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Holmleigh Park High School

Letter from the Head – 5th April 2020

Dear students, parents and carers,

I am writing at the end of what has been a phenomenally difficult term.

I would like to start, again, by paying tribute to Ms Howes. We have been blown away by the tributes left on our online Book of Condolences. Pam’s sons have asked me to pass on their thanks for all of your messages. The outpouring of love and grief from all of you is a testament to what a wonderful woman she was – dedicated, funny, upbeat, but above all kind. We will miss her immensely, and when we return to school, we will come together as a community to celebrate her life.

I would also like to thank you for your hard work in our virtual school. We have been absolutely delighted to see how much progress you are all making.

Last week, I asked you for some feedback on Google Classroom. On the whole, I was very encouraged by your responses. In particular, we asked you about how much work we’re setting. Of course, we can’t get this perfect for everyone, but I was very encouraged by the results, with 83% thinking we’re getting the balance right:

There were two things which your feedback flagged up as issues, particularly in younger year groups:

  1. The explanations given by online resources aren’t as good as normal lessons

  2. Students don’t always get feedback quickly enough

Both of these were problems we expected, and we’ve been working on an improved plan for after Easter. I’m now able to share the details.

1. Changes to Lessons

We have been working with colleagues from other Greenshaw schools to put together a first-class online curriculum. From next term, lessons in our core subjects (English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, French) will all follow the same format:

  • Each lesson will continue to start with a short quiz

  • The main portion of the lesson will be a video recorded by one of our teachers, in which they explain new concepts and guide students towards particular tasks

  • Finally, the lesson will end with another short quiz, called an “Exit Ticket”

We hope that this will make it considerably easier for students to learn new material and follow along with what tasks they are meant to be completing.

2. Changes to timetables

To make this possible, we have simplified our timetables to a 1 week model. These will be the same for all students across the Greenshaw Learning Trust. You can view these here on our website. Many students will find themselves with a different teacher to last term - this is meant to happen, and there is no need to contact us about it. Some assignments may also temporarily show as outstanding while we are making changes - these can be ignored. Alternatively, students simply need to log on to Google Classroom, where we will continue to set five lessons each day. 

3. Changes to feedback

Centralising planning will free up more staff to focus on supporting students. Students will be able to email questions and work to a helpdesk, which will be staffed with subject teachers throughout the day. As a result, they will be able to get a faster response. The email addresses are:

In addition, our staff will have more time to review Exit Tickets at the end of each lesson, and identify any misconceptions.

Unfortunately, in smaller subjects, we are not able to provide the same level of support – but we will continue to set work on Google Classroom as we have been doing.

For more information on online learning, please click here to visit the Virtual School section of our website. 

We do not yet know when we will be able to return to school, but we are looking forward to doing so. In the meantime, we are confident that these changes will provide an even better online curriculum, and make sure that our students continue to make excellent progress with their education over the coming months.

With my very best wishes to you and your families. I hope you have as restful an Easter holiday as possible.

Patrick Farmbrough