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Hessle High School

WEEK 18 - Friday 26 January 2024

There has been a lot of discussion in the media in recent months about the breakdown in the ‘social contract’ between school and home which is an explanation for the lower levels of attendance seen in schools. There is no doubt some truth in this following several periods where the Government and school leaders were telling young people that they didn’t need to come into school or that school wasn’t safe for them. Whilst this seemed like the right thing to do at the time, we will probably look back on those decisions and recognise them as being mistaken. The long-term consequences on children’s mental health and educational habits will take years to unpick and resolve, a situation made worse by the fact that funding for schools to do this work was nowhere near the level that was recommended by Sir Kevan Collins, who was actually appointed by the Government to investigate. 

Despite this, there is clearly a Venn-diagram-type relationship between those students that are struggling to attend and wider measures of health and economic hardship. It would be easy to catastrophise the situation and write off an entire generation of young people. The reality is that current national attendance in secondary schools is around 92% - about 3% lower than it was before the pandemic. And whilst this is a lot of young people nationwide, the overwhelming majority have made good adjustments and are thriving. 

Attendance in our Years 9, 10 and 11 is not where we want it to be and we are working hard to put that right but those that are in school regularly are doing brilliantly. They have responded well to the changes in our behaviour policy and behaviour and attitudes are strong. Year 11 students in particular are showing a real commitment to doing well in their GCSEs in the summer; turnout to revision is high and over 120 of them have today enjoyed their breaktime in our sixth Form centre after receiving their formal offer to join the consortium Sixth Form on our campus. This follows over 80% attendance at the recent Progress evening and over 65% in attendance for the Success Event last week (which I mentioned in last week’s blog). 

In Year 9, we had the best ever attendance for that year group’s parents evening last night with over 82% of parents/carers in attendance and this sets us up nicely for the Options Process, something with which the students are already engaging strongly. 

I haven’t mentioned Year 7 and 8 but their attendance is already above the national average and they’re just fabulous! 

This weekend is the final one of what I am now calling my ‘annual hibernation’, where I basically plan nothing and use the weekend to rest, catch up on work and get out for a run where possible. It makes for a dull January to be honest but the upcoming Spring offers plenty of reasons for optimism. The sun is shining as I speak and there is lots of laughter as the students outside organise themselves for a game of netball after school. Pretty soon, the nights will be noticeably longer, and the rugby league season starts! And here we go again. 

Have a lovely weekend and thank you for your support.

Mr Groak