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Protect our Creative Curriculum

History is important, and has the power to shape perceptions and attitudes for generations. This was very much the case for our school. Founded in 1877 as Highgate board school for the poor, the label somehow stuck.  When I started here, I was always struck by the blazers, hats and satchels walking up North Hill in the morning on their way to school, passing our lot scootering down the hill. Geography, or more specifically, topography, is significant too, with Highgate, Channing and St Michael’s at the top of the hill, and us at the bottom. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it will remain.

Move on to the beginning of this century, with over one hundred unfilled places across the school, our governing body was grappling with the pressures of underfunding. The limited budget that came with low numbers impacted negatively on school resources – which resulted in families moving their children to oversubscribed local schools when a place became available. If a space emerged up the road, the first people to call would be the Highgate Primary parents on the waiting list – and so the cycle went on.

During the application process for Headteacher of the school in 2008, it was not a surprise to be asked to present on the theme of how we might make Highgate Primary the school of choice in the future.  The answer was simply to do everything possible to hold on to the families we have, and over time, aim to provide an educational experience that offered more than anything else locally. I continually asked myself the question, what are the things that make a primary education truly special? Whichever way I looked at it, on top of great teaching which is a given, the answer always came back to enrichment – all the extra things that can make school such an exciting, fun and memorable place to be.

Since that time, we have managed to reverse that downward cycle. With a full roll, the resulting increase in funding has been invested in the things that make Highgate Primary unique. In recent years, the school has updated its premises and landscaped the outdoor spaces. We’ve added The Family Centre, an art studio and a cookery school; introduced Forest School, Mandarin and whole class instrument tuition; prioritised school sport; put in place a wide range of therapeutic services; set up the Early Birds, Night Owls and a full timetable of after-school clubs; and, led by our PSA, created a fantastic calendar of community events. The curriculum today is more ambitious than ever, goes way beyond the scope of the national curriculum and is supported by so many educational trips, visitors to school, performances and concerts – all of which was reflected in our recent Ofsted inspection.

The reality however is that everything comes at a cost, and events of recent years are once again conspiring against us. Pupil numbers are dropping as birth rates decline and families relocate away from London. Covid saw the school take a financial hit as our lettings income was decimated. World events and a controversial mini-budget dramatically increased inflation whilst school funding has not kept pace. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive, school but inadequate SEND funding means that schools like us pay a financial cost for our ethos. The long and the short of it is that we are facing a perfect budgeting storm and no longer have enough money to simply carry on as we have in the past.

The choice we are facing is to either reduce the scope of our curriculum and all the extras we offer, or generate additional revenue to plug the funding gap. Having been here before, so far as I am concerned, there is only one course of action – hence our high profile fundraising campaign that was launched last week.

If you agree and want to see the school continue to enrich our children’s education in such a wide range of ways, please sign up to be a Highgate Primary fundraising champion. If enough people raise a modest amount of money, the difference to the school will be huge.

Sign up to be a champion of Highgate Primary School here:


Here’s a link to a short message that gives a bit more information about our campaign.