Week 3: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

Our Open Evening has always been one of the highlights of a school year. Last year, we unfortunately had to run this remotely because of coronavirus, which meant that we didn’t have the opportunity to meet prospective parents/carers (and more importantly students) face-to-face. Yesterday, over 400 sets of parents/ carers came to our first Open Evening in two years and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to visit. I’ve been through this process myself three times (my youngest started Year 7 this September) so I can appreciate the importance (and stress) in making this decision. As I was delivering two talks, I had limited time to go around the school to see all of the activities that were taking place but I did give myself some time to walk around the site. It was a really proud moment to see the staff and students interacting with parents/ carers. There was a real sense of community. I was particularly proud when our students (two Year 7s; and four Year 11s) stood up and talked about what they loved about the school. They quite rightly stole the show. A copy of the talks (mine and the students in Years 7 and 11) will be on the website early next week.

We are also running 6 Open Mornings, which begin on Tuesday 28th September and run every Tuesday and Thursday for 3 weeks. These mornings are an opportunity to visit the school and see it in action during the day. If you are a prospective parent (or know someone who is) I would really recommend these. There are limited spaces so please book early to avoid disappointment.

One of the key roles in a school is that of governance. The governing body works collaboratively with the school by:

  • ensuring that the school has a clear vision, ethos and strategic direction.
  • challenging and supporting the Leadership Team to continually strive to improve the educational performance of the school and its students.
  • monitoring the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
  • ensuring that that the governing body is aware of the views of its parents and the local community.

An advert for a parent governor is currently on our website. For further information and details on how to apply, please use the link below:

I look forward to working with one of you in the near future.

One of the things that I have been focussing on the past two weeks is communication. There are times when I think that we probably send out too many communications, especially when there are a lot of events taking place. When this happens, my concern is that key messages are lost. Equally, there have been times when the feedback has been that we have not kept all of you up-to-date with what is happening. Mrs Valleley (Assistant Headteacher) is planning to put a consultation document out in the next couple of weeks to get your feedback on what works and what you would like us to work on. The school will also be reintroducing Parent Forums later this year, which are an opportunity for parents to meet with senior staff and offer feedback on specific issues. I will write to you later this term with more details of these sessions and how you can take part. Lastly, some parents/carers have asked about whether or not Parents’ Evenings can continue virtually. We have planned that all Parents’ Evenings will be face-to-face again but I will incorporate this into the consultation document to get your thoughts on this matter.

Lastly, I received a letter yesterday from our local School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) team. This letter confirmed that the vaccination programme for 12-15 year olds would begin in the next 6 weeks. There were two points in this letter that I thought I would share:

  • The consent process will be a paper consent system which requires the School to distribute, collect as returned and collate into tutor/year groups.
  • If you do not return a consent form but your child still wishes to have the vaccine on the day of the session, he/she will not be vaccinated. The school is not part of this process.

I hope this is a reassurance to those parents who were concerned that students would be vaccinated on school premises without their consent. As a school, we will remain impartial on this issue and I consider this to be a personal matter for families to discuss and make their own decisions.

Have a good weekend.

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” – John Allen Paulos

After several weeks of uncertainty, the guidance for Covid vaccinations has been published today. Please see the link below if you are interested in reading it:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-resources-for-schools/covid-19-vaccination-programme-for-children-and-young-people-guidance-for-schools

In summary, it sets out that schools are expected to host the vaccination process and that we are required to share data in the same way that we would for any immunization process. The vaccinations themselves will be conducted by trained health professionals. The main area of contention that has been raised with me this term- that of Gillick competence- is also set out in this document and it is clear that the medical professionals will engage with families where there is a disagreement between parent/ carer and child. It is also clear that schools will not be involved in these discussions.

As I have said on many occasions, whilst I have my own personal opinions on this matter, I respect all of the opinions held by the parents and carers in the Hamble community. The decision on whether or not your child is vaccinated is one for you and your child to make together. No one will be pressured one way or another. I will write again when I know more about the situation but I hope that you find all of this reassuring.

Now that we have completed our second full week back, I’d like to welcome some of our new teaching staff. We actually had very few staff leave at the end of last year but the growth of the school- we currently have 1142 students on roll- has led to an increased number of teachers. Some of the staff listed are also covering teachers on maternity leave this year:

  • Miss Elvira Agusti- Teacher of MFL
  • Miss Hannah Barra- Teacher of Science
  • Mrs Caroline Buckingham- Teacher of Maths
  • Miss Amelia Clucas- Teacher of Drama
  • Miss Sam Dent- Head of Design & Technology
  • Mr Nick Jackson- Teacher of English
  • Miss Michelle Petty- Teacher of Art
  • Mr Daniel Williams- Teacher of Maths

Although I haven’t listed them, we have also welcomed a number of non-teaching staff, without whom the school would not function properly. You probably won’t always see them on a day-to-day basis but whenever something positive happens at the school, I can guarantee you that a support member of staff will have been instrumental in it having taken place.

Over the holidays, we made a number of improvements to the school which I hope will improve the children’s experiences. Our third canopy was erected opposite our Tokyo block- this is the 3rd canopy we have funded in the past 2 years and we have plans to build another one later this year. The toilet blocks in Athens, Beijing and Durban are all being improved- some of these are very old and desperately need replacement. The work on these toilet blocks is beginning this term.

The biggest changes are the improvements to our catering arrangements. The main servery has been refurbished in the Dining Hall, allowing the students to come in and get their food quicker; the Deli bar has been expanded; and we have 2 catering outlets on order (they were due for the beginning of term but manufacturing and delivery delays means it will be around half-term). All of this will allow us to serve a greater range of food around the school. In the interim, we are serving hot snacks in the Pavilion and Progress Zone (which is in the Skills Centre).

We have also increased the number of bike racks available for students and redesigned the bike compound to make it more secure. On this note, I have noticed a number of students still not wearing cycle helmets on the way to and from school. Once again, I’d ask for your support in speaking to your child about tye importance of wearing a helmet, especially as it is starting to get a little darker, thank you, as always, for your support.

ALARIC GOVAN
Headteacher

“Opportunities come not from waiting but from seeking.” – Nitin Namdeo

Last night, Emma Raducanu, became the first British woman in 53 years to reach the US Open tennis finals. What makes this even more incredible is that she is 18 years of age and only turned professional this year.  Because of her inexperience, Raducanu had to enter a qualifying tournament to even get into the US Open and she is now the only player, male or female, to reach the final of the US Open having qualified this way. She is also the youngest finalist since 2005. An incredible achievement for a young woman who only received her A level results last month.

I’m a big believer in opportunity. I don’t know very much about Emma Raducanu’s early life but my educated guess is that someone introduced her to tennis at an early age, she enjoyed it and, as a consequence, she kept playing it, getting better and better. If she hadn’t had that opportunity, she could be sat here in England watching the final and wondering what that might be like. The fact is we don’t know what we can achieve until we have a go and work to see how good we can be. It’s a message that I will be delivering next week in assemblies to all year groups. I will be encouraging all of the children to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them: join a club; learn an instrument; take part in a performance. Who knows where this may take them! We are running extra-curricular activities as normal (yesterday, Year 10 students went to watch ‘Blood Brothers’ at The Mayflower in Southampton) so there will be plenty of opportunities for your children to enjoy.

Once again, school staff have spent the week helping students to take their lateral flow tests in the Sports Hall. I would like to thank all of the staff who helped with this process and also to all of the students whose behaviour was immaculate. In total, we processed approximately 1500 tests in readiness for coming back into school. From this point onwards, I would ask you to support the school by encouraging your child to take 2 home tests each week. We have 1150 students at the school and approximately 150 staff. Testing twice a week will help reduce the number of positive cases in the school, which will in turn reduce the amount of staff and student absence. As always, this is optional- no one will be checking on whether or not your child is taking these tests- but I would appreciate your support in this. We will send test kits home next week.

This week, Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, announced that he expected schools to host Covid vaccinations if/ when these are delivered to children under the age of 16. This is the opposite of what I wrote last week, as I had expected test centres and GP surgeries to continue their role. I don’t really want to guess what will happen next but I still believe that the school’s role will be to host the vaccinations, as none of our staff have the medical qualifications necessary to deliver these. As soon as the government makes its plans clear, I will write to you to explain what is happening.

This is the end of our first full week back in school and the children have been brilliant as always. There is nothing like the sound of 1150 children enjoying themselves during break and lunchtime (I do mean that in a positive way). I always make time to walk around the site every day to see what behaviour and learning is like around the school, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the students hard at work in all of their subjects. It’s my fourth year now as Headteacher and I was quite taken aback at how grown-up the Year 10 students are- only 3 years ago, it was our first day in this school. Now they are the second-oldest year group in the school.

Have a good weekend and I look forward to seeing all of the children next week.