Welcome to the first of my Headteacher blogs

Hamble Headteacher

This is my second year as Headteacher of The Hamble School and the longer I am in post the more I am enjoying the role. Last year, the excitement of taking up a new post was offset at times by realisation of how little I knew about what made this school tick. I’d been at my previous school for eleven years, as an Assistant Headteacher and then Deputy Headteacher. I knew the names of most of the children and all the staff. I knew a lot of things and, more importantly, I knew which people knew all of the things I didn’t. When you come to a new school, you lose all of that. I had 22 years of experience but I didn’t know any children or staff. Like the new Year 7s, I spent the first two weeks with a slightly lost look on my face. For those of you whose children only joined us at the beginning of September, I hope that they are beginning to feel as settled and happy as I am now.

At the beginning of every half-term, I lead assemblies with all year groups. The theme this time was making the right choices and we looked at the butterfly effect, a theory that suggests all actions, however small, have a larger and more lasting consequence. Many popular video games make this a selling point- I know that my eldest son in particular plays several games in which making certain choices affects the remainder of the gameplay. The beauty of a game is that you can choose to replay the chapter if you make the wrong choices, which isn’t always an option in real life unfortunately. However, the real point of my assembly was that you always have options; even if you think you’ve gone too far, there is always an opportunity to stop and make the right decision. A genuine apology goes a long way. This works both ways of course- just before half-term a Year 8 girl brought in a piece of birthday cake to share with Mrs Morgan, Assistant Headteacher. It definitely made her day and she made a point of coming to tell me how touched she was by this gesture. The ripple effect of this small act of random kindness will have impacted on all of the people who were then in contact with her (and me) that day. Another reminder why it’s a privilege to work at this school.

One of the things I am committed to is improving the facilities for the children as much as I possibly can. It’s not easy at times- building works are expensive and schools increasingly have reduced funding. Often, we can only do it with the support of Hampshire County Council. Thanks in part to their funding and judicious use of school finances, we have been able to improve some key areas of the school over the past three months. Over the summer holiday, we completely replaced our IT infrastructure and I am grateful to Mr Tarry, our IT Manager, who led this massive job. Our old infrastructure was so old that we couldn’t even buy spare parts from Ebay anymore so if we hadn’t invested the money we would likely have come back this year to a failing network that had regressed from patchy to threadbare. We now have 62 wifi points compared to only 20 last summer. More importantly, our new system is future proofed and capable of handling over 1200 devices should we ever have the need or desire to do so. The children I have spoken to have definitely noticed the difference.

We also completely replaced the toilets in Sydney (our science block). To put this need in context, the toilets are at least 40 years old. This project overran slightly because of the need to check that there was no asbestos in the block (there wasn’t) but we now have modern facilities for our students to use. Again, the difference is striking.

Outside London block, we have built a canopy to improve the dining facilities for our students. I hope it is the first of many but this obviously depends on external funding. The Year 8s seemed to have claimed it as their own and there are benches for the students to sit, eat and socialise.

We have also built new changing rooms which are handily placed on the fields. The PE department are rightfully very proud of this new facility which now allows up to 4 classes to change, as well as a new office for the staff to work in. The changing rooms have climate control, a clever feature which means that the temperature can be adjusted in the summer and winter to provide the perfect temperature for students whilst they are changing.

Over half-term, the clocks went back, which means that the already dark afternoons are getting even darker. It’s a good time to remind our children to be that extra-safe when travelling to and from school. Most of the students at The Hamble School are responsible and well-behaved, a credit to their families and the school community. There are a few, however, who still cycle to school without a helmet, or who take unnecessary risks when crossing the road. A few weeks before half-term, one of our students had an accident outside school. Thankfully, he recovered quickly, but it’s a reminder that accidents can happen, especially when the roads are wetter or icier, which is more likely from this point onwards. Please speak to your child about the importance of putting their safety first.

One of the challenges of leading a school of this size is the number of moving parts (ie people) who have to interact with each other on a daily basis. With 1050 students and over 100 staff (teaching and non-teaching), it’s inevitable that there are misunderstandings or issues from time-to-time. When these happen, it is important that parents and carers contact the school to resolve them to prevent these misunderstandings from escalating. Most of the time, issues are easily resolved. Unfortunately, there are occasions when the behaviour of a small number of parents and carers can be unhelpful and even intimidating. With this in mind, I am introducing a Code of Conduct for parental communication, which sets out a clear way for home and school to communicate. For the vast majority of parents, you won’t notice the difference- you’ll phone, email or write in and we will respond as quickly as we can (within 2 days for phone calls; 5 days for written correspondence). For those communications which breach this code of conduct, they will be returned with a copy of the policy and the area highlighted. We will request that the email is rewritten and, when it is done so, we will be happy to respond to the issues you have raised. I hope that you take this in the spirit it is intended- to ensure that my staff are protected from unnecessarily stressful situations.

A copy of the policy is attached to this blog (below) and you will also find a copy on our main school website – here.

Let’s finish with some positives. We have a proud tradition of helping in the community. On Friday, Mrs Muddle organized a bake sale to support Children in Need, which raised over £100; before half-term, children took part in the Shoebox Appeal so that less-fortunate families will benefit over the Christmas period. There are also lots of exciting events to finish this term. In early December (Wednesday 4th– Friday 6th), our students are performing School of Rock, the musical based on the film starring Jack Black. For the past couple of months, students and staff have been working during and after school to bring this ambitious and exhilarating performance to the stage.  Last Wednesday, staff helped out at a paint party, all working together in our D+T workshop to help create the elaborate sets needed. I know that I can’t wait to see this and I’d urge you all to come and support the children if you can. In the last week of term, Year 7s will have the opportunity to see a pantomime at The Mayflower and will compete in a Christmas Carol competition.

Exciting times!