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Hessle High School

WEEK 23 - Friday 8 March 2024

By the time the Chancellor started his budget speech on Wednesday, the headlines had already been leaked to the extent that we all knew about the 2% reduction in National Insurance. What I was looking out for was anything that meant we would see more money for schools. 

Working within a Multi Academy Trust provides some protection from the worst of the financial shocks that can affect schools. For example, when the energy prices soared recently it wasn't me that had to try to find that money directly and I was grateful for that and being able to focus on educational matters. 

Nevertheless, when school funding increases are not enough to cover inflation or the teacher pay increases, which are not always fully funded by Government, then the only alternative is to make cuts. The levers for making cuts are few in schools. Since staffing costs are nearly 80% of total income, and non-discretionary overheads such as insurance, energy etc make up such a big chunk of the rest, there isn't much wriggle room. The outcome inevitably ends up being larger class sizes and the closing of unfeasible subjects which only attract small numbers of students. Or – and this saves pennies in comparison – fewer textbooks or other resources. This is the reality that we are all trying to balance and have been for years. Real terms funding for schools (accounting for inflation) has barely budged since 2010 when the expectations on schools have grown hugely. I’ve written about this before, it hasn’t changed, and this week’s budget has done nothing to address those issues. 

Thankfully, we continue to attract high numbers of students and, following on from the confirmation of our Year 7 intake last week, I had some good news from our Sixth Form team the other day. Interviews conducted with our Year 11 students indicate that a higher proportion of them will be joining our Sixth Form next year. The Post-16 marketplace is fiercely competitive and school Sixth Forms face huge pressure from much larger specialist colleges in the area. Nevertheless, increasing numbers of our students are choosing to stay because of the trust they have in our provision; they know, like and respect their teachers, they have a choice of a wide range of subjects through our position as part of the Consortium Sixth Form College and they know that we care about them as individuals and unique young people. This recruitment success further supports the whole school as it aids in the retention of our staff who see Sixth Form teaching as part of their professional development.  

Next week is our second Year 11 Mock Results and Progress evening in which our Year 11s will be able to receive their Exam Results Envelopes for their most recent mock exams. Once they have digested these results, they move onto their appointments with their class teachers to see what they can do next to improve their chances in the summer. Last term, we had queues out of the door at the start of the night and we hope for the same levels of engagement again next week. Thank you in advance to those parents/carers of Year 11 students that have already booked their appointments – we appreciate your support. 

Finally, a very Happy Mothers Day to all of our mums, mothers, Step Mums, Foster Mums, Grandmas, Nanas, Step-Grandmas and even Great-Grandmas. You all play such an important role in the work that we do, caring for and supporting our children and young people and ensuring that they can focus on their learning and development when they come to school. It is greatly appreciated. 

This weekend, I will try to strike a balance between making sure our children can pamper their mum, which will also means cooking a few nice meals, whilst also spending time with my own mum. I’m from Hull so that should be ‘mam’. We will meet up Sunday, along with my sister for some family time. 

However you are spending time this weekend, hopefully you can share it with family and enjoy whatever fine weather there may be. Thank you for your support.  

Mr Groak