Headteacher's newsletter - July 2021
Dear Parents, Carers and Students
Well, it has been quite an 18 months for all of us. We have all faced ongoing challenges regarding the pandemic. Education is imperative for young people and across the country schools have done their very best to continue learning.
Hopefully as restrictions are lifted further we can look forward to a more normal academic year. Overwhelmingly, we are just so proud of our whole school community: students and staff have had to adapt and change in an instant. We have all suffered a number of disappointments such as bubbles having to isolate, trips being cancelled and general restrictions on school life.
Resilience is the key trait we have seen time and time again. This week has been ‘All Round Excellence’ week- the simple things do not pass us by. The sound of young people genuinely enjoying themselves, smiling and having fun has been a great way to close the year.
The dedication students have shown towards their studies was evident in the nominations for our annual awards afternoon. Although this occasion had to be low key for obvious reasons it was no less important and congratulations goes to all of those prize winners.
Throughout the last 18 months there has been much to celebrate and some real milestones and transformations for the school. We have a new Maths & Computing building, a new Sports Centre and the 3G pitch is currently being refurbished with a new surface. Work on our new dining facility is on track for a September start and looks fabulous. The student toilets in the main block have been ripped out and will be replaced over the Summer. The campus at Sevenoaks is ready to welcome the first cohort and we are delighted to be able to provide a selective education for the Sevenoaks community.
We have demolished the old Sixth Form block and the adjacent building in readiness for our fit-for-purpose Sixth Form study centre. The ‘Today. Tomorrow. Together.’ campaign is nearly there and we sincerely thank those who have supported the campaign so far. If you can, please help get us over that line. The hard work and dedication of the fundraising board has been phenomenal and without them this would not be happening.
Most importantly, throughout the year we have been reminded why we do this job by our wonderful student body. They are an absolute credit to themselves and their families and we are incredibly proud of all of them.
Have a wonderful summer break, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all in the Autumn term.
TWGSB Annual Awards Ceremony
After a turbulent year, it is ever-more important to celebrate the achievements of our students who have represented the values of RESPECT, EXCELLENCE and DETERMINATION. We were sorry that this couldn’t be celebrated in front of their friends and family, however, nominated students were recognised by their teachers and members of the school Senior Leadership Team. Ms Simpson addressed the group as ‘part of an exclusive group who has represented yourself in an exemplary manner this year and have been identified by your teachers for being the best you can be.’ We are very proud of their achievement and are pleased to share photos of the award-winners in their year group bubbles on our news page.
TODAY. TOMORROW. TOGETHER.
Sixth Form Centre campaign
The buildings are now fully demolished, the ground has been cleared and preparations for the foundations will be underway shortly. Due to the continued social distancing restrictions we were unable to invite you to site as expected, but we hope to be able to connect with our school community again in September/October to share our next steps and final fundraising plans.
As our Year 13s have now left, the Year 12 students are stepping up to their new role and we are delighted to announce the new Head Students Alex Puffette and Patsy Nield, ably supported by their Deputies, Hannah Goodwin and Josh Perrett.
The full Senior Prefect Team are also ready and raring to start their responsibilities next term, including leading the school houses, promoting wellbeing and supporting their chosen charities.
Whilst students haven't been able to engage in work experience in person this year, some have taken part in virtual work experience - including Rosie at law firm Browne Jacobson and Fergus and Elijah at pharmaceutical company GSK. They took part in interactive sessions, listened to speakers from different divisions of the companies and undertook project tasks during the day.
The entire cohort enjoyed a virtual presentation from Fiona Naughton, Brand Strategy at Robinhood, live from Los Gatos, California. Fiona delivered an insightful talk about her experience working in Marketing at big corporates including Phones4u, HTC and Paypal. A number of thoughtful questions were posed before students broke into discussion groups with Roisin Fulton, our in-school Emotional Intelligence Coach, who ran workshops later in the afternoon. The sessions explored some key findings from a National Education Union 2017 study on sexism in schools, “It’s just everywhere”. The students went on to learn about how to use their power wisely in interactions with others, and how to challenge unwanted or unlawful behaviours.
Duke of Edinburgh
There have been two expeditions this term, with both Year 10 and 11 boys learning new skills and following walking routes around the area. One group of Year 11 boys had a particularly eventful time, as their skills were well and truly tested when they found a lady who had been badly hurt after an awful fall in the mud. The boys attended to her immediate safety, looked after her distressed dogs and liaised with emergency services, helping them to carry her across fields to the ambulance. The boys were awarded the John Harrison Cup at our Annual Awards Ceremony, recognised in the local press and thanked in school by a visit from the lady herself. The full story can be found on our News page.
Huge congratulations to all students for embracing the new house point system introduced this academic year. Over 115,000 positive house points have been awarded. It is truly wonderful to see so many students demonstrating our school values of Respect, Excellence & Determination in so many areas of school life.
The number of students achieving the boundaries of the positive pathway is a real credit to how hard our students work and the commitment they show to their school. Following this year’s success, the bar will be raised and we will review the positive boundaries next year in order to challenge all students still further.
Thank you to staff for using the reward system with such enthusiasm and encouraging all students to ‘be the best they can be’. Well done everyone! Mr Lewis
Thank you to all parents, students and staff that returned the Well-being audit. We have begun to analyse the information and feedback we received and are looking at what our next steps should be as a school.
This week, in response to student feedback, we have carried out sessions with years 7–9 on well-being and mental health and what to do in situations where you are feeling low or are worried about a friend. We have also held three diversity meetings where we have heard pupil feedback on gender, race and LGBTQ+ and how these issues impact on them both in and out of school. It has been a pleasure to hear the students talk so eloquently and we will continue with these in September. On the back of your feedback we are also going to review the Well-being area of the website and look at how we can improve this.
Please keep us informed of any concerns you have and I hope you have a restful summer. Mrs Rose
Years 7, 8 and 9 enjoyed a visit from the ‘Is it worth it?’ tour company who talked about different aspects of personal safety and how to reduce exploitation and victimisation in society. The boys enjoyed a talk, video and an interactive session, including a ‘buzzer quiz’ for the groups.
Year 11 students hoping to study Art A level returned to school for a football themed masterclass, where they practised new techniques and interpretation.
Year 8 have experimented with the new lighting in the drama studio to recreate superhero comic strips. The effects are quite powerful and gave the students an opportunity to experiment with different ways of presenting drama. Mrs Rose
Food & Nutrition
Part of this term's study for my Year 10 GCSE Food and Nutrition class included learning about alternative forms of plant protein. Some students were pleasantly surprised at how good their final dishes tasted and how easy they were to make. Mrs Smith
Year 10 Geography/Geology students visited Pett Level, a beach with Geological interest. The trip to this shingle beach supports the class work being done on Coasts and contributes to the Physical Geography component of their exam.
Year 8 also enjoyed a field trip to Eastbourne investigating beach processes and management which supports their curriculum studies.
Film maker club: Over the past term our film makers have developed their story boarding, cinematography and editing skills by remaking an iconic sequence from Edgar Wright’s 'Hot Fuzz'.
Modern Foreign Languages
Year 9s have been researching French speaking countries and produced some great work which is now gracing the walls of the MFL corridor in Bates building.
The department held a competition to design a Welcome poster in different languages and the shortlist (from Years 7, 8, 9 and 12) can be seen below. Congratulations to Lucille Kendon in Year 12 for the winning entry.
Year 12 enjoyed delicious churros con chocolate one of their lessons this term. They followed the instructions in Spanish and communicated only in Spanish whilst cooking.
Whilst we haven't been able to hold a concert this year, some of our musicians have recorded 'live sessions' for your enjoyment.
Charlie K (7B), Ben M (9F) and Arthur M (8B) were recognised for their achievements in music and awarded certificates and a trophy for the best AP3 test result and to Jonathan Hosier for winning the prize for best All-round Musician.
Well done to Will Perry in 8E for winning the TikTok lip sync House Competition with a creative interpretation of ‘Nine to Five’ by Dolly Parton. Congratulations also go to Lewis Fotheringham, Mark Bridger, Sahishnu Jadhav and Anthony O’Shea for their innovative entries.Mr Joris.
A couple of our students got to meet some music celebrities recently, with Axel Wadsworth (Year 8) enjoying time with Roger Daltrey after Axel and his band won a national music competition. The band donated their prize of a guitar worth £1,400 to the Teenage Cancer Trust and so Mr Daltrey asked to meet and thank them.
George Norman in Year 10 appeared in CBBC TV show 'Got What it Takes?' and did amazingly well over nine episodes to be one of the three finalists. His final performance in front of Becky Hill, Jonas Blue and Rickie Haywood-Williams can be seen here. Huge congratulations to George for this exciting achievement.
Inter-house Summer Sports Event 2021
A veritable feast of sporting competition took place in the final week of term, with over 800 students representing their house in a variety of sporting tournaments. Every student in Years 7, 8 and 9 was offered a place in one of six teams per house, across four sports. A number of these sports are relatively new to the curriculum and have proved to be extremely popular and refreshing for the students. They include ultimate frisbee and handball, along with the more traditional sports of table tennis and cricket. Competition was intense and showed a wealth of talent. Medals were presented to one member of each team who displayed the school’s values of Respect, Excellence and Determination.
Surprisingly, after approximately 80 matches in four sporting disciplines, the tournament resulted in a dead heat between Scotney and Knole with 132 Points. Hever and Ightham followed very closely with 128 points and 120 points respectively. Congratulations to all who took part in the spirit of fair play. Mr Millar
To match the standard of our new Sports Centre, works have begun and will continue over the summer holidays to refurbish the carpet on our 3G pitch. The 7,000sqm area of astro-turf will be ready for our return in September.
Well done to Jack Sanctuary who was selected to play for the Kent Exiles American football team and appeared in their starting line-up for the first game of a Covid hit season. Their tournament games were against Wembley Stallions, London Blitz and Hellingly Pheonix, where they firmly beat the competition and won all three games. Jack started playing about 8 months ago and plays as a wide receiver.
Government and Politics
We were lucky enough for Greg Clark to visit our Year 12 Government & Politics students this term. A robust question and answer session covered the topics of the environmental agenda, morality of politicians, the role of Science in Government and the European Union.
All Round Excellence Week
To round off an eventful year the students have enjoyed a number of varied activities, both in and out of school, for their final week of term. All Round Excellence (ARE) week has been challenging, inspiring, fun, creative, active and wet - for those at Arena Pursuits and Bewl!. We have had some fabulous feedback from students, parents and even event hosts, with the Manager of one Activities Centre taking time to remark that TWGSB was the best school they have ever had; the boys all being so polite and really well behaved.
A range of photos are available on the website School Gallery (scroll to bottom of list).
Science technicians Mr Beard and Mrs Mitchell are retiring with nearly 60 years service at TWGSB between them! Mr Beard leaves after 33 years and Mrs Mitchell after 26 years. We wish them both a long and happy retirement.
Occasionally we are contacted by companies that offer workshop experiences during the holidays and, whilst we cannot comment on their content, you may wish to look at:
8billionideas run a virtual, but live, Accelerator Programme for 15-18 year old students. It offers a balance of on and off-screen activities in the areas of entrepreneurship, public speaking, personal branding, growth mindset and interview skills. https://www.8billionideas.com/accelerator
Skills Gap run workshops and courses for young people aged 15-19 who are keen to discover how advances in tech and Artificial Intelligence will affect their future careers and will be running a series of events (Finance, Space, Medicine and Engineering) over the summer. https://www.skillsgap.tech/workshops
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