Letter from Mr Edwards (14/09/2021)

Dear Parent / Carer

School life at the moment is back to normal, but we must continue to keep our minds open to the possibility of restrictions as we move into the winter months. The topic of vaccinating all children aged 12 to 15 has been much publicised over the last 48 hours. I will send further communication on this matter once we have more clarity ourselves.

Year 7 have settled in really well and it is a delight to see their positive energy, enthusiasm and curiosity. Our 6th Form has increased in size with our largest Year 12 intake ever at 128 students. The 6th Form currently sits at 250 students, which does pose some logistical headaches as we move forward.

Open Evening Thursday 7th October

Our annual Open Evening will once again be virtual. With the rate of COVID infections high in the community we felt it was unwise to have over 1,200 people on the school site. However, pre-booked tours will run from 12th to 18th October to allow potential new families to see the school in action. Thursday 7th October will therefore be a normal school day for students, with no early finish. Friday 8th October is a school INSET day so students will not be on the school site.

Curriculum Day Friday 1st October

The students’ normal timetable will be suspended on Friday 1st October. Instead, each year group will participate in a range of activities linked to specific themes.

Year Event
7 Maths challenges
8 Online safety
9 Sex and relationships education
10 Creative writing in English
11 Getting ready for work
12 & 13 UCAS/ Enrichment/team-building


School Developments

3G pitch

Funding for the long-awaited 3G pitch has been secured, with £1.1 million of investment going into a two-phase programme of development. We aim to have the 3G pitch built and ready to use by the end of January 2022, with additional changing and dual-purpose community facilities later that year. With our close working relationship with Hitchin Belles, there is the aspiration that The Priory School will become a centre of excellence for ladies football.

New 6th Form block

The school has secured £3.3 million to re-model key areas of the school and to build a new 6th Form block with five additional classrooms. The new development will be at the front of the school and the aim is to have this completed ready for September 2022 if all goes to plan!

Other developments

As part of reducing the school’s carbon footprint we have been working closely with the Local Authority and have secured funding to improve the energy efficiency of the school. New cladding and windows are in the process of being fitted to the Science block and current 6th Form area. In addition, we are awaiting the start of fitting photovoltaic on the school roofs and an upgrade of our internal heating systems.

Key Information

At the start of the new academic year I like to draw your attention to key information about the school and our expectations.

School policies

The school website includes all our statutory and other key policies that are regularly referred to when dealing with stakeholders. These policies can be found by going to the home page and clicking on the ‘About tab. The school updates policies on a rotational basis, so from time to time specific policies may not be on the website. Please feel free to contact the school for such documentation.

Communication with the school

To ensure that our students make the best possible progress it is essential that communication between the school and home is open, honest and in the best interests of the student. We are fortunate to have a very supportive parent body and the vast majority of communication with the school is constructive and carried out in a collaborative way. However, every year there are a small number of parents who are abusive to my staff. Like any public-facing organisation, my staff have the right to feel safe at work. The school will challenge parents who are abusive and if necessary involve the police. Mistakes and errors of judgment are sometimes made by the school. Where that does happen we would look to rectify the problem as amicably as possible. However, if parents are unhappy with the school they can follow the School Complaints procedure, which can be found on the school website.

Behaviour for Learning

The school has a clear Behaviour for Learning policy that sets the framework for how we reward and consequence students. Students are made fully aware of our expectations through tpsQUAD, assemblies, form time and specific activities. The Behaviour for Learning policy, in conjunction with the Anti-Bullying policy, Drugs policy and Searching, Screening & Confiscation policy, provides the framework for how we deliver a safe learning environment for students and staff. We must not lose sight of the fact that a vast majority of the students at The Priory School have excellent behaviour and are a credit to their families.

Attendance

The school has high expectations regarding attendance, with 96% being the baseline for all students. Failure to attend school regularly directly impacts on the progress a student makes, increases their anxiety, interrupts the learning of others and increases the workload of teaching staff. The school works in conjunction with parents where attendance is an issue. Where attendance does not improve, the school will support the Local Authority in
issuing fines.

Teaching & Learning

At The Priory School we have high expectations for students and what they can achieve regardless of their ability. We have professional and dedicated staff who will engage and challenge our students, and our roll-out of Chromebooks will be completed in October when Year 9 will be presented with their devices.

Students must come to school prepared to study having had a good night’s sleep, having the right equipment with them and having done their homework to a high standard. They will need to take responsibility for their learning, be resilient when faced with challenges and show respect for those teaching and supporting them.

‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.’ – Pele

If you have concerns regarding the quality of learning please as a matter of urgency raise this with the class teacher in the first instance.

Kind regards

Geraint Edwards