Principal's Start of Term Letter

Upcoming Events

September 2016

Dear Parents/Carers

As all our students and staff return to school ready for the new academic year, refreshed from the holiday, there is a sense of excitement and expectation around the school. Many students are starting new courses, or meeting new teachers and the staff and students joining the school for the first time are beginning a fresh chapter in their lives. So it is a time of new beginnings and great possibilities. 

Exam Results 2016

I hope you have had a look at the website to see our reports on the success of students in their public examinations this year. Our Year 10 and 11 students had worked so hard and deserve all the success they achieved. There were outstanding performances from students who achieved top grades across their subjects, and many others whose grades were above expectation and a just reward for the hard work they put in. Most of our Year 11 students are staying with us into the 6th form, so they now have a chance to build on their achievements over the next two years. Overall the headline figures for the school did not quite match the success of last year at GCSE, partly due to significant increases in grade boundaries in some subjects (including Maths, Computer Science, History and Geography) and some changes to the way controlled assessments were moderated. We now have to wait for some marking reviews and the publication of the new Progress 8 measure, which we expect some time in September. 

Our Year 13/14 students did very well: more students than ever achieved at least 2 Level 3 qualifications; the overall pass rate increased to 97% and the percentage of top grades was also significantly up on last year. Every student who applied for a place at University was successful in gaining a place of their choice and all our students have achieved what they need to take their next steps beyond Homewood, whether that is to University, College, apprenticeships or employment. We are very proud of what they have achieved in the seven years they have been at Homewood. 

Forthcoming Events

This is a busy term and I would like to draw your attention to the following events:

Senior Prizes Evening 14 September 7.00 p.m.
Year 13 Parents’ Finance Information Evening 27 September 6 - 7.00 p.m. (Sinden Theatre)
Open Evening 21 September 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
Open Mornings 28 September  
  29 September 9.00 – 11.00 a.m.
Year 5 and 6 Masterclasses 15 October 9.00 – 12 noon
Tenterden Rural Alliance Celebration of Learning (St Mildred’s Church) 12 October  
End of Term 1 21 October  
Start of Term 2 7 November  
6th Form Open Evening 16 November 5.00 – 7.00 p.m.
Year 7 Mentor Evenings 8 November 4.00 – 7.00 p.m.
  16 November  
  24 November  
Year 6 Assessment Day 19 November  
German Christmas Market 24 November  
Staff Development Day (no students in school) 25 November  
Dickensian Christmas (Sinden Theatre) 6 December  
Year 9 Geography Family Learning Evening 7 December

7.00 – 8.30 p.m. 

Year 7 Christingle Services (St Mildred’s Church) 12 December  
Carol Concert 13 December  
Annual Student Dance Performance 15 & 16 December  
Year 7 & 8 Panto Trip – Hastings 20 December  
End of Term 2 21 December  

Now to some practicalities:

On-line payment system

As you are aware, we have been using an online payment system for a few years now. This has been very successful in reducing the amount of cash students have to bring into school. This year, we are moving all payments for trips and visits over to the system, rather than accepting payment in cash or by cheque.  If you are not yet registered with the system you should have received a letter from the Finance Team at the end of last term giving you the information you need to register. You will need to do this before you can make any payments into school, including for trips and visits. If you have any concerns or questions about this, please contact the Finance Team on 01580 764222 Extn 334.

A few reminders:

As usual at the start of term, I would like to remind you of a number of specific areas in which we ask for your support:

Attendance – I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for students to be in school every day. Every day missed for any reason makes it just that little bit harder to keep up with work and achieve the best outcomes. When attendance drops below 95%, it means a student is missing an average of a day a fortnight and this will definitely have an impact on their achievement. Please make sure your son or daughter gets into school every day, even when they may not be feeling 100%, only keeping them at home when they are clearly too ill to attend. We will not authorise holidays or other family absences during term time, not to be difficult, but because we know that there will be an impact on your son/daughter’s learning and we cannot support that.

Punctuality – If you are bringing your child to school, please ensure they get here in good time for registration at 8.50 a.m. Similarly, if they are walking to school, please encourage them to leave home in plenty of time. A lot of students come in on buses, and although there is sometimes a problem with late buses, a student is more often late because they missed the early bus or did not get promptly into school off the bus. We will be contacting you if a student is persistently late.  Arriving late to registration or to lessons seriously disrupts the day for others and impacts on everyone’s learning, so this is important.

Uniform – Most of our students look very smart and I thank you for ensuring that they have the right uniform for the start of term. Some of you will already have been contacted where there are issues and I look to your support in making sure your son/daughter is in full uniform every day.  Blazers are now required as we are in full uniform; winter uniform regulations came in on 5 September.

Traffic on the school site – I have made this request before, but once again I need to ask you to respect the Health and Safety of our students by refraining from driving on to the school site to pick up or drop off their children.  As you will understand, we need to ensure that our students are kept safe whilst on our school site. Please do not drive on to the site to drop your children off or pick them up but arrange a suitable meeting point away from the school gates to meet your child in the afternoon and similarly, drop them off away from the school and allow them to walk into school in the morning. Please try to avoid inconveniencing local shops and residents when choosing where to park. I very much appreciate your support with this.  Our duty team will be reminding parents of this arrangement and I would appreciate your co-operation should they ask you to move your car.

Keeping you informed

There is a great deal of information on the school website which I would encourage you to look at. This includes information about the curriculum and all our school policies as well as latest news and reminders.  Follow us on Twitter @Homewood_School and check out our increasing number of Facebook pages. We will text you when we have a particular message for you, often pointing you to the website for further information.

Partnership with Parents

The start of the new academic year is also a really good time to emphasise the importance we place on our partnership with parents. We want you to feel that you are well informed about the progress you son or daughter is making in school and that it is easy for you to make contact with us when you need to do so. Your first point of contact should be your son/daughter’s form tutor who can be contacted by e-mail and who will respond at their earliest opportunity. The College Co-ordinators can also be contacted by e-mail or phone and they can pass on a message to the appropriate person who will get back to you as soon as possible.

One aspect of our partnership with parents is that we ask for your support in upholding the expectations we have in school so that our students see that we are all working together. This gives us the best chance to create the positive learning environment which will benefit all our students. Most of our students meet expectations all or virtually all the time.  But there are occasions when we need to address an issue with an individual student which may lead to a sanction.  If this needs to be outside school time, we will give you notice, but I ask that you support the decision of the staff concerned.  Very occasionally, I have to remind individual parents about our Dignity at Work policy. I do expect that my staff will be treated with respect and courtesy in all communication with parents and I trust that you will also experience the same respect and courtesy from the Homewood staff team. 

Our focus as always is on the three aspects of our school: Learning-Respect-Belonging. All three of those elements depend on our being able to work in partnership with you. Celebrating with our Year 13/14 students on results day in August reminded us all of the successes which can be achieved when parents, students and staff are all working positively together. I look forward to many more such successes this year.

I hope to see you at some of our events this term.  

Yours sincerely

S J Lees