Principal's Christmas Letter 2015

Upcoming Events

Dear Parents and Carers

Here we are in the final couple of weeks of the Christmas Term. Always a very busy term with lots going on so I am writing to update you on a number of matters and to remind you about some important dates coming up.

Exam Results 2015

We now have the final results from the 2015 exam season and I am delighted to be able to tell you that the upward trend in our results continues. In the end, 50% of our Year 11 students achieved at least 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths (up from 46% the previous year). 74% of students made at least expected progress in English and 67% in Maths – both these figures well above the national average. 6th form students also performed well, with almost all of them achieving at or above their target grades across their subjects. These results place us as one of the strongest High School performers in Kent and reflect the incredibly hard work of our students, ably supported by the committed and conscientious staff at Homewood. Congratulations to all our examination students of 2015.  

Preparation for Exams 2016

Our current examination cohorts in Years 10, 11 and the 6th form are already working hard to exceed last year’s successful outcomes. Attendance at revision sessions after school and at the weekend are always high and the focus on controlled assessments and mock exams is very evident.  The vast majority of our students really want to do well and we will do all we can to support them. But it is not just our examination year groups which are working well. Throughout the school, students are focused on learning, there is a sense of purpose around the school, and plenty of enjoyment. A recent exhibition of the Year 9 Geography project work on “Tenterden as a Place” is just one example of the high quality of work being produced and the creativity of our students in how they present their work.

Remembrance Day Service

Our annual Remembrance Day Service has now become established in the school calendar and once again this year, the whole school gathered on the Redgra for a service including the two minutes’ silence. Our cadets came together to form the parade for the service, students from each College presented wreaths, two students sang “Amazing Grace” and another read a moving reflection on her recent visit to Ypres. It was an important moment for the school to come together and pay respects to those who gave their lives for our freedom. It was particularly shocking to hear the news from Paris a few days later, and once again the school paused for a minute’s silence to remember those affected by those events. It is at times like this that we are reminded of the respect our students show for others and the strength of our school community.

Important Dates for your Diary

14 December Year 7 Christingle Services St Mildred’s Church 9.45 a.m. & 1.45 p.m.
15 December Carol Concert St Mildred’s Church 6.00 p.m.
18 December Last Day of Term 2 Finish at normal time 3.30 p.m.

Looking ahead to next term:

4 January Start of Term 3 for Years 7 & 8
4 January Consultation Days for Years 9 – 13

(NOTE: Years 7 & 8 attend school as normal)

13 January Year 8 Choices Evening Sports Hall 4.00 – 7.00 p.m.
19 January Year 8 Mentor Evening T Block By appointment
27 January Year 8 Mentor Evening T Block By appointment
4 February Year 8 Mentor Evening T Block By appointment
12 February Staff Training Day (No students in school)    
12 February End of Term 3    

Term dates reminder

Can I remind you to check the term dates on the web-site before booking holidays. As you know, we are unable to authorise holidays taken in term time, so do please check. The dates for 2016-17 are published on the web-site. Please note in particular the timing of the October-November holiday (24 October to 4 November 2016) and the Christmas break (22 December 2016 to 3 January 2017).

PREVENT Strategy

You will be aware that there is a concern nationally that some young people are being radicalised through online contact with extremist groups. This is not something we have experienced at Homewood but there have been isolated cases in Kent and it is important that we are all aware of the risks so that we can educate our young people to understand how to protect themselves online. We are preparing an information leaflet for parents which we will put on to our web-site shortly. Please look out for this as it will give you helpful information about how we can work together to protect our young people.

Attendance

Thank you for your support with attendance. We have noticed an improvement overall in the academic year to date. We are still concerned that some students are not in school as often as they should be and you may well have been contacted by your son/daughter’s form tutor where there is a concern emerging about levels of attendance. Once again, I would like to remind you of the importance of ensuring that your son/daughter is in school unless they are clearly too unwell to attend. If they are slightly under the weather, they should attend school – we have a qualified school nurse on site who will see them if they become unwell in school and she can make the decision with yourselves as to whether they should come home. In most cases, once the student is in school they feel much better anyway. Please help us with this. Any absence disrupts learning – not only of the student themselves, but of their classes because the teacher will need to spend time on their return helping them to catch up, which does have an impact on the rest of the group. On the positive side, we had more students than ever attending the 100% attendance film reward at the end of Term 1 – we had to have three sittings in the Sinden Theatre - so congratulations to all those who are maintaining really high levels of attendance this year.

A couple of regular reminders

An important request - Please do not drive on to the school site to drop off or pick up your son/daughter. At the beginning and end of the day there are a lot of students moving around and it is not safe to have cars on the move also. The ideal would be to park some distance away from the school and allow your son/daughter to walk to and from the car.

Uniform is looking better than ever, but some students need regular reminders, particularly about appropriate shoes and wearing the blazer. Once again, thank you for your support with this. The smartness of our students is one of the things which helps to build a sense of pride in the school and this raises the expectations of success in all aspects of school life. It is part of our ethos of “belonging” and it is really important to us.

Student Success

We have seen lots of success from our students beyond the classroom already this year. The netball and football teams have had fantastic seasons so far and we also saw success in the District Cross Country competition in November. One of our students reached the final of the Kent Young Chef competition and another won a song composition competition and is now being mentored by members of the band Keane. Following our successful Fashion Show last year, some of our students were invited to walk at London Fashion Week and one of them went on to feature in Vogue magazine. Eight of our 6th form students successfully graduated from the National Citizen Service programme having undertaken a social action project in the local community and raised funds for their chosen charity.  Fourteen students successfully completed their Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition and will shortly be completing their Gold Award. To keep up to date with the achievements of our students, keep checking our web-site www.homewood-school.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @Homewood_School. There is always plenty to celebrate!

Ofsted

As it is now three years since our last Ofsted, we can expect an inspection any time from now on.  We will have less than 24 hours’ notice and we are expecting one of the new Section 8 inspections – two inspectors for one day, coming in to check that we are still a “Good” school. When we do hear that they are coming, we will send you a letter with a link to a parent survey through which you can share your views with the inspection team. I would encourage you to respond as the Ofsted team will take your views into account in coming to their decision about the quality of education we provide. In the meantime, you can access the ParentView questionnaire on the Ofsted web-site at any time if you would like to comment on your experience of the school. 

Summary

It has been a very successful start to the academic year and we are seeing the school going from strength to strength. Despite the financial constraints in education which you will be well aware of through the press, we are maintaining a very broad curriculum, allowing appropriate pathways for all our students. The creativity and innovation in our school is now recognised nationally – just this term we have had staff presenting at the Kent Headteachers’ Conference, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Conference in Manchester and the Whole Education Conference in London. There is interest at a national level in some of the work we are doing throughout the school. Our vision statement talks of our aspiration to provide a world class education for our students. What makes Homewood so special is that staff, students and parents embrace that vision and respond so positively to the opportunities offered.

I wish you all a very happy and enjoyable Christmas break.

Yours faithfully

S J Lees

Principal