Hello and welcome to the first Headteacher blog from me here at Hitchin Girls’.
As the past 18 months have been so disrupted for us all, we haven't always been able to communicate with parents as often as we would like, and when I have written to you, it has often been about Covid, safety plans and arrangements for bubbles, masks and the like.
I have decided that it would be helpful to share, on a weekly basis, some of the day- to-day things that are going on here at Hitchin Girls’, and also to celebrate the great things that are happening around the school. So I will be writing one of these each week, which will be sent out to you on a Friday. Writing a blog is new for me so wish me luck - here we go!
It has been so lovely this week to be able to have people back together face-to-face here in school. We began the term on Wednesday and Thursday with our staff INSET training days, and it was great to have the whole team in the Main Hall on Wednesday morning - the first time we have all been together in a room for a year.
There was a real buzz in the room as we prepared for the year and made progress on developing our School Improvement Plan. As part of this, there was a lot of planning for extracurricular clubs and events, trips, assemblies and other activities, which will enable our students to mix with different groups and to work with those who are older and younger than them in the school.
One of the main points for discussion was how we promote our school culture, ethos and expectations as we all return next week. What is so important for me is that we can go back to a much more normal way of working. This will include reminding all of our students just what it is that makes Hitchin Girls’ School so special, and us all working together to celebrate the activities and traditions that we hold so dear. I was very pleased to be able to meet with most of the staff in small groups over the two days to discuss this, and other aspects of what will keep our provision and experience exceptional for the whole school community.
Today (Friday) we have, at last, welcomed our new Year 7 Class of 2021 to the school. As I am writing this, they are busy around the school getting to know people and places, and finding out just how things operate here. Having them in now, before the main body of the school returns, really allows them to get to know us in their own space and time, and will set them up well for the term.
We also welcomed our Sixth Form students back, and we have a record number starting in Year 12 this year. I have been able to visit most of the Year 12 and 13 forms today, and it is lovely to see them and to welcome those who are new to the school. All the students look very smart, and really set the tone and standard for the rest of the school. I know that many of them are very keen to take on roles that will allow them to work with students lower down the school as we have done in the past. Our Prefect teams will have different responsibilities this year, and we will also be relaunching our Learning Champion scheme, where students offer assistance around the school to support each other in their learning across subject areas.
The Covid testing centre in the school gym opened on Wednesday afternoon. So far Years 13, 12 and 7 have had their first tests, with Year 10s arriving in groups today for theirs. This will continue next week, and I am very grateful to Mr Hankin and his team of volunteers who are administering all of these tests.
We have also been issuing Chromebooks to our Year 7 and 10 students this week - a reminder that they need to be brought into school on Monday morning ready for use please.
The summer holiday has been time for us all to have a good rest, and for some of our staff to celebrate significant birthdays, the arrival of new babies in their families, engagements and even a wedding. There have also been some more difficult times for some, and we are thinking of them as we return.
We also have a number of new staff joining us this year. Miss Emmanuel (Classics), Mr Beardmore-Crowther (History), Miss Benmoussa (MFL), Miss Harris (MFL) and Miss Murch (PE) joined us in July, and this week we also welcomed Mr Backhouse (History), Mr Collins (IT support), Miss Connolly (Dance & PE), Miss Hobbiger (Psychology), Mrs Kirtland (Maths), Mrs Lambert (Admin & Reprographics), Miss Mills (Learning Support), Mrs Nakamura (Admin - Digital & Media) and Mrs Woods (Library & Digital Learning Resources).
The number of staff reflects the continuing expansion programme in the school, and I am delighted that we have been able to fill all our posts for this year.
That, I think, is all for this week. I am looking forward to sharing our news with you all, and wish you well for the start of the new school year.
Mrs Frances Manning, Headteacher