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I hope the half term break brought everyone an opportunity for calm and time to recharge the batteries. We have certainly started back at an exciting pace.

The Upper Sixth began their mocks bright and early on Monday morning. This week will make the approaching public exams seem much more real. I am sure that the girls will benefit greatly from the mock experience, in terms of awareness of both where they are now and where they need to be in a few months’ time.

Meanwhile, a group of First Form were visiting our neighbour, the Robertsons Nursing Home, on one of a series of trips connecting with the First Form PSHE programme, encouraging altruistic thinking and broader communication skills. Julia Huxley would be thrilled that the spirit of philanthropy she so valued is still being nurtured, even in our youngest girls.

On Monday evening, the Boarders enjoyed a wonderful themed supper for Chinese New Year; we were treated to a feast which most of the girls bravely attempted to negotiate with chopsticks – with varying results! The planning that went into the evening was superb. My thanks go to the Boarding staff and our wonderful Catering team.

We were thrilled on Tuesday to welcome Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE, to speak at our Julia Huxley Lecture. At a pre-event drinks event, staff and Governors chatted with invited guests, including Perdita Hunt, formerly Director of Watts Gallery, Professor Gao of Surrey University, Jane Whittingham (Head at St Hilary’s) and Matthew Bryan (new Head at Longacre). Later, everyone present sat enthralled while Maggie spoke to us about her own personal journey, via thirteen schools and accompanied by the challenge of dyslexia. She left us in no doubt of her passion for her subject (astro-physics and engineering) and her enthusiasm for encouraging more young women to explore the possibility of a career linked to science. Her vivacity was infectious and her advice to reach for the stars, whatever your personal stars may be, resonated with the entire audience. The Head Girl, Beatrice, spoke eloquently for us all when she thanked Maggie for inspiring us all to think beyond the obvious.

On Friday, we are hosting a sell-out boarding taster experience for Year 6 girls. We are very much looking forward to welcoming them back following their entrance exams and the boarding team are very excited about the programme of activities which are planned.

One of my favourite tasks this week will be judging the Huxley Essay Competition. Thank you to all those girls who have entered this time. I am always so impressed by the girls’ appetite for these contests which, married with the growing interest in debating across all year groups, is a testament to their ability to construct and present arguments, listen and exchange views – life skills so essential for the future. Prior’s Field Partners in Learning, involving the Lower Sixth and younger girls and now under way, is another initiative which will bring so many benefits to all the girls involved.

Lastly, I must congratulate all the girls who are currently putting so much time and effort into their sport. The calendar is bursting with fixtures, and training sessions. Sport is a crucial part of a rounded education and I am delighted that, at Prior’s Field, we recognise its importance and value, and will continue to do so despite changing academic pressures. Do come along and support the girls if you can. It really is a privilege to witness their talent and enthusiasm.

With best wishes

Tracy Kirnig