TPS Update 12/05/20

Dear Parent / Carer

I hope that you were able to have a pleasant bank holiday despite the lockdown and found time to partake in the VE Day celebrations. With such great weather on Friday and Saturday, I like many others attempted some long overdue DIY projects. I have rapidly come to the conclusion that I would never have a second career as a ‘handyman’ – lump hammers, chisels and concrete are my nemesis at the moment.

The wider opening of The Priory School
After weeks of endless media and political speculation, we now have some understanding of how the nation will move forward following on from the Prime Minister’s speech on Sunday. I have not yet fully digested the latest Department for Education (DfE) guidance on when secondary schools are likely to open more widely and under what conditions. The DfE have made it clear that the first students to engage ‘face to face’ with teachers would be Year 10 and Year 12. However, this is a time of ‘shifting sands’ and in another three weeks’ time the picture may be different.

Schedules of work for students
Each year group has a clear schedule of learning that takes into account the challenges students, parents and teachers face. After half term we reviewed our Year 10 schedule of learning based on feedback from Year 10 students about the amount of work being set – in many cases it was too much. Similarly, we are in the process of reviewing the learning schedules for Key Stage 3 to take account of the feedback we have had to date. Key Stage 3 students will continue to follow the current learning schedule until May half term (see Keeping In Touch newsletter) and any changes will be communicated with you prior to the virtual school re-starting on Monday 1st June.

VE Day celebrations
Last week Key Stage 3 took part in a range of VE Day learning opportunities. I would like to thank Mr Rainforth for organising these activities, which were well received by our students. We are currently looking at the fantastic range of work that has been completed and we are rolling out the reward points. Next week we will be sharing examples of the work that has been done. On Thursday we were treated to a VE Day tea by our band of key worker children; the calorie intake for colleagues working that day was huge!

The Mass Observation project
The Mass Observation project has been brought to my attention by one of our parents and although it is due to take place today there might be time for students to engage with this event:

200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth
Today is International Nurses Day with this year marking Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary. The new hospitals built around the country during the Covid-19 pandemic have been appropriately named NHS Nightingale Hospitals, and students can learn more about ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ and her era at:

Mr Blue Sky charity single
You will have read in our Keeping In Touch newsletter and on Twitter (@TPS_Hitchin) news of the charity single ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ that was coordinated by our wonderful Music and Computing departments. Thank you to those parents, students and staff who took time to help produce this uplifting version on the ELO classic. If you are able to, we would like you to help ‘share’ the news of this charity single with your friends and family by email and social media:

Staffing update
As many of you know, we have a wonderful Wellbeing team at The Priory School. Our capacity to support our students is enhanced by the work of our voluntary external counsellors. Gloria Marshall, who has been an external counsellor with us since 2017, has passed her ‘Accreditation’ with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. This is not an easy qualification to achieve and includes 450 hours of supervised practice, theoretical case studies and a demonstration of a greater understanding of counselling knowledge. Many congratulations to her for this outstanding achievement! We are very privileged to have such expertise in our school.

Miss Mulholland (Head of Key Stage 4) has been appointed as an Assistant Headteacher at Cedars School in Bedfordshire. She will be missed greatly and we are very proud of her promotion and wish her all the best for September.

Centre assessed grades (Year 11 and Year 13)
Curriculum areas have completed the rigorous in-house process of giving Year 11 and Year 13 students centre assessed grades. As per previous communications, these grades remain confidential and it is the examination boards who will award the final grades. Towards the end of this week and the beginning of next week, the final quality assurance procedures will take place. The results day for Year 13 will be 13th August and for Year 11 it will be 20th August.

A small number of Year 11 students are contacting the school asking for their predicted grades for their college application forms. Students should use the predicted grades given in the January progress reports.

At The Priory School we like to celebrate the work done by our students and it has been pleasing to see the number of rewards being given out to students. Please can I encourage you once again to nominate you child for work they do at home to support the family as well as their academic work.

Transition Year 6/Year 7
A number of our families have siblings joining The Priory School in September. Once again, the school has taken an additional form of entry and we have 210 students allocated. Mr Foster (Deputy Headteacher) is co-ordinating our transition process. By the end of this week relevant parents will be sent a hard and digital copy of the key documents. If you are unclear about what you need to do please contact Mr Foster at We are reviewing our pre-COVID-19 transition process but hope to be able to meet with Year 6 teachers and students in early July if we are safe to do so. The traditional Year 6 to Year 7 transition day is very unlikely to take place so we are reviewing our online options; hopefully our local barbers will be open by then!

General updates
Behind the scenes the school has been planning to improve the learning environment for our students.

  • Two new boilers will be installed over the next month courtesy of the Local Authority;
  • The school Wifi system will be fully upgraded by the end of June;
  • A large bike compound is currently being planned to support students travelling to school on two wheels;
  • Two additional shelters have been commissioned similar to the one outside Mr Wright’s classroom;
  • Additional outside seating areas have been allocated along with more bags racks for students to use during break and lunchtime;
  • By July the Library will have undergone a full re-cataloguing of all books, with further additional improvements planned.

Please remember that my colleagues are here to support you as best we can. Don’t be shy in coming forward to discuss how best we can support you and your children.

Kind regards

Geraint Edwards