Headteacher's Newsletter

February 2023

Welcome back

Dear families,

Welcome to the second half of the Spring Term 2023. The year seems to have flown by and we are already over half way through the academic year. Even more shocking is the fact that there is just under 80 days left until the GCSE/A Level examinations begin; time really does fly.

I see my newsletter as an opportunity to share student and school successes, provide you with important information but also to share some of the challenges my staff and I face on a daily basis.

As with all other Headteachers with whom I speak, we continue to be challenged by the impact of Covid, combined with the influence of the cost of living crisis and general social and political unrest nationally; working in schools is more of a challenge than ever and I worry about our ability to recruit and retain high quality staff if this trend continues.

I spoke to the Local Authority recently who told me that they had received the same number of complaints from parents across Essex in the Autumn Term as they had received in the entire academic year prior to Covid. Have schools across Essex got significantly worse? I would suggest possibly not, so why have complaints increased exponentially?

It is absolutely right that parents should raise complaints when schools get things wrong, as we all do from time to time, but if schools are going to manage the ever increasing challenge of students' behaviour and their ability to communicate respectfully to those around them, we all need to work together and work as a team because that will benefit everyone within the community. I am reminded while writing this introduction of the cartoon below; as a parent myself, it has helped me reflect on the accountability I put on my own children for their attitude and application in school, something I think will stand them in good stead moving forwards in their lives and careers.

I hope you find the rest of this newsletter interesting and informative and I thank you for taking the time to read it.

Yours sincerely

Daniel Leonard


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Thank you

Thank you to those families that have donated to support survivors of the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria. We have so far managed to raise just over £600. This will be sent to the Red Cross Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal.

If you would still like to donate then the item will remain open on Parentpay until Monday 27th February.

Also thank you to Jasmin Ceyhan, in Year 9 who was devastated when she heard about the earthquakes in Turkey & Syria. Her Turkish family live in the North of Turkey on the Black Sea, so they were thankfully not affected, but she wanted to help those that were, so she collected clothing donations from her local neighbours and close school friends, which she could donate to the cause.

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Love Lounge

Students from all year groups took to the stage for a 'Love Lounge' evening of music, dance and readings.

The audience were taken back to Christmas with the production including festive items which could not be performed by Year 7 students last December when the annual carol service had to be cancelled. There were numerous solo and group performances, along with dancing and readings with students introducing the student performers.

This was a tremendous show and I was overwhelmed by the talent of our students whether it be singing, playing instruments, reading poetry, dancing, presenting the evening or our excellent Tech Team supporting the event.

Thank you to all of our students for the dedication and commitment they have shown to rehearse and prepare and, of course, to our staff, most notably Head of Music, Ms Lord who produced such an outstanding show. Below are a few pictures from the event.

Please Be Considerate When Parking And Driving Outside Of School

Once again I remind families to park and drive safely outside the front of school. We have received many complaints from the residents of Cedar Park regarding parents parking directly in front of their gates, causing major access issues for the residents. Can parents therefore please refrain from dropping off at the Cedar Park entrance, and please do not perform three point turns in the middle of the road, which is dangerous and causes hold ups. If you have to drop off or collect your child from school then please park a little bit further away to ease the congestion at the front of school.

Goodbye to Mrs Lisa Barker

This week we say goodbye to Mrs Lisa Barker, the School's Business Manager, who is leaving West Hatch having joined the school in 2014.

Mrs Barker has been instrumental in improving the school through her leadership and devotion to her role. Many of our families will remember in 2018 when we announced we would be expanding the school and putting in place a significant building project to improve our facilities. It was Mrs Barker's relentlessness, knowledge, experience and refusal to accept anything but the best that meant we received such outstanding facilities; for this we will all forever be in her debt. The picture below was taken at the grand opening of the sports hall where Mrs Barker was presented with flowers.

However, Mrs Barker has not just supported the school's building development, she also cares deeply about our students, they are her driving force, and many of the young people in our care have benefitted because of her desire to break down barriers to success and provide them with every possible opportunity to be successful.

Mrs Barker will be missed by all of us at the school and I want to take this opportunity to thank her, on behalf of the Governors, Staff and families at West Hatch, for everything she has done to make a difference since she joined the school.

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Religion and Ethics Drop Down Event

Following on from Mr Windsor's email before half term. We are planning a drop down event on the 20th June for our Year 10 students. As part of this event we are hoping to run a seminar on Religion in the workplace and we would love to involve members of our wider school community.

We are looking for professional people, parents or other close relatives of students at West Hatch, who would be willing to be part of a panel to discuss the impact and relevance of your faith in your career. This would be followed by a Q&A with the students.

If you are interested in being involved or want to discuss and find out more details before committing, please email Mr Windsor on swindsor@westhatch.net: It would be helpful if you could give brief details of both your religious background/faith and your profession.

Parent Voice Meeting

The next Parent Voice meeting will take place on Thursday 23rd March at 6.30pm in the school library. All parents are welcome to join and discuss future events and have input into school life at these meetings. If you would like to attend please email Louise Chittock on lchittock@westhatch.net and include any items for discussion. Please remember this is an open forum so is not the place to raise personal concerns or issues but items should relate to whole school.

Important dates for the diary

Parent Events

Thursday 2nd March - Yr.9 Parents Evening (online appointments)

Thursday 9th March - Yr.8 Parents Evening (online appointments)

Thursday 23rd March - Parent Voice Meeting

Thursday 29th and 30th March - Dance Show

School Closures

Wednesday 22nd March - Early finish for marking

Friday 31st March - Early finish, break up for Easter

Holocaust Memorial Workshop

Some of our Year 12 Historians had the opportunity to participate in an inter-school workshop at King Solomon High School. They heard the powerful survival story of the late Lady Zahava Kohn and analysed the lessons that can be learned from the Holocaust and how these can be shared.

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PE Successes Last Term

U12 West Essex District Team Selections

Congratulations to Year 7 boys Alex Rodriguez and Bailey Clarke (pictured below) who were both selected to represent the West Essex District School Football Team in early January.

Following a successful and competitive trial of over 40 boys from West Essex and Harlow District Schools, they were chosen for the squad and played Cambridge United at St Ives Football Club, Herts. Unfortunately the result ended in defeat but team managers and Cambridge coaches were highly impressed with the performance of the boys. The aim now is to stay in the squad as the team enters into completive county fixtures next year and continue their steady football journey.

West Essex District Cross Country

Congratulations to Year 10 students Summer Maw, James Thake and Joshua Ssempiira (pictured below) who all competed for West Essex in the annual Essex Cross Country Championships at Writtle College in mid-January. The students were challenged with a gruelling course of over 3.8km and were amongst a pack of 60 strong runners from all over the Essex County. Summer placed 24th in her first run at this level, while James and Joshua came in at 40 & 51st respectfully. A well done to all involved.

UK Parliament Trip

Our A Level Politics students visited the Houses of Parliament last term. They toured the House of Commons and the House of Lords and they were lucky enough to watch some interesting debates. They also participated in a workshop and debated a key issue. This was a fantastic opportunity to see Politics in real life and to ask questions about the workings of Parliament.

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Our Students' Achievements


Thank you once again for taking the time to read this newsletter. I’d like to wish the very best of luck to all our Year 11 and 13 students who are taking their PPE’s in the next few weeks.