WEEK 1 - Friday 8 September 2023
“I will not complain about the heat. I will not complain about the heat.”
As I write this in a non-air conditioned, south-facing office with the temperature nudging twenty-six degrees, I am tempted to long for cooler months when our working environment is much more comfortable. But then, I am reminded that this may be the last long period of hot weather that we may see again until next June and I am determined to make every minute of it so – once this blog is written – I shall be heading home to sit in the garden until the sun goes down.
The final days of summer always generate mixed emotions in me. I look back at what we have done as a family; where we have been, the fun we have had and the memories we have planted in our children that will hopefully last a lifetime. There was a song from long ago, whose title I can’t recall, which told of the beachwear we wear as children. At the end of every summer, we pack it away until the next year; but, because our children grow so quickly, we don’t realise at the time that they will probably never wear it again. A metaphor for every year of our life as it skips by.
Summer’s end always generates those kind of melancholy feelings and makes me determined to wring every minute out of each summer, especially as our children grow up so quickly.
Our students and staff have certainly tried to do that this week. I cannot recall a happier and more optimistic start to the new term at Hessle High School. As I have reported many times, we continue to grow and we now have almost 1400 students on roll here, along with 184 staff. There have never been more children and adults on our site since the school opened in 1948 and the new arrivals – students and staff – have really brought new energy and enthusiasm to the place.
Your children will, I’m sure, have reported to you some of the changes we have made to our behaviour procedures, making our expectations crystal clear in a relentlessly consistent way. We have also made our sanctions ladder shorter and brisker, reducing the number of chances that students previously had to change their behaviour. This is a challenge for them but one that they have risen to very well so far, thanks to the clear messages and expectations that have been given by our staff.
A special mention for our Year 7 students and a big ‘thank you’ to their parents/carers and wider family members who have supported us in making their first week such a successful one. They have looked fantastic, and they have been a credit to you all in terms of their manners and conduct around the school. We are really pleased to have them, and you, as part of our school community.
You will have heard the news about the problems experienced by some schools with RAAC. I wrote to all parents earlier in the week confirming that, following inspections by the Local Authority a few years ago, we do not have any RAAC in our school buildings so thankfully that is not a concern for us. As a school that benefited from a rebuild in 2014-16, we are very fortunate not to face some of the challenges that other school leaders do with their school sites, although there are several colleagues within our Trust for whom school building maintenance is a daily concern. Thankfully, working as a Trust, we can alleviate some of those pressures, but I hope that this latest example of Government neglect of state education might lead to increased investment across the school estate nationally. Once again, I was reminded of the words of Sam Seaborn, a character from one of my favourite TV shows, The West Wing, when he said;
“Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce; they should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens...”
Here, here, to that.
Finally, a reminder that our Open Evening for parents of children in Years 5 and 6 is coming up on the 28 September. If you have family or friends that are considering sending their children to Hessle High School and/or have not previously visited the site, please let them know and we will be starting our promotion of this event shortly.
Have a lovely weekend in the sunshine.