Headteacher’s Letter to Parents – Sunday 12th May 2019

Dear Parent Carer

Every week children reaching their 16th birthdays have tea with me and whichever staff are witnessing another year passing. With the Year 11s busy working for their exams we invited 8 year 8s to join us. The school guard dog, Max, was 12 years old last week so he joined us, enjoying Mrs Fuggles’ freshly baked cake but rejecting the scones.

If any parent can find us a Business Studies teacher for September you will be invited to join us for tea, or lunch in Linda O’Neil’s superb school canteen. We are also looking to train a new batch of teachers in most subjects so anyone toying with a career change can investigate with us. They don’t have to be a Spurs supporter.

Talking of winning: Our Year 10 Netball Team won the County Plate; the multi year team won the East Herts Enterprise Competition; Year 7 mathematicians won the County Maths Challenge and the Year 7 boys did the double of District Football and Basketball. I sent them to McDonalds as a reward, hoping this doesn’t even up next year’s competition.

A different win for our Business Manager, Wendy Bremner, and her team who secured a £700,000 government grant for our new classroom block. Building starts in August and helps accommodate our increased intake of 210 year 7s. It’s still not enough to satisfy demand and we have 45 children on the waiting list and 19 appeals to be heard in June. All families living in Ware were successful with their applications, although, sadly, not every family in Ware applied.

The older students are taking important GCSE and A level exams in May. They have had all sorts of support and the ambitious ones are working really well, as is our new phone policy. Lesson time is possibly now the only waking moments when the kids are more than a metre from their silent phones. With end of year exams for all students as well as GCSEs and A levels I appreciate this is a difficult time for parents, trying to balance wanting them to do their best and maintaining family sanity. Tears, tantrums and insomnia, despair and feelings of uselessness – and that’s just the teachers – test all families. A little revision is never enough but does help. I have a little advice for parents on this.

Before I do: kids used to watch trivial TV all night before phones. Before proper TV we used to do all sorts to avoid studying. I used to knock on peoples’ doors and run away – until a policeman lasted better in a 10 minute run. Once I changed my neighbours’ gates around – until a policeman asked my mum to tell me to put them back. I even used to play football on Protestant Church land – thus risking eternal hell fire, or so father Bryant told us, just before he had to explain some naked behaviour on a Lourdes pilgrimage.

Phones are addictive. Many of our boys play games every night from the time they get home to the time they try to get to sleep.

So here’s the advice supplied by children:

  1. Put the phone in a drawer when studying – maybe for half an hour at a time.
  2. Study in a place your parents can see you.
  3. It’s good if parents speak, just a little, to you about your studies

Particularly when kids are at home and parents at work one boy has negotiated and agreed that parents take his games console to work so he is free to study.

One girl at Birthday Teas told me that she is weaning herself off her phone because social media is ruling her life.

The odd parent has complained that I blame bad parenting for their children’s problems. That I said on my favourite Radio 3 Counties that 9 out of 10 of my naughtiest children have weak parenting should be seen in the context of Chauncy having 1107 students and not many naughty ones. By inference over 1000 of our children have caring, loving sensible parents who provide boundaries, work hard and make mistakes. And most parents know their children are happy and safe a Chauncy.

Like many dedicated people I have been busy recently arranging visits to Dortmund, Amsterdam and now Madrid. I have neglected my blogs but there are three on the way. The first plagiarises and butchers work by the inimitable Diane Carey showing how Games producers spend big money at leading universities learning how to make their games addictive, relying on the same chemical changes as cocaine. The second relates teachers’ feelings on working at Chauncy. The third, and perhaps most controversial deals with the children lost from our local schools. Children expelled from school are sometimes forgotten. Strangely, we also have a phenomena known as “Home Educated” where some schools lose a number of older students just before their exam results will count in league tables- their parents suddenly deciding to home educate. The figures for our nearest schools may surprise you.

Dennis O’Sullivan (Headteacher)