Letter from the Headteacher (2023-24) 6

Your whole heart

Ash Wednesday – this year the Wednesday of the half term break – marks the first of the 40 days of Lent, a time dedicated to prayer, fasting and reflection. The late Henri Nouwen described Lent as a season to re-focus and to re-enter a place of truth. During this time of want and hardship for many, our focus on Jesus helps us to never forget that, with him, we have everything.

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart.

Measles

Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Sir Frank Atherton, is calling on parents and carers to ensure their children are fully vaccinated against measles and are up to date with their other childhood immunisations. Outbreaks of measles could become more frequent in Wales unless urgent action is taken to increase Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination across the country. Anyone of any age who has not yet had a vaccine, is urged to come forward and take up the free MMR vaccine as a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella. You can read more about the MMR vaccination here.

With whooping cough cases also on the rise in Wales, Sir Frank is encouraging all pregnant women and parents of young babies and children to ensure they’ve had their pertussis (whooping cough) vaccinations. Although whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease, it is highly contagious, with babies under 6 months being the most at risk. You can find out more here.

Dental Epidemiology Survey

Selected pupils in Year 7 will be taking part in a dental epidemiology survey in school on Monday 19 February 2024. The information that is generated is essential for both national and local oral health needs assessments and oral health strategies. Consent letters have been provided to those affected. If you do not wish for your child’s teeth to be briefly examined, please return the letter to us to withdraw your consent.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination

The HPV vaccine is offered free to all boys and girls who are aged 12 to 13 years (Year 8). HPV is linked to the development of a range of cancers and the vaccine is the safest way to protect against these diseases. Vaccinations will take place in the school on Wednesday 28 February 2024 and parents will be invited to provide their consent electronically in due course. Further information on HPV and the vaccine is available here.

Vaping

Figures from the School Health Research Network show that 20% of young people from year 7 to year 11 say they’ve tried vaping, with 5% of secondary school pupils in Wales vaping at least once a week. I rather suspect the problem may be even more pronounced than this.

Evidence regarding the health effects resulting from the use of vaping devices is very limited. However, vaping does put young people at risk of nicotine addiction, a dependency that impacts their education, behaviour and their daily life.

Vaping devices should not be used by children. It is illegal to sell nicotine-containing vaping devices to anyone under 18 or for adults to buy them on behalf of under-18s. Those selling or suspected of selling either nicotine vapes or tobacco products to under-18s can be reported anonymously to ‘No Ifs. No Butts.

School funding

I remain deeply concerned about the continued funding crisis in schools in Wales. Insufficient money has been going into the education system and it is estimated that school pupils in Wales receive up to £700 per year less than pupils in England. The impact of chronic underfunding is significant as school staff work harder with less. This unsustainable funding model will inevitably reduce quality, narrow choice and increase hardship on the school community. Something must change.

Parents and carers are encouraged to voice their concerns about the school funding crisis in Wales by writing directly to elected officials. You can find find your Member of the Senedd here.

Gingerbread Single Parent Group

Our School Priest, The Reverend Rose Hill, is leading a new parent group for single parents and carers. As a single parent herself, she is passionate about bringing single parents together across the community to build friendships and share experiences and coping strategies.

Gingerbread is a charity that aims to create a world where all single parents and their children don’t just survive, but thrive. They campaign against the injustices that single parents face every single day and challenge the stigmas around being a single parent. You can read about the charity here.

If you are a single parent and would like to join us for a cup of tea while your children play, please come along from 5pm to 6pm on the first Wednesday of every month (during term time). You can contact Mthr Rose directly here.

Catering

Our new catering team take the reins from Monday 19 February, with an exciting and improved menu. Parents and Carers should consolidate any debt on their ParentPay account to ensure that children can access food in school unimpeded.

No doubt, there will be some teething problems in the first few days of service and I am grateful for the patience of the school community in advance. Pupils will be instrumental in the design of the menu moving forward to ensure that our offer is fresh, tasty, healthy and filling.

To access your child’s school meal account, please click here.

School attendance and punctuality

The spring term is incredibly short this year, with an early Easter before us. As always, many important events take place particularly for those in examination year groups. Your child’s attendance to school is of the utmost important and every effort must be made to ensure they are present. Even when children feel a little unwell in the morning, they are often much improved after an hour or two.

Please do make sure that your child attends school on time and every day. Holidays must not be taken and it is the responsibility of parents and carers to provide their child with school equipment and uniform.

The tone for good learning and progress is set at home. We will do all we can to support you child but, unless they attend school every day, our impact will be limited. Please do your absolute best to make every lesson of every day count. You read more about school attendance here and you will find a reminder of the home-school agreement here.

As always, key dates can be found here and all updates are available here.

Things may be tough right now but, together, we can help your child to flourish and thrive.

As ever,

Mr I Loynd, Headteacher

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