Pupils will be allowed to wear their own clothes on Monday 18 December in exchange for a donation of £1 to the Advent appeal for the SVP.  The monies raised at Cardinal Heenan will be sent to the St Vincent’s Support Centre, a community project of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), dedicated to changing the lives of families living in poverty across Leeds.  The SVP is an international Christian voluntary organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage by providing practical assistance to anyone in need, without discrimination.  I know that we can rely on pupils to support the initiative.  Prizes will be awarded to the best festive Christmas jumpers.

In the final week of term parents, pupils, staff and friends of the school are invited to our Advent Liturgy of reading and carols, followed by a Christmas-themed musical celebration.  It will be held in the School Hall at 7.00pm on Monday 18 December; we look forward to seeing you and your families there.  Following the seasonal readings and carol singing, warm mince-pies, soft drinks and mulled wine will be served during the celebration.  All proceeds raised will be donated to St Gemma’s Hospice. Please make it a date for your calendar and join us.

In churches across the Diocese we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent this weekend.  In school Advent will be marked by prayer and liturgy, in assemblies, in display around the school and in activities to raise money for good causes.  Advent activities will be led by Mrs Holder, Chaplaincy Coordinator, supported throughout the school community. Pupils will have opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation next Friday, 8 December, when a team of visiting priests, led by our priest chaplain, Fr Josh Hilton, will be in school.  Although we have been bombarded for many weeks by the premature announcements of Christmas, the emphasis at Cardinal Heenan will be on the season of Advent.  Inevitably, as in any school, we must be realistic and accept that aspects of Christmas are anticipated before the term finishes on 20 December.  Our Service in the School Hall on Monday 18 December at 7.00pm is such an example.  We hope parents will join us on that evening.  Our Advent programme, including the weekly lunchtime Mass, will give us all opportunities to prepare properly for the Feast of the Nativity on 25 December and to understand its true significance.  Our pupils are also being encouraged to take part in services and Masses in their parishes to mark the seasons of Advent and Christmas over the coming weeks.

The overwhelming majority of our Year 11 students are working hard in preparation for their GCSE mock examinations which begin on Monday 4 December and run until Friday 15 December.  Year 11 students have been reminded of the need to plan their time effectively in order to complete a programme of revision activities.  The support and understanding of parents and carers during this time is important in what can be a stressful time for students.  Statements of proposed public examination entries will be sent home in January.  Full reports will follow on Thursday 1 February.

Inspiring a love of reading in our pupils has always been an important aim of the school.  All pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 are expected to read at least two core texts and two books of their own choosing during this school year: we hope to see pupils reading many more books.  Pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 have been given a Reading Passport by their English teachers next week.  This document lists core texts that your child will be expected to have read by the end of the school year in July 2018.  Each core text presents something new and interesting and will capture the imagination.  At times pupils may find elements of the text challenging: this will help them improve their reading ability.  Core texts are differentiated and suitable for each child’s reading ability.  We believe that the level of challenge within these texts will enhance reading, literacy, writing, imagination and critical thinking skills.

All core texts and very many other suitable books may be borrowed from our newly expanded and refurbished school library.  We suggest that local public libraries are used too.  Parents may, of course, wish to buy copies of the recommended texts.  They are widely available.

Pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 will have a designated Reading for Pleasure lesson in the school library, once a fortnight, as part of the English curriculum.  During this lesson pupils will read a chosen book and will be set challenges and tasks in order to engage with characters, themes and structure and to think critically about author’s craft.  As your child completes a book, there is a place in the reading passport for you to sign and date, as proof that the recommended reading is taking place.

In addition to dedicated time in English lessons, pupils in all year groups will be reading during registration time every Wednesday and Thursday.  It is expected that all pupils at Cardinal Heenan will have the selected Reading for Pleasure book with them at all times during the school day.  As part of promoting a love of reading across the school, pupils will occasionally be asked to read in other subjects. 

All pupils and staff will take part in dedicated Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) time on Friday 15 December from 9.05am to 9.35am. Please remind your child to bring a book into school on the day.

All pupils working in school are engaged in a new curriculum which demands high levels of reading skills.  Success at GCSE depends upon the ability to read, evaluate and analyse texts effectively.  By encouraging your child to read, you will be enabling him or her to access a range of complex texts and supporting progress across the curriculum.  I know that we can rely on the support of parents in promoting the love of reading.

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