Principal's Letter - March 2016

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Upcoming Events

This is always a favourite time of year – the clocks go forward and the days start to lengthen, signs of Spring emerge and there is a feeling of optimism in the air. As we approach the Easter holiday, I would like to thank you all for your ongoing support and to wish you a pleasant Easter break when it arrives. In the meantime, there are a number of different matters to bring to your attention.

Forthcoming Events

March 24 – 30 Easter break
March 31 Return to school
March 31 Easter Services for Year 8, Sinden Theatre
April 9 Farm Open Day
April 27 DofE Presentation Evening
May 2 Bank Holiday
May 14 Masterclass Saturday
May 16 Assessment Week
May 16 GCSE and A-level exam season begins
May 19 Sixth Form Leavers Gala
May 27 Year 11 begin Study Leave
May 27 End of Term 4
June 6 Start of Term 5
June 11 Year 5 Open Morning and Discovery College Exhibition
June 24 Tenterden Rural Alliance French Pique-Nique at Homewood
June 24 Year 12 Induction Day
June 27 Year 12/13 students commence 2nd year of Level 3 courses
June 28 Year 8 Girls’ HPV injections
June 29 Year 6 Parents’ Evening (for parents of pupils joining in September)
June 29 Year 12 Parent Information Evening
July 1 Staff Development Day (no students in school)
July 4 - 8 Year 6 Induction Week
July 12 KS3 Sports Day
July 14 KS4 Sports Day
July 19 Junior Prizegiving Day
July 19 Year 8 Disco
July 22 End of Term 5

Holiday dates

The dates for term and holidays for 2016-17 are on the school web-site. Please check these dates before booking any holidays as we are not able to authorise absence for holidays during term time. It is worth noting in particular that the October break is the same as it was this year which is later than it has been in the past: 24 October – 4 November inclusive.

Department for Education Performance Tables

The DfE Performance Tables for 2015 have now been published and I am delighted to be able to report that the achievement of our Year 11 students in 2015 places us as one of the highest performing High Schools in Kent and of schools nationally with a similar profile of students. With 50% of our students achieving 5A*-C including English and Maths, and a much higher than average proportion achieving at least expected progress in English and Maths, we are well up the performance tables. It is encouraging to note that we are sustaining continual improvement in outcomes when there is so much change going on in education currently. Tracking for 2016 shows that this improvement is expected to continue. Many of you will know that the key measures used to assess a school’s success are changing this year. There will be a focus on the percentage achieving a C or above in English and Maths alongside the new progress measure called Progress 8. In both measures, we expect Homewood to continue to hold its place as one of the best High Schools in Kent and of similar schools nationally.

Sound of Music

Those of you who were able to attend the recent production of the Sound of Music will agree with me that our students excelled themselves once more. Having thought it impossible to better the amazing production of Les Miserables last year, that is exactly what happened. The cast were superb, with outstanding acting and singing from everyone, and the crew produced a fantastic set design with great sound and lighting effects. Many thanks to Mrs Thornton and Miss Snow for directing the show, and to everyone else involved in making the production such a success. I believe next year is going to be Sweeney Todd, so plenty to look forward to there!

Student Achievements

The largest number of 6th form students ever have applied to University for next year. Almost 100 students have made their application and we wish them every success. This follows a very successful year last year when everyone who applied for University was successful in gaining a place of their choice. Offers are already being received: Jess Dawkins has been offered unconditional places at two prestigious London Drama Schools, against competition from 10,000 applicants and Harriet Cackett has an unconditional offer from Plymouth University to study a Masters in Psychology.

Declan Burton is running for the British Heart Foundation in the London Marathon this year and Kieron Eland has won the Kent Indoor Championship for 800 metres. The Year 7 and 8 netball teams have been enjoying a great season, both teams playing well in the Kent School Netball Tournaments in March. Our U16 Badminton boys’ team entered the county tournament for the first time and came a creditable 6th out of 8 teams.

Sixth Form Senior Students have been working with students in younger years on a number of different projects: eco committee, fund raising and whole school issues such as “time to change”, raising mental health awareness.

Parents’ Forum 

The Parents’ Forum group met in October and will be meeting again in April. At the last meeting key areas in the School Improvement Plan were identified that parents could give constructive feedback on; preparing students for their future, use of technology, improving attendance, student responsibility, parents supporting student learning and transition. This feedback was then discussed at Leadership level and action points taken forward.

Parent Support for the Ethos for Learning at Homewood

It is very important to us that we maintain the highest possible standards of behaviour and attitude from students at Homewood. All our students benefit from a well-ordered environment where there is mutual respect between all members of the school community. Most of the time, most of our students uphold the ethos of the school well, but when this does not happen we will sanction students in accordance with our policy. It is really important that we have the support of parents when this happens. Attendance at After-School Detentions are not optional and if a student has to attend the Internal Exclusion Centre for a day, this is not optional either. I am finding that my staff are having to deal with situations where students are supported by their parents in challenging the sanctions set. Please be assured that sanctions are only set when a proper process of investigation has taken place – we do not give sanctions lightly – and please work with us in supporting the process. From time to time, I have to remind parents that we do not have to gain their permission to award a detention, we merely do them the courtesy of informing them. We also rely on your support in upholding the uniform policy. There is nothing here that is not set out in the Home-School Agreement which all parents sign when their child enters the school. Thank you to the majority of parents who are always very supportive. Together we create the best possible learning environment for everyone.

A few other reminders

  • I mentioned in a recent letter that parents parking close to the school can cause a health and safety risk for students; even more so when parents attempt to pull into the school grounds. Please respect our request that you park away from the school and ask your child to walk to the car.
  • More and more parents are using the online payment scheme and we would encourage you to sign up for this if you have not already done so. The Finance Team can help you if you have any questions about this – contact Mrs Croucher on extension 334.

Many of our students are now making their final preparations for external exams and I wish them every success. The exam season starts in mid-May (earlier still for some practical exam elements) so time is now short. There is a real sense of purpose and determination amongst our students and their teachers are going out of their way to support them and provide additional revision opportunities. They deserve their success and I wish them well.

In the meantime, enjoy the Easter break and thank you for your support.

Yours sincerely

S J Lees

Principal

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