Summary of activities during the year
Full Governing Body
In many respects this year’s governance agenda has been all about laying the foundations and setting the direction of the school for the coming years.
In September our new Headteacher, Amanda Simpson, took the helm. Governors have been working closely with her as she develops her plans and have agreed her objectives. Earlier this year Governors were also involved in the recruitment of the school’s new leadership team. Lorrae McCullagh and Michael Crow were appointed as our new Deputy Headteachers. The senior leadership team was completed by the recruitment of Katy Farrell and the promotion of Carolina Fernandez who joined Marc Smith, Sophie Rose and Katie Ross. The team brings very significant experience and expertise along with a passion for education. The Governors are looking forward with enthusiasm to working with them and all of our staff in the coming years. We would like to thank all of those staff who covered leadership positions during the transition and especially Simon Marsh, our Acting Headteacher last year who retired at Christmas.
During the year Governors supported the school in developing and then approved its five-year strategy and plan. The strategy is driven by All Round Excellence: in the academic standards that are rightly expected from a high quality grammar school and in enrichment and resilience - sustaining and growing the school’s traditional strengths in pastoral care and developing broader life skills to enable our students to exploit their potential in society. The strategy also focuses on being forward looking ensuring that the school is positioned to make the most of all the opportunities that are available to it. Also critical to our success will be our key enablers; our people, our commitment to a safeguarding culture, our communication and relationships with our stakeholders and the local community, along with effective use of data and sound finance. Our focus is now turning strategy into action, building on our strengths and delivering consistently at our best.
To support continuing improvement this year, Governors have again conducted an active monitoring programme. Our focus has been on safeguarding compliance and monitoring pair reviews of academic performance in the sciences and the sixth form, and mental health and behaviour. Modern Foreign Languages, Business, Economics and Careers and Literacy have also all been subject to review along with SEN, Health and Safety and Equality. We are working with the Headteacher and the Senior Leadership Team to challenge and support the strategies that are being developed and to refine and focus the management information provided to us to enable us to more precisely measure our school improvement plans both absolutely and when compared to our peers. Our responsibilities in relation to the performance management of staff were discharged through a regular dialogue with the Headteacher and through review of all pay and promotion proposals through our Pay Committee.
During the year KCC announced its plans to increase the number of secondary school places in Tunbridge Wells. The Governors have agreed to increase our admissions to 210 students each year and temporarily for the two years to 240 to help to meet the needs of families seeking a grammar school education. To support this expansion KCC has made £8.3m available to us to improve the school’s facilities including a new Sports Centre, Mathematics and IT Centre and improved dining provision. Governors, including the Headteacher, and a number of staff have been actively involved to ensure, that the new facilities are right for the school and support our teaching and learning needs. Subject to planning permission, construction of the new buildings will commence in early 2019 with completion about 12 months later. Once complete almost half of all the school’s teaching areas will be less than 20 years old and we remain both determined and confident about the school’s ability to continue to improve our facilities even further. In addition to buildings, Governors reviewed and approved the school’s strategic IT plan and thanks to a generous donation, substantial investment is now being made in new servers and other IT equipment.
The year has also seen changes in our Governing Body. During the year we welcomed Lynda Bell-Mann as our new elected Staff Governor and Carolyn Steer and Diane Talbot as our new elected Parent Governors. Our new Governors bring significant skills and experience in school (and broader) management and governance. We said goodbye to John Scarborough, Brian White, Jenny Godfrey and Jane Forecast. We are very grateful to all of them for the very valuable contributions they have all made to our school.