Headteacher's Newsletter February 2022
Dear Parents, Carers and Students
Although this term has been a relatively short one, I think it is fair to say it has not felt that way. We have, however, endeavoured to continue to drive things forward, regardless of what the pandemic might throw our way.
As a school we have been exceptionally fortunate not to have struggled with prolonged staff absence before now and we finish the term with a near-to-normal complement of staff and students. We appreciate our amazing KS3 students for their positive approach to online learning last week, along with their resilience and flexibility. The support from our community during this challenging time has been exceptional and as always, we are really grateful.
The official opening of the Sevenoaks campus was an absolute milestone in the history of the school. We are exceptionally proud to be the guardians of this campus and continue our drive for All Round Excellence.
Year 13 are currently sitting their mock exams. They have worked incredibly hard in preparation and I’m sure their efforts will be rewarded. Year 11 will sit their mocks on return and I know they will be revising hard throughout the half term.
You will see from the rest of the newsletter that our sporting success continues in a number of disciplines. A big thank you to the PE team for making this happen – their efforts are really appreciated.
We are very excited about the new Sixth Form Centre that is nearing completion. This has been a huge achievement and we cannot wait for the students to take full advantage of the new inspirational environment. You will also be aware that our Ofsted report has now been published and I hope you are as proud as we are to be part of the TWGSB transformational journey.
Wishing you a restful half term break. Your continued support is much appreciated.
TODAY. TOMORROW. TOGETHER.
If you have been anywhere near the Tunbridge Wells site in recent weeks, you will see that the new Sixth Form Centre is nearing completion. The building proudly welcomes staff, students and guests on to the site and positively beams a message of transformation.
We are so incredibly grateful to the parent community who donated to this project, which has allowed us to deliver such an aspirational new space for the Sixth Form of today and tomorrow. We will share photos and further information next term.
Sevenoaks Campus Opening Ceremony
Our Sevenoaks campus was officially opened by Roger Gough, Leader of KCC and Dr Philip Drew, Chair of Governors, on Wednesday, 26th January at an event that featured special guests and a performance by the students.
Ms Simpson welcomed an audience including Sarah and Andrew Shilling and Ed Walker, the parents who first raised the call for a grammar school to serve the Sevenoaks area; Sir Paul Carter former leader of KCC and Sir Michael Fallon former Sevenoaks MP who were key drivers of the initial campaign. Sevenoaks Mayor, Dr Merilyn Canet and MP Laura Trott also attended, with Ms Trott praising 'the guts and determination' of people who engaged with the campaign.
The Sevenoaks Year 7 students all contributed letters of thanks, which were displayed to the guests and 7J performed a poem of thanks, which was gratefully appreciated by the audience.
Students are making fantastic progress gaining reward points and our first student has passed the gold reward boundary this term. Points are awarded for embodying our values of Respect, Excellence and Determination, a positive contact home and for being Star of the Lesson.
The Year 12 and 13 A Level PE students visited the University of Brighton, Eastbourne campus where they had the opportunity to experience elite level fitness testing at the university's laboratory testing facilities. Some of the students chose to push themselves by taking part in maximal testing, including the anaerobic Wingate test. They also experienced tough physical conditions such as plunge pools, freezing chambers and hot baths after which they carried out fitness tests to establish how the body reacts to working at different temperatures.
Students experienced valuable A Level PE sport science teaching from the lecturers and had a brief walk around the university campus, which gave them an insight as to what university life might be like.
Sixth Form students have enjoyed an interesting series of talks this term, with alumni featuring in starring roles.
Year 12 English students were lucky enough to hear from alumni Tom Powell (Class of 2010) who discussed his life writing for TV and theatre and the unique and rewarding experience he has had as a playwright.
Tom Powell was the 2019–21 CRSC Writer in Residence at Pentabus Theatre and was chosen for the BBC Studios Writers’ Academy 2019/20. He was shortlisted for the Soho Young Writers’ Award and selected for the BBC Words First spoken word programme and his short audio drama 'Love Beyond the Zoo' will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in September 2021.
7–13th February is National Apprenticeship week so it was appropriate to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy. Alfie Wilkinson-Boyd (Class of 2021) talked to our Year 12 and 13 students about his experience as Trainee Tax Accountant at Tilney Smith & Williamson on their apprenticeship scheme.
Congratulations to the nine students who were selected for Oxbridge interviews, with special recognition to Tom Treuteneare who has been offered a place to read for a Degree in Engineering at Girton College, Cambridge. We are proud of all our Sixth Form students who are currently studying hard in preparation for mock and final exams this summer alongside their applications to universities, apprenticeship schemes and other post-school pathways and we can't wait to see what the future holds.
7–13th February was Children's Mental Health Week and tutors shared an assembly from 'Place2be', which addressed the importance of well-being and emotional growth. The presentation can be seen on https://youtu.be/4WIyGEIWuDo and resources are available on the Place2be website.
Parents have also been sent information and an invite to join the PIPA Trial, coordinated by the University of Warwick, which explores the effectiveness of an online resource for parents/carers to help reduce depression and anxiety in young people.
Students have been using silver solder to form joints between shaped copper pieces to make small trinket boxes. These have then been cleaned and polished. The task is not easy, and coppersmiths would spend years perfecting the skill, which our students have admirably done first time, to a high level. Mr Stevens
Modern Foreign Languages
Discovering French bread and the rules of 'baguetiquette'
The stereotypical French person has a striped shirt, a beret and a baguette under an arm. That may be a cliché, but what's certain is that bread is an integral part of the French diet and people take their bread very seriously. So just what makes French bread so good? And what are the rules of 'baguetiquette'? A few KS3 students set out to find out more.
A Level linguists’ study days, French and Spanish cinema
Students went to the British Film Institute (BFI) in London to attend a fully immersive day of talks and activities. The French study day analysed the style and themes of the French New Wave and its impact on contemporary French cinema. Conducted in French, the students listened to and participated in a clip-based presentation introducing the concepts of the French New Wave, highlighting key films of the movement such as Les 400 coups and using scene analysis to reveal to how it influenced the style and themes of contemporary French films such as Entre les murs (2008). In the afternoon, the students watched the film La Haine (1995).
For those studying Spanish, the day was hosted at the IMAX London. Conducted mainly in Spanish, study focused on Guillermo del Toro’s 'Pan’s Labyrinth' (2006). Students had the opportunity to learn about film language as well as important historical periods such as Franco’s dictatorship, and the civil war, to aid a deeper understanding of the film’s themes. In the afternoon there was an introduced screening of 'Pan’s Labyrinth' (2006) which was very impressive on the largest cinema screen in the UK. Mrs Clegg
There has been a lot of action with English Schools Football Association (ESFA) this year with teams representing the school in the latter stages of national cup matches, which is a tremendous accolade.
- After their 6-1 win against Norton Knatchbull in Ashford, the Year 7 B team are in Kent Cup Final playing Hurstmere School at a date and venue TBC.
- Year 8 B team played Weydon School away, winning on penalties and they will now move on to play Ravens Wood in the semi-final.
- Year 10 A team reached round 6 (the last 32 teams) of the national cup, where they lost to a strong Ravens Wood team. As 622 teams were originally competing, this is a fabulous achievement.
- Year 11 A team performed incredibly well to reach the last 16 of the ESFA Elite national cup before losing 1-0 way at Downland School in West Sussex.
- Year 11 B team beat Coombe Boys School 14-0 and moved on to the quarter-final where they played a challenging away game against Goffs Academy. They now go forward to the ESFA semi-final where they play Hampton.
- The Sixth Form 2nd XI won 9-1 against Hayes School in the Kent Cup quarter-final and then played in the semi-final and won 4-1 on penalties against Beths Grammar after an exciting 3-3 game played into extra-time. The Kent Cup final will be played against Maidstone Grammar School, date and venue TBC.
We look forward to seeing some high-level football in the upcoming matches next term.
Next term we will be starting a Year 7 inter-form tournament. All ten forms will compete in matches after-school on Mondays and full information will be shared with parents and tutors at the start of next term.
Our senior football teams are incredibly grateful to Tunbridge Wells makers of artisan sourdough pizza, Cantuccio, who have sponsored their new kit. We will be showing off the kit at some key matches this season and if any other local companies would like to get exposure and support the success of our teams, Mr Millar would be delighted to hear from you. Mr Menzies
Year 7 have played their first fixture for the school and we are delighted to report that they won 35-10 against Bennett. There are more fixtures to come and we are impressed with their commitment to after-school club training developing into solid ability.
The Year 10 (U15) team will be competing in the Kent Sevens Tournament in Gravesend and are currently training in preparation. Mr Wood
Table tennis is fast becoming a very popular sport at TWGSB. We are seeing excellent engagement in lessons and some of our students are achieving at a very high level.
Sam in Year 9 and Ben in Year 10 took part in the Kent Schools U16 Table Tennis Tournament in January and both came away with medals – silver for Sam and gold for Ben! Huge congratulations to them both.
Ben has now been invited to compete in the NATIONAL Championships to be held in Wolverhampton in April, where he will join Charlie (Year 8) who is also representing Kent in the U13 tournament. This is an incredible achievement and we are very proud of the boys. Mr Boddy
Reuse, repair, recycle
Thank you to AXA
As part of a refurbishment project at one of their Tunbridge Wells buildings, AXA have generously donated 20 mobile whiteboards, cupboards, soft seating, desks and even fabric plants to be distributed across the Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks campuses. We are very grateful to them for thinking of the school.
Trinity Repair Café
Tunbridge Wells Repair Café has asked us to bring the following details to your attention – they even repair bikes! So take your item in need of repair to the Tunbridge Wells Repair Café at Trinity Theatre, on one of the following dates, to watch and learn how to repair it.
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