Thank you to everyone who responded to the recent annual Bellevue parent survey, we really appreciate the time and effort you took completing this. Your feedback is invaluable and complements the feedback we receive via our regular contact with you. We use the data to support our future planning for the school and to help us track how we are doing against our current goals. As a new Head it is of particular value to me.
I am delighted to say that the vast majority of you are pleased with a significant proportion of what we are doing. We are delighted that 99% of parents agree or strongly agree that their child enjoys coming to school. That is by far the most important thing.
Strengths of Holmwood House
It is very rewarding to hear that 97% of families strongly agree and agree that the teaching helps their child to make progress and that 96% of parents strongly agree and agree that the school’s curriculum prepares their child for life in modern society. As you know I have been working with the team here, and outside experts, to develop our curriculum (what we teach) and have some exciting announcements regarding this work coming after the holidays relating to Reception to Year 4. The Years 7 and 8 curriculum is also being reviewed to focus on being the foundational years of secondary education, stretching them on from foundational elements of a primary education. The introduction of Century Tech has been one part of this journey. We are also adding some super teachers to the staff body for next year, selected from excellent fields. Valuing academic rigour does not mean we become an academic ‘hothouse’, it means as teachers rigorously supporting our pupils to achieve the best they can through a high quality curriculum offer, helping the pupils to improve, balancing challenging and carrying them, while still encouraging them to throw themselves into the co-curricular life of the school.
Sitting in the three performances of Ali Baba demonstrated why 98% of parents strongly agree that the school helps their child to be confident and independent. Their joyous performance of such a fun play was exciting to witness. Walking around the campus and young people rushing up to talk to me without fear or doubt shows how confident and independent our young people are. The overnight stay and wider curriculum offer we have here compared to many other schools is critical to this. Pupil voice is effective when you have confident children, 97% of parents strongly agree that the school listens to and responds to the views of pupils.
Holmwood passionately values diversity and the importance of supporting each other/working together as a community, and we have a staff team committed to encouraging these, but we see and hear of the occasional times that children don’t treat each other with respect, it can feel that the messages have not hit home. This leads us to lose sight of the fact that for the vast majority of time they do treat each other with respect!! This is why 98% of parents strongly agree that the school ensures that the pupils treat each other with respect, and actively promotes respect and tolerance; and 96% of parents strongly agree that the school actively promotes good behaviour. I am hugely grateful to the staff team for all their work here. The culture of the school is wonderfully supportive and an important part of its DNA. I know, too, that there will always be more to do here and Mrs Bradbury is completing a project for the Leadership Team on diversity which will involve talking to parents.
I am grateful for the support I have received from the school’s own leadership team and the Bellevue Education team for their endeavours this year. I have worked hard, since I started in September, to meet as many people as possible, respond to your concerns, and share my vision for the school. To all of us it is heartwarming to know (and none of us take this lightly) that 96% of parents feel that the school is governed, led and managed effectively.
Areas for Improvement
You also highlighted in your written feedback some areas where you felt we could improve our offering, the vast majority of these we had already highlighted ourselves as areas where there was room for improvement, and are already taking steps. I am outlining here some of the steps we are already taking and appreciate all the other useful information provided which we will bear in mind as we move forward.
There is already a full review of the reporting and parents’ meeting structure ongoing. I found the grade descriptors as challenging as you to work with. We intend to consult with the staff and the parents on a new model mid next term for use in the following year. It will involve (I hope) you receiving more comprehensible data and having better opportunities for dialogue. The framework for parents’ meetings, i.e. the number of minutes per appointment, will also be clearly laid out to prevent any mistakes as happened this year. I apologise for the frustration caused with this.
Communication with parents is also being reviewed already. We have taken steps to make staff more accessible and available but recognise this is not enough. Mr Cook is carrying out a review of the rewards and behaviour policy with a major focus on communication regarding disciplinary matters. We are also investigating a communication app so that all school emails will go to one app, so they are not missed in your inbox. In my last school this took three years to introduce, I hope to get this in place much quicker. We will also review how the calendar is displayed and updated.
One area that also drew some attention is the site, and again work is planned. As regards security, we have a fantastic (external) CCTV network that people may not know about, and are over the holidays adding some more gates. I am keen to add to the fencing over time as the site develops. Over the Easter break a major project will take place involving painting of the outside of the Jubilee Hall and the ground floor of the Main House. Over the course of next year we will carry on this work, painting and re-carpeting around the school. The repaint of the School Room, opposite the front office is almost complete, and the cellars will be restored for the use of the boarders over the Easter holidays. We are with builders and quotes on the redevelopment of the Stable Block area for the stage one of the 13+ move, expanding the Science labs (for all), refreshing the upstairs area, and on a designated ‘grown up’ outdoor space.
We have begun a review of our sporting provision to enhance what we offer – which is already very good. Next term we have a fantastic female coach joining us from Piri Piri to work with girls and boys. We have also appointed a full time PE teacher who is a netball and hockey specialist in Mrs. Earley, and are looking at ways we can enhance our girls’ sport provision, including formally requesting to use the Garrison Astro. We are also going to structure the coaching of sport differently next year, with only two year groups on sport at once so that our very best coaches can focus on fewer children. Please can I reassure you that Wednesday afternoon matches remain sacrosanct for Years 5-8, and I look forward to hosting you in perpetua for those!
I really appreciate the time it took you to complete the survey and can assure you that responses to each question have been carefully reviewed. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the survey results, please do not hesitate to contact me.