the rural borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex provides a regular boost to Highreach, which has been running since 2018 and provides respite for children with physical and mental disabilities.

While the fireworks display was liberally described as “the best ever” by many of the hundreds of visitors to the school, traditional guys produced by pupils from the prep school’s three houses – Agincourt, Trafalgar and Waterloo – took pride of place on top of the bonfire as part of the annual house competition, with Agincourt taking the honours this time around.

Highfield Highreach Holidays is hosted at Highfield and Brookham and is committed to supporting local families. It runs for one week every August and the charity covers half of the cost of the residential holiday, making it one of few affordable residential respite holidays around.

The cost of these holidays is met by ongoing fundraising initiatives within the school community and a healthy group of volunteers, many of whom return year on year, including former pupils of Highfield and Brookham School.

In August 2022, the young holidaymakers were joined by Ofsted inspectors who declared Highreach “outstanding” in all areas. It is set to run next summer from August 2-10.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School, said she felt it was fitting that Highreach had benefited from the success of the fireworks and bonfire.

“When you think of Bonfire Night words such as dazzling, fun, heartwarming and colourful spring to mind, words which could just as easily apply to the wonderful Highreach charity and its amazing week of activities.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with the amount of money we have raised, money which will continue to provide much-loved holidays for disabled children and a necessary break for their families and carers. “So thank you to everyone who came along and supported such a great cause and to our brilliant catering team who provided such tasty and warming fayre.”

Highfield and Brookham has again been named as a thriving centre for cricket.

The latest glowing endorsement comes from The Cricketer Schools Guide 2024, which has named us among its Top 50 Prep Schools in the UK for the fifth successive year.

It follows a thorough process which saw a “huge” number of schools – both state-funded and private – submit entries for inclusion in the prestigious guide. All entries were judged against an extensive set of criteria, including a compelling commitment to cricket in the curriculum, facilities, fixture programmes and coaching.

Highfield and Brookham has a healthy cricketing tradition and regularly fulfils as many as 230 fixtures in the summer term against rival prep schools from across Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Berkshire.

The school currently fields 34 teams – featuring boys and girls of all abilities from Year 2 to Year 8 – and has 12 pitches, three artificial outdoor nets, three indoor nets, four grass nets and two mobile cages. There are also three bowling machines and two Flicx pitches on the astro to help cricket development.

As well as representing Highfield and Brookham in external fixtures, many young school cricketers also play for local club sides, including Liphook & Ripsley, Haslemere, Fernhurst and Grayshott, while making full use of the indoor and outdoor nets at Highfield and Brookham.

And the school welcomed the return of two significant events this year which had been curtailed by the Covid pandemic – the annual Year 7 and Year 8 cricket tour to Barbados in April and the visit of the touring Trinity House School side from South Africa in July.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said she was thrilled that the school had again made it into the prestigious magazine.

“We pride ourselves on playing a healthy range of sports each year, but there’s no question that there is an extra sense of expectation and excitement when cricket returns to the curriculum after the Easter holiday. “But while we play our competitive fixtures in the warmer summer months cricket continues all-year round thanks to our indoor nets and dedicated coaching staff, and we’re delighted that our love of cricket has once again earned us a place among top 50 prep schools in the country according to The Cricketer magazine.”

Pupils and staff at Highfield and Brookham have paid their respects to their war dead.

Head Suzannah Cryer and her husband, Bob, read out the names of former pupils who lost their lives in the service of their country during two world wars.

The poignant reading of the names is a long-held tradition at Highfield and Brookham in honour of Remembrance Day, and Friday’s ceremony gave the whole school the opportunity to reflect on the fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

The beautiful Act of Remembrance featured a solemn two-minute silence, an emotional rendition of The Last Post by trumpeter and former Highfield and Brookham music teacher Mark Atkins, and a special performance by Year 6 teacher Simon Gunn on the bagpipes, who played The Rowan Tree, When The Battle’s Over, Green Hills, Castle Dangerous and the Flowers of the Forest lament as the children filed silently onto Chapel Field in their year groups.

And the moving occasion had extra significance for the children in Year 4 who made beautiful ceramic poppies in their art lessons especially for the wartime tribute.

Mrs Cryer said she was “incredibly moved” by the Act of Remembrance, and the chapel service which preceded it.

“Like so many other schools, the Highfield and Brookham community was so sadly affected by the Great War from 1914-18 and the Second World War from 1939-45, and it’s imperative that the sacrifice these brave souls made should never ever be forgotten.

“The Act of Remembrance was truly moving and emotional and it was wonderful for the whole school to gather together to pay tribute to the people whose bravery will forever be etched on our hearts and minds.”

Highfield and Brookham has a strong link with wartime, with former headmaster Peter Mills having escaped from a prisoner of war camp in northern Italy in 1943.

Mr Mills, Highfield Headmaster from 1953 until his retirement in 1979 and former owner of the school now owned by his son, Bill, was imprisoned at Fontanellato, near Parma, during the Second World War. Locals, guards and a kindly commandant helped him escape along a route through the Apennines known as the ‘Freedom Trail’ after an armistice between the Allies and Italy which Germany refused to recognise.

Now, in peacetime, sections of the Freedom Trail are walked only by people keen to gain an understanding of a significant piece of history. As a result, an exchange programme between Highfield and Brookham School and the Istituto Comprensivo di Fontanellato e Fontevivo has been running successfully since 2018, with two Italian pupils spending a term at the nursery, pre-prep and prep school in Liphook each year.

Our hockey players have returned from a successful tour of Holland and Belgium.

Twenty-seven senior girls from Highfield and Brookham School, made up of Year 7 and Year 8 pupils, played a tournament in the Belgian city of Genk and standalone fixtures against Dutch sides Nova, Hockeer and Eindhoven.

The senior girls are currently in the middle of their school hockey season and used the tour as an opportunity to showcase not only their skills, sportsmanship and technique on the pitch but also their exemplary behaviour and camaraderie off it.

Based in Valkenburg, the girls won three of their four 11-a-side matches against their Dutch opponents after crossing the Belgian border to compete in the seven-a-side tournament in Genk.

One of the undoubted secrets of the senior hockey side’s success at Highfield and Brookham is the strength of the unity and friendship among the players, on and off the sports pitch, and that was underlined with a wonderful series of leisure activities away from match action.

An exciting trampolining session inside a cave, an action-packed game of laser tag, a spooky Hallowe’en celebration and a visit to a pancake house reinforced the strong bonds already prevalent within the squad.

Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer said: “I am immensely proud of all the girls who went on the wonderful hockey tour to Holland and Belgium, for both their impressive performances on the pitch and their exceptional conduct off it. They were an absolute credit to the school in so many ways and I’m delighted that the tour was such a great success.”

Our talented pupils have been professionally critiqued by a star of stage and screen.

The occasion was the annual house poetry recitation at Highfield and Brookham School, which this year was judged by Jamie Bamber, star of hit TV shows Battlestar Galactica, Law and Order: UK and Peak Practice.

A graduate of the acclaimed London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), Mr Bamber was treated to a wealth of polished, powerful and imaginative performances by children from Year 3 to Year 8, many of whom are following in the actor’s footsteps by taking LAMDA lessons as a co-curricular option at Highfield and Brookham.

Mr Bamber said he was “impressed by the high standard of the recitations”, with many pupils tackling a variety of works by revered poets such as William Shakespeare, Roald Dahl and John Kitching with real verve and poise while others took the opportunity to deliver their own heartfelt poems with confidence and assuredness.

And such was the quality throughout the competition that nothing could separate Year 8 children Theo DP and Cristo P in the judge’s eyes, the pair being declared joint overall winners.

Reciting Harry Baker’s Paper People, Theo was praised for his “incredible diction” and for “making sense of complex ideas” with the end result being a real “poetry slam vibe” while Cristo, performing Sylvia Plath’s dark work Getting There, demonstrated a “real understanding of language and imagery”, leaving Mr Bamber to feel “every sensory horror of the poet’s awful journey”.

Pippa Napoli, who recited James Carter’s Beware, came out top in Year 3, Jack Tweddle was named winner in Year 4 with his self-penned My Secret Garden, Seb Williams (JK Rowling’s The Sorting Hat) claimed the honours in Year 5, John Kitching’s Blue Mondays was the winning choice of Alice Craig in Year 6 and Alec Williams earned top marks in Year 7 with his reading of Roald Dahl’s Cinderella.

Waterloo earned house competition bragging rights, fending off Trafalgar and Agincourt.

Commenting on another quality recitation, Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer said she was in no way surprised at the strength of this year’s competition.

“Having spent many happy years here as the school’s former Head of Drama, I’ve been lucky enough to witness at first hand the talent and strength in depth that we have when it comes to the dramatic and performing arts,” she said.

“To perform on stage in front of your peers at such a young age takes an awful lot of courage, to do so with such professionalism, clarity, desire and aplomb is nothing short or remarkable.”

And Mrs Cryer added: “This year’s competition was made extra special as we welcomed Jamie Bamber to give his expert opinion on proceedings. And, who knows, some of this year’s participants may end up following in Jamie’s footsteps and appearing on the big screen and the small screen in the years ahead.”

Our pupil leadership team has been unveiled for the new academic year.

Genny Hogg and Jamie Wakeley have been named Head Girl and Head Boy respectively, with Honor Elvins and Theo Dunfield-Prayero acting as their deputies.

Highfield and Brookham School takes the appointment of its pupil leadership team very seriously and, as such, the new incumbents had to come through a thorough selection process.

All pupils are actively encouraged to apply for the prestigious roles and those that decide to apply must submit a formal letter of application to Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer explaining why they should be considered for the position.

Aided by her highly-respected senior leadership team, Mrs Cryer reviews each application, draws up a shortlist before interviewing the pupils. The entire staff team at Highfield and Brookham are also invited to share their support and thoughts on the candidates before a final decision is made, where one boy and one girl from the oldest year group in the school are selected for the coveted leadership roles, as well as their deputies.

Mrs Cryer said: “It is one of my most difficult jobs of the school year. Deciding which children should fill these important leadership roles is such an honour but also a huge responsibility. The process is testimony to the children’s desire to aim high and their wish to be the very best they can be.

“The quality of all of the applications shows that Highfield and Brookham is in very good hands indeed.”

As well as appointing the Head Girl and Head Boy, the school also named its Heads of Boarding, Heads of House and Senior Prefects.

The purpose of the pupil leadership team is to be role models for the school, to ensure that pupils’ voices are heard and to represent the school at events such as prizegiving and open mornings.

The full pupil leadership team is:

Heads of School: Genny Hogg and Jamie Wakeley

Deputy Heads of School: Honor Elvins and Theo Dunfield-Prayero

Heads of Boarding: Sasha Samsin and Imi Wright

Deputy Heads of Boarding: Gabriel Church and Samantha Manning

Heads of House: Albie Black, Ines Borwick, Dougie Hogg, Daisy Wren, Coco Bendon and Hugo Mendes

Deputy Heads of House: Imogen Knight, Ian Linnell, Jemima Goldsmith, Rory Lett, Iris Greenslade and Barnabas Lloyd

Senior Prefects: Daisy Apps, Henry Fisher, Shona O’Neill, Amelie Davies, Lydia Warr, Amelie Kitchen, Theo Kauntze, Charlotte Law, Rafe Jenkins, Polina Dolhykh and Sandy Game

A harvest festival haul has been donated to a busy village day centre.

The veritable feast of canned goods, packets, bottles, jars and fresh produce was delivered by pupils from Highfield and Brookham School in Liphook having been collected on the run up to the independent school’s annual harvest festival service at the end of September.

Four children were joined by Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer for the handover of the goodies to day centre guests and bosses.

The harvest handover follows hard on the heels of the school presenting a cheque for more than £7,000 to trustees of Liphook Food Bank following a year of fundraising, with the nursery, pre-prep and prep school continuing to cement its strong links with the local community.

The Liphook Day Centre, which is also known as The Peak Centre Trust, relies entirely on donations in order to help support, provide companionship and feed people in the area who may otherwise miss out on hot meals and company, and Mrs Cryer said she hoped that residents got as much joy from the donation as the children did in collecting the goods.

“It really is a labour of love for our school community to gather as much food as they can, bag it all up and deliver it safely to the Liphook Day Centre each year,” she said.

“The harvest festival traditionally celebrates the time of year when crops have been gathered from the fields and people can reflect and show gratitude for the food they have, and it offers a sharp reminder of our duty as a school to encourage our children to look out for and consider how they might best help others less fortunate than themselves, something that they regularly do without hesitation.”

And Mrs Cryer added: “We have a strong and lovely relationship with the Peak Centre and hope that continues for many, many years to come.”

Liphook Day Centre is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am-3pm, collects and returns residents home, and offers myriad activities such as quizzes, bingo, art and crafts, flower arranging. Anyone interested in attending the day centre should call 01428 724941 or email info@liphookdaycentre.co.uk.

Talented triathletes, disco divas, fun runners and rule breakers have cashed in to help under-pressure families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Our selfless children have been involved in some fruitful fundraisers over the past 12 months, raising an impressive £7,068 for Liphook Food Bank along the way.

On Thursday, food bank trustees Glynis Blake and Mary Braitch were treated to a fun and topical adaptation of classic children’s tale The Enormous Turnip before receiving the welcome cheque from children at our nursery, pre-prep and prep school, which sits on the rural borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

Break the Rules Day, where the children were (within reason!) given licence to drift away from the usual school regulations, a disco, fun run and testing triathlon, involving a tough swim, cycle and run, all added up to a healthy donation to the worthy charity.

Located at Liphook Junior School, the food bank offers food parcels and advice to families who are struggling financially, a crucial service all-year round but especially during the winter months.

Highfield and Brookham Head Suzannah Cryer said she was “incredibly proud” of the amount raised for such a deserving cause.

“Our children never need asking twice to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into a fundraising project and I couldn’t be more proud of the amount of money they have raised for Liphook Food Bank.

“We absolutely love being part of the Liphook community and have a long and happy association with many groups, associations and charities in the village, and our children are always willing to go the extra mile to support causes that our dear to our hearts.

“Liphook Food Bank is one such cause and works tirelessly to get the right help to the right people in our community who really need it most. It is such a wonderful cause and we are delighted to help in our own small way.”

The food bank is open from 9.30am-11.30am on Tuesdays and Fridays. For more details, call 07871 287295 or email liphookfoodbank@gmail.com.

Our strong reputation for pastoral care has taken another significant step forward.

Highfield and Brookham School this week opened officially its dedicated wellbeing hub, otherwise known as The Beehive.

Alicia Drummond, founder of Teen Tips, an organisation which supports mental health and wellbeing in children and adolescents through on-site and online training, cut the ribbon on Tuesday to mark another exciting chapter in the ongoing pastoral story at Highfield and Brookham.

The co-educational nursery, pre-prep and prep school in Liphook, which takes children aged 2-13, is currently in the running for two national pastoral care awards, and the opening of the The Beehive adds another healthy string to the school’s wellbeing bow.

The Beehive, named after parallels were drawn between busy bees and children at Highfield and Brookham, not least when it comes to community, effectively working together and looking after each in other in the hive, is now ready to play a starring role in our pastoral provision.

The bright and friendly space, which will be staffed throughout the day by teachers expertly trained in mental health first aid, is a place where children can relax, reset and regulate their emotions whenever they need to.

With the mental health and wellbeing of the children in mind, a series of key initiatives have been recently rolled out which have resulted in the school being named a finalist in the ‘Student Wellbeing’ category of the Independent School of the Year Awards and in the ‘Raising Awareness’ category of the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education.

In the past 12 months, the school has created space in the children’s busy days to allow time dedicated to their mental health – in the form of ‘Weekly Wellbeing Workshops’. And it was an overwhelmingly positive response to the wellbeing workshops that provided the trigger for the rural boarding school to invest in the development of their very own wellbeing centre.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “The care and wellbeing of our children is at the heart of everything we do and we take our pastoral responsibilities incredibly seriously. The initiatives that we have rolled out in recent times have been well received and recognised by our pupils, staff and the school community as a whole, and the introduction of our lovely new wellbeing hub really signals our intent to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of our children remains a top priority.”

And she added: “We were delighted to welcome Alicia Drummond into school on Tuesday, not only to open officially our wonderful wellbeing centre but also to lead engaging and informative workshops on the topics of ‘resilience’ and ‘understanding adolescence’ to our appreciative young people.”

The winners of the Independent School of the Year Awards and National Association for Pastoral Care in Education Awards are due to be announced in the next few weeks.

The head of Highfield and Brookham has described her nomination for a leading award as “humbling”.

Suzannah Cryer is one of six people in line for the title of Best Head of a Prep School in the Tatler Schools Awards 2024.

The shortlist was drawn up by education experts of the highly-respected magazine, headed by editor Tori Cadogan, and the winner will be announced next week.

Mrs Cryer, who took over the reins of Highfield and Brookham last September following the retirement of predecessor Phillip Evitt after 23 years in the role, said that while it was always very gratifying to receive personal accolades it was important that the school remained the central focus of attention.

“To be nominated by Tatler for this award is both unexpected and humbling, especially knowing that there are many, many headteachers all over the country who could so easily be in this position given the hard work they put in day in and day out and the unstinting dedication they give to their respective schools.

“Everything we, as heads, and our hardworking staff do is wholeheartedly with the children in mind. We want the school to be the very best it can be so that we can give our children the most rich and rewarding education possible.”

Mrs Cryer returned to Highfield and Brookham, where she spent seven years as Head of Boarding and Head of Drama from 2012 to 2019, last September having previously been Deputy Head (Pastoral) and Designated Safeguarding Lead at Thomas’s Battersea.

Since returning to Liphook, Mrs Cryer has overseen a move away from the Common Entrance syllabus and replaced it with a bespoke seamless and dynamic curriculum which is centred on equipping children for a world that demands adaptability and resilience.

On her return to Highfield and Brookham, owner Bill Mills said Mrs Cryer “demonstrated great insight in how education is evolving” and offered “an exciting and compelling vision of how we can develop both our curriculum and our approach to teaching and learning to prepare children to thrive in an ever-changing world”.

Hot on the heels of winning an award for our environmental work, we are now in the running for a second award – this time for our pastoral provision.

Having been shortlisted in the ‘Student Wellbeing’ category of the Independent School of the Year Awards in July, Highfield and Brookham has now been named a finalist. The winners will be announced in October.

As well as having a fine reputation academically, feeding some of the top senior schools in the country, Highfield and Brookham has a strong record when it comes to the essential element of pastoral care and pupil wellbeing.

The mental health and wellbeing of the children is at the heart of everything the school does and a series of key initiatives has been recently rolled out.

In the past 12 months, the school has created space in the children’s busy days to allow time dedicated to their mental health – in the form of ‘Weekly Wellbeing Workshops’.

Across the Nursery, Pre-prep and Prep school there is a full programme of activities such as ‘Journaling and Scrapbooking’, ‘Cards and Board Games’ and ‘Lego and Chill’. ‘Be With the Boys’ and ‘Go With the Girls’ are run by the school’s Peer Listeners – a group of trained and compassionate Year 8 children who offer younger children a friendly face or a kindly listening ear.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to the wellbeing workshops, the school has invested in the development of its very own wellbeing centre.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “When people think of schools they often think about academic achievement, exams and learning in the classroom, but there are so many elements of school life which are just as important, if not more so. One such element is pastoral care, and we take our wellbeing responsibilities incredibly seriously. Pupil wellbeing is at the core of everything we do and we actively promote good mental health right across the school.

“We’re exceptionally proud of our pastoral provision but we are always looking at ways that we can make it even better for the benefit of our children and staff. To have our ongoing work recognised in the Independent School of the Year Awards tells us that we are moving in the right direction. Highfield and Brookham is also a finalist in the ‘Raising Awareness’ category of this year’s National Association for Pastoral Care in Education Awards. The winners will be announced at the end of September.

Highfield and Brookham School is an award winner – and that’s official!

We are on a mission to be carbon neutral by 2030 and our concerted green push has been recognised by Talk Education, a leading light in reviewing independent schools.

A panel of experts named Highfield and Brookham winner of the ‘Environmental Achievement’ category in this year’s Talk Education Awards for Innovation in Education.

The award comes on the back of an environmental drive which has seen us make significant steps toward our green dream.

The school has an enviable reputation concerning renewable energy and sustainability with the carbon neutral woodchip-burning biomass boiler currently providing 85% of the energy required to heat the school and its indoor swimming pool. The wood itself comes from the school’s vast estate, primarily through chestnut coppicing as chestnut is a naturally self-replenishing variety of tree which requires little or no replanting.

Other ongoing initiatives include solar panels on the roofs of on-site cottages and the pool, replacing paper towels in the toilet blocks with low-energy hand driers, creating wildlife habitats, a regular tree-planting programme, recycling, and children tending their own vegetable plots.

Highfield and Brookham was also recently awarded a silver certificate by Green Tourism after a successful pilot scheme run in conjunction with the South Downs National Park Authority as well as receiving 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 cash will be used to expand the wildflower-planting scheme at the independent school, which sits in 175-acre grounds on the rural borders of Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey.

Last spring, the school embarked on a coppicing, thinning and removal programme in its woodland to help native trees flourish and enable the canopy and the health of the remaining trees to improve by allowing more air and light to circulate which, in turn, will have a beneficial effect on animals and flora and fauna on the forest floor.

Suzannah Cryer, the proud Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “As we do with every area of school life, we take our responsibilities incredibly seriously where the environment is concerned. Our children and adults alike are very much in tune with the natural world around them and we all know that we have a duty of care to protect our planet as much as we possibly can.

“We have already implemented a lot of sustainability initiatives as we strive to become fully carbon neutral by 2030, but we also know that we have barely scratched the surface and have a long way to go. So this wonderful award from Talk Education is a huge shot in the arm and will bolster us as we attempt to turn our green dreams into reality.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools is once again in the running for an award.

Hot on the heels of being named as a finalist in the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE) awards, being shortlisted in the ‘Student Wellbeing’ category of the Independent School Parent Awards and being named a finalist in the ‘Environmental Practice’ category of the Education Business Awards, our green credentials have caught the eye once more.

This time, we are one of six schools vying for the ‘Environmental Achievement’ award in this year’s Talk Education Awards for Innovation in Education.

Highfield and Brookham, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, is no stranger to environmental initiatives and has long championed a greener and more eco-friendly way of life.

The school has an enviable reputation concerning renewable energy and its carbon neutral woodchip-burning biomass boiler provides 85% of the energy required to heat the school and its indoor swimming pool. The wood itself comes from the school’s vast estate, primarily through chestnut coppicing as chestnut is a naturally self-replenishing variety of tree which requires little or no replanting.

Other ongoing initiatives include a big drive on renewable energy in the form of solar panels on the roofs of on-site cottages and the pool, replacing paper towels in the toilet blocks with low-energy hand driers, creating wildlife habitats, a regular tree-planting programme, recycling, and children tending their own vegetable plots.

According to Talk Education, the environmental achievement accolade is awarded to the school which “inspires and encourages eco awareness in pupils or encourages an eco initiative learning space or building”. The winner will be announced on Thursday.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham, said: “We always work hard to ensure that we can be the best we can possibly be in all areas of school life, to be responsible and to build a positive legacy that current, past and future generations of the Highfield and Brookham family can be proud of.

“So to have our environmental work recognised once more is tremendous and tells us that, while there is still a long way to go, we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

The winners of the NAPCE awards will be announced at the end of September and finalists in this year’s Independent School Parent awards are due to be announced later this week.

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 https://highfieldandbrookham.co.uk/school-plus/highreach-holidays/

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.

Highfield and Brookham is celebrating another bumper crop of scholarships.

Our children have this year been awarded 14 scholarships to a range of top senior schools, including Marlborough College, Charterhouse, Cranleigh and Sherborne.

The award of 137 places since 2014, which this year includes an eclectic mix of academia, art, drama, design technology and sport, continues a remarkable run of success for the school’s enviable scholarship programme and is a key reason parents choose a Highfield and Brookham education for their children.

As well as the scholarship destinations, Highfield and Brookham has once again seen its Year 8 leavers accepted into other leading senior schools across the country, including Bryanston, Canford and Wellington College, as well as Radley College, Eton and Winchester.

Pupils with a wide range of abilities are selected for the scholarship programme each year, with each head of department offering their own network of expert support and guidance to help children reach their potential in their chosen specialist subject.

And the level of care and attention aimed at the thriving scholarship programme at Highfield and Brookham has clearly paid handsome dividends yet again.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “Our amazing record securing scholarships to some of the the very best senior schools in the country is something we’re incredibly proud of and is testament to both the ability of the children we teach and nurture here coupled with dedicated teachers who can help the pupils excel and be the best they can be.

“This year has seen another talented group of children achieve great success and we are already looking forward to working with next year’s scholarship cohort to see just how much they can achieve. For them, the sky really is the limit.”

Scholarship award recipients:

Tallulah Bateman: Academic Scholarship (Marlborough College)

Emilia Dumas: Art Scholarship (Charterhouse) & Drama Scholarship (Charterhouse)

George Elmore: Sports Scholarship (Charterhouse)

Ptolemy Graves: Sports Scholarship (Sherborne School)

Breanna Kayondo: Drama Scholarship (Lancing College)

Suzanna Kovalev: Design Technology Scholarship (Charterhouse)

Ryder Larby: Sports Scholarship (Seaford College)

Monty Leach: Sports Scholarship (Seaford College)

Xanthe Mendes: Art Scholarship (Seaford College)

Sky-Rose Prahl: Drama Scholarship (Bryanston)

Isabel Salusbury: All-Rounder Scholarship (Cranleigh) & Drama Scholarship (Cranleigh)

Emily Sherlock: Sports Scholarship (Marlborough College)

The continuing commitment to the wellbeing of our children has been recognised for a second time this year by a national school award.

Highfield and Brookham Schools have been shortlisted in the ‘Student Wellbeing’ category of the Independent School of the Year Awards. These awards are run by Independent School Parent magazine and finalists will be unveiled in early September.

“The value of nurturing good mental health is a fundamental part of school life at Highfield and Brookham,” said Head, Suzannah Cryer.

“Our excellent pastoral care has been highlighted in our November 2022 Independent Schools Inspectorate report which deemed the school “excellent” in all areas.”

During this past academic year, the schools have created space in the children’s busy days to allow time dedicated to their mental health – in the form of ‘Weekly Wellbeing Workshops’.

Across Nursery, Pre-prep and Prep there is a full programme of activities such as ‘Journaling and Scrapbooking’, ‘Cards and Board Games’ and ‘Lego and Chill’. ‘Be With the Boys’ and ‘Go With the Girls’ are run by our Peer Listeners – a group of trained and compassionate Year 8 children who offer younger children a friendly face or a kindly listening ear.

Highfield and Brookham being shortlisted in the Independent Schools of the Year Awards comes hot on the heels of the school being named a finalist in the ‘Raising Awareness About Pastoral Care’ category of this year’s National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education.

Mrs Cryer said: “We could not be prouder to be acknowledged by two such prestigious awards for our work on pastoral care. Our key objective for pastoral care centres on the emotional and physical welfare of our children and for this to be recognised national is truly amazing.”

The ongoing dedication to the health and wellbeing of children at Highfield and Brookham School has been recognised.

The independent nursery, pre-prep and prep school has been named a finalist in the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education.

Highfield and Brookham is one of four hopefuls in line for the award in the Raising Awareness About Pastoral Care category and the winners will be unveiled at an awards ceremony in Worcester in September.

“Our key objective for pastoral care centres on the emotional and physical welfare of our children,” said Head, Suzannah Cryer.

“In order to raise awareness of pastoral care, we take a whole-school strategic and operational approach to foster an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and promotes tolerance, resilience, fairness and equal opportunities among our children.”

During this past academic year, the school has carved space out of the children’s busy days to allow time dedicated to their pastoral care – in the form of a new ‘Weekly Wellbeing’ initiative.

Across the nursery, pre-prep and prep school there is a full programme of activities such as ‘Journaling and Scrapbooking’ on Tuesdays, ‘Cards and Board Games’ on Thursdays and ‘Lego and Chill’ on Fridays. ‘Be With the Boys’ and ‘Go With the Girls’ are run by our Peer Listeners – a group of trained and compassionate Year 8 children who offer our younger children a friendly face or a kindly listening ear in times of trouble or upset.

Other events in the Weekly Wellbeing calendar include ‘Listening Club’ where children can chat or share worries with a trained Emotional Literacy Support Assistant.

Without doubt the most successful activity in raising awareness is the weekly lunchtime wellbeing walk. All children and staff are invited to head outside into the school’s 175 acre grounds to enjoy the simple pleasure of a stroll and a natter.

The pinnacle of these weekly walks came in February when the pre-prep and prep school children came together to mark the culmination of Children’s Mental Health Week. Children of all ages joined the thought-provoking walk; chatting, laughing and playing along the route as they discovered strategically placed topics for discussion such as ‘what helps you cope when things are difficult?’. The younger children spending quality time in the company of their older peers was a huge benefit and a learning curve for both.

Highfield and Brookham being named a finalist in the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education comes hard on the heels of the school being commended in the Environmental Practice category of this year Education Business Awards. Mrs Cryer said: “We were delighted to have had our environmental work recognised recently, so to now have our work on such a vital element of school life as pastoral care recognised too is the icing the cake and tells us that we are moving in the right direction.”

A mountaineer who scaled the world’s highest peak twice – 18 years apart – has shared his inspirational tales with our inquisitive children.

Jake Meyer left the children in raptures as he entertained them with amazing and humorous tales of determination, discipline, danger and delirium as he first reached the summit of mighty Mount Everest in 2005.

At the age of 21, Mr Meyer became the youngest Briton to scale the majestic Himalayan peak en route to becoming the youngest man to complete the daunting Seven Summits Challenge, which involves scaling the highest mountains in each of the seven continents.

He took the title of youngest Briton to conquer Everest from Bear Grylls.

Mr Meyer told tales of yaks and sherpas, crampons and crevasses and vacuum-packed food and frostbite as he manfully overcame freezing temperatures, exhaustion and vertical climbs to plant his flag proudly atop the 29,000ft mountain.

He then explained to his rapt young audience how, after wondering whether he could repeat such an amazing feat so many years later, he this year made it back to the top of the world at the age of 39.

As well as being absorbed in such a remarkable tale of adventure and daring and overcoming adversity, the children got the chance to get a close look at some of the essential pieces of kit Mr Meyer needed to scale the world’s biggest peaks, including his crampons, snow suit and an oxygen canister.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “We are incredibly lucky to welcome so many inspirational guest speakers who have such diverse and amazing tales to tell. The children were hanging on every word as Mr Meyer shared such an incredible story of endurance and determination in such a fun and engaging way.”

Add to the fundraising total and help change even more lives.


Our treasured Bursaries Fund with a focus on social mobility has been boosted to the tune of £18,000.

The funds raised came from a successful art exhibition which featured work from 29 professional artists and four galleries, as well as eight Old Highfieldians who also showcased their work at the popular three-day event.

The money has gone to the Highfield School Centenary Bursaries Fund, which was set up in 2007 with an aim to support children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend an independent school such as Highfield and Brookham. Typical candidates are children who are experiencing social or educational difficulties or children who have the ability to succeed academically if given the right support.

Artists and galleries exhibited an impressive range of artwork, including watercolour paintings, sculptures and drawings.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield, was in awe of the success of the art exhibition and paid tribute to parent Kaye Burke and her dedicated team of organisers.

She said: “The curation of the exhibition was nothing short of phenomenal, which was underlined by the number of pieces sold and the amazing amount of money raised for the Bursary Fund.

“But none of this would have been possible without the continuing extraordinary efforts of our parent fundraising committee and the generosity of the artists.”

Every exhibiting professional artist agreed to donate 25% of their sales and the Highfield art scholars donated 50% to the Bursary Fund in order to ensure that the school can continue to offer bursaries to children who, for many reasons, may not get the chance to access a private education.

Mrs Cryer also extended her warmest thanks to Knight Frank, Coolhurst Vineyards, Minnow and Wolf and Howden Group Holdings for their sponsorship and support as well as the supportive school community who attended the exhibition and purchased the works of art.

Highfield and Brookham Schools has awarded 20 bursaries since the fund’s inception in 2007.

The bursaries are funded jointly by the Fund and the school, covering all school fees, and also provides additional support for music lessons, sports equipment, school trips and uniform.

“The purpose of the bursary is to make a difference in a child’s life, not just academically but also physically, emotionally and socially. Ours are awarded to children we believe will gain the most from attending, ensuring they reach their full potential,” explained Mrs Cryer. “These are the children we believe will engage with all of the opportunities Highfield and Brookham has to offer – ensuring they build life-long skills and develop long-lasting positive experiences and relationships.


Add to the fundraising total and help change even more lives.

Highfield and Brookham Schools has been named a finalist in the Environmental Practice category of this year’s national Education Business Awards.

We are one of five schools with big plans and strong green credentials to be shortlisted. We are no stranger to environmental initiatives and has long championed a greener and more eco-friendly way of life, we aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Highfield and Brookham has an enviable reputation concerning renewable energy and our carbon neutral woodchip-burning biomass boiler provides 85% of the energy required to heat the school and our indoor swimming pool. The wood itself comes from the school’s vast estate, primarily through chestnut coppicing as chestnut is a naturally self-replenishing variety of tree which requires little or no replanting.

Other ongoing initiatives include a big drive on renewable energy in the form of solar panels on the roofs of on-site cottages and the pool, replacing paper towels in the toilet blocks with low-energy hand driers, creating wildlife habitats, a regular tree-planting programme, recycling, and tending our own vegetable plots.

The Environmental Practice Award recognises the school that goes above and beyond when it comes to minimising its impact on the environment, as well as providing quality environmental education to its pupils.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on Wednesday 14th June.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the work that we do as a school in order to help protect the environment and the planet for future generations, so to have that work recognised is a wonderful feeling and hopefully shows that we are moving in the right direction.”

Marmalade sandwiches were the only thing missing as Hugh Bonneville, star of the Paddington Bear films, paid a visit to Highfield and Brookham on Thursday.

There was no shortage of sunshine, excited children and equally excited grown-ups as Mr Bonneville, who played Mr Brown in the charming film and its equally charming sequel on the big screen, officially opened our nursery extension.

The excited young children were left in awe as the family favourite, who also starred as Lord Grantham in the hit BBC drama Downton Abbey, read an excerpt from Michael Bond’s wonderful Paddington Bear tale.

The bright, new nursery extension was the perfect location for Mr Bonneville’s reading as the enthralled children hung on his every word, crowding around the reader to find out what happened next in the wholesome story.

Highfield and Brookham’s thriving nursery, which takes children from the age of two, was extended due to continuing strong demand in light of their excellent reputation.

The new open-plan extension has enabled three-form entry throughout the pre-prep. It measures around 100 square metres internally and has big windows which let in lots of natural light. The wonderful new setting is neutral and calming, with the children bringing the vibrancy and colour to their environment. It also has a retractable wall to allow a space to be closed off for the youngest children to sleep.

The extra space also allows for the dedicated nursery staff to continue to provide a brilliant breadth of learning and opportunity, which currently includes art, ballet, swimming, Spanish, cookery and woodwork. Outside, the children tend their very own vegetable patch and make regular trips to the woods for much-loved Forest School sessions.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “These are exciting times for the school and the nursery is an amazing place to work and learn. It’s bright, lively, inspiring and full of imagination, so who better to officially open the exciting new space than Mr Brown himself?

“We’re tremendously grateful for Mr Bonneville taking the time out of his busy schedule to read so beautifully to the children, a treasured memory for children and adults alike.” Highfield and Brookham Nursery was named among the top 20 nurseries in the South East two years on the trot by Daynurseries.co.uk, as well as being rated “excellent in all areas” in its recent ISI inspection report.

Our prized all-weather facility has passed its latest inspection with flying colours.

The artificial pitch was given a clean bill of health by inspectors as part of the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) stringent Hockey Turf and Fields Standards programme.

After rigorous testing, the independent school’s impressive pitch and surrounds were found to meet the FIH’s quality standards, resulting in its compliance certificate being renewed for a further two years. The pitch will be tested again in 2025.

The pitch’s performance level, wear and tear and player welfare properties were monitored during the inspection while the supporting pitch-side infrastructure was assessed to confirm that it was fit for purpose.

The bounce of the ball, ball roll and shock absorption were all considered for the school’s category three pitch which, according to FIH regulations, can stage national and local competitions as well as training sessions.

The inspectors also took into account line markings, perimeter fencing, and the condition of associated equipment such as the goals.

The facility, which includes a full-size hockey pitch or two half-size pitches, dugouts, floodlighting and a practice area, is arguably the jewel in the sporting crown of our boarding school on the borders of Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey.

Contractors broke ground in August 2019 and the pitch was ready for use the following April but plans for its immediate use were put on hold because of the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

The development was officially opened in October 2021 by Crista Cullen, part of the victorious Team GB side which won gold at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

As well as being a strong addition to the school’s sporting provision the facility is open to the local community, with Haslemere Hockey Club, Liphook United Football Club and Hampshire Hockey Player Pathway among regular users. It is also the base for the school’s Saturday Sports Skills activity which is open to both Highfield and Brookham Schools pupils and local children.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “One way or another our wonderful hockey pitch was quite a long time in the making, but it really has proved to be worth the wait. It looks fantastic and gets many admiring comments from visiting teams and parents. But best of all, given that it’s in near-constant use by our pre-prep and prep school children for matches, coaching and PE lessons, as well as the wider community, we have the peace of mind knowing that it’s 100% safe and in superb condition for our children to use.”

Pertinent wartime history has been brought to life for a group of pupils from an independent school in Liphook.

The eight academic scholars from Highfield and Brookham Schools got the chance to follow in the footsteps of former headmaster Peter Mills, who escaped from a German prisoner of war camp in northern Italy in 1943.

Mr Mills, Highfield Headmaster from 1953 until his retirement in 1979 and former owner of the school now owned by his son, Bill, was imprisoned at Fontanellato, near Parma, during the Second World War. Locals, guards and a kindly commandant helped him escape along a route through the Apennines known as the ‘Freedom Trail’ after an armistice between the Allies and Italy which Germany refused to recognise.

Now, in peacetime, sections of the Freedom Trail are walked only by people keen to gain an understanding of a significant piece of history.

As a result, an exchange programme between Highfield and Brookham Schools and the Istituto Comprensivo di Fontanellato e Fontevivo has been running successfully since 2018, with two Italian pupils spending a term at the nursery, pre-prep and prep school in Liphook each year.

While in Italy, the scholars took in the wonderful sights and sounds of the Parma region, including time spent in and out of the classroom with their hosts, a tour of the 12th Century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and a trip to a cheese factory where the world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano is produced.

The children then ventured 90 minutes north-west of Fontanellato to the vibrant city of Milan, home to the impressive Duomo Cathedral, the ornate Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the inspirational Leonardo da Vinci Museum, named in honour of the legendary artist and inventor.

And their visit happened to coincide with the day of the Champions League semi-final between football powerhouses AC Milan and Inter Milan at the San Siro creating, according to Head of Art Olga Houghton, “an electric atmosphere” around the city.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield, said: “We’ve forged a wonderful relationship with our friends in Fontanellato and it’s a great opportunity for our scholars to broaden their horizons further and immerse themselves fully in such a culturally fulfilling and rewarding trip. “The story of former owner Peter Mills’ wartime escape is both fascinating and incredibly inspiring, so for our children to get the chance to bring that history to life is very special and we look forward to many more scholars following in their footsteps.”

Food-hygiene standards at an independent school in Liphook have earned the highest possible praise.

Highfield and Brookham Schools has again been awarded the maximum five stars from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the wake of its latest unannounced inspection.

Run in conjunction with the environmental health department at Chichester District Council, the school’s local authority, the FSA ratings are a snapshot of the standards of food hygiene found at the time of inspection.

Visiting roughly every 18 months, inspectors leave no stone unturned as they scrutinise handling of food, how food is stored, how food is prepared, cleanliness of facilities and how food safety is managed.

The result was another clean bill of health for Highfield and Brookham Schools with no recommendations or advisory notes, just a big helping of pride and satisfaction for catering manager Marco di Michele and his dedicated team.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said she was “immensely proud” that the school had once again maintained its strong reputation for having the most stringent standards when it came to food hygiene.

And she added: “Food is a very important element of life at Highfield and Brookham, from breakfast, lunch and dinner to our enviable sports day match teas, so to receive another glowing, five-star endorsement from the Food Standards Agency really is a tremendous honour.

“Marco and his fabulous catering team work incredibly hard to ensure that we work to and maintain the very highest standards in our kitchens, so they deserve all the credit in the world for this tremendous achievement.”

Highfield and Brookham has a team of highly-skilled chefs who produce a varied choice of delicious, nutritious and well-balanced meals, cooked on the premises using only the freshest ingredients. Seasonal produce is a regular staple of the menu while the catering team also prepare ‘themed’ menus and overseas dishes. They also cater for a wide range of special dietary requirements.

The coffers of a wildlife conservation project in Africa have been boosted to the tune of four figures by the efforts of a kind-hearted pupil of an independent school in Liphook.

Arran MacDonald, in his final year at Highfield and Brookham Schools, put his best foot forward to complete the tough Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to help rhinos in Kenya which are threatened with extinction.

Supported by mum Zoe and friends and family – as part of Team Big Mac – Arran bravely scaled the Pennine peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough during the Easter holidays to raise a vital £1,048 to help safeguard Ol Pejeta’s threatened wildlife.

Climbers were put on the clock for the northern challenge and had 12 hours to complete the triple ascent, with Arran making it back to the foot of the third and final peak with 30 minutes to spare.

As the largest black rhino sanctuary in East and Central Africa, and home to the world’s sole surviving pair of northern white rhinos, Ol Peteja is one of the most important wildlife conservancies on the planet.

The money raised from Arran’s climb will not only help fight off the increasing attentions of poachers but also help ease the financial strain facing conservationists in wake of the Covid pandemic.

Pupils and staff at the co-educational pre-prep and prep school, which occupies 175 acres on the rural borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex, are no strangers to fundraising, with Highreach Holidays for disabled children, Liphook Food Bank and the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford among a host of beneficiaries of recent fundraising initiatives.

Of the latest, Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “Naturally I’m biased, but we really do have some incredibly caring and courageous people within our school community, both children and adults alike.

“We’ve witnessed many amazing achievements and seen a lot of money raised for many wonderful causes in many different ways over the years and Arran’s successful scaling of the three Yorkshire peaks for wildlife conservation in Africa is right up there. “Thanks to the kindness, determination and decency of people like Arran, I’m confident that the future of our world is in very safe hands.”

A thriving independent school in Liphook has struck gold with its continued commitment to the stage.

Highfield and Brookham Schools has performed plays penned by the Bard at public theatres for seven consecutive years as part of a scheme run by the Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation.

As a result, the progressive prep, pre-prep and nursery has secured much-vaunted ‘Shakespeare Gold School’ status.

And having successfully staged The Tempest at G Live in Guildford in March, the school’s busy thespians, led expertly by Sarah Baird, the school’s talented Head of Drama, show no signs of stopping there.

For the past seven years, children in Year 7 have successfully performed classic Shakespeare plays such as Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V and Romeo and Juliet to appreciative audiences in Guildford and Basingstoke.

And such is their dedication to Coram’s Shakespearean cause that in 2021, with the Covid pandemic having closed theatres, the determined actors appropriately took to the woods on the Highfield and Brookham estate to stage a thrilling adaptation of Macbeth.

Current Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer, who set the ball rolling with the Coram Foundation in 2016 while then Head of Drama at the rural boarding school before passing on the baton to Mrs Baird, said she was “immensely proud” of the school’s golden achievement.

“Having been immersed in drama for many years, I know only too well just how challenging it is to put on a stage play, so it really is testament to the outstanding skills and dedication of Mrs Baird and the enthusiasm, talent and devotion of the children who perform that the school has secured this wonderful accolade. 

“School life is always busy, so to turn around a play of the magnitude of anything written by Shakespeare in just a few short weeks, with so much to consider on and off the stage, is nothing short of phenomenal and I take my hat off to Mrs Baird and her Year 7 charges.”

The Shakespeare success perhaps comes as no great surprise as Highfield and Brookham prides itself on each year group – from Nursery right up to Year 8 – putting on at least one performance each school year.

Caring children at an independent school in Liphook have once again proved their green credentials.

Aiming to pave the way for a brighter, more environmentally friendly future and leading by example, pupils from Highfield and Brookham Schools sowed flower seeds in honour of Earth Day.

Pre-prep and prep school pupils joined forces to plant sunflowers in the Nursery garden and scatter wildflower seeds on the golf course to give a helping hand to our prized pollinators – bees and butterflies.

Earth Day, a day of awareness which has gathered pace since its inception in 1970 in a bid to protect the planet and its natural resources for future generations, is officially on Saturday, but Highfield and Brookham’s young eco warriors decided there was no time like the present to get the ball rolling on this year’s environmental activities.

Nursery children worked side by side with the Year 8 children, the oldest cohort at the school, to plant sunflowers while the remaining year groups worked together to sow meadow wildflower seeds on a dedicated strip of land on the impressive 175-acre site.

The children will now keep careful watch and should see the benefits of their labour of love in the next few months.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield, said she was delighted with just how invested the children of all ages are in the environmental activities of the school.

“It’s so encouraging to see the children throw themselves into all of our green initiatives with such passion, pride and enthusiasm,” she said.

“There is a monumental amount of work ahead on a global scale to combat climate change and protect our wonderful planet for many generations to come, but our children are incredibly driven to do their bit and to make a difference.

“With these young eco-warriors at the helm, the future really does look bright, and we are all incredibly proud of each and every one of them.”

The school has made a strong commitment to the environment and aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, 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 80% 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.

The long wait for anxious parents facing the first significant milestone of their child’s education is finally over.

Today is the day parents of three and four-year-olds found out which primary school had offered their child a Reception place, starting in September. Parents who have children in infant schools that end at Year 2 will also have been eagerly waiting to hear about their junior school of choice and a place for their child starting Year 3.

And while the vast majority of families will have got their preferred primary school place – the figure was 92% in 2022, according to Government statistics – some won’t.

So, faced with that undoubtedly disappointing scenario, what should you do?

According to Sophie Baber, Head of Pre-prep at Highfield and Brookham Schools in Liphook, there are four options available to parents: accept the alternative offer of a school that has enough space, put their child on the waiting list of their preferred schools, appeal the decision, or consider an independent school.

“Once you have processed the offer and collected your thoughts, it’s time to accept the school place you have been offered,” said Mrs Baber, who has been in her role at the highly-respected independent school on the border of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex for seven years.

“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.”

Mrs Baber stressed that such a move would not affect any right of appeal to the local authority’s initial decision.

“Once you have accepted the place on offer, I would advise phoning your preferred school and asking for your child to be added to their waiting list,” continued Mrs Baber, who said that places come up all the time and added that it was not uncommon to be offered a place on the first day of the new term.

In terms of appealing, Mrs Baber said to be successful parents must 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, but it’s also worth remembering that each local authority will have a slightly different admissions process so it’s imperative you check the details on their website.”

However, the respected pre-prep head, who has just welcomed a bright, new extension to the already strong nursery provision at Highfield and Brookham, cautioned that appealing was “extremely stressful” and that the chances of success were “limited”.

Private education could prove to be a very useful option for some families in order to help parents avoid such an emotional minefield. 

“There are some truly outstanding independent schools around,” said Mrs Baber.

“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 impossible, it’s worth picking up the phone and asking about the funded bursaries on offer.”

To discuss Reception and Year 3 places at Highfield and Brookham Schools, email Charlotte Cottrell at admissions@highfieldandbrookham.co.uk or call 01428 722005.

An environmentally friendly independent school in Liphook has moved to safeguard the health of the trees on its estate.

Work has been undertaken on the 175-acre site of Highfield and Brookham Schools over the winter months to ensure that its vast woodland thrives – as well as continuing to be a natural haven for generations of inquisitive schoolchildren to learn and explore for many years to come.

The aim of the work is to ensure the school’s green environment stays as healthy as possible, with a particular nod to maintaining and helping native tree species to flourish.

As a result, a good deal of coppicing, thinning and removal has taken place, not least at the school’s treasured outdoor learning site – otherwise known as Forest School – which children of all year groups use to learn key bushcraft techniques such as fire lighting, den building and cooking over a camp fire while the pre-prep and nursery children get an early look at the curious sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors.

The work undertaken at the Forest School site will enable the canopy and the health of the remaining trees to improve by allowing more air and light to circulate, according to Guy Baber, Estates Manager at Highfield and Brookham Schools, something that will also have a beneficial effect on animals and flora and fauna on the forest floor.

After government approval, a number of spruce trees have also been removed as part of the environmental works programme in order to help combat the spread of a disease known as rhizophaera, which causes spruce needles to become discoloured and die off.

And swathes of holly have also been removed to encourage the regeneration of native trees.

To offset the culling and thinning, the school has undergone a large-scale replanting project, primarily involving native trees. Maples, chestnut, beech and birch trees are a big part of the replanting process.

The school, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, already has impressive green credentials, most recently securing a silver Green South Downs sustainability certificate from Green Tourism following a successful pilot project run in conjunction with the South Downs National Park Authority. Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield, said: “One thing that sets up apart from so many other schools is that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by the most wonderful and healthy natural environment, and through the hard work and diligence of our dedicated estates team, we aim to keep it that way.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools has taken another big step toward its green dream of being carbon neutral by 2030.

The school has secured a silver Green South Downs sustainability certificate from Green Tourism following a successful pilot project run in conjunction with the South Downs National Park Authority.

Highfield and Brookham was one of 20 groups and businesses within the South Downs National Park which volunteered to prove their green credentials in the pilot scheme, which ran from October to March.

Working within designated ‘people, places and planet’ categories – with a view to green measures improving the outcomes for all three – Highfield and Brookham had to set out its current environmental provision and practices, covering topics such as communication, awareness, health and wellbeing, food and drink, energy, and climate action. 

The initiatives were then assessed by environmental experts at Green Tourism, an independent body based in Scotland, who deemed the school had met 74% of its stringent criteria, enough to earn a silver award.

The aim of the pilot scheme was for the volunteer enterprises to get together and share green ideas in order to help shape a bespoke sustainability certification programme for the South Downs National Park. Having secured a silver award, the school will continue its environmental push in a bid to secure a gold certificate.

Highfield and Brookham is no stranger to environmental initiatives and has long championed a greener and more eco-friendly way of life.

The Hampshire Prep, Pre-prep and nursery school has an enviable reputation concerning renewable energy and its carbon neutral woodchip-burning biomass boiler provides 85% of the energy required to heat the school and its indoor swimming pool. The wood itself comes from the school’s vast estate, primarily through chestnut coppicing as chestnut is a naturally self-replenishing variety of tree which requires little or no replanting.

Other ongoing initiatives include a big drive on renewable energy in the form of solar panels on the roofs of on-site cottages and the pool, replacing paper towels in the toilet blocks with low-energy hand driers, creating wildlife habitats, a regular tree-planting programme, recycling, and tending our own vegetable plots.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield, said: “We all understand the importance of a much greener way of life in order to help save the planet and we are very proud of the many environmental initiatives that we have in place at the school, so it’s really heartening to see our efforts acknowledged by Green Tourism.

“But what it’s also done is highlight that we still have a long way to go. Rest assured, though, we will continue to work hard toward our aim of becoming a carbon-neutral school by 2030 in order to help make our planet a greener and cleaner place for many generations to come.”

The scientists, engineers and mathematicians of tomorrow are alive and well at Highfield and Brookham Schools.

Curious children with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn turned their creative hands and minds to all things scientific to mark British Science Week.

Boys and girls from across the school immersed themselves in a wealth of activities covering the key scientific disciplines of chemistry, physics and biology, including dissection, vertical and horizontal bridge building, and producing working junkbots from waste materials.

The bright sparks in Reception created electrical circuits in an ultimately successful bid to produce that lightbulb moment, while the eager children in Year 3 and Year 4 had their finger on the pulse as they turned their hand to probing fascinating fingerprints.

The Year 2 children used paper, sticky tape and ingenuity to build bridges that they hoped would be sturdy enough to carry their moon buggy creations, adding extra weight to the strongest structures, while Year 8 experimented with chemical reactions in the lab.

And a successful and eye-opening week was rounded off as two year groups took an inspirational trip to the Science Museum in London.

Science plays a major part in the school curriculum and our oldest cohort will continue their scientific studies after the Easter holiday with a Crime Scene Investigation project to determine who killed ‘Stan the Skeleton’, a full-on forensic probe complete with crime-scene tape, fingerprint, boot print and fibre analysis, and a litmus test on potentially vital clues to help shed light on the identity of the likely murder suspect.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield, said: “The school’s science provision is incredibly strong, which is down not only to our highly-skilled and dedicated teachers but also to the wide range of fascinating, informative and fun projects that our inquisitive children are exposed to and can immerse themselves in. “And at a time when there is a real push to get more girls involved in STEM subjects, it’s so heartening to see our girls and boys standing shoulder to shoulder in the wonderful pursuit of scientific discovery.”

Young thespians from an independent school in Liphook have had another starring role on the stage.

The occasion was a stunning performance of The Tempest by pupils at Highfield and Brookham Schools at G Live in Guildford as part of the Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation.

Twelve months on from performing a modern adaptation of the classic tragedy Romeo & Juliet at the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke, the current Year 7 children proved once again that they have a real penchant for the Bard’s work by putting on another polished performance in the impressive 2,000-seater auditorium.

And it was all put together in just five weeks under the expert guidance of Sarah Baird, Head of Drama at Highfield and Brookham Schools.

The dedicated children used every spare minute they could find, including break times and lunchtimes, to learn lines and rehearse to bring the likes of Prospero, Miranda, Caliban, Ariel and Ferdinand to life in stunning style on the G Live stage.

And there was plenty of technical nous and expertise required by pupils backstage to portray the early storm which gives the play its name and create the island on which the majority of the dramatic play is set.

Furthermore, the talented children performed in front of proud Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer, who described watching the play unfold as a “pleasure”.

She said: “To watch the children perform on a big stage like G Live with such ease and joy really was such an incredible pleasure. The work that went in to produce such an extraordinary performance of The Tempest is truly remarkable and I take my hat off to each and every child involved with such a magnificent production. I really couldn’t be more proud.” Highfield and Brookham has a strong reputation of dramatic excellence and the school prides itself on each of its 10 year groups performing at least once during the school year, culminating in the Year 8 leavers taking to the stage in July. Last summer, Year 8 bowed out with a spectacular performance of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Our literature-loving children have proved they have real character – quite literally!

Highfield and Brookham Schools were a positive riot of colourful, fancy, daring and downright clever costumes on Thursday as the pupils dressed up as their favourite literary characters to mark World Book Day.

From the youngest cohort in Nursery right through to the oldest children in Year 8, the school was awash with fairytale princesses, cartoon heroes, the stars of bestselling books old and new, and a wealth of other children’s favourites.

On a day intended to celebrate books and reading in our hi-tech, modern world, Highfield and Brookham welcomed everyone from Dennis the Menace, Willy Wonka, Where’s Wally? and The Mister Men to Harry Potter, Peter Pan, the Mandalorian and Gangsta Granny.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Cat in the Hat, Robin Hood and the Three Little Pigs also joined in the fun.

Highfield and Brookham has had a long and successful association with World Book Day, which was first celebrated in the UK in 1997, with literature and reading a key staple of the school curriculum.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer, dressed charmingly as Paddington Bear, was delighted with the effort that all the pre-prep and prep school pupils had made to celebrate one of the most popular dates in the school calendar.

“All of the children looked absolutely amazing,” she said.

“The wonderful variety of costumes on display throughout the school was eclipsed only by the big, beaming smiles on the children’s faces as they put their heart and soul into celebrating what is one of our favourite days of the year.” And Mrs Cryer added: “Our children love books and our children love to read, which is why the library is one of the most popular rooms in the school. So how wonderful it is that our happy children get the chance to express their love of literature and school life in such a fun and creative way.”

The incredible run of Highfield and Brookham Schools’ all-conquering swimming team has continued.

A comfortable victory in their own pool this week over rivals Westbourne House means that the Highfield and Brookham swimmers haven’t tasted defeat in inter-school galas since the 2018-19 academic year – an extraordinary run spanning almost four years.

During that time, the school has repeatedly made a significant splash and lowered the colours of rival prep schools across Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

And such is the strength in depth of head swim coach Sharon Simpson’s 58-strong squad of boys and girls from Year 4 to Year 8 that Highfield has never failed to qualify for the national finals of the prestigious Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) competition since its inception in 2015.

Having beaten Westbourne on Monday, Highfield and Brookham’s attention now turns to the qualifying rounds of this year’s IAPS competition at Clayesmore School, Dorset, in March. Qualification at Blandford Forum would mean a summer finals date at the London Aquatics Centre, a venue made famous by the 2012 Olympic Games.

Highfield and Brookham’s continued success in the pool has been attributed to consistency of teaching, with Mrs Simpson always leading the swim squad; the fact that children take swimming lessons as soon as they enter the Nursery from the age of two; and the sheer desire and enthusiasm of the children to swim.

Children at Highfield and Brookham are also taught all four major strokes – front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly – from a young age, meaning they have the scope to be proficient in all disciplines by the time they reach the age and level of competition swimming.

After watching the latest victory over Westbourne House on poolside, Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “Having witnessed some fabulous swimming from some very talented young people and having soaked up the amazing atmosphere of a fiercely-fought gala, my hat truly goes off to what our courageous children continue to achieve.

“Swimming is taken incredibly seriously by a lot of prep schools, including Highfield and Brookham, and I’m filled with a huge sense of pride, not only because our swimmers extended their extraordinary winning run but because of the levels of sheer passion, dedication, commitment and energy they possessed to succeed as a team. “And that level of support, from the youngest to the oldest, that level of togetherness, really sums up what is so special about the Highfield and Brookham community.”

Highfield and Brookham have been deemed ‘excellent’ in all areas.

The perfect praise follows a thorough review by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, with the school passing regulatory compliance and educational quality inspections with flying colours.

The inspectors drilled deep into the workings of the pre-prep and prep schools, including early years provision; observing lessons, talking to pupils and teachers, examining examples of children’s work, and sampling the school’s extra-curricular offerings. The inspection team also surveyed parents, staff and pupils via pre-inspection questionnaires.

The compliance element of the inspection focused on adhering to the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, the National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools 2022, and the relevant requirements of the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage in areas such as quality of education, pupil welfare, suitability of staff, quality of leadership, and the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. The judgment for these standards is either “met” or “not met” and Highfield and Brookham met the standards in all areas.

For the educational quality inspection, schools are graded ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sound’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ for the quality of pupils’ academic and other achievement and the quality of the pupils’ personal development, with Highfield and Brookham again impressing the inspectors.

They found that pre-prep children “demonstrate positive attitudes” toward their learning, are “confident learners who are willing to take risks”, are “enormously considerate, caring, courteous and respectful” and “display outstanding compassion and understanding of the needs of others”.

The inspectors added that the overall achievement of the pupils was excellent and “represents successful fulfilment of the school’s aims to provide an all-round education, nurturing a love of learning and equipping them well for whatever life throws at them”.

At the prep school, the inspectors highlighted that pupils have “excellent communication and collaborative skills”, “achieve success in a wide range of academic, sporting and cultural activities”, are “keen and confident decision makers” and exhibit an “extremely strong sense of inclusivity and acceptance of diversity”.

Both schools were praised for their support and encouragement of children with special educational needs and disabilities and those with English as an additional language.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “We are all incredibly proud of this glowing report from the inspectors. Our pupils and staff work hard each and every day to make our school such an incredible place to live, learn and work and the findings of the inspectors really are testament to that.” And Sophie Baber, Head of Pre-Prep, added: “It’s a wonderful report but the hard work doesn’t stop here. We are always challenging ourselves to find ways in which we can improve to make the educational journey for our children as rich and rewarding as possible and we will continue to do exactly that.”

Bucking the usual educational trend, our children at Highfield and Brookham Schools have been urged to break the rules!

But far from it being a case of wanton anarchy, it was all in a good cause as the pre-prep and prep pupils raised cash for two charities close to their heart.

And wearing home clothes, temporary tattoos, wigs and sparkly face paint in exchange for a small cash donation has so far resulted in £1,100 being raised for Liphook Food Bank and Highfield Highreach Holidays.

Highfield and Brookham has long fostered strong community links and the need for the food bank, which is based at Liphook Junior School on Avenue Close, is greater than ever with the current cost-of-living crisis, while Highreach Holidays provides a week-long break each summer for children with mental and physical disabilities.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “We are incredibly proud of the associations we have with the local community and any time that we can give something back and lend a helping hand is treasured by all of us. “It was a fun and colourful day for two great causes and the children certainly didn’t need asking twice to break the rules!”

Our talented choristers and musicians have brought some festive cheer to village residents.

The Chapel Choir were joined by the Flute Ensemble for a captivating Christmas concert at Liphook Day Centre.

And after singing a wonderful medley of festive favourites – including Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, Carol of the Bells and O Little Town of Bethlehem – the young choristers and flautists helped hand out gifts to day centre guests as Santa himself made a surprise appearance.

The school and the day centre – which is also known as The Peak Centre – have traditionally strong links, with prep school children regularly undertaking community activities at the Midhurst Road venue while the visit of the annual festive carollers is always popular.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “We love being part of the thriving Liphook community and we are especially proud of the strong links that we have with amazing places such as Liphook Day Centre.

“The annual Christmas concert is always a special occasion and is loved by residents and children alike, and this year was absolutely no exception. I’m delighted that our singers and our flautists have again spread some Christmas cheer.”

Liphook Day Centre is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.30am-3.15pm, offering elderly residents a place to socialise and a freshly-cooked meal.

Highfield and Brookham Schools has again been named the top prep school in Hampshire for cricket.

The latest glowing endorsement comes from The Cricketer Schools Guide 2023, which has named us among its Top 50 Prep Schools in the UK for the fourth consecutive year.

It follows an exhaustive process which saw a “huge” number of schools – both state-funded and private – submit entries for inclusion in the prestigious guide. All entries were judged against an extensive set of criteria, including a compelling commitment to cricket in the curriculum, facilities, fixture programmes and coaching.

Highfield and Brookham has a strong cricketing tradition and regularly fulfils as many as 230 fixtures in the summer term against rival prep schools from neighbouring Surrey and West Sussex, as well as further afield encompassing the Home Counties.

The school currently fields 38 teams, with the girls’ first XI proudly electing to wear full whites for the first time this year, while the provision of indoor nets has increased from two to three to complement the addition of three new outdoor artificial playing strips.

And the school is set to resume its tour schedule post-Covid with a trip to Barbados next April, the first one since 2019.

Huw Turbervill, editor of The Cricketer magazine, said: “I’ve read some inspirational stories working on this year’s guide, so congratulations to all of the schools included. We look forward to hearing about all of your future successes.”

As well as representing Highfield and Brookham in external fixtures, many young school cricketers also play for local club sides, including Liphook & Ripsley, Haslemere, Fernhurst and Grayshott, while making full use of the indoor and outdoor nets at Highfield.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “Cricket is an important part of the sporting curriculum here at Highfield and Brookham and we are very proud to have been named one of the top prep schools in the country, recognising our fantastic facilities and the dedication of our coaching staff.

“It always fills me with a great sense of pride when I see our boys and girls thoroughly enjoying their sport, and the sound of leather on willow, the ripples of applause from the watching mums and dads and the cries of joy at the taking of a wicket or a smart catch are an integral part of the sporting scene at Highfield and Brookham in the spring and summer. “So to be named as the top prep school in Hampshire for cricket is an incredibly special honour indeed.”

Highfield and Brookham’s annual bonfire and fireworks night spectacular has swelled the coffers of a charity dedicated to helping disabled children.

Despite wet and windy weather, Saturday’s spectacle went off with a bang as a riot of colour lit up the night sky above Liphook.

And the impressive bonfire, made up of wood and greenery from around the Highfield and Brookham estate, warmed more than just the Guy Fawkes revellers as the school’s much-loved charity, Highreach Holidays, was boosted to the tune of £2,400 from the night’s proceeds.

Highreach, which has been running since 2018, provides week-long residential summer holidays for children with physical and mental disabilities and the cash was raised through food and drink sales and cash donations.

Taking pride of place atop the bonfire were traditional guys produced by pupils from Highfield’s three houses – Agincourt, Trafalgar and Waterloo – as part of the annual house competition, with Trafalgar taking the honours this year.

Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer said: “The weather couldn’t have been much worse but the wind and rain certainly failed to dampen anyone’s spirits. The bonfire was a tremendous spectacle, the fireworks were colourful and dramatic and prompted many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the watching children and parents, and the warming food and drinks in the theatre were a real treat.

“But best of all was that a fabulous amount of money was raised for a charity that is incredibly dear to all our hearts at Highfield and Brookham and is really going from strength to strength.” Highreach was deemed ‘outstanding’ this summer by Ofsted; the clean bill of health coming as a huge shot in the arm for the charity which offers a safe, fun and interactive week-long holiday for disabled children aged eight to 16 and an invaluable break for their carers.

A scheme which provides holidays for children with physical and learning disabilities has been described as “outstanding” by Ofsted.

Highfield Highreach Holidays, which is now in its fifth year, received the glowing endorsement after a visit by inspectors in August.

Run by holiday specialist Green Frog and hosted by Highfield and Brookham Schools in Liphook, Highreach scored top marks in every category, as the inspectors considered the overall experience and progress of children and young people on the residential break, how well they were helped and protected, and the effectiveness of the scheme leaders and managers.

The clean bill of health comes as a huge shot in the arm for Highreach, which offers a safe, fun and interactive week-long holiday for disabled children aged eight to 16 and an invaluable break for their carers.

First hosted by the independent school in 2018, Highreach has been a firm favourite for many children since that time, as well as the caring bank of volunteers, including old Highfieldians, who invariably come back to help year after year.

The inspectors found that the staff “plan meticulously for each child’s admission” and that they are “welcomed by a dedicated helper with whom they quickly build a positive relationship”.

They are also well versed in safeguarding and ensure that the children feel safe and secure throughout their holiday, according to the report.

The inspectors were also left hugely impressed by the “exceptional” range of on-site and off-site activities as well as the “excellent” indoor and outdoor facilities available to the children, such as swimming pool, theatre, sensory room, library and sports hall.

Varied trips away from Highfield included a theme park, the beach, a climbing wall, a petting farm and a horse-riding centre for disabled children which, according to the Ofsted report, “broadened the children’s experiences and increased their confidence”.

And that welcome increase of confidence was particularly pertinent for one proud parent who said: “Each time he goes, he comes back a bit more independent.”

The report found that parents refer to the summer holiday as being “the highlight of the year” for their child. One parent said that their child “counts down the sleeps to go and gets so excited” while another said that their child “simply cheers and shouts ‘yeah’ every time the holiday scheme is mentioned”.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield School, said: “We are immensely proud of Highreach Holidays and we know that both the children and the volunteers absolutely love it. It really is such a special and rewarding week for everyone concerned and to get such a glowing report from Ofsted makes it extra special. And Mrs Cryer added: “We are already looking forward to hosting these wonderful children again next summer!”

A Liphook charity has had its coffers swelled to the tune of £5,000 thanks to the efforts of generous pre-prep children at Highfield and Brookham Schools.

A disco, fun run, break the rules day and sponsored walk were just some of the fun initiatives that the caring pupils dreamed up to raise vital cash for Liphook Food Bank.

The school has strong links with the local community and the pre-prep children choose a different charity to support each academic year. Just before the half-term holiday, Glynis Blake, the food bank’s chairman of trustees, popped in to receive the cheque from delighted young pupils of the Liphook-based independent school.

And the cash injection couldn’t be more timely with many people facing a great deal of uncertainty as winter draws near, sparked in no uncertain terms by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Sophie Baber, head of pre-prep at Highfield and Brookham Schools, said: “We always teach our children to be the best they can be and that includes being caring, having humility and thinking of ways to help people who are perhaps less fortunate than they are.

“I am so proud of the way that your young children have rallied round, got involved and done everything they can to raise such a wonderful amount of money for a great cause that will help and benefit many people in our community.”

Liphook Food Bank provides weekly food parcels and signposting advice to a broader range of agencies and services to support those families and individuals who are struggling financially. It is located at Liphook Junior School, on Avenue Close, and is open from 9.30am-11.30am every Tuesday and Friday. To contact the food bank, call 07871 287295 or email liphookfoodbank@gmail.com.

Kind-hearted pupils from Highfield and Brookham have secured a bumper harvest – and all for a good cause.

The children brought in a veritable feast of canned goods, packets, bottles, jars and fresh produce for the annual Harvest Festival service in the school chapel.

And those goodies have now been safely received by bosses at Liphook Day Centre after Highfield Head Suzannah Cryer and her husband, Bob, made the happy delivery to the Midhurst Road centre on Tuesday.

Furthermore, the day centre – which is also known as the Peak Centre – had its coffers swelled to the tune of £328.10, collected at the school’s seasonal service.

Highfield Head Mrs Cryer said: “The school has a wonderful longstanding association with Liphook Day Centre, such as our choir performing for residents on the run up to Christmas each year, and we are delighted to continue that special friendship.

“The centre relies entirely on donations in order to help support, provide companionship and feed so many in this area who may otherwise miss out on hot meals and company. It provides a pertinent reminder of our duty as schools to encourage our children to look out for and consider how they might best help others less fortunate.”

And Mrs Cryer added: “We hope that visitors to the centre enjoy the proceeds of the harvest as much as our pupils enjoyed gathering the goodies and donating them.”  Liphook Day Centre is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.30am-3.15pm, collects and returns residents home, and offers myriad activities such as quizzes, bingo, art and crafts, flower arranging. Anyone interested in attending the day centre should call 01428 724941.

Our artistic pupils have once again secured top billing – thanks to another record-breaking set of LAMDA exam results.

The proud young performers at Highfield and Brookham Schools picked up an extraordinary 81 Distinctions and 30 Merits in the prestigious annual exams run by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).

The 111 honours earned this year follows 71 distinctions and merits a year ago – also up on the previous year – to underscore the consistent quality of drama teaching at the Liphook school, with three more Year 8 pupils earning drama scholarships at senior schools in September.

The outstanding achievement continues a rich vein of theatrical form which has seen Highfield and Brookham Schools become ever more renowned for their dramatic provision, in addition to their already lofty reputation for top academic, artistic and sporting prowess.

Highfield School Head Suzannah Cryer, who rejoined the school in the summer having previously been Head of Drama at the rural prep school, said: “I’ve always been impressed by the dramatic provision at Highfield and the wonderful and dedicated staff who teach it, but I am absolutely in awe of what these children have achieved. These results are simply fantastic and all of the children should be incredibly proud of their achievements.”

Guided by experienced teachers Sarah Baird, Susannah Wilson, Sarah Dungworth and Sammy Swanborough, the pupils made light work of any threat of stage fright to hit the heights in style, with the quartet of Eliza Welby-Everard, Theo Kauntze, Albie Black and Gabriel Church taking starring roles with 96 out of a possible 100 marks.

Highfield and Brookham children are no strangers to the stage as the school has a proud record of putting on performances for every year group throughout the year, from Nursery right up to Year 8, which gives even the youngest children a real taste of drama.

And that early exposure is paying dividends in the form of impressive LAMDA results.

Mrs Cryer added: “I am so proud of every single child, but I must also thank every LAMDA teacher for the fantastic job they do – building confidence, self-esteem and enhancing communication skills are at the forefront of any child’s personal development.” One of the big dramatic highlights of the last academic year was the stunning adaptation of hit musical Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which brought down the curtain on the Year 8s’ time at Highfield.

Retired Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt has described his time at the helm as “being like a child given the keys to the sweet shop”.

Mr Evitt left Highfield at the end of July after 23 “wonderful” years in the role – and the affable headmaster with a penchant for history said that his love of all things Highfield and Brookham was as strong on the day he left as it was when he made the move from Dulwich School in 1999.

“This is a community that cares, that supports, that cherishes and nurtures and, for me, as long as I have been in education I have always felt strongly that schools should be places of joy, wonder, enchantment, delight, challenge and risk taking,” he said.

“Just to have that endless enthusiasm, that genuine belief that actually everything is possible, that they (the children) can take risks, that they can say things, that people aren’t going to think they’re idiots is just so enriching, so enlivening and so wonderful.”

Mr Evitt, who taught history at Monmouth School just over the border in Wales prior to moving to south London, cited dedicated teachers and staff members “who love children, are passionate about them, who care about them and who want them to make a difference” as a major reason for his educational longevity at Highfield.

“What makes Highfield the place that it is is colleagues who are genuinely passionate about their charges,” he said, “and I have been incredibly blessed with the colleagues that it has been my privilege and pleasure to lead.”

But Mr Evitt, who was readily assisted in all aspects of school life in unstinting fashion by wife Jo and whose four children were educated at Highfield, saved special praise for his pupils, saying he felt “incredibly lucky” to lead young people for whom the sky was the limit.

He said: “Remembering that they are children and that they are children capable of doing extraordinary things is what made my time at Highfield so extraordinarily magical.

“What’s great is being with young people. Yes, it’s working to encourage them but it’s seeing how much they do and achieve through their own energy when you give them the opportunity to do that. I really feel like a child that has been given the keys to the sweet shop.”

Mr Evitt, 63, has been succeeded at Highfield by Suzannah Cryer, formerly deputy head at Thomas’ Battersea Prep. Mrs Cryer is no stranger to Highfield and Brookham, having previously worked as Head of Drama and Head of Boarding. Mr Evitt said: “I know that the school is in incredibly safe hands with the appointment of Suzannah, who was always a firm favourite with pupils, staff and parents alike during her previous time at Highfield and Brookham. She will undoubtedly bring fresh energy, enthusiasm and ideas to the role, underpinned by her existing knowledge of the school’s special DNA.”

Sophie Baber, Head of Pre-prep at Highfield and Brookham Schools, has cited vocabulary as one of the most important elements to consider when it comes to preparing children for the start of school.

Mrs Baber said there were many factors for parents to consider but targeting vocabulary would give a child a flying start when it came to starting in Reception.

“The key to child development on an academic front is vocabulary, so what you are thinking about is how to develop a child’s vocabulary,” said Mrs Baber, who oversees children from nursery age to Year 3.

“What you need to think about are things that encourage you to talk and develop your child’s language. Reading is the obvious starting point. Engendering a love of books in any child is absolutely vital.”

Mrs Baber said it was important to pick books that will interest your child but that it doesn’t matter what they read as long as they are reading or being read to.

“Pick books with interesting language, with interesting pictures that you can talk about,” she said. It doesn’t just have to be about the actual words in the book, picture books are unbelievably good now and there are so many to choose from.”

The popular head, who has been at the pre-school for seven years, said the next step was to think about shared experiences that can develop vocabulary further, such as cooking which, she continued, develops mathematical language, develops verbs and develops imperative tense during the culinary process.

“Lots and lots of language is being developed during the cookery session; there’s lots of discussion, it’s fun and there’s something tasty at the end of it,” she said.

Mrs Baber also homed in on the use of experiences to expand a child’s vocabulary, citing day trips as a wonderful way to engage with children, but stressing that they needn’t break the bank.

“There are loads and loads of free, easily accessible museums which will again really encourage language as long as you are talking to your child the whole way through,” she said.

“Whether it’s visiting a museum, going on a walk, spotting things, talking about things that interest you or that interest them, you are going to be developing their vocabulary and that’s going to help them when they go to school. It also helps you find out what really inspires them.

“So, coming back to the books, you then can relate through books what they’ve been interested in at the museum or on their walk, such as the interactive displays they’ve seen, the artefacts they’ve held. It’s all about finding the hook and then linking all those things that develop their vocabulary into it.”

As well as targeting vocabulary development, Mrs Baber suggested that routines and time spent with other children would also have a positive impact on a child’s readiness for school.

She said that children who already slotted into healthy routines at home, particularly around mealtimes and bedtime, would undoubtedly find the transition into school life that much easier.

“I’m all in favour of developing independent, free-range children because it empowers them and gives them confidence,” she said. “However, schools have a very set way of working and it’s really important, therefore, for children to be able to fit in to routines as and when they start school.

“One way this can be done is making sure there’s a really clear routine around mealtimes, that children are learning to use their cutlery, that they are sitting at a table, that they are not just getting up, that they are not watching television while they’re eating. Mealtime routine is really important.

“And even though the children are never going to be going to bed at school necessarily at the age of four, bedtime routines are really important for developing structure and having a really clear pattern.”

Mrs Baber also suggested that quiet time with an adult at some stage of the day without the distraction of a gadget was another useful way to prepare a child for school. “It might be to read or play a board game, it might be doing something together that requires a child to listen, to take turns, to be still for a period of time, but not with a screen in front of them. It doesn’t need to be long but it can be extremely beneficial,” she said.

Highfield and Brookham Schools is celebrating another bumper crop of scholarships.

Seventeen senior school scholarships have been awarded to Year 8 pupils this year, taking the impressive total well into three figures in the past eight years alone.

The scholarships and exhibitions awarded are again to a range of top senior schools, including Wellington College, Marlborough College, Charterhouse, Cranleigh and Bryanston.

The award of 123 places since 2014, which this year includes scholarships in art, academia, sport, drama and music, continues a remarkable run of success for the school’s enviable scholarship programme and is a key factor for parents choosing Highfield and Brookham for their children.

Pupils with a wide range of abilities are selected for the programme each year, with each head of department offering their own network of expert support and guidance to help children reach their potential in their chosen specialist subject.

And the level of care and attention aimed at the scholarship programme at Highfield and Brookham Schools has clearly paid handsome dividends yet again.

Phillip Evitt, Headmaster at Highfield School, said: “All those sitting scholarships embark upon a journey which, at times, is challenging, stressful or full of joy – and occasionally all at the same time. These children are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible for their age.

“The 123 scholarships awarded to our pupils over the past eight years really reflects the breadth and range of our pupils’ strengths and provides a strong endorsement of the quality of teaching and learning at Highfield and Brookham Schools.”

And he added: “I’m extremely proud of all of them and wish them well with their future studies and beyond. They are a real credit to the school and will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration for next year’s scholarship cohort.”

Scholarship, exhibition and award recipients:

Henrietta Baillieu: Art Scholarship (Charterhouse)

Kitty Black: Drama Scholarship (Charterhouse)

Daisy Clowes: Foundation Award (Charterhouse)

Minty Delliere: Sports Scholarship (Bryanston)

Eleanor Fisher: Academic Scholarship (St Mary’s, Ascot)

Daisy Green: Academic Scholarship (Marlborough) & Art Scholarship (Marlborough)

Gil Hardwick: Music Exhibition (Wellington College)

Izzy Hendricks: Foundation Scholarship (Charterhouse) & Art Exhibition (Charterhouse)

Oliver Hendricks: Foundation Scholarship (Charterhouse)

Tilly Hogg: Sports Scholarship (Bradfield College) & Sports Scholarship (Charterhouse)

Matilda Kauntze: Drama Exhibition (Cranleigh School)

Sebastian Lett: Drama Scholarship (Charterhouse)

Annabel Manning: Music Exhibition (Bryanston School)

Julie Wang: Music Exhibition (Benenden School)

A school fund which helps “bridge the advantage gap” has been boosted to the tune of £66,000.

The sizeable cash injection for the Highfield and Brookham Schools Centenary Bursaries Fund came courtesy of the biennial bursaries ball at the end of the summer term.

The aim of the fund, which was set up in 2007, is to raise enough money to support children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend an independent school such as Highfield and Brookham. Typical candidates are children who are experiencing social or educational difficulties or children who have the ability to succeed academically if given the right support.

The popular ball attracted around 260 guests and the money was raised primarily through ticket sales, table sponsorship and an auction.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said he was delighted by the amount raised by the return of the ball, which was pushed back 12 months by Covid.

“It was a wonderful night and I’m so grateful to everyone involved for helping raise such a fabulous amount of money for such a deserving cause,” he said.

“For many people, prep school bursaries are something of a taboo subject – they are out of reach, they are for other people. That couldn’t be further from the truth and we have been exploding that myth since setting up our very own Centenary Bursaries Fund in 2007.

“As a school we can set an example. In our position of privilege, it is our duty to ensure we are doing all we can to bridge the advantage gap. The UK is one of the worst countries for fostering social mobility. Therefore, it is important that we do our bit to ensure as many children as possible receive the same opportunities regardless of their background.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools has awarded 20 bursaries since the fund’s inception in 2007 and Mr Evitt described them as “an enormous success”.

He said that all bar one had been for 100 per cent bursaries, therefore covering all fees, and that the Centenary Bursaries Fund also provided additional support for music lessons, sports equipment, school trips and uniform. The other bursary was for 90 per cent.

“The purpose of the bursary is to make a difference in a child’s life, not just academically but also physically, emotionally and socially. Ours are awarded to children we believe will gain the most from attending, ensuring they reach their full potential.

“These are the children we believe will engage with all of the opportunities Highfield and Brookham has to offer – ensuring they build life-long skills and develop long-lasting positive experiences and relationships. And Mr Evitt added: “We place great importance on all our pupils understanding their position in the community. We encourage them to look beyond the school grounds, to engage with the wider world and to find the part that they can play in society and as global citizens.”

Our thriving nursery has been named one of the best in the country for a second successive year.

The honour was bestowed upon Highfield and Brookham Schools by leading early years website daynurseries.co.uk, which ranked the school’s nursery among the top 20 in the South-East of England.

The welcome nod follows a similar endorsement in 2021.

Brookham Nursery crucially earned the accolade on the back of a wealth of successful parental reviews. And it comes as another huge seal of approval for Sophie Baber, Head of Pre-prep, and her skilled, popular and caring team of specialist teachers and assistants.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been named among the top 20 nurseries in the South East, but what makes it particularly special is that the reviews have come from parents of our pupils, so there really can be no better endorsement,” said Mrs Baber.

“There’s an awful lot of competition out there when it comes to top-quality nursery provision, so it’s hugely important that we stay ahead of the curve and continue to offer our children a varied, interesting, thought-provoking and fun education.

“Our nursery classes are led by a fully-qualified teacher and experienced assistants with high staff-to-children ratios, which gift our staff the time to develop each individual child, helping them build the foundations and get the best start to their learning journey.”

And Mrs Baber added: “Happy children equal happy parents, and the positive response we continue to have from our parents suggests that we are very much on the right lines.”

One reviewer on the daynurseries.co.uk website said: “I can’t rate the nursery highly enough. My son was quite a little monkey when he started and yet they (Brookham) welcomed him with nothing but kindness, support and love. The facilities and opportunities for the children are amazing. I just wish we’d known about it for my older two. We would have moved out of London earlier for them to attend!”

Another happy mum described Brookham Nursery as “phenomenal” with a curriculum “second to none” which includes swimming, ballet, Spanish, sport, art and music, and plenty of time in the fresh air in the school’s 175-acre grounds, with the undoubted highlight being Brookham’s very own “exceptional” Forest School.

And she added that it was “virtually unheard of” for a nursery to have such a high level of pastoral care and facilities and that “no London nursery school could compare”. Due to continued strong demand for Early Years places over the last few years, a nursery extension is currently being built. The refurbishment, expected to be completed during the Autumn Term, will offer a bigger and brighter space in addition to the already outstanding nursery facilities.

A gifted young athlete from Highfield and Brookham Schools has won two national titles.

Talented Year 7 pupil Emily S secured the long jump title with a leap of 4.60m before running away with the 100m title in a sizzling 12.86 seconds at the National Prep Schools’ Athletics Championships at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, which is hosting the Commonwealth Games this summer.

The fastest qualifier in the 100m heats in a time of 13.1 seconds, Emily easily lowered that mark to take gold and set a new prep schools record in the process. Her sub-13-second winning time was also the second fastest ever recorded by an U13 girl from any school.

The twin national titles in England’s second city rounded-off in spectacular style a successful spell for Emily, 12, who was awarded the senior victrix ludorum on sports day at Highfield at the end of June having won the individual girls’ 70m hurdles, long jump and 100m events, as well as being part of the victorious girls’ 4x100m house relay team.

Emily was joined in Birmingham at the national finals by Highfield and Brookham Year 6 pupil Cristo P, who ran superbly to finish sixth in the U12 1500m in a new personal best time of 5 minutes 4 seconds – a new middle school record.

On receiving the good news on Monday afternoon, Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “It was just the most wonderful news and a wonderful way to start the final week of term. Emily has been a standout performer on the athletics front all the way through her time at Highfield, but to earn two titles at national level, in two different disciplines, is a phenomenal achievement and one she should be incredibly proud of. The sky really is the limit for Emily and I will watch her athletics career with great interest.”

Emily was only denied the opportunity of adding to her golden tally in the West Midlands because the rules stated that the maximum number of events any athlete could enter was two, thus denying Emily a tilt at the hurdles crown too.

Mr Evitt added: “Having seen both Emily and Cristo perform so well on sports day at the end of June, it’s no surprise that they both enjoyed such a successful day in Birmingham. Reaching the national finals is an incredible achievement in itself, but to break a school record and win two national titles between them is an extraordinary effort.”

Our charitable children have had a double cause for celebration.

While flying the Union Flag and hanging out the bunting in honour of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, our pupils put their best feet forward for a sponsored walk in aid of Highfield Highreach Holidays.

Joined by parents, grandparents, school staff and assorted four-legged friends – many bedecked in patriotic red, white and blue – the willing walkers raised a tidy £1,420 for the school’s beloved charity which provides week-long residential breaks for children and young adults with physical and learning disabilities.

The Highfield children walked up to 5k through the school’s expansive woodland while the younger pupils at Brookham did their bit for the cause over a much shorter but equally enjoyable route.

Children had set the patriotic scene by making colourful flags and bunting, which proudly fluttered around the school grounds, as well as snazzy crowns to mark seven decades since Her Majesty’s coronation in 1952.

And Brookham children were also in fine voice for an outdoor concert in front of proud parents and grandparents before heading out on their fundraising walk, which finished with a jubilee tea party.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “There is always something incredibly special about a royal jubilee and some of us have had the opportunity to celebrate more than once the Queen’s wonderful long reign. But for the children at Highfield and Brookham, it’s their first experience of such an outpouring of national pride and joy and it’s something that I have no doubt will linger long in the memory for a good many of them.

“It was a wonderful day with a riot of colour and it was a delight to share it with so many parents and grandparents who came along to celebrate with us and help raise a super amount of money for our Highreach Holidays charity, which is so dear to our hearts.”

Highfield Highreach Holidays this year runs from August 8-12.

Highfield and Brookham Schools have made their debut on the national orienteering circuit.

And after successfully staging a Trail League fixture as part of this year’s British Championships, we have been put firmly on the orienteering map.

Trail orienteering – or TrailO – is a sport that puts the emphasis firmly on precision map reading in order to identify control points within a specific terrain, with the added challenge of decoys to confuse competitors.

Where it differs from standard orienteering is that speed and time are largely inconsequential, making TrailO ideal for competitors young and old, disabled and able-bodied.

Because control points are identified from distance and competitors aren’t allowed to leave the trails, participants with or without physical disabilities compete on level terms.

And unlike other forms of orienteering which involve the competitors physically visiting the control and punching in, trail orienteering is done from distance in the form of multiple-choice questions which test a competitor’s ability to determine where a specific control point is faced with several options.

As a result, Trail O is less physically demanding – which makes it ideal for schoolchildren – and has been proven to be beneficial to children as it encourages independence, problem solving and teamwork – all key skills and attributes central to the learning ethos at Highfield and Brookham.

To underscore the point, a taster event was organised for children at Highfield and Brookham prior to the British Championships which helped build on the orienteering skills that pupils learn during their weekly Keys sessions.

The British Trail League fixture, which saw competitors race around Golden Valley and Cognor Wood, near Liphook, including land owned by Bill Mills, the owner of Highfield and Brookham Schools, was won by Michael Chun Chi Tsang of the Wessex Club with Anne Straube (Octavian Droobers) in second and Kieran Marsh (South London Orienteers) third. Mr Mills presented prizes after the race.

A spokesman for the South East Orienteering Association, which hosted the event, welcomed “special” Highfield and Brookham Schools to the circuit.

“One big attraction was that the land hadn’t been used before. We map a lot of areas for potential use and it’s unusual to find an area that is sufficiently large and special for what we need,” he added. Phillip Evitt, Headmaster at Highfield School, said: “Many generations of schoolchildren at Highfield have learned valuable skills and techniques through orienteering within our curriculum and I know I speak for Mr Mills when I say how proud and delighted we are to have been chosen for a British Championship fixture. Hopefully it will be the first of many!”

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 admissions@highfieldandbrookham.co.uk 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.”

The unmistakeable strains of legendary rock anthems have shaken an independent school in Liphook to its very foundations.

The occasion was Rock Day at Highfield and Brookham Schools, held last Friday as a feel-good celebration in response to almost two years of restrictions and disruption caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And it followed hard on the heels of national Children’s Mental Health Week at the end of February, which the school marked with a series of workshops, presentations and themed lessons which put the focus firmly on the continued well-being of its pupils.

The school chapel, usually the preserve of choristers and classical musicians, was transformed into a stunning arena of rock as children, suitably attired in sensational outfits, make up and big hair and wielding inflatable guitars, belted out classic tunes from the likes of AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Status Quo and Queen in a bid to be crowned rock gods of their particular year group.

And the three-strong judging panel, complete with Strictly-style score paddles, couldn’t fail to be impressed by the poise, character and vibrant vocals of the young songsters as the likes of Highway To Hell, Born To Be Wild and I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll reverberated around the chapel.

Not to be outdone entirely by the talented children, Highfield Head of PE Jo Gordon (vocals) and Head of Maths Patrick Davies (guitar) teamed up to perform four ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin tracks at break time while Slash (aka Head of Drama Sarah Baird) and Axl Rose (Head of Maths John Mühlemann) rocked the playground with superb covers of Guns n’ Roses hits Paradise City and Sweet Child O’ Mine.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt, who was on the judging panel, was in awe of the standard of the performances of the children, who were aged nine to 13.

“What our children achieve here at Highfield never ceases to amaze me,” he said.

“They have the talent, the aptitude, the resolve and the confidence to turn their hands to pretty much anything, either as individuals or in groups, to incredible effect. What we saw in the chapel on Rock Day was nothing short of sensational.

“Getting up on stage in front of your peers and in front of your teachers can be quite daunting to many children, but each and every one of them got up there, did their best and performed to an exceptional standard. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of them.”

An independent school in Liphook has fallen foul of Storm Eunice – with a favourite old tree and the wooden score box on the edge of the cricket pitch being hit for six.

With the south of England bearing the brunt of one of the fiercest storms in recent years, with winds gusting up to 70mph on Friday, the iconic 30ft silver birch tree in the grounds of Highfield and Brookham Schools had an entire limb ripped off.

And the score box on the boundary edge fared no better as the high winds tore off the roof of the hut and demolished the frame, leaving it in tatters on the playing field.

With Highfield and Brookham closed last week for the half-term holiday, the grounds crew cleared the wreckage ahead of the children’s return to school on Monday.

The score box has been an integral part of the quaint cricketing scene at Highfield and Brookham during the spring and summer months for more than 25 years, hugging the boundary rope alongside the striking pavilion, while the accessible silver birch has for decades been a draw for adventurous Highfield children who love to climb on its lower reaches.

Ironically, plans were already in place to refurbish the score box before Storm Eunice struck, so Mother Nature has merely hastened the need for a replacement scoreboard instead.

As well as removing the debris caused by the second storm to hit the region in a matter of days, Highfield and Brookham’s grounds team have been scouring the vast estate to assess further damage, forcing Brookham’s youngsters to have their popular adventures at Forest School suspended on safety grounds.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “It was incredibly sad to see the old silver birch tree and the scorer’s box on the edge of Chapel Field in such a state of devastation, being such well-known landmarks on the school scene, but that sense of loss is miniscule in comparison with the deep sense of gratitude that no-one was hurt during what was a pretty ferocious storm.

“Thankfully, the school was closed and all of our children were safe and well on their half-term holidays. Our children’s health and well-being are of paramount importance and underpin everything that we do. Trees can be replanted and buildings can be rebuilt, but people can’t be replaced.”

The school was also hit by a power cut late on Friday morning, an outage which affected many of the villages around Liphook as falling trees brought down powerlines. Power was finally restored on Sunday.

Rugby is thriving at an independent school in Liphook – and the results are there for all to see.

Proud coaches at Highfield and Brookham Schools are celebrating their “strongest season for several years” in what is always a competitive arena.

The U13A team ended their season with a pulsating draw against a traditionally big and powerful Aldro side from Godalming and an outstanding away win against a strong Twyford line up, prompting coach Dan Bather to applaud “one of the strongest squads we have had for some time”.

Driven on by the success of Highfield’s oldest cohort, the U12A team ended their season with impressive wins over Aldro and Twyford School in Winchester while the the U12Bs were beaten only once in six games, winning four in style.

The U11A side were dominant all season, winning six games out of seven, while the U11B boys won six out of eight.

And to underline Highfield’s strength in depth on the rugby pitch, the U11C, U10A and U9A sides were all unbeaten, seeing off the might of Cranleigh, Aldro and Westbourne House along the way.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “Our two schools put out a tremendous number of teams each week in various sports and always look forward to locking horns with our friendly rivals from across the region, but while matches are played in a respectful manner, and while we pride ourselves on our high level of sportsmanship, they are still hugely competitive with a strong will to win.

“And nowhere has that desire, hunger and strong team ethic been more apparent than with our rugby teams of all ages. They have all had tremendous seasons and the future of Highfield rugby looks very bright indeed.”

The Highfield boys now have a short stint playing hockey before the cricket season gets under way in April. Football and rugby will return in the Autumn Term. The girls currently play hockey, netball and lacrosse before beginning their cricket campaigns in the spring.

Work has begun on an extension to provide a new nursery space at a thriving independent school in Liphook.

The expansion at Highfield and Brookham Schools is due to continuing strong demand for Early Years places over the last few years. The existing nursery space has been bulging at the seams, and the short-term fixes the school has made to house the extra children are not sustainable in the long term.

The new open-plan extension will enable the schools to accommodate all their nursery provision in one place and enable three-form entry throughout the pre-prep. It will measure around 100 square metres internally, with toilets for pupils and staff. It will also have a retractable wall to allow a space to be closed off for the youngest children when they are sleeping.

The building work is being undertaken by Verity Contractors and is expected to be completed in time for the start of the Autumn Term in September.

Brookham Headteacher Sophie Baber said: “These are exciting times for Brookham and I’m delighted that work on the extension is finally under way. It’s been several years in the planning but we know it will be very much worth the wait.

“The nursery children are already incredibly excited, and not just a little curious, about seeing all the new activity outside their window, and I’m confident that they will be just as excited come September when we move into our new space.”

With a week-long half-term holiday this month, the Easter holiday, a further half-term break in May and the extended summer holiday between now and September, noise and disruption to schooling at Brookham will be kept to a minimum.

Mrs Baber added: “Our nursery provision is exceptional, a fact which continues to be reinforced by the constant demand for places, but we know that our current arrangements aren’t sustainable in the long term if we want to continue to provide excellent education throughout the school, which is exactly what we intend to do.”

The nursery forms part of the early-years provision at Brookham and takes children from the age of two before they move up to Reception.

Fresh from scooping silverware at a netball tournament in Dorset, talented players from an independent school in Liphook have gone a step further.

The U13 girls from Highfield and Brookham Schools followed their Plate success at Bryanston School with a stunning victory in the IAPS regional tournament at Cranleigh School this week.

The girls won five of their six matches – culminating in a tense 7-5 win over Brighton College in the final – to secure their place at the national finals of the tournament run by the Independent Association of Prep Schools.

The finals will be held at Ipswich School in Suffolk on March 14.

Proud Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “It really has been quite a week for our U13s on the netball court. We’ve only just stopped celebrating the girls’ wonderful win in the Plate competition at Bryanston, and now they have topped that with overall victory at the IAPS tournament.

“We are always delighted to send our sports teams to the IAPS events and support what are always incredibly competitive occasions, so to come away with the regional trophy and book our place at the national finals is truly wonderful. The girls and their coaching staff should be immensely proud of themselves.”

And Mr Evitt added: “They say things come in threes, so we’ll all keep our fingers firmly crossed for March!”

At Cranleigh, with only the semi-finalists guaranteed a place in the national finals, Highfield secured their place in the last eight with two wins and one defeat in the group stages – edging out Windlesham 7-6, thrashing Dumpton 18-0 and losing a close affair to Westbourne House 5-3.

But the girls really got into full flow in the quarter-finals as they pulled away to beat Edgeborough 9-6 before blitzing shellshocked Kings Rochester 11-1 in the semi-finals to set up their glory bid against Brighton College.

Highfield last reached the national finals of the U13 netball tournament in 2018 when they returned home as Plate winners.

Netball players from an independent school in Liphook are celebrating after netting silverware in a tournament in Dorset.

The Year 8 girls from Highfield and Brookham Schools won the Plate competition in the annual prep schools netball tournament at Bryanston School.

And they couldn’t have done it in more dramatic fashion as captain Minty Delliere scored the decisive goal in the final minute to secure a 6-5 win over Hanford in the Plate final, having earlier swept aside Durlston Court 9-0 in the semi-finals.

Earlier in the day, Highfield made a strong start to the group stages of the Cup competition with an impressive 9-3 drubbing of Sherborne, a comfortable 7-3 win over Salisbury Cathedral and a gutsy 6-4 win against a tough Cheam side after player-of-the-tournament Tilly Hogg forced a late interception to set up Flora Tyrwhitt-Drake to seal the win.

Eventual Cup winners Millfield Prep proved a step too far in Highfield’s final group game, winning 11-3 to take the group and relegate game Highfield to runners-up spot in the group and a place in the Plate competition.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “The annual netball tournament at Bryanston is always a firm favourite on the sporting calendar, so to come away with a trophy really makes me feel a huge sense of pride.

“The Year 8 girls always work incredibly hard on their game and now they have some silverware to show for their fantastic efforts. To think that their only defeat all day, against some very fine schools, was against the overall Cup winners really speaks volumes.”

Buoyed by their success at Bryanston, the Year 8s are set to compete in this week’s prestigious IAPS tournament at Cranleigh School in Surrey, where the top four teams will qualify for the national finals at Ipswich School in March.

It’s only been a matter of days but our eager children have picked up exactly where they left off before the Christmas break.

The Spring Term at Highfield and Brookham may be less than a week old, but already it’s been incredibly busy – and it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down!

Year 2 youngsters at Brookham took an exciting trip to the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester which they described as “out of this world”, Year 4 immersed themselves in a day of rich and colourful African adventure complete with drumming, beading and dance courtesy of Southampton-based African Activities, and Year 8 went straight into study mode ahead of this week’s mock exams.

But there’s much more still to come as this week also sees the start of the popular house creative writing competition, the resumption of external sports fixtures with netball and rugby matches against our friends from Amesbury, Eagle House and Edgeborough, and a fun-filled boarding trip to Coral Reef Waterworld in Bracknell.

Add in a return visit from intrepid adventurer Nick Carter who will regale Year 5 with his amazing travel tales, cushion concerts, scholarship visits to Benenden and Bryanston and a Year 3 Burns Night ceilidh and it promises to be an all-action January – which is just how we like it!

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said:

One thing I truly love about our schools is the sheer enthusiasm of our children. After the Christmas break, one could perhaps expect a degree of tardiness and listlessness, but that’s definitely not the case with our wonderful children

School trips and specialist groups and individuals who visit schools add real breadth and depth to the curriculum, enabling children to get involved in a hands-on way while learning through real-life experiences.

Mr Evitt added: “This first week of term has again seen a happy and seamless transition back into school life from all year groups, both in and out of the classroom, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to hear the vibrant sounds of busy and excited pupils around the school once more. And I’m delighted to say that the children have so much more in store.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools has been given an early Christmas present from the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

We have again been awarded the maximum five stars in our annual inspection into food hygiene, not only for the pre-prep and prep schools but also for the new Oak Leaf Café.

Run in conjunction with the environmental health department at Chichester District Council, the school’s local authority, the FSA ratings are a snapshot of the standards of food hygiene found at the time of inspection.

Inspectors scrutinise handling of food, how food is stored, how food is prepared, cleanliness of facilities and how food safety is managed.

The result was a clean bill of health for Highfield and Brookham Schools and the Oak Leaf Café, with no recommendations or advisory notes, and a big helping of pride and satisfaction for catering manager Nadine Travis and her dedicated team.

The school was also awarded five stars 12 months ago but this year was the first inspection for the café, which officially opened its doors in early November.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “Food is a very important element of life at Highfield and Brookham, from breakfast, lunch and dinner to our enviable sports day match teas, so to receive a glowing, five-star endorsement from the Food Standards Agency really is a tremendous honour.

Nadine and her fabulous catering team work incredibly hard to ensure that we work to and maintain the very highest standards in our kitchens, so they deserve all the credit in the world for this tremendous achievement.

Highfield and Brookham has a team of highly-skilled chefs who produce a varied choice of delicious, nutritious and well-balanced meals, cooked on the premises using only the freshest ingredients.

Seasonal produce is a regular staple of the menu while the catering team also prepare Ôthemed’ menus such as meat-free Mondays and dishes from overseas. They also cater for a wide range of special dietary requirements.

Highfield and Brookham Schools has again been named the top prep school in Hampshire for cricket Ð and that’s official!

The latest glowing endorsement comes from The Cricketer Schools Guide 2022, which has named us among its Top 50 Prep Schools in the UK for the third consecutive year.

It follows an exhaustive process which saw a record number of schools submit entries to be included in the prep school category of the guide. All entries were judged against an extensive set of criteria, which included a compelling commitment to cricket in the curriculum, facilities, fixture programmes and coaching.

Also considered was how schools kept the game alive during the pandemic, and how they look to ensure cricket remains a central part of school life.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “Cricket is an important part of the sporting curriculum here at Highfield and Brookham and we are very proud to have been named one of the top prep schools in the country, recognising our fantastic facilities and coaches.

It was wonderful last summer for the school, for parents and children alike, to be able finally to welcome back spectators to our competitive match fixtures, and now to be named as the top prep school in Hampshire for cricket really is the icing on the cake

Highfield and Brookham has a strong cricketing tradition and regularly fulfils as many as 230 fixtures in the summer term against rival schools from neighbouring Surrey and West Sussex, as well as further afield encompassing the Home Counties.

The teams feature boys and girls aged eight to 13, with star prospect Summer Gratton becoming the first girl to break into the first XI while the U13A girls were the first at Highfield to take part in a competitive T20 game.

Huw Turbervill, editor of The Cricketer magazine, said: “It has been incredibly heartening to see schools cricket making such a comeback after a very different 2020. Of course, not all schools’ programmes have been the same due to varying restrictions, facilities, and many other understandable reasons but what has been consistent across the spectrum is that the dedication to the game in schools has, not only remained unaffected, but increased.

“Congratulations to all of the schools included and we look forward to hearing about all of your future successes.”

As well as representing Highfield and Brookham in external fixtures, many young school cricketers also play for local club sides, including Liphook & Ripsley, Haslemere, Fernhurst and Grayshott, while making full use of the indoor and outdoor nets at Highfield.

Suzannah Cryer has been appointed the new Head of Highfield School.

She will replace retiring Headmaster Phillip Evitt and take up her new role next September.

Mr Evitt announced earlier this year that he would be standing down at the end of the summer term after 23 years at the helm of the highly-respected independent school which nestles in 175 acres on the rural borders of Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

Mrs Cryer’s appointment follows a “long and demanding selection process” involving Highfield and Brookham Schools owner Bill Mills and the board of directors and signals a return to the thriving prep school for the former Head of Drama and Head of Boarding.

Currently Deputy Head at Thomas’s Prep School in Battersea, Mrs Cryer previously had a successful seven-year association with Highfield, leading the drama department on joining the school in 2012 and adding the boarding role in 2016 before heading to south London in 2019.

Mrs Cryer and her actor-writer husband Bob’s three children also have a strong association with Highfield and Brookham Ð Hope having been a regular volunteer in the boarding house while Martha and Connie are former Highfieldians.

She said:

I am very excited about returning to Highfield and building on the incredible platform that has been laid by Phillip. My family has strong links with this wonderful school and to be returning as Head is a real privilege

Mr Mills said of the appointment: “Suzannah demonstrated great insight in how education is evolving and offered an exciting and compelling vision of how we can develop both our curriculum and our approach to teaching and learning to prepare children to thrive in an ever-changing world.”

Mr Evitt, who previously taught at Monmouth School and Dulwich College, said: “I know that the school is in incredibly safe hands with the appointment of Suzannah, who was always a firm favourite with pupils, staff and parents alike during her previous time with us. She will undoubtedly bring fresh energy, enthusiasm and ideas to the role, underpinned by her existing knowledge of the school’s special DNA.”

It may have seemed odd but the message was clear Ð we’ll beat the bullies!

That was the firm vow from our children at Highfield and Brookham Schools, who gave their full support to Odd Socks Day in order to give bullying the big heave-ho.

Odd Socks Day was the brainchild of the Anti-Bullying Alliance and kicked off Anti-Bullying Week, which gave people the chance to express themselves and celebrate their individuality and what makes us all unique.

And children and staff alike really stepped up as they donned all manner of barmy and colourful combinations of fancy footwear in a bid to help stamp out the societal scourge that is bullying.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said:

I was filled with great pride to see so many of our children put their full weight behind the fantastic Odd Socks Day initiative with a marvellous array of weird and wonderful footwear. It was quite a feat!

And he added: “The culture of bullying is something that we are acutely aware of as a school and we go to great lengths to educate our children as to why it is so wrong and how damaging it can be, and also what they can do if they are indeed being bullied in any way themselves.”

Fallen war heroes have been remembered during a poignant ceremony at Highfield and Brookham Schools.

The names of 69 former pupils who died in service of their country during the two world wars were read out by Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt on Armistice Day Ð a longstanding tradition at the historic prep school.

And the two-minute silence was impeccably observed by pupils and staff alike who had gathered at the Princess Anne oak tree to pay their respects to the war dead.

Year 4 pupils, the youngest cohort at Highfield, took pride of place among the front ranks of the assembled children, standing proudly with their glazed red poppies which they had lovingly created in art classes in readiness for Remembrance Day, while Year 8 trumpeter Harry Jowett brought a tear to the eye with an emotional and doleful rendition of The Last Post.

“At Highfield and Brookham Schools, remembering is about more than setting aside a day in a year to remind ourselves of the facts of war and sacrifice made by those who died in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts,” said Mr Evitt.

By living our lives with kindness, consideration and compassion and in striving for peace, we will remember them

Both Highfield and Brookham schools focus on wartime activity and associations in and out of the classroom in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day, such as learning about the significance of the symbolic poppies, understanding the importance of Remembrance Day and Armistice Day, and the various roles of men, women and children during times of conflict.

And Year 4 children got a glimpse into wartime life as they dressed up as evacuees for a special trip back in time to the Watercress Line, a working railway which has stayed faithful to a bygone era and which has a strong association with wartime activity.

“It’s important that children of all ages have an understanding of the horrors of war and the difficulties that so many people faced, both at home with bombs falling all round and overseas on the battlegrounds of Europe,” said Mr Evitt.

With that understanding comes respect and compassion which, in turn, can hopefully lead to an end to such horrific conflicts in the future

And he added: “It’s always a sense of great pride to me personally to read out the names of former Highfieldians who were killed during the two world wars, and sharing those names to our current pupils, the names of very real people who were schooled on this very site just as they are now, is very special indeed.”

Passionate children at an independent school in Liphook have delivered a strong message on climate change by vowing: ‘We promise to make a difference!’

With all eyes having been on the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow since the end of October as world leaders gathered to find ways to repel the environmental disaster facing our planet, the young pupils from Highfield and Brookham Schools have set in motion a chain of events that they hope can make a positive impact in reversing the current gloomy climatic trend.

Children from both Brookham and Highfield, from Nursery right up to Year 8, produced class mobiles made up of big leaves on which were written ‘promises of hope’ for a greener, more sustainable world which were joined together using biodegradable string.

The finished mobiles then took pride of place on the Princess Anne oak tree in the Highfield grounds during an assembly involving both the pre-prep and prep schools Ð the first such joint venture between the schools in honour of the sheer magnitude of the crisis facing our planet Ð before being shipped off to the climate conference in Glasgow.

Heartfelt promises to the planet included ditching plastic bags, eating less meat, recycling more, using electric cars and planting more trees.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said of the promises of hope initiative which was orchestrated by Deputy Head (Academic) Bev Smith: “We all find ourselves in a very grave situation where climate change is concerned and it is up to all of us to do our bit to try to help save the planet, no matter how small or insignificant it may appear. So to see every pupil and every class eagerly engage in such a caring and compassionate way is truly heart-warming and gives me a great deal of hope for a brighter future.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools are no strangers to environmental initiatives and have long championed a greener and more eco-friendly way of life.

The school has an enviable reputation concerning renewable energy and its carbon neutral woodchip-burning biomass boiler provides 85% of the energy required to heat both schools. The wood itself comes from the school’s estate, primarily through chestnut coppicing as chestnut is a naturally self-replenishing variety of tree which requires little or no replanting.

Highfield and Brookham have also implemented a successful ongoing meat-free Monday menu while the Keys programme at Highfield, which focuses on children learning skills outside of the classroom, has enabled pupils to build hibernaculums for wildlife, produce a bee garden, and undertake regular pond clearance.

And the young children at Brookham tend their very own vegetable patch, with all produce lovingly grown ending up on the lunch plates.

The return to school after the half-term holiday took on extra significance for four pupils in particular this week.

Daisy Green and Luke Woodburn have been named Highfield’s Head Girl and Head Boy respectively and will be assisted by able deputies Kitty Black and Gil Hardwick.

The appointment of the school leadership roles is always taken very seriously at Highfield and Year 8 pupils undergo a thorough selection process in order to land the highly-prized roles.

All pupils are actively encouraged to apply for the prestigious honour and any who decide to must submit a formal letter to Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt explaining why they should be considered for the position.

Mr Evitt, Deputy Head Andy Baker and James Figgis (Head of Year 8) then review the applications, draw up a shortlist, hold interviews and select one boy and one girl from the oldest year group in the school for the sought-after leadership roles, as well as their deputies.

Headmaster Mr Evitt said: “One of my favourite tasks in the school year is selecting the pupils to fill the leadership roles, and the reason I am so fond of it is that it’s always such an incredibly difficult job.

It’s truly a testament to the strength, character, quality and ability of the children that we have here that any number of pupils could successfully fill those roles each year

Responsibilities for the Head Girl and Head Boy will include representing Highfield and Brookham at various events and making speeches, liaising with the school council, and showing visitors around the school.

Alongside the appointment of the Head Girl and Head Boy, the school has also named its boarding leaders.

Polly Dove is the new girls’ head of boarding, with Sophie Moore, Destiny Williams and Lucille Soin her deputies, while Shaan Amin is the new boys’ head of boarding and will be assisted by Ben Bateman, Issac Yuen and Freddie Burton.

Mr Evitt said: “We are truly blessed with a wonderful group of Year 8 pupils again this year, children who throw themselves wholeheartedly into all aspects of school life, and I know that Highfield is in excellent hands. So, congratulations to the respective heads and deputies on their appointments, and for everyone who was courageous enough to put themselves forward. They really are a credit to our school.”