Pupils inspired by futuristic images of Harrogate

*James McKay’s futuristic drawings of Harrogate in 2100 

Pupils at a Highfield Prep School were inspired to focus on climate change solutions when they were shown futuristic drawings of how Harrogate could look by 2100. 


In an inspirational speech, James McKay, showed the children at Highfield Prep school pictures of Harrogate in the time of the ancient Coal Forests to encourage them to think about the challenges facing the planet and the impact global warming has had on the world. He also shared futuristic images of how the town might develop.  


Mr McKay, from the Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences at University of Leeds, was the guest speaker at the school’s annual Speech Day and Prizegiving ceremony. 


Known as the ‘man who draws the future’, James is an artist and science communicator who collaborates with scientists to illustrate ideas about the future as well as reconstructing ancient landscapes. 


He told the packed audience: “Over 320 million years ago there was a rainforest in Harrogate. The trees were growing and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This carbon eventually became coal, which we burn to produce energy, but which then releases the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. 


“I believe that to create a good future we have to understand the past. This is why we need to use renewable energy, protect forests, soils and capture carbon,” he told the school which has strong eco credentials with an active eco committee. 


He urged the pupils to really focus on sustainability for the greater health of the planet. 


“Walking and cycling is better where possible, but importantly living well, being active, connecting with people, not just your friends but people all over the world, being mindful and always learning – that’s what we are at school for,” he told the families and friends at the event. 


“Everyone here has the skills, interests, hobbies and experience to make the world a better place. Try to think what you can do in your life to help us get to that good future,” he urged. 


During his speech, Headteacher James Savile paid tribute to the hard work and vision of the Highfield community over the past year. 

*James Savile, Highfield Prep School headteacher addressing the audience at the 2023 Speech Day & Prizegiving

He said pupils, parents and staff had a lot to celebrate over the past year, “The three simple words from our school motto, “I AM ME” are extremely important to us as a school and my wish is that you know that each one of you is special and unique. You all have the ability to do something that is both distinctive and amazing and I want you all to remember that.” 


Highfield was recently shortlisted for the national award of Prep School of the Year in the Independent Parent School of the Year Awards and is the previous winner of the TES Community Initiative Award. 


This year the school was also awarded the Eco Schools Green Flag and is a regular participant in walk to school days organised by Zero Carbon Harrogate. 


The Annual Speech Day included a performance from the school’s orchestra, an address from Dame Francine Holroyd, Chair of Governors and a performance by the school’s senior choir. 


Highfield Prep School Headteacher James Savile; Highfield head boy and girl; James McKay   

James McKay presenting prizes to pupils at Highfield Prep School Speech Day and Prizegiving  

 Highfield Prep School Senior Choir performing at the school’s annual Speech Day and Prizegiving 

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