Principal’s welcome back – 2nd September 2022

A New room

Dear parent/carer,

It is so wonderful to see our students back after what we hope was a relaxing and re-energising summer break.  We have celebrated some of our best ever results this summer with our GCSEs and A levels which you can read about by clicking on those links.  We are incredibly proud of those students who leave a wonderful legacy for our new Year 11 and 13 students to build on in just nine months’ time.  I have no doubt they will do incredibly well.

New room
Outside the academy

We have also been incredibly busy with projects over the summer including the creation of four new classrooms in what was previously our disused Youth Wing where the history department will now be found.  The recarpetting of Riley which was a huge undertaking replacing some long worn out carpet and providing a much needed refresh.  Also, the installation of lockers and the replacement of old crittall windows in C block with brand new windows.  This last work will continue with the remaining wooden cladding and soffits to be replaced over the coming weeks to give the original part of the academy a much needed facelift.  Finally, the addition of Place2be, our full time, onsite counselling provision with one to one and group therapy sessions to ensure our students receive not just the best education but also the best support for their mental health and well-being.

Following an extensive recruitment period last summer, we can also announce our largest ever teaching staff body with the arrival of some amazing new teachers fresh from a rigorous expansion programme and a very strong field of candidates.

A warm welcome is extended to all new staff who you will meet in due course.  As part of this expansion our leadership team has grown with some college moves further expanding our capacity to deliver an outstanding education for all students.

As parents/carers your first contact will always be your son/daughter’s advisor who can be contacted via the reception email.  Issues will then be delegated or escalated appropriately.

Co-curricular clubs go from strength to strength

Our co-curriculum has once again grown with an incredible eighteen lunchtime clubs and twenty one after school clubs available to students.  Students are able to book onto clubs through SOCs which will be supported by their advisor, in addition parents/carers can also view the timetable and book their son/daughter into a club using SOCs.   Our aim is to have every one of our 1400 students attend at least one club, after all, involvement in extracurricular activities is proven to develop social skills and character, improve academic performance, relieve stress and aid relaxation and provide new experiences.  Who wouldn’t want that for their son/daughter.  A full list of available activities can be found by clicking here.

Free school meals

Free School Meals/Pupil Premium Payments are available to all eligible pupils attending Kent County Council maintained schools. If you are not already in receipt of free school meals an application must be submitted to secure both Free School Meals and the Pupil Premium Payment.   Your eligibility will be checked and your application processed straight away. If your application is successful the school will be notified and your child should start receiving their free school meal within 24 hours. KCC may ask for proof of benefit after you apply.

Once you have applied, and if you are successful you will not need to apply again unless KCC tells you to. If your child is eligible for free school meals with an active application on the 31st March 2018, they will remain eligible until 31 March 2023.

HOW TO APPLY Application forms are available from the KCC website by clicking here.

If your child is not currently eligible for free school meals or you are waiting for a benefit application to be approved and need food and supplies urgently, please contact Kent Support and Assistance Service.

Changes to teaching groups

Our last COVID measure, teaching students in advisory groups, from September will return to a similar system developed before the pandemic, albeit better – with more flexibility, more support and specialist subject criteria.  We will be operating a hybrid system of mixed ability groups and sets in our core subjects of English, maths and science with entirely different criteria for each subject so that all strengths and areas for development are catered for. We have also developed an assessment system that would ensure we can make changes to best support if necessary so no student is limited in any way in any subject area. For subjects outside of our core we will continue with mixed ability grouping entirely which is in keeping with the latest research from the Education Endowment Fund.  It is highly likely you will only notice new names in the teaching groups as they change, but you will definitely see even more rapid progress across all groups of students.  We will work to support all students individually and appropriately with any group moves as we have always done.  Please note this is not a full setting system, rather a hybrid system which means students can appear in different groups in English, maths and science as they have different methodologies.  We strongly urge parents/carers not to speculate over student groups and if you have any queries contact either the class teacher or your son/daughter’s advisor.

Finally, from me, a warm welcome back to all of you.  We look forward to working with you over the coming year in partnership with the sole aim of giving our wonderful young people the best experiences and opportunities, the best support and the best education.

Yours sincerely
Mr W Monk | Principal