Headteachers' Newsletter

April 2022

Welcome to the Summer Term

Dear Families,

Welcome back to school and to our final term of the school year. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter break, wasn't it lovely to finally get some sun on our faces.

This term will see all of our students sitting their end of year examinations but none are as important as our Year 11 and 13 students, who within the next few weeks will commence their final examinations. Indeed, the first formal exams begin in earnest on the 27th April with our Language Speaking Exams. Our Science GCSE Examinations are on the 17th May, which includes our whole Year 11, and is the first core exam; our A Levels commence around the same time. This means our Year 11 students have very few school days left until all of them sit their first core examination, with many in Year 11 and 13 having sat examinations before this date. Study leave for Year 11 will commence on the 16th May and our Year 13's last day is the 27th May. I hope that they have all prepared thoroughly and left no stone unturned in pursuit of excellence. It would be easy for young people to use covid as an excuse for poor performance but all students across the country have been impacted and this will not be taken into account when the final results are being published in August; their performance is in their hands.

I wanted to finish with a a quote I came across over the Easter weekend (below) which sums up the messages I have been discussing with our students in my assemblies this week. This last two years and two terms have been exceptionally challenging and I think all of us can consider the message by Pope Francis being quoted and think about the way in which we work together and support each other to bring the best out of us and the students we all serve.

This is a longer newsletter than usual but there is some really important information as well as a number of items for consultation with parents so please read on and have your say.

Daniel Leonard


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Changes to our Mobile Phone Policy

You will know I'm sure from the news that the DfE has recommended to schools that they should ban mobile phones in schools. Idealistically I would be very happy to do so, however I know, having worked in a number of schools that logistically it is virtually impossible to manage, particularly with a school our size. We need to teach our students to use their mobile devices responsibly so that they do so inside and outside of the school gates and that is the responsibility of both the school and parents.

However, we are making changes to our policy with regards to phones in classrooms. Phones have always been banned in classrooms unless teachers ask for students to use them, but moving forwards we will be taking this a step further.

Research shows that merely having a mobile device near you distracts from your attention and in turn significantly reduces productivity and performance. Switching it off, having it in your bag or pocket makes little difference; the only way to reduce its impact is physical separation.

From Monday 25th April we will be trialling a system in Maths where students will be required to place their phones in pockets shown below, when they enter the classroom, they will receive them back at the end. This process will be managed by the teacher to ensure students devices are safe.

As students are not permitted to use phones in lessons, they will get their phones back at the end of the lesson, I hope that they will support this willingly, however refusal to do so will mean they are not permitted to remain in the lesson. We have phone scanners for those students who say they do not have a phone and sanctions will be put in place where students lie or refuse to comply with our requests.

I hope that parents will support this new policy as we know, based on research and experiences from other schools, that it will make a significant difference to your children's ability to learn and make progress in lessons. I have placed below a short video I shared with the students in assemblies which outlines one piece of research on the negative impacts phones have on learning.

There's a Cell Phone in Your Student's Head
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Additional phone information

During my Sixth Form and Year 11 assemblies this week I also discussed the research into using phones at night and the negative impact that can have on a persons mind and body. I have put another video link below which I thought parents may find useful.
How Your Smartphone Affects Your Brain And Body

Important Reminder

This is the time of year that students start to grow out of their uniform and parents don't want to purchase new uniform because their child is likely to grow over the summer. Our school policy is for the entire academic year and does not have reference to not requiring certain items of uniform because it is the summer term; parents sign up to our expectations when they choose our school.


Our biggest battle annually is trainers. I'd like to remind everyone of our rules relating to trainers which state that any student not wearing school shoes for any reason other than a medical reason, accompanied by a medical note, will be required to wear the school's shoes. Refusal to do so will result in the student being isolated.

Writing a note saying your child has grown out of their shoes is helpful but makes no difference to the school's rules and they will still be required to change into our shoes. We have high expectations of uniform, which is one of the reasons parents choose West Hatch for their children, please help us to uphold the standards you signed up to.

Pastoral Changes

As you may now be aware, Mr Nicholls who was Head of Year 8 has relinquished this pastoral role from Easter and will remain in school as a teacher until May half term when he leaves.

Mr Limon has taken over as Head of Year up until the May half term, after which time Mr Orton who is currently Head of Year 11 will be taking over as Head of Year 8. Mr Orton will then stay with the year group until they leave in Year 11. Unfortunately, Mr Orton is not able to lead the Year group until May half term because he will be responsible for the current Year 11 students until they leave for their exams.

Parents Feedback

We believe strongly in listening to the views of our community and we would appreciate it if you could spare a few moments to answer the short questionnaire on the link below by the 2nd May. This survey is confidential, it also has an additional question which forms part of our consultation for parents evenings next year and whether to keep them online or return to face to face meetings.

Change to School Day Consultation

Having had to adapt our school day as a result of covid restrictions for the last 2 years, we are now consulting on our permanent school day for September 2022 and beyond. We are always looking to change and adapt, looking at best practice across other schools to ensure we do our best for our students. As a result we are proposing a change to our school week so that four days mimic our previous school day, prior to covid, but on one day we have a slightly earlier finish to allow time for staff planning and collaboration, ensuring our departments are able to teach the highest possible quality of lessons across all staff. This is in line with other schools inside and outside of our area. There will be no loss to learning time for our students, they will merely lose one form time per week. Please see below the proposed outline of the school days. Please note the shorter day is likely to be Wednesday. If you would like to contribute to this consultation please email consult@westhatch.net by the 3rd May 2022.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

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Local Business Sponsorship for Year 7 Graduation Day

We are looking forward to hosting our Year 7 Graduation Day on Saturday 9th July after two years of COVID restrictions. This is a day where our Year 7 students and their families gather to celebrate their successful completion of the academic year with performances, awards and fun on our school fields.

We are seeking local business sponsorship to be able to hire bouncy castles, games and other activities for the event. If you, or a family member, works for a business who offers community event sponsorship – we would be delighted to hear from you! Please contact Victoria Schaefer, Deputy Headteacher, at vschaefer@westhatch.net to register.

As a sponsor you would be included in our programme for the day, have a poster displayed next to the activity you sponsored and your logo/name will be included on our press release material over social media.

With your help, I hope we will be able to hold an amazing event for our students after an incredibly difficult couple of years.

National Reading Champions Quiz

Two teams (A&B) from West Hatch took part in the National Reading Champions Quiz 2022 last term. This is an annual opportunity for enthusiastic young readers to go head to head with their peers to showcase and celebrate their knowledge of reading.

Both West Hatch teams competed against 22 teams from 13 schools in the area during the heats on the 17th March. All teams showcased their skilful ability to identify the characters, authors and titles of some of the most well-loved stories. The quiz consisted of 80 questions – eight different categories with ten questions in each.

Team A scored 56/80 and narrowly missed out as runners up but Team B scored an impressive 61/80 to be crowned joint winners with Harris Academy.

Team B will be awarded with a regional trophy and a £20 book token per student. They will now be heading to the grand final on the 25th May in London to compete with schools from across the UK where the winners will be crowned the National Reading Champions 2022.

Mrs Sheikh, school librarian said “As part of our World Book Day celebrations we entered this competition for the first time. The students were so excited to be taking part in a national competition and there was a real buzz around the library. It was great to see how both teams had prepared and worked together on this Quiz and they should all be extremely proud of their achievements. We can’t wait for the finals now!

Rotary Young Chef Competition

Well done to all the students that took part in the Rotary Young Chef Competition and congratulations to the following;

Winner: Steven Taylor

Second place: Best Dish: Beatrice Katz

Third place: Best Table: Harmony Harris

Thank you also to the Rotarians, who came in and judged, and Mrs Narwal, Mrs Barnard and Mrs Connolly for organising the event.

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Trip to Watch Hamilton

Our Drama Department took our future Year 11 A Level students to see our Alumni Jay Perry as the lead in Hamilton before the Easter break. They also took part in a Q&A with the cast after the show, to talk about future opportunities in the arts. Jay Perry commended our students on their professionalism and interaction with the cast. What a fantatsic experience for our students and thank you to Miss Kay, for organising the trip.

The Dance Show

I was once again blown away by the talent and hard work of our students and staff last half term while watching our annual dance show. This was the first live show for over two years and it was well worth waiting for. I'd like to thank all the students and staff involved in putting on such a magical event, all the time put into choreographing and rehearsing certainly paid off.
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West Hatch Spring Sporting Success


Quite remarkably 10 out of the 11 girls netball teams are through to the West Essex District Cup Finals having won their respective West Essex League and Netball Festivals. The successful teams will battle it out to win each grand final against the winners for the Harlow side of the district. ALL finals this year will be held at West Hatch and their new sports facilities.

A huge congratualtions to both Yr. 8 Ava O’Reilly and Yr.7 Felicity Russell who have both been selected to represent Essex County in netball. Ava has been selected for the u15 squad despite only being under 12 which is an amazing achievement.

Rugby Union

Mr McGarr was successful with his rugby teams in the District Cup Competition, held at nearby Wanstead RFC, both Year 7 and 9 teams won the Cup and the Year 7s finished runners up. We thank Wanstead RFC for their continued support and hospitality at these events.

In the prestigious Essex 7s Rugby Competition the Year 7s were runners up in the bowl and Year 9s reached the semi-finals only to be narrowly beaten by the eventual winners.


The Year 11 boys ended their excellent Essex Cup run with a loss in the Quarter-final to Southend. However, they have secured their place in the West Essex District final after a good league campaign.

However, it is the girls who take centre stage in the football department and Miss Huggins u13s and u15s both had super Essex Cup runs. Both were knocked out in the semi-finals recently with the u15s taking Shenfield School all the way to penalties after an exciting 2-2 draw in normal time. They have also been highly successful within the West Essex District. The Year 7s won their festival, whilst the Yr.8s and u16s were runners up in their respective competitions.


Festivals were held at West Hatch this year and the new sports centre provided the perfect arena to host the competitions. Year 8 and Year 7 both finished runners up in their festivals.


Gala’s were held at both West Hatch and Davenant for all years. Forest private school won both galas, but particular success to the Year 10/11 boys squad (Thomas Chittock, Lucas Mann, David Shutov and Ben Richards) who finished as winners in their Year 10 team event.

Individual Sporting Successes

Cross Country

The Cross Country squad ran in solidarity for Ukraine last term and covered a 5km distance around Chigwell and Woodford whilst wearing the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine.

A huge well done to Year 13 students Evie Aviram and Isabelle Smith who have ran their last ever West Hatch Cross Country morning club. The senior girls started running every week since 2015 and ended their stint on the runs on 31st March 2022. The club that begins every September and lasts until Easter, sees students get up for an early morning (7.30am) run around the local area, forests, roads and parks. Covering approximately 5-6km each time, their dedication, each week, is unmatched and it is estimated that they have run approximately 950-1000km during their time at West Hatch and they should be truly commended for their efforts.

Mr D’Silva and Miss Huggins who have run the club since the girls joined the school both said, ‘The girls have always attended and it has been an absolute pleasure running with them both. We have had many laughs since they joined and have run in all kinds of conditions. We hope they continue to enjoy keeping active and running for both their physical and mental health. We would love to see them complete a half or full marathon at some point soon and would be the first ones to support them with this. They will be missed by all the students and have been the best of role models for all’.

Target Team Success

Some of our Year 7 & 9 Target Team students recently attended a Tennis Workshop at the Deanes School in Benfleet. The group were able to learn new skills to help develop their tennis ability. The team worked alongside other schools from Essex to practice some core racket skills, how to throw the ball correctly as well as their underhand and overhand serving skills. All students who attended showed impeccable behaviour and a positive mindset for the day. They are hoping to put their new skills into practice in the Summer term.

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Love Lounge

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Love Lounge Event last term. Hopefully many of you managed to watch the show in person. However, if you were unable to make it then please click on the link below.
West Hatch High School - Love lounge 2022

Blood Brothers Workshop

Last term our Year 10 and 11 Drama students took part in a Blood Brothers Workshop run by Michael Southern from Stage-Ed. Michael was the lead in Blood Brothers in the Westend for 11 years and provided the students with a morning of acting and an afternoon of revision for their exam and an interview with the writer Willy Russell.

Michael was impressed with how many talended students we have at West Hatch and Miss Kay said she was really proud of how they held themselves with the upmost professionalism. Well done to our Yr. 10 and 11 drama students, what a great experience.

Are you Interested in Becoming a Teacher?

If you are interested in a career in teaching then please click on the link below for further information.


Alternatively for enquiries about the various routes into teaching through West Hatch High School, email swindsor@westhatch.net

Important Dates for the Diary

Parent Events

Wednesday 11th May - Upper School Awards Evening (Yr.11 & 13 Invite only)

Student Events

Friday 13th May - Yr.11 Leavers Day

Friday 27th May - Yr.13 Leavers Day

School Closures

Monday 2nd May - Bank holiday

Monday 30th May - Friday 3rd June - May half term

Our Students' Achievements

A Message from Hatice Zaman, our Senior Anti-Bullying Ambassador

As a Year 11 student now and a Senior Anti-Bullying ambassador at West Hatch High School, I felt it was important to promote the virtuous title after three years of experience, this role had taught me so much, and had been a blessing to be a part of. Whilst taking an influential role of a very prevalent issue in the world.

Spending most of our lives in school and majority growing up with a wider community of people all different and so similar in their our own, yet we call them our friends and class fellows. We were taught many things here, and that we take with us into the wider world; A very important part of this being: learning how to be excepting and understanding.

No one can stand around and say they haven’t witnessed bullying at one point in their life, nor can they say they haven’t made a remark you later regretted. However, we must understand that the role we play in society is one that’s vitally important for everyone’s wellbeing, that’s carried on throughout their lives. Bullying isn’t kind, but it is up to us to be mindful of its effects. Such a thing will remain pervasive in this generation and the next unless we break away from this vicious cycle.

That’s why I chose to uphold a title that made me keep an open heart and open eye to the wellbeing of others. I had learnt to notice when a ‘joke’ had gone one step too far. When someone had felt they had to just laugh it off – if it’s you being bullied or just witnessing it. That is why I urge everyone to speak up and have the guts to do so, for themselves and for others.

I had attempted to do this by taking greater steps in the promotion of the words ‘Anti-Bullying’ in the name of the West Hatch family; by bringing West Hatch to the attention of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who’s late mother had formed a campaign against bullying in her years (much of which inspired me in pursuing this role). A letter inviting them to our school, yet Covid took that away from us too.

So, I urge the student body of West Hatch to not be afraid of what anyone says about you, wear your title with pride and keep aspiring to be the good in society when it may be lacking at times. And feel pride in being a Senior Anti-bullying ambassador.

At West Hatch we are a family, a family is responsible for the upkeep of each other’s wellbeing and happiness. This isn’t a job for one person, but the job of a whole family. Making it the responsibility of the whole community to speak up and protect those that are too afraid to do so themselves.

So, I leave you all with a quote from a late legend,

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali


I know this has been a rather long newsletter but thank you for taking the time to read it. I hope that you have enjoyed hearing about all of the successes from our students both inside and outside of school.

Please do contribute to our consultations in this newsletter and complete the parent survey, we can only improve our systems and processes if we get feedback from our community.

The best of luck to all our Yr.11 and 13 students as they take their final steps towards their examinations. I hope they use this last few weeks wisely.

Daniel Leonard