Headteacher's end of term newsletter - February 2021
Dear Parents, Carers and Students
We cannot quite believe it is half term, especially when we have all had moments of feeling like time has stood still. Life online has certainly challenged all of us at times and we should take a moment to reflect on the skills we’ve all acquired and improved on in such an accelerated timescale.
During this lockdown the teaching team have transitioned to ‘live’ lessons and have done a tremendous job. Teaching a full timetable online is not an easy task and learning full time online asks for a new set of skills. Well done to everyone for persevering and making the lessons a success. We have very much tried to remain ‘business as usual’ with Parents’ Evenings and Options events all running virtually. The take up has been has been positive for all events. Thank you in particular to those of you who persevered through SchoolCloud crashing twice!
As you are aware we have moved into the new Maths and IT block, the Sports Hall has been handed over and all we need now are the students! I am sure they will enjoy these new buildings as much as the staff who are already using them and as much as we know they will. I appreciate there is still uncertainty around when students will return to school, but what we do know is that they will come back and we cannot wait to welcome them.
So, as we enter the half term break, the days are lighter, there are clear signs of spring and here at TWGSB we are hopeful to see our students soon.
We are here to support so please do get in touch.
Have a lovely half term – away from a screen.
SPORTS CENTRE: Hot on the heels of the completion of our Maths and ICT Teaching Centre, we accepted the keys to the new Sports Centre at the end of January. This amazing new building offers a top-class indoor Sports Centre next to our all-weather pitches and playing fields, which will complete our comprehensive sports facilities.
The new centre provides:
- Five court Sports Hall marked out for:
- 5 mini and 1 full basketball court(s)
- 1 futsal and handball court
- 5 badminton courts
- 1 volleyball court
- 1 netball court
(not all at once!)
- Multipurpose Activity Studio
- Two classrooms with 65" smart screens (separated by bi-fold doors to create large conference space)
- 2 changing rooms and showers
- PE office
- First Aid room
- Storeroom and toilets
A delighted Mr Millar, Head of PE, said `This truly incredible facility will provide long-awaited professional facilities to support and inspire all students, from beginner to elite player, in their sports activities and studies and we can't wait to get them in there to use it!´
DINING HALL: Works commenced this term on refurbishing the old sports hall into a new dining hall. As there are limited people in school to be disturbed, Baxall Construction have started to demolish the internal structures of the changing rooms, showers, PE office and sports hall to create this exciting future enhancement to our buildings. We hope to be able to share some `before and after´ shots in the next newsletter.
SIXTH FORM CENTRE: The above works (new Teaching Centre, Sports Centre and Dining Hall) are all generously funded by KCC. The Sixth Form Centre project does not, however, fall within their funding remit and so funding must be generated directly by the school.
We have made incredible progress with fundraising for this critical project and we are getting ever-closer to our £1.5m target. We are grateful to everyone who has contributed so far, with money coming from generous parental donations, a local trust award and a school loan. We will be sharing more information with you about how everyone can get involved in the final push to achieving our target from next term and if you would like to know more, please visit our website page.
The creative and attentive work undertaken this term has earned some well-deserved house points and we have created two new boundaries to reflect these fabulous achievements. Diamond (175 points) and Platinum (300 points) – `go get 'em!´
CHARITY SUPPORT: Another lockdown is not deterring our Sixth Form Senior Prefects from continuing their endeavours to raise money for deserving causes. They have again risen to the challenge of fundraising for their chosen charity, Young Minds, who provide support to young people whether they need a reassuring conversation, specialist mental health support, or simply the knowledge that they are not alone in how they are feeling. This is important at any time, but particularly in our current national situation.
Their fundraising video can be seen here. Many thanks to all who have donated.
OXBRIDGE TALK: A group of keenly interested students from Year 12 and Year 11 attended a highly informative and entertaining talk from Maria McElvoy, Queens College, Cambridge. Maria covered a range of areas including the importance of wider reading and full engagement with the supra-curriculum beyond the A level syllabus. She supported the view that an EPQ is an extra attraction in an application. Her talk covered the selection and interview process and gave a brief overview of the clubs, societies and sporting opportunities, which was received with awe and enthusiasm. Maria also promised a visit from herself and the Cambridge roadshow as soon as permitted. Mrs Corp.
UNIVERSITY OFFERS: Whilst on the subject, we have just heard that Dillon Hobbs and Hamish Ironside have been offered conditional places at Cambridge University and St Georges for Medicine. Many congratulations to them both. Mrs Corp.
KCC TRY ANGLE AWARDS: We have had fantastic news that three of our students have won 2020 awards. Huge congratulations to Alfie (Year 8), Miles (Year 9) and Max (Year 10) for their significant achievements in winning an award. Commendation to Harrison in Year 13 who was nominated for an award. The Try Angle Awards recognise the outstanding efforts and achievements of young people and groups who try their best whether at school, work, college, in business or in their wider community across Kent.
SUMMER INTERNSHIP: Well done to George Newman (Year 11) who has gained a place on a Cambridge University/UCL summer internship.
SPORTING ACHIEVEMENT: Handcock brothers Harry (Year 8) and George (Year 9) successfully completed the Ultra Challenge Euro Virtual Challenge 100k – with a week to spare – logging their progress on a virtual map. What a great way to keep moving during screen breaks.
Support to and from the community
SUPPORTING THE NHS: In January we were pleased to loan some of our chairs to the NHS for use at the vaccination centre in the Masonic Hall in St Johns Road and it is heartening to hear that the programme is progressing really well.
LAPTOPS FOR STUDENTS: Parents, the local community and business (thanks Baxall Construction!) have kindly donated laptops for students who are in need of technical support to access their remote learning. To date, we have received 17 laptops and a cash donation to buy more – we are incredibly grateful to those people for their generosity.
NAME THE `HUB´: Years 7, 8 and 9 have been asked to come up with ideas to name the new community centre in Southborough. The form for submitting suggestions is HERE and the deadline is midday on Wednesday 17th February.
A virtual trip to Parliament
The Year 7 classes took a virtual trip to the UK Parliament this term, where they learned about its history and structure, the role of an MP and how laws are made and debated. The session ended with their own debate.
MJ in 7A reported of the experience `I found it really good, I made lots of notes and learnt many new things. The detail with which things were explained made it a lot easier to understand.´
One of the challenges of lockdown is trying to find the space to exercise properly, especially if you don't have a garden! It's also difficult sometimes to find the energy and motivation... At school, a PE lesson is part of the timetable, and teachers and friends are on hand to tell you what to do and to encourage you to get active, but at home, you are more on your own. When you´re used to playing team sports, rather than exercising on your own, this can be difficult.
This term we have completed the following challenges: Reps across the world; Race to 100; Stair Climb/Steps Challenge; Beat the Teacher; Flexibility and Mobility and the 500 Calorie work-out. Of these, I most enjoyed the Flexibility and Mobility challenge, as I learnt about stretching and how to prevent injury while designing my own circuit training regime based around football. Football is one of my two favourite sports along with cricket, but I have had the odd injury, so finding out how to protect myself while getting fitter has been really useful.
I really hope we can be back having normal P.E. lessons soon, because it is more fun playing team sports, but having these remote challenges during lockdown has helped me learn about diet, fitness and exercise (and which ones I can do, and which ones I can't) so hopefully I won't be too unfit when I come back.
In the meantime, keep the challenges coming. I think they're even better if they can be a bit flexible, so that everyone can find a way of completing them, whatever space they have, but also so they can adapt them to their favourite sports! Timon Dolman Year 7
History treasure hunt
Mr Pratt came up with a novel idea for his screen break afternoons and asked for students to do a historical treasure hunt. We were amazed at some of the interesting artefacts that are lying around!
We hope you have all been enjoying the weekly podcasts which provide updates and share the fabulous work being done by our students during lockdown. Do click below for the latest edition from Ms Rose and the previous week's version, which includes some ideas of things to amuse students over half term.
We won't repeat all the work previously shared in the podcasts, but a couple of pieces of exemplary work have been highlighted by their teachers for inclusion. Well done to Joe H (9F), Finn W (8E), Ryan D (10B), Sam N (10F) and Theo C (10G).
Mrs Smith would like to remind all students of the key notes to remember when cooking at home.
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