Headteacher's Newsletter December 2021
Dear Parents, Carers and Students
As if by magic Christmas is upon us! It feels like this term has had an intensity in terms of both activities and intent. The students have thrown themselves into everything that has been on offer and we have finished the term with inter-house events, celebration assemblies and an SLT breakfast for those students with 100 house points plus.
I had the pleasure of watching Year 9 take part in the inter-house cross country. It was great to see everyone having a go. For me the winners are the students who dig in, do their very best and get around for their house points. Our school values of Respect, Excellence and Determination were definitely on display. Well done to all involved.
You will see from the newsletter that the school teams have had significant success in a range of sports against top schools. A big thank you to the PE team and Ms Mooney who give up hours of their time to ensure the students are able to compete in such competitions.
The final handover of the Sevenoaks campus has recently taken place and this week the furniture has been delivered. All specialist teaching rooms will be up and running in the new year and we look forward to the official opening towards the end of January.
If you have been to the Tunbridge Wells site, no doubt you will have noticed the progress of the new Sixth Form Centre. I am pleased to say that all is on schedule for a March opening.
My favourite phone call this half term was definitely, ‘hello this is Courtney from Ofsted...’ Once again, thank you for your support. In what has been an exceptionally challenging 21 months, it is really appreciated. It looks like the report will not be released until the new year and we will share further feedback with you once it has been published.
The students' favourite event of the term has to have been the chocolate tombola, most effectively run and managed by the PTA. It never ceases to amaze me how much chocolate a teenager can consume. The difference this year was that instead of coming home, they all went back to lessons. Thank you teaching staff!
It would appear that this Christmas period will once again be a challenging one. All at TWGSB would like to thank you for your continued support and wish you all a very safe, happy and restful Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone.
TODAY. TOMORROW. TOGETHER.
Back in May 2018, the school launched a campaign to build a new Sixth Form Centre. This was to replace our previous metal frame building, which was in a poor state of repair, built for 130 students, cold and damp in winter and hot and sweaty in summer.
Given the effect of the pandemic, this campaign ran for much longer than originally intended. However we are delighted to inform you that, thanks to a number of kind gifts from our parent body, we have been able to hit our target of £750,000 from school fundraising. This, combined with a loan for £750,000 from KCC, means that the overall campaign target of £1.5m has been reached.
We would like to take a moment to reflect on this fantastic achievement, the result of which provides us with a flexible working space with silent and quiet study areas, as well as a 40+ position ICT suite and lockers. It will be an aspirational learning environment for the independent study required to successfully complete A Level subject courses, bridging the gap between GCSE and A Level and preparing students for their next steps. This flagship building will also be an aspirational environment for our younger students as they journey through the school.
The Campaign Board of supportive parents that has worked on this project has now set itself the task of raising an additional £150,000 to fund increased costs and internal furnishings.
The new centre will be completed at the end of February 2022.
Willmott Dixon handed over the keys to the new building in Sevenoaks (students there have been using the first phase to date) and the boys were excited to see their new facility in its entirety. The new building opens formally in January and we share an image of the new dining hall as a preview.
As part of our aim for ‘All Round Excellence’, our points-based rewards system allows teachers, and in fact any adult in the school, to award positive points to students for great work in their lessons, homework and showing exemplary manners. The first students to reach 100 positive points were served a breakfast by the Senior Leadership Team as a reward for their achievement.
Three car loads of donations were taken by Year 13 Senior Prefects to the Nourish food distribution centre. The generous donations from Sixth Form students and their families were gratefully received by Nourish for their 'The 12 Days of Christmas Wish List' . Thank you to all who donated, collected and delivered these critically important items. Your generosity is so admirable and the supplies will be distributed to those in need in our area.
Well done to all Year 13 students for submitting their UCAS applications this term and commendation to the nine Oxbridge candidates who had their interviews last week – we are so proud of them all. They have done themselves and our school proud.
Councillor Chris Woodward, Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, visited us to talk to Year 12 students about the new Tunbridge Wells Youth Forum. Cllr Woodward explained about his initiative to engage 'The Rising Generation' and invited students to join the forum to represent young people and participate in local democracy.
Sales of poppies for The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal were co-ordinated by our Sixth Form prefects and sales totalled over £523 across both campuses, exceeding last year's total of £400. We thank parents, students and staff for their generosity.
With the dark nights drawing in and the frost appearing in the morning, we know winter is on its way. For many, December is a month for joyful family time, wrapping gifts and twinkly lights. However, for some young people, it can also be a very lonely and difficult experience.
With this in mind, I wanted to make you aware that Kooth.com is available right throughout the Christmas and New Year break for all 10–25 year olds across Kent.
Kooth is a free online emotional well-being support service for children and young people, which can be accessed at any time, 365 days a year, via a mobile, laptop or tablet. Children/young people can be signposted to Kooth or can sign up themselves to access free and safe online mental health and well-being support, so no referral is required.
Online counselling is provided by a professional team of qualified counsellors and emotional well-being practitioners. There are other online tools and features available, such as a daily journal, mini activities and a magazine, with peer-to-peer and community elements. All of these are safe, secure, pre-moderated and age appropriate.
Online counselling is available 12:00–22:00 during the week and 18:00–22:00 on weekends, with a slight variation for Christmas/New Year (see below). Mrs Rose
We are incredibly proud to announce that Rafi Valle Martin has been successful in being chosen as one of the 24 regional winners of the Royal Mail Heroes Stamp Design competition. This is such an achievement, as there were more than 606,000 entries and his entry was judged by a panel including the Prime Minister and the CEO of Royal Mail. By succeeding at this level, Rafi has won a prize for himself and a £500 prize for the school!
The next stage will be reviewed by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and the eight winners, to be announced on 28 February 2022, will be made into stamps in 2022. Rafi's inspiring design can be seen here along with all the other regional finalists. Ms Kublik
For their A Level studies, the Year 12 students have made decorative, carved leaf boxes which illustrate use of different timbers, designs and veneers. We share some of their exceptional work below.
The wooden boxes below make use of dovetail joints, catches and hinges to develop joinery skills, and students have learned to use lacquer finishes and natural features to enhance the overall designs.
This term GCSE drama students were able to perform to a live visiting audience for the first time in two years. It felt very special to have people in school watching when students performed their exam devised pieces to their families – something we haven’t been able to do since December 2019.
Year 7 Drama Club takes place at Sevenoaks once a fortnight and this week we held our session in the newly finished hall. Pupils made the most of the space by improvising a modern-day nativity. Mrs Rose
Year 10 Production of A Christmas Carol
We were very fortunate to host the Quantum Theatre company for a production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which our Year 10 students are currently studying for their English Literature GCSE. Not only were we able to get into the Christmas spirit but the play also encapsulated the key themes and concepts from the original 19th-century text in order to support students’ understanding. Some of our students share their reviews below. Miss Steane
On Monday 6th December, we were shown a production of Dickens’ 'A Christmas Carol'. The production was well made and they played on the idea of a carol by adding a lot of traditional Christmas songs and hymns. The acting was good with humorous elements. They helped me to understand the book in a more visual way without straying too far from the premise of the novella like many films do. Innes W.
The play was a nice asset to the work we have been doing in class for the curriculum and gave me a better understanding of the story. It was well put together and cleverly used all key parts of the story. They performed well with nice expression, and the lighting and props were well used for more realistic effects and a good background to set the scene. Finlay B.
I think the production was very good and although they only had three actors, they did a good job of portraying all of the characters with precision. They used the lighting effects to give a more realistic sense of the play, and to have a meaningful background. They were very good at acting, changing characters quickly. It was entertaining and they did a good job of displaying the story and getting the message of the whole book across to the audience. Ghufran L.
The production portrayed the story well in an easy to understand way. You were able to follow the story and know what was happening. There were a few downsides: the same song extract being sung numerous times in the first 10 minutes and the humour was sometimes questionable but it benefited our learning and enabled us to understand the text well. Harvey D.
The actors made it easier to understand by involving the most important events and acting them in a way to make them memorable and emphasising the idea of the ‘carol’. Also by adding the factor of comedic value, the play stood out from others that people may have seen. Lorcan E.
I thought it was very informative and clear about what happened. It used correct lines from the book and covered all the main points as close to the book as possible. It was quite funny. I thought there was a bit too much singing but I think they played on the ‘carol’ idea. The actors were very detailed and similar to the book. Leo C.
As an end-of-term project, Year 7 students in Tunbridge Wells made, baked and decorated festive cakes, which were proudly displayed on the balcony for all to admire. The cakes showed a huge range of creativity and skill and Mrs Smith observed that they were of a very high standard.
Winners were chosen and we congratulate William 7A, Rory 7B, Austin 7C, Neo 7D, Adam 7E, Tom 7F and Hayden 7G, who were all awarded special Christmas spatulas!
Sevenoaks Year 7 students will make Easter cakes when they move into their new building and the fabulous new Food Technology classroom.
Mr Pratt worked with the Imperial War Museum on the development and launch of their new Holocaust galleries exhibit and he received a book and note of thanks to the school.
Visit to the Peruvian restaurant ‘El sabor Peruano’ and puppet show
Year 12 and 13 students who are studying Spanish watched a puppet show with traditional Peruvian characters and received a talk about Andean music and Peru’s typical instruments. They tried some Peruvian dishes such as Ceviche, Lomo Saltado and they also tasted the popular soft drink called Inca Cola which is more popular that Coca Cola in Peru. The food topic is covered at A Level Spanish (food, drink, music and culture). Mrs Mason
A few weeks ago, all language students in Year 10 enjoyed watching a play in either French or Spanish (depending on their language choice for GCSE). The plays were performed in the Main Hall by professional actors who are native language speakers. All actors are trained to perform with clear, slow delivery and good use of mime to ensure the students can follow the play. The plot of both plays highlighted many similarities to our students’ life, but in a humorous and exaggerated manner, making it relatable and increasing students' enjoyment by empathising with the characters and storylines. Our aim was to provide a different experience from the classroom environment and boost the students’ confidence in another language.
Using vocabulary they have learned this term, 8E have made displays to describe their home town; their work is displayed in MFL classrooms.
Oli in 9F was incredibly busy for Armistice Day in November. He played the Last Post at a crowded Tonbridge War Memorial, marched in the Lord Mayor's show with the Romford Drum and Trumpet Corp, as well as parading in Tonbridge and Snodland with the 17th Tonbridge Scout and Guide band. Well done Oli for your respectful service.
Mr Joris hosted a music workshop for students in Year 9 and activities included composition, performance and a game of musical pictionary! Can you guess what was being suggested here..? Answers at the bottom of the newsletter.
A series of inter-house tournaments have been held over the final weeks of term, with cross country, badminton and football tournaments being enjoyed by the boys. A selection of photos are shared below and Oliver J. in Year 8 shares an excellent report of the badminton tournament.
Year 9 inter-house football
Inter-house cross country: Incredibly we woke up to a calm and settled day following the torrential rain and high winds of storm Barra. The course was set to challenge all the runners as conditions were exceptionally squelchy under foot. As each year group descended from the main school, there was a sense of anticipation for the race ahead. The field was awash with colour as each student prepared to achieve their personal challenge. The school's values of respect, excellence and determination were clear to see as the boys made their way around their course. The results are shared below. Congratulations go to Ightham for winning the overall event, but I would like to say 'well done' to all involved and to the Year 13 House Captains for their outstanding leadership during the event. Mr Millar
Basketball: After a long absence due to COVID-19 we have been delighted to begin our basketball programme this term. The new sports hall has been the perfect venue to host many schools from the West Kent district with some excellent performances across all year groups. Key highlights include Joe C.’s 44 point total in a comprehensive win against Bennett Memorial for the Sixth Form team and David W.’s buzzer beater to tie the game against The Skinners' School for the U16 team. All the teams are progressing well and we look forward to continuing the fixture programme after Christmas. Mr Millar
Football: Read Mr Menzies' Football round-up – December 2021
Rugby: TWGSB rugby teams have made a positive start to the year so far. Our U14 team made it to the final of the Kent Shield, finishing as runners-up in a close game that could have gone either way. Our U15 team has also been successful, making it to the third round of the national competition, and narrowly losing against a well-organised Eastbourne College. The U15s also won the Kent Shield following a well-earned victory in the final against Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School.
Outstanding individual and collective performances have been on display from the boys so far. Year 7 and 8 students have had the opportunity to receive coaching once a week with Tunbridge Wells RFC, which has developed their game immensely. In the new year, we can look forward to fixtures for the Year 7 and 8 teams, as well as rugby sevens for the older age groups such as the U15s. Mr Woods
Table Tennis: There is much excitement with our table tennis squads, as both the U13 and U16 teams will be going forward to represent Kent in the National Schools Table Tennis Tournament in January 2022. The U13s put in an exceptional performance to beat The Skinners' School in the final
and the U16s also became Kent champions beating The Skinners' School 6-2 and Dane Court Grammar School 7-1.
Mr Boddy/Mr Woods
The lunchtime chess club, started by Year 12 student Tom and led by fellow Sixth Formers, has been running a tournament this term and after a hard-fought contest, the winner was Josh in 9G who received a trophy and 5 house points. Congratulations go to him and the runners-up: Leon 8F, Alex 8D, Jake 7C, Henry 8B and Solomon 7G.
Hot House Club
Our Hot House Club members harvested the fruits of their labours this term, picking the hottest chillies in the world including the ‘Mauruga’ Trinidad Scorpion (at 3.5,000,000 Scovilles] which is deemed too hot to eat raw! Instead boys are enjoying the slightly milder ‘Ring of Fire’.
The boys have also grown avocados from stones and several house plants, which now decorate Main Reception, classrooms and staff rooms around the school. A big thank you to the PTA for the new picnic bench made out of 100% recycled plastics and also thanks to parents and staff who have donated plants and pots to the club.
Year 10 Scholars' Society
This past term, the Year 10 Scholars ventured up to London in their quest to broaden their understanding of the ideas of the past and present.
Their first trip was to the Museum of London to listen to a lecture entitled ‘Holocaust History Under Siege in Poland’ by Professor Jan Grabowski. The lecture was sponsored by Gresham College and explored the more recent moves by an authoritarian Polish government to diminish the role of Poles in the holocaust. The lecture was quite detailed and raised questions about how countries view and then discuss difficult legacies of past injustice.
The second trip, trying to develop the idea of the Renaissance man, was to the Science Museum in the morning to investigate aspects of engineering and then, in the afternoon, a workshop at the Wallace Collection, specifically focused on Symbolism in Art.
The goal of the Scholars' Society is to develop intellectual curiosity and support our most eager and ambitious students to explore further. In January, we will be starting a Scholars' society for year 7 building upon the successes of their first two terms at TWGSB. Ms Stevens
In preparation for the festive season, the PTA provided and decorated a Christmas tree and held a chocolate tombola on each of our campuses. If you want to see what a chocolate frenzy looks like, reference the picture below! Thank you to the team for their hard work.
Our new parent-governors have been ratified and we are very grateful for their commitment to the school in providing this vital support. Welcome to Ian Buckley, Ben Kottler, Machie Nwakaego and Anna-Laila Pace.
*Answers to musical pictionary: Double bass, French horn(?!), trombone, baton, glockenspiel
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