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Head Master's News

Friday 26 March 2021

Dear Parents,

I hope that you have had a good week and have recovered from the excitement of the KHAPS family quiz last Friday. What an evening it was - a superb event and great fun for all involved!

There has been much to celebrate this week as we progress briskly towards the end of term. I was delighted that we were awarded Gold status from the Anti-Bullying Alliance this week. This is the result of the excellent work of our pastoral teams and student ambassadors to ensure that each and every member of our community feels safe and supported at King’s High.

Many congratulations, too, must go to all our LAMDA students who achieved outstanding results following the latest exams, and to everyone who took part in the recent Chemistry Olympiad, which resulted in a record number of certificates awarded.

We have enjoyed a number of excellent events this week. We hosted our first ever Drama Masterclass, with actress and alumna, Nadia Parkes, talking about her life in the acting and film industry, and sharing tips and ideas with our students. The Landor Association Law Careers Evening was another highlight, with talks from a law lecturer, legal publisher, judge, barrister and IP specialist. I am enormously grateful to our Old Girl community for sharing their expertise and experiences with our current students, which greatly enriches their experiences at school.

In my assembly this morning, I praised the students for the positive and constructive ways in which they have engaged in challenging social, political, and cultural issues about race, gender, equality and the environment. This has connected with our wider discussions about the moral responsibility to forge positive change in our community and the wider world, and to be an upstander to challenge injustice and discrimination in any form. I am very proud of the commitment of our students to these principles and the ways they have embraced the importance of changemaking and upstanding.

In assembly, we also heard a superb presentation from our Model United Nations team, who spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and how important it is that we work hard to discuss and explore solutions to pressing global issues. The MUN team offered us a very important reminder of our global connections and responsibilities. Similarly, the Hobbs Society has made excellent progress this term in raising awareness and understanding of disability and ableism. As a result, we have benefited greatly from a range of excellent talks and discussion.

I wish you all a very happy weekend and thank you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely, 

Dr Burley

Head Master 

Friday 19 March 2021

Dear Parents,

It is remarkable to think that we are fast approaching the Easter holidays. The time has flown by since we returned to school in person and our reunion and reconnection has been a cause for celebration and optimism.

The tragic death of Sarah Everard has brought into very sharp focus for us all the issue of the safety of girls and women, and the wider issues of discrimination and prejudice. Across our schools we have spent time reflecting and discussing how we and society at large can work to create positive and lasting change. 

In our addresses and assemblies, we have emphasised the Choose to Challenge message that has been the theme of International Women’s Day, whilst encouraging our students to share their ideas and experiences so that we can work together to confront discrimination and inequality.

Our exciting programme of co-curricular events continues unabated. In addition, every student in the school took part on our Mindful Mile Reflective Trail around the campus, with seven reflection points to promote wellbeing and reflection.

Café Philo, our ethical and philosophical discussion group, debated theories of free will in their meeting; our remote RSC Shadowing Programme enjoyed a showing of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1; wildlife artist, Mark Adlington, spoke to our new Art and Design Society and led a virtual tour of his studio; our Landor Association Law Evening was superb with talks from a barrister, law lecturer, legal publisher and IP specialist; and our King’s Links Higher Education Event connected our students with recent leavers from 25 universities around the UK and Europe.

We continue to work hard to strengthen our national reputation as a centre of educational innovation. Our recent work and discussions on the future of education formed the basis of a feature article that was published in Independent Education Today. The full article can be read here.

I am very much looking forward to our KHAPS Family Quiz this evening, which should be great fun. On Monday we are excited to welcome (remotely) our former student, the actress Nadia Parkes, to share her expertise and experiences in the first of our new Drama Masterclass Series.

This afternoon we have celebrated two important achievements. Charlotte in Year 8 competed in the finals of the CyberFirst Girls Competition and was placed second overall. We were also delighted that Miss Sonia Brown, in our Catering Department, was awarded a Coventry and Warwickshire Unsung Hero Certificate by the High Sheriff of Warwick today. We are very proud of the achievements of Charlotte and Sonia.

I wish you all a very happy weekend and thank you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely, 

Dr Burley

Head Master

Friday 12 March 2021

Dear Parents, 

It has been such a pleasure to welcome our students back this week and to see the joy and laughter that has filled our school again. It has given the whole community a huge boost as we set out on the first steps to what we all feel will be a more hopeful and optimistic period. 

Our students captured this sense of hope and optimism brilliantly as form groups worked together to create a huge message to the community, beaming out across the Banbury Road from the windows of King’s High, ‘Hope Springs Eternal’. This was the theme of my whole-school assembly on Monday, when I encouraged our students to be proactive in forging hope and, by doing so, creating a better world. 

In addition to the excitement of reconnecting our community in person, we have also enjoyed a busy week of events and activities. We are in the midst of celebrating an extended British Science Week, with students enjoying a fantastic range of specialist talks from distinguished visiting speakers. 

Yesterday, students enjoyed a fascinating talk from Edward Lockhart of DeepMind who spoke about the ways in which Artificial Intelligence is being used to diagnose eye diseases. Shivanshi, in Lower Sixth, presented to Café Scientifique on non-Euclidian Geometry and Astrophysics. The Hobbs Society welcomed Alex Barker, who spoke about his experiences of Moebius Syndrome, a paralysis of multiple cranial nerves that prevents smiling. This is part of the Society’s focus on ableism this term. 

Last week, I sent a link to our recent article in The Times Educational Supplement on the school’s work to promote creative thinking. This week, we were the focus of a feature article in Muddy Stilettos to mark International Women’s Day, which can be read here.  

I am excited about our King’s Links event tomorrow, in which over 80 students have signed up to hear from recent leavers now studying at over 25 leading universities in the UK and overseas. It promises to be a fascinating event. 

Today is the final day of our lateral-flow testing programme in school as we move on to the home testing programme for students. Thank you again for your ongoing support of these important measures to keep our community as safe as possible. 

I hope that you are all looking forward to our online KHAPS family quiz on Friday 19 March. A letter has been sent out with more details on how to sign up and take part in this social event. 

I wish you all a very happy weekend and thank you for your continued support. 

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 5 March 2021

Dear Parents, 

It has been a tremendously positive week at King’s High as we look forward to the return of our students on Monday. In our assembly this morning, I congratulated the school on the creativity, community spirit, resilience and commitment that has characterised life during lockdown. We marked the final day of online learning by celebrating the way in which the whole community has come together and reached out to one another in kindness and support.  

A notable example of this has been the volunteer help for our lateral-flow testing programme, which has been very successful so far. I am very grateful to the parents and staff who are supporting with this important endeavour. It has been a delight to be able to meet and talk to more students as they come in for their tests.  

As part of this superb community endeavour, our KHAPS Committee has been making exciting plans to bring us all together for an online fun family quiz. I hope that you will be able to join us all for this on Friday 19 March at 7pm. We will send more details next week via a letter to parents – there will be a £10 entry fee per household and I will send out the link to the remote event in my Friday mailing on 19 March. I hope that as many of you as possible will join us then.  

We were delighted to have our pioneering work on creative thinking showcased in the Times Educational Supplement this week, and to feature on their educational podcast. Dr Seal and I discussed our Certificate in Creating Thinking and engaged in the debate about whether creativity can be taught. At King’s High we see that it most certainly can and we also see how powerful this can be. This is part of our wider body of work to establish our school as a national flagship centre for creative thinking. The article can be read in full here. 

We celebrated World Book Day in style yesterday with a fantastic assembly, reading challenges, house competitions, literary baking tasks, and the excitement of recreating famous literary moments. This worked in tandem with our Wellbeing Programme, which has been a great success, as students had dedicated time to read for pleasure and to take part in the challenges.  

We are very much looking forward to British Science Week from 8 March. We have a fantastic programme of events from ‘Smashing Stereotypes in Space’ to expert visiting speakers, including Dr Andrew Bassett from The Wellcome Sanger Institute to talk about genetic diseases and Dr Bethan Grist from Coventry University to talk about sustainability and science. The full programme for this festival can be accessed here.  

Some quick dates for the diary: on Thursday 11 March at 5:30pm we have a Futures Talk about veterinary science, with advice on university applications and insights into the profession from experts; on 18 March at 7pm we have our Landor Association Law Careers Evening. This is quickly followed by the KHAPS Family Quiz on 19 March and the first event in our Drama Masterclass Series with a talk from actress Nadia Parkes on 22 March at 7pm.  

I wish you all a very happy weekend and thank you for your continued support. We are all looking forward very much to welcoming your daughters back to school next week. 

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 26 February 2021

Dear Parents, 

It has been such a busy and exciting first week of the half term. The government announcement of the return of schools from Monday 8 March has given us all a great boost as we look forward to the school coming together once again in person. I am looking forward greatly to seeing all our students and to welcoming them back to King’s High after our national lockdown. With the onset of Spring, the continued success of the vaccine rollout, and the return of schools in a little over a week’s time, there are many things to inspire a sense of hope and optimism.  

We have also enjoyed a fantastic array of talks and events this week. The Paralympic 100m medallist and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, Karé Adenegan, inspired us all with a superb assembly to encourage us to pursue our dreams; our World Literature Reading Group continued its discussions of the work of Count Miklós Bánffy; The History Society hosted the writer Nicholas Milton, who spoke about his recent book, Neville Chamberlain’s Legacy; the choral specialists, Ex Cathedra, joined us remotely to inspire us into song; and The Hobbs Society, as part of its focus on ableism, welcomed Nicola Enoch, who spoke about her experiences of bringing up a child with Down’s Syndrome.  

Our new Wellbeing Programme has been a huge success. Students across the school benefited greatly from dedicated time away from screens to do craftwork, art, writing, reading, nature walks, cooking, photography and much more besides. Today is ‘Feel Good Friday’ in which we focus on the importance of doing things for others and the impact that this can have on our own wellbeing, as well as that of others. Our excellent Sports Department has launched an exciting Lockdown 3.0 Challenge packed full of activities, to support Mind, a charity dedicated to mental health support – details can be found here.  

I would like to draw your attention to two exciting forthcoming events: on Saturday 13 March we have our Virtual King’s Links event in which students have an opportunity to talk to over twenty-five recent King’s High leavers studying at a range of universities across the UK and overseas. We also look ahead to our Landor Association Law Careers Evening on the evening of Thursday 18 March, at which we have an array of distinguished legal experts speaking to our students and wider community. 

Thank you again for your continued support and I wish you all a very happy weekend. 

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 12 February 2021

Dear Parents, 

I hope that you and your daughters are safe and well. We have now arrived at the end of what has been an exceptional half term in so many ways. As I emphasised in my assembly this morning, I feel an enormous sense of pride in what the students and staff have achieved. Despite challenging circumstances, the whole school community has come together and worked incredibly hard to ensure that the spirit of the school is strong and that every student is supported, engaged and inspired. 

Our focus on wellbeing is central to all that we do. Following the recent launch of our Foundation Wellbeing Hub, our Wellbeing Prefects addressed school in assembly to talk more about our programme to promote positive mental and physical health after half term. The outline of this exciting new programme can be accessed here and further details will be shared with students. The aim is to encourage a positive impact on student wellbeing by spending time away from screens each week, engaged in a range of exciting practical, creative and physical activities. 

We have celebrated some excellent achievements this week: Lucy in Upper Sixth secured a very prestigious degree apprenticeship at The Dyson Institute for Engineering and Technology, one of several students in recent years to opt for this exciting new post-A Level pathway. Flo in Upper Sixth secured offers at top conservatoires across the country, opting to take up a place at the Royal College of Music in London. Grace, also in Upper Sixth, has achieved a prestigious Distinction in her Diploma for the ABRSM on the flute. This qualification is highly regarded, and her achievement is outstanding. There has been much to celebrate in terms of the cultural and creative endeavours of our students. Below you will find a link to watch the second of our Musical Horizons Concerts, featuring wind and brass players, alongside a theatrical treat from our LAMDA students to showcase their excellent recent work. 

We greatly look forward to the return of our students to school in person. We expect a government update on this on 22 February and, in the same week, we expect to have the outcome from OfQual’s consultation on GCSEs and A Levels. It was a pleasure for us to run our Parent Information Events this week for Year 11 and Upper Sixth, with updates on the current landscape for exam years. 

I would like to draw your attention to two dates for the diary with a focus on the creative arts. You are warmly invited to attend a talk on 22 March at 7pm from Old Girl Nadia Parkes, an acclaimed actress who will talk about her career in film and TV. You are also invited to a talk on 27 April at 7pm from another alumna, Ronay Poole, a theatre and film actress. Both speakers will give specialist masterclasses to students following their talks and sign up details will be sent out nearer the time. 

Thank you again for all you have done to support your daughters and the school.  

I wish you all a very happy half term week and thank you for your continued support. 

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 5 February 2021

Dear Parents, 

We are at the end of another busy week at King’s High, with only one more week to go before we break up for the half term holiday.  

It has been an important week in so many respects. I am delighted to extend a very warm welcome to The Kingsley School who, as you will know, has joined our Foundation family of schools.  

This week our focus has been on mental health and wellbeing to promote Children’s Mental Health Week. As part of this, we launched our new Foundation Wellbeing Hub with some fantastic resources for students and parents, whilst also engaging in a range of related activities during form and House meetings. Self-expression was the theme for the week and, in my assembly this morning, I encouraged students to take opportunities to express their true selves and to encourage others in this also. Next week, we will launch an exciting wellbeing lockdown programme to encourage students to try something different and to spend time away from their screens. I hope that parents also will join in and make the most of the activities we advertised in last week’s newsletter, ranging from music to dance-fitness and cook-along to book club.  

There have been other exciting developments this week. Our new Art and Design Society hosted Minty Sainsbury, a London based artist specialising in architectural pencil drawings, and over fifty students were treated to a superb and inspiring talk; our RSC Shadowing Programme had record numbers for the mid-week showing of The Globe’s Macbeth; and a large number of talented linguists took part in the UK Linguistics Olympiad. This afternoon, we were delighted to welcome our prospective Year 6 students to a virtual tea with lots of fun and activities.  

Next week, we look ahead to the Landor Association Programme for Living and Learning in Lockdown, with virtual tours, a range of talks, a coffee morning and the launch of our new book club. We also look ahead to our evening updates on Wednesday and Thursday for Year 11 and Upper Sixth parents on the current situation with GCSEs and A Levels.  

Thank you for your support of your daughters and the wider school community – this is greatly appreciated by us all. I wish you all a very happy weekend and thank you for your continued support.  

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 29 January 2021

Dear Parents, 

I hope that you and your daughters have had a good week. We were excited to start our week under a light blanket of snow and with our King’s High quad looking particularly beautiful, basked in sunlight, snow and ice. This inspired an impromptu house challenge for the best snowmen and snowscape pictures. I was delighted with the responses from both students and staff and have shared some of these images with you below.  

We are mindful of the different circumstances of home life during the lockdown period and are planning to offer a number of weekly opportunities for you to try something different! These sessions will run from the week of 8 February through to the week of 8 March in the first instance, with a week off for the half-term break. In order to help with planning, please complete this form if you are interested in taking part. Links to the sessions will be sent at the start of each week.  

As term continues briskly, we have enjoyed some special highlights this week. Felicity Bee’s Landor Association Lecture was uplifting and inspiring and, for anyone who missed the event on Tuesday, I encourage you to watch via the link here. Felicity offered such positivity, confidence and hope – she is a tremendous role model for our students.  

Last night, we enjoyed a superb Higher Education Evening to launch our Lower Sixth students on an exciting journey to explore future pathways and options. Following specialist talks from our expert staff on UCAS, Oxbridge, Degree Apprenticeships, and Overseas Universities, we then moved on to virtual break-out rooms for more detailed presentations in key areas. 

This morning’s whole-school assembly marked Climate in Action Day, with a lovely presentation from Rachel in Lower Sixth, filled with practical ideas, tips and challenges on how to help conservation efforts and safeguard the environment. I followed this with a short talk about important environmental changemakers from Rachel Carson, marine biologist and author of Silent Spring, to Greta Thunberg and her more recent work to protect the planet.  

We marked Holocaust Memorial Day on Thursday with a powerful assembly by Judith Hayman, second generation holocaust survivor, who spoke about her family experiences and urged us to remember the collective effort needed from us all to provide the light and be the light to others.  

Another notable moment this week was the inaugural meeting of our Foundation Working Party. Students from King's High and Warwick met to discuss inclusivity and representation in the school curriculum. Following their focus on racism last term, the group is now starting to consider equality in a broader sense. Conversations touched on each of the protected characteristics and the importance of promoting acceptance, empathy and understanding. 

I have been delighted to close our whole-school assemblies with student musical performances: today, Jenna played Delibes’ The Flower Duet from Lakme on the oboe and last week Ema played Dreaming, from Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood. I sign off now with a further treat: the link to issue two of Prism, with some stunning new writing from our students.  

I wish you all a very happy weekend and thank you for your continued support. 

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 22 January 2021

Dear Parents, 

I hope that you and your daughters have had a positive week as we progress through our Spring Term. Life at King’s High continues to be as full and busy as ever with a fantastic range of opportunities both inside and outside the virtual classroom.  

We have continued with our changemaker theme this week, encouraging our students to consider ways in which they can make a positive difference to the lives of others. In my assembly this morning, I reflected on the achievements of Kamala Harris, the new Vice President, whilst also celebrating the remarkable poetry of the young American laureate, Amanda Gorman.  

This was followed by the launch of the KHAPS Personal Achievement Awards. Students across the school are strongly encouraged to apply for a financial award to support a personal or community project that they are passionate about. This is a perfect opportunity to support the girls’ changemaker aspirations and we look forward very much to reviewing the submissions.  

I am enormously proud of the literary and creative achievements of our students. We recently celebrated the launch of a new poetry collection, A Growing World, part of a project led by Poet in Residence, Professor Gregory Leadbetter. The collection can be accessed here

This week has seen the launch of the second issue of Prism, our exciting and cutting-edge creative writing magazine, led by a superb group of students. It includes some remarkable poetry and prose of the very highest standard and we will send a link to access this shortly. 

Our focus remains very much on supporting the ambitious future aspirations of our students. We have continued with our GCSE Options programme, with a parent event on Wednesday. Next week we look forward to Higher Education Evening on Thursday, with remote speakers from a range of universities and organisations. Further details can be see here.  

As ever, our Futures Department have been busy offering excellent support and guidance – the Your Future e-Newsletter is filled with links to university and apprenticeship fairs, virtual work experience, and other events and resources. It can be accessed here

Thank you for your ongoing support during these challenging times. I wish you all a very restful weekend and hope to see many of you, remotely, for our Landor Association Lecture on Tuesday evening when we welcome the return of Felicity Bee. 

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 15 January 2021

Dear Parents, 

At the end of our first full week of term, I am able to reflect with great pride on the achievements and 

endeavours of our students. It has been an important week for our Year 9 students as they embark on their GCSE choices: Dr Seal’s assembly on Monday, followed by our parent talk on Wednesday, began a series of events to encourage the girls to look ahead and consider future aspirations, whilst reflecting on academic strengths and interests. Our new GCSE Options booklet is linked below and also available to view here.  

There has been a very pleasing burst of activity on many fronts this week. Our rich co-curricular programme is in full swing: today alone, aside from our Friday Activity Programme, there are fifteen groups and activities running from Challenge Sport and Environment Action to Universal Justice, Creative Writing and Wellbeing Book Club. I was also delighted to see the launch of a new reading group across King’s High and Warwick School to explore and celebrate the fiction of Miklos Bánffy (1873 – 1950), the Hungarian polymath and writer. This is a unique opportunity for our students to encounter some of the great works of European literature in translation.  

Wednesday’s Inspire Assembly focused on the value of creative thinking and intellectual curiosity, celebrating the achievements of those who entered the Three Minute Environmental Speech Challenge. This term’s challenge centres on the theme of social responsibility and the task is to design a campaign of the student’s choice to make the world a better place.  

As part of our work to promote a strong sense of social responsibility at King’s High, I explored the idea of changemakers and changemaking in our whole-school assembly this morning, discussing the achievements of Marcus Rashford, Greta Thunberg, and Alexandria Ocasia-Ortez, the youngest woman to serve in the US Congress. I encouraged all our students to reflect and consider what they can do to take proactive and creative steps to solve the social problems of our times. To read more on changemaking, do look at my latest blog.  

A quick date for the diary: our Landor Lecture is at 7pm on Tuesday 26 January and we are delighted to welcome our distinguished speaker, King’s High Old Girl Felicity Bee, who, whilst completing her studies to become a doctor, is also training for the British Olympic Bobsleigh Squad, hoping to attend the winter Olympics in Beijing 2022 and Milan 2026. Please register here

Thank you for your ongoing support of your daughters and the school in these challenging times and I hope you all have a very good weekend. 

Yours sincerely,  

Dr Burley 

Head Master 

Friday 8 January 2021

Dear Parents, 

What a remarkable week it has been! From the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday evening, the start of another national lockdown, and then the events in Washington DC, it’s hard to conceive of an equivalent moment in recent times. 

I know all too well that such uncertainty can place great pressure on individuals, families and communities and my message to students in our first assembly of 2021 was to care for one another, to support one another, and to reach out to connect with others. Our Wellbeing Ambassadors followed this with a superb presentation on the 5Cs of mental and emotional wellbeing, the slides from which have been uploaded to News

I am enormously proud of the whole school community for the way we have been able to adapt so swiftly to a rapidly changing situation. Despite the challenges of Covid, it has been an incredibly positive start to term. Our remote school is thriving and, as I write, students are engaged in a fantastic range of Friday afternoon activities from Greek or Mandarin to CCF and the Ivy House Leadership Award. 

I have selected highlights below to give you a flavour of some of the things happening inside and outside the remote classroom. Our new and exciting Inspire Programme for the Spring Term is linked below and you can access our superb Beyond the Classroom booklet on the portal

The spirit of the school remains incredibly strong and students, staff, parents, and governors have done a tremendous job to enable such a smooth start to term. I have felt great pride in our students, who have handled the uncertainty and change with great spirit and resilience. I was delighted to learn about new, student-led and student-inspired societies: the Art and Design Society and the Interfaith Council. Amidst the restrictions, the students are seizing opportunities and taking the initiative. 

There are, of course, questions about GCSEs and A Levels and we will update parents as soon as we have more information. Our absolute priority is our students and we will ensure that they have the very best support throughout this process. 

I wish you all the very best for the New Year and hope that you can have a happy and restful weekend. 

Your sincerely, 

Dr Burley 

Head Master