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Hessle High School

WEEK 21 - Friday 18 February 2022

This is the time of year during which my attention is firmly fixed on the next academic year. In early March, we will learn of the number of students who will be joining us in Year 7 next year and we can firmly put in place our staffing model. But, even before then, we are starting to recruit for the teaching staff that we already know that we will need. Our numbers on roll have grown consistently year on year which brings some certainty around funding and enables us to enter the recruitment market earlier than most. And, in recent years, this has paid dividends with some very high quality appointments to our teaching, and wider, staff team. Thankfully, this has continued during the past few weeks as we put together the team for 2022-23 and beyond. Just last week, we recruited a very experienced Chemistry teacher from a school on the South Bank who is looking to relocate closer to his home in Hessle and the very next day, we appointed a Biology teacher who will be an Early Career Teacher (ECT) i.e. just starting out into teaching. This future colleague has lots of experience in Marine Biology and will bring plenty of industry experience to our school. And then, on Monday, we secured the services of another ECT, this time in History. This particular lady is actually an ex-student of the school who also worked as a cover supervisor with us before going away to do her training. We are delighted that she will be coming back to us as a permanent member of staff.

In the coming weeks, we anticipate that we will be needing another two teachers and we will keep our fingers crossed that we are as successful on those occasions. With 80% of our annual budget tied up in staffing, getting the numbers right is a fine art. It would be fabulous to recruit teachers with years and years of experience but they are significantly more expensive than a colleague at the start of their career, around 60% more costly when you factor in the additional on-costs we pay in National Insurance and Pension Contributions. And so a blend of staff across different stages of their career is not only optimal from a financial point of view but also desirable from a teaching and learning perspective. Experience is needed of course but younger staff also bring new ideas and are often the most innovative with technology. Thankfully, we are continuing to build a mixture of colleagues across all ages.  

No matter the age of the member of staff, you cannot buy resilience and I am incredibly fortunate to have the most resilient body of teachers and support staff I could ever hope for. During the past six and a half weeks, they have dealt with the waves of Covid, student and colleague absence and, today, a once in a decade storm, with calm, professionalism and good humour. This morning, as the rain lashed horizontally, they managed to shepherd 1200 young people through the various halls that were opened for the start of day line ups and then get them into their tutor rooms, all prepared for the day ahead. And all within around fifteen minutes. It was a remarkable feat of logistics and carried out with incredible positivity and calm. It is an absolute pleasure to work with them.  

As you will probably be aware, the Humber Bridge was closed completely today around lunchtime. Thankfully, we were given slightly advance notice of this and so we were able to communicate with parents of those students who live on the south side of the Humber and ensure that all 51 of them were off site and on their way home before the bridge closed. Thank you to parents who worked together to facilitate that.  

Finally, a reminder that, after half term, we will no longer be requiring students to wear face coverings in school and we will gradually return all practises to normal in the coming weeks including full weekly assemblies and, hopefully, a great deal more trips and excursions.  

I have spent much of today being asked if I am ‘going anywhere nice’ for half term. To which my reply has mostly been the same, that my half term consists of getting my suits dry cleaned, renewing my car insurance, power washing my patio and similar mundane but necessary tasks. At least tomorrow I can return to the MKM Stadium for Hull FC’s first game of the season - I shall be cheering them on and hoping for another win. Whatever you are doing over the weekend and next week, I hope you all stay safe from the storm and find time to relax as a family.

Best wishes

Mr Groak