Headteacher's Newsletter April 2021
Dear Parents, Carers and Students,
Spring is definitely here and we have had a safe and full return to school. Once again, the building sings with the sound of learning and teenage chatter. The students are smiling (mostly) and life feels a little more normal.
We are finally enjoying our new buildings and I’m sure you will have heard all about them from your son/daughter. The new food technology room is more like Masterchef and has been a massive draw this year for Year 9 students choosing their options. At some point we will be able to invite you to see it first-hand.
As you know 4,500 lateral flow tests were conducted in the first two weeks of our return with the help of staff, parents, volunteers and governors, who ensured such a smooth process. We cannot thank them enough.
Extra-curricular sports clubs have returned and the turnout has been really great from all years. There are lots of elements of school that the students have missed, but this one has certainly put a smile on student faces.
I appreciate that many of you will have concerns as to how your child will catch up. Please be assured that the day-to-day work of staff in classrooms is focusing on identifying gaps and the re-teaching and reinforcement of the curriculum.
You will see from the content of the newsletter that students and staff have been very busy. I cannot stress enough how lovely it is to have the school community back in the building. I wish you and your family a happy and safe Easter break - no doubt chocolate may be a feature and for most of us that well over-due haircut!
TODAY. TOMORROW. TOGETHER.
Sixth Form Centre campaign
A team of school leadership and parents have made fabulous progress moving the Sixth Form Centre campaign forward in difficult circumstances. Thanks to their hard work, a fantastic grant award and generous parent support we are now at 90% of the required fundraising total.
Once lockdown restrictions have been lifted, we will invite parents to see the new buildings and hear about our progress on this crucial campaign which continues the transformation of our Tunbridge Wells campus. We thank those parents who have supported the campaign to-date and encourage others to come and hear why this is such an important project for the school and your child.
Given the location and state of the current Sixth Form building, there are both practical and financial benefits to commencing work now – while the old sports hall is converted to dining facilities – and therefore the builders have begun careful demolition, which will continue over the Easter holidays.
Year 13 students have been performing their Extended Project Qualifications during lunchtimes this term, working towards the submission of their completed work. As ever we have had a wide variety of topics ranging from the dominance of the British Navy in the 18th Century to the use of ironic music in film. The EPQ is an optional subject and requires a lot of time and dedication and it was an honour to see how well every student had done. Furthermore, the experience using presentation skills and receiving feedback from peers and teachers is useful in their development as critical, reflective and independent students.
In PHSE this term, students have been talking about topical ife issues, considering the areas of:
- Transition from school life (Year 13)
- Managing stress to maintain health and wellbeing
- Public Sexual Harassment and #Everyonesinvited
- Informed choices on further education and work
As part of the above, a group of Year 12 students took part in a virtual presentation from BAM Nuttall, led by TWGSB alumni Sidney Cornish, who explained about the opportunities available for degree apprenticeships. BAM Nuttall work with clients across the public and private sector and their apprenticeship programme was placed third in the Top 100 Employer category for the national Rate My Apprenticeship awards.
After the tragic death of one of his friends, Year 13 student Javier Sequeira has been personally moved to raise money for Papyrus, a charity dedicated to the prevention of suicide in young people. He and a small group of friends are doing an unassisted hike of 100 miles of the South Downs Way, with a target to complete the hike in under 72 hours. He is grateful for any support and if you would like to recognise their endeavour, please visit GoFundMe.
Concerned by the case of Sarah Everard and its wider implications, two Sixth Form boys have approached Greg Clark MP with an idea for an app to improve the safety of women while out alone. Mr Clark was impressed with their ingenuity and has committed to introduce them to industry specialists who can help them explore the idea further.
TWGSB has received a generous grant of £60,000 from the Wolfson Foundation, towards IT equipment for three Computer Science laboratories in the recently completed Teaching Centre. This new technology will offer exciting new teaching and learning opportunities for both staff and students to work together creatively and collaboratively.
We are incredibly grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for their support with this project supporting digital literacy, which is a key skill in today’s world.
Duke of Edinburgh
We are really happy to be back up-and-running with our activities for the Duke of Edinburgh awards. The students have had a briefing to introduce and discuss their activities, with the first training session in school for Year 10 planned for 24-25 April and the final assessed expedition for Year 11 taking place over the weekend of 5-6 June.
The Senior Leadership Team hosted breakfasts this week for students who have received 100 house points. Mr Lewis commended them on their achievement and thanked them for their continued efforts to embody the school's values of Respect, Excellence and Determination.
This year we are aiming to achieve the Wellbeing Award for Schools.
Developed in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), the Wellbeing Award for Schools is intended to help schools prepare and equip themselves to promote emotional wellbeing and positive mental health across the whole-school community. To achieve this vision, NCB advocates the use of a ‘whole-school approach’ where all aspects of the school experience are harnessed to promote the emotional wellbeing and mental health of pupils and staff.
It is an approach where emotional wellbeing and mental health is everybody’s business.
In order to get feedback on our current provision from all stakeholders, we will be sending out a questionnaire to staff, pupils and parents/ carers after the Easter holidays. A letter has been sent out under separate cover to this newsletter requesting that parents state whether they DO NOT give consent for their son / daughter to take part. Once received, please complete the questionnaire and submit it by Friday 23rd April. To find out more about the award please follow the link below.
Mr Stevens has highlighted the work of Louis Egan in Year 12 who took part in a wood turning induction course and made a beautiful bowl.
Year 7 were tasked with expressing their feelings about returning to school through the medium of poetry. We saw some fabulous examples of creative thought and a couple of recurring themes about getting up early and lost shoes! Well done to Joseph H, Nico W and Henry C who were commended by Mrs Corp.
The thought of going back, what a great thought
Seeing friends, meeting real life people, knowing what to do instead of looking at screens all day
Having fun with teachers
Playing sport again
Society relieved from the giant dome that has trapped them in
After lessons we grab a bus having fun, talking, playing. Enjoying the moment, enjoying the fun.
Get back home with no fuss, have a snack and rest before it all happens again.
Mr Pratt has shared some exceptional work from his Year 9 students,
Jack F's project recounted the visit of JFK to Forest Row in 1963 and included a wonderful interview with his Grandad which added detail and flavour and brought the work to life.
A very well researched project was completed by Reuben C, who prepared a detailed study of Frank G C Weare a notable character from the history of High Brooms in Tunbridge Wells.
Ryan S provided an exceptionally thorough catalogue of Crime and Punishment from the year 1000 to date, which is no mean feat!
The Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Department is enjoying its new location in the Bates Block. There are a large number of display boards along the corridor and these are gradually being filled with inspiring images. We have created a poster showing some celebrities that speak more than one language. The students seem amazed that Will Smith speaks Spanish!
The photo below shows some Year 8 students pointing at a poster which lists some of the benefits of learning a foreign language and international jobs where languages are an asset.
In order to research and learn more about foods in Spanish-speaking countries, some of Señora Mason's Year 8 Spanish class prepared tapas to share at home with their families.
Thanks to funding from the PTA, music now have additional laptops for students working on composition and curriculum work. The new equipment will enable computer access for a class of students to work in pairs.
During lockdown, the music department ran competitions for performance and composition, well done to the following boys for their awards.
The overall winner was Jonathan in Year 10 with his performance, which can be listened to on YouTube. Mr Joris says "Jonathan is a lively, passionate and hard-working GCSE Music student. He practises regularly and played this piece particularly expressively, as suits the style and tempo."
We have been amazed, but not surprised, by the number of students joining us for after-school clubs over the last two weeks.
|w/c 22nd March||w/c 29th March|
|Year 10||40||40 expected|
It is clear that the students love their sport and have missed it a great deal in lockdown. The PE team have been equally delighted to host the clubs to encourage participation and build their skills ready for a summer term of activities. The new term will offer the first opportunity for students to get involved in handball and, regulations allowing, a relaunch of inter-house competition.
Our new sports facility helps take the sport at TWGSB to another level, in terms of what can be achieved and everyone's enjoyment - as demonstrated by our Head of PE below.
The PE Team
TWGSB alumni David Harkin is CEO of 8billionideas. 8billionideas is described as world of fun, engaging and interactive experiences from videos and podcasts, to self-paced and live courses - all designed to give students the skills and belief that they can change the world.
David has very kindly offered our students access to a 10-day FREE trial which will be available from 1st April 2021, just in time for the Easter Holidays. To take advantage of these opportunities, you will need to register at www.8billionideas.com
Great news. We are very grateful to GPs within the Tunbridge Wells Primary Care Network, who have offered COVID-19 vaccinations to schools for staff who work with vulnerable students. Some delighted staff from TWGSB will be able to take up their first dose next week.
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