Headteacher’s Letter

June 2019

Dear Parent/Carer

There are a number of planned changes in the coming new school year, all designed with the progress and welfare of our students in mind.

Firstly, you may recall that we had a trial day last term for a 75 minute lesson timetable.  The trial was very successful and both students and staff overwhelmingly voted in favour of moving to 75 minute lessons.  The rationale behind this lies in the concentration limits of students in the double lessons of 100 minutes and equally the lack of development time in a 50 minute lesson.  The start and end of the school day remain unchanged at 8.35am – 3pm and the lunch break remains the same amount of time.  Students will have four 75 minute lessons in a day rather than six 50 minute (or three 100 minute) lessons.

Additionally, to better meet the progress and welfare needs of our students, each year group will have a Year Leader.  The communities of Heidelberg, Windsor, Alhambra and Versailles will remain for sporting, charity and other events, but the students will be cared for and guided in year groups.  This will allow better expertise from the Year Leaders as they address year group needs such as choosing options in year 8 and sixth form applications in year 11.  The current community teams will remain intact and oversee a year group instead.  The teams are as follows as of September:

Year 7 & 8:

  • Year Leader – Mrs Honeyman
  • Assistant Year Leader – Mrs Maasz
  • Student Support Assistant – Mrs Hammett

Year 9:

  • Year Leader – Mrs Bradshaw
  • Assistant Year Leader – Mrs Hughes
  • Student Support Assistant – Mrs McDermott

Year 10:

  • Year Leader – Mr Lewis
  • Assistant Year Leader – Miss Beynon
  • Student Support Assistant – Mrs Locke

Year 11:

  • Year Leader – Mr Day
  • Assistant Year Leader – Mrs Harris
  • Student Support Assistant – Mrs Wells

Mrs Honeyman’s team will always be with years 7 & 8, whereas the other year leaders will take the same year group of students all the way through to year 11.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your contributions to the mobile phones in school debate.  We currently allow students to have a mobile phone on their person and to be used in unstructured time such as break and lunch.  Students are not permitted to use their phones during lessons unless specifically asked to go on to a revision app or such like.  Phones are forbidden to be seen or heard during lesson times and this can sometimes cause conflict as students may be distracted by a phone that they forgot to switch off.  A number of local schools are banning the use of mobile phones during the entire school day and a number of parents have told me recently that they would support this at HDHS.  It is true that phones are not only a distraction for students but they are also damaging to their mental health, due to young people always feeling the need to be ‘switched on’ to what is happening elsewhere and not concentrating on what is happening in the present moment for themselves, not just in the classroom, but in their life in general.  If we were to move to such a ban at HDHS, it would only be possible with the full support of parents and as such I invite your comments on this matter.  At this stage, I ask that you email me your thoughts on the matter via headspa@hdhs.school or drop a letter into the main reception before the end of term.  I will read and discuss all contributions and then send out a questionnaire for parents to complete in order to make a decision.  Thank you in advance for your contributions to this important debate.

One further change next school year is that, due to our collective concern for the environment and the use of plastics (especially with so much plastic ending up in the sea given our coastal location) we will no longer permit plastic bottles of drink on site.  We have invested heavily this term in more drinking fountains which are the correct size for refillable bottles and we have purchased a bottle for every student in the school which is not only refillable and reusable, but is made from bio-degradable materials.  These bottles will be issued at the start of the new school year and our Sports Day, on the last day of this term, will be our final goodbye to plastic water bottles.  I hope that you will join us for Sports Day to watch your child participate (details to follow) and join us in ceremoniously putting all water bottles at the end into the large recycling bin that will be provided.

Yours faithfully

Mrs Kate Finch
Headteacher