July 2021

And so my first year of headship is complete. It has ended how it started, with Covid casting a long shadow across our community and again we have students who are unwell and a significant number self-isolating.
 
I have to say how sorry I am for the disrupted year that our boys have had. All have had to endure separation from their friends, a learning experience that was unusual and difficult at times and some have had to suffer illness or loss of those close to them.
 
I have to pay tribute to my staff during this time: with very limited additional resources from government, we have had to transform the way education has worked. When we were asked to put precautions in place such as bubbles and sanitising, we did so without fuss. When we were on the front line and put ourselves at risk with social distancing impossible, we stepped forward. When we were asked to perform hundreds of hours of contact tracing, often after hours and at weekends, we did so. When we were asked to switch to full remote learning, we changed the way we teach overnight. When we were asked to set up a mass testing hub, we did so with the help of an army of volunteers. When we were asked to become unpaid examiners and put together grades and over 2,000 student portfolios, we did this on top of the day job of teaching. When the boys needed to be fed, needed a laptop, or needed counselling and pastoral care to cope, we provided for those needs too.
 
As well as Covid management, we have achieved many of my early strategic goals. We have improved communication at all levels, with digital newsletters, social media updates and virtual parents evenings showing that there can be a better way. We have developed the HBS Values that identify the qualities and behaviours we expect. We have made a start on broadening curriculum choice, with exciting options in Media for GCSE. We have developed a new behaviour policy and a clearer system of Rewards and Consequences. We recognised excellence in teaching with Mr Thorp winning the Silver Teaching Award and a number of collegues highly commended. And we look forward to September when four year groups will have the digital learning tools in class (Chromebooks/laptops in sixth form) to be able to transform how lessons are delivered. The campus will see significant improvement with a refurbished science lab and Design & Technology studios, a new catering and study provision for year 13 in Woodlands, and a Counselling Suite where students can get the support that they need from our team of internal and external counsellors and coaches.
 
And looking forward, we hope that House competitions, the Arts and Trips can return, as they are key parts of what makes HBS a great school. We have had some successes in cricket (county finalists in year 8) and athletics (five students selected to represent Hertfordshire at the English Schools Championships) but we are looking forward to the restoration of competitive fixtures in rugby, hockey and the vast range of sports we offer. We are even looking forward to welcoming Gino the therapy dog to support our boys and cheer us all up!
 
Thank you again for your support this year and the many emails and letters that have kept us going. And thank you for being patient with us while we adjusted. The world has become a more angry place, but the vast majority of our communication with parents has been measured and positive.
 
I wish you a safe and restful summer break. I can't promise normality in September, but as we have done this year, we will respond quickly and flexibly to deliver the best education that we can for your son in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
 
Mr Moane, Head Teacher

Coming up

Over the next few weeks

House points

As of 16 Jul 2021

School news

And the winners are.........?
Our end of term assembly and announcement of which house has won the Times Shield also has to be done in a different way this year. so Mr Moane has recorded an end of term assembly which you can watch on YouTube here. Congratulations to the winning house!

End of term Sports Awards
Although our end of term assemblies have been somewhat disrupted by Covid, the PE Department were still able to award their end of year prizes at separate year group assemblies this week. Congratulations to all the boys who were rewarded for their hard work and commitment over such a disrupted year. Winners photos below, and a full list of awards at the bottom of this article. There are more photos on the PE Twitter account, @HBSPE.
 

Year 7 Winners

Year 8 Winners

Year 9 Winners

Charity Update
Today we were able to make a donation of £313 to each of our charities for this year: Garden House Hospice, Save the Children and Show Racism the Red Card. Fundraising was constrained this year due to Covid-19, but thank you to the boys and parents who supported our charity events, including the Christmas Jumper Day (pictured above).

HBS Careers
Huge congratulations to Year 11 leaver Joe Gray who has already started his amazing apprenticeship with local company Fortem.  Good luck Joe, we are very proud of you for seizing this great opportunity!  Fortem have always been a great supporter of Hitchin Boys' School and are always keen to help us, so we are delighted with this pairing.
 
Whilst we fully support a restful summer after a hard school year please do not underestimate the importance of summer jobs - take advantage of summer work opportunities to build your skill base. Not all summer work must be paid work. Volunteering at a local non-profit employer is just as valuable to future employers as paid work. For more information have a look at @HBSCareersInfo
 
Mrs Rogers, Careers Co-ordinator

House Round-Up
There have been various House competitions which have taken place in the last few weeks. In addition to some of our more traditional competitions such as the House quiz and chess, we have had:
 
House MFL, where boys were invited to write haikus in French, Spanish or German. The winning entry came from Sebastian in 7O, Radcliffe House:
 
¡Ay, Nicaragua!
El país más bonito
Llena del alma.
 
The House History Essay Competition: What is the most important historical site to eventually visit? The winning entry was submitted by Fraser in 10MP, Pierson House. Fraser’s essay was about Blombos Cave - an archaeological site located in Blombos Nature Reserve, about 300 km east of Cape Town, South Africa. Fraser's winning esssay is attached below.
 
House English in the guise of the Foyles Young Poetry Competition. This was won by Felix in 7M, Pierson House. Felix’s poem is below.
 
Thank you to all of the staff who have run a house competition this year and well done to all of the students who have taken part.
 
Mrs Strachan, House Co-ordinator

Chromebooks
From September all students in the new Year 7 & 10 will be bringing a touchscreen Chromebook as part of their school equipment. We will be rolling this programme out to our other year groups. Details of this will come out with plenty of notice and information.
 
Thank you to everyone who has signed up on the portal and to those who have let us know that your son will be bringing his own touchscreen Chromebook in September. The window for using the portal is now closed.
 
We have put together a group of students and teachers who will be our Digital Champions. They will offer weekly support, recommend apps and top tips. There will be after school support sessions, the first of which will look at Google Classroom. 
 
Here is a link to the resources we have already put together.

Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again. (It'll be September)
Apologies to William Shakespeare for the title!
 
That's it, another rollercoaster year! At the top you can see our Fantasy Drawing Club, a lovely group of Year 7s who have made the library their clubhouse. Thursday lunchtimes are a vibrant time here, as another Year 7 group have started their own sub - D&D club to keep them going until full D&D starts again in September!
 
Thanks to Mr Harriss in Tech we now also have a stunning bespoke chessboard to go with some lovely vintage chess pieces we were given, and both are getting plenty of use (below).
 
 
Our Carnegie Shadowing Group has morphed into a Friday book club, at the request of its members. We've just had two meetings so far, but expect it will flourish and grow in the new year. We are piloting with them our own version of the Summer Reading Challenge that many of you will have taken part in from Hertfordshire Libraries. Sadly, that only extends to 13 year olds, so if we get positive feedback from our booky guinea pigs, it's something we are thinking of rolling out for the whole school next year. However, this is just a reminder that younger students and their little siblings can still take part in the Summer Reading Challenge at your local library.
 
If you're looking for reading suggestions, here you can see some of our reading lists of books available in our library. By using the search option on the home page, you can also access our whole catalogue to see if we have anything to tickle your reading fancy. The Book Trust, who supply school libraries with an amazing selection of free books every year, also have some great recommendations if you need them. 
 
Graphic novels are always a great option for reluctant readers, or even just for a change. As well as the superhero comics you expect, many great young adult books now have corresponding graphics, and there is an almost bewildering array of graphic versions of classic literature if you fancy it!
 
Despite such a disjointed and disrupted year, we are thrilled that we have still had boys coming to borrow books and get involved with all sorts of activities. Who said teenage boys don't read?
 
Keep following us on Twitter, @HBSLibrary. Have a safe and happy summer break!
 
Mrs B and Mrs R
 

Young Reporters News Day
On Tuesday 6th July, 8 students in Year 7 took part in a 'live' news day. The day began with the students reading a range of news stories - local, national and international - before selecting those they wanted to report on, then writing a concise version of these stories suitable for television news reporting. Filming of their news stories in a 'news studio' setting then followed. Their ability to speak confidently in front of a camera was impressive, whilst behind the camera, the students dealt very competently with the demands of filming and editing. We hope to have a final version of the news report very soon.
 
Mrs Waller, English Department
 

Young Reporters discussing their stories in the Library

Y12 Geography Fieldwork Report
Last week, Year 12 Geography students did a weekend of fieldwork as part of the non-examined assignment that forms around 20% of the final grade achieved in Year 13. The first day was a trip to Epping Forest, where we looked at the water and carbon cycles, and how different processes work together in a woodland environment. This involved several investigations such as measuring the height of different tree species, comparing the permeability of open soil and grassland, and the interception of water by leaves and other vegetation. We used several sampling strategies, for example systematic and stratified sampling and began to justify the appropriateness of them.
 
The second day saw us going to Stratford in East London, where we focused particularly on the regeneration of the area as a result of the 2012 Olympic Games. There we tested and evaluated several methods such as pedestrian counts, land-use mapping and field sketches. These two days were preparation for a third upcoming day in which we will put into practice what we have learned and collect data in either location depending on the topic that we have each chosen.
 
Sam Boswell (Year 12) - Geography Prefect

School Production Auditions
We're so pleased to announce that our School Production of Sweeney Todd has been cast. 
 
This year was unlike any other, in that we held our auditions over a course of weeks to allow all students to audition within their year bubbles. Some students auditioned in person and some sent in videos, which were of impressive quality. All the students who auditioned worked incredibly hard under difficult circumstances and we're so proud of them all. 
 
Sweeney Todd will be played by George Adams (pictured) and opposite him as the formidable Mrs Lovett, will be Alex Bassindale. A full cast list can be found outside the Auditorium and all students who auditioned have been cast in either principal roles or as ensemble members. 
 
Well done to all who auditioned. Those students who have signed up for technical roles will be contacted in September. We can't wait to get started with rehearsals - it's been too long! 
Mrs Gale 

Brandon Braved the Shave!
Our May newsletter featured Year 12 student Brandon McCarthy, who was planning to 'brave the shave' to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Brandon went ahead with the challenge on 1st June, and you can see the results below. He raised a grand total of £310 for the charity. The fundraising page is still open for donations at https://bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk/shavers/brandon-mccarthy 
 
Well done Brandon!
 

Advice and support over the summer
Many students will be preparing to leave for university at the end of the summer, and Just Talk Herts have put together a Thrive and Survive Guide aimed at those students who will be leaving home for the first time. The guide can be downloaded here.
 
Other Just Talk services for teenagers include advice on looking after your mental health, with links to various confidential counselling services and other useful sources of support. You can visit their website here.
 
Hertfordshire County Council have produced a number of guides to help people who have lost a loved one during the coronavirus crisis. There are guides aimed at children, teenagers and adults and they can be found here.
 
Kooth is a free online mental wellbeing community for 10-25 year olds. They have an online magazine, dicussion boards and an online team available for live chats.
 
Under 19s can confidentially call, email or chat online to Childline about any problem big or small - Freephone 24h helpline0800 1111.
 
YoungMinds Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK for young people experiencing a mental health crisis. Text YM to 85258 for urgent help.
 
Families First is the name for early help in Hertfordshire. It is a way of getting extra support for your family to help you manage problems early on.Families First is available to all Hertfordshire families with children under 18 (25 if they have a learning need or disability).
 
There are also links to many other useful organisations on our dedicated Mental Health and Wellbeing Support page here.

Sixth Sense newsletter published
The latest issue of the Sixth Form newsletter, Sixth Sense, can be downloaded below.
 

Foyle Young Poets
Following the success of our Young Writers' short story competition, we invited boys from across the school to unleash their inner bard for the Foyle Young Poets competition. We have submitted 10 poems for consideration and just need to wait for the announcement of winners in the autumn.
 
There will be more English-related competitions running next year, so please look out for email announcements.
 
Ms Robertson
English Department

HBS Book Club - back in real life
Our parents' book club is back in real life, after 14 months in the virtual world. We meet once a month at Kite at the Red Hart and our last session of this year is on 21 July at 7pm.
 
Our book this month was a challenge - find a book in a charity shop to read. We'll probably revert to a selected book in September, but it's good to ring the changes. Feel free to join us and email hrobertson@hitchinboys.co.uk if you have any questions.
 
Ms Robertson,
English Department

Music Department News
This term, unfortunately, our summer concert had to be cancelled but we were able to finish our preparations for the Founders’ Day fanfare and Chamber Choir performance. The fanfare was performed by Peter Wilson and Lucas Kalabza (both Year 10) and their trumpet teacher, Dan Taylor, who is an alumnus of the school. The members of Chamber Choir sent in their recordings and the whole thing was mixed together by Michael Keefe, who was in Year 13 last year. Many thanks to Ms Hetherington for coordinating the rehearsals and Joe English (Year 11) for accompanying on the piano. 
 
Due to all of the cancelled events this year, we were unable to present students with their music cups and colours, so we invited our Year 13 students in so they could receive these items. Colours are awarded to students who have been consistently involved with the Music Department over their seven years at HBS. We also award the Stokes Taylor cup to a Year 13 student who has made significant contribution to the department and this year’s recipient of the award is Fraser Coles. 
 
We hope to run a full programme of ensemble rehearsals from September with a view to hosting our autumn concert in November and the Carol Service in December. We can’t wait to get back to rehearsing and performing!  
 
Mrs Strachan. Subject Leader, Music

Go Tiago!
Year 11 student Tiago is running 160km for charity throughout July in honour of his friend Kai who sadly passed away this year. He will be supported by his friends in Year 11 on some of the runs, and all the money he raises will be going to Tilehouse Counselling, a local charity that offers counselling to those who need it, as he believes that Kai would have wanted it to go to a charity that helps people. If you are able to sponsor Tiago, he has an account set up for donations at https://gofund.me/39be62ff

Aged 17+? Please keep getting tested!
The Hertfordshire Local Resilience Forum recently created a video about free rapid testing, which you can watch here. The video is aimed at 17-24 year olds in Hertfordshire in hope it will encourage them to get tested twice a week to help slow the spread of the virus. If you have children in this age group, please share the video with them and encourage them to get tested regularly, if they aren't already doing so.

Amazing Apprenticeships Parent Update
The July issue of Amazing Apprenticeships Parent Pack includes articles on getting work ready, T Levels in Construction, apprenticeships in technology, Post-16 support for students with SEND, the employer perspective with The Open University, life as a laboratory scientist apprentice and more! The pack can be downloaded here.
 
A brand-new introduction episode for the Parent Perspective podcast series is also now available to listen to. This new podcast series for parents and carers will support listeners to explore their child’s careers options and will call on the insight of expert speakers and a parents’ panel. Parents can listen to the intro episode and subscribe to the full series by clicking here.

Want to raise money for Garden House Hospice?
Make a big splash for the Garden House Hospice this summer and take on a swimming challenge. If you have ever wanted to swim a mile, 5km or the marathon swim distance of 10km, individually or as a team, then now is your chance.
 
Letchworth's Garden House Hospice are looking for people to take part in this fundraising event on Saturday 4th September. Take to the water at Letchworth Garden City outdoor lido and enjoy the feeling of swimming in the great outdoors. This gives you the chance to take on a distance swim that you have never done before, with the benefits of entertainment and encouragement just one freestyle stroke away from you.
 
There are four different distances to choose from - 400m, 1 mile, 5k and 10k - and you can take part as an individual or as a team. Registration fees vary depending on the distance chosen, and they are asking all participants to raise a minimum of £50 in sponsorship.
More information can be found on the flyer below and on their website here.

Year 7 Focus: My First Year at HBS
This year was my first year at Hitchin Boys and I have enjoyed it so much. Even though much of it was disrupted by having to learn from home, I have still had such a great year. 
 
The first week was spent introducing us to the school and making new friends - this week really helped me to settle in and get used to the school. After we had settled in, lessons began. All of the teachers were so nice, and I have learnt many new things thanks to them. 
 
My favourite subjects to do are drama, music and tech, where we get to do many exciting things such as act out scenes and do actual cooking! 
 
Shortly after our lessons began, we were put into PE groups and had our IT induction; during this, we set up our email accounts and computer passwords. We had our ‘Year Seven Action Day’- my form and I got to take part in many fun activities like rock climbing and laser tag.
 
In winter, I won the ‘Rook with a book’ competition- a challenge that involved guessing book titles from daily clues. Once a week, we had Library Lessons, which is when we get to spend a whole lesson in the library, reading. I was lucky to get accepted to the Library Champions, a group that helps to run the library and library events. 
 
Many house competitions were also run, including house dodgeball, house hockey, house football and The Big Pedal. I took part in many after school and lunchtime clubs such as hockey, athletics, rugby and cricket. 
 
During the summer term the whole school took part in mental health week, where we took part in activities such as hapa zome and chilling out and relaxing with puppies. It has been a really exciting and fun first year of Hitchin Boys’ - I can’t wait for Year 8! 
 
Felix M

Year 7 lining up in the playground

Year 7 Focus: Notes from the KS3 Pastoral Office
As ever it’s been a ridiculously busy, challenging but rewarding term, supporting students and helping them move forwards on their journey towards adulthood.  From our new “Equipment Library” in the office with basketballs, footballs and table tennis bats to borrow at breaks, to our morale building and team bonding trips to Willen Lakes, with two year groups to look after and a new year 7 cohort to prepare to usher in, it's always an extremely challenging term. Luckily we thrive on that!
 
Having spent hours each day with your son we can all happily confirm that as well as growing in stature, (sorry! Possible trouser and school shoe shopping trip on the horizon) your son has also grown in confidence, knowledge and social skills. Maybe mistakes have been made but that is part of the growing and learning experience.  We have all been present, in their happy moments, their triumphs, their challenging days and those tricky occasions, we have all worked through another year together. It’s a Hitchin Boys’ Community team effort!
 
Whilst on site your son has learnt more than Chemistry and Geography - he has learnt teamwork and the importance of friendship and community; and in those online learning sessions he has learnt more than maths equations - he’s gained resilience, responsibility and independence. We are so proud of them all. 
 
Our request is that they rest, recharge, reflect and come back, energised, happy, healthy and galvanised, ready to start the next year of their school journey. Enjoy spending some downtime with them, they truly are wonderful. 
 
Have a lovely summer! See you in September.
 
Ms K Bahnsen
KS3 Pastoral Team
 

Willen Lakes Trip - Years 7 & 8
Back in July 2019 the first expanded Year 7 group went to Willen Lake to take part in some physical activities building on the school's core values, notably those of Teamwork and Kindness. The aim is for all 210 students in the cohort take part in some way. Those who are not able to take part in the activities for a variety of reasons still come along to support their form and house. Photos from the trip can be viewed below.
 
The aim was to get both Year 7 and Year 8 to Willen Lake this year, which has been a challenge because of Covid and not knowing what restrictions would be in place. It was a big relief that the trips were able to go ahead last week for over 180 boys in each year group. The sheer fun and enjoyment they were having was evident for all to see. We were sorry that a small number of Year 7s and Year 8s had to miss the trip due to positive cases in their group.  The staff know full well how disappointing this must have been and those were forced to self isolate have shown excellent resilience, teamwork and kindness themselves in the supportive way they have dealt with matters outside of their or our control.
 
I would like to thank Mrs Phillips for her tireless work in ensuring these trips can go ahead and to Miss Garwood (Year 7) and Mr Rombout (Year 8) for leading the respective trips on the day. Thank you as well to the team of teachers who supported on the day. The instructors always look forward to Hitchin Boys’ coming as the students always represent the school and their parents wonderfully well with their enthusiasm and behaviour. 
 
We will definitely be looking to go back next year with the incoming Year 7s. Beats 2 hour queues at Thorpe Park any day!!!!
 
Mr Dawson
Assistant Head, KS3 Progress, Welfare and Conduct

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Over the course of this academic year we have seen numerous boys in years 7 and 8 recognised for their resilience, achievements and teamwork. During a challenging and interrupted year, the pupils have really come together and worked hard to motivate each other both academically and socially. This was evident within their form groups, classes, sports teams and in the wider school community.
 
We recognise teamwork in our League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LoEG) every week. This year we have had some fantastic accomplishments, including 30 Year 7 boys receiving zero behaviour points, 35 pupils receiving Achievement Point Winner of the Week (in both year groups) and almost every boy in each year group getting a conduct award in the final rewards assembly of the year. In particular Seb B in 7O and Elijah L in 8R amazingly scored 473 and 455 achieved points respectively over the year. Extremely well done also to 7R and 8T who have held the platinum LoEG position most frequently throughout the academic year.
 
We had a large number of amazing boys who demonstrated exceptional solidarity and resilience at our recent Year 7 and Year 8 Willen Lake trips. On both occasions numerous boys also displayed strong leadership when encouraging their teammates to venture out of their comfort zones on self-built rafts out on the lake or on the treetop extreme high ropes, 35 ft off the ground! Both year groups had fantastic days and represented Hitchin Boys’ School as the extraordinary young gentlemen that they are! 
 
The two staff pastoral teams are exceptionally proud of the Year 7 and Year 8 boys, particularly for how they all managed to adapt, collaborate and achieve so much during such a disrupted academic year. We really look forward to seeing these extraordinary young gentlemen grow and flourish in their classrooms and around HBS in 2021-22.
 
Miss Marx, Assistant Head, Year 7

BeeZee Bodies Summer Activities
Local healthy lifestyles company BeeZee Bodies have a number of summer activities available locally, and have also launched details of their programmes for September. More details can be found on the flyers below.

Resources for Parents
The Hitchin Mental Health Recovery Team have put together a leaflet for parents that may be of interest, including resources parents and carers can access include: Ways to Wellbeing, Supporting Children to Return to School, Coping with Change and more. You can download the flyer below.