Principal's Start of Term Letter

Upcoming Events

November 2016

Dear Parents

As the clocks go back and the evenings draw in, we move into the Christmas term – always a busy term with lots of important school events including our 6th form Open Evening and the Christmas activities. It is also a term when students are working hard to complete work in lessons and in controlled assessments and to revise for mock exams as they prepare for final exams later in the year.

Forthcoming Events

Year 7 Parent/Tutor meetings 8, 16, 24 November (by appointment)
Remembrance Day Service 11 November
6th Form Open Evening

16 November from 5 p.m.

(Principal’s talks at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.)

Year 11 Mock Examinations (pre Public) 21-24 November
German Christmas Market 24 November
Staff Development Day (students not in school) 25 November
Dickensian Christmas 6 December
Year 7 Christingle Services at St Mildred’s Church 12 December
Annual Dance Show 15/16 December
Last day of Christmas Term 21 December
Start of Winter Term 3 January
Consultations with teachers for Years 9-13 11 January 3.00 – 5.00 p.m.
 
12 January 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
 
13 January all day 

Celebration of Success

I am always amazed at the quality of work achieved, such as that we witness every year in our Art Exhibitions and Open events, incorporating displays of work from Discovery College through to the 6th form, as well as our Dance Shows, concerts and theatre productions. Our students work really hard to produce work of an outstanding standard which they can be really proud of. In addition, our students’ helpful attitudes to others are exemplified in the way older students help the new Year 7 pupils to settle in so quickly each year. Our Year 7 pupils felt confident enough, when they had only been at the school for a month, to show prospective parents and pupils around the school on Open Evening and explain the work they have been doing since they joined the school.  They are happy and settled and already so much part of the Homewood community. 

Another way Homewood students show their concern for others is through the funds they raise every year for charities supporting people less fortunate than themselves. Every College has its own adopted charity and students raise funds through a whole range of events which they organise themselves with the support of their College staff team. In addition, we have whole school events each year such as the Children in Need day, when we raise funds together for a national charity.

Our students are repeatedly congratulated for their positive attitudes and behaviour when out of school. Most recently, a group of students returned from a trip to Normandy having been highly praised by members of the public and the trip organisers.  In the same way, our Duke of Edinburgh students who recently completed Bronze, Silver and Gold expeditions, were congratulated by the organisers and assessors for their behaviour and their resilience and determination. There are many, many such occasions when we are all incredibly proud of our Homewood students.

Recent publicity

Unfortunately, some of you will have seen the article in the Kent Messenger relating to a piece of video footage showing a student pushing and shoving another student. The incident took place at the school in July and was witnessed by a group of students.  The issue was dealt with robustly back in July, but the media picked up on it recently, having accessed a video taken at the time. We have been really concerned about this because it has meant that one of our students has found herself at the centre of publicity regarding something which was dealt with a long time ago. This has been very difficult for her and her family.

I am sure it will also have raised concerns amongst some parents about whether incidents like this are dealt with effectively when they arise. In my response to the press, I made it clear that most of our students treat each other with great respect most of the time.  I would like to reassure all our parents that we will always deal with these situations in a robust way, as we did in this case, making it absolutely clear how students should behave, and implementing sanctions as appropriate. Whether it is one student being unkind to another, or whether it is a group of students looking on, or a student filming the incident – none of this behaviour is acceptable. One of our key words is “Respect” and we will insist on this, understanding that students sometimes need to be taught what this actually means.

If you ever have any concerns that your son or daughter may be on the receiving end of unpleasant or bullying behaviour, please do let us know. We will always take action. I cannot promise that students will never fall out or be unkind to each other, but I can promise that we will never sweep anything like that under the carpet. It will always be dealt with. We want all our students to feel safe and happy in their school and we will do what is necessary to ensure this is the case.

As with any concern, your first point of contact is your son or daughter’s form tutor, but you are also welcome to contact the relevant College office, or simply phone in to the main school switchboard and we will forward your concerns to the appropriate person who will get back to you as soon as possible.

6th Form Open Evening 16 November from 5 p.m.

Our next Open event is the 6th form Open Evening which takes place on 16 November from 5 p.m.  We hope all our Year 11 students will attend with their parents to discover the many opportunities available to them in the 6th form. We have the most impressive range of courses available in any school in Kent and there will be an appropriate pathway for every student, whatever their interests or aspirations. Many of our students go on to University from the 6th form, whilst others will leave us to go into employment or into further study at College or through an apprenticeship. Whatever their future plans, spending two or three years in the Homewood 6th form will be an excellent preparation. Year 13’s results in 2016 were the best ever, so we know students will achieve the grades they need if they are prepared to do the necessary work. But our 6th form team will also provide all the necessary support with UCAS applications, University visits, College or apprenticeship open events and applications, to ensure that students have all the information they need to make the best decision for their future. Do come along to hear more about what the 6th form experience at Homewood offers to your son or daughter.

A few regular reminders – we really need your help and support here:

Attendance – a lot of students improved their overall attendance last year and we are continuing to make this a strong focus this year.  We rely on your support to ensure that your son/daughter comes to school every day, unless they are definitely too ill to attend.  The evidence that achievement is directly related to attendance is overwhelming and we really want to make sure our students do not miss out on their learning and final grades because they have missed days at school.  We will make contact with you if we are concerned that your son/daughter’s attendance is dipping.  We will also continue to refuse permission for holidays during term time, for just the same reason, so please check term dates on the web-site to make sure you are booking holidays when school is not in session.  Thank you again for your support in this area.

Punctuality - School sessions start at 8.50 each morning. All students need to be in school by 8.45 so that they have time to thumbprint and make their way to session 1.

Uniform – again, this has been much improved this year, but it can easily slip if we are not constantly working together to ensure students are appropriately dressed for school.

Parking/driving on to the school site – please do not drive on to the school site to pick up or drop off students.  It is not safe and we need to ask you to arrange a pick up point further away from the school.  Thank you.

Online payments – we are now using the online payment system for all payments into school including school trips.  If you have any problem with this, please contact the school Finance Office.

Online Safety

We have noticed an increase in students downloading Apps to mobile devices which are not age appropriate.  Can I remind you to please check your child’s mobile device regularly.  If you need any additional support or guidance please follow the link:

http://www.homewood-school.co.uk/students/online-safety

Ofsted

As it is now four 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.  We are often encouraged by e-mails sent in by parents thanking members of staff for their support or feeding back on a really positive school trip or extra-curricular opportunity.  If you were able to add these views to the Ofsted web-site it would be really helpful to us in ensuring that Homewood remains judged as “Good” at its next inspection. 

Summary

The 2016-17 academic year is well underway and we have got off to a really positive start.  Sustaining our students’ high attendance, high standards of effort and quality of work, positive attitudes and determination to succeed will ensure that this is another year of success for them and their school.  As always, we look to you as our parents to support us in our desire to offer Homewood students the very best opportunities for success now and in the future.  Thank you for your ongoing partnership with us.

Yours sincerely

Sally J Lees

Principal