Letter from the Head - 10th December 2021
In this issue: Important updates on COVID-19 numbers, IT issues, and assessment success stories!
I want to start by updating you on COVID-19 measures. Last week I informed you that we were experiencing an increase in the number of students testing positive. Although we currently have very few cases in the upper years, numbers in Year 7, 8 and 9 remain relatively high. Following conversations with the the Health Security Agency (previously Public Health England), we have not been advised to introduce additional control measures. However, please do continue to support us by having your child complete two lateral flow tests a week. I am hopeful that between masks being worn in communal spaces, and the upcoming Christmas break, numbers will begin to fall again soon.
As mentioned before, we will also be asking students to come in for a lateral flow test at the start of next term. These will take place on either Tuesday 4th January (our planned INSET day) or Wednesday 5th January, meaning all students will be able to return to school by Thursday 6th January at the very latest. Timings for each year group will be confirmed next week, and I apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused by the staggered start.
I also wanted to update parents on our IT issues. Our IT team have been working flat out, and as a result, most systems will be operational again by Monday. Unfortunately, we have not been able to recover all of the student data which has been inputted into SIMS. This mainly affects attendance marks since September, so we will be manually entering these again over the coming weeks. This is around 70,000 bits of data, so will take a bit of time! Please bear with us if your child's attendance records temporarily look incorrect on Edulink - once we have finished we will send all parents an up to data attendance record to check over. Otherwise, we should have things back to normal fairly soon. Thank you very much for your patience and understanding with this.
My third update is better news - we have finally received a new delivery of Holmleigh Park ties! These are once again available for purchase on ParentPay.
Moving onto more positive matters, I want to congratulate the three year groups who have completed their first assessment cycles.
Year 11 and 13 received their mock results this week. On the whole, I'm delighted with how they have done. Not because of the grades they have received (although many are excellent) - but because of the foundations they've laid for future success.
Mock exams have three main aims. The first is to interrupt what we call the "forgetting curve" - the natural way in which learned information fades from memory if you don't revisit it regularly. Mocks interrupt this process by giving students opportunities to retrieve this information and thereby consolidate their understanding. The second is to practise the process of revising for, and taking exams. The third is for teachers and students to work out where they are, and what to come next. Both year groups have done brilliantly at all three - the focus they've shown has been commendable throughout. And while it was great to see how pleased many students were with their results, it was even better to see how they were already focusing on what they needed to do for the next set of mocks. With their current attitudes, I expect both to do very well.
I am also thrilled with how Year 8 have conducted themselves through their first (and the school's first!) KS3 Assessment Window. They took exams in core subjects in the hall, and I know teachers have been hugely impressed with the work they produced. Students will find out where they came in the year next week, and I'm looking forward to celebrating the top achievers! Year 9 and 12 are up next with assessments in January, so we all wish them luck!
In festive news, students have been getting into the Christmas spirit this week. Our Christmas trees are up, students have been singing carols in choir, and I've been particularly thrilled to see all your generous donations to our foodbank appeal; thank you very much if you have contributed.
Next week we've got our Christmas jumper day on Wednesday (NOT Friday as I erroneously said last week!) and our Christmas Concert on Wednesday Evening - we are planning to go ahead with this, but seating will be spread out in the hall to maintain distance, and we request that you wear a mask if you are able. Celebration assemblies will also be taking place for all year groups, and I'm looking forward to awarding the next round of Academy Colours - always a highlight of my year!
Finally, huge congratulations to two members of our community representing their country. Ms Smith has returned from playing for GB in the Dubai Rugby 7s, where they finished a very respectable 5th. And huge congratulations to Ryan Faulkner, who was representing England at the National Indoor Archery Championships. Despite being the youngest member of the team, Ryan achieved the highest score at the competition, taking three gold medals in the process.
And with that, I hope you have a lovely weekend.