Start of Term Letter September 2014

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Upcoming Events

September 2014

Dear Parents and Carers

A new school year begins

The students have returned to school looking really smart and well prepared for the start of the new academic year.  Thank you for your support in ensuring they have the uniform and equipment they need so that we can make a really good start.

The new Colleges are now in full swing.  Students have met their new tutors and their Heads of Colleges and there is already a sense of new beginnings with learning at the centre of everything.  Students now have tutors who teach within their College, so they will get to know each other very well during the course of the year.  All the College signage is in place – each building has been allocated to a College and named after a famous person in the appropriate sphere of learning.  For example, in Arts College we have the Rossetti Building (English), Purcell Building (Music), Sinden Building (Performing Arts) and Da Vinci Building (Visual Arts).  Once again, this gives a focus on learning and a sense of ownership to the staff and students in the College.

The new Homewood Café is up and running having been completely refurbished over the summer.  With new caterers in place, we are already receiving positive feedback from staff and students regarding the improved quality of the food being offered.  In addition to the main Homewood café, the 6th Form College has a new café and there is a Food Cube offering snacks and drinks outside the Sinden Theatre.  We would encourage you to use the online payment system for all your school purchases, including lunch provision.  If you have not registered and need further information regarding this, please contact the Finance Office on Extn 334.  We do accept cheques (made payable to Pabulum Ltd) and we still have a machine which accepts cash, but students often have to queue to put money on their account this way, so it is much quicker for them if the online system is used.

Focus on learning

The change to Colleges is allowing us to link more closely the academic and pastoral support we give our students.  Students in Discovery College will have a smaller number of teachers than previously who will also be their tutors, so will get to know them really well and be able to support them in their learning, as well as helping them with any pastoral issues they may be facing.  In KS4, students have been allocated to the College most closely linked with the courses they have chosen, so their tutors will also be expert teachers in their field.  Tutors will mentor their students as last year, so having a real knowledge of the subject areas being studied will really help those mentoring conversations to focus on learning. 

Exam Results 2014

Our examination groups did very well again this year, with Year 13 achieving the best ever A-level results in the history of the school and Year 11 building on the high standards of last year.  Maths and English GCSE pass rates held firm this year despite the volatile national picture and the percentage of students achieving at or above their expected progress levels rose again. Many individual students did exceptionally well and all our Year 13 students who wanted to go on to University achieved the qualifications they needed to take up their places.  Please see our web-site for more information along with some great pictures of students receiving their results.

New web-site

If you have not already done so, please visit our brand new web-site on www.homewood-school.co.uk.  It has been completely re-built - it is bright and visual, the home page is regularly updated with latest news and there is easy access to a wealth of information.  We hope you find it interesting and easy to navigate.  The web team would be happy to receive any feedback.

Home Learning

Rather than individual homework tasks being set this year, we have moved towards using I-Books or PDF booklets for each subject to run alongside the lessons for the term.  Students can work on these booklets at home during the term and will receive feedback from their teachers on the work they do.  Parents can access these booklets through their child’s I-Pad (Years 7 – 9) or via the web-site where we aim to publish them on the departmental areas.  In addition, examination groups will have coursework or controlled assessment preparation to carry out and will also need to be building revision time into their schedules.  No student should ever be short of work to do at home, so please let us know if you have any concerns in this area.

Sir Donald Sinden

It was with sadness that we learnt of the passing of Sir Donald Sinden at the age of 90.  He has been a great friend and patron of the school for many years.  As you know, our Theatre was named after Sir Donald and he has been a frequent visitor and supporter of Theatre events.  We offer our sincere condolences to his family and record our grateful thanks for all he has done to support Homewood School and the Sinden Theatre.

Homewood School Student Support Fund

I would like to remind you that the Homewood School student support fund payment is due in September for the 2014/15 academic year.  The payment of £10 per family goes into this fund and is then spent on items that would not otherwise be provided for within the normal school budget.   We are asking the Parent Focus Group to give us their ideas regarding areas for spending this money.  Please use the online payment system to make your payment, or send a cheque made payable to “Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre” to the School Finance Office. Your continued support is much appreciated.

Young Persons Travel Pass

Due to some technical issues at KCC, some of our students have received temporary Travel Passes which only cover the students’ travel until 30 September.  We understand there is some concern about this when parents have paid for 6 or 12 months travel, but we have been assured that the permanent passes will be with us before the end of September and we will issue them as soon as we receive them. 

If you still wish to apply for a Travel Pass, please go to www.kent.gov.uk/youngpersonstravelpass for further details.  The pass provides unlimited weekday travel between 06:00 and 19:00 for 11-16 year olds at a cost of £200 for the full academic year, or £100 for half the year.  Pupils receiving Free School Meals will only be charged half price and no charge will be made for Young Carers, Young people in Care and Care Leavers.

For 6th form students, KCC offer the 16+ Travel Card. The cost of the card is £400, and Homewood offers a subsidy of £25 that cuts the overall price to £375 for all Homewood School Post 16 students, thereby resulting in a price reduction when compared with last year’s cost.

The card allows the holder unlimited bus travel in Kent (and on direct bus services crossing the county boundary e.g. to Medway and East Sussex) at any time including evenings, weekends and holidays. To find out if you are eligible for a Kent 16+ Travel Card and for further information, go to www.kent.gov.uk/16plustravelcard.

Attendance and daily registration arrangements

I would like to remind you of the importance of excellent attendance and to ask you to ensure that your son/daughter attends school every day except when they are really unwell.  It is imperative that your son/daughter registers by thumbprint every morning (before 8.50am) and every lunchtime (before the start of afternoon lessons). It is their responsibility to complete this task and failure to do so will lead to unauthorised absence and the possible issuing of a penalty notice once unauthorised absences have reached a certain level. I would be very grateful if you would speak with your son/daughter about this so that we can ensure that registers are accurate and so that we can avoid the issuing of fines (£120 per parent/carer) by the education authority.

College Badges

On 24th September your son/daughter will be issued with their new college badge which they will bring home with them that evening. Accompanying the badge will be a photograph and instructions of how to iron/sew the badge on to the blazer. We would ask that all badges are attached according to the information provided by Monday 29th September at the latest. If you have any concerns regarding this please contact your son’s/daughter’s form tutor who may be able to advise and support you.

Reward Scheme

This year we will again reward our students for their efforts and achievements through a variety of means including continuing with our successful Carrot Reward Scheme. When a student produces a good piece of work or contributes in a really positive way to a lesson or to school in general they may receive a sticker from a member of staff.  This sticker will have a unique code on it which the student should enter on to a web-site using secure and individual log in details. Passwords and details of how to enter this code will be given to students during their tutor period. Parents, staff and students can view these rewards at their leisure. Any stickers received should be stuck into the appropriate place in the Student Planner so that a student can register it online when it is convenient to them. We would be very grateful if you could support this process and encourage your son/daughter to register their stickers soon after receipt.

Consultation Days

With the launch of Discovery College, we are changing the way we do Consultation Days for students in Years 7 and 8.  This year, the Consultation Days on 5 and 6 January will be for Years 9 – 14 only while Years 7 and 8 have normal lessons.  There will be no Consultation Day on 8 April, so all students will attend that day as normal.  We are planning an Open event on that day so that parents can come in to the Colleges to see what their sons/daughters are learning.

 For Years 7 & 8, instead of Consultation Days, there will be a series of mentoring evenings during November (for Year 7) and January (Year 8) when parents and students will be able to review progress with the Discovery College tutors.  Further details will be sent out nearer the time and we will look forward to receiving your feedback regarding this change.   

Forthcoming Events

Please make a note of the following events:

Monday 15 September                       Year 13 Parents’ Information Evening

Wednesday 17 September                 Senior Prizegiving in the Sinden Theatre at 7.00 p.m.

Wednesday 24 September                 Open Evening

Tuesday 30 September                      Year 12 Parents’ Information Evening

Friday 3 October                                 Harvest Festival St Mildred’s Church

Saturday 11 October                          Year 5/6 Masterclasses

Friday 17 October                               End of Term 1

Monday 3 November                          Start of Term 2

Tuesday 11 November                       Year 7 Mentoring Evening 3.45 p.m.

Saturday 15 November                      Year 6 Assessment Day

Wednesday 19 November                  Year 7 Mentoring Evening 3.45 p.m.

Wednesday 19 November                  6th Form Open Evening

Thursday 27 November                      Year 7 Mentoring Evening 3.45 p.m.

Saturday 29 November                      Christmas Craft Fayre

Monday 15 December                        Year 7 Christingle Services St Mildred’s Church

Tuesday 16 December                       Carol Concert St Mildred’s Church

Friday 19 December                           End of Term 2

Conclusion

This is the start of my 5th year as Principal of Homewood School and each year I look forward to the next 12 months with ever greater anticipation and excitement.  The students at Homewood are a pleasure to work with and constantly impress me with their commitment to learning and the diversity of their interests and enthusiasms.  The Homewood staff team provide first class teaching, extra-curricular opportunities and pastoral care for the students and with your support we can ensure that all our students achieve their potential. 

Best wishes

S J Lees

Principal