Letter to Parents – March 2019

Letter to Parents – March 2019

Dear Parents/Carers,

Three weeks of the Spring Term have passed already and we are heading rapidly for Easter. I wanted to write to you to update you on some of the things happening here at Homewood over the next few weeks and to ask for your help and support in some areas.

Funding for Schools

You will have read my recent letter regarding the Headteachers’ campaign aimed at persuading the Government to increase its spending on education. The ‘Worth Less?’ campaign group now comprises Headteachers from 64 Local Authorities and Boroughs, covering thousands of schools and millions of families. This gives a clear indication of the levels of concern felt by reasonable and moderate Headteachers in England. There is a growing frustration at the lack of engagement by the Government in proper discussions about the serious funding issues facing schools. Headteachers will continue to lobby ministers until our voice is heard but if any of you wanted to write to your MP and/or the Department of Education, asking them to press for a greater prioritisation of education funding, particularly with the forthcoming spending review in mind, that would be very helpful. I feel we all need to work together to ensure the education and wellbeing of our young people are not being overlooked.

Contingency Planning for Brexit

We have been reviewing our contingency plans should we encounter transport problems associated with Brexit and we are following guidance issued by Kent County Council. We are confident that we will be able to maintain the food supplies for our catering service and because we use gas rather than oil, we will not have problems with fuel supplies. The main risk seems to be from the possibility that traffic will build up on the M20 and on local roads. This could pose problems for staff or students getting into school. We think it unlikely that this will affect our ability to keep the school open and lessons running as normal, but if we do encounter difficulties we will communicate with you as we do when there are adverse weather conditions affecting transport – through our web-site, text and SIMs App and we will use the Kent Closures site to post information about the status of the school. Mr Pusey will communicate with you separately should there be any difficulties affecting the ability of students to get into school for their exams. We are not expecting problems, but we want you to know that we are prepared should difficulties arise.

Preparation for exams

Students preparing for public exams this summer are now coming into the final furlong of their preparations before the exam season gets underway. Year 11 have a range of revision opportunities open to them after school and on Saturdays. These have been well subscribed and some sessions are now full, but please contact your son/daughter’s College Office if you need more information about these.

I was delighted to meet some of you at our recent Year 11 Parents and Students Revision Conference which took place at the Singleton Environment Centre. Feedback from those who attended was very positive and we will certainly repeat this type of event in the future.

We would really appreciate your encouragement from home to ensure that our students are dedicating a sensible amount of time to their revision each day, eating and sleeping well and getting plenty of exercise. There is lots of information about exam preparation as well as course information and revision materials on the Google Classroom.

Mr Pusey will be sending out full details about the arrangements for the examination season before Easter.

Logging in to SIMs App

We will be able to improve our communication with you if you log in to the new SIMs App. Many parents have done this now, but if you have still not logged in, please contact us on this e-mail address parentsupport@homewood.kent.sch.uk and we will ensure you have the log in details and instructions you need.

Communication with staff

Staff at Homewood are always happy to hear from you if you have any concerns you wish to raise or any information you would like to share. Unfortunately, we have a small but increasing number of parents who think it is acceptable to be rude or aggressive with staff, via telephone or e-mail, or indeed in a face to face meeting. I have reminded staff of our Dignity and Respect at Work Policy and I would ask you to re-visit that on our web-site if you have not looked at it recently. In essence, I do not expect staff to accept a lack of respect and I will support them if they feel they need to terminate a conversation or request that a parent no longer communicates directly with them. We want our communications with you to be helpful and positive, designed to ensure that your son/daughter can make progress with their learning. All my staff work hard and do their very best to support the students they work with and a mutual respect is essential if we are to work well together. Thank you for your support with this.

Health and Safety on the school site

In many previous communications with parents, I have requested that you do not drive on to the school site to drop off or pick up your son/daughter. Unfortunately, this is still happening and it is causing a health and safety risk as there are a large number of students moving around at that time. My staff are briefed to challenge parents who try to drive on to the site and this is one situation in which they have unfortunately been subjected to disrespectful responses from parents. I would ask once again that you would respect this request – please do not drive on to the school site. It is putting the safety of our students at risk. Thank you.

Homewood’s 70th Birthday Celebrations

Homewood was officially opened in 1949 and we are celebrating our 70th birthday with a range of different events. On Saturday 22 June, over 170 of our ex-students are coming
back to the school for the first of our alumni events. The number of students signing up to join our alumni group has grown over the last year and we are looking forward to welcoming them back to their school as part of our birthday celebrations. The event coincides with our Open Morning for prospective students, so there will be a chance for future, present and past students to meet together on that morning. Look out for more information about this event and the other ways we will be celebrating our birthday.

Forthcoming Events

Year 11 Geography Immersion Day for students 27 March
Year 8 Easter Services 8 April
Holocaust Memorial Day 9 April
Easter Break begins 15 April
Return to school after Easter 23 April
Year 9 STEM Day (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) 25 April
Public Exam season begins 30 April
Prospective Year 7 Parents’ Information Evening 1 May
6th Form Gala Evening 16 May
End of Term 4 24 May
Start of Term 5 3 June
Year 5 Open Morning 22 June
Homewood’s 70th Birthday Celebrations 22 June
Public Exam season ends 25 June
6th Form Induction Days 25-26 June
Prospective Year 12 Parents’ Information Evening 26 June
Staff Training Day (students not in school) 28 June
Year 6 Induction Week 1 – 5 July
KS3 Sports Day 9 July
KS4 Sports Day 11 July
Year 7 Festival of Learning 17 July
Junior Prizegiving Ceremony 19 July
End of Term 5 23 July
Start of new academic year – first day for students 29 August

Great teaching, great learning

As a school, we are maintaining our clear focus on ensuring that the teaching that is going on in the classrooms each day is engaging and effective. However, the input of the teacher is only ever half of the story. Students who do well are the students who make the most of the expert teacher in front of them, focus without distraction in their lessons and put in extra work between lessons. With the new exams, we are finding that there is an increasingly wide gap opening up between the achievement of students who put the work in and students who don’t. You cannot do well on the new exams without working hard, not just in the months running up to the exam, but consistently throughout your time at school. I am always very grateful to you, our parents, for supporting your sons and daughters at home and encouraging them to put in the work that is needed. I hope you are finding the regular e-mails from Google Classroom helpful in ensuring you know what work they are expected to do. Many of our students are working really hard and completing all the work they are asked to do, some even need encouragement to take time away from their studies to relax and do something different. But there are still a significant number of students who are not working hard enough at home. We rely on you to help us ensure that they are doing the work they need to do to succeed. Thank you for your support.

In conclusion

I look forward to seeing many of you at the various events which are taking place between now and the end of the academic year. I hope soon to be able to let you know who will be taking over from me as Principal from September. As I have been showing prospective candidates around the school, every one of them has been impressed by the courtesy and politeness of our students and the calm, industrious atmosphere they can see in lessons and around the school. The impressive facilities and the incredibly wide range of subjects available to our students through our diverse curriculum have also amazed them. Our students are fortunate to have the opportunities they have at Homewood and we are fortunate to be working with such a wonderful bunch of young people. The school has a bright and promising future …here’s to the next 70 years!

Yours sincerely

Sally Lees
Principal