Headteacher's Newsletter October 2021
Dear Parents, Carers and Students
How lovely it has been to return to school with a higher degree of normality in our day-to-day routines. It seems as if time has accelerated since our return in September, but perhaps that is just testament to what a busy half term it has been.
You will be aware that our campus at Sevenoaks opened for 90 students in September. Building works are due to complete in December so we should have full use on our return to school in the New Year. At the Tunbridge Wells site, we now have full use of the refurbished dining area which was the old gym. This is a wonderful space and the students are enjoying the increased area for dining. All students and staff are now enjoying the £12m investment on the Tunbridge Wells site. The most celebrated aspect of the improvement works by our students has been the new toilets in the main block. Gone are the 1950s toilets and these have been replaced with open modern facilities, which are a long-awaited enhancement.
This half term is always busy with tours and an Open Evening for prospective students. It has been great to be able to have real people back in the building. Information evenings for parents and students in Year 10, 11 and 12 have also taken place, again reminding us how we have missed those face-to-face events.
Families in Year 7 and 8 have had the opportunity to visit the school and see the new facilities; of course this was previously impossible because of lockdown. A big thank you to all those families who have attended the range of events, it really is lovely to have finally met you.
The student, parent/carer and staff surveys recently undertaken have provided us with useful feedback. They were extremely positive but we will work hard to address areas which were flagged and continue on our mission of ‘All Round Excellence’.
With reference to high quality, I hope you will have seen the recent communication from our supportive PTA. They do a fantastic job, providing both financial and social benefits to the school and I would urge you to get involved if you can.
I would like to thank you for your support and encouragement this term, as we have dealt with a number of challenges from increased infections resulting in staff and student absence. We endeavour to do our very best in difficult circumstances.
Heading into the half term break I do hope you are able to have some downtime. Here’s hoping for some crisp autumn days!
TODAY. TOMORROW. TOGETHER.
If you have passed the Tunbridge Wells campus this term you can't help but notice that our campaign to build a new Sixth Form Centre is going well. The new building is coming on apace and we were delighted to share news of school developments and this fundraising campaign with our Year 7 and 8 parents this month. We will hold a final reception for parents of students in Years 9–13 in November.
A new year has reset our behaviour house points and boundaries and it is rewarding to see so many students passing the first level at this early stage. This is a great start and we look forward to more students progressing through the levels over the coming term. Mr Lewis
Our new Year 12s were introduced to life in the Sixth Form and their new tutor groups with an Induction Day at the beginning of term. The day culminated in the famous Golden Bucket Challenge where Year 12 threw themselves into the, often obtuse, challenges in so many categories, working as a team and having fun along the way. Never have we heard such powerful bass deliveries of 'Frozen' or seen paper planes fly so far! Hats off (literally ) to Ms Steane's group, who narrowly triumphed walking off with the coveted Golden Bucket to cherish for the whole year.
Congratulations to all, a great Induction day. Mr Hammond, Head of Year 12
The start of the academic year included a blast of physical activity for both Year 12 and 13, who took part in a day of team-building at Bewl Water. The weather was exceptionally good and all students enjoyed themselves immensely with activities including orienteering, raft building and problem solving. This marked a positive start to the year and will be remembered fondly by all.
We were delighted to have a fascinating talk from Admissions Tutor and Outreach Officer , Elena Sorochina, from St Hugh's College Oxford on Tuesday 28th September. Year 13 students were very interested to hear about the application process, the supra-curriculum and interview process. We are grateful for the support and advice offered. Mrs Corp, Head of Year 13
Tom, one of our Year 12 students, noticed the rising enthusiasm for chess in school (see photo below of impromptu Year 7 game taking place outside) and has set up a lunchtime chess club. He was initially short of sets, but thanks to kind parents, he now has enough to cope with the demand and players are delighted.
Following on from the stakeholders survey sent out in May, we have been looking at ways to continue our work on embedding a culture of Good Mental Health and well-being in our school for everyone; students, staff and parents alike.
In July we held well-being workshops for Year 7-9 and an assembly took place last week introducing the importance of good mental health and well-being to Year 7, as well as reinforcing this message to Year 8-13. We have had two new counsellors joining our counselling team this term and are developing our website so that it will include a separate page for well-being, with links to helpful websites and resources for students and parents.
We will keep you informed of any further changes or updates through the website and communications home. We welcome your thoughts and feedback and as always if you or your child needs any support please do not hesitate to contact the school using TheGrammarSchool@twgsboys.Kent.sch.uk. Mrs Rose
Year 7 Teambuilding day
Our new Year 7s enjoyed a fabulous day at Arena Pursuits in Flimwell, joining together to take part in numerous activities and pursuits. Everyone had a stimulating and fun-filled day and Ms Persee, Head of Year 7, remarked that 'all the students were really keen to participate in the challenges and they were a joy to watch.'
I am absolutely thrilled to be able to say that one of our students, Rafi in Year 10 has been announced as one of only 120 entries from over 606,000 to enter the regional finals of the Royal Mail Heroes stamp design competition. HUGE congratulations to him for his thoughtful and creative design. A panel of judges will determine the winning 24 designs in November and, from those, eight will be chosen as official Royal Mail stamps - signed off by Her Majesty The Queen!
This year we had an extremely positive response to our PTA family calendar competition for 2022 with many beautiful, high quality submissions. We were delighted with this and have been able to make use of many of these in the design. The winning students have been notified and some of their fabulous designs are shared below and will shortly appear on the Art subject page. All students who entered should feel very proud of their work as the selection process was a real challenge. Mrs Kublick
Year 10 and 11 GCSE Students attended a performance of Eli and the Golem by Strangeface Theatre Company, as part of the Tunbridge Wells Puppet Festival. This was a fascinating piece of theatre telling the story of Eli and his life growing up as a Jewish boy and man in pre-war Czechoslovakia. The story was told very simply through a puppet manoeuvred by three puppeteers, one of whom was the voice of Eli. It was fantastic to be able to take the students to the theatre again after nearly two years away and we look forward to another visit later on this academic year. Ms Rose
Cameron Jones left TWGSB a year ago to follow his passion in Culinary Arts. He has now finished his first year at Westminster College, London and has achieved a level 1 diploma in Culinary Arts with a distinction.
Moving on to what will be his second year, he has been lucky enough to get the opportunity to train at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. To do this a student must be working practically full time while attending one day a week at Westminster College. After completing a series of trials, Cameron was offered some amazing places such as the Corinthian London, The Stafford Hotel, Restaurant Story, and others.
He did so well he was offered and has accepted a job at the 3-star Michelin Waterside Inn, Bray where he will be working under Alain Roux, for the next 2 to 3 years. Mrs Smith
Cameron wrote to the school to say 'I believe this speaks testament to what Mrs Smith did for me and the opportunity she gave by entering me in Kent Young Chef of the Year when I was in Year 10. I think very fondly of my time at TWGSB and especially her food lessons. It is a very exciting time for me now and I just wanted to reiterate how grateful I am to her.'
Year 7 students on our Sevenoaks campus have been working on local geography this term, and applying map skills to maps of the local area. After their contour lines lesson I set them the task of creating a 3D hill contour from a template and as illustrated many of the students went above and beyond. I will be displaying their inspiring work in the library in Sevenoaks. Miss Bishop
On 1st October 30 students in Year 10 were offered early access to a new Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. This moving and informative display was enjoyed by the group and students Ryan and Ayaan's share below their experience of the visit.
'During the trip I learnt lots of new things about the holocaust and WW2 in general, with fantastic exhibits representing objects electronically and constant activities to make sure we were still absorbing the information. The objects we saw were amazing, especially the huge planes hanging from the roof and the tanks which we walked past - it was a phenomenal experience.
While we walked through the galleries the main things that really caught my eye were the wall of letters and signs and the striped pyjamas, since they all resembled this idea of the Jewish people’s dehumanisation and how their lives were affected.
To begin with the letters really caught my eye because even though they were in the German language, you could read the boards for a quick summary and it showed them writing to their families after having to leave their homes and businesses. This meant it would affect them mentally, physically and financially, since they would have to start from scratch which reminded me of immigrants generally and how some of the elements are a modern problem too. The signs also caught my attention because they were both in protest and orders from the government stating who was in charge, who the people’s leader was and what rules they should apply now. It really showed Hitler’s dictatorship was promoted by propaganda.
The big screens were impressive, presenting the different invaded countries and where the Jews were being removed from and to. This visual representation was effective as it contained more information than most of the written sources and enabled you too have a wider understanding.' Ryan Year 10
We have a wonderful new library on the Sevenoaks campus, which opened for Year 7 in September.
As you can see we have a band of enthusiastic readers, enjoying our collection of fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction books have made a comeback in terms of popularity which is very nice to see, especially as they give some beneficial respite from screens.
At the Tunbridge Wells campus we also have many good readers in all year groups and break times are incredibly busy in the library with boys choosing to come to the library for reading or homework.
Interest in reading for pleasure, reading self-efficacy and positive reader identities have all been shown to decline during the teenage years so it is wonderful that we have so many boys who love reading.
Currently there is a large gap in achievement between secondary school students who read books for pleasure and those who do not (OECD, 2010; Mol and Bus, 2011), and the strongest predictor of reading growth from age 10 to age 16 is whether a child reads for pleasure (Sullivan & Brown, 2013).
Giving children choice in their reading (provided by a school library) can also help them to become more aware of their own reader identities (Bang-Jenson, 2010). For these reasons, it is imperative that adolescents are given choice and control over the materials they are reading. When children are given a choice in their book selection, they begin to develop a positive reader identity by taking more control over their reading habits. To this end we are lucky to be supported by the PTA who are funding the purchase of new books. Mrs Musselwhite Steel, Library Manager
Big band and 'Grammar School for Noise' clubs have been very popular at our lunchtime clubs and a range of year groups and students have great fun combining their skills and enthusiasm to raise the roof!
The music classroom at Sevenoaks has a new piano, drum-kit and keyboards and the Big Band club is also thriving with 23 students in the group. We look forward to sharing photos from their club in our next issue.
A survey of Year 7 students showed us we have 53 students currently taking music lessons in school and we have just appointed a fourth piano teacher to cope with the demand. Mr Joris
PE has been a hive of activity this term, with a number of football matches and after-school clubs taking place.
A walk around the facilities after school midweek perfectly illustrates the range of clubs and events taking place at both Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks sites.
It has been a very busy and enjoyable term of football. We are entered in 20 cup competitions, 11 Kent and 9 ESFA National.
1st XI (6th Form)
The 1st XI played in the Kent Cup against Beths GS. This was a fixed date game and had to be played during Year 13 exams. A couple of injuries also meant the team was under strength.
The team lost 4-0 against a strong team although the score line flattered the opposition and there were definitely positives to take, despite the result.
2nd XI (6th Form)
The 2nd XI made the very long trip to Dane Court GS in Broadstairs. A full strength squad should have won the game more comfortably but eventually did well to win 2-1 after extra-time and will travel to Harvey GS in Folkestone in the last 16 on Wednesday 17th November.
U’16 (Year 11)
The U’16 team is through to the last 32 of the ESFA Elite National Cup and will play Trinity from Croydon after half-term. The boys had an impressive 4-0 win against Beths GS and followed this up with a fine 1-0 victory away at Homewood School in the Kent Cup on the last day of term. The team is still in the ESFA Elite National Cup and 2 Kent Cups so has plenty of football to look forward to.
The U’16 B team will play Buckswood School in the last 64 of the ESFA National Cup for B teams.
U’15 (Year 10)
The U’15A team had an impressive 5-0 victory against Uplands in the ESFA National Cup and will play Warden Park in Round 3 after half-term. The team also played out an exciting 3-3 draw against Whitgift on a Saturday morning.
The U’15 B team will play Shoreham Academy in the Last 64 of the ESFA National Cup after half-term.
U’14 (Year 9)
The team lost against Whitgift with five boys unavailable due to playing for West Kent SFA on the same day, plus other Covid absences and petrol issues! The A team did really well to win 3-2 away at Valley Park in Maidstone in the Kent Cup but then lost against a good St Gregory’s team two days later.
The B team lost against a very strong Ravenswood B team in the ESFA National Cup and is due to play against the same opponents after half-term in the Kent Cup.
U’13 (Year 8)
60 boys have been attending training on the 3G after school every Tuesday and we praise their effort and attitude. The A team played against a very strong Beths GS team who had an exceptional Charlton Athletic FC striker who was the difference between the two teams. The team led 3-0 against Whitgift but lost 5-3 in an entertaining game on a Saturday morning at the end of September.
The B team lost 3-1 away against Sevenoaks School A team in the Kent Cup.
U’12 (Year 7)
55 boys have been attending training at the Tunbridge Wells site every Monday. The boys in Sevenoaks have enjoyed their PE lessons at Sevenoaks Town FC stadium and have also enjoyed their football practices. There will be school matches after half-term and there is real potential in the year group. The B team won 9-0 against Mascalls in the Kent Cup with a very impressive team performance including some exceptional individual performances too.
Well done to all involved in all year groups and looking forward to another term of football. Mr Menzies, Head of Football
A return to competitive rugby has seen the U15 squad make a successful start in both Kent and national competitions. The team won a comfortable victory away at Hurstmere and battled through for a nail biting final whistle win against Heathfield, in a 60 point thriller. Excellent leadership from captain Ollie Paler and vice captain Zachary Green has been on display in fixtures and training so far, as well as a notable player of the match performance by fly-half William Brook against Heathfield, scoring 17 of our 34 points and kicking a final conversion to win the game. The end of the Heathfield game also saw a fly-by of two Spitfires directly over the centre of the pitch – this of course was carefully planned by the PE department and not at all a happy coincidence! The U’15s move on to second round fixtures against Oakwood Park and Shoreham, whilst the U’14 and U’13 teams can look forward to their first fixtures in the coming weeks. Mr Woods
Mr Butcher shared some images of Year 7 learning how to use microscopes to focus on a variety of items in Science.
A former member of staff, who worked for TWGSB for 30 years, sadly passed away last month. Maurice Knights who taught Economics and Business at the school and retired in 1994 was fondly remembered with genuine affection by many school alumni.
The school was proud to show their respects as the cortege passed us on the day of his funeral.
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