History of Highfields School

Highfields School was established at the close of the Second World War, at a time when primary and secondary education were being separated.  Previously, primary education had been provided within Newark’s Lilley & Stone High School site, but by 1945 that had been phased out and there was a need for a new primary school in the town.

Several interested parents, including Mr Gordon Benoy, Mr Eric Steel, Mr Reginald Sheldrake and Mrs Ida McDonald, pursued every avenue to find a solution without success until Mr Sheldrake offered the use of a single room, free of charge, above his Chemist’s shop in Appletongate.

So began Highfields, or ‘Sheldrakes’ as it was originally known.  With just 21 pupils, each child had to bring along his or her own chair to sit on, to be taught by Miss White, the school’s very first Headteacher.  Mr Benoy subsequently purchased Highfields House and parkland off London Road for £4,500 from the Ministry of Defence, just as the occupying Military Police were preparing to move out after the war, and ‘Sheldrakes’ – or Highfields as it had now become – moved to its present site off London Road.

By September 1948 Miss White had over 100 children on the roll, yet from the outset Highfields maintained a rigid policy of non-profit making, and in 1952 this policy was formalised with Highfields becoming a registered charity.

The School continued to grow, enjoying some strong and inspirational leadership in particular from third Headteacher Keith Eggleston, who is remembered for his eight year tenure in the building of the School’s Eggleston Sports Hall which was opened in 1968.  The newly built Infants classrooms opened shortly afterwards in 1971.

Highfields has a history of long service.  Gordon Benoy, one of the founding parents in 1945, only retired as Chair of the Governors some 40 years after taking up the role!  Paul Smith, the School’s sixth Headteacher, retained his position for nearly 20 years and Roger Wood his successor held the role for a further seven years until 2011.  Highfields’ next Headteacher was Mrs Claire Fraser who was no stranger to Highfields having previously been Deputy Head giving over 10 years’ service to the school. She was succeeded in 2015 by Richard Thomson, formerly Head at Rauceby CE School.

The Present

Mrs Sarah Lyons is the present Headteacher, joining Highfields in September 2019 from the Rutland Learning Trust where she had been Head for 6 years and Deputy prior to that. Mrs Lyons continues to build on Highfields’ strengths and core values, in particular the School’s reputation for academic excellence which is evident in the children’s consistently strong results both throughout their time at Highfields and ultimately in their achievement at 11+ and independent school entry when they move on to senior school.

Highfields is proud to have been judged “excellent in all areas” in the school’s most recent ISI inspection in June 2019.  The inspection concluded the following:

  • “Pupils’ attitude to learning is excellent”; and
  • “Personal development is excellent”


Such results can only be achieved with the support of a highly experienced and dedicated teaching team, specialising in different subject areas.  Combined with small class sizes this enables teaching to all levels of ability to help all children achieve their very best.  The enhanced curriculum on offer means Highfields provides teaching across a wide range of subjects from art, ICT, music and drama, a broad range of different sports and learning beyond the classroom in the form of field trips and residential visits.

Mrs Lyons and the rest of the teaching team fully endorse the cultural ethos upon which Highfields was first established and continue to promote the traditional family values which underpin the School’s continued success.