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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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