Letter from the Headteacher (2022-23) 6

A bend in the road

I do hope that this half term break has provided some quality time for you and your family. We’ve much to focus on in the coming weeks and months, in particular those preparing for external examinations. This time can be quite overwhelming for young people, for whom coursework completion and revision can feel ‘just too much’. Yet, it is in taking the first steps that the other steps become clearer. As Author Roy T. Bennett put it, “Failure is a bend in the road, not the end of the road. Learn from failure and keep moving forward.”

We also have a great deal to be excited about: from Careers Fayre to St David’s Day celebrations – from Passiontide activities to national sporting competitions – there is a busy term ahead!

Failure is a bend in the road, not the end of the road. Learn from failure and keep moving forward.

Industrial action

Next week, the National Education Union (NEU) will take strike action after rejecting a below-inflation pay offer made by the Welsh Government. As before, this strike is part of an ongoing national dispute involving a range of public sector trade unions and does not concern any issues relating to our school. However, as a large number of our staff will remove their labour on this day, we will be unable to operate the school safely.

Therefore, the school will be closed to all pupils on Thursday 2 March 2023.

As always, work will be available via Hwb to ensure continuity of learning and progress. If progress in talks is made I shall, of course, update you.

School uniform

Please make every effort to ensure your child attends school in the correct uniform. We are experiencing particular difficulties in children refusing to wear black shoes to school and would appreciate your help in putting this right.

Last year, the Welsh Government produced welcomed statutory guidance on school uniform. This guidance focuses on cost and affordability as well as consultation with learners and families. We know that the school uniform, in its present form, is unpopular. We also know that nobody agrees about what school uniform should be! Therefore, we are committing to a year of consultation with stakeholders at all levels to consider what changes, if any, we might like to make. This work is underway and we will be reaching out to you soon to gather your views.

However, our school uniform remains the same – for now. The earliest any change would come into effect is September 2023 and, after a further year of transition, only enforced from September 2024. Look out for future questionnaires!

Attendance and punctuality

Like all schools in Wales, we are also facing challenges in maintaining high levels of post-pandemic attendance and punctuality. A child’s success at school is likely to be affected negatively if their attendance is poor. Those who do not attend regularly fall behind in their learning leading to feelings of frustration and unhappiness. However, every case is different and we will always try to support families to improve the situation.

Please support us by ensuring that your child has arrived on site by 8.30am, ready for their first lesson at 8.40am. We are now developing new tracking systems for monitoring within-school punctuality and this will enable us to report concerns to you more effectively going forward.

I should point out that, in almost all circumstances, holidays during term time will not be authorised. After so much school closure, every lesson really does count. If you do intend to request a leave of absence for your child, you must do so in writing to me at headteacher@stteilos.com.

Keeping in touch

Parents and carers are encouraged to be in regular contact with us. Unfortunately, we are experiencing a number of interactions with parents who can be aggressive and threatening. This, of course, cannot be tolerated so I remind you of the importance of interacting with school staff politely and calmly. The principal points of contact are:

You are also invited to contact me directly by emailing headteacher@stteilos.com. Please do remember that staff are unlikely to be available without notice in person or by telephone (they are busy working with children); email is by far the most effective way to contact us!

Cost of living

I know that many families will be deeply concerned by the increasing cost of living. If you are struggling, please reach out to us and we will help however we are able. 

We have also seen a reduction in the numbers of children taking up the free school meals to which they are entitled. If you have questions or concerns about free school meals please contact me directly by email.

In addition, we are now able to provide free legal advice in partnership with Speakeasy Law Centre. If you are struggling and would benefit from legal advice about housing, debt or benefit appeals please get in touch with me. We will seek to arrange a meeting with a solicitor for you at the school, free of charge.

Important dates

The remaining term dates are:

  • Spring 2: 27 February 2023 – 31 March 2023
  • Summer 1: 17 April 2023 – 26 May 2023
  • Summer 2: 5 June 2023 – 24 July 2023

With our final INSET day on:

  • INSET 6: 17 April 2023

For Years 11 and 13:

  • Friendship photos: 14 March 2023

And for Years 10, 11, 12 and 13:

  • GCSE, AS and A2 exams: 15 May 2023 – 30 June 2023

Digital parent meetings remain on:

  • Year 7: Thursday 4 May 2023
  • Year 9: Thursday 30 March 2023
  • Year 10: Thursday 16 March 2023

And thus, we journey on together!

With every blessing,

Mr I Loynd, Headteacher