High Starters

Please click on the link to view St John Fisher’s High Starters Policy:

High Starters Policy

High Starter Magazine

Please follow the link to our 2017 High Starter Magazine to discover all we have been doing in the last year.

High Starter Magazine

December 2017High Starters Medical Trip

Mr Bulcock took a small group of Year 8 High Starters to a medical taster day at the University of Leeds recently on 14 December. The students were given the opportunity to participate in workshops on dentistry, medicine, healthcare and psychology. The day was very informative and the students were able to meet students and lecturers and learn about university life as well as discovering more about careers in healthcare. The dentistry workshop was a particular hit with students getting hands-on experience as the photograph shows.


November 2017

Climbing WallWe had great fun launching the Year Seven High Starter programme with a visit to the Harrogate Climbing Centre on 29 November. The session focused on both teamwork and communication skills. The students worked together and had to communicate effectively in order to keep each other safe. Communication was also important in helping the climbers get higher by pointing out any hand holds they might have missed. The students had a great time at the centre before coming back to school where they were given a brief talk on what it means to be a High Starter at St John Fishers.



November 2017

On 13 November, a group of 25 Year 9 High Starters spent a fantastic day at Oxford University to learn more about life at this prestigious place of learning. After a cold and early start we arrived at Brasenose college where we were given a tour and invited to ask questions of a number of current Oxford students. Our students were then given the opportunity to talk to Dr Joe Organ, Schools and Publications Officer before dining in the beautiful surroundings of the college hall. In the afternoon we met with some of our former pupils who are currently studying in Oxford. One of the Year Nine’s commented ‘ The trip has made me more determined to work hard as it will benefit my future.’ Another said, ‘ It was very informative and the people were lovely and welcoming. We got to interact and not just be talked at.’

Oxford Trip Oxford







April 2017

In April, a group of twenty five Year 10 High Starters were invited to visit the University of Cambridge and to stay in Fitzwilliam College. We received a fantastic welcome and were very well looked after with great accommodation and lots of excellent food! The students learnt a great deal about the application process and were given a tour of Fitzwilliam and our link college St Catharine’s. We enjoyed an entertaining lecture on veterinary science and even managed to squeeze in a guided punt on the river Cam where we learnt all about the history of the university. The students were very positive about the whole experience and only sorry that they could not stay for longer.

Cambridge 3jpg

Cambridge University Trip









February 2017

On 7th February, 2017, a handful of High Starters from Year 8 and 9 attended a Philosophy workshop with University of Manchester lecturer, Nicola Mulkeen. The pupils got to engage with Philosophy at degree level; encouraging them to use higher level thinking skills to unpack global issues and further question issues they are exposed to on a daily basis.

The pupils involved were keen to debate and challenge one another, as well challenging the politics of world leaders and current ethical issues. They enjoyed expressing themselves and sharing their thoughts in a safe space.

There will be opportunity for these pupils to work with Miss McHugh to establish a P4C group so that they can share their new skills with the rest of the school.

Philosophy Workshop Philosophy Workshop








January 2017

On 30th January, twenty five of our Year 8 & 9 High Starters had the opportunity to take part in a debating workshop run in school by the English Speaking Union. The ESU is a unique educational charity dedicated to helping people realise their potential through giving them the skills and confidence in communication to articulate their ideas and share them with others. We were joined for the day by a mentor who trained the students to express and critically evaluate ideas and share them with each other.

The students learnt the principles of parliamentary debating in the morning, as well as working on their style and delivery and in the afternoon took part in a mini-debate. They discussed questions such as whether the state visit of Donald Trump should go ahead and whether non-essential cosmetic surgery should be banned.

Feedback from the students was very positive and we are planning to start a KS3 debating group with the help of our Sixth Form debaters.

High Starters Debating Workshop High Starters Workshop 1







November 2016
Twenty four Year 9 High Starters accompanied by Dr Langstaff and Mr Fox visited Brasenose College, Oxford on 4th November to find out more about life at this prestigious university. We were met by Joe Organ, the Schools Liaison Officer who gave us a talk about the college and the university and introduced us to a group of current students who were able to answer all our questions. We were then given a tour of the college before lunch ‘in hall’. In the afternoon we visited University College and Mr Fox’s alma mater, Keble. A real highlight of the day was meeting former SJF students Sam Smith, Stella Kremer and Alessandra Martorana who shared some of their experiences with us. Hopefully this trip will inspire more Oxbridge success stories in the future!



University Visits 2015-2016

November 2015 – Y9: Negotiating and Debating Day, Leeds School of Law, Leeds University (12 students)

February 2016 – Y12: EPQ Leeds University Library Visit (20)

March 2016 – Y12: Visit from Leeds University Classics Department (25)

March 2016 Y8: Pole to Pole: Life at the ends of the Earth, Leeds University (15)

March 2016 – Y7: Leeds Festival of Science, Making Connections (25)

March 2016 – Y12 – Leeds Festival of Science, Infinity (20)

April 2016 – Y10: Discovering Medical School Day, York University (10)

May 2016 – Y8: York Science & Technology Day, York University (15)

June 2016 – Y12: Trip to Oxford and Cambridge (60)

July 2016 – Y10: Maths Enrichment Day, University of York (15)

High Starters News

Classics Visit from Leeds University

High Starters Ancient HistoryIn March, the Year 12 Ancient Historians enjoyed a visit from the Classics Department of Leeds University. Two current undergraduates gave a general talk on studying Classics at Leeds and this was followed by an academic taster session led by Maria Haley, a PhD research student in the Department. Maria’s talk introduced some of the modern presentations of Sparta from cinema and video games and the students then analysed them against historical sources. Our visitors were very impressed with the students’ knowledge and enthusiasm!

Latin News

Latin March 2016Six of our Ancient Historians are so keen that they have requested an after-school beginners Latin class! Mr Richards leads the group assisted by Dr Langstaff and they are both delighted at the opportunity to refresh their own knowledge. No doubt this will be very useful for the students who are all considering undertaking degrees in Classics and related subjects. ‘Noli cedere cognoscere!’


Year 7 – Leeds Festival of Science

As part of Leeds Festival of Science a group of mathematically minded Year 7 students were given the opportunity to investigate an area of Mathematics not usually studied until A-level. Students were introduced to Graph Theory and were shown how it can be used in various applications such as the algorithms used by Facebook to find “People you may know” and how SatNavs can find you the quickest route from A to B. The session was challenging but the Year 7’s tackled the tasks with enthusiasm.

Year 11 – Maths Inspiration

Mathematics can, by some, be perceived to be boring and students often ask “When am I ever going to use this?” Admittedly, for some the answer may be “Never”, but we wanted to show our students just how mathematics can be used. We took a group of Year 11 students to the West Yorkshire Playhouse for a “Maths Inspiration” event. This consisted of three speakers who each spoke to the audience about how they use mathematics in their jobs; from using statistical tests to find out whether drugs are as effective as they may initially appear to be, to designing sports stadiums. The students got fully involved in the event, with some going up on stage to join in various activities, and we even had to wait around at the end so that they could get their calculators signed by the speakers.

Y11 Maths Inspirations Talks 1

Year 10 – Maths Feast

A group of eight Year 10 students took part in the Further Maths Support Programme (FMSP) Year 10 Maths Feast this week at Bootham School, York. The Maths Feast is an enjoyable and challenging team competition testing mathematical, team-working and communication skills. The competition involves a variety of rounds, or courses, including fast-paced relays, family-favourite Countdown and a challenging comprehension rou?nd (this year’s was on complex numbers, a topic studied in A-Level Further Maths). The teams worked with enthusiasm and put in their best efforts throughout the day, and although neither of our teams won the event one team did earn a prize for the best performance in the Countdown round.

Team A: Will Pritchard, Aidan Miller, Eimear Griffin, Rosa Fattorini

Team B: Liam O’Neil, Tom Dolan, Owen Davies, Matthew Horsfall

 Team Maths Challenge


In April, four of our students ventured over to The Mount School, York, to compete in the UK Mathematics Trust’s Team Challenge Regional Final. Cameron Mackinnon (Y8), Aga Oledzka (Y8), Charlotte Holmes (Y9) and Matthew Ball (Y9) took part in the fast-paced day of maths challenges, ranging from cross-numbers to frantic relay races, competing against 28 other schools from across the region. The team worked exceptionally well in all of the challenges, demonstrating excellent teamwork, mathematical ability and sportsmanship. The team placed a very respectable 10th against some very strong competition!

Individual Maths Challenges

The UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT) is a registered charity whose aim is to advance the education of children and young people in mathematics. The UKMT organises national mathematics competitions and other mathematical enrichment activities for 11-18 year old UK school students. Over 200,000 students from around the UK entered the Challenge with the top 6% receiving a gold award, the next 13% receiving silver, and the next 21% bronze. Earlier this term some of our Year 9, 10 and 11 students took part in the Intermediate Maths Challenge and they performed extremely well. Our students managed to achieve 4 gold awards, 16 silver awards and 30 bronze awards.

Every year several thousand students sitting the Junior Maths Challenge are invited to sit the Junior Kangaroo papers. We are extremely pleased to have three of our Year 8 students qualifying for this paper: Cameron Mackinnon, Sammy Kelly and Sophia Lubiecki.

Congratulations to everyone who achieved an award and those who qualified for the follow-up paper.

Please click on the following link to view the results:

Junior Maths Challenge Results 2016

Grey and Pink Kangaroo

Pictured are Philip Battersby and Joshua Rowe with their Intermediate Kangaroo Certificates

Pictured are Philip and Joshua with their Intermediate Kangaroo Certificates

In March four of our students were invited to complete the Pink and Grey Kangaroo follow-on rounds from the Intermediate Maths Challenge. The results are in and Philip Battersby (Y9) and Joshua Rowe (Y11) achieved a merit. The top 25% students achieve a merit putting these two in the top 1400 maths students in the country! A huge well done to both!


Cambridge University Essay Competition Success

Congratulations to Felicity Graham who was recently awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Fitzwilliam College Ancient World/ Classics Essay competition. Felicity produced a 2,500 word essay on the question ‘What can we learn about family relationships in the ancient world?’ Dr Sara Owen, Admissions Tutor and Director of Studies in Classics at Fitzwilliam congratulated Felicity on a ‘great achievement’ and invited her to Cambridge to receive her certificate. Well done Felicity!

Science & Technology Day at York University

Fifteen Year 8 students achieved great success in the York Science and Technology Challenge Day held at the Department of Computer Science at the University of York on 23rd May. The event was designed to give an enjoyable insight into higher level science and technology as well as providing an opportunity for students from different schools to work together in teams. The students participated in three different activities: a medical diagnostic session, an E-FIT activity working with police imaging software and a Vehicle challenge which involved designing, building and racing a simple electric vehicle. Two of the three activities were won by teams including St John Fisher students and Lara Allen, Sophia Lubiecki and Cameron Mackinnon were part of the five member team who were awarded with the trophy for the best team overall. These students will now progress to a Challenge Final at the beginning of next year. Congratulations to all involved and good luck in the Final!