Head of School’s Bulletin (17 March 2023)

Dear Parents

As we are now half way through this short half-term, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the latest news from our school.

Since the half term break, we have been very busy with a range of activities and events. Our students have been engaged in various academic, social, and extracurricular activities, making the most of the opportunities we offer them.

Looking ahead, we are excited to welcome the spring weather and the opportunities it brings.

Kath Pigdon
Head of School

Updates and Current Information:

School Day Consultation

Thank you to all our parents who responded to our consultation on lengthening the school day to 3.15pm. As you are aware this will ensure we are in line with the Department for Education’s minimum expectation of 32.5 hours a week. I am hoping to update you in due course on the outcome of the consultation.

Parental Survey Update

It was clear from the parental survey that more regular communication would be appreciated by our parent body. As Head of School I shall endeavour to send regular whole school bulletins out to all parents. Additional to this there will be regular newsletters from our Directors of Learning specifically communicating information about each year group. Information can also be found on the school website and our social media platforms.

As you may or not be aware, our onsite catering is provided by Caterlink, who provide catering services to many schools across the country. I have recently met with our Caterlink Regional Representative to discuss the concerns raised in the recent parental survey regarding the quality and price of food. Students will meet with Caterlink staff to discuss their views and suggest ways in which they would like to see the catering service improved further.

To support the sheer volume of students accessing the main canteen at break times we have introduced a new queueing system, as well as an entry and exit procedure in an attempt to reduce the time students have to queue for their food. We are working hard to try and improve the efficiency of access to food in school as we understand the importance of this aspect of school life.

Cumbria Education Trust

It was clear from our parental survey that many parents would like to know more about the role of Cumbria Education Trust. I shall endeavour to highlight the many benefits to us as a school of being part of Cumbria Education Trust throughout my bulletins. As a school, we are proud to be a founding member of the Cumbria Education Trust, a partnership of schools working together to provide high quality education for over 4,000 young people across the county. Through our membership of the trust, we enjoy many benefits, including strong educational partnerships, access to high quality school improvement support, a wider range of opportunities for learning and personal development. Schools in the Trust work together as one to provide opportunities for all.

As a member of the Cumbria Education Trust family, our students have access to shared resources and subject expertise from other trust schools. This allows our students to benefit from the collective knowledge and expertise of all the schools within the trust. The ‘achieve 23’ strategy is an example of strong collaboration between the secondary schools to improve achievement for all Year 11 students. It is through this strategy and collaboration that our Year 11 students are accessing maths conferences, intense languages support and high-quality resources and subject expertise to improve progress in the classroom.

We also have access to joint educational initiatives that allow us to collaborate with other schools in the Trust on projects that benefit all our students such as the CET annual Innovate competition, sports leader events, performing arts events and student leadership meetings, to name but a few. These initiatives provide our students with unique learning experiences and help them to develop valuable skills that they can use throughout their lives.

Cumbria Education Trust continues to grow and go from strength to strength and our students will only continue to benefit from the increase in the educational expertise and support the trust provides on a daily basis.

Snow Excitement and Recent Visitors

After the excitement of the snowfall last Thursday night we welcomed visitors who were participating in interviews for roles across our Trust on Friday morning. Part of the process entailed visiting lessons, looking at students’ work and talking to our students about their learning. The feedback from the day was very positive with candidates speaking highly of our articulate, welcoming and polite students. The high standards of behaviour and work were regularly mentioned in the feedback I received as Head of School. One of our aims is to become the politest school in Cumbria as one of our core behaviours is ‘good manners’. Students certainly demonstrated this on Friday. Our students once again were a credit to us as a school and to you as parents.

Online Unregulated Activity

I would like to discuss an important issue that affects our young people – unregulated online activity. With the increasing use of social media and mobile phones, it has become easier than ever for our children to access all kinds of online material, both good and bad.

As educators and parents, we know that unregulated access to online material can be harmful to young people. This is not just our opinion, but something that is supported by the many news reports and research studies that have been conducted on the subject.

There are many reasons why parents should be vigilant about monitoring their children’s online activity. Firstly, social media and mobile phone incidences can be a major distraction from valuable learning time. It is easy for children to become immersed in their phones or social media feeds, to the point where they are unable to focus on their studies.

Secondly, unregulated online activity can expose young people to harmful or inappropriate content. This could include cyberbullying, sexting, or exposure to violent or sexual content. As parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children from such harm.

Thirdly, unregulated online activity can lead to addiction and other mental health issues. Social media platforms are designed to keep users engaged for as long as possible, and this can lead to children spending hours online every day. This can have a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing, as well as their academic performance.

To address these issues, we urge parents to put in place the necessary parental safeguards and controls to ensure our young people are kept safe online. This might include setting time limits on phone or internet use, monitoring social media accounts, and using filtering or blocking software to prevent access to inappropriate content.

We understand that these measures might be met with resistance from young people, who may feel that their privacy is being violated. However, it is important to remember that these measures are in place to protect them from harm, and that they are necessary to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

In conclusion, we urge all parents to be vigilant about monitoring their children’s online activity. Social media and mobile phone incidences should not distract from valuable learning time, and it is our responsibility as parents and educators to ensure that our young people are kept safe online.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Our Performing Arts Department

I am always so impressed by the sheer commitment of our performing arts students and staff as they embark on the many different competitions and performances this term. Last week I had the privilege of listening to our choir perform and open the ‘Shaping the Future’ conference hosted by Cumbria Education Trust and Ambition Institute at the North Lakes Hotel. The room of school leaders and professionals were extremely complimentary about our students performing alongside Yanwath who are part of our Trust’s family of schools.

This week we wish all competitors the best of luck as they perform at the Carlisle Music and Drama Festival. Please see our website for the final results, we have secured many first places at the time of writing this bulletin. And it does not stop there! Our students will be performing at the Sands Centre on Tuesday, 21 March alongside 400 other young people from across Cumbria Education Trust. It promises to be a night to remember and tickets are now on sale on the Sands Centre website https://betterboxoffice.co.uk/whats-on/shine-as-one/book

And if that was not enough, final preparations are underway for the department’s trip to Spain during the Easter Holidays!

Student Individual Achievements

We are proud to share that our students continue to excel not only in their academic pursuits but also in various activities outside of school. As our students go through their teenage years, they often become more reluctant to share their successes. However, we are thrilled when parents take the time to email us and inform us of their child’s accomplishments and experiences beyond the school gates.

We believe that it is essential to celebrate the achievements of our students outside of school. It not only allows us to join in congratulating them on their accomplishments but also inspires other students to strive for their own success. We know that many of our students are involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities, such as music, sports, volunteering, and more. It is these experiences that help shape them into well-rounded individuals and equip them with skills and qualities that will serve them well in their future endeavours.

We encourage parents to continue to share their child’s successes with us, no matter how big or small. We are always eager to hear about their accomplishments and share them with the wider school community. It is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and passion of our students and parents, and we are incredibly proud of all that is achieved.

School Uniform Reminder

As we reach the end of the spring term and the start of our final term please can I respectfully ask all parents to support us in maintaining the highest standards of uniform. Standing on the door in the morning is certainly a highlight of the day, as we welcome all students into school. It is always encouraging to see the vast majority of our students wearing their uniform to the highest standard and with pride.

If you are purchasing new school shoes or trousers over the coming months please ensure they adhere to our uniform policy which can be found on our website, along with the uniform price list. Our manufacturers’ costs have increased, which is to be expected in the current economic climate. We have tried to limit this increase to our parents. I also take this opportunity to highlight the second-hand uniform option which can be found at Cumbria Cerebral Palsy located at 40 Front Street, Brampton.

School Trips Next Year

At our school, we believe that school trips are an integral part of a student’s education. They provide students with valuable experiences that cannot be replicated in the classroom. School trips can be a fantastic way to enhance learning and allow students to develop new skills and interests. That is why we strive to offer a range of exciting and educational trips throughout the school year.

We understand that school trips can be a financial burden for parents, which is why we endeavour to publish a calendar of trips in advance. This allows parents to plan and budget for the year ahead, ensuring that their child can participate in the trips that interest them the most.

School Drop Off Considerations

With over 30 buses dropping students off at school in the morning, it is crucial that all parents are mindful of the traffic flow around the school to ensure the safety of our students. We kindly request that all parents who choose to drive their child to school do so by driving into the school car park. We ask that you avoid dropping off your child in the school entrance, as this can cause congestion and disrupt the flow of traffic at our busiest time. We understand that the morning drop-off can be a stressful time for parents, especially those who are rushing to get to work and I thank you in advance for your understanding.

Year 9 Options and Careers

As part of the Year 9 options process, we held a careers morning in school last Friday. We feel it is extremely beneficial for students to have exposure to different career options and hear directly from professionals in various fields. We are very grateful to our local businesses who were able to offer interactive workshops, which provided students with hands-on experience and a better understanding of the practical aspects of each career. It was great to welcome such a diverse range of professions represented, from hospitality and construction to healthcare and law enforcement. Such events are invaluable in helping students make informed decisions about their future education and career paths. Mrs Hill, our very experienced Careers Lead, is able to support students and parents during the options process with further careers advice and guidance. If this is something that interests you, please contact Mrs Hill directly at Thill@williamhoward.cumbria.sch.uk.

A reminder, the deadline for returning all option forms is Wednesday, 22 March.

Year 11 Mocks

Year 11 students are currently completing their latest mock examinations, and I am pleased to report that their performance has been nothing short of impressive. The majority of students have demonstrated a remarkable level of dedication and commitment to their studies, and I am sure their hard work will be reflected in their results.

As you may know, there are just over six school weeks left until our students start their summer examinations. We understand that this is a critical time for our Year 11 students, and we want to ensure that they have all the support they need to succeed in their GCSE examinations.

To that end, we will be holding a parental support meeting to discuss how you can support your child as they prepare for their final examinations. Miss Mulholland, our Director of Learning for Year 11, will be sending out further information about the meeting very soon. I would strongly recommend that all parents attend if possible.

The meeting will cover a range of topics, including how to support your child with their revision, managing stress and anxiety, how to support with Maths, English and Science and understanding the exam process. Research strongly suggests that parental support and engagement correlate positively to student academic achievement; as a school we are committed to supporting our parents to help navigate their way through the exam series.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the exceptional engagement of the majority of our Year 11 students in tutoring, extra revision sessions, maths conferences and daily lessons. We are committed to providing our students with the support they need to achieve their full potential, and we are proud of the effort that our students have put into their studies.

Year 11 Transition to Sixth Form

At the moment we are analysing Sixth Form courses next year based on submitted choices so far. We should be in a position to confirm courses and choices early in the summer term. Please note it is not too late to apply for our Sixth Form – we appreciate circumstances and thoughts change at this stage in a student’s educational journey. If further support is needed please contact Mrs Swan and the Sixth Form team directly at tswan@williamhoward.cumbria.sch.uk.

Please be aware, we will be sending letters out shortly with regards to post 16 transport.

Year 10 Reports

The Year 10 progress report will be coming home soon, and we would like to encourage you to take the time to review it with your child. This report will provide you with a snapshot of your child’s progress in each of their subjects and will highlight their strengths as well as any areas where they may need additional support.

At this point in the academic year, it is crucial that we maximise the learning time available to your child. As such, parental engagement in your child’s academic progress is essential to ensure maximum success as they finish Year 10. We encourage you to work closely with your child to set academic goals and to develop a plan to achieve them.

It is important to remember that your child’s progress is a team effort between your child, their teachers and yourselves. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s progress, or if you would like to discuss any aspect of their education, we encourage you to contact their subject teachers for further discussion.

In addition, the Year Group Team is available to offer support if needed, whether you have a specific concern or if you just want to talk through any issues or questions you may have.

Year 10 contacts:

Cumbria’s Holiday, Activity & Food Programme

Please see our website for more details. The programme is aimed at all school aged children (aged 5- 16 years old). Places are free for young people who receive benefits-related Free School Meals and eligible children in particular circumstances. All children who attend will also be provided with a meal.

School Calendar

Upcoming events include:

18-19 March Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award Navigation Training – Years 10/11
21 March CET ‘Shine as One’ Performance at The Sands Centre, Carlisle
23 March Panathlon North West Regional Boccia Finals, Liverpool
26 March WHS Performance at Theatre By The Lake – National Theatre CONNECTIONS Festival
29 March Exam Support Session for Year 11 Parents
30 March – 2 April Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Qualifier Expedition
30 March – 5 April Performing Arts Trip to Spain

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