Dear Parent / Carer
Leading a school has challenges like any organisation, which makes coming to work varied and interesting. It’s never boring. This academic year has seen the return to near normality, although spikes in COVID along the way have stretched our resilience. If COVID has done one thing it is that we as a school community have become closer in our desire to support the life chances of our young people.
“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Despite the record-breaking temperature, Activities Week (adjusted accordingly) has been a great success, plus we have four World Challenge groups currently out or going out to Morocco and Nepal.
It was wonderful to see our new Year 7 intake last Thursday and their parents in the evening; no remote recorded videos for parents to watch! We will be hosting two summer schools for Year 7, which will allow students to get to know each other and build those all-important relationships.
It is always difficult saying goodbye to colleagues and we have a number who are moving onto pastures new.
- Learning Support: Miss Hair, Miss Higgs, Mrs Ramsey and Miss Hubbard Sawyer
- Cover Supervisor: Mr Bevan
- Post 16 team: Mrs Luckman
- Business Studies: Mrs Evans
- Design & Technology: Mr Heron Maxwell
- Maths: Dr Kisby
- Science: Mrs Willis
- Computing: Mr Hankin
- MFL: Mr Williams
For September we are fully staffed and will be introducing new colleagues at the start of the term.
Safeguarding over the summer break
Support for students will continue over the summer break. If your child would like someone to speak to or has any concerns, please encourage them to send an email to email@example.com and a member of staff will contact you. The following two numbers can also be used:
- Childline: 0800 1111
- NSPCC: 0808 800 5000
Online safety – A reminder that you can use the Securly app on your mobile phone to monitor your child’s use of their Chromebook. The following link has advice for parents about keeping children safe online: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/. There are also webinars that can be accessed to help with keeping children safe online.
The school strives to meet our challenging attendance target of 96%. The last two years have been a minefield for all concerned regarding attendance and despite this we have been above the national average. However, on analysing attendance data there are pockets of students in each year group who are off school far too much. At times there are legitimate reasons, but all too often this is not the case. Where a student’s attendance is low, not only does this mean a loss of learning but also potential safeguarding concerns which the school will follow up. We have always said that if students are not in school then they are missing out on learning. School closures due to COVID have left many students with knowledge gaps, which makes excellent attendance imperative.
The Department of Education has issued new guidance on attendance that will be reflected in our updated Attendance policy, which we will share with you in September.
At The Priory School we pride ourselves on how well our students wear their uniform. During COVID we made adjustments to our uniform rules as part of our risk management strategies, and over the last two years students have been able to come to school wearing their PE kit if they have PE lessons on that day. From the start of the next academic year the following will be in place:
- Key Stage 4 students (Years 10 and 11) will come to school wearing their full school uniform and change for PE.
- Key Stage 3 students (Years 7, 8 and 9) can still come to school wearing PE kit on the days they have PE. We will be reviewing this process at October half term to see if we will continue with this approach.
Girls and cycling shorts – The girls’ PE kit states black sports shorts. On reflection, we as a school have not maintained this expectation so from September we are re-setting the bar and cycling shorts will not be accepted as suitable.
Make-up and jewellery – The school policy is that students do not wear make-up or jewellery (including any kind of studs or sleepers) and like the rest of our uniform policy this is non-negotiable. Please note that if students get their ears pierced during the holidays they will be asked to remove their earrings/studs/sleepers (even clear ones).
A time to read
“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” – Roald Dahl
The summer holidays are a perfect time to delve into books and escape for a few hours a week. Developing a love for reading opens up a whole host of life-long opportunities. Please encourage your child to pick up a book over the next few weeks. There is substantial research to indicate that a lack of reading over this period of time sees reading development stall.
We have a fantastic local library (https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/Libraries-and-archives/Library-opening-hours/Hitchin-Library.aspx ) where books are readily accessible and the following links are also useful in terms of recommended reads for teenagers:
Examination results days
Year 13 – A-Level results will be emailed to Year 13 students at 8.30am on Thursday 18th August. Students who need support and advice with post-18 options, such as university places, should arrive at school at 9am for face-to-face support with the Sixth form team in the temporary study centre. Should they not be able to attend in person, they should make contact via email:
- Mrs Hadaway (firstname.lastname@example.org) – Head of the 6th From
- Mr Wright (email@example.com) – Head of Year 13
Year 13 students are advised to check that they are able to access their school email accounts. If there are any problems with accessing accounts, they should email ICT Helpdesk (iForgot@priory.herts.sch.uk). Please be advised that there may be a delay in results appearing in students’ inboxes.
Year 11 – GCSE examination results can be collected from school at 10am on Thursday 25th August. Results can only be released to students and no results can be given out by telephone. If a student is not able to pick up their results they can give written permission, which must be signed by the student, for another person (including a family member) to collect their results. Alternatively, students can request that their results are emailed to their school email account. Students who do not collect hard copies of their exam results on results day will receive them through the normal First Class post.
A letter dated 8th July was sent to Year 11 students and parents outlining how to book appointments to meet with a member of the Post 16 team on results day if required. Please contact Mr Carr (firstname.lastname@example.org), Head of Year 12, if you require any further information.
Members of the Wellbeing team will be monitoring their emails during the summer break. If you have concerns that you wish to share, please email:
- Miss Follano (email@example.com)
- Mrs Laycock (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We would also recommend support through the following websites:
These are challenging times for all families, some more than others. Families who are eligible for free schools meals have already been sent digital supermarket vouchers to the value of £60. Uniform grants are available through the Hitchin Education Foundation and an application form can be found on our school website (https://www.priory.herts.sch.uk/information/financial-support/). If your financial circumstances change over the summer holidays I would strongly urge you to look to see if you are eligible for free school meals (https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/schools-and-education/at-school/free-school-meals/free-school-meals.aspx); you can also contact Debbie Robbins at the Hitchin Partnership.
The school continues to develop our facilities and we have a number of ongoing projects. Our new Learning Support facilities will be open in September and will be part of the county network of Specialist Resource Bases. Our new 6th Form block is still at the groundworks stage, but the proposed completion date is still February 2023. During the summer break, additional work is being carried out on the school playing fields with the development of two new football pitches. Internal piping work is due to come to an end by mid-August and we have commissioned a rolling programme of up-grading the student toilets.
Opportunity to support Strathmore Infant & Nursery School by becoming a School Governor
Strathmore Infant & Nursery School are looking for enthusiastic people to join them as community governors. You do not need to be an experienced professional – it is about attitude as well as expertise. Whatever your background, your skills could transform the school. Interest from under-represented groups within Hitchin’s diverse community is particularly welcomed. Being a school governor is a commitment and a responsibility, but offers you the chance to see first-hand the impact you can make in improving education for children in your community. If you are interested and would like to have an informal chat about the role, please do get in touch with the Chair of Governors by emailing email@example.com.
I hope that you are able to spend quality time with family and friends over the forthcoming weeks.