Principal’s letter to Parents February 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
This term, staff at Homewood have been celebrating the superb progress scores for both the academic and applied courses in the Sixth Form as published in the official DfE Performance Tables in January. The progress score for A Level in particular places Homewood 8th in Kent, including independent schools. Taking independent schools out of the equation, Homewood is the 4th top performing state school for student progress. This is a magnificent achievement for all those concerned, and I extend my congratulations not just to Mr Mills and the Sixth Form team, but to all of the staff and Year 13 students from last year for their hard work, relentless determination and incredible success. If you are interested in finding out more about Homewood’s Sixth Form Centre, we have open mornings planned for Tuesday 17th March and Wednesday 18th March from 9.00am onwards. These mornings provide a fantastic opportunity to meet key staff, visit lessons, chat to existing Sixth Form students and find out more about what’s on offer. If you are interested in visiting the school on one of these days, please contact the school via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also be aware that all of the necessary information about our Sixth Form Centre, including the very wide range of courses, the different pathways on offer, and information on how to apply, is all available on the school website.
I was very pleased to be able to meet and chat to so many parents during the Consultation Days for Years 8 to 11 at the beginning of this term. The consultation meetings provide a wonderful opportunity to recognise students’ achievements and successes and enable us to identify the necessary next steps in order to ensure that students continue to make strong progress in all aspects of their work and learning. In addition to providing the opportunity to involve parents more directly with the learning process, these meetings really do help us to further motivate and engage the students and to encourage them to aim high.
So many of the parents who attended the Consultation Days were extremely complimentary about the new system which helped to ensure that conversations were succinct and focused and that all ran to time. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank in particular Miss English, Mrs Williams and the Media Centre team for organising and co-ordinating all of the Consultation Days. They all worked tirelessly to ensure that everything ran smoothly for teachers and parents alike, and I am sure that you will join me in congratulating them for developing such an efficient and effective new system.
Year 11 and Year 13 students now only have 9 school weeks before the start of the public examinations. Year 13 students have just obviously completed their PPEs, so it is now important that they reflect on their results and the feedback provided in order to ensure that any gaps in their knowledge and understanding are filled and that they understand fully all of the success criteria for their different subjects. Year 11 students have their next set of PPEs in the first week back after the half-term break. This will provide students with a final opportunity to hone their examination technique before the actual GCSEs in the summer. For Year 13 and Year 11 students alike, the two-week break provides a fantastic opportunity to undertake some further revision. Please note that teachers from all subject areas have worked very hard to provide the students with a range of different revision resources, much of which is available online. It will be integral to the students’ success for them to access these resources, and the break provides the ideal opportunity to do so.
My five key pieces of advice to all students preparing for examinations this summer are as follows:
- Get organised – create a timetable and prioritise
- Vary your revision with different activities – writing down notes from memory, creating mind-maps and using flashcards are all very effective
- Practice makes perfect – do lots of practice papers and questions
- Seek help when uncertain about your work – ask a friend, or speak to your teachers in school
- Look after yourselves to help boost your concentration levels – get sufficient sleep, eat properly, drink plenty of water, and take some exercise
(Further details on revision can be found in the Year 11 section of the school website.)
In order to help better prepare all students for their future working lives, we are currently looking to create even more opportunities for students throughout the school to gain experience of different careers and to engage with all aspects of the world of work. This is work that Mr Harper and Mrs Srinivasan are overseeing, and I thank them for their ongoing hard work and drive in ensuring that the school has a very full, diverse and exciting programme of events for the students. With this in mind, Year 7 students took part in an ‘Aspire Careers Day’ earlier this term which was organised by Mr Lawson, Mrs Hayes and the Discovery College team. The day involved Year 7 students working alongside visitors from different local firms in order to experience a range of different careers, including engineering, banking, scientific research and construction. The workshops were all informative, interactive and very enjoyable. The visitors were all extremely impressed by the students’ interest and enthusiasm, and the students themselves certainly enjoyed taking part in the different activities.
Mrs Pepper deserves recognition too for her success with the school’s ‘Ready for Work’ scheme, which she co-ordinates for some of our Sixth Form students. Mrs Pepper’s work has resulted in one of our Year 13 students, Oliver, who is undertaking work experience with Stevenson Brothers in Bethersden, meeting The Princess Royal in her recent visit to the area. What an amazing opportunity for Oliver!
Mrs Brown has once again gained public recognition for her incredible work promoting and supporting student wellbeing. Accompanied by Mollee, William, Freddie, Katie, Ryan, Amy and Harlis, Mrs Brown delivered a talk at HeadStart’s national wellbeing conference in London. They spoke in particular about how the Headstart grant has helped students to develop as peer mentors at Homewood and shared their thoughts on what young people want with regards to emotional health and wellbeing. Very well done to Mrs Brown and to all of the students involved!
I would like to thank Mrs Douglas for her continued hard work and effort in ensuring that all parents and carers have access to the SIMS Parent App – an online tool for sharing up-to-date information instantly and securely between school and home. If you are still not registered to use this new system, please contact the school via email (email@example.com) as soon as possible.
In my last letter to you before Christmas I mentioned the importance of student attendance at school. Thank you once again to all parents and carers who continue to support the school in ensuring that their child maintains strong attendance. For those parents who continue to struggle to ensure that their child is in school, please do contact your child’s college office for some additional support or to help explore the reasons why attending school is an issue. As always, we are totally committed to working closely with parents in order to ensure that all of our students are in school and able to continue with their studies and participate fully in school life.
As part of the amazing extra-curricular events and activities on offer to the students at Homewood, we have two trips going aboard over the half-term holiday. (This is in addition to the trip to Chateau de la Baudonniere which took place during this last week of term for students in Years 7 and 8.) The first is the ski trip to Bormio, Italy, for Year 7 to Year 13 students, and the second is a trip to Iceland for Year 11 to Year 13 students. I would like to thank very much the staff who are giving up their holidays to provide these wonderful opportunities for the students. I would also like to thank Mrs Jones and Mrs Fensome for their hard work over many months to ensure that all of the necessary checks and paperwork are in place in order for these trips to actually happen. To all the students and staff participating in these trips: travel safely, enjoy yourselves, and take good care at all times. We look forward to hearing about your adventures next term.
At the end of this term we say goodbye to Mr Dowling who has secured a fantastic promotion. As the Tenterden Christian Schools Worker, Mr Dowling has undertaken a variety of roles at Homewood, including supporting the Young Carers group and running our ‘Take Up The Challenge’ scheme. Mr Dowling’s contribution to the school will certainly be missed, and we wish him well for his exciting new venture. We also say goodbye to Mr Crowder and Mrs Walters. Again, we thank them both for their contribution to the school and wish them well for the future.
Finally, whether you are home or abroad over the next fortnight, I do hope that everyone has a good half-term break. I look forward to welcoming all students and staff back to school on Monday 2nd March.
Mr J K Single
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