February 2024 update letter to parents/carers
Our Ref: DK/jh/gltr/feb 24
I hope you and your family are well as we move towards the half-term holidays at the end of the week. The focus of this month’s update letter includes information on:
GCSE Options for Year 9 parents/carers
Support available to families on a number of topics on the school website as well as the Breakfast Club offer
Preparations for a planned ‘lockdown’ drill as part of our school safety and security measures
Upcoming dates to look out for during the remainder of the Spring term
Year 9 GCSE Options: How we will support students and parents/carers
As we move into February, we begin the process of Year 9 students selecting their GCSE options subjects that they will study in Year 10 and 11. This will involve a range of opportunities for students and parents to get the information and guidance to make well informed decisions ahead of the deadline which comes at the end of the Spring term.
For students, this information will involve:
A GCSE Options launch assembly on Wednesday 21st February.
GCSE style ‘taster’ lessons in subjects during the week beginning Monday 4th March.
Regular opportunities to talk to teachers, including Form Tutors about options on an informal basis.
For parents/carers, this information will involve:
A GCSE Options Information Evening for parents/carers on Thursday 29th February where parents/carers will be able to book a slot for a 20-30 minute presentation on the GCSE Options process from Mrs Denny and other Senior Leaders followed by the opportunity to ask questions. The talks will be hosted at 4.30pm and 5.30pm and parents will be asked to book their preferred time slot in a separate letter.
All parents/carers will be provided with a copy of the 2024 GCSE Options handbook which includes key information on all of the compulsory and optional subjects as well as all other relevant information.
A dedicated Y9 GCSE Options section on the Parent Portal tab of the school website which will include subject specific short video guides by all Subject Leaders on what to expect from each of the GCSEs.
A useful place to start for students and parents is the BBC Bitesize GCSE Options 2024 page which is linked here.
What’s on the website for Parents and Carers: The Parent Portal
The Parent Portal section of the school website provides key information about the school and access to support for families. Please take a look at what’s available, but as a help to get you started you will find specific sections on:
Safeguarding - information on what we do at Holyhead as well as guidance on a range of safeguarding matters with links to support services and external providers.
SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) - information on the SEND team at Holyhead, the support we provide for students and guidance for parents/carers.
Mental Health - information on the main symptoms to look out for if you are concerned about your child’s mental health or anyone else you know as well as where support is available from, in or outside of school. You can also sign up for Parent/Carer webinars from the Anna Freud organisation on a range of topics related to supporting parents with concerns about their child’s mental health and behaviour.
Additional support available at Holyhead School: Breakfast Club
We re-opened our Breakfast provision at Holyhead in January with free toast from the Front Food Pod between 8.15 - 8.30am. This is open to all students and those who arrive early will need to enter the school site through the Milestone Lane gate where there are staff on supervisory duty as well as at the Food Pod. The Pod closes at 8.30am, so please encourage your child to arrive early if they want to take advantage of the free toast on offer.
February half-term Revision sessions: Year 11 and Year 13
We will be running a small programme of revision and coursework sessions over the half-term holidays for Year 11 and Year 13 students from Monday 12th - Thursday 15th February. Students involved will receive consent letters and we ask that these are signed by parents/carers and returned by students before we break up for half-term.
School safety measures: Planned ‘lockdown’ drills
A feature of modern life in schools is the need to carry out planned ‘lockdown’ drills with staff, students and visitors to help to make sure everyone is familiar with the routines and expectations in the event that we ever did need to go into a lockdown situation (this could be for a range of reasons including on the advice of police).
The nature of the ‘lockdown’ alarm siren and the actions that staff and students need to take in a drill can cause worry and distress for some students, especially if they have not experienced this before, and our aim is to make sure that this necessary measure does not cause such concerns for them. A planned drill like this will mean that we will be explaining what will happen and what actions the students need to take when they hear the siren on the day.
The drill will take place towards the end of February and we will notify you by a text message through Arbor on the morning of the planned drill. Students should not use mobile phones in school anyway, but were you to receive a message from your child about the ‘lockdown’ that day you would know that this was a drill and not an emergency.
Key upcoming dates and events in February / March
The Spring term Mock Exams for Y11/13 begin on Monday 5th February.
We break up for the February half-term on Friday 9th February at 3.15pm and return to school again on Monday 19th February at 8.40am.
Year 9 GCSE Options Information Evening for parents on Thursday 29th February from 4.30-6pm.
There is a Year 12 Subject Parents’ Evening on Thursday 7th March from 4-6pm.
We will break up at the end of the Spring Term on Friday 22nd March at 12 noon.
I thank you again for your time in reading this letter and as usual, I wish you and your family well over the coming weeks.