Headteacher's end of term newsletter - October 2020
Dear Parents, Carers and Students
This has been a challenging half term for obvious reasons, however there are a number of areas to celebrate and look forward to.
Both the GCSE and A Level results this year, although different from ever before, absolutely demonstrated that consistent hard work and effort pays off. The students had worked hard and deserved the grades they were awarded. Congratulations to all of them.
University offers are currently flying in for our Year 13 students who have spent this term honing their personal statements.
The joy of working in a school is always the young people. They inspire us, amaze us and drive us to want to give that bit more. One shining example of this is Alex Puffette in year 12. Alex used his time during lockdown to write a book on Modern Prime Ministers. He has also managed a live group chat with Boris Johnson! Last year’s Head Boy, Harry Francis, also put his mind to writing and has published two study guides for key texts on the A Level English Literature syllabus.
The first phase of the building work is nearly complete and we will be given access to the new Maths and Computing Centre and the Sports Centre during December, ready to move in and get set up for a January start. We look forward to being able to show you around in person – both the new Tunbridge Wells campus buildings are really looking fabulous. You will have seen from my recent communications around the annexe at Sevenoaks that Kent County Council have now signed this off and we look forward to welcoming 90 Year 7 students to the site in September.
The students and staff have returned to school with gusto. It’s clear that for the foreseeable future there will be times when we have positive COVID-19 cases in school. Our priority has always been the safety of students and staff, balanced with an effective educational provision.
We would of course always like to be fully open with the learning happening face-to-face in the classroom. Our online remote learning experience has evolved and when all students in the same year group are isolated we are able to move to live online lessons. This has been really well received by students, parents and staff.
I would like to thank the students for their cooperation and efforts as well as a special thank you to all the staff in school. They really are going over and above to ensure that, as a school community, we can provide the best education possible. You will appreciate schools are complex organisations and it really is a team effort.
Half-term provides us with a much-needed moment to breathe and reflect. So, whatever the next term has to challenge us with, we know we will be ready to meet it face on. Your continued support and positive feedback mean a great deal to us as a school so thank you for taking the time to contact us.
I wish all of you a safe and relaxing half-term break.
Congratulations to our new Head Students
Our new Year 13 senior leadership team was announced this term and we are delighted to announce Abigail Wilson as Head Girl and Charlie Ramos as Head Boy, who will be ably supported by Ben Baillache and Minhaj Kabir (Deputy Head Students) and the rest of the prefect team.
Head of Sixth Form, Carolina Fernandez said 'It was a very strong field this year and it was a real pleasure to listen to these articulate, impressive students who are full of passion and commitment and share a genuine love of our school and its ethos.'
Bon voyage to our Year 13 leavers
Eighty-nine per cent of our Year 13 leavers have successfully taken a place at university, either this year or next, across a wide range of universities, of which 41% are Russell Group universities. We are also delighted to see students on apprenticeship programmes, including KPMG, and taking a gap year. You can see the full list on our Sixth Form Destinations 2020 page. We wish them all well and look forward to hearing more about their achievements in the coming years.
It’s always great to hear how our alumni are getting on – even this week we heard from a parent of a Class of 2014 student who reported that her daughter, now a qualified physiotherapist, 'loves her job and the biology staff at the time showed enormous patience in getting her the grades she needed to go to Birmingham University…'
New buildings update
Our new buildings are really coming on now and we had a look around this week to see how the works are going.
MATHS AND COMPUTING TEACHING CENTRE – The building is nearing completion: internal fittings are underway, classrooms are being named, signs are being made and it will be ready for occupation in the new year.
We think you will agree that the facilities are going to be a fantastic improvement and will provide an aspirational environment for both students and staff. Assistant Headteacher and Director of ICT and eLearning Marc Smith enthuses 'With this new building, the school can look to the future with confidence that the resources available meet the needs of our learners and prepare them for the next stage of their lives in a rapidly changing society.'
SPORTS HALL – Mr Millar, Head of PE, was surveying the work this week and he is delighted with the progress being made. It is scheduled for completion by January 2021 and, alongside our all-weather pitch and playing fields, will complete our comprehensive sports facilities.
SIXTH FORM CENTRE – We are excitedly awaiting the decision on our planning application for the new Sixth Form Centre. In the meantime, the Board for the TODAY. TOMORROW. TOGETHER. Campaign ran their first virtual reception this week, to inform Year 8 parents about the project. Year 7 parent receptions will follow in Term 2.
At TWGSB we have a firm emphasis on excellent behaviour so that the environment inside and outside the classroom, is calm, purposeful and orderly. Achievement is always celebrated with regular encouragement, praise and awards for students when they work their hardest and behave well.
To recognise and reward ‘All Round Excellence’, we have created the 'Positive Pathway'. This is a simple points-based system that allows teachers, and in fact any adult in the school, to award positive points to students. Students can be awarded points for great work in their lessons, homework and showing exemplary manners. Positive points are linked to our values:
House Points are shared with students on a weekly basis during form time and as students pass positive boundary levels, their achievements will be celebrated and shared with their peers, staff and parents. Negative house points and sanctions will be used to respond to poor behaviour.
Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award
In early October 70 of our intrepid Year 11 students took part in a fairly gruelling training weekend as part of their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. Despite the best efforts of Storm Alex all students managed to reach their destination, walking for six hours each day, plotting and map-reading their route, carrying their equipment and feeding themselves (very important to a Year 11 boy!). On completion of the weekend I was very impressed that not one student had complained about the weather and I am hoping the final expedition weekend in November will offer better weather. Mrs Fedrick
The art department are busy reviewing all the inspiring entries for the calendar competition and will be announcing the winners at the start of the new term. The gallery of winners and runners up will be made available for you all to enjoy on the Art subject page of our website.
A Level Design Technology students have been exploring joining methods and material properties of different woods. We can see beautiful examples of craftsmanship in each of their jewellery boxes, with hand-made wooden hinges.
'You can see the boys have really worked hard on making the corner dovetails fit really well. The technical details on the hinges are excellent, particularly the curvature of the hinges which takes a while to perfect so that the lid can open fully.' Mr Stevens
Mrs Smith wants to showcase some 'absolutely amazing work' from George Handcock in 9G, who made this cake for the 14th birthday of a Russian friend. I am sure she was as impressed as we were.
Modern Foreign Languages
Friday, 25th September was European Day of Languages and classes celebrated in fine form by doing a quiz in tutor time, Food Tech and art competitions and different challenges in language classes.
Out of a fabulous range of entries in the competitions, the winners can be seen below.
The MFL Department is delighted to announce that we have purchased ActiveTeach which is the ultimate front-of-class teaching tool! It is regularly updated with culturally rich, topical resources to bring the French and Spanish languages to life as demonstrated below by Ms Persee and it will be appearing in classrooms soon. Mrs Gray
We are very proud of our students who continue to excel in their sporting field and are pleased to report the following achievements:
- Luke Salmons (Year 13) has been selected for Kent Schools U18s
- Thomas Green (Year 11) has been selected for Kent Schools U16s
- Henry Sworder (Year 11) continues to play football for Leyton Orient FC
- Sam Gale (Year 11) continues to play football for Gillingham FC
Extra-curricular clubs are starting next term for football and table tennis.
PE Department and House Captains launch inter-house sport for 2020
The upcoming term is an exciting one for inter-house sports. Years 7, 8 and 9 will be able to compete in the first house vs house competition this year, with both football and table tennis tournaments. On the 15–17 December, students can form five house football teams (of ten players) in each year and go up against their opposing houses to try and earn points for either Ightham, Scotney, Knole or Hever. On the same dates, students who prefer the art of table tennis can form two teams per house and battle it out, round-robin style in the gym. Both of these events will occur during Period 1 and 2, and will be a great chance for budding footballers or table tennis stars to earn their house valuable points.
As well as the victors bringing home points for their house, this year the inter-house sports system is rewarding players for more than just winning. One player per team in both football and table tennis will be awarded the rank of RED Star, earning 5 house points, following the school’s ethos of Respect, Excellence and Determination, if they show advanced sportsmanship, skill and quality of play. William Baker 13E
Virtual Open Evening
As we were unable to host visitors for an Open Evening this year, a number of virtual materials were produced to give prospective students and parents a flavour of the life and learning at TWGSB. Thank you to the students who contributed, particularly our Head Students and the Year 8 boys who happily detailed their experience so far for an ‘Introduction to TWGSB’ school video. Please click below to watch.
We are really excited to be introducing a new way for us to communicate with parents. MyEd is a free application (available on both iOS and Android), which we ask all TWGSB parents to download on their mobile phone or tablet. Having listened to parental feedback it was apparent that our previous communications provider, SchoolComms/School Gateway, was unpopular. We believe that the MyEd app, managed by PS Connect, will make things much easier and more efficient and that parents will appreciate the ease of using a single app on their smart device to directly access a multitude of communication and information features.
The majority of parents are now using the app and able to access +Pay/Parentmail, Message History, absence reporting and the latest news, among other features. If you haven’t yet downloaded and registered for MyEd we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.
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