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Letters to Parents/Carers

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  • May 2024 update letter to parents/carers

    Published 07/05/24

    Our Ref: DK/jh/gltr/may 24    

    7th May 2024

    Dear Parent/Carer

    I hope you and your family are all well.  The month of May sees us move into the external examination season for Year 11 and Year 13 students so this letter will contain information on this as well as our internal exams for other year groups. I will also cover a very important event in the school’s history at Buckingham Palace and how you can help the school community through our Preloved Uniform Shop too, as well as reminders on key dates and events in the next couple of months.

    Exam Season: Preparing for external and internal exams
    The coming weeks will see students in Year 11 and 13 sit their final GCSE and A Level / Level 3 exams, and all subjects are supporting students with detailed plans in place. The main body of exams will begin on Thursday 9th May, with the final GCSE exam taking place on Wednesday 19th June, and at A Level on Monday 24th June.

    For students in Years 7 & 8, all subjects will sit a 45-60 minute Summer Term exam in May/June which will include content from this term along with questions from key topics covered earlier in the year.  These exams provide valuable opportunities to build up their experience and skills in relation to how to revise effectively before they reach the beginning of GCSE studies, as well as ensuring that key knowledge is revisited regularly to help them to retain this in their long-term (working) memory.  Teachers will be providing revision and practice materials, there will also be revision lessons in advance of the exams and we have been running assemblies and Tutor sessions on effective study habits to help to build up the important habits of how to revise and prepare yourselves for exams. 

    Year 10 and 12 students will be sitting their end of year Mock Exams in mid-late June, and these important internal exams will help teachers and students alike identify key topic areas for additional focus over the summer, specific exam skills that will need to be practised more frequently in Year 11 and Year 13. 

    How can I help to support my child in preparing for the exams?
    We have a section on the school website (External Examinations), which contains the exam timetable for this summer, rules and regulations of the exams as well as advice and guidance materials we have compiled from partner organisations, InnerDrive, PiXL (Partners in Excellence) and Seneca for parents.

    Parents of students in Year 11 and Year 13 will be receiving letters from Mr Lovell (Vice Principal for Y11) and Mrs Honeyghan (Director of Sixth Form) respectively with more specific information on the arrangements for the final exams and study leave at the end of the exam period.

    Holyhead at Buckingham Palace - Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards
    I am delighted, and exceptionally proud to inform you that our pioneering Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award students from Year 13 in 2023 (Ria Mall, Nina Kaur, Gia Khokhar and Jasmeen Saini) will be receiving their Awards from Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace on Monday 13th May. This is a momentous occasion for the Holyhead School community, our first recipients of this prestigious internationally recognised award, and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our ‘Fab Four’. They will be accompanied not only by their families but also by Mr Wright and Mrs Davies who have done so much over recent years to establish the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme as a key part of our enrichment programme, and also to support the team in their path from the Bronze Award in Y9/10 with all of the COVID disruption, through to Silver and finally to become the first Holyhead students to achieve the Gold Award. 

    Pre-loved Uniform: Can you help us to help others?
    As we move towards the summer, I will keep a reminder about our Pre-loved Uniform shop in each of the upcoming monthly update letters. This support comes from your generosity in donating items of uniform that are no longer needed and in good condition, which in turn is then washed and made available to families at very low prices. 

    We are looking for donations of blazers, ties, shirts, trousers and items of PE kit to help to provide supplies for families needing to use this service, and with Year 11 students finishing in June this is a great opportunity to support each other as part of a wider school community. Donations can be made at the school reception or students can hand any bags with items to Senior Leaders or Heads of Year on duty at the start of the school day.

    Key upcoming dates and events in May/June

    • Year 10 Work Experience week begins on Monday 20th May. Many students have secured placements they will be based at their workplace for the week, whilst the remaining students will be completing a range of work related activities at Holyhead working with external companies and providers.
    • We will be breaking up for the May half-term holiday at 3:15pm on Friday 24th May, and will return to school at 8:40am on Monday 3rd June.
    • We are looking forward to celebrating the success and hard work of so many of our students at our annual Presentation Evening event at the Town Hall on Thursday 27th June from 6.30pm. With a late finish for many staff and students we will be having a delayed start on Friday 28th June with all students needing to arrive by 10.25am for a Period 2 start.

    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. We wish all of our students the best for their upcoming exams and hope that the information provided in the letter may be useful in helping them at home too in preparation. 

    Yours faithfully,

    Dave Knox

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  • Year 9 Subject Parents' Evening

    Published 15/04/24
    Dear Parent/Carer,  I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to the Year 9 Subject Parents’ Evening which will take place on Thursday 25 April 2024. The evening will begin at 4.00pm and finish at 7.00pm, and the appointment
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  • April update letter to parents/carers

    Published 08/04/24

    Our Ref: DK/jh/gltr/apr 24    

    8th April 2024

    Dear Parent/Carer

    I hope you and your family are well. I am writing to you in my monthly update letter with a reminder of our plans for Eid ul Fitr and the impact on school opening this week. This letter also includes reminders of how parents/carers can play a part and help to maintain high standards and expectations as well as key dates for the month of April.

    Eid ul Fitr 2024: A reminder of communications and arrangements 

    In my previous letter before the end of term I wrote to you with a detailed explanation of our plans for Eid ul Fitr and the reasoning behind it, with the need to have year group closures due to the large number of staff who will be taking religious observance. 

    Based on the predicted date of Eid ul Fitr school will be closed to all students in Years 8 and 10 on Wednesday 10th April, with all other year groups expected to attend as normal.  Learning will move to Google Classrooms for the day for students in Years 8 and 10 and they will be expected to access lesson material from home.  

    As in previous years we are following the Department for Education guidelines around authorising absence for students who will be celebrating Eid ul Fitr with family. This will be that we will authorise absence for one day for religious observance, and parents/carers must still contact the Attendance team in the morning to confirm their absence and the reason for this. Any absence beyond the first day will not be authorised for religious observance.

    Communication and confirmation of plans

    • We will most likely know after 5pm on Tuesday 9th April how the school will be impacted based on the sighting of the moon.
    • All Year 8 and Year 10 students and parents/carers should check the website on the evening of Tuesday 9th April in order to establish if school is open to them the following day. We will post a pop-up message to confirm arrangements as soon as we have definitive news. 
    • We will also communicate this announcement to parents via Arbor. 

    We apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause for parents of students in Year 8 and Year 10, however, the high levels of expected staff absence make this a necessary decision as we are already planning to combine classes.

    Standards & Expectations: Maintaining momentum at a key point in the year

    At the start of each term, it is vital to re-establish our expectations with students which we will be doing in lessons, Tutor time and Assemblies over the next couple of weeks, and your support with this is both valued and appreciated.

    With a month until the start of the external exam season for students in Year 11 and Year 13 it is vital that we continue to strive for excellence to help them to approach the exams in the best possible position for success. This desire for excellence and focus on high expectations is also needed with every year group and there continues to be a strong commitment to ensuring that learning is both undisturbed and highly productive as well as making the most of the opportunities to build on the knowledge gained in lessons through regular and purposeful homework being set in every subject. 

    Attendance at school has been a positive feature from the start of the year with our current attendance continuing to be well above national average figures, leading to the Attendance Awards from the Fisher Family Trust that I wrote to you about in the Spring term. Now is not the time for complacency though and we all need to continue to work together as families and the school to push for even better attendance, understanding the major benefits that this brings for the students themselves. The impact of strong attendance helps support children to make more progress with their learning alongside their social development, a key reason why we have made it a major school improvement priority this year, and also why your continued support is highly valued. 

    We also ask for your support with punctuality to school in the morning, knowing that lost learning time due to lateness in the morning adds up over time to have a significantly negative impact. Being early and ready to learn are fundamental aspects that successful students all have in common, and these are expectations and good habits that need to be instilled ready for success in the world beyond school. With our Breakfast Club available before school in the morning the Milestone Lane gates are open from 8:15am so please encourage your child to take advantage of this offer! 

    Farewell and best wishes to Adil Khan, Head of Year 9

    We are sorry to be losing Adil Khan, our Head of Year 9 who will be leaving Holyhead on Friday 12th April to move on to a new opportunity at Waverley School. Our exceptional Heads of Year are fundamental to the smooth running of the school on a daily basis with the pastoral support they provide to students, as well as building relationships between families and school through regular communication. Mr Khan is central to this and many of you with children in Year 9 will have appreciated the dedication that he shows to not only the school community as a whole, but also the students under his care. In the interim while we recruit a permanent replacement for Mr Khan we will be welcoming Errol Smith back to Holyhead following his retirement as Head of Year 11 at the end of last year, and he will be providing experienced support to the year group alongside Mrs Denny as the Vice Principal for Year 9. I’m sure you will all join me in thanking Adil for his commitment and attention in support of the students in his year groups over his 5 years with us, and we send our best wishes to him in his future away from Holyhead.

    Key headline dates and events in April

    • Students will return to school for the start of the Summer Term on Tuesday 9th April at 8.40am.
    • The Year 9 Subject Parents’ Evening that was originally calendared for Thursday 11th April has been moved back to Thursday 25th April from 4-7pm because of the potential clash with Eid ul Fitr.
    • The Year 10 Subject Parents’ Evening will be held on Thursday 18th April from 4-7pm as originally planned.

    May I take this opportunity on behalf of the staff at Holyhead to wish Eid Mubarak to all of our families who will be celebrating Eid ul Fitr, and Happy Vaisakhi to all of our families who will be celebrating this weekend. We wish you a wonderful time over the week ahead, and good health to all over the remainder of the month.

    Yours faithfully,

    Dave Knox

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  • End of Spring Term Letter to Parents/Carers

    Published 21/03/24

    Dear Parent/Carer

    Please find the end of Spring term letter from Mr Knox to provide some key reminders on the end of term arrangements as well as those for the return of students after the Easter holidays on Tuesday 9th April. The letter also includes detailed information on the celebration of Eid ul Fitr and the impact on school opening in the first week back after Easter. 

    The key headlines are as follows:

    • Students break up for the Easter holidays at 12 noon on Friday 22nd March
    • Students return for the summer term at 8.40am on Tuesday 9th April
    • We anticipate the large majority of staff and students who will be celebrating Eid ul Fitr will be taking religious observance on Wednesday 10th April. As a result, all students in Years 8 and 10 will be asked to study from home on that day with learning provided on Google Classroom - the letter explains the reasoning for this change to normal arrangements, and the communication that will take place the night before to confirm.

    Thank you for your continued support and may we all wish you and your family well over the holiday period and especially so if you are celebrating auspicious religious festivals in this period.

    Yours faithfully,

    Dave Knox

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  • March 2024 update letter to parents/carers

    Published 04/03/24

    Our Ref: DK/jh/gltr/mar 24    

    March 2024

    Dear Parent/Carer

    I hope you and your family are well at the start of a very important month for many people of faith within our community. The focus of this month’s update letter includes information on:

    • Attendance Matters - An update on the national situation and where we are as a school
    • World Book Day 2024
    • Easter holiday revision programme for Year 11/13 students
    • How the school community marks and prepares to celebrate a number of important religious festivals
    • Upcoming dates to look out for during the remainder of the Spring term

    Attendance Matters
    There is a lot in the news about the concerns with school attendance, and the government continues to make this a major focus of their work at the moment in education. I am pleased to report that attendance at Holyhead is strong and is currently over 2% above the national average which is a testament to the work of everyone involved with the school including parents and carers. 

    We recently received two awards for attendance in the Autumn term from Fisher Family Trust, a major national education organisation, one for having attendance in the top 25% of schools nationally and the second for having attendance in the top 10% of schools with similar circumstances (linked to the proportion of children eligible for Free School Meals). These are significant achievements and worth celebrating, however, it is absolutely crucial that we all continue to strive for improved attendance as we know that students with high attendance:

    • do better in exams because they learn more and can therefore remember more.
    • find it easier to maintain friendships = improved social development.
    • are more likely to be involved in a wider range of enrichment opportunities and experiences. 
    • have better social and communication skills.

    World Book Day 2024
    This year’s World Book Day is taking place on Thursday 7th March and we will be marking this with a wide range of activities and opportunities for students to engage in the wonder of reading and literature. This week will see special assemblies and competitions for students to get involved in, and all students will receive World Book Day tokens that can be used to purchase books. 

    On World Book Day itself, we invite students to dress in a costume to represent their favourite character from a book and are expecting them to bring in a copy of the book to accompany their costume. This is not compulsory and students not coming in costume should wear their school uniform as normal (any students who come to school in non-school uniform without their book will be expected to change back into school uniform). 

    Easter holidays revision sessions 
    We will be hosting revision sessions for Y11/13 in a number of subjects over the Easter holidays to support their preparation for the GCSE/A Level exams that will be beginning in May.  In support of staff and students fasting over Ramadan, the sessions will start at the later than normal times of 11am and 1.30pm. A confirmed timetable will be available on the school website before we break up at the end of the Spring term.

    Ramadan, Holi and Easter 2024
    The months of March and April see major religious festivals and observance for many of our community’s faiths, a time to celebrate the values and humanity we all share in addition to embracing the opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures as a school community.

    We have a broad programme of events and activities planned during this special time. One of the most important activities will be our ‘Acts of Kindness’ assemblies, emphasising the importance of selflessness and respect for each other, not only at school, but in all aspects of our lives.                                              
    The holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims on or around Monday 11th March, and highlights the importance of family, charity, empathy and gratitude.  Our team is working hard to provide very clear guidance on how observance of all aspects of Ramadan by students can be balanced alongside learning and upholding high expectations when in school, as well as balancing revision needs, and we will share this with families in the coming days.  As a staff body we learn together so that all can contribute and participate, be that by engaging students and colleagues in discussion around Suhoor or Iftar, or by fasting to show solidarity with the community and students.

    Ramadan continues on either side of the Easter holidays, and we wish all of our Muslim staff, students and families Ramadan Mubarak.  I will write to all families separately about our plans and communication on how we will operate the school on the day of Eid al-Fitr which is currently forecast to take place on either Wednesday 10th or Thursday 11th April, and as was the case last year there will likely be the need for two year groups to be educated remotely at home as a result of the high number of staff members who will also be observing this very special day. 
    Sunday 24th March is the Hindu festival of Holi.  This celebration of good over evil marks the end of winter and the start of spring in South Asia and is marked by a festival of colour with optimism for the season ahead.

    Easter Day on Sunday 31st March will see Christians around the world bring an end to 40 days of fasting or abstinence during the period of Lent.  This is a time of great contemplation and reflection for many, a time where rejuvenation and resurrection holds special meaning.  The cultural diversity of the school means this will mean different things to our students whose heritage covers much of the globe, and every continent.

    Key upcoming dates and events in March / April

    • 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.
    • There is a Staff CPD day on Monday 8th April. The school will be closed to all students.
    • Students will return to school for the start of the Summer Term on Tuesday 9th April at 8.40am.

    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 and especially so if you are celebrating auspicious religious festivals in this period.

    Yours faithfully,
    Dave Knox

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