Past and present
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 that was phased out. By 1945 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 the Highfields house and parkland for £4,500 from the Ministry of Defence just as the occupying Military Police were preparing to move out after the war and Highfields 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 has 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 in 1986 – over 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. Mrs Fraser served for over 10 years here.
Richard Thomson is Headmaster now, having joined Highfields in September 2015 from Rauceby CE School where he had been Head for 6 years and Deputy for 4 years prior to that. Mr Thomson 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.
Such results can only be achieved with the support of a highly experienced and specialist teaching team. Combined with small class sizes this enables teaching to all levels of ability to help the children achieve their very best. The enhanced curriculum on offer means Highfields provides teaching across a range of subjects from art, ICT, music and drama, a wide number of different sports and learning beyond the classroom in the form of field trips and residential visits.
Mr Thomson 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.