Weekly Update 9th September

Dear Parents/ Guardians,

Welcome to our “Weekly Updates”  email !!!!.  We hope that you all had a great break over the summer holidays!!!!!!. Getting books, uniforms, gear, locker keys and lunches ready, is not something that most of us look forward to, but it does create some routine in all our lives. Slowly but surely, we are all establishing our new routines! It was a pleasure to return this year, and not have to remind students in relation to appropriate mask wearing, social distancing and all the other strict protocols we had in place during Covid. While of course we will encourage the boys to be vigilant in relation to hand sanitizing, respiratory etiquette etc. we and they are not under the same pressure as we were this time last year on our return, and that has to be a positive!

This update will be longer than usual as there is some information that we need to share with all parents, given that it is the beginning of the year. Going forward specific updates will be sent to the relevant year groups.

Our new arrivals, the first years are settling in so well to life in the College. They are a fantastic group of students, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that they all feel welcome and at ease in their new surroundings. The lockers will always be the main challenge, but if parents can speak to the boys at home and encourage them to have their lunch first if there is a queue at the locker, very often, once they return the build- up at the lockers will have subsided. Please label everything with your son’s name. We have close to 700 students in the school so if something goes missing and his name is not on the item, it is difficult to return it to its rightful owner!! The 1st years have been involved in several induction activities this week, so all is going well. Please feel free to e mail us at any point if you or your son is having any issue. In the majority of cases, we can answer a query in seconds, and this might prevent hours of stress and anxiety at home as your son makes that transition from primary to secondary school.

For our 1st year parents, just to let you know, we will send updates every Friday in relation to what is happening in the school. From experience we know that boys typically don’t share important school information, so we will ensure to keep you all in the loop.

We have to commend our boys from 2nd year upwards, in relation to the welcome that they have extended to our newly arrived 1st years.

The following is a summary of some College updates:

1) Opening of the Year Mass (Change to the structure/time/day of the mass)-All Students

There is a significant change to the school calendar in relation to the Opening of the Year Mass (originally scheduled to take place,  Friday 16th Sept) and the customary half day following the service. We plan to have an Incoming 1st Year Activity Day (next years first years) on Thursday 29th Sept from 11.00-2.00pm which will complement our Open Night on Wednesday 21st Sept. This will require the assistance of all staff and therefore, we will be finishing classes at 10.55am on that date (Thursday 29th September) to free teachers/SNAs up to help with the various activities. All students will be free to go home from 11am excluding those students who may be involved in helping out with the various activities.

Therefore, our Opening of Year Service will take place over the school intercom (like last year but with no half day) tomorrow, Friday, (September 9th) at 10.35am with classes continuing on for the remainder of the day thereafter.

2) Parent Information Evening (All year groups)

During covid we were not in a position to invite parents into our school to attend in person parent information evenings. Such evenings have always been an important part of our school induction procedures for each year group. The meetings are short (45 minutes max) and focused on sharing information with parents that we feel you need to be aware of. Each year group has a particular focus, for example for exam years 3rd and 6th years the focus is on exam preparation, timetables for exams and balancing study with extracurricular activities. In 1st year the focus is on induction and transition and so on. The meetings are an opportunity for you as parents to meet your son’s year head and to meet the Principal and I. Such encounters are extremely important as we will all need to work closely together over the coming years to ensure that your son achieves the best that he can, socially and academically. We are genuinely passionate about making sure that the boys are happy in school, and it is only with the help of you, their parents, that we can achieve that. Once the boys are happy, we can then focus on their academics.

Schedule for Parent Information Evenings

6th Year – Monday September 12th 7pm assembly hall (6th year students to attend with their parents)

5th Year-Monday September 26th 7pm assembly hall (5th year students to attend with parents)

3rd Year-Tuesday September 27th 7pm assembly hall (No students to attend, parents only)

2nd year-Monday 19th September 7pm assembly hall (No students to attend, parents only)

1st Year-Thursday 15th September 7pm assembly hall (No students to attend, parents only)

LCA 1-Wednesday 28th September 1pm Demo Room

3) Mobile Phone Policy-(All Year groups)

All parents received an information newsletter by post on August 19th. It is important for all parents to be aware that we have now amended our Mobile Phone Policy, and returned to our pre covid mobile phone procedures, which does not permit students to use their mobile phones in school. If a student’s phone is seen or heard, it will be confiscated for two days. Our policy simply states NOT SEEN,NOT HEARD,NOT CONFISCATED.

As many of you as parents can attest to, your son’s mobile phone is his right hand, and inevitably over the summer months, his dependency and usage of his phone may have significantly increased. We understand that the use of mobile phones nowadays for teenagers is important, as it is their means of communication with friends, social groups etc. As a school our aim is not to change this, however, we know from experience that when students have their phones with them in school, they serve as a major distraction. Once a notification comes in, the focus has now switched from what is being taught in class to what is on the phone. Young people use their phones primarily as a connection to their friend group, and we are asking too much of them to be disciplined enough to use it solely as an educational device while they are at school i.e. to log onto Teams etc. We also have the additional issue of online bullying. Students having their phones with them during the school day, does not help this situation. The damage caused to the mental health of so many students across the country, by cyber bulling, is immense, and ensuring that students cannot use their phones, during the school day, reduces the instances of on cyber bullying.

All students (excluding 1st years) are now proficient at using Microsoft Teams to both access and submit their homework. Homework will continue to be assigned by teachers on the board at the end of each class and through Microsoft Teams (so that any absent student and/or students away at matches can access their homework easily) and students will submit their homework through Teams, if requested to do so by the teacher.  Students can access their homework at home, on the device of their choice. First year students will be taught explicitly how to use Microsoft Teams in the ICT support classes.

Please note, that if your son’s phone is seen or heard by a teacher it will be confiscated for two days.

4) Uniform/Shoes/Jacket-(All Year Groups)

Thank you to all parents and students who have purchased the new school jacket and who have complied with our uniform and school shoes policy. Uniform is hugely important in our school. While we will always ensure to help any parent out who may have difficulty in providing the full school uniform, we want to make parents aware that all students in all year groups must be in full school uniform including appropriate school shoes on arrival to school each day.

5) Back Gate -Parent Request (All Year Groups)

A number of parents have requested that the back gate be opened in the morning and evening to relieve traffic flow in the College. Unfortunately, we have no control or access to the back gate any longer as this area is now the property of the Diocesan Office. Can we please ask parents to exercise due safety measures when parking in front of the school in the afternoon. In addition, can we ask that parents cooperate when asked to do so, by College staff, in relation to traffic congestion. Disrespectful behaviour towards College staff will not be tolerated. A number of parents have contacted us to report that parents are parking in front of others and not giving way to oncoming cars. This is causing a build-up of traffic while also raising serious health and safety concerns.

We look forward to meeting you all over the coming weeks at our parent information evenings,

Kind regards,

David Quilter     Lorraine Shiels