HEADTEACHER'S NEWSLETTER TO PARENTS
Welcome to the first Newsletter of 2009. I would like to start with a statement from Damian
Murray, our Chair of Governors.
"The Governing Body is committed to the continuing success of Wetherby High School as an asset to
our students to the communities we serve. We will also ensure that you are kept properly informed
of any plans or decisions that might affect you.
In recent weeks you may have seen press speculation or heard elsewhere that there are plans to
merge Wetherby High School with Boston Spa School. I am also aware of several other rumours, for
instance that either or both of our schools are to be rebuilt or relocated as part of the
reorganisation of education in North East and East Leeds. These are simply speculation and rumour,
so I would like to explain to you the facts as they stand.
There is currently an Education Leeds review of secondary provision underway across the North East
and East, aiming to ensure that all students continue to benefit from rising standards and preparing
for major Government investment in buildings and facilities. We welcome this review and we are
fully involved. Wetherby High School is a good and improving school that has shown that high
standards and inclusive provision can go hand in hand. This has been recognised by Education Leeds
and our excellent results last year speak for themselves.
As you might expect there are many different options for the ways in which education can be
structured and provided in the future, many of them dependent on additional capital resources being
available from the Government. We are working with Education Leeds, with colleagues in East and
North East Leeds schools, and with a wide range of other partners in order to develop proposals
which build on the significant achievements we have made over the last few years. These proposals
will then be put forward for consultation with the Government, local politicians and yourselves.
In particular, the Governors of Boston Spa School and Wetherby High School have agreed that our
two schools will work more closely together to ensure excellent and sustainable education provided in
the right places for the students and communities we serve, both now and in the foreseeable future.
For instance we need to ensure that Sixth Form and Vocational courses of the right range and
quality are provided to meet the needs of students for the generations to come. In doing this,
Governors are committed to preserving and building upon the current strengths and distinctive
visions of both our schools.
This should result in an excellent and sustainable range of learning opportunities for our students
and communities, and lead to innovative ways of working jointly to serve our very wide catchment
areas better. This does not constitute a proposal to merge two successful and distinctive schools
that continue to be popular choices for parents and students alike. Indeed it is essential that these
two schools continue to pursue and attain excellence in order to ensure the very best learning for
students now and in the future.
As we develop our options and proposals we will keep you up to date, and whenever possible canvass
your opinions. Please be reassured that we will always put the welfare and quality of education of our
students first and that we will manage important change and investment in a measured, professional
way that will avoid unnecessary disruption or uncertainty,
I would add that I have been generally disappointed with recent press coverage and with the way
that some have been keener to register an angry ‘soundbite’ than a thoughtful contribution to an
important process. The Yorkshire Evening Post in particular has been happy to publish speculative
‘proposals’ relating to Wetherby High School without once contacting our school. The Wetherby
News and our local councillors have on the other hand been much more constructive in the way they
report and represent what we are trying to achieve.
Please contact me via the school if you would like to take up any of these issues further"
Keep Kids Safe
As you will be aware, we have recently installed an automated contact system to alert parents if
their children are absent from school without explanation. The school's policy is that parents should
call the School Office every day that their child is absent. If we do not receive a call and a child is
marked absent at registration we will send out an automated text message to alert parents and to
request an explanation for the absence.
We also intend to use the system for other important messages. We did try to use it to inform
parents that the school was open at the beginning of last week when the snow came. Unfortunately
we encountered problems due the fact that the mobile phone network was completely overloaded. In
the event, we were only one of a few schools in the Leeds Authority that took the decision to remain
open. We will always try to stay open in adverse weather conditions so that our young people can
continue their learning, even if the timetable may need to be slightly reorganised on such days.
On the rare occasion when the weather might cause problems, we will in future post information on
the school website (www.wetherbyhigh.co.uk),
The beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to re-focus on standards. At Wetherby High
School we pride ourselves our on high standards in all aspects of school life. It is very important
that our young people present themselves for lessons properly attired as there is a proven
correlation between smart appearance and focused attitude and motivation towards work. This is
something that we want to nurture and encourage. Throughout the day we have many visitors to the
school. We want our young people to take pride in their appearance as they do represent the school
not only when they are on site but also on their journey to and from school.
Whilst the vast majority of our students do adhere to the correct dress code, unfortunately some
students have flouted uniform regulations in recent weeks. This is unfair to those students who do
uphold the uniform standards and help to give the school its excellent name.
We are currently speaking to all students in assemblies. They are being told that after half term
they must all wear the correct uniform. Any non-standard items of clothing will be taken from them
and not returned until the end of the school day. Where students persist in wearing non-standard
articles, we will not be returning them to the students but will be asking parents to come into school
to collect the offending items. I would very much appreciate your support in this drive on standards.
The school website gives full details of the regulation uniform. The outdoor coat should be black and
be suitable for the winter weather conditions. It should be worn over the blazer and not be worn in
place of a blazer.
Just to remind you that the three official uniform suppliers are:
APC Clothing Ltd
Unit 6a Guardian Park
Station Road Industrial Estate
Telephone: 01937 833449
Graham Briggs School Outfitters
16 Commercial Street
Tel/Fax 0113 282 9811
6 The Shambles
Telephone: 01937 589422
Can I also remind you that the PTA sells good quality, clean, second-hand uniform items via the
School Office at very reasonable prices. This facility may be of particular interest to parents who
have children in Year 11 and may not think it worthwhile purchasing new items of uniform.
I can report that the cashless system is operating successfully and that this has been a positive
move. I would however like to encourage cheques to be deposited in the box provided or bank notes
via the revaluation units to cover at least one week's food. This will negate the need for students to
queue daily at the revaluation units, thereby losing some of their free time.
Some students are continuing to put small change into their accounts on a daily basis. Quite often
the amount only covers that day's spend and the account has to be topped up the next day to keep it
in credit which is not as efficient as it could be and militates against the idea of students not
needing to carry too much cash on them.
I am pleased to confirm that the following parents now represent you on the school's Governing
Damian Murray is of course also our Chair of Governors,
Twelve Sixth Form students, along with two members of staff, left Leeds on Friday 31 January to
travel to Paris by Eurostar to attend a conference entitled "Your Future in Europe." As in previous
years the line-up at the conference was impressive - John Sergeant (minus dancing shoes!), Charles
Kennedy, David Davis and the entrepreneur behind Gu chocolate puddings/cakes to name but a few.
In a very busy weekend the group also managed to ascend to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visit the
Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame and take a trip down the River Seine in a bateau mouche. The
weather was beautiful, the students were a credit to themselves and to the school and the party
arrived home just in time to avoid the snowfall in London!!
Trip to Dalby Forest
Monday 19 January was another Enrichment Day. The activities for such days are carefully planned
and designed to introduce our young people to a different way of learning and acquiring skills. As
part of the day's activities, a group of about eighty Year 8 Students and twenty Sixth Formers went
to Dalby Forest, a National Trust area near Pickering in North Yorkshire, for a day of mountain
biking and orienteering. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There will be a follow-up
opportunity on the next Stand-down Day, and another group will have a similar opportunity in the
Motivational Talk by Richard McCann
On 20 January the Year 11 students were given a motivational talk by Richard McCann. As many of
you will remember, Richard has been into school before. He is in fact the son of the first victim of
the notorious Yorkshire Ripper. After this tragedy, his life spiralled into deprivation, substance
abuse and finally prison. Despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles he managed to turn his
life round and his now a motivational speaker. His theme is that if he could find the strength to
overcome seemingly impossible adversity, then anyone can. His talk went down extremely well with
the students and gave them plenty to think about.
Visit to "The French Experience"
A group of year 9 students recently spent half a day at the "French Experience" at the North East
Leeds City Learning Centre. The students had the opportunity to speak French with native French
speakers, listen to announcements, read advertisements and short newspaper articles, ask passers-
by for information, and finally prepare a comic strip account of their work in French in the CLC
computer suite. They were also treated to croissants and hot chocolate!
One hundred students from Year 11 and the Sixth Form and twelve members of staff are off to
Aprica (not Africa!) in Italy for the 2009 school ski trip at half term. Aprica is a modern little town
surrounded by an unspoilt alpine landscape. The ski area has a fantastic reputation and an excellent
snow record and this year the snow is already in abundance. There are 60km of a variety of ski runs
with the longest being 5km (that’s just over 3 miles)!
To give the students a taste of what is to come, there was a visit to the dry ski slope at Xscape last
week to give everyone a chance to practise. A full report on the ski trip will be included in my next
Exchange Visit to Holland
From Tuesday to Thursday this week, two Year 8 and two Year 10 students accompanied by two
members of the school staff are going on an exchange visit to Kampenerwaad College near Rotterdam.
The purpose of the visit is for our students to experience life in a school from another country .
The aim is to form an on-going link. The students will be bringing lots of information and souvenirs
back with them and a review will be posted on the school website. Special thanks go to Jon Handley
of Tor Designs who has very generously produced sportswear and pennants bearing the Wetherby
High School logo for the students to take with them to Holland.. Jon has two children at the school
and has been very active in supporting us.
Wetherby High School will be putting on a production of Bugsy Malone in late June this year. Over
fifty students from Years 7 - 10 have already auditioned for the production and, with so many well-
rehearsed and performed pieces, casting has been very difficult. Students will be involved in
all spheres of the production: singing, acting, dancing as well as in backstage support and artistic and
promotion roles. Rehearsals begin properly after half term.
More details to follow.
Our students continue to excel in all walks of life and the following items are just a few examples of
their success. I think you will agree that we have many well-rounded young people in our school
whose success extends far beyond academia.
Freddie Jackson in Year 8 had a supporting speaking role in the recent excellent ITV drama
Elizabeth Atar and Catherine Hindle from the Sixth Form have both won the Rotary Club
"Service above Self Award". It is quite an achievement for two young people from the same
school to gain this accolade.
Rosie Hall, another Sixth Former, is flying to Mumbai in July with fellow Guides. They will look
after a group of Indian orphans who have lost their parents to the AIDs virus and then move
on to take part in a treking expedition in two of the world's biggest mountain ranges, the
Karakoram and the Himalayas. What an exciting venture!!
Sade Williams (Y9) and Sian Haley (Y8) have all been selected to represent Leeds City
Athletics against other European Teams at an Athletics Meeting in Germany in March. Good
luck to both of them!!.
Will Atkinson in Year 13 has been elected Junior Captain at Wetherby Golf Club.
Students from the Year 9, 10, 11, and students from the Aimhigher cohort have been given
access to University Easter and Summer schools.
A group of Sixth Formers are taking part in the "Reach for Excellence" and "Access to Leeds"
programmes run by Leeds University. These programmes are designed to develop skills
designed at degree level.
Fifteen students from Year 11 will be attending the "Reach for a Star" programme at Leeds
Metropolitan University over the Easter holidays.
Finally, thirty students from the Sixth Form are in the process of being trained to run events
(mainly involving Maths) for KS3 students that will hopefully be cascaded out to children in
local primary schools.
The year 7 team did Wetherby High School proud with some fantastic performances in the Leeds
Schools Football Association under 12 ‘Five-a-Side’ competition. The competition at Woodkirk High
was intense but Wetherby managed to qualify for the Finals night by beating both Bruntcliffe and
Intake 3-0. Among the goal scorers were Brandon Deane, Daniel Gough, Daniel Roman-Hay and
Cameron Matthews. They were well supported by an all-action display from Kieran Tucker and some
world-class saves from Ashley Walker. A 1-0 defeat at the hands of a strong Royds team didn’t
stop them from reaching the finals night later in the week. The team was unlucky in losing in the
quarter finals but showed great courage and teamwork in getting to the latter stages of the
competition. This was yet another performance the boys can be justifiably proud of.
Again a very successful season so far for the Year 8 team. They have only lost one game. The Year
10 team is also having a very successful season. The boys are now known as the "Come Back Kids"
following two wins trailing 4-0 (4-5 win) and 3-0 (3-4 win). They are currently flying high in the
merit league, with great performances from Joe Wilks, Dylan Parr, Roman Neal and Alex Noteman
Year 7, 8, 10 and 11 teams are all currently performing well in the Leeds Schools Cups Competition,
having progressed into the quarter final stages.
The Year 7 Girls Football team also performed well in the Leeds United Six-a-Side tournament being
narrowly defeated in the semi-finals.
The squads from Years 8 and 10 came a very creditable third in the Leeds Schools Badminton Cup.
Newly formed Swimming teams represented Wetherby High School in the regional swimming gala
held in Huddersfield. Both our junior and intermediate teams were recognised for being the most
supportive and encouraging school, and invited to return next year. Notable performances came
from Megan Campbell Year 7 (outstanding) and Hannah and James Woodward year 10 and 8
Several students took part in a biathlon competition held at the John Charles Centre. Ryan Boulter
Year 9 finished sixth overall following the swimming and the running events in a very strong field.
Dean Hall, Alexandra Kendall-Smith and Hannah Brake also performed well.
Both the Year 8 and Year 10 teams were highly successful over the winter period. In the Leeds
Schools Finals the Year 8 team finished third and the Year 10 team were second in their year group.
There were outstanding performances from Ryan O’Connor, Sian Haley, Natasha Cross, Sade
Williams, Dalian Cash, James Joules, Juliet Smith, George Etherington and Tinique Fishley.
School Calendar 2008-2009
Just a reminder of the remaining dates for the current academic year:
Spring Mid-Term School closes on Friday 13 February 2009
& re-opens on Monday 23 February 2009
Easter School closes on Friday 3 April 2009
& re-opens on Monday 20 April 2009
May Bank Holiday School closes on Friday 1 May 2009
& re-opens on Tuesday 5 May 2009
Summer Mid Term School closes on Friday 22 May 2009
& re-opens on Monday 1 June 2009
Summer School closes on Monday 20 July 2009
Training Days: Friday 13 February 2009
Monday 29 June 2009
Monday 20 July 2009
I know that many of you like to plan holidays well in advance and I therefore give below dates for the
2009 -2010 School Calendar.
School Calendar 2009 - 2010
Autumn Term School re-opens on Thursday 3 September 2009
Autumn Mid Term School Closes on Friday 23 October
& re-opens on Monday 2 November
Christmas School Closes of Friday 18 December
& re-opens on Monday 4 January 2010
Spring Mid Term School closes on Friday 12 February
& re-opens on Monday 22 February
Easter School closes on Thursday 1 April
& re-opens on Monday 19 April
May Bank Holiday School closes on Friday 30 April
& re-opens on Tuesday 4 May
Summer Mid Term School closes on Friday 28 May
& re-opens on Monday 7 June
Summer School closes of Friday 23 July
Training Days have yet to be decided.
Can I at this point remind you of the procedure for holiday requests in term time.
First and foremost, all students should aspire to 100% attendance; excellent attendance leads to
success. Requests for students to take holidays in term time will only be granted in very exceptional
circumstances. Furthermore, in the event that a situation is deemed to be exceptional, the request
will only be granted if the student has an over 95% attendance record. No requests will be granted
in the month of September or in the examination periods. This policy is in line with all secondary
schools in the area.
School will close at the normal time on Thursday 12 February and Friday the 13th is a Staff Training
Day so the school will be closed to students. School will re-open on Monday 23 February.
As always, I hope that you find this newsletter useful in keeping you informed as to what is going on
in and around school. This letter will be emailed out to parents and although on this occasion
students will be given a paper copy to take home, all future newsletters will be sent electronically.
If you particularly wish to receive a paper copy, please send a note into school to this effect.
I hope you all enjoy the half-term break.
A K Barnes
Ms A K Barnes