June 2024

The benefits of technology and particularly smart devices do not need enumeration; huge sums of money are poured into expounding their potential - it is now cliché to say that the average smartphone has more computing power than the computers which took humans to the moon.
That said, for some time now there has been growing unease amongst mental health professionals, sociologists and educators about the power of mobile phones and other smart devices. This unease has not just been rooted in our concerns about the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of our children; it began before then and has gathered pace, seemingly resistant to our attempts to alleviate it. The PISA data suggests that the western world has seen a decline, not just in educational outcomes since 2012, but reports students feeling increasingly lonely in school - the blame seems to lie with smartphones and their effect on young minds. The standard ripostes to these warnings are ones that have been deployed before by huge corporations; they are the argument of neutrality - mobile phones are just neutral tools, or that the complexity of the factors affecting mental health mean that it is overly simplistic to make the correlation-causation link. These two arguments have been expertly dealt with by greater minds than mine and the work of Jonathan Haidt, the Safescreens campaign and Policy Exchange make very compelling cases for “effective bans” on smartphones in schools.   
Mindful of the above, you will have seen that the Government issued non-statutory guidance inviting schools to ban them - there were many startled looks from schools because there are very few if any that permit unfettered mobile phone usage. As ever at HBS we intend to go ‘beyond Outstanding’ and will introduce an effective phone ban by introducing Yondr Pouches for all pupils in Year 7 to 11 and then rolling this into Sixth Form in the academic year 25/26. We have wrestled with it for some time and have been buoyed by many parents writing in or meeting with Tim or I to express enthusiastic agreement with this course of action. The Trustees were in full agreement with it and some have been in to offer suggestions, volunteer for the roll-out and point us in the direction of organisations and research that support this change. 
Many of you will already have heard of Yondr - they are in over 3,000 schools worldwide and invite you to join an ecosystem which commits to creating phone-free spaces. Testimonials from their partner schools (even the students) provide real proof of the impact of creating such a space, and they also bring with them nearly a decade of experience in dealing with the cunning of teenagers - think dummy phones, breaking pouches open. We have every confidence that they are well placed to work with us.
We intend to launch it the week beginning 15th July to soften the blow and, of course, beta test it before the return in September. On 15th July there will be a series of launch presentations to each year group by Yondr professionals and closer to the time we will be in touch with further detail about this.
We recognize that there will inevitably be a flight to Chromebooks and, whilst they too have proved invaluable and are indeed a useful tool, we will be doing further work around striking a balance and curating the vast amounts of information available through those portals. Mr Monks and Mr Rayner and their Teaching and Learning team will be working on this over the coming year.
In the meantime, please do continue to reach out to us. If you want to share any further thoughts or suggestions. I can be reached on dajagbonna@hitchinboys.co.uk.
Mr Ajagbonna, Deputy Head, Pastoral

Coming up

Over the next few weeks

House points

As of 25 Jun 2024

School news

Our athletes make HBS history
History was made by our athletics squads this week: congratulations to both our Junior and Intermediate Athletics squads, who have qualified for the National Track and Field Cup Finals. Both squads won their Regional A finals and rank inside the top 10 in the country. This is the first time in the school's history that we have made the final at both age groups.
Special mentions on the day go to Y10s Hugo M-C for scoring 55pts and Dylan W 52pts, and Y8s Seb G 47pts and Tom M 48pts.
The final is on 6th July in Stoke, more details will be available shortly. This is a special achievement and credit to all the students for their hard work and dedication. Thank you also to the staff supporting the squads this year.
Mr Cornell, Head of PE

The Junior squad

The Intermediate squad

House Update - not long to go!
With only four weeks to go the House competition continues to be very close – it is hot at the top! In June Mattocke achieved the most reward points, with Skynner second and Pierson just pipping Radcliffe for third place. This means that although they had dropped to third overall last month, Mattocke have just moved ahead in June. There are less than 10 points separating three Houses at the top:

Mattocke 263
Pierson 258
Radcliffe 254
Skynner 179

Although we are almost at the end of the academic year, there are lots of House points still to win. The House Quiz will be for all forms on Founders’ Day. A big thank you to Mrs Baugh for creating activities for our special day. Also on Founders’ Day, House points will also be up for grabs for the Egg Drop and Apprentice activities. Not only that, but the annual Swimming Gala will take place at Hitchin pool on the same day - good luck to all taking part.
Next Wednesday, before we all get election fever, the students will be competing in Sports Day on the school field with everyone out to spur on their Houses in the afternoon and heats run all morning by the PE staff. This is a big points day for the House competition!
Finally, we have the MFL Big Bake Off, the results of the History and Geography competitions, summer sports results, attendance points, House chess and House films still to come, as well as all the R3 and R4 reward points.

The final House results will not be announced until the last day in school. Still lots to play for!
Ms Rogers, House Coordinator

Who will win the Times Shield this year?

Chess Competition
On Sunday 9th June we took a group of young chess players to the Delancy Chess Megafinal in Cambridge. For many of them it was their first experience of playing competitive chess. It can be quite a daunting experience of no talking and timers!  Across the day they played six games each, with players of different abilities, including those who already had a chess ranking, and were seriously good! The competition was tough!
Although we didn't get through to the second round, I was proud of the sportsmanship and resilience the boys showed throughout the day. We hope for better things next year. Many of those competing were from private schools or chess clubs, and I think we did very well. Well done to all the boys who took part!
Mr Mat Wilson, Chess Club organiser

Well done to the students who took part

HPG Humanities project
This year, our Humanities High Performance Group students were tasked with investigating the broad topic of ‘Japan’, with the choice of narrowing their focus to Geography, History or Religious Studies. Students were able to produce a project on their research, with the flexibility to present their findings however they wished. Submissions this year included essays, slideshows presentations, podcasts, models, posters, documentaries, interactive computer games and more! Over 115 students took part in the project this year, taking time outside of normal classroom hours to extend their learning. 
The Humanities Faculty was so impressed with all of the submissions, and the outstanding level of hard work that went into producing so many of the projects. All of the projects were displayed in an exhibition, where students, staff and parents were able to appreciate them. This year we have some of our Humanities HPG students gaining Bronze, Silver, Gold and even Platinum badges in Geography, History and Religious Studies! Next year we will be tasking our HPG group with a new and exciting project, and we can't wait to see what they come up with!
Miss Pickton, Geography Teacher

The theme was Japan

Students produced some fantastic displays

Aaron P with his certificate

The Humanities Faculty were impressed with the entries

Library News
Carnegie Book Award
The award was announced this year on Thursday 20th June. The Library has copies of all the shortlisted books and you can have at look at them here: https://yotocarnegies.co.uk/writing-shortlist-2024/
And the winners are…
The Medal for writing - Joseph Coelho The Boy Lost in the Maze
Shadowers’ choice for writing - Tia Fisher Crossing the Line
The Medal for illustration and Shadowers’ choice - Aaron Becker The Tree and the River
For more information about the Carnegie awards for writing and illustration, please have a look at the website:
Returning books
As we approach the end of the school year, please remember to return any library books by the first week of July. We will still send out reminders of any books that are overdue, but please come and see us if you can’t find it.
Mrs Baugh and Mrs Rushton, Librarians

The shortlist

Soloists' Summer Recital
Earlier in June the Music Department delivered a splendid evening of solo music for our Recital Evening, with many wonderful performances from students in Year 7 all the way to Year 12. There were some great renditions including numbers such as Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer, Allegro from Autumn by Vivaldi, The Pirate King from Gilbert and Sullivan and an arrangement of Hysteria by Muse. Well done to all the students involved!
Mrs Bustard, Music Teacher

There were some fabulous performances!

Art and Photography Showcase
This week the Art Department are hosting their end of year Art and Photography showcase, from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday 25th June. Come and celebrate the success of our GCSE and A level students - refreshments will be provided. This year there will also be a small showcase of work from our current year 9 students, who have selected art as an option for the upcoming academic year.

The showcase is on this week

Join Book Club!
HBS Book Club has continued to meet monthly at Kite at the Red Hart on Bucklersbury. We have discussed a very diverse range of books from around the world. We are a friendly group of staff, parents and ex-parents who enjoy getting together and chatting about the books we've read. We're always delighted to be joined by new people (and we haven't always all read the whole book!). Dates are on social media, or email hseabrook@hitchinboys.co.uk for more information.

Why not join HBS Book Club?

Summer Activities
HBS Sports Centre will be running several clubs and activities for a range of ages this summer holiday, including gymnastics and trampolining (ages 6 - 16), mini sports (ages 3.5 - 6), GTD (5 - 12) and general trampolining (ages 5 - 100!) 
Details of these and other local activities taking place in the holidays can be found over on our intranet site here.

HBS Sports Centre

HAPpy Camps
Half term may not long have finished, but the summer holidays will creep up fast. For some families, particularly those on low incomes, it’s a time that can add extra pressure, with more meals to provide and seemingly endless hours to fill.
HAPpy Camps are provided here in Hertfordshire as part of the Department for Education’s Holiday Activity and Food Programme. They offer free fun, food, and physical activity for children and teens who get benefit-related free school meals. All camps are SEND-inclusive, with SEND-specific camps also available for those with more profound needs.
HBS have sent out HAPpy Camp codes to parents who are eligible to book the summer camps. Booking goes live shortly, so if you have received a code from us, here's what you can do to prepare for the summer:
  • If you haven’t already watched the video about HAPpy Camps to find out more about the sort of things on offer for your child or teen, then take a look here: https://bit.ly/SE2S24HAPpyVideo
  • Make sure you’ve made a note of your unique booking code.
  • Bookmark the bookings page so that you have it ready for when bookings go live from midday on 27th June – it can be found at https://bit.ly/SE2S24BookHAPpy
  • Start thinking about any particular needs your child may have, so you can let the camp providers know when booking (this can include behavioural challenges or SEND needs, whether formally diagnosed or not). This video will help you think about the sort of things Happy Camp staff need to know https://bit.ly/SE2S24HAPpyBookingTellUs

HAPpy Camp bookings go live soon!

Revision Guides
Please consider recycling any GCSE or A Level revision tools. Lots of families cannot afford to buy all of these, if you are about to throw any of them out please drop them into reception for the attention of the pastoral team who will loan/gift to those who will need them. 

Please donate unwanted text books if you can

Y10 Sheringham/Cromer trip
As part of the Geography GCSE, 106 Year 10 Geography students, split into two groups, undertook two days of fieldwork in Sheringham and Cromer in North Norfolk earlier this month. These locations have provided them with the opportunity to conduct both physical and human geographical enquiries. We set out in a coach and spent the day investigating how effective coastal management is in Sheringham. We visited four sites, looking at what coastal engineering strategies were in place at each and the cost and benefits of these. At our first site, we visited revetments that were put in place in 1976 - it was evident these were no longer being maintained and students considered the reasons for this. Slightly further along the coastline, in front of the town of Sheringham, many coastal management techniques could be seen, including rock armour, rock and wooden groynes and sea walls.
At each site, students conducted wave surveys to discover the height and frequency of them and also completed bipolar surveys on the management strategies to gauge how effective they were at protecting the coastline. Students also conducted groyne profile surveys, completed field sketches in two contrasting locations and a land use survey in the town to ascertain what was being protected. They had the opportunity to explore the town and buy some chips and ice cream whilst conducting their land use survey. Later that day, we walked to the YHA Sheringham, to check into our rooms - some of the students were happy to find there was a pool table and a fully stocked vending machine! That evening we had dinner and completed some evening work, as well as heading to Tesco to stock up on snacks!
The next morning, after a cooked breakfast, we headed to Cromer to investigate to what extent the town has been influenced by tourism. This involved students creating and conducting a questionnaire to members of the public, completing another land use survey and conducting pedestrian counts. Students will use all the data they collected to complete the enquiry process back in the classroom. This will involve them presenting their findings from both enquiries, concluding their investigations and evaluating the successfulness of their investigations. These trips have provided them with the opportunity to get out into the field to learn about coastal landscapes whilst also enabling them to complete enquiries ready for their Paper 3 exam at the end of year 11. Well done to all of our Year 10 Geographers!
Mrs Graham, Head of Humanities

Students visited Cromer and Sheringham

They studied coastal management techniques

They also completed a land use survey

Students collected useful information

Is your child entitled to free school meals?
Hertfordshire County Council are advising parents to check whether their children could be eligible for free school meals. Your child can get a free school meal if you receive any of the following:
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (as long as you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and you don't get more than £16,190 a year)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit (with annual earned income of no more than £7,400 after tax and not including any benefits you get).
You can apply at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals. If successful, your child(ren) will get a free school meal every school day and a £60 food voucher for
the summer holidays.

For every eligible child, your school also gets over £1,000 from the government which can be spent on education and support for children entitled to free school meals – this is called pupil premium. Please consider applying if you are eligible.

Is your child eligible?

Supporting Links Autumn Courses
Local organisation Supporting Links have published a list of their family courses running during the Autumn term. They include Talking Dads, Talking Anxiety, Talking Teens, Talking Additional Needs, Talking Anger in Teens and Talking Families. Each course runs over 6 weekly sessions and is offered FREE of charge to parents thanks to funding from Herts County Council, although eligibility criteria apply. A list of all courses can be downloaded below, and more details can be found on their website here.


Talking Teens is one of the courses on offer

Talking Anxiety is another

Hitchin Festival Event
As part of this year's Hitchin Festival, on Sunday 30th June from 4pm-5pm there will be a musical event for children at Holy Saviour Church, Radcliffe Rd. A Living Museum of Sight & Sound will be presented by Queen Victoria's Consort, an ensemble of leading brass musicians who specialise in bringing to life a museum quality collection of original 19th century musical instruments.
This will be a workshop for children and families, giving them the chance to see and hear historic instruments, played by musicians dressed in their Victorian "Sunday best".  It promises to be a fun and informative experience. Tickets cost £5 for children (accompanying adults are free); avai;able on the door, or from the HItchin Festival Box Office: hitchinfestival.co.uk
From 5pm-6pm Queen Victoria's Consort will give a concert of Victorian popular music, A Victorian Soiree. Tickets are £12 for adults, children free, bookable via the link above.

Queen Victoria's Consort

Cogs Neurodiversity App
The Cogs neurodiversity app is a diagnosis agnostic, mental wellbeing app created for and by the neurodivergent community. The app helps users to navigate their day, understand neurodiversity and build positive habits. Hertfordshire County Council have partnered with Cogs to grant Hertfordshire residents over the age of 14 access to the Cogs app, which gives you community-sourced information about neurodiversity and practical tips for how to manage it day-to-day. Visit the website here and fill out the linked form to register for a code.

Register for free with Cogs

Gold D of E success
Congratulations to Year 13 student Edward S, who has completed his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. Ed received his award on Monday 13th May in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Well done Ed!

Ed in Buckingham Palace gardens

School Uniform
Please consider donating any outgrown or unwanted HBS school uniform to us to benefit families with students starting here in September. Items can be dropped into Reception between 8am and 4pm. Thank you for your support!
Plastic Free Hitchin have scheduled two pre-loved school uniform sales, where uniform for local schools can be picked up for a fraction of the price. Sales will take place in HBS Dining Hall on Saturday 13th July and Saturday 31st August, from 9.30am till 12.30pm. Follow Plastic Free Hitchin on FaceBook for confirmation of participating schools.

Items can be dropped into Reception

Save the dates!

Home Upgrade Grant
If your home was cold last winter and you struggled to pay your bills, you might be eligible for free-energy saving improvements. North Herts Council is raising awareness of the government-funded Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2 (HUG2) which is open to home-owners and private tenants in:

? Homes not heated by mains gas which includes oil, coal, LPG or only electric heating.
? Households with a combined annual income of less than £31,000; receiving an income-related means-tested benefit such as Universal Credit or there is a child living at the premises eligible for free school meals due to low income. Households in North Herts, which has been prioritised for funding, will also be eligible.
? Hard to heat homes – this is based on your home Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Families will be helped with this part of the assessment.
You may be offered energy saving improvements to help cut your energy bills and reduce your carbon emissions. These could include:

? Insulation and ventilation upgrades (to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer).
? A low carbon heating system such as an air source heat pump (which will mean upgrading any gas or oil boiler).
? Heating controls which make sure you only use heat when you need it.
? An energy efficient hot water solution to keep your water warm for longer.
? Solar panels (PV) to generate free electricity.
? Energy efficient lighting which is cheaper to run.
To apply or find out more, visit https://www.north-herts.gov.uk/home-upgrade-grant-phase-2. Please share this with family, friends and neighbours who you think may also be eligible.

Are you eligible?

Apprenticeships Latest
The June issue of the Parents and Carers Pack can be downloaded here. If your child is interested in a career working with animals, they may be inspired by the apprentice stories featured on pages 3 and 4, or the T Level Animal Care and Management information on pages 5 and 6.
Tesco's Stronger Starts Retail Apprenticeship programme offers young people the chance to develop new skills and gain a Level 2 National Standard in Retail – with no qualifications or experience needed! Applications opened on Monday 24th June 2024.

Children's Concert
Hitchin Symphony Orchestra is holding a concert for children on Sunday 30th June, from 3–4pm at The British Schools Museum. This fun and informal concert is designed for children and their families, featuring accessible and short orchestral classics:
Mozart: 1st movement from Symphony No. 40
Percy Grainger: ‘Country Gardens’
Tchaikovsky: excerpt from Swan Lake
Shostakovich: Waltz No. 2 from Suite for Variety Orchestra
Grieg: ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ from Peer Gynt
Beethoven: Romance No. 2 in F for Violin and Orchestra (soloist Janet Hicks)
Johann Strauss Sr: ‘Radetzky March’
Haydn: Finale from Symphony No. 45 ‘Farewell’
During the performance children may sit on the floor at the front for close-up views of the musicians. Tickets are £10 per adult and £5 per child (under 3s free) and are available from Hitchin Information (1A Churchyard) and www.ticketsource.co.uk/hitchin-symphony

The concert takes place on 30th June

Junior Triathlon
The Atom is the children's version of the main Hitchin Triathlon and takes place on Sunday 7th July. It involves a 100m or 200m outdoor swim, a two mile bike ride and a one mile run. Open to 7 - 14 year olds, entries cost £22 and can be made via www.burnthare.com by 30th June 2024.

The Atom takes place next month