Headteacher’s Newsletter (July 2022) & Departments News

Dear Parents

This academic year across the school we have taught an eye watering 60,000+ lessons; as a result there have been roughly 1,800,000 different individual learning experiences. There have been the trips, the visits, the opportunities and, just as importantly, the friendships (and the odd falling out), laughter and sorrow that the 1,550 people on site during each day have experienced. The highs of the year have been spectacular – students and staff performing at outstanding levels, academically and across sporting and a variety of other endeavours. So as a Headteacher it is with some regret that the end of term approaches, as the atmosphere and general hubbub of a normal school day fades into the memory a little once the students leave.

It is an odd feeling when I am in school occasionally during the summer, an eerie one at times, as corridors feel empty and lifeless. The school itself will certainly not be quiet, as we have major works taking place across the site. However, it is the knowledge that students and staff are relaxing elsewhere that I hold on to. No matter what each individual chooses to do over the break or where they may end up, I am sure it will, for many, go quickly.

It will be just under a month before A Level results will be published, followed a week later by GCSEs. The summer is punctuated with important events that define for many of our young people the direction of their immediate futures. So, while our students enjoy a well earned break, please do remember those for whom it brings news of success or disappointment. These are events that will eventually affect each student, and in many ways define their lives at school – but can for the large part be unnoticed until it affects those close to us. As always there are some things I would bring to your attention:

Teaching Staff Leaving

The end of term will see some of our teaching staff moving onto pastures new, whether that is a well earned retirement or a new opportunity elsewhere. This year we say fond farewells to:

Mrs Magson – whilst not really leaving, more she is off on sabbatical. We wish her the very best for her round the world cycling expedition and look forward to welcoming her back to WHS In September 2023.

Mr Foley-Marshall – is off on adventures new, including a potential move of country, and we wish him the very best for the future.

Miss Cantley – after passing her Masters in Law is moving from the teaching profession to being a practising solicitor, which we know she will find success in.

Mrs Green – a stalwart of the Maths department, she is looking forward to finding a bit more time for herself. We thank her for the dedication and hard work in the school over a number of years. She will be much missed, as will her cakes!

Mrs McGahan – has decided after a varied career, the last 14 years of which were in her role here as a much loved Year Group Manager, to retire. I am sure she will recall with fondness the numerous students she has supported throughout her time at the school.

Then there are two huge farewells!

Mrs Cockburn – after 39 years of teaching retirement beckons. The contribution that Mrs Cockburn has made throughout her time at WHS cannot be understated. She has inspired so many students with a love of languages, as well as leaving lasting memories through the trips she organised to Germany and France. Her colleagues and students alike all wish her the very best and look forward to hearing of her travels in the coming years.

Mr Phillips – After a staggering 48 years(!) the legend that is Mr Phillips is retiring. Words cannot sum up just how much he has given the school and its students. He has dedicated his life to WHS and its predecessor school; he has taught 1000’s of students and so many have gone on to study Physics because of him. All I can say is that I hope he finally gets the time to improve his handicap a little more, and enjoys looking back at what has been nothing short of a phenomenal, impactful career. A true stalwart of the school who I know everyone wishes well for the future.

Year Group Teams 2022-23

At this time of year we always like to confirm the Pastoral Support structure for parents.

  • Year 7: Mr Tidmarsh (Director of Learning), Mrs Jones (Year Group Manager)
  • Year 8: Miss Ledger (Director of Learning), Ms Furniss (Year Group Manager)
  • Year 9: Miss Carruthers (Director of Learning),  Mr Dawson (Year Group Manager)
  • Year 10: Mr Anderson (Director of Learning), Mrs Elliott (Year Group Manager)
  • Year 11: Mrs Mulholland (Director of Learning), Mrs Wood/Mrs Braithwaite (Year Group Manager)
  • Years 12 & 13: Mrs Swan (Director of Learning), Mrs Meakin (Progress Coach)


With new uniforms being bought over the coming weeks, I would remind parents of some particular aspects of it. The full guidance is of course on the school website:

  • Trousers – These should be normal school trousers. They should not be in the style of jeans or made from denim or any other heavy cotton or cotton-type material; they should not be overly tight to the leg or have showy zips or other adornments. If in doubt about what tight means (which we often get queries about) the basic rule is that if your hand cannot fit up the bottom of the trousers without stretching the material they are too tight. They must cover a student’s ankles and not be noticeably short.
  • Shirts/ Blouses – these must have a collar which is fastened by a top button as they are expected to be worn properly. This means that ties are done up and buttons always fastened. They must be able to be tucked into either skirt or trousers.
  • Shoes –They should be pure BLACK footwear with no coloured logos and must be polishable. They should not have coloured soles.
  • Socks – Should be black and not pop socks or trainer socks. They should cover ankles and not have logos.
  • Skirts – The school skirt is the only one allowed to be worn by students.

The vast majority of the students wear the uniform very well and I am sure these high standards will be maintained in September.

Uniform Shop

The uniform shop in school will be open at the following times during the school holiday from 9am to 3.30pm on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, 30 August
  • Wednesday, 31 August
  • Thursday, 1 September
  • Friday, 2 September
  • Tuesday, 6 September

SIMs App Switch-off

Over the summer we will be switching off the SIMS Parent App. We know that many parents have found this useful, but equally it has also had quite a few glitches and accessibility issues that have led to frustration for many. In the new term we will be switching to a new App called Edulink, used by many schools in Cumbria, which will give the same information as the SIMS App, such as homework, but is much easier to use and access. We will send out instructions about the new App and how to access it in September.

Holidays in Term Time

We have seen a large increase in parents arranging holidays during term time this year. Some of this has been unavoidable due to Covid rearrangements and other related factors. We have to make it clear that next year no holiday in term time will be authorised by the school unless in exceptional circumstances.
Term dates for the next two academic years are available on the school website here.

Setting and Tutor Group Changes

Timetables for next year will be given to students on their return to school. As always there will be set changes, and in some cases House Form changes. In the first instance any concerns or questions about these should be raised directly with the relevant Year Group teams.

New School Year in September

Students should return to school on Wednesday, 7 September at normal time, 8:40am, in full uniform. I look forward to seeing all our students refreshed for the new school year.
It leaves me to say that I hope everyone associated with the school has a safe and relaxing break. For my part the relaxing will be short lived as I set to on yet another gardening project; my technique for resting on a bench pondering what I should actually be doing is now nearly perfected, may I add!

Yours sincerely
Mr Chris McAree

A look back of 2021-22 from each Department can be downloaded here: News from the Departments (July 2022)

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