Headteacher’s Newsletter (September 2022)

Dear Parents

It is a pleasure to welcome back all of our students, new and old, to this academic year. Having had a successful 2021-22 in so many ways, it is exciting to think of what may be achieved by the students and staff over the 38 weeks of this school year.
The start of term has been a unique one, which we do have to recognise. The death of Her Majesty the Queen gave us all time to pause, with the students observing a period of silence the day after her death in our schoolwide assembly and reflecting on her life in House Tutor time and PD lessons.

As a school we always seek to develop our sense of purpose to ensure that all of our students are able to excel and fulfil their potential. An important element of that is recognising that securing exam results are essential for the future prosperity for our students and is at the core of education. Last year we focussed a lot with our students on opportunities outside the classroom, to show respect and compassion to others. We will continue to reinforce that in partnership with you as we all want to equip our students with those ever important “soft skills”. That development does however need to go hand-in-hand with the academic stretch of every student. I firmly believe that we must always remain honest and realistic with students so that they understand that exams and learning are paramount to their future progression which, along with their wider aptitude and skills, will allow them to stand out from their peers.

As we start a new academic year I have asked our staff to reinforce the importance of homework and its completion and to ensure that students are regularly being assessed so that they are able to perform to their potential. That is not to say we are teaching to tests, far from it, as a love of subjects is essential to encourage life-long learning. It is more a recognition that working independently, and at times in silence, is a skill in itself and one that young people in a multi-media world can at times find difficult. Our students are reaching ever higher standards and, equipped with the right skills, can do even more through our encouragement and guidance.

GCSE and A Level Results

This year our students secured a strong set of results at GCSE level; they showed great resilience and determination when tackling the qualifications after the disruption caused by Covid over the last two years. Overall, students achieved what they were expected to and as always there were some outstanding individual performances. A large number of Grade 9’s was secured by our students; one student achieved nine grade 9’s, another student attained eight – overall there were over a dozen students who secured eight or more Grade 8’s and 9’s. In total our students achieved over 200 Grade 8’s and 9’s.

We were pleased with the performance of our Sixth Form students. They achieved good results that reflected their hard work, dedication and determination in their studies. Whether it is the students that have achieved straight A*’s or those who have worked equally hard to reach the goals they set themselves, we congratulate them all on their achievements. As a school, we are extremely pleased with the range of destinations our students have achieved this year. The vast majority of the year group will be progressing to university while others are progressing on to high quality degree level apprenticeships, with a small number taking a gap year.

Our students will be attending a wide spectrum of universities as always, many attending Russell Group universities or other high achieving specialist institutions for the arts and institutions abroad. The range of courses students will be reading is extensive, ranging from subjects such as Physics, Astrophysics, Economics, Architecture, Law and Maths to degrees in the arts and music. The range and diversity in the courses and destinations will continue to inspire our current students to be outward looking as they work towards following their own high aspirations.

Likewise, our GCSE students have all found good progression routes. Many have returned to the Sixth Form and we have warmly welcomed them back. Others are in local apprenticeships or at Carlisle College and, as I write, we believe all have a secure next stage in their education to progress to.

As always, we wish both Year 13 and Year 11 the very best for the future. We really do mean it when we say that we will miss them fondly and hope they have positive memories of their time here at William Howard.

New Parent App – Edulink

We switched off our old Parent App in the summer holiday as we have been preparing to transfer to Edulink One. This is now ready to be activated to give access to all parents and students. An activation email will be sent to parents using the email address of the primary contact we hold on our system. This will allow parents to set their password so they can access the app. We anticipate that this will by the end of this week.

Students will be able to login into their version of the App using their school email accounts.

The App is currently configured to allow parents access to:

  • Homework for all students
  • Achievements
  • Attendance
  • Behaviour
  • Details held on our system about each child, such as contacts (if these need changing please contact the school)
  • Timetable
  • School Calendar (currently being uploaded)

New Staff

As always at the start of a new academic year there have been some changes of staff. Our staffing continues to be stable, and it is good to see that we start the year fully staffed. The new teaching staff who have joined us this year are:

  • Mr Tonussi, MFL
  • Mrs Harris, 2nd in Charge of MFL
  • Miss Adzo, MFL
  • Miss Hodgson, Maths
  • Miss Thompson, Geography
  • Mr Hearty, ICT
  • Miss Scullion, History
  • Mr Campbell, History
  • Mrs Farish, Engagement Team Lead
  • Mrs Davidson, Engagement Team
  • Mrs Forrest, Engagement Team

We welcome our new staff to William Howard and I know that you will join me in wishing them every success in their posts.

Year 13 Leaving Event

Our former Year 13 gathered for their leaving party at The Halston on the first Thursday of term. It was a lovely evening and I am sure the students enjoyed all being back together before many depart for various destinations and institutions across the country. A change in timing during the year brought about by Covid now seems to have gained popularity with the students as the ideal time to gather, share memories and wish each other well.

Uniform

As we have started the year, the uniform for the vast majority of students is being worn very well indeed. The students’ standard of uniform within the school is outstanding, and I thank all parents for their support in ensuring that they are smartly dressed and taking pride in their appearance. It is always worth pointing out, to avoid any confusion, that students are required to be in uniform while they are on school buses, and students are expected to arrive and leave school grounds in full uniform. I would like to remind parents that the expectations do not diminish as the year goes on, and as wear and tear leads to replacements it is essential to maintain standards.

Catering

It has been great at the start of the year to see so many students wanting to use the Main Canteen, especially our new Year 7 students. It has certainly been the case that the numbers wanting to eat a hot meal have been very high in the first two weeks of term which, coupled with new students getting used to the system, have at times caused some long queues. This is something we are very much aware of. In hindsight, we should have continued the early start to Break 1 for Year 7 for a couple more days than we did as this is a larger than usual Year 7 cohort learning our procedures.

As many parents will know we moved to two 30 minute breaks 4 years ago to encourage more students to eat a full hot meal, which has been very successful with well over double the number of students now doing so. At the first break Years 7, 8 and 9 have the opportunity to queue first for the first 15 minutes, at second break it is Year 10, 11 and Sixth Form who have the first opportunity; after the first 15 minutes of either break any student is allowed to use the Main Canteen. It is good to report that this week we have seen the system work much more smoothly with no queues at all left after the first half of each break and it is something we will continue to monitor going forward.

The students can also access food such as sandwiches and wraps etc in all of the Common Room pantries, which every year group has, with Café 6 being available for the Sixth Form. If a student does for some reason not get food during one of the two breaks they should make sure they tell their Year Group Manager, as we always make sure every student is given time to eat, but they must let us know if there has been a problem.

Contacting Staff

The staff of the school can be contacted in a variety of ways. One way is the dedicated contacts page on the school website that provides direct email contacts for particular members of staff. They will respond to you normally within 24 hours, as teaching and other commitments allow. If you wish to speak to a member of staff then please contact Reception at school on 016977 45700.

As most staff teach the majority of the day, teachers may not be available to take a call. They will return calls as soon as is possible, although in some cases that may not be until the following day. I would encourage all parents to contact us as soon as you have any concerns or questions. Dealing with issues quickly means that they rarely become insurmountable. As always, if you have any concerns about how a matter has been dealt with, please do contact myself or Ms Pigdon directly, and we will make every effort to address your concerns.

Upcoming events

A few dates for the diary this half term include:

  • 24 – 27 September – Spanish A Level Trip
  • 28 September – Y7 Performing Arts Tasters
  • 29 September – Y11 Geography Trip to Silloth
  • 30 September – Y11 Geography Trip to Silloth
  • 1 & 2 October – DofE Award First Aid Training
  • 7 October – Y11 Mock Interview CEIAG Event
  • 8 & 9 October – DofE Bronze Practice Expedition
  • 12 October – Whole School Tutor Evening

I thank you in advance for the continuing support I know will be forthcoming during the year. It is by working together that ultimately we will see the students achieve what they are capable of, and I look forward to seeing the students grow and develop over the coming year.

Yours sincerely

Chris McAree
Headteacher

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