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Coombes Boys School

Headteacher's Blog

JULY 2019

We have come to the end of another busy year and what a year it has been with so much going on many of us feel as if our feet have not touched the ground. 

Sadly at this time of year we have to say goodbye to our Year 13 students, who we have enjoyed working with over the last 7 years. I would like to thank them for all that they have done for the school and wish them all the best for the future. Please do come back and visit especially when we host our alumni events.

We have recently hosted our Induction Day for incoming Year 7 students, who appear to be a wonderful group of students and we are very much looking forward to working with them and their parents over the coming years.

In the meantime our existing Year 7s have just returned from a wonderful trip to Osmington Bay PGL. There were many comments from the instructors at the centre as to how polite, courteous and engaged all the boys were.

A huge number of events have taken place this term including the STEM Careers Evening, Sports Day, Duke of Edinburgh Trips, Woodland Trips, 10th Anniversary Showcase at the Rose Theatre, the Art Exhibition and so much more. It is no wonder that everyone is ready for the summer break.

I personally enjoyed the Year 8 ‘Sleep Out Challenge’ which was organised by Mr Beckett to raise awareness of homelessness in the local area. We all survived a cold night, and the students awareness of the issue was certainly heightened.

I also really enjoyed the family theatre trip to see School of Rock, my family loved it as I am sure did all the families who attended. Please do look out for these trips next year, it is a fabulous opportunity to visit a West End show and we have been able to get tickets at a considerable discount.

The PFA have very kindly raised funds to purchase a range of new Science equipment and they have supported financially the introduction of the Coombe Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA). Sadly three key members of the PFA are leaving this year and I would like to say an enormous thank you to Jane Dunn, Louise Vaughn and Shelley Mills who have done so much to help the school. In a time of financial cuts for all schools the work of the PFA in raising  funds to support us is more important than ever.

Our Coombe Big Read Project goes from strength to strength with “Who Let the Gods Out” being our book for 2019. The author Maz Evans is coming to the school in October after hearing directly from Shane Hegarty how fabulous the project is. The school is now receiving national recognition for this project and several state and independent schools in the local area are adopting the project for next academic year. There is even a school in New Zealand that has adopted it. As we come to the end of the year I would like to thank everyone for their help and support and we are all looking forward to the 2019-20 academic year.

MARCH 2019

The end of the spring term is now in sight and I am constantly amazed at how much we manage to squeeze in to the shortest term of the academic year. This year like previous years has been bursting with a wide range of opportunities for all students.

Just before Christmas we held our Carols by Candlelight Service in conjunction with the girls’ school. It was a fabulous evening and I believe our best ever, with an outstanding array of talent on show. We are blessed with very talented students and music departments at both schools.

The term started with mock results day for Year 11 and we were very impressed with their results, but we know that there is more to come and we remain hopeful that we will see our best ever GCSE results in the summer. A wide range of revision sessions have been put in place for the year group with around 30 hours of additional sessions available for the year group every week. I would also like to thank the staff and students who attended the half term revision days during their holidays.

The ski trip over half term was an experience cherished by all who went. They were blessed with good snow and excellent conditions and a great time was had by all. Most importantly no one returned with any injuries and I know that Mr Taylor is already planning the ski trip for 2020 so look out for that!

The spring term has seen a big focus on Science with two trips going out for Year 7 and Year 8 and a number of trips for the older age groups. Science Week has seen visiting guests deliver enthralling sessions and you will have seen via social media the animals, exciting experiments and big bangs that have maintained the boys fascination with this subject. All of the Science team have done so much for the school this term and I am sure that we are all very appreciative.

The Inter House Music Competition was again a highlight of the term with a wonderful array of talent on display across a wide range of instruments. It was very encouraging to see the talent on show lower down the school and I know that the musical future of the school is secure in these students hands.

The PFA Quiz in March saw the school leadership team valiantly battle with parents and friends for supremacy only to be squeezed out of the top positions by some clearly very clever opposition. It was a brilliant evening and one of the many events that the PFA put on to raise money for the school and for this we are very grateful indeed.

The Year 7 public speaking team performed exceptionally well in the Rotary Youth Speaks Competition. Our Mathematicians performed very well in the Maths Challenge Competition beating many selective and independent schools. In sport the Year 11 team reached the Surrey basketball final. The Year 8 football team went through to the latter stages of the Surrey cup and the U16 table tennis team beat Epsom College 10-0.

December 2018

The summer examination results demonstrated once again that boys make the best progress at 11-16 in a single sex environment. The progress our boys made was amongst the best for boys in Kingston and Richmond and needless to say, we are very proud of their achievements. Students scored significantly above the national average in all subjects with the percentage of students achieving a good grade in English and Mathematics being 12% above the national results for boys and girls. At post 16, 2/3 of students achieved the A*-B grades at A level or Distinction at Level 3 BTEC. The majority of students were able to progress to their first choice universities and we wish them every success for the future.

The year started with a very successful Battlefields trip to mark the centenary of the end of World War One. The Armistice has been the key theme for our Autumn term with a range of assemblies and lessons commemorating this event including a WWI Commemorative Performance by the Drama Department. Coombe Boys’ School students gave up their half term to sell poppies on behalf of the Royal British Legion at New Malden station and they also played a significant role in the Remembrance Service at the War Memorial on the 11th November. We believe that it is essential that students learn from the lessons of the past and we can only hope that this will lead to a brighter future for all.

Literacy continues to be a major focus for us as we relentlessly spread the word about the benefits and enjoyment of reading. Two big name authors visited us this term. Andrew Lane, author of The Young Sherlock Holmes series visited us in September and in October, Shane Hegarty author of “Darkmouth” our Coombe Read visited us, travelling all the way from Ireland just to visit the school.  Shane spent all day with our students and we are very grateful for everything that he has done for the school. The poet Keith Jarrett also worked with students as part of their English lessons to promote literacy and give some expert advice to all of our students. The work that the school has carried out to promote reading has been the subject of an academic paper, co-authored by Kingston University and our very own Assistant Headteacher, Mrs Morris.

Perhaps the biggest change in our curriculum this year is that many students now have the opportunity to study Mandarin in Year 7. Mr Dixon spent his summer holidays training in China to ensure that he was ready to start delivering these classes in September. Our aim is to increase the provision for the future and perhaps even a trip to China, thank you Mr. Dixon.

Harvey Elliott (Year 11) became the youngest player to ever play for the Fulham first team and also to play in the Carabao Cup. Our sporting teams have also been in action across a number of disciplines and will be looking to emulate Harvey’s success.

School visits this term have included trips to The Chocolate Factory (Food Technology), Lille Christmas Market (Modern Foreign Languages), Geography Field trips, Maths in Action conferences, several nights at the theatre and many many more. We are also looking forward to Carols by Candlelight at the end of term and hope that many of you will be able to join us.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Year 7 for an incredible first term at Coombe Boys’ School. Thankyou for all the hard work and the contributions that you are already making to life at Coombe Boys’ School.

I would like to thank everyone for your support, which has helped the school to become one of the top two most improved schools in the local area. I wish you a restful Christmas break and we look forward to working with all the students again in the New Year.

JULY 2018

Whilst I am sure that students and staff alike are looking forward to the holidays, there is a sad element to this time of year as we say goodbye to our Year 13 students. They have worked incredibly hard and they have very bright futures indeed. I would thank to thank all of them for the contributions they have made to the school and the wonderful atmosphere they have created during their time here. I hope that you will all keep in touch and come back and visit us.

For Year 11 this can be a time of trepidation as they look to August for their GCSE examination results. They dedicated themselves to their examinations and we are confident that come the results there will be lots of smiling faces, they certainly deserve it. Thank you for your commitment and we look forward to seeing you at Coombe Sixth Form.

At the start of July, we experienced a thrilling induction day with the students who will start in September in Year 7. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did, and we cannot wait to work with you in September.

This term has been a very busy one with an enormous number of events including the Year 7 PGL Trip, Sports Day, Enterprise Week, Spanish Food Day, Duke of Edinburgh trips to name but a few. The interhouse music competition was my favourite where we were able to see to benefits of the boys’ and girls’ schools working together to produce some very fine performances and I look forward to more next year.

We would not be able to achieve everything that we do without the support of our wonderful PFA and unfortunately two key members are leaving this year. It is with huge gratitude that I would like to thank Mags Green (Secretary) and Caroline Reid (Treasurer) for their hard work.

Sadly, this year two of our governors Mary Henderson and Heather McKissack passed away. I worked closely with them for 15 years during which time they never ceased to be supportive of myself, my colleagues and the students. They worked tirelessly to ensure that every student received every possible opportunity to achieve their potential. Both Coombe schools will be forever indebted to them and we miss them dearly.

The future looks very bright indeed for the school and its students as a result of the wonderful commitment of staff, governors, parents and of course the students themselves.

I wish you all a restful break and look forward to working with you all again next year.

March 2018

The Spring term is the shortest, often with the most going on and this year has been no exception.

The term started with Year 11 receiving their mock examination results, signifying the start of the last full term of study before their examinations. We have been impressed by their dedication to their studies and look forward to seeing them at the Easter revision classes run by staff to support them in these final weeks.

There have been a significant number of very successful trips, most notably the Football Tour to Dortmund, Germany and the Federation Ski Trip and you can see from the photographs that a great time was had by all. I would like to thank the staff involved for giving up their holidays to lead the trip.

At the time of writing we have just hosted our whole school production “Return to the Forbidden Planet”. It wowed us all with the talent displayed, the number of students involved and the size of the set. Staff and students worked incredibly hard in preparation for this and we were all rewarded with quite an amazing spectacle. I would also like to thank the PFA and the sponsors without whom we would not have been able to produce this wonderful event.

Away from the classroom we have recorded a number of significant successes, most notably our Year 10 boys winning the first two rounds of the Rotary Public Speaking Competition, narrowly being defeated in the final round. Year 10 also placed second and third in the Jack Petchey Youth Speaks Competition. In the annual Maths challenge students performed exceptionally well, outperforming most schools locally.

We also overcame the challenges of the snow and received a visit from Ofsted. All in all quite an eventful term!

I was very proud to read our Ofsted report and I cannot resist including a few quotes:

“Pupils are courteous and respectful. They show considerable pride for their school and endorse the high standards of behaviour you expect”

“teaching arouses pupils’ curiosity and leads to high levels of engagement”

“Warm positive relationships have created a supportive environment in which pupils feel confident to ask questions and push themselves further”.

I would like to thank all students and staff for their hard work and dedication this term and you as parents and carers for your continued support. I wish you all a happy Easter.

OCTOBER 2017

I am delighted to report a very successful summer of examination results. At post 16 level, 52% of students achieved A*-B grades at A level. In the level 3 BTEC courses 87% of students achieved the equivalent of A*A*A*/AAA grades making us one of the most successful providers of these courses. In the GCSE examinations there was some trepidation by teachers as the new styles courses were examined for the first time, but they need not have been and I am delighted to report that 12% of students achieved the new grade 9 (equivalent of A**).  The national average for boys was 4% and therefore we achieved 3 times the national average. The overall 5A*-C grades including English and Maths results were also up 7%. We are not resting on our laurels though and we have high ambitions for the current year 11 and 13 who we hope will exceed these results.

Literacy is the big focus for this academic year; we acknowledge that many boys start secondary school with literacy skills below that of their numeracy skills. We are passionate that boys do not lose the reading habit and that they maintain a lifelong love of reading. To promote this, we have launched a project with the new year 7s. All students starting with us this year were given the same book to read over the summer and there are many projects based around this book across the year. We are delivering this project in conjunction with Kingston University and it is intended to be a very prominent introduction to reading and literacy skill development at secondary school. In addition to this, we have introduced a lesson each week where the whole school (students and staff) stops to read for a different period each week. We are calling this DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read). We therefore ask that students always have a reading book with them in order to ensure that this is as successful as possible.

At the time of writing, we are putting together our extra curricular programme and I am pleased to inform you of additional clubs that students will be able to attend.  These include Robotics club, American Football, Foreign Film Club and many more. The trips programme is already underway with several Science trips, the Geography field trip and the Food Technology trip (where they met Michel Roux) having already taken place. Modern Foreign Languages trips, Duke of Edinburgh, History, Drama and Business Studies trips are already in place for later in the term/year.

The Drama tour of local primary schools is currently taking place. We take great pride in the Drama abilities of our students, and we hope to wow the local schools.

Year 7 have settled in very well and I am very proud of the very positive feedback we received from parents at the Meet the Tutor evening. They are all very much Coombe students now and we are excited to have the opportunity to help them achieve their potential over the coming years.

Additional after school sessions for Year 11 students have already started in many subjects and will last the entirety of year 11. There will be up to 30 hours of additional sessions, each week, after school for students in their last year of GCSE courses and we urge students to take full advantage of the help available to support their learning.

I wish all students, parents and carers the very best for the coming year and we are determined to work with you to help all students achieve their very best.

JULY 2017

Unfortunately, it is that time of year when we must say goodbye to some of our students and we are very sad to see our Year 13 students leave. However, we know that they have very bright futures and we hope that they will all keep in contact. Whilst we are forced to wait until August for the Year 13 A level results, we do have the Level 3 BTEC results, which were outstanding with 87% of students achieving distinction or * distinction, which is absolutely wonderful. On the GCSE front we are very optimistic for the summer. Year 11 impressed us all with their mature, dedicated approach to their examinations. I would also like to thank the staff for all of the extra support that they provided students in the run up to the examinations.

Recently we have been very fortunate to have had two successful bids approved to improve our buildings. We were successful in gaining funding to replace the windows in the Caxton building (which have been in a poor condition for some time) and also funding to repair the roof in the Newton Building. In total, we received over £600,000 for this work.  This will give parts of the school a new improved look for September.

This term have been a very busy one with an enormous number of events including the Year 7 Bushcraft Trip, Sports Day, Enterprise Week, International Food Day, Diversity Day, Duke of Edinburgh trips, Arts Award events as well as Year 10 Information, Advice and Guidance Day. Perhaps my favourites were the Federation Music Concert and the Coombe Boys’ Rock Concert. At both events we were able to see to benefits of the boys’ and girls’ schools working together to produce some very fine performances and I look forward to more next year.

I would like to thank the Chair of the PFA, Lucy Hatley for all her hard work in recent years and we will be sad to see her “stand down” from the post. The PFA have raised a significant amount of money this year for the library, funding a new security system, new furniture and of course new books. The borrowing rate from the library has improved 650% on last year and this is more than partly due the wonderful work that the PFA have undertaken for the school.

I would like to thank the staff at the school and governors for all their hard work and commitment to ensure that we are continually improving and moving forward. I would like to thank parents for their support and involvement in school events and most importantly I would like to thank the students for everything they do for the school community and for helping make Coombe a wonderful place to study and work.

Wishing everyone a wonderful break.

March 2017

As Easter approaches it is a good time to reflect on the achievements of all the students at Coombe Boys’ School over the last few months. The Spring term is a very challenging time for teaching staff and students alike. It is a shorter term and students and staff have to squeeze in a large amount of work and activities into a short space of time. A big challenge, but one that I am confident that we have met.

At Christmas, we held our Carols by Candlelight service at St James’ church. It was really enjoyable to be back at the church and the evening itself was fantastic. It was great to see the boys and girls performing together and from a boys’ school perspective I was very proud to see our students more than hold their own. I would like to thank Miss Lucas and the music staff from the girls’ school for an amazing evening.

In January, I accompanied a group of Year 7 students to Hallsgate Woods for a range of team building activities. It was snowing and I was wearing four pairs of socks, and three coats and I was still freezing. The boys did not seem to feel the cold though and a great time was had by all. This trip could not have taken place without the help of Mrs Bull and Mr Beckett and we very grateful for their support.

The Cluster Concert also took place in January and it was again a festival of outstanding drama performances, a wide and varied range of musical contributions and for the matinee performance all the local primary schools contributed to a wonderful day. Theatre has been high on the agenda this term with trips to the West End to see the Bank Robbery and Wicked, as well as the Globe Theatre. We also had the Orange Tree company come into school to perform Twelfth Night to the whole of Year 8. In addition the Year 11 and Sixth form students have been performing their final pieces for their GCSEs and Level 3 BTECs. A special thanks must go to Miss O’Reilly and the drama team for all that they do for the school.

On the sporting front, our Year 7 and Year 8 Rugby teams have seen their first wins against local opposition as we gradually develop into a formidable sporting force. There has been notable success in table tennis; we have become county basketball champions in Year 8 and Sixth Form. Craig Clout will represent Great Britain at Irish Open Kickboxing Championships in Dublin and Year 9 footballers are through to the semi-final of the Surrey Cup.

We also held our STEM Careers evening earlier in the term with thirty employers coming to the school to talk about careers and give guidance to students as to how to embark on a career in these fields. Year 10 took part in a two week work experience just after half term and this has proved to be a very positive influence on the students. An enormous thanks to Mrs Mennis, Miss Nathan and Mr Hughes who organised these events for our students.

For many, the spring term is all about GCSE examination preparation and Year 11 are right at the centre of this. There are over thirty hours of revision sessions taking place each week many additional one to one sessions. I wish all year 11 students the very best with their preparations over the Easter holidays and to make sure that they attend the Easter sessions that staff are putting on.

I do not have the space to write in detail about the Maths Challenge, the aspirations trips and the public speaking competition successes, but thank you to all the students and staff who supported these.

I would like to thank you for your support and we look forward to working with your sons again next term.

December 2016

We have come to the end of a very exciting but also very long term. Students and staff are looking forward to a well-earned break. It has been a term packed full of academic, cultural and sporting activities and I hope that everyone has had the opportunity to try something new.

Year 7 students have just completed their first term and it seems a long time ago now from that first day in September. All year 7 students are now well established members of the Coombe community. I have the privilege of teaching some year 7s and to also meet many more during the birthday lunches. The feedback that I have received from them has been extremely positive and it has been fabulous to see so many making significant contributions to the school. The year 7 highlight for me was the “Poetry Evening” which was very well supported by parents and enjoyed by all involved.

Over the last two weeks year 11 have been completing their “mock” examinations. I am sure that they are glad that they have come to an end, however this is vital practice for the upcoming examinations season. It will also give us important guidance as to what areas students require further support in. For year 11 students there are revision sessions after school every day for the entirety of the academic year. It is important that students take full advantage of the opportunities that this provides.

On the sporting front rugby has become further embedded in the culture of Coombe and we have recorded some impressive wins. We are very grateful for the support that Old Emanuel’s have given to the school in order to help us get this off the ground. Beyond rugby; football, table tennis and basketball are our Autumn sports and we been successful in all three areas, but perhaps the most notable achievement was the Year 10 football team’s 11-0 victory over Southborough.

As always we have organised a significant number of trips this term ranging from the Aachen Christmas Market trip to the Chemistry in Action trip for KS4 organised by the Science department. We continue to believe that students learn best when they are enjoying themselves and we hope that the wide provision of trips and extra curricular activities has led to a thoroughly enjoyable time beyond the classroom. Successes in public speaking and baking against local competition are a few examples of what our students have been involved in.

Earlier in the term Mr Hughes organised for Coombe Boys’ School to become the first local school to have a visit from the Google team to experience virtual 3D tours of different parts of the world. In Year 10 our Computer Science students have been working with their IBM mentors to further develop their skills. Year 7 Robotics club has been a huge success with many thanks to Mr Corkhill who has made this possible. Also in Year 10, students have been engrossed in the Premier League Enterprise programme which Ms Richards has organised in conjunction with Fulham Football Club.

November is a month when Coombe Boys’ School traditionally works with the Royal British Legion to sell poppies to support their work and also to develop an enhanced understanding of our history amongst our students. We were very proud to receive a visit from Cllr Ken St James to deliver a whole school assembly for our students. We were also honoured that members of the Legion could attend our Drama Showcase Evening which included a piece on the First World War.

September 2016

I would like to welcome our new year 7 students and parents to Coombe Boys’ School and also say a big welcome back to our older students.

The summer was very eventful and I am pleased to report that the academic successes of many of our students rivalled that of our Olympians. At post 16 level one third of all A level grades were graded A*/A with 80% of all entries being graded A*-C.  At BTEC level 3, 92% of all entries were graded the equivalent of A*A*A*/AAA. At CGSE level, Coombe Boys School saw a 7% increase in its 5A*-C including English and Maths results. Special mention should go to Mathematics and English Literature as results exceeded 81% in both subjects. It was also wonderful as an ICT and Maths Specialist school to see Computer Science results at 95% A*-C. It was fantastic to see the students receive their results on the day and it was immensely pleasing that the vast majority were able to attend either their first choice university, sixth form or employment. We are very very proud of the progress that all our students made which was significantly above national averages.

The summer was also a time of much activity and I would like to thank the year 10 students and members of staff who gave up their time to help us paint the school at the beginning of the holidays. It was richly rewarding to work alongside our students to improve our learning environment. I would also like to thank volunteers from Sitel who also helped us with our decorating.

On the sporting front our very own Ryan Sessegnon made his debut for Fulham alongside former students Dennis Adeniran, Tayo Edun and Luca De La Torre. Dennis scored on his debut and Ryan hit the national stage when he became the youngest player to ever score in the Championship in his second game against Cardiff.

The term has started well and we have been very impressed by the focused, positive start that all the students have made. Our aim for year 11 is to significantly improve upon the results from last year and we are determined to ensure that they achieve their very best.

Our focus for the whole school for the year is literacy and reading and we ask that all students take time each day to read a book of their choosing. Reading for pleasure is a habit and a routine that can be easily lost and teenage boys can be particularly susceptible to this. There will be a range of events and initiatives throughout the year to promote reading, starting with our Poetry Night on the 6th October.

I am very excited about the coming year and I look forward to reporting back our achievements as the year progresses.

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