Message from Mr Clarke – End of Summer Term July 2023

Dear parent/carer,

It is hard to believe that we are coming to the end of the school year and I am confident that it is another year that will provide memories that will last a lifetime for so many. Our students have once again embraced school life, risen to the challenge and been a shining example of our school motto, ‘Achievement for All’. The summer term in particular, always offers so much in terms of extracurricular opportunities, with the school music concert, DofE expeditions, the battlefields trip, charity day (raising over £4000 this year) and the brand new addition of the arts festival to name just a few.

There has been so much to celebrate and so much to be proud of. The following extract is taken from my most recent report to governors and acknowledges just how fantastic our students are and how they continue to work hard, despite the challenges they face:

‘…we continue to be very proud of all they have achieved, particularly following the external examinations our Year 11 and Year 13 students have just completed. The rigour of the exam season is a test for even the most diligent of students and we were very impressed with the attitude displayed by all those students who attended their examinations. During the same period, we held our internal exams for Year 7 – Year 10 & Year 12 and in spite of the soaring temperatures wreaking havoc within our old buildings, the students and staff coped admirably’.

There are two points to add to the paragraph above. The first relates to the students’ attitude towards school. Our new prefects in particular have been incredible, serving as perfect role models during a wide range of transition events which help to ensure our new year 7 students can have the best possible start in September. The interactions with their peers, staff members and parents were consistently respectful and our prefects modelled maturity beyond their years. Many of our year 12 students have also shown the best version of themselves, being the first cohort to successfully complete the external leadership award ‘Future Leaders’. They have also demonstrated skills and behaviours that will undoubtedly set them up for their next steps, leading after-school activities, supporting younger students with their learning and placing themselves outside of their comfort zone. We are fortunate to see so many amazing moments in and out of school, all serving as an excellent reminder of the wonderful young people that we have in our school community. We can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

The second point from the governor’s report relates to the old buildings. You may remember that in December 2022, just before we broke up for Christmas, we were delighted to announce that we have been named in the school’s rebuilding programme. Last week, we received further notification to say that we are likely to be in the first group of three, ultimately meaning that we may be into the design and building phases quicker than we had originally anticipated. We are very excited to be in this position and look forward to starting work on what will be an incredible investment for students now, but also for the students and community for many years to come. We will of course keep you informed as we know more.

Throughout this academic year, we have continually strived to provide opportunities and experiences for our young people and plans are already ongoing for 2023-24 to present many, many more. There will be the usual array of extracurricular activities and trips, which we will be sharing details of on our return, but we will also be seeking to take all opportunities in our curriculum planning as we strive to help to develop caring, responsible citizens, who are equipped for life in the 21st century. Indeed, in just the second week back in September, we have a number of external agencies booked in to deliver sessions on issues affecting young people today, including online awareness, knife crime, anti-social behaviour and stalking awareness. We are also excited to host our first-ever dedicated Diversity Day, where we will continue to teach students that it is our differences that make us stronger together. We believe this day will build on our most recent achievement in the last week, obtaining the Lancashire Equality Mark.

Whilst we look forward to the new academic year and seek to develop our practices to ensure that all students are able to benefit from the best possible experiences and opportunities in school, there are also ways in which you can help us to help your child’s development. Research shows that stu­dents whose par­ents stay involved in school have bet­ter atten­dance and behav­iour, demon­strate bet­ter social skills and generally adapt bet­ter to school, which often results in better grades. ‘Staying involved’ could include your support in areas such as help­ing with homework, dis­cussing school events and attend­ing school func­tions. Ultimately we ask for your support in encouraging high levels of attendance, com­mu­ni­cat­ing high but attainable expec­ta­tions for achieve­ment, offering positive attitudes and behaviour in school, as well as seeking to cre­at­e a home envi­ron­ment that encour­ages learning. I wholeheartedly believe that the reason this is such a fantastic school community is because so many of our students, parents and school staff consistently play their part in working towards our common aim of ‘Achievement for All’.

Underpinning all of this, of course, is the importance of good attendance at school. Without this, we cannot work collaboratively to provide for all students’ needs. Good attendance has a direct impact on the progress of all learners and this is definitely the case at Haslingden High School and Sixth Form. Analyses of our 2022 GCSE results show that students with 95% and above attendance achieved grades that were on average two thirds higher than their peers nationally. This rose to an average of one and a third grades higher per subject grade, for students who had attendance of 99% or above. Whether it is about personal development, wellbeing or academic achievement, we know that high rates of attendance really do matter.

Subsequently, may I thank you for your continued support in ensuring that students arrive back in school in September ready to learn; with the right attitude, fully equipped and in full school uniform. I have attached a link to our uniform policy here, and this also includes details of our expectations for hair, make-up and nails. Missing or forgotten ties became a significant challenge in the summer term and any help in this regard would be very much appreciated by staff in school (for parents of soon-to-be year 10 students, an upper school tie will need to be purchased to show their progression to Key Stage 4). Please could I also politely ask that any students who intend to enjoy the opportunity over the coming weeks to have extreme hair styles or false nails/eyelashes, do so at the start of the school holidays so that these are no longer present in September.

Whilst I do not want to ‘wish the summer away’, I would like to make you aware of key dates for the diary in September, particularly the date of our return. Friday 1 September is an INSET day for staff only but years 7 and 12 should be in school on Monday 4 September.  All other year groups start back on Tuesday 5 September.  Please also note that in order to facilitate our year 6 taster day and open evening, school will be closed to all students on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 September as part of our usual INSET calendar.

Finally, I would like to wish all members of our school community a very enjoyable summer. If you have a holiday planned I hope that this is restful and that the sun eventually shines! If not, then I do hope that you are still able to find some time to enjoy with family and friends.

Very best wishes,

Russell Clarke, Headteacher