Since half-term students have come out of our geographical bubble areas and have been re-discovering the various parts of the school they have been cut off from since last March. It was delightful last week to see Year 7 occasionally lost, not to see them in any way distressed, but to know that they were able to be back in specialised teaching spaces. The manner in which the students have learnt new timetables, found their rooms and respected their bubble areas for break and lunchtimes has been very impressive. They are to be congratulated for the mature approach they have taken.
Unless there are changes in Department for Education guidance, the systems around the year groups and their bubbles we are currently working within will remain in place now until the end of the summer term. That means that all students will be moving around the building, but will need to be in designated bubble areas during break and lunch times, and only use the toilets assigned to their year group. As I have written to you separately, Cumbria Public Health have recommended that students return to wearing masks in communal areas when outside their bubbles. They will be asked to wear the masks when in corridors and when moving between break and lunch areas, as well as moving between classrooms. Students will continue to sit in seating plans on their buses, and they must continue to wear their masks while on school transport.
We have been very eager to return life of the school to as close to normal as we currently can under the Department for Education’s hierarchy of controls. This has allowed us to run a STEM careers day this week, a Respect focus day for Year 7 last week, as well as various activities after school such as the falconry display and numerous Dance opportunities. It is our intention to make sure that over the remaining weeks of term we do as much as we can, while remaining within the boundaries of current regulations. Our current plans include a lot of Duke of Edinburgh work, a Leadership in PE day for Year 9 and a virtual Summer Concert to celebrate our talented performers. The recent delay in restriction easing has impacted some of our plans, but we will continue to work to deliver the widest possible opportunities we can to the students. If you wish to follow more closely just what our students are up to outside of the traditional curriculum, please do follow us on social media, or check the website, which is updated regularly.
Lateral Flow Test Kits
As the delay in the final stage of unlocking indicates, there is a greater transmission of Covid-19 across the country currently. I have forwarded you a letter earlier today from Colin Cox, the Director of Public Health for Cumbria, outlining the current position. As I write this Newsletter, we continue to have had no positive cases identified in the school since the one case identified on 8 March. However, we know that disruption is starting again to be a factor in many local secondary schools. We would continue to encourage all students to use the Lateral Flow Test kits they have been given twice a week to self-test, and to continue to record the results with the NHS. I am sure, like me, that you will agree that, if the tests can be used to avoid disruption to students learning, then they are worth taking. If a student needs a further box of tests, these can be obtained from their Year Group Team.
From next week we will be able to provide Lateral Flow Test Kits for families, if you should wish to use them. Parents will be able to pick these up from Student Services at any point during the school day. There is no need to let us know you are coming – there will be an ample supply of tests. As always, we would reiterate governmental advice that Lateral Flow Tests can be beneficial in identifying asymptomatic cases, and both families and students should be taking them regularly.
Changes to school times next year
In my last Newsletter I outlined that we are keeping many systems from this year as we go into next year. This includes not turning the bells back on, and removing the movement time between lessons. We have been looking carefully at how we can best get as much extra-curricular provision as possible into the school day, alongside what is offered after school. In order to do this, we have determined that we need to return to two equal sized breaks that allow to have restful lunchtimes, as well as the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular clubs. The school day for September is therefore confirmed as shown below.
We are working hard to make sure that in September the very best provision possible for extra-curricular clubs is in place both during and after school.
Year 10 and 12 Exams
Over the coming two weeks both year groups will be having end of year exams. For Year 12 their normal timetabled lessons are suspended (except for some BTEC subjects) so that they can have fully invigilated mock exams. These are very important as Year 12 did not sit exams in formal conditions last year, so having a timetable that does not follow the normal school day with an exam schedule is practice and acclimatisation that they need before next summer. Year 10 exams will be taking place in lesson time and both year groups have been issued with both timetables and revision topics.
Year 7 – Show Some Respect…
It was with energy and an open mind that Year 7 approached Friday, 11 June, as they enjoyed a full day off timetable to carousel a series of exciting workshops geared around the central theme of Respect. The three Rs: Respect, Responsibility and Resilience are values embedded across all CET schools and WHS took it to a new level to give our youngest students support towards their character development (especially in the wake of an unusual first year with restrictions that have limited their access to the full school building and its community).
A vibrant and eclectic mix of activities saw pupils engage with Respect through different mediums, from Dance, to Art, to Drama and even Cookery. We were very fortunate to welcome rappers Ransom and Chiedu, alongside Street Style Surgery and the Carlisle Dance Academy, all of whom gave Year 7 a fabulous experience, coupled with the message to always show respect to others through language and actions. Our own Personal Development Team created a session to promote and provoke empathy which was key to encouraging pupils to consider how they impact their peers. The Community Policing Team and Remedi consolidated the message with a hard-hitting presentation about anti-social behaviour and the law which Year 7 received maturely and with insight.
The day was launched with a superb drama performance from the Year 7 Drama Club centred around disrespectful uses of social media. Thanks go to Ms Briggs for her coordination of this powerful piece. A grand finale brought a celebratory close to the day, with prizes awarded to those whose participation warranted it.
Mrs O’Connor worked alongside Mr Dawson and Mr Metcalf to design and deliver the day, yet a special mention must go out to Ms Cat Park, mum to one of our Year 7 students, whose input and support was invaluable. Ms Park’s commitment to driving forward respect amongst young people was nothing short of inspirational and we are immensely grateful to all families and community members who invest in our students’ development and work alongside our staff to achieve excellent outcomes for all.
Year 11 Induction into the Sixth Form
We welcome back this week many of our Year 11 students and a good number of students joining us from other local schools for their 11 day Sixth Form Induction. They will start the induction with a day of information, expectations, team building and skills acquisition before running through their full timetable of lessons for two weeks. This experience should enable the start for Year 12 in September to be very sharp and we are very much looking forward to seeing the students again – but in a new guise as Sixth Formers!
Leaving Events for Year 13 and Year 11
We had booked leaving events for both Year 11 and Year 13 for after 21 June. Unfortunately, these can no longer go ahead due to the restrictions on mass events not being lifted. However, we have managed to rearrange the Year 11 Prom already for Thursday, 9 September, and we are similarly trying to find a similar date for the Year 13 event. Holding the events in early September should see all restrictions lifted and will also avoid any potential holiday clashes that may have occurred if we held them in late July or August.
Phones in School
A common theme in recent Newsletters has been the use of phones by students in school. I have been really pleased that students have absolutely bought into the tightening of the rules that they should not be seen at all except at break and lunch. This is what we want to see continue for the rest of the term.
If a phone is seen it will be confiscated until the end of the day and students have been absolutely compliant with this.
Careers, Enterprise, Advice, Information, Advice and Guidance Update (CEIAG)
The work on CEIAG continues throughout the year, both in the curriculum and through events and opportunities we are able to offer to the students. We are grateful for the support that we continue to receive from local businesses and organisations that makes our CEIAG offer so comprehensive.
Year 7 and Year 8 – On Tuesday, 15 June we held a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) day in school. This was primarily for Year 7 and Year 8 students attending workshops with a range of employers including Sellafield, Pirelli, Capita, Gen 2, Carlisle College, Story Contracting.
Year 9 – Were able to meet the employers involved in the STEM day during one of their breaks to find out more about careers in these areas.
Year 10 – Were able to meet the employers involved in the STEM day during one of their breaks to find out more about careers in these areas. During the summer term Year 10 students will start to meet with our Careers advisor, Mrs Meakin, who will explain the options available to students at the end of Year 11.
Year 11- Year 11 students have had the opportunity to take part in virtual work experience on a programme designed for William Howard from REED Education over the last few weeks. The uptake from the students has been pleasing for this.
As a significant number of Year 11 return for their Year 12 induction, those taking Business Studies will be involved in an exciting new project. They will work with the Centre for Leadership Performance, who are working with Carlisle City Council on the Citadel Development regeneration project. The students, alongside a range of local businesses, will have the opportunity to have direct input into the project planning and potential outcomes. This is an exciting opportunity to work on a real project and meet with all the stakeholders involved in regenerating Carlisle city centre, which we are sure they will relish.
Year 12 – Met with the employers involved in the STEM day during one of their lessons to find out more about careers in these areas.
My Money Week
Local street art business Landmark Street Art are the business linked to our annual My Money competition where students are asked to design a piece of art for their local area. The deadline for this competition is the end of June and a £50 ISA will be awarded to the winner.
This month we have been focusing on the power of mindfulness and the science as to why this works and helps us with our wellbeing. Students have seen a range of videos about how to take part in every day mindfulness which we hope they will practice to support their wellbeing.
We are also continuing to develop our student app with EduKit. This is designed to be a one stop app for finding advice and support on any aspect of wellbeing and mental health. It was pleasing to see in the last wellbeing survey we ran via the app that 87% of students felt that they are respected for who they are. There is lots of support and advice sent out via our social media pages for both students and parents but, as always, should you require any additional information please contact the year group teams or Mrs Mothersdale.
As in previous years, we will be opening during the summer holidays to allow the purchase of uniform from the Lecture Theatre. Please be mindful that there may be waiting times, as we cannot judge who or how many will attend each day. We endeavour to have all sizes available, but this cannot be guaranteed and, although out of stock sizes can always be ordered, there is obviously a resultant delay, so we would recommend that you think about uniform requirements in good time.
We would appreciate it if you could have a list of the items and sizes you require ready to hand over to staff, as this makes the process smoother. Currently we do not know what Covid restrictions, if any, will be in place, so trying on samples may not be allowed.
Summer Holiday Uniform Shop Opening Times (9.00am – 3.00pm daily):
- Wednesday, 18 August
- Thursday, 19 August
- Friday, 20 August
- Monday, 23 August
- Tuesday, 24 August
Alternatively, you could opt to order via ParentPay before the end of term. We would then be able to collate all orders and distribute to the students by Thursday, 15 July – this will of course depend on uptake and demand for this service. To differentiate between orders that are required immediately and orders for next the academic year, please add September at the start of your order details. You must clearly state which garments and sizes you require and pay the correct amount using the Uniform Price List for guidance – please follow this link to view Uniform-Price-List-March-2021.pdf (williamhoward.cumbria.sch.uk)
As I end the Newsletter I want to say a huge thank you to all the staff for the work they have put into the grading system for Year 11 and Year 13. This week we will submit around 3000 grades to the exam boards, all of which have portfolios of evidence that have been rigorously moderated and bench-marked against grade descriptors etc. This has been a massive task and I am sure that, once the button is pressed on Friday, we will breathe a collective sigh of relief. The process has involved all the staff across the school and the approach they have taken to it is commendable.
I wish everyone the very best for the last four weeks of term and look forward to the students continuing to show just what a special group of young people they are.
Mr Chris McAree
Year Group Newsletters
Year 7 have continued to make a great start to their first year of life at William Howard. Our students are now enjoying more freedom to move around the school. They have very quickly got the hang of getting to their different classrooms, and we haven’t had too many tears along the way. It is great to see at last subjects like Science, Art, Music and Drama being taught in dedicated rooms. I am sure this is enhancing the students’ experience of William Howard School.
Engagement in extracurricular activities continues to be very high. We have lots of students attending PE, Drama and Music clubs. Attendance at Open Spaces has been brilliant, and those students who attend were lucky enough this week to witness an amazing display of falconry.
Year 7 students overall are developing a great ethos, which is highlighted for me by the large number of students being nominated each week for Metcalfe Mentions.
The recent Respect Day was a great success. The students took part in lots of different activities from cooking to rapping, dance to street art. This was all great fun and, hopefully, also a productive day in encouraging our young people to celebrate diversity. Upcoming events include the Year 7 parents evening when we look forward to seeing you. You can make appointments with Mr Dawson or myself if there are any pastoral issues you wish to discuss.
Mr Dawson and I are really focusing on supporting our students with their mental health. We are spending a large amount of time supporting students on a one to one basis and, where necessary, seeking support from outside agencies. Below is something I have used with students. It would be great if you could support your child in making sure they are able to get a good balance, and that they feel free to discuss their mental health.
The two weeks following half term have seen the Year 8 students return to specialised teaching classrooms, which has been great. It has been a pleasure to drop into their lessons around school and see students who are working hard to do their best and making the most of the opportunities they have. In addition to this we have also been able to have live assemblies again, with the focus on students being ready to learn by ensuring they do the basics well – arrive on time, have the correct equipment and ensure a positive approach to their learning. Having a positive end to Year 8 will help students be in the best possible position as they start Year 9. There have recently been more opportunities outside of lessons to get involved in, including robotics with Ms Angland and gliders with Mr Ling, while the Open Spaces and PE clubs continue to run. As always, I would encourage Year 8 students to find something for them.
Thank you to all parents who attended the parents evening. It was great to hear so many parents were receiving positive comments about how well things are going. If you have any further questions following this then do get in touch with me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or student manager, Helen Elliot email@example.com.
It is lovely to see you have all returned after half term refreshed and ready for the final half term. We have many exciting opportunities this half term, which many of you will be involved with. We are looking forward to the Talkin Tarn visits as a reward for the exceptional attitude many of you display on a daily basis. The Duke of Edinburgh session will commence this half term, a great opportunity for those of you involved. Our Agriculture students will be visiting Croft Farm – well done on reaching the semi-finals in the national competition in farming. We also have a mental health session scheduled where some students will get the opportunity to work with professionals from Kooth to give them support and guidance regarding the many anxieties young people face. Finally, we have Mr Tidmarsh working alongside the year group team. He will be conducting weekly sessions with a small group building and developing skills in resilience and discipline through sport. A busy but exciting half term ahead in preparation for the start of your GCSE courses in Year 10.
Please be mindful of our school values and think about the inspirational speech from Navy SEAL William McRaven – the small things will make the big things happen. A reminder of what he said about our core values:
- Respect – respect everyone. Lift each other up. Remember we are all equal regardless of our colour, ethnic background, education or social status.
- Responsibility – to have a will to succeed.
- Resilience – know that life is not fair and you will fail often, but you should continue to take risks, step up on the toughest of times and never give up.
A very powerful speech from William McRaven which you can find on YouTube.
A reminder about uniform – shoes must be black and polishable. Nose piercings and excessive jewellery are not permitted. You will find the full policy on the website.
As we approach the end of KS3, keep that end goal insight. What is it that you are striving for, what do you want to become? Each day you are a step closer.
As always, your school experience is what you make it: “some people want it to happen; some people wish it could happen, some people make it happen.” (Michael Jordan).
Make it happen Year 9!
I hope you have all had a lovely half term break! The weather was good to us all for once, which often isn’t the case for May half term. We are now into the last half term of the academic year and it is already proving to be a busy one. We are now beginning to experience aspects of school life as it was before Covid. It has been lovely to see all students out and about on the corridors and to have them back into specialist classrooms for their lessons. I am really pleased at the way Year 10 have conducted themselves, they have been good role models for the younger students.
Your child should have brought home a copy of their Year 10 assessment timetable and subject information. Please note all the information was also emailed out to parents to enable you to support your child with their revision and preparation. Please take the time to discuss this together ahead of the assessment weeks.
I am aware from recent conversations that some students are feeling a little worried about their assessments. On Thursday, I spoke to the year group in assembly about pushing themselves out of their comfort zone in order to make progress, rather than doing the same thing day in, day out. According to research, when students do challenge themselves and experience those uncomfortable feelings, this is when the ‘magic happens’ and their best learning takes place. We related this to the feelings that many are experiencing with the lead up to their assessments. I reiterated the importance of students using the support around them to help them achieve their full potential; parents, friends, subject teachers, support staff, pastoral team etc. We are all here, willing to help!
Year 10 have come up tops regarding extra-curricular activities, Thursdays after school are the busiest evening for PE staff. It has been great to see so many at lacrosse and rounders sessions, competitive fun in the sun. We also have approximately 70 students undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh award, an amazing uptake and the feedback from staff doing the practice weekends has been nothing but positive!!!
Uniform again continues to be a high priority across the school, and for the vast majority it is perfect. Please can you ensure that your child’s uniform meets the school expectations. Canvas trainers will not be allowed in September, so please make sure that any new shoes/trainers that are purchased are polishable.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a year group than I was during the final weeks of this half term. Despite all the upheaval, Year 11 continued to work hard on all their assessments. We couldn’t have asked for better behaviour, with all of our students setting a positive example of grace under pressure to the younger members of the school community.
The final Friday in school was great. Year 11 arrived dressed smartly, signed shirts and enjoyed breakfast in the canteen and then participated in an emotional assembly. Special thanks go to performers, Phoebe Dudley, Hannah Brown, Megan Duggan, Luke Williams, Sam Roberts and Will Smallwood. After a tearful rendition of Wonderwall (Oasis … seriously Year 11, who knew?) and some heartfelt thank yous and goodbyes, the year group left in good order. I’d like to take a moment to thank all the Year 11 tutors and Mr Tidmarsh and Mrs Jones for the support they have given me and the year group over the last 12 months.
Sixth form bridging lessons start on Wednesday, 16 June and you will be receiving your timetables on that day.
Hoodie orders are now in and we will let you know when we have a delivery date. We are looking forward to the rearranged Year 11 Prom at the Garden at Eden on Thursday, 9 September. Tickets will be on sale until Friday, 9 July for £30.00 via Parent Pay. We look forward to seeing you looking your glamorous best.
In the meantime, enjoy the summer break. GCSE results will be available from school on Thursday, 12 August, and further details about the day will be posted nearer the time
As we approach the mock exams for Year 12, I wanted to confirm the arrangements for study leave, which runs from Monday, 21 June to Wednesday, 30 June inclusive. Students have been given a timetable and are only required to be in school for their exams. A small number of BTEC lessons will also be carrying on which are Music, Broadcast Media and Food. These exams are important as it will be the first formal exam situation some students have been in since their mocks in Year 11. We also use this information, along with teacher experience, to predict UCAS grades which will be used for their applications in September.
This leads me on nicely to say that in PD this week students set up their UCAS account and started to complete the form. The group that did Sport this week will start their application before the end of term. As a parent you may have many questions about the university process which I am very happy to answer. In addition, can I draw your attention to an event being offered by Northumbria University. They would like to invite you to their Parents’ and Carers’ Information Event 2021. The event will begin with pre-recorded content which will be available from Wednesday, 23 June, covering topics such as the transition to HE, student finance and graduate futures. This will then be followed by a live Q&A session between 6.00pm and 6.45pm on Wednesday, 30 June with representatives from their Professional Support teams including Accommodation, Student Recruitment, Security, and Applicant Services, and we will also be joined by a parent of a Northumbria University alumnus.
I am very aware that exam stress and worrying about future destinations can weigh heavy on students and I continue to address this in assembly with self-care and study tips, and I encourage students to come and talk about how they are feeling.
It was lovely to spend the morning with our Year 13 students celebrating their time in Sixth Form, with personal messages from their form tutors, an amazing Kahoot quiz designed by Georgie Murphy, and a photo reel of special memories put together by Olivia Harrison. We had hoped to celebrate further at The Halston on Friday, 24 June but this is not possible due to the extended restrictions. We hope to reschedule and I am currently liaising with the venue and will let you know as soon as I can.
To end on a piece of good news, though, Tempest have been in touch and the group photo is ready to order. The photo can only be viewed on line and an order placed via the following link,