End of term message
I wanted to take this opportunity to update you, as well as to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
I would like to thank you for your patience and understanding as, whilst we have to tried to run school as normal, we have faced the continuing challenge of positive cases of Covid-19. The number of positive cases in school resulted in changes to the wearing of face coverings, remote learning for some and changes to some of our normal events. In the final weeks of term, we have seen fewer cases and, despite the news, we hope that this continues into the Christmas period and the new year. Despite the press conference last week, where the PM advised working from home, the DfE guidance is very much that schools remain open as normal. We have been asked, however, to implement on-site testing in January and the following phased return has been put in place.
We have been impressed with how positively students have embraced their learning and it was a real privilege to see all the celebration assemblies this week. We intended for the annual Celebration Event to take place at the Royal Hall, but we have, sadly, postponed this until April. Celebration and prize giving at HGS is something that we are very proud of and something we hold in high regard. The prizes connect us to the past, whilst celebrating the achievements of students in the last school year. The prizes reflect our school values of commitment and excellence, acknowledging performance at the highest level in subjects, recognising effort and celebrating student contributions. Across the school, students should be proud of their achievements – in particular, the 156,115 positive points awarded this term. We have also been delighted to see so many wider curricular activities taking place across sports, music, STEM and creative arts. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the Extra-curricular booklet, we encourage you to take a look over the holiday. Our aim remains for all children to engage in at least one wider activity outside of the classroom. Please also see the PE and Sport Autumn Term Newsletter and Extra-curricular Timetable for Spring 1 – an excellent round up of all the achievements so far this year.
We have been asked to communicate that all staff and students should continue to take lateral flow tests over the school holidays if they will be in a high-risk situation that day and before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness, if they get COVID-19. After students have received their onsite test in school in January, they should resume their regular testing – reporting their result to the NHS and school.
It has been announced this week that all adults who are fully vaccinated and children aged 5 to 18 years and 6 months, identified as a contact of someone with Covid-19 – whether Omicron or not – should take a lateral flow device (LFD) test every day for seven days instead of self-isolating. Once notified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact, all eligible staff and students should take an LFD each day for seven days and report the results through the Online Reporting System. After the Christmas break if they test negative, they can continue to attend school. If they test positive, they should self-isolate and order a PCR test to confirm the result – please also inform the school. If the PCR is positive, they must self-isolate for ten days. If the PCR test is negative, they no longer need to self-isolate but should continue to carry out the remainder of the daily tests, and only need to isolate if it is positive.
After parent consultation evenings, we issue a survey for you to feedback your experience of our school. We are always keen to respond to your views and we have received requests for further information about the curriculum taught in the school. This information has been updated on our website and can be found by clicking here. In the new year, our website will be refreshed further and we hope that this further enhances your experience.
We have been incredibly impressed with how Year 11 approached their mock examinations, and they deserve credit for their conduct and hard work. This cohort hadn’t experienced exams in the sports hall due to the pandemic and seeing this environment for the first time can often be a challenge. This group of students adapted quickly and have remained highly motivated throughout. Their results will be issued on January 19. Before then, students will be receiving feedback and support in class, so they can identify areas for development and so that they continue to refine their technique and performance.
We wrote to both Year 11 and Year 13 earlier in the year with information about the pre-release of topics on February 7, to support them with their preparation for examinations. As soon as we receive more information, we will communicate this to students along with details of additional revision sessions.
Year 13 University Applications
This term has been the peak in the year for completing university applications; this year so far, the Sixth Form team have processed 224 UCAS applications. Our students have applied for places at universities all over the UK for courses ranging from Engineering to Anthropology. This year 15 students have gained Oxbridge interviews, 14 students are applying for places to study medicine, veterinary science and dentistry and many students have already received offers for a whole range of other courses. In the New Year, we will turn our efforts to securing apprenticeships for those students who have chosen not to apply to university. In January, Year 13 students will sit their mock examinations, supported with home study leave.
Our first term has been incredibly busy and our students will be ready for a break by the time they leave this afternoon. When we return, we look forward to Year 9 option choices, Year 11 taster days in the Sixth Form and hopefully, those wider events that make the experience of children so enriching at HGS.
I do hope that our students will take time with their families to relax this Christmas and make sure that they are fully rested and refreshed for the new year. We all want our young people to be successful, but more than anything, we want them to be safe, happy and healthy. Getting the balance right is sometimes difficult for young people and for us, as parents and teachers. I hope that this Christmas, you find that balance and are able to enjoy the festivities to the full.
I thank you for your continued support and wish you a very happy Christmas from all of us at HGS.
Mr Neil Renton – Headteacher