Principal’s Letter to Parents
17th October 2019
As we approach the end of this busy and eventful first term, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone involved with Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre for such a warm welcome to the school and local community. I have really enjoyed getting to know the students and staff, and I look forward to working with them all over the coming years. I must say that I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm which the students have shown towards me and by the very significant support that I have received from all members of staff. During my induction to the school at the end of last academic year, Mrs Lees made it very clear to me that I will quickly appreciate just how special Homewood is as a school, and I can confirm that she was absolutely right!
I would like to express a really warm welcome to all of the school’s new students in Year 7 and Year 12. I do hope that you have all enjoyed your first term at Homewood and have settled in to school life as quickly and comfortably as me. As I have been saying to new students and staff alike this term, do always seek support and advice if you are ever uncertain – there are always plenty of people to help and point you in the right direction.
I would also like to express my thanks to you all as parents and guardians for your support with our high expectations of students’ work and behaviour. The students have been wearing their uniform with pride, behaving very well both in and out of the classroom, and have been working with interest and purpose in their lessons. After such an encouraging start to the new academic year, it is now important that all students maintain their positive approach and continue to aim as high as possible with their studies across the curriculum. You are no doubt aware that we have introduced our very own ‘Homewood Habits’ for this academic year – a clear set of expectations based on the school’s mission tricolon of Learning, Respect and Belonging. These expectations are designed to guide students and help them all achieve happiness and success with their work and learning. I therefore encourage all students to ensure that they continue to be aware of the ‘Homewood Habits’ and that they endeavour to meet them in all aspects of school life.
With behaviour and expectations in mind, please be aware that there will be a notice published on the school website before the end of term with regard to students and the use of their mobile phones on the school site. A message will be sent to notify you once the notice has been displayed.
You will know that the school underwent an Ofsted Inspection on Tuesday 24th September and Wednesday 25th September. I am pleased to say that the report is about to be published and that I am now therefore able to share the outcomes with all staff, students and parents. I apologise about the delay in doing so, but this is to allow the opportunity for Ofsted to Quality Assure the inspection process and for us to ensure that there are no factual inaccuracies in the final report.
For September 2019, Ofsted have introduced a new inspection framework and set of judgements. The new framework focuses very much on a school’s intent, implementation and impact of its curriculum, and, based on some specific research-informed methodologies, now expects certain key criteria to be fulfilled. The judgement for ‘The quality of education’ is the limiting judgement and therefore affects directly the ‘Overall effectiveness’.
Following our inspection, the judgements are as follows:
Overall effectiveness: Requires Improvement
The quality of education: Requires Improvement
Behaviour and attitudes: Good
Personal development: Good
Leadership and management: Good
Sixth Form Provision: Good
We are obviously all disappointed to have the judgement of Requires improvement for ‘Overall effectiveness’ – this is obviously not what any of us want for the school. However, it is, of course, extremely pleasing that Ofsted recognised the school as Good in four of the five key areas scrutinised and judged, and there are therefore very many positives. These include:
“This is a welcoming school.”
“Safeguarding is effective. Staff have positive relationships with pupils and know them well. Pupils feel safe in the school.”
“Leaders want the best for their pupils and offer a wide choice of subjects and courses designed to suit pupils’ interests and abilities.”
“Leadership is driven by a vision to include every student and to help them overcome difficulties. Leaders act with integrity and leaders are aware of weaknesses.”
“There is a calm atmosphere in lessons, which helps teachers teach and pupils learn.”
“Staff have high expectations of behaviour. There is an ethos of respect and tolerance.”
“The school provides a good range of opportunities for pupils’ cultural and social development.”
“Senior and subject leaders are capable and taking the right steps to improve curriculum planning and the quality of teaching.”
“Leaders in the Sixth Form have improved the help students get to choose courses well suited to their interests and starting points. Teaching in the Sixth Form is strong.”
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who completed the Ofsted Parent View survey. I was extremely reassured to read your feedback and particularly pleased with the very positive percentages for student happiness, student safety and for parental recommendations of the school to others. Thank you.
In terms of areas to address, the report states that work is needed on improving the organisation of the overall curriculum and ensuring that all subject curriculum plans contain the knowledge, understanding and skills that students should know in a logical order. The report also states that we need to ensure that students can use subject-specific vocabulary to explain their thinking confidently and accurately and that we ensure all staff receive the necessary training to strengthen their teaching of students with SEND.
Once the full report has been published, I will ensure that it is available for you to read on our school website. A message will be sent home to notify you that this is the case.
As the new Principal, I have already been working very closely with Mrs Lees as the CEO of the Trust, Mrs Guthrie as the Chair of Governors, my leadership team, and indeed with all members of the teaching and associate staff, to ensure a continued journey of improvement and success for the school. This now includes a very driven and specific focus on ensuring that we do not hold a Requires Improvement judgement for long. Working together, we will continue to reflect honestly, evaluate constructively and move forward with confidence!
In the meantime, I hope that you all have a very good half-term holiday, and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the course of this academic year.
Jeremy K. Single