Principal's Letter to Parents - November 2017

Upcoming Events

November 2017

Dear Parents

The Christmas term is always a good time to reflect on the year that has passed and look ahead to what is planned for the remainder of this academic year. Our new students have had time to settle in to their school, our new 6th form students have adapted to the changes in their learning and students starting new GCSE and A-level courses have made a good start. This is always a busy term with lots of important school events including our 6th form Open Evening and the Christmas activities. It is also a crucial term with regards to the work that needs to be completed and the preparation for mock examinations. 

As always, we appreciate any support you can give your sons and daughters in both their challenges and their successes in their learning. I hope this newsletter will help to keep you in touch with what is going on, but I would also urge you to keep a close eye on the website www.homewood-school.co.uk, our Twitter feed @Homewood_School and our Facebook page @HomewoodSchoolSixthFormCentre. There is always so much going on at Homewood and we use our website and social media for both information to parents and to celebrate the successes of our students, so it is well worth keeping in contact with those.

Exam Results 2017

We are very proud of the achievements of last year’s Year 11 and Year 13 students, and indeed those in other year groups who were taking public examinations. The Year 11 students were the first to experience the new Maths and English GCSEs and they managed them really well – results in English increased considerably on the year before and Maths also improved. Overall, our results showed an upward trend in all measures compared with 2016 and showed the resilience of our students in tackling these more challenging exams. GCSE results in PE, Dance, Graphics, Business Studies ERS, Music, Performing Arts and ICT were particularly strong. At A-level, the students also experienced a lot of change, with half of the subjects being on the new two-year A-level structure, but the pass rate was sustained at the same level and almost all the students who had applied to University achieved a place at their first choice. Congratulations to all our 2017 cohort of students and many thanks to parents who travelled the journey with them and provided the support they needed.

World Challenge

Our students had an amazing trip to Malaysia as part of World Challenge in the summer. This is an experience we offer every two years, and many Homewood students have benefited from it over the years, often describing it as a truly life-changing experience. You may well have heard the news that a student from another school on a different World Challenge trip sadly lost his life in an accident this summer. The World Challenge organisation has contacted us to assure us that this was a pure accident which happened despite the appropriate attention to health and safety. There are risks attached to any trip of this nature, but we believe that the risks are well managed by the organisation and we do not have any concerns about working with World Challenge in the future. If your son or daughter chooses to join an expedition in the future, you will have all the arrangements explained fully to you and the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Other news

  • Successful trips to Barcelona and Normandy over the October holiday and an excellent German exchange. Our students were congratulated on all these trips for their exemplary behaviour and positive attitudes.
  • Brilliant start to the football and netball seasons, with a series of wins from all our year teams.
  • Preparation for the Tenterden Schools Trust joint production of “Oliver” well underway – look out for dates in March.
  • Superb performance in the Ashford District Cross Country with 21 of our 28 runners qualifying for the County competition.

Looking ahead……

This year, more GCSE exams move across to the new format, with the removal of controlled assessments and a greater number of written exams. The remainder of the A-level subjects also go to the new two-year format. Our students are well prepared for the changes, but the demands on them over the next few months will be considerable. We will provide them with many opportunities for revision and additional support in their subject areas – additional sessions after school, on Saturdays and during the holidays are already underway - and we will shortly be issuing a booklet to all Year 11 students to support them with their revision and exam preparation. The College teams and tutors, along with our substantial team of welfare staff, are there to provide support where it is needed. Please contact us if you have any particular concerns.

Forthcoming Events

Year 7 Parent/Tutor meetings 23 November (by appointment) 
German Christmas Market 30 November
Staff Development Day (students not in school) 24 November
Year 7 Christingle Services at St Mildred’s Church 11 December
Carol Concert at St Mildred’s Church 12 December 7.00 p.m.
Last day of Christmas Term 20 December
Start of Winter Term 4 January
Consultations with teachers for Years 9-13 10 January 3.00 – 5.00 p.m.
  11 January 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
  12 January all day

Note:  Years 7 & 8 have a normal school day on 12 January but we are inviting parents in to come in for our “Open School” day to see students at work in their lessons. Look out for further information.

Open School Day for Years 7 & 8 12 January
Year 8 Parent/Tutor meetings (by appointment) 23, 31 January, 8 February
End of Winter Term 9 February

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

Attendance – you will be well used to my regular pleas to help us with your son/daughter’s attendance. Whilst a record number of students are now achieving at or close to 100% attendance, which is superb, we still have too many students whose attendance drops below 95% and others whose attendance is very poor. As soon as attendance drops below 95%, the student is missing the equivalent of a day’s school a fortnight and this seriously impacts on their achievement. There is now a very strong body of evidence which shows the direct correlation between attendance and achievement and a day a fortnight can knock at least a grade off a students’ final grade across their courses. Once again, I ask that you make sure your child gets into school every day, except when they are obviously too ill to do so, and please refrain from making appointments during school time or taking them out of school for any other reason. We do, where possible, support students who need time out of school for an authorised off-site activity such as sports or arts competitions – indeed, we have a large number of students who are competing in the national and international arena in a wide range of sports and other activities. But apart from this, there should be no requests for absence. Please see attendance leaflet on the school website in the Parents Section.

Holidays – for some reason, we have had more requests than usual this year for holiday absence during school time. In some cases, we are simply informed that this has happened or is happening. I do need to remind you that permission must be sought at least 4 weeks in advance from the school for any sort of absence during school time, and that the Governors have agreed that holiday absence will not be authorised except in the most exceptional circumstances. Penalty notices will be issued if an unauthorised holiday is taken. The high profile court case which suggested that schools had to authorise holiday for students with “good” attendance has now been overturned and any uncertainty this provided to parents has hopefully been cleared up. We have a duty to enforce the law on this, but it is much more than that – we genuinely want our students to achieve the very best they can and we know the negative impact even a drop of 5% makes to those outcomes. Please help us with this.

Uniform – a huge thank you for your support with uniform this year. We have seen a massive improvement and our students are looking smart and well presented. Please could I remind parents that the only jewellery permitted to be worn in school is a watch and one small stud in each ear, other piercings are not allowed. Please refer to the Home School Agreement in the Parents Section. 

Summary

At Homewood we have the vision to provide a world-class learning experience for our students. With a secure Ofsted outcome behind us, we are now on the journey from Good to Great and we aim to pass Ofsted Outstanding along the way. We want our students to achieve the best results they can. We will provide them with all the support they need and they will have to work hard. But we will always be about more than just exam results – we want to give our students as wide an experience as possible to help them to develop the skills they need for success in life and work and that is why we offer so many opportunities both through the courses we offer and the extra-curricular provision. We are grateful to you for your support in helping us to achieve that vision.

Learning-Respect-Belonging.

“Work hard – Think of others – Take Part.”

Yours sincerely

Sally J Lees

Principal