April 2021

The past few weeks have felt a little more 'normal' : the sun has shone, the boys are out playing on the field and the school agenda isn't entirely dominated by Covid.
 
Thank you for continuing to support twice-weekly testing. We received another delivery of kits from the Department for Education this week and your son should have received another kit containing seven tests. Testing has helped to ensure that disruption to learning has been significantly reduced.
 
One of our primary areas of focus at the moment is around Teacher Assessed Grades and supporting year 11 and 13 during the next month when we are revising content and gathering evidence to support grading judgements. Full details and our centre policy are available on the Announcements area of the main school website.
 
We are continuing to develop the HBS Values and I would encourage you to have your say by voting here. This is even more pertinent at the moment, with the focus in wider society upon intolerance, misogny and racism. I have been proud of our approach in responding to the issues raised by the Sarah Everard case, Stephen Lawrence Day and the issues around consent brought up by the Everyone's Invited testimonies. So far, our boys have voted 'Respect' as their number one value, and this is very encouraging. We have also fully reviewed our safeguarding processes and significantly increased the numbers of staff that have Level 2 Safeguarding training.
 
We are now planning a range of exciting initiatives for next year, including resumption of trips and expeditions, our Chromebook initiative for year 7 and 10 and the launch of a revised Rewards and Consequences policy. We will share more information on these plans as they are further developed.
 
Thank you again for your support for your sons, for our staff and for the school. We never underestimate the contribution that parents make to successful education.
 
Fergal Moane, Head Teacher

 

Coming up

Over the next few weeks

House points

As of 04 May 2021

School news

Amazing Apprenticeships April Parent Pack
The April issue of the Amazing Apprenticeships' Parent Pack looks at typical apprenticeship interview questions, the new digital T Levels, Degree apprenticeships in the digital sector, Autism Awareness Week, Stress Awareness Month and much more. It can be downloaded via this link.

New NSPCC Helpline
Following the troubling testimonies of sexual harassment and abuse documented on the Everyone’s Invited website, the NSPCC has set up a new helpline, which will support children and young people, and offer guidance to adults and staff working with pupils. The helpline can be contacted on 0800 136 663, or by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk

E-Safety Newsletter published
Herts for Learning have recently published their Summer E-Safety Newsletter for parents and carers. It includes articles such as What parents need to know about WhatsApp and Tips to keep children safe on Netflix, and is available on our website via this link, or the Edulink Noticeboard.

Ex-Head Boy founds Greek charity
Cosmo Murray, Head Boy at Hitchin Boys' School from 2008-2009, has recently set up a charity in Greece with three friends. Cosmo moved to Greece in 2019, and set up the charity, Mazí, to help displaced young men who arrive in Greece. The full story appeared in last weeks' Comet newspaper, and can be read on their website here.

Stephen Lawrence Day

As part of the third annual ‘Stephen Lawrence Day’ on 22nd April, groups of boys from year 7 to year 13 learned that in 1993 eighteen-year-old Stephen was killed by a gang of white men in a racist attack when he had been waiting for a bus with his friend in Eltham in South London.
 
They also learned about the 1999 Macpherson Report that highlighted the institutional racism within the Metropolitan Police and the events that followed, including the 2012 conviction of two of Stephen’s killers, largely due his mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence’s relentless campaign for justice.
 
The boys demonstrated compassion and empathy when discussing how they would have felt if they were in the shoes of Stephen’s parents and friend Duwayne Brooks, who had to cope with the trauma of the murder, the ordeal of the flawed police investigation and the 1999 enquiry findings.
 
The boys were openminded and reflective when we discussed approaches to tackling instructional racism. It was so encouraging to listen to them engage in mature discussions about the roots and suffering caused by racial discrimination and how we all have a part to play in bringing about more tolerance and equality within the communities and institutions of which we are members.
 
Mr J Rombout, History Teacher
 
P.S. If you would like to find out more please watch ‘Stephen: The Murder that changed a Nation’ in BBC iplayer or visit https://stephenlawrenceday.org/

Music Ensemble Update
We are delighted that some of our ensemble rehearsals have begun. Not everything is up and running, as our ability to run rehearsals is still governed by current COVID guidance. The current timetable is:
 
String Group - Tuesday 12.30
Chamber Choir – Tuesday 1.00
Senior Classical Guitar Group – Wednesday 1.00
Percussion Group (year 10 only) – Thursday 8.40
Saxophone Group – Thursday 12.30
Clarinet Group – Thursday 1.00
Rock Band (invitation only) – Thursday 12.30
Junior Classical Guitar Group – Friday 8.40
 
The summer concert has been rescheduled for Monday 5th July at 7pm. We hope to be able to put on a concert in the auditorium, COVID guidance pending.
 
Finally, we are delighted to announce that Joe English in year 11 has been accepted onto the Jazz Programme in the Junior Department of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. This course is highly competitive and will give Joe experience of studying jazz with specialist musicians. This is an exciting new challenge for Joe and we wish him all the best.
 
Mrs Strachan, Subject Leader, Music

Reminder: COVID Absence Advice
If your son develops a new cough, has a high temperature or loses his sense of taste or smell, OR receives a positive result from his routine LFT test, he MUST isolate at home, along with the rest of the household (including siblings at HBS), and arrange to take a PCR test (NOT LFT TEST). 
 
A PCR test can be booked via https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.  Your son must not return to school for 10 days from the onset of symptoms (or the date of his positive LFT result if asymptomatic) or until he receives a negative PCR test result (whichever is sooner).
 
Please remember:  LFT tests should not be used if your son has symptoms.  These tests are designed to pick up additional asymptomatic cases only. 
 
If your son receives a PCR result of NEGATIVE, he may return to school.  No further isolation is required.  If this is the case, please notify us accordingly so that we are able to update our records.

If your son receives a PCR result of POSITIVE, please notify the school IMMEDIATELY  at covid19@hitchinboys.co.uk so that  our pastoral teams can begin to identify close contacts.

If your son is identified as a close contact

If your son is a close contact of someone who is a confirmed positive COVID case, he must isolate for 10 days from the date that the positive case became symptomatic, or from the date of the positive test result if they were asymptomatic. 

Please note that if your son receives his own negative PCR test result within this 10 day period, this does not release him from the self-isolation duty, as it simply confirms that he was not infectious at the moment of testing, but an infection could develop at any point after exposure, up to the 10 day limit.  

Many thanks for your continued support.

Thank-uke!
Thanks to some generous financial support from the Parents' Society, we now have a class set of ukuleles, which are being put to use by year 9 students. The students have been learning to play Times Like These by Foo Fighters.
 
Mrs Strachan, Subject Leader, Music

Financial support for COVID isolation
The DfE have announced that parents and carers of children who have been advised to self-isolate by their education setting or by NHS Test and Trace are now able to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment of £500, if they meet the eligibility criteria (which includes receipt of certain low-income benefits). The extension of the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, which is administered by district and borough councils in Hertfordshire, and ends on 30 June, ensures that parents receive some financial support if they are unable to attend work due to childcare responsibilities and are unable to work from home. Read more at: www.gov.uk/test-and-trace-support-payment

HBS will provide a letter to support applications to the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you request this.

Teacher of the Year nomination
 
We are delighted to announce that Biology teacher Mr Rob Thorp was nominated for Secondary School Teacher of the Year in the annual Pearson National Teaching Awards, and has been selected as one of the finalists! Mr Thorp has taught at HBS for 16 years, and in that time has not only enabled his students to consistently obtain some of the best grades at the school, but has organised and accompanied numerous expeditions to far-flung destinations such as Malaysia, Costa Rica and Malawi. Not only do these trips take hours of planning, they also take a huge amount of risk assessing, team-building and fundraising. 
 
Head of Science Mr Cook said: "Mr Thorp is renowned for his kindness and his willingness to give up his time for pupils who are struggling. He demonstrates boundless enthusiasm, energy and commitment to broaden students' understanding and knowledge of the world whilst improving awareness of how their contributions can have a positive and far-reaching impact."
 
If parents or former students reading this have any observations or memories of Mr Thorp that they would like to share, please email admin@hitchinboys.co.uk with your thoughts.

Next HBS Book Club meeting
The next HBS Book Club meeting will take place on Wednesday 9 June 2021 at 7pm - maybe online, or maybe in person! The book to read is ‘No One Is Talking About This’ by Patricia Lockwood. All are welcome - more details below. Email Ms Robertson for the link or (fingers crossed!) the location of the meeting.

Digital Theatre+ is changing
The Digital Theatre+ website, which allows students, staff and parents the ability to watch theatre, interviews, musicals and read articles for free from home, is changing. The new web address is https://edu.digitaltheatreplus.com/.
 
Login details for the new site are as follows:
 
Username: student.hitchin
Password: family@3599

Summer already!
Our Carnegie shadowing group is growing nicely and ready to get started next Friday. There is a mouthwatering selection of books to read this year: of the eight books, six are written by women, four are by authors of colour, and three of them are in the increasingly popular verse novel form. I can see it being a close competition this year! You can view the shortlist here.
 
As we get closer to half term and years 11 and 13 taking their next steps, can we remind everyone that text books that have been issued through the library should be returned to us. They are all due back on 24th June, so any students who have not returned them by then will be notified of books outstanding. If you have other text books not issued through the library and only want to make one trip, then we will take them and pass them on to relevant departments. They can be brought straight into the library, or left for us at reception. 
 
It has been wonderful for us to be able to welcome all our year 7's and 8's back for their regular library English lessons. The library is bustling with life again after the past year of relative emptiness.
 
A favourite amongst our students is Artemis Fowl, and this week was the 20th anniversary of its publication. Both the original books and the graphic novel adaptations rarely stay on the shelves for long.
 
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @HBSLibrary for news, random nuggets of knowledge, and interesting articles.
 
Mrs Baugh and Mrs Rushton, Librarians
 

Dyslexia skills are valued
Some of you may have read this article about GCHQ recruiting people with Dyslexia because they can see patterns in letters and numbers that other people cannot. A dyslexic person will have to work harder to master how letters, words and sounds correspond to each other, but they are also, at the same time, training their brain to detect where things might be different, or where they don't fit the pattern. It reminds us that there are some advantages to neurodiversity!
 
You can read the Guardian article here.
 
Mr Mat Wilson, SENDCo