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Hessle High School

WEEK 26 - Friday 1 April 2022

Those of you whose children attended Penshurst Primary school may already have heard on the grapevine that Mrs Jo Spencer, who has been Head of School since 2011, will be leaving the school later this year.  She has been successful in her first Headteacher interview (a very rare achievement) and will take up a Headship at another East Riding school in September.  Of course, we are delighted for Jo and very proud of her successful appointment.  But those sentiments are tinged with regret. Jo has been a much-valued and trusted colleague for many years, especially since I took over as Head of the all-through school, Hessle Academy, in 2019. We have worked closely together since and I hope she has found the experience as rewarding and enjoyable as I have.

But time moves on and, essentially, Jo wants to run her own school and to make her own strategic decisions about how her school develops and I completely support her with that. She will be a big loss but, when the school re-opens in September, we will continue to provide great education and care for our pupils. We will begin the recruitment process for a replacement very shortly and I will keep you posted on developments.

Next week sees the interviews for a new Deputy Headteacher at Hessle High School. This is a new post brought about due to the rise in student numbers that we have seen in recent years. We have a very strong field made up of experienced leaders, internal and external, and this time next week, I will be able to let you know who has been successful. When commencing a process such as this, I am daunted by the responsibility we take on. It reminds me of the time in 2010 when I turned up at Hessle High for an interview to be an Assistant Headteacher. I was certainly put through my paces and I often wonder what would have happened to me and my career, if I had been unsuccessful on that day. It is doubtful that I would have become a Headteacher without the influence and inspiration of people such as Andrew Jolley, Mick Davison and of course Sarah Young who made up the leadership team back then. And now it is my turn, with my team, to make a decision on Tuesday which will transform someone else’s career and life. And of course, change the direction of the school in some way. It is a great responsibility and a deep privilege.

Last week, the Government published their Education White Paper, some of which was reviewed in the press. This is a pretty meagre document which pulls together a few policies that the Government were already pushing such as increased Academisation and more tutoring. Most school leaders, myself included, feel that this is a missed opportunity to build on some of the rapid innovations in technology that most schools have experienced to deliver some more ambitious changes to our schools system. But, sadly, not. The main headline was the demand for a 32.5 hour school week. The vast majority of schools offer this already and, where they don’t, it is usually due to a shortened lunch period. Once again, a headline with little substance. On the positive side, we are not facing huge turmoil in our system that we did some years ago when our exams and accountability systems were turned upside down and inside out at the same time. As a school that is already an academy, which offers tuition (but would like to do more) and which delivers 32.5 hours per week, there will be little dramatic change.  

Finally, with one week left until the end of term, I can report some positive news about Covid. The number of student and staff cases has dropped considerably in recent days and we are starting to see staff return to work. I was back on Tuesday and, fingers crossed, we should see most of our staff all back at some stage next week.  Their resilience never fails to amaze me and hopefully we can all go into the Easter break able to enjoy our holiday with friends and family.  I know that non-teachers always raise an eyebrow when we talk about the need for a holiday (I did the same before I joined the profession!) but twelve and a half weeks since Christmas has felt like twice as long and we’re just about ready for a break.  I know the students will be too.

Enjoy the weekend and take care. 

Have a lovely weekend

Mr Groak

Headteacher