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Letter to all Parents/Carers - August 2020

posted Aug 6, 2020, 5:37 AM by Mark Giudici   [ updated Aug 6, 2020, 5:38 AM ]

Dear parents/carers,

I hope you are safe and well, enjoying the summer. The school is starting to increase its operations in preparation for GCSE and A Level examination results. This also means that we are starting to resume some normal services from next week.

Much has happened in the last few weeks with the most significant being emerging concerns about growing COVID-19 infection rates in the Smethwick and West Bromwich areas of Sandwell, our immediate neighbours. We are monitoring the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reports and taking advice from the Public Health Protection Team. We will respond immediately if any area surrounding B21 goes into localised lockdown. At present, we are evaluating the situation but intend to proceed with our reopening plans for September.

The Department for Education has produced some guidance for parents on September reopening.

Our plans in response to this guidance can be found by clicking on the dashboard we have created on the school website.

The best way to receive a simple explanation of how we plan to keep your child safe and how we are modifying our curriculum and educational programmes, is to meet with us in person 3 - 11 September.

We are starting the new term by meeting with all parents.

Eventually, a booking for Tutor/Parent contact week can be made using the Arbor Parent Portal. Please register on Arbor using the link below if you haven't done so already.

In the meantime, we have put everything you need on the school website including some opportunities to continue learning over the summer.

Continued learning during the six weeks holidays is especially important for the current Year 10 and 12 cohorts. Please see separate email/Arbor message sent to students/parents.

Thank you for your continued support and partnership.

Yours sincerely,

Mr R Trafford

Continued Learning for Years 7 - 9

posted Jul 17, 2020, 4:29 AM by Mark Giudici

17th July 2020

Dear Parents/Carers of Year 7-9 students,

Thank you for your ongoing support throughout this difficult period, we have been overwhelmed with your kind words, positive feedback and the hard work that you have been putting in to support your children with their home learning since March. As we begin the summer holidays, it is paramount that we ensure that our students continue to feel supported with their learning and recognise the importance of being fully prepared for when they start school in September.

For this reason, staff at Holyhead are currently working to ensure that our curriculum is thoroughly planned to address any opportunities in missed learning. We are committed to closing the gap so that no student at Holyhead is disadvantaged in any way by this unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in. 

Parents and students in Years 10 and 12 have already been written to explaining the summer holiday revision programme through the Exam Preparation work that has been set in face to face Tutorials to be ready for their assessments on the return to school in September.

For those students in the current Years 7-9 who have not been in school since March, we will continue to signpost students to online work which can be accessed during the summer holidays. This work can be found through the school website and also through our in-house platform of Google Classrooms. Much of this work is taken from both Oak Learning (the national ‘online school’ set up by the government in April) and BBC Bitesize. These two platforms have been producing lessons in many subjects for all year groups from Reception to Year 10 including maths, English and science since April, and whilst they will take a break from uploading new daily lessons from next week, you will be able to access their archived resources from the past 4 months. The lessons include features which have been created by teachers and educational experts. There is a selection of videos, animations, practice activities and quizzes to keep students engaged throughout the summer.

Please refer to the ‘Continued Learning for Years 7-9’ button on the school website over the summer where you will be directed to the hyperlinks for each year group. These will, in turn, take you to the subject specific learning that has been signposted by our staff.

This is not a direct demand and instruction for students to work through these activities on a daily basis during the holidays. We are fully aware of the amount of time and effort that students and families have put into the work set over the past 4 months, and we thank you for your ongoing commitment. We would like to encourage students to look at the links and see what interests them though, especially as 6 weeks can be a long time with hours to fill. There is significant research, including from the Education Endowment Foundation about the benefits of home learning and homework which indicates it can help lead to 5 months of additional progress for students who are into the right habits. By accessing these links, students will be able to opt into relevant and highly professional resources developing their knowledge and understanding of content in advance of September.

We are very much looking forward to working together with you on our common goals supporting your child in everything they do from this point on. We look forward to seeing you in September for the Tutor/Parent Contact Days. 

Our continued best wishes to you all and your families over the summer holidays.

Yours faithfully,

D Reddy                                                             D Knox

Deputy Principal, Behaviour & Attitudes     Deputy Principal, Quality of Education

Letter to Parents/Carers - Final Week of Term

posted Jul 16, 2020, 12:38 AM by Mark Giudici

Dear Parents/Carers

As we enter the final week of term, I would like to thank all parents for their partnership in the schools educational and wider social mission. Your support with remote learning activities has given your child every chance of combating the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Directors of Learning are working hard to adjust the curriculum and to find creative ways of identifying and responding to any gaps in learning. This includes continuing with Google Classrooms so that students can supplement and extend their classroom learning at home.

It has been a time of tremendous communication challenges. Thank you for reading and responding to our messages on ParentMail. We have now launched Arbor and Parent Pay in order to build upon the excellent communication links we have established. Please follow the registration links you have been sent. We will also follow this up when we meet with you in September. 

Those meetings in September are absolutely vital in our attempt to ensure we listen and respond to your hopes and fears. I am looking forward to telling you more about improvements we have made to the school. I also seek to reassure you that the school has done everything it can, and more, in order to keep your child safe. We take our responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of your children very seriously. Much more about our safety procedures and other useful information can be found on our newly formatted website. You will find everything you need on the homepage using ‘quick links’ we have set up. You should also follow the school on Twitter @holyhead_school. 

The school will only run a very basic service during the first two weeks of the summer. After that, rotas are in place to ensure we are open for your face to face, telephone and email enquiries. The Holyhead Helpline where students can request support with Safeguarding matters will remain open throughout and a team is in place to monitor messages. 

Finally, I want to offer a personal thank you for your support and encouragement during this difficult time. Being the Principal during recent months has been very challenging but your empathy and your kindness has helped me to keep going! I hope you have found the communications from members of my team useful. I will be continuing with a fortnightly parents newsletter in September. 

Please stay safe. I appreciate everything you are doing to support the school.

Best wishes,

Ross Trafford


Moving from ParentMail to Arbor

posted Jul 2, 2020, 7:19 AM by Mark Giudici

2 July 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

RE: Moving from ParentMail to Arbor

During the COVID-19 period of lockdown it has become very clear that the school relied upon effective communication with parents and carers. ParentMail has been used to keep parents/carers updated about the school’s educational programme; its response to Government guidance; and the health and safety procedures that have been put in place.

It has also been used to communicate important messages about the use of information technology and the school’s administration of Free School Meals vouchers. We would like to take this time to thank you for reading and responding to any messages. As the government continues to release more information, we will work hard to keep you fully informed.

ParentMail has served us well during recent months and as part of our commitment to strengthen the effectiveness of communication with parents/carers, we are moving to a new system called Arbor. You will be receiving an email or text message in the coming days that explains how to register for this new system. Communication has never been more important. Please let us know if you experience any difficulties with registering your account with our new platform.

In ten school days time, we will lose the capacity to see you face-to-face or communicate directly with the students. It is vitally important that we can reach all parents using the new Arbor platform. Please look out for the instructions in the coming days. It will come from

Yours sincerely

Andrew Bowen
Vice Principal

New Intake Parent Letter, June 2020

posted Jul 2, 2020, 7:18 AM by Mark Giudici   [ updated Jul 3, 2020, 2:26 AM ]

Our Ref: RT/DD/jab/NI2020

30th June 2020

Dear Parent/Carer,

Welcome to Holyhead 2020

I am pleased to inform you that your child has been successful in gaining a place at Holyhead and I look forward to welcoming them and you to the school.

In order to prepare for your child’s admission, I am taking this opportunity of writing to inform you about the arrangements we are putting in place this year as a result of the restrictions due to the COVID19 pandemic.

We have set up an area on the school’s website especially for you and your child which we will be populating with lots of information for you and activities for your child. I would like to invite you to have a look at this, please click on the link or copy and paste into your website browser. You will be able to take a virtual tour of the school, have a look at and download the documents required for entering your student into the school. You will also find a special page just for your child which we will be filling with lots of activities. This web page will be updated regularly, so please do keep coming back and taking a look at what is new!

It is our intention, where your child is attending their junior school, to arrange a virtual meeting with them and members of our Transition Team, Mrs Denny, Vice Principal and Mrs Parker, Head of Year 7. We are talking to the junior schools about setting this up.

If your child is not currently attending their junior school, we shall be in touch to make alternative plans to meet them. I would ask that if this is the case, please can you email the school by Thursday 9th July to: or telephone the school on 0121-523-1960 and ask for Mrs Parker or Mrs Denny. So that we can identify your child, can you please provide your child’s name, date of birth, junior school, your details including phone number and an email address to enable us to respond directly to you.

The School has recently invested in a new Management Information system called Arbor. You will be able to login to Arbor to monitor your child’s Attendance, view their timetable and read assessments. You will also be able to track your child’s behaviour. More information about the Arbor ParentPortal and how to use it can be found on the school website.

If you haven’t already provided the school with an email address please email and we will ensure that an Arbor account is set up for you. Please look out for a welcome email from Arbor over the next few weeks.

It is our custom to arrange an evening for you and your child to have the opportunity to meet the staff who will have direct responsibility for your child’s welfare and provide us with any information which you think will be useful for us to know about your child. As this will not take place this year, if there is anything you wish to discuss with the school, please do not hesitate to contact us either by email to the or by telephone to Mrs Parker or Mrs Denny.

I do understand that at this time many students and their parent/carers have some worries about the move from primary to secondary school – it is vitally important that you make contact with the school so, together, we can sort out any difficulties.

Please find attached a booklet entitled ‘My Happiness Box’ for your child to complete in advance of them joining Holyhead, a copy of this will also be on the School’s transition page. I do hope they will enjoy filling it in and for us to get to know a little more about them. If you are able to scan and email it back to the school at that would be great. Don’t worry if you are unable to as we are more than happy to receive the book when your child attends the school in September.

I shall be writing to you again with some further information in the next week or so.

In the meantime, please do visit the school website.

I look forward to welcoming you and your child to Holyhead personally.

Yours faithfully,

Mr R Trafford


Attachment: My Happiness Box

School Reopening Update

posted Jun 2, 2020, 6:35 AM by   [ updated Jun 2, 2020, 6:48 AM ]

Dear Parents/Carers
2nd June 2020

As promised in our previous letter dated Thursday 21st May, we are providing an update on the current situation with the proposed opening of the school for 'face to face tutorial' sessions for Year 10 and Year 12 students, which are designed to support the continuation of online learning. In our previous letter we were working to a timescale based on previous government guidance which aimed for secondary schools to look to provide this form of provision from Monday 1st June, a date by which we did nqt believe the school could be made safe and ready for a return of staff and students.

It is now the intention of the government for secondary schools to reopen this half-term to Year 10 and 12 students from Monday 15th June at the earliest. This announcement from the Prime Minister on Sunday 24th May is more in line with our own planning and we are currently working very hard to put those plans into place to be able to safely welcome back smaller groups of Year 1 0 and Year 12 students from Monday 22nd June. This will not affect our current on-site provision for vulnerable children and those of key workers which will continue as normal and will take place separately from the Year 1 0 and Year 12 tutorials when they do return to school.

In another change, the Department for Education guidance now states that schools should only have ~ of the students in Year 1 0 and Year 12 in school a day, so we are now amending our plans to timetable a maximum of 50 Year 10 students and 32 Year
12 students to be on site each day provisionally from Monday 22nd June.

As previously stated in our communications regarding school reopening, there will be no return to school before September for Year 7-9 students. Online learning will continue using Google Classrooms for all students, with Year 7-9 exclusively being
educated online until we receive further guidance from the government (the DfE has yet to provide any guidance or information on plans for secondary education from September).

Our previous letter also provided you with an update on the measures already taken to make the site Covid-19 secure, the provisional plans for staff/student timetabling and the proposed Next Steps that we would be taking in preparation to ensure that we can open to these smaller groups of students from Monday 22nd June. We do not propose to repeat all of that information here again, however, we are providing an update on the Next Steps we will be taking following the most recent DfE guidance.

Next Steps from now until reopening

We intend to take the following steps to help to provide you with the confidence that it is safe for your son/daughter to return to Holyhead in this limited capacity at first:
  •  A team of staff will begin to make 'return to school' phone calls to all families of Year 1 0/12 students this week which will help us to find out the likely numbers of students who will be attending from Monday 22nd June. A key question that you will be asked is whether you are willing to send your child to school from Monday 22nd June. This is a decision that you should make as a family and we are here to provide you with the information you need to reach a decision. It is important to stress that should you decide to change your mind, you are free to, but we would appreciate you informing us of this by contacting the school reception. 
  • We will provide a virtual tour of the site, showing the measures we have taken to make the site Covid-19 secure available on the school website and social media platforms. 
  • We will send a leaflet and a letter home explaining the expectations and standards that are required to ensure learning will be able to continue whilst maintaining social distancing and hand/respiratory hygiene measures along with a copy of the tutorial timetable. 
  • A revised timetable of tutorials will be developed to ensure that we are following DfE guidance in terms of the numbers of students on site in any one day. 
It is essential to stress again that the decisions on reopening will be based on health and safety grounds, and should we not be 100% confident that we are ready to return on Monday 22nd June then we will push this date back to the following week. We alongside governors must ensure that safety is the priority over speed, and we will be guided by this principle. We thank you again for your patience and support with this.

Our continued best wishes to you all and your families. 

Yours faithfully,

D Reddy                                                                 D Knox
Deputy Principal, Behaviour & Attitudes         Deputy Principal, Quality of Education

Safeguarding Update Letter, 30 April 2020

posted May 1, 2020, 3:12 AM by Mark Giudici   [ updated Jun 23, 2020, 1:30 AM ]

Dear Parents/Carers, 


The reason I am writing to you is because you may be aware of the recent fatal stabbing of a young father in Smethwick.  Unfortunately, the attack was recorded and the clip has been shared widely on various forms of social media. We are extremely thankful that no Holyhead students were involved but some of our students may have received this clip and may have even viewed it online.  This is a very disturbing video, and I urge you to be vigilant in relation to your child's online activity.  If you know that your child has been affected by this, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a Designated Safeguarding Lead via or with me, using directly. The Police have asked members of the public not to watch the video.  Having seen it ourselves, we echo this sentiment.  Sadly, this incident is accompanied by two other serious incidents in the locality and in the context of growing concerns about increases in the Handsworth crime rate during lockdown.  It appears that criminals are taking advantage of the current situation.  Please, please keep your children at home and comply with the Government instructions about staying at home.  We want everyone in the Holyhead community to remain safe. 


Following this, I have been in communication with civic leaders and members of the community who are expressing concerns about compliance with social distancing measures within the Handsworth area.  The local streets seem extremely busy. 


In summary, our advice is as follows;


  • Follow the Government guidelines and stay inside unless it is absolutely necessary to go out - see

  • Be vigilant on how your child is accessing social media -

  • Talk to your child to see if they are concerned about anything, or report your concern to a member of staff

  • Refer to the Holyhead Safeguarding page for other agency contact details

  • Signpost your child to the student wellbeing page where there is various information on mental and emotional wellbeing

  • Alternatively call Birmingham Children’s Services(0121 303 1888) or the Police (101) if you are concerned about a child’s safety. Thank you for your continued support,


Yours faithfully,


Mrs D Denny                                                                                Mr R Trafford

Designated Safeguarding Lead                                                   Principal

Reading Week - W/C Monday 4th of May 2020

posted May 1, 2020, 2:56 AM by Mark Giudici   [ updated Jun 23, 2020, 1:30 AM ]

Dear parents/carers,

During the week beginning Monday 4th of May 2020, we are launching Holyhead Reading Week 2020. 

When students log-in to the Google Classrooms they have become accustomed to, they will find recommendations left by their class teachers. I am pleased to announce that we have invested in a platform that makes thousands of E-books, audio books, comics and graphic novels available to our students for FREE! Instructions of how to download the app have been emailed directly to students. There is also information and instructions available on the school website. For those students who have let us know they are struggling with IT access, we have written a letter explaining the option to pick up books from school. They can download the app and read the material on their phone. 

Why is parental support with Reading Week so important? 

According to the International Reading Association (Moore et al., 1999, p. 3): 

           Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations so they can create the world of the future. In a complex and sometimes even dangerous world, their ability to read can be crucial. 

Literacy has benefits for mental wellbeing.  Did you know that reading and writing can be beneficial to your child’s wellbeing, and help them have a happy and healthy outlook on life? 

National Literacy Trust research shows that children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing than children who don’t enjoy reading. 

  • If your child is facing a particular problem, reading a book that covers the subject could help. It can help them make sense of what they are going through, and feel that they are not alone. 

  • You don’t have to be a great reader yourself. Audio books are a great way to enjoy stories and still gain all the benefits associated. 

  • Picture books can be a great way of talking about difficult topics with children. They can even work well for older kids. 

  • Getting lost in a good book can be a great way for a child to forget about stress and worry. It’s also a great way for a child to develop empathy skills and understand other points of view. 

  • Reading a funny book could make your child laugh and feel happier. Reading books together is a great way to share a positive experience with your child. 

  • Reading before bedtime is a great way to switch off from the day. A relaxing read before bedtime could help your child prepare for a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed. 

There are also enormous benefits on the development of literacy which has a positive impact on a child’s overall academic achievement. 

During this week, students are not required to read a book from every subject. That is not possible. 

They need to try each of the teacher recommendations and get a feel for what they might enjoy or what peaks their interest. We will follow this up with some activities and a competition, the following week.

Please get involved and lend us your support. Never has reading been more important and the horrible circumstances in which we find ourselves, present an opportunity to do something positive and productive. 

Please let us know if you have any questions and please visit the school website. 

Best wishes,

Ross Trafford

Holyhead School

Letter - 21st April 2020

posted Apr 21, 2020, 3:40 AM by Mark Giudici

Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope that this letter finds you and your families well. As we begin the Summer Term, we have updated the Google Classroom activities so that students can continue to interact with staff between the hours of 8.40am – 2.30pm. The Google Classrooms will close for staff at 12.40pm on a Friday.

I would like to use this first week to remind you of our expectations which may not be the same as other schools. I have referred to these in previous letters but have created a guide that is attached to this letter. In summary, we don’t want you to stress about school work. All students will catch up when we return. The curriculum and lesson plans will be adapted in order to do this. It’s what we do best and as educators, we will ensure that this prolonged period closure has no detrimental effect on any child’s education. No student is ahead and none is behind. They are exactly where they need to be. All we ask from you is that you share your calm, your laughter and your reassurance. We also ask that you get them to do the activities that we place on Google Classroom not because we are asking you to teach them. We want them to do the activities because they are designed to keep students interested in the learning within their subjects and to retain a ‘thirst’ for learning new things, increasing their academic knowledge and building new skills. It’s this appetite for learning that we all need to keep alive if we are to stay on track as I described above.

Learning can take many forms including reading a book. We are preparing for a reading week to start week beginning 4t​ h May. More details about this will follow. Learning also extends beyond the subjects and our student portal is full of activities to engage and inspire students. Many of them can involve the whole family and will show students around virtual tours of museums, zoos and other cultural experiences. There are also ideas for learning something new and activities that will keep them off depressing news feeds or excessive social media. Get them to show you the Student Portal when they next log-in.

One of the most valuable forms of learning we promote at Holyhead is that of character development. We ask students to improve personal attributes such as Leadership, Organisation, Resilience, Initiative and Communication. Students know these as the LORIC values. We also work hard to try and positively shape behaviour and attitudes as we insist upon high standards in relation to Respect, Excellence and Responsibilities. We would like to incorporate these at home but whatever values you choose, we would like you to make this part of their learning. Asking them to take responsibility for tasks around the home is vitally important.

As I have said before, you are and will always be your child’s best educator. We are here to support you and help you access resources and support where you need it.

As highlighted in the online assembly I published before Easter, social/emotional health and mental health and wellbeing is our primary concern. This assembly contains advice on coping strategies and signposts additional support. I am happy to re-publish if parents/carers feel it would be beneficial. In addition to this, we have a student-wellbeing page on the Student Portal and are available by phone and email. The Department for Education’s recently published guidance entitled “What parents and carers need to know about schools and education during the coronavirus outbreak” can be found on the website.

To reinforce this, we encourage students to try and keep some form of routine such as following the school timetable. They should resist spending too much time on individual subjects. We recognise they have ‘favourites’, it is important that their education has breadth and variety.

They should also get plenty of sleep and get up at a reasonable hour. We are also encouraging regular, daily exercise but in line with the Public Health advice and guidance that applies during ‘lockdown’.

If you are experiencing issues with technology, we still have an IT Support Team in place. We have a waiting list for laptop loans and we have printed packs of learning resources available that can be extended and supplemented upon request. We are awaiting a delivery of laptops which we will sell at cost price as soon as they arrive. We believe that we have sourced the most cost effective laptops available and we are looking at government finance schemes. Thank you for your patience if you have been without use of a laptop or home computer. Keep talking to us about how we might be able to help you.

Following recent celebrations of Easter and Vaisakhi, we want to express our warmest wishes to all those families entering the month of Ramadan this week.

Please have a look at the daily briefing for students and parents by following the link on the homepage of the website. This includes specific advice and support but also contains important updates about 2020 GCSE and A Level examinations. You can also find the latest edition of our termly ‘Pulse ‘magazine.

Finally, please continue to comply with the Government’s safety advice. Stay safe and rest assured that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for your continued support and best wishes

Ross Trafford

Holyhead School update on Exam Cancellations and Predicted Grades

posted Mar 23, 2020, 9:09 AM by   [ updated Mar 23, 2020, 9:16 AM ]

Please take some time to read the updated guidance in the link below, that we are sending out about the Government's decision on Friday 20th March to cancel the summer exams, and the practical implications for us at Holyhead while we wait for further details and confirmation of how the grading system will work Ofqual. We fully understand that many parents/carers and students are concerned and worried, wanting definitive answers about what is going to happen, and how the system will work, unfortunately though these answers from the Government aren't available to us yet.

Once the Government/Ofqual give us further information and some certainty of how the system will work, we will update you, however, in the meantime, our messages for students are to try not to worry about what might happen and focus on doing the best you can with the work that teachers are setting.

Holyhead response to Ofqual’s statement on predicted grades / assessments following the cancellation of the Summer 2020 exam series (Monday 23rd March)

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