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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

15 December 2015

First I would like to express how incredibly honoured I felt during Friday’s Charity Day.  The response from students and parents in support of the day, particularly seeing hundreds of cans of food being brought into school to help with the Homeless Care Appeal and the huge array of Christmas presents under the School Christmas tree for the Salvation Army was unbelievable.  Thank you so much once again for you generosity and charitable nature that we are so very proud of at MGS. The Charity Day raised funds for Porchlight and for Hi Kent. 

A massive thank you also to the cast and crew, led by Dr Froud, for four wonderful performances of Return To The Forbidden Planet.  Like with many productions the day before the opening night there were many concerned faces and anxious voices, but they were short lived, as yet again the students and staff pulled it out of the bag to produce a delightful evening’s entertainment.  Thank you again Dr Froud for your leadership and commitment over the last few months, to all the other members of staff in the cast and crew who supported him, and to the many students who took part who we can all be very proud of.
On Tuesday last week the staff meeting after school focussed on learning and the sharing of good practice within and across departments.  Room 60 was a hive of activity and debate, created simply by colleagues sharing good ideas that they use in their classroom.  This meeting was part of a year long sequence of meetings that is aimed at reflecting on our core business of learning, and ensuring that the students get the best possible learning diet in the classroom. 

Sadly the three wins out of five at last year’s rugby fixtures with The Judd School was not repeated.  Only four squads played: 1st and 2nd XVs, U14s and U13s, and only the U13 squad won.  Well done to the Year 8 boys who played and brought home a win that keeps a slight chink in the Judd armour.  Bad luck to the other squads, but it is hoped that they will respond positively next year.
Thank you to the parents of Year 11 students who attended the Year 11 Parents’ Evening on Monday.  Hopefully the opportunity to meet the teachers was both helpful and informative following a busy term of work which has included mock exams and the beginnings of the process of applying to join the 6th Form.

Finally, I wish to thank the staff and students of the School for another productive and busy term and wish you all a wonderful Christmas and peaceful New Year. 


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

8 December 2015

Thank you very much to the many students, parents, members of staff and governors who supported the Parents’ Association Christmas Fayre last Thursday.  The School Hall was transformed into a Christmas market selling a variety of gifts that would certainly fill a few Christmas stockings.  Many thanks to the Parents’ Association for staging the event and to the students who helped during the evening ensuring the event ran smoothly.

Thank you to the parents of Year 12 students who attended the Year 12 Parents’ Evening on Wednesday.  Hopefully the opportunity to meet the teachers was both helpful and informative following a term’s work of A-Level studies. 
On Friday we acknowledged the academic success of last year’s Year 11 students, presenting them with their GCSE certificates at a presentation afternoon.  Parents of Year 12 were invited in to share the moment their sons received accreditation of all the hard work they had put in during their GCSE studies.  Well done boys and thank you for making it a lovely occasion.

I hope the cadets who attended the CCF camp to St Martin’s Plain, Folkestone at the weekend enjoyed themselves, particularly the Year 9 cadets as it was their first CCF camp since joining the MGS Cadet Unit.  Thank you very much to the staff who gave up their weekend to accompany the cadets as without their support such opportunities would not be available. 
The Year 8 footballers were sadly beaten last week 3-0 by Ravenswood School. However, they have performed admirably this year and reached the last 64 of the National Cup which had over 600 entries this year. They have been a credit to the School.  Thanks also to Mr Darbey who should get a special mention for all the hard work and time he has committed to the team.  Thank you.

This week is another busy week as it is the week in which the annual School Production takes place.  Return to the Forbidden Planet opens on Wednesday 9 December for four nights and is hopefully going to be a wonderful occasion in which to enjoy a December evening.  Tickets are still available from the School Bursary, so please do come along.  Good luck to the cast and crew.  You may be luck and see a glimpse of me performing!
Finally, good luck to all the rugby squads this weekend as they prepare to play The Judd School.  The MGS vs. Judd match is the match of the season.  Everyone who plays rugby wants to be in the side that is chosen, and then play well in order to bring home a win.  Last year MGS won three out of the five matches, so let’s hope we can do better this year.  Matches take place on 12th December. 


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

1 December 2015

After a couple of relatively quiet weeks the next three leading up to the end of term are busy ones.  This week there are three events in which parents are invited to come into school.  Parents of Year 12 students on Wednesday attend their child’s Parents' Consultation Evening and on Friday they attend the GCSE Presentation Afternoon, a formal occasion where we present Year 12 with their GCSE Certificates and acknowledge the year group's academic achievements.  In between those two events, on Thursday all parents are invited into school for the Parents' Association Christmas Fayre and Pamper Evening; an opportunity to pick up some Christmas gifts and be pampered in the process.  We look forward to seeing many of you there.  In the week beginning Monday 7 December, the main event is the School Production: Return To The Forbidden Planet, being put on over four days from Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th.  Tickets are now available from the School Bursary.  The show starts at 7.30pm each night.  On Wednesday 16 December, in the final week of the term, the School Carol Service takes place at All Saints Church, Maidstone at 7.30pm.  This particular event always hopes to provide an opportunity for the whole school community to come together, including many Old Maidstonians, some who are returning home for Christmas from university.
Looking back on last week, on Thursday saw a very good Autumn Concert.  With some high quality performances once again, the evening provided the first opportunity for the newly formed Performing Arts department to illustrate the excellent talent at MGS.  This year's concert saw a number of memorable singers, singing a range of songs, with some bringing a tear to the eyes of some of the audience!  Well done to all of the performers and musicians, and thank you to the staff members who continuously support them.  On Friday I had a meeting with our School Improvement Partner (or SIP).  With MGS still being a maintained school and not an academy, we still have a relationship with the Local Authority, and part of that is to have regular meetings with someone who simply keeps a little eye on what we are doing.  The overwhelming message at the meeting was one of positivity and support.  The Local Authority is extremely pleased how MGS is currently developing and is excited about what we want to achieve in the future.  Congratulations to the many students who play school sport, particularly as we have recently seen some outstanding performances.  Last week the 1st and 2nd XI football teams beat Norton Knatchbull 7-2 and Simon Langton 6-1 respectively, with both teams still in with an excellent chance of winning their respective league titles.  On Saturday the weekly rugby fixture was against Dartford Grammar School, a school that has a good track record against us.  This year we beat Dartford in five out of the seven fixtures, with all the Home matches coming away with a win.  The U12B squad beat Dartford 20-15, the U13s won 56-5, the U15s won 29-12, the 2nd XV won 10-7, and the 1st XV won a very exciting and tense match 22-19.  Well done boys and good luck to every squad in two weeks’ time as they prepare to play our, and mine, biggest rival, The Judd School.  Matches are on Saturday 12 December, so please do come along if you can.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

24 November 2015

Last week and this week are two relatively quiet weeks in the School calendar.  With Year 11 on study leave completing their mock exams there have been fewer students in school, but of course the marking of those exam papers adds to the work load.  Very soon Year 11 will know how well they have done, providing them with a greater understanding of what their strengths and areas for development are.  There will also be a Parents’ Evening on Monday 14th December for the parents of Year 11 to meet subject teachers following the outcome of the exams. 

Congratulations and bad luck must be expressed to the U15 rugby squad.  Congratulations to the squad as they reached the semi-final of the Kent Cup beating a number of very good sides on the way.  Last Tuesday they played The Judd School in the semi-final but sadly lost 32 – 15.  The weather on that day was appalling; both teams played remarkably well considering the conditions.  Bad luck boys, but also well done for reaching the semi-final of the competition.  Good luck to the same squad for this Thursday as they play The Skinners’ School in the next round of the National Cup. 
The newly formed Performing Arts Department have a busy few weeks.  This Thursday is the date for the Autumn Concert where a number of talented musicians will perform a variety of pieces as soloists, ensembles, full bands, orchestras and choirs.  The concert begins at 7pm.  Also Wednesday 9th December to Saturday 12th December are the dates for this year’s School Production, Return To The Forbidden Planet.  Led once again by Dr Froud, a cast and crew of staff and students will be putting on four glorious nights of the 1950s classic.  Please do come along.

Finally, an advanced warning that Thursday 3rd December from 6pm is the MGS Parents’ Association Christmas Fair and Pamper Evening.  Following the success of last year’s event, the Parents’ Association is holding a bigger event this year which will include more stalls selling a variety of Christmas gifts, and opportunities to indulge yourself while you shop.  The evening will begin at 6pm.  Entrance is £3 and for that you will receive a mince pie and glass of mulled wine to enjoy as your browse.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

17 November 2015

The highlight of last week was the BBC Children In Need Charity Day.  Once again the community of the School came together to support a worthy cause; wearing something spotty and yellow and watching some teachers and students take part in what we called, ‘The Great MGS Wax Off’.  During lunch questions were put to two opposing teams; students and staff, and any wrong answers resulted in that person having parts of their legs waxed.  It’s funny how some of the questions were ridiculously hard; it was as though it was all planned!  Thank you to the 6th Form students who organised the day, and thank you to everyone who supported.

Tuesday night the teaching staff spent some time after school talking about learning.  The core business of what we do each day is learning, and so it should always be at the forefront of what we do.  In order for MGS to continue to develop and improve we have begun to have more detailed conversations about learning and what learning at MGS is.  There is a long road to follow from this initial first meeting, but over time it is hoped that students themselves will be able to articulate more how it is they learn, what characteristics of learning they have and have a greater desire and zest for learning.  All of this will then hopefully impact in a positive way on raising standards.
On Thursday a group of about 15 students from years 8 to 10 took part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival; a national programme offering students from all backgrounds the opportunity to perform Shakespeare on their local stage.  Mrs Brooks, the Head of Performing Arts, led the boys in an extract of Julius Caesar at The Sinden Theatre, Tenterden.  The boys were brilliant, and it was clear that they had worked incredibly hard in a short space of time to put on what they did.  Well done boys, many thanks to Mrs Brooks, Mr Lozano, Ms Lang and Josh Bennett of Year 12 who worked with the cast and thank you to the staff and parents who went along to support them.  A wonderful evening.

Today the U15 rugby squad play The Judd School in the semi-final of the Kent Cup.  The boys, led by Mr Holmes, are having a great season, and reaching the semi-final of the Kent Cup is already a massive achievement.  The match is away at Judd, so I am going along to give them as much support and encouragement as I can.  Good luck boys and I hope to be returning to school with some excellent news.
Finally, congratulations to Sam Smale of Year 12 and Elyas Sadighi who left last year, who have both been awarded Gold at the Downton Art Exhibition currently underway at County Hall.  Well done boys.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

10 November 2015

A huge thank you to everyone who came along on Saturday night to support the MGS Parents’ Association annual Firework Display.  Once again it was a huge success both in terms of raising a significant amount of money for the School and also bringing members of the School Community together.  The display was the best I have seen and the attendance was much higher than previous years.  The event would not be possible if it were not for the hard work and support many members of the Parents’ Association give; thank you all ever so much.
Last Thursday was the Post 16 Open Evening, aimed at Year 11 students both from MGS and other schools who are thinking about A-Level studies.  It was very well attended and hopefully informative giving details of specific subjects, what to expect at MGS's 6th Form and the application process.  Many thanks to the 6th Form students who helped out; all were a credit to the School.
Wednesday this week is a very important day for the School.  Our present and future is about reflecting on the past and appreciating our history, so 11th November is integral to what we do.  At around 10.40am there will be a small service in the School Hall in front of the WWI Memorial Boards to remember all Old Maidstonians who lost their lives in combat.  During the last few weeks CCF cadets have been going round the School selling poppies, and many hundreds of students are proudly wearing theirs each day, and this week Mrs Sewell, the Deputy Head, is giving the assembly on the theme of Remembrance.  We will continue to remember.
Friday is also an important day when we acknowledge BBC Children In Need.  There will be number of events during the day to raise money for the charity alongside the normal Charity Day arrangement of non-uniform.  I encourage all students to get involved, and that way we can raise a large amount for what is an important cause.  The theme for the day is, 'Wear Something Yellow or Spotty'.
To complement this Headmaster's Blog there will soon be a Student Blog where news and chat from a student perspective will be posted for all to read.  A small group of Year 8 students have come up with the idea themselves and only last night did they pitch it to me and the Senior Leadership Team.  I commend them on their passion and interest for the concept and their ability to present it in front of us all.  We all look forward to the first edition which will probably be in January.
Finally, congratulations to Oliver Leyland of Year 10 who has been selected for the London Broncos Rugby League Scholarship Programme.  This is in addition to the Saracens Kent Elite Squad that he is already a part of.  Well done Oli.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

3 November 2015

Welcome back to the start of Term 2; I hope you all enjoyed the break and well-deserved rest.  Despite the event being nearly two weeks ago this is the first opportunity I have had to thank everyone for another excellent Year 6 Open Evening.  Over 500 current MGS students supported their School offering to be guides and helpers for perspective Maidstonians.  They were a credit to themselves and to the School.  Thank you all very much.

This Thursday is the Post 16 Open Evening, which is very similar to the Year 6 Open Evening, but for students who are considering studying A-Levels here.  Thank you in advance to the many 6th Form students who are offering to act as guides and advisers during the evening.
Over the half term a couple of building projects have been completed.  The Boys’ Entrance, as we call it, now has new doors replacing the previous ones which were looking a little tired.  The overall aim is to make that entrance into the School a much better one for the students, and replacing the doors was the first phase.   Also, part of the pathway in the Quad nearest the School Hall has been widened.  This will do a number of things: it will provide more space for the students when waiting to come into assembly; it will prevent students damaging the grass in the Quad as they walk between lessons; and it will help when we have our Speech Days in July and September each year.  Both projects will certainly add to the overall aesthetics of the School grounds.

Just to remind you all that this Saturday 7th November is the MGS Parents’ Association Fireworks Display.  Doors open at 6pm with the display beginning at 7pm.  Many hundreds of people come along each year to enjoy the display and their support raises a lot of money for the School.  If you are free this Saturday please do come along and bring your friends and family.  Wrap up warm!
Finally, next Friday 13th November is BBC Children In Need.  Each year MGS supports the day putting on a number of activities that raise money and awareness for the charity.  More details will follow but we look forward to fun filled day next week.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

20 October

We have now reached that time of the academic year when we look to the next one.  Last Friday we opened our doors to perspective Maidsonians.  Many Year 6 boys and their parents visited the School to decide which school they wish to go to next year.  Sadly the weather was against us, but that did not stop a large number of potential applicants making the visit.  We do exactly the same again today, holding our second Open Morning.  This Thursday is the biggest and most important day in the calendar: our Year 6 Open Evening.  Following the two Open Mornings when people can see the School at work, the Open Evening provides an opportunity for us to put on a number of exhibitions exhibiting all our different subject areas and elements of our extra-curricular programme.  It also provides me with an opportunity to share with everyone the many qualities of the School that we are proud of and give a flavour of the culture, traditions and history that we cherish.  As always though, the many, many students who help during the evening are the best people to sell the School.  Thank you in advance for their help and the hard work the staff put in to prepare for the evening.

At the same time of year as we invite future Maidstonians to visit the School, we also invite parents of our newest Maidstonians to come into school, meet their son's form tutor, hear from key staff, and see where their son is taught each day.  Last Tuesday almost all parents of Year 7 attended the Year 7 Welcome Evening.  It was a very positive event and one where parents saw how their MGS journey is beginning to develop.  Thank you to everyone who came in.
Last night was the Parents' Association AGM.  The Parents' Association once again had a very good year raising nearly £24,000 and supported a number of good projects witihn the School that improve the experience for the students.  Purchasing an additional laser cutter for the D&T Department, buying Samba music equipment for the Performing Arts Department, increasing the resources available in the Art Department and making a contribution to the equipment kept in the School's new Aerobic Fitness room. The biggest event the Parents' Association organise during the year is nearly upon us.  Saturday 7th November is the date for the MGS PA Firework Display.  Gates open at 6.00 with fireworks beginning at 7.00pm.  Please do come along, and bring your friends and extended family to enjoy a fine display.

Finally, well done to Finlay Lodge of Year 8 who took part in the European Karate Championships last week.  He won two Individual Bronze medals and one Team Silver.  This is tremendous news.  Congratulations Finlay.
Have a good half term.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

13 October

The highlight of last week was the Endeavour & Invincible House Charity Day that took place on Friday and which supported the UN Refugee Agency.  Our charitable nature is extremely important to us; seeing the entire school community work together to support the specific charities that we choose each year is very special.  A number of events took place during the day to raise money and awareness for the charity.  The main event in the Big Hall at lunchtime saw staff and students re-enact an episode of the classic TV programme Blind Date and at break time staff sang through the tannoy system of the School in ‘Tannoy Karaoke’.  Good fun was had by all.  Many, many thanks to the students who organised the day, and thank you to everyone who contributed and took part in the day raising a total of £1900 for the charity.  Continuing the charity theme, on Friday we received a letter from Comic Relief giving us some very pleasing news.  Maidstone Grammar School was one of their biggest fundraising schools for Sport Relief 2014. Out of over 10,000 schools that raised money, we were in the top 1500. This is an incredible achievement; well done and thank you so much.
Last week the School, in fact our catering company Independent Catering received some excellent news.  They received a spot check inspection from Environmental Heath and I am pleased to say achieved a Level 5 Certificate, the highest level that can be awarded.  Congratulations to the entire team.  We are very proud of our catering team who feed the students incredibly well each day and who receive so many positive comments on the quality and quantity of what they serve.

Also last week MGS took part in the UK Youth Parliament election, there to give young people a voice on issues that matter to them in order to determine what is debated by the UKYP in the House of Commons. All students were invited to vote on an issue that was important to them and out of the 605 votes that were cast, MGS students voted mainly for the ‘living wage’ and also for a ‘curriculum to prepare us for life.’ If these are one of the top three nationally then these will be debated by youth representatives in the House of Commons next month.
The School saw some very impressive sport results in the week.  The 1st and 2nd XI Football Squads beat Bishop Justus 6 – 1 and Hayes Grammar School 7 – 1 respectively in the Kent Cup, the Year 10 and 8 boys beat Tunbridge Wells Grammar School 5 – 1 and Dover Grammar School 6 – 1 respectively in the English Schools Cup, and in rugby the U15 squad beat Dartford Grammar School in the Kent Cup 26 – 21.  These results are fantastic and all the boys and staff involved should be extremely proud of themselves.  Well done.  Continuing with sport, Finn Warner of Year 13 was selected for the Kent U18 Rugby squad and was selected as a starting player, for their first game on Sunday. His brother Kit Warner has also been selected for the Kent U 14 rugby squad.  Well done to the Warner brothers.
A busy week.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

6 October 2015

On Tuesday last week we said goodbye to Mrs Lindsey Evans who stepped down as Chair to the Governing Body after five years.  She has given unquestionable commitment to the School in that time and been a huge support to me in the last three.  I am pleased to say she is going to remain on the Governor Body and continue to sit on the Curriculum Committee, where she has immense experience.  Thank you again Lindsey for your service to the School and I look forward to continue working with you.  Mr Mark Rolfe, the Vice-Chair was elected as the new Chair, and Mr John Hoadly, the Chair of the Finance and Premises Committee was elected as Vice-Chair.  Last week all subject teachers gave their first set of grades to each student.  Following the first five weeks of the School year all students have been graded on their attitude and approach to learning.  These grades were introduced last year, and many parents particularly found them useful in addition to the Attainment grades.  This week they will be collated together and then available for parents.  I hope they give you a good idea in how your child has begun the year. On Wednesday last week the senior rugby squad beat Chatham Boys Grammar School in the first round of the National Cup 29 - 10.  It was their first win of the season too.  Well done boys and I now hope that this win will kick start a series of success in the weekly fixtures.  Also both senior football squads (the 1st and 2nd XI) won their matches in the East Kent Premier League beating Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar School 2 – 1 and Borden Grammar School 3 – 2.  Well done boys.  On Sunday a number of MGS students from Years 8 to 13 took part in the Maidstone Small Boats Head.  Every October Maidstone Invicta Rowing Club hosts a head race; a race covering a distance of 2500m from Allington Marina to Maidstone Town Centre, and many other rowing clubs are invited to compete.  Students from this school competed for Maidstone Invicta Rowing Club and Maidstone Grammar School.  Over 200 different sized boats took part, and MGS students were part of some of the individual wins throughout the day.  Congratulations to everyone who took part and thank you for making it such an enjoyable day.   Yesterday was an important day for the School.  It was the CCF Biennial Inspection in Folkestone, and many cadets from the CCF took part to represent their school and their unit.  The CCF is an incredibly important part of the School and so this inspection is taken very seriously.  Thank you to all of the adult volunteers who spent all weekend down in Folkestone preparing the cadets for the inspection, and well done and thank you to all of the cadets who represented their school, their unit and themselves with pride. This week on Friday is the School's first Charity Day led this time by Invincible and Endeavour Houses.  Charity Days are fundamental to MGS and part of our culture and ethos.  A lot of work goes on behind the scenes in preparing for them, and much of this comes from the students themselves.  Like every charity day students are invited to come to school in non-uniform contributing £1 to do so.  Throughout the day, particularly at lunchtime, a number of activities and events take place to raise money and awareness for the charity, which this year is the UN Refugee Agency.  Thank you in advance to everyone who takes part and a big thanks to members of the Student Leadership Team who are overseeing the day.


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

29 September 2015

The highlight of last week was the University Fair on Wednesday.  Over 900 people attended the event from Years 10 to 13 including students from other local secondary schools.  Nearly 50 universities across the country were present with many saying how impressed they were with the level of questioning the students had.  They were extremely grateful for MGS staging such an event and were eager to come back next year.  I hope everyone who attended found it helpful and that aspirations are higher now, but with the skills and knowledge to be in a position to achieve them.

On Friday the School joined the largest coffee morning in the country in support of the MacMillan Cancer Charity.  Many students and staff came together at break time over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.  Once again it proved to be a very popular event.  It has become one of the MGS traditions that many from the community look forward to.  Thank you to everyone who came along and supported.  The total amount raised was £360.
Congratulations to Jack Arterton of Year 7 who has just been selected to play as goalkeeper in the Maidstone District Football U12 team.  This is an excellent achievement for Jack and one that will help the performance of the School Football Team in the coming season and future.

I wish to point out an event that is coming up in November and one that is being organised by the Parents’ Association.  A ParentMail will be sent out very soon to all parents advertising a Bruges Trip.  It takes place on Saturday 21 November and will include a day trip to Bruges taking in all the sites the town has to offer in preparation for Christmas.  Do look out for the flyer and if you are interested please do come along.  While I am mentioning the Parents’ Association, please keep Saturday 7 November free as it is our annual firework display.  It is a very popular event and one that brings the entire school community and local residents together. 
This week we say thank you to Mrs Lindsey Evans who has chaired the MGS Governing Body for the last five years.  She has been a Governor for the last 15 years, but stands down as Chairman on Tuesday this week.  The School acknowledged her service and contributions as Chairman at the Upper School Speech Day earlier in the month, but I once again wish to thank her for all her hard work in support of MGS.  Thank you Lindsey.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

22 September 2015

Following the busy previous week with the Beginning of Year Service and Upper School Speech Day, last week was somewhat quieter.  The Parents’ Association meeting on the Monday was a good one in which we discussed the many events for the up-and-coming year.  This year there will be the normal events such as the annual Firework Display, Quiz Night and Family Fun day, but also a new event at the end of November: a day trip to Bruges.  Please look out for details when they come out. 

On Thursday many Year 12 students and their parents came into school for their Information Evening to hear from key staff about the coming year.  I am pleased to say that the students have settled into their A-Level studies very well and have begun to see themselves as MGS 6th Form students.  Well done and keep up the hard work.
On Friday, Year 13 had the day off school to attend their Academic Interview with their Form Tutor.  This concept was introduced two years ago as we thought it important for parents and students at this crucial time to be well-informed with all things UCAS.  Last year the staff, students and parents all felt that an opportunity to have a detailed conversation was extremely helpful, so we are going to continue with it now and in the future.

This week we have two main events in school.  On Wednesday we are hosting our University Fair between 5pm and 8pm.  Between 40 and 50 universities will be here in the School Hall and Gym providing information and literature to students from Years 10 to 13.  Over 700 people have already registered an interest in coming, so it is going to be once again a very popular event.  On Friday we are joining the country in acknowledging the Macmillan Coffee Morning.  Each year on the last Friday in September the School Hall is packed full of students and staff who come together over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.  We always raise a lot of money on the day, but it also has become an annual tradition of the School that we look forward to.
Starting this week I begin my meetings with each Head of Department and their Line Manager to discuss in detail the examination performance from the summer.  There is much to celebrate and be proud of, but there are always areas that we could improve on, and so these meetings provide an opportunity to discuss how each department can maintain and strengthen what they do and how they can provide an even better experience for our students.    

Finally I wish to say how impressed I have been with the start of term.  Many members of staff have commented on how well-dressed everyone is, how well students have knuckled down to work, and that behaviour around school is very good indeed.  Please keep this up.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

15 September 2015

Last week ended with a glorious Upper School Speech Day.  The weather was perfect, and it was lovely to have back at MGS Mr Turrell, who was Headmaster here for 17 years.  Congratulations once again to all the prize winners, good luck to the leaving year group on their next phase of their lives, and thank you to all parents who came along and supported the occasion.

Last Thursday Jordan Chambers and Fraser Robertson of Year 13, joined by Mr Terrell and Mr Highsted, took part in a charity 12 hour bike ride around Brands Hatch.  They competed against some very professional looking teams; some teams of old pro rugby players including Shane Williams, Lee Mears and Victor Obogu.  They acquitted themselves admirably; coming 17th out of 34 teams completing over 80 laps of the circuit in the 12 hour period. The team showed real grit and determination to complete what was a very challenging event.  They are raising money for Parkinsons UK and if you would like to sponsor the team please make contact with the School.  Congratulations to the entire team in what was a very long, but very rewarding day.
Last week the Parent Forum met for the first time this academic year and discussed a number of matters that included how we assess and grade students’ work, the Bring Your Own Device initiative, the new building project, and the vision for the next 5 years.  It was an extremely positive meeting and all came away more informed of what is to come.  We will be shortly looking for additional members, so if you would like to get involved please contact the School.

This week I attend the first Parents’ Association meeting of the year to discuss the coming year and join the Academy Working Party to continue discussions on understanding more the concept of academy status.  On Thursday students from Year 12 and their parents are invited in for their Information Evening; an evening to find out more about what is to come in the next 12 months.  Not only will key staff from the Upper School be speaking, but I will be updating parents on the last 12 months with regards to the MGS Development Fund and sharing with them some potential exciting news about our building projects.  Throughout the next few months all students and their parents will be invited in to attend their respective evening to hear more; please do come along.


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

8 September 2015

Welcome back to a new year; I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed the time with your family and friends.

It is always good to see the students again so the first day of term for me is one of the best days in the school year.  Fortunately the weather held off so we were able to have the entire school in the Quad for the first assembly of the year.  The first week of term is required for the routine of school life to settle down.  All students and teachers are learning their new timetables and the layout of the school is sometimes confusing for our new members.  It is always pleasing to see older students help the younger ones out when they are looking to find where their next lesson is.  I hope your child had a good start to the year and is looking forward to the coming weeks and months.

The summer holiday is a time for staff, students and parents to recharge batteries but also is a time for us to complete necessary work on the fabric of the school and prepare for the start of the new year.  The big job, and one that the students have responded positively to, was the complete refurbishment of the Boys’ toilets in the Main Building.  I understand there were cheers from a number of boys on Wednesday when they visited the toilets for the first time.  The toilets have become a tourist attraction!  Another main job for the school is to receive, issue and analyse the summer examination results.  This year we matched last year’s A2 performance with just under 60% of all grades being A* - B.  AS results were the best the school has ever had with just over 50% of all grades being A/B, and at GCSE level 51% of all grades being A*/A.  I am extremely pleased with these results which come from hard work both from the students and their teachers.  There were many individual performances which were mentioned in our press release at the time, and these will be acknowledged and celebrated at this week’s Upper School Speech Day.

As just mentioned, the main event of this week is our annual Upper School Speech Day where we celebrate the achievements of Years 11 to 13 from the 2014-15 academic year.  Many leaving Year 13 students will be present, particularly because this year’s Guest of Honour is Mr Neil Turrell, former Headmaster of the School from 1992 to 2009, was Headmaster when that year group first started at the School in 2008.  We look forward to welcoming Mr Turrell, leaving students and invited guests back on Friday.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The end of term has arrived with a very busy final week of the year.  Monday 13th saw the first ever Primary School Outreach Event: The Brazil Fair.  75 boys from Years 4 and 5 from our primary feeder schools spent a few hours in school completing a number of activities with a Brazil theme.  The boys spent about 30 minutes on each of the three sessions: Samba Drumming, Brazil Cooking and Carnival Mask Making.  The boys had a fantastic afternoon, and seeing our students and staff engage with them showing them what it means to be a part of the MGS community was a delight.  Hopefully we will see similar events in the future.

 Sadly the weather on Tuesday required us to move the annual Sports Day to Thursday, but once again Sports Day was an excellent event involving the entire school community.  There were many very good individual performances but seeing Year 12 getting stuck in to their last Sports Day was memorable.  Well done to Max Reid of Year 12 took part in every event and won every event, and congratulations to Rory Kuypers of Year 9 who broke the school 100m record which has stood for 30 years.  Many thanks to everyone who took part, and thank you to all the parents who came along and joined us in the day. 

Wednesday saw the annual Staff vs. Student Cricket Match, but sadly the rain on Tuesday meant that the students could not go out and watch.  The staff put up a good fight with a great opening partnership of 48 runs by Mr Highsted and Mr Shillito, but a collapse of the middle order meant that the staff only reached 113 off the 20 overs.  The students then batted and did so with a level of kindness so as not to embarrass the staff.  They made the runs in just 14 overs, but could have made the total much sooner.  Well done boys.

Finally, following the last day of the term and the final assembly, the School invited back a number of former students to attend the Old Maidstonian Day.  On Saturday 18th July the first Old Maidstonian Day took place.  It was a beautiful day with a number of OMs back in their school, catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and reminiscing about their time at MGS.  With the superb weather we were all able to enjoy a lovely BBQ and a glass of punch in the School Quad and have a tour of the School and enjoy many artifacts from the School Archive.  Thank you to everyone who attended and many thanks to the staff, students, Parents' Association and friends of the School who all help to organise the event. 

Thank you for a wonderful year, have a lovely holiday and see you in September.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Since returning to normal school I have received so many positive comments from students, staff and parents about this year's Extended Learning Week.  The weather clearly helped, the Wednesday could have been cooler though, and the variety of activities really did bring a diverse experience to the week.  Many thanks once again go to the staff who spent a great deal of time preparing for the week, and to the students who threw themselves into it.  Well done all.

Last week I completed my round of visiting each Year 7 class to teach them a PSHCE lesson.  Every year I teach one lesson to each Year 7 class so as to get to know them a little bit, and for them to get to know me.  I always look forward to the lessons, and I hope that the boys go home and talk about what they have learnt.  I endeavour to shed some light on the concept of Emotional Intelligence, and complete four activities to promote certain themes within the subject. 

Two events took place last week that highlight the diverse nature to our community.  On Thursday the Year 6 Induction Day took place where all of the boys joining MGS in September spent a day in school.  The day provides an opportunity for the boys to experience a little of what it means to be a Maidstonian, as well as hopefully developing new friendships.  Seeing the boys attend our weekly Quad assembly with the rest of the School and watching them enjoy the many team building activities is such a pleasure.  The day ended with their parents joining us for a cup of tea and a piece of cake with many excited boys quickly reporting back on their day.  We look forward to welcoming them all after the summer holiday.

The week ended with many from the School community celebrating Founders Day and Lower School Speech Day.  We all processed down to All Saints Church for the Founders Day Service to acknowledge the founding of the School in 1549 and to listen to Mrs Sewell’s husband giving the sermon led by the new vicar of Maidstone, Revd Ian Parrish.  We then returned to school for the afternoon's speeches and prize giving to Years 7 - 10.  At each Speech Day we welcome many from the wider school community: parents, governors, friends and Old Maidstonians to witness the celebration of the achievements of the Lower School.  This year's Guest of Honour was Mrs Michele Anderson, former Deputy Head who left in 2014.  Congratulations again to all prize winners and to the whole school for a wonderful 2014-15 year. 

The final week of school brings with it excited students, tired staff, anxious parents and a number of end of term events: the Year 5 Brazil Fair, Sports Day, Staff vs Students Cricket Match, publication of the Summer Newsletter, the Terry Shambler Memorial Concert and the Final Assembly.  A busy week to a busy year.

I wish you all a pleasant holiday, and we'll see you on Wednesday 2nd September.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

I wish to begin by thanking everyone who helped make last week's Extended Learning Week a great success.  To the members of staff who not only worked hard during the week itself, but also spent many hours behind the scenes in the months leading up to the Week preparing for it; and to the large number of Year 11, 13 and Old Maidstonians who returned to school to help out the younger boys.  It is this aspect of the Week where older students support younger ones that defines the relationships that develop at MGS.   For many, Extended Learning Week is the highlight of the year; working with a variety of students from different ages in something not normally seen at school is incredibly rewarding.  Once again the boys responded with enthusiasm and energy and all conducted themselves in a way we have come to expect at MGS.  There were so many words of praise from staff, volunteers and guides about our boys and their behaviour, so well done all.  I hope your child came home each day with excitement and keen to return the following day.  I also hope you were able to track the progress of the week with our new Twitter account @mgsgrammar, and this is something, alongside this Blog, that we wish to make more use of in the future.   
Alongside the Extended Learning Week for Years 7 – 10, Year 12 students took part in a week of Work Experience.  On return to school yesterday I have had a chance to catch up with a few Year 12 students who said they thoroughly enjoyed their week and learnt so much about the work they did, how it could help them in the future and what they should do now to secure their plans.
There are now two weeks remaining of the summer term, but they will be filled with a number of important events in our calendar.  On Thursday this week all of next year’s Year 7 spend a day in school attending the Year 6 Induction Day.  They will meet new friends, be introduced to their Form Tutor and spend time getting to know many of the important features of MGS.  Friday this week is our annual Lower School Speech Day; a day where we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the boys in Years 7 to 10 during the 2014-15 academic year.  We welcome back Mrs Anderson, who was Deputy Head of MGS from 2006 to 2014, as this year's Guest of Honour.  We hope the weather is good to allow Speech Day to take place in the School Quad; a setting fit for the occasion. 
Congratulations to the U13 and U15 cricket teams for making the finals of the Maidstone Schools District Competition. Good luck to both teams in their respective finals.
Advance notice to remind you all that next Tuesday is the annual MGS Sports Day and next Wednesday is the Staff vs. 1st XI Cricket Match; both events parents are welcome to attend.  Please just arrive in school and sign in at Reception.  Sports Day takes place during the entire day starting around 9am and finishing about 3pm.  The cricket match on the following day starts at 2.30pm.  Also, and something that is going to be special for MGS is the Terry Shambler Memorial Concert, which is taking place next Thursday 16th July at 7pm.  Terry, a student who left MGS last year, was sadly killed in a traffic accident whilst on holiday last July.  This concert will be a permanent event in the School’s calendar as it is important that we continue to go on remembering Terry.  Please do come along and support.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

I write this following a glorious day on the river supervising the Rowing activity during the Extended Learning Week.  So many of the boys in Years 7 to 10 now look forward to this annual week of activities, and I hope that you son is thoroughly enjoying himself whatever he is doing.  This year there are so many different activities which are adding to the development of better links and relationships amongst boys between different year groups.  Friendship is the over pinning quality that we want to focus on during this year’s week.  Please do log on to the school website each day and follow our twitter feed to find out more about what you sons are getting up to.  Year 12 students this week are enjoying their week of work experience; finding things out about themselves and of the places of interest they have chosen to go.  I look forward to hearing from them their experiences.  
Thursday and Friday last week was Sixth Form Induction; where our current Year 11s, joined by a large group of external students, experienced what it is like being an MGS Sixth Form student.  A number of activities took place ranging from a ‘getting to know you’ session to taster lessons in each of their A-Level choices.  The School was busy again, which was good to see, and it is hoped that this new cohort adds to the already improved Sixth Form ethos. 
Thursday was a busy day: we held a coffee morning for parents who wanted to find out more on how we are supporting their child with any additional education or medical needs.  It proved to be a great success and thank you to the parents who came in, and to the members of staff who led on the presentations.  In addition to this we also had an ‘Investors in Careers’ assessor in school assessing how we provide high quality careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) to the student body.  Not only did we gain re-approval of our work but the assessor could make virtually no comment on how we could improve on what we do such is the quality of the programme.  Many, many thanks to Mrs Acaster, Mr Smith and the students for spending time with the assessor and to Mrs Acaster for creating an excellent programme of events that include a number of work related focus days, enterprise education and the BBC School Report.  CEIAG is very much appreciated by the student body, and it remains one of the great strengths of MGS.
Finally, last week we received the draft review of MGS that will be appearing in the next edition of The Good Schools Guide.  MGS has never appeared in the Guide, but with our on-going developments and improvements over the last few years we were invited this year to appear.  The article is such a pleasure to read and makes one feel even more proud of the School.  The next edition of the Guide will be published later in the year so do look out for it.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Despite this time of year being slightly quieter without Years 11 and 13, the weeks are still packed full of events.  Last week I attended a very informative Grammar School Heads’ Association conference where we discussed a number of matters such as funding, curriculum and accountability changes and the impact grammar schools are having on social mobility.  The conference closed with Boris Johnson, MP speaking about ‘Grammar Schools in the 21st Century’.  Putting our political persuasion and opinion of him to one side, we were all completely absorbed by his presence and by the way in which he delivered his speech.  He was witty, intelligent, well-informed, and articulated incredibly well the similarities between the impact grammar schools have in society to the importance and impact of cities around the world; it was a pleasure to hear him speak. 
Returning to school following the conference on Thursday last week MGS held its annual Art Exhibition and Summer Concert.  The exhibition was once again a delight to walk around and the quality of art work from the Year 11, 12 and 13 students was very high indeed.  Congratulations to all the prize winners, and everyone who had their work displayed should feel very proud.  Well done all.  Alongside the Art Exhibition was the Summer Concert which was able to be held in the Quad due to the glorious weather.  The selection of music this year was varied ranging from the Theme to Downton Abbey to Beethoven’s Adagio in F Major.  It was such a pleasant way to spend an early evening in the sunshine. 
At the weekend the Parents’ Association held its annual Family Fun and Sports Day to raise money for the association and to bring the community of the School together.  The weather held off for most of the time, which made for an enjoyable day; many people enjoyed the opportunity of winning chocolate on the tombola, sipping at a glass of Pimm’s and scrambling across the inflatable assault course.  Thank you to everyone who came along and to the many of you who donated money, cakes, chocolates and other items for the tombola and stalls.  These events are so important for the MGS Community and I thank the Parents’ Association for working hard to organise it.
This week is another busy one: last night I attended a meeting of the MGS Development Fund Trustees discussing how the Fund is progressing and what things we can continue to work on to see it develop.  Tonight is the last Full Governors’ Meeting of the academic year where, as you can appreciate, we share what has happened during the year and look forward to the next.  Remember, anyone is welcome to attend a governors’ meeting as an observer, and if you would like to do so then please make contact with The Clerk to the Governing Body, Mrs Friend.  Her email address is school@mgs-kent.org.uk.  On Wednesday the leaving Year 13 students return to school for their Leavers’ Tea followed in the evening with their Sixth Form Ball which this year is taking place at Mountains, Hildenborough.  These events are always a pleasure to go to as it is an opportunity to really say goodbye to the leaving students and also see them in their best gear.  And finally this week the new cohort of Sixth Form students for the next academic year attend school for two days at the Sixth Form Induction Conference. 

Monday, 15 June 2015

I hope you found the first Headmaster's Blog informative, giving you some idea of what goes on behind the scenes at MGS.
Last week saw the return of Year 12 following their AS Level examinations. They completed two days of activities that covered a number of important aspects from how to go about writing a UCAS Personal Statement, understanding how to manage one's finances and what to do in an emergency situation when required to give basic first aid. Today Year 12 return to normal lessons embarking on their A2 studies; it is good to have them back. Last Friday I went on my second visit to another grammar school to see what they do there and what we could learn from them.

I visited Dr Challoner's Grammar School in Amersham, Buckinghamshire and spoke to a number of staff and students about a variety of things: teaching and learning, pastoral structures, staff development, all things 6th Form, and Development Funds. I came away with some good ideas and will be sharing them with the rest of the MGS community soon.

Sharing some good news, George Oram, an Old Maidstonian aged 21, has signed a professional contract for Rotherham Titans in the Rugby IPA Championship. Not only this but he also represented England Counties on their tour of Romania last month where they won both their games. George started the first match at number 8 and came off of the bench for their second win. Congratulations George.

Later in the year in November the Maidstone Riverside Rotary Club is organising a sponsored swim to raise money for Children In Need and other local charities. 24 teams of between four and six swimmers will swim as many lengths as possible in 30 minutes - the event is open to teams of anyone and of any ability. MGS has a very close relationship with the Rotary Club and so wishes to support this event and encourage keen swimmers to take part. If you would like to know more or simply register a team then please visit www.swimrelay.co.uk. Many thanks.

This week I am attending the Grammar School Heads' Association annual conference. It takes place every June and provides a great opportunity for all the Heads of grammar schools to network, share ideas and come away with some new ones. This year Boris Johnson MP is the keynote speaker giving the case for 'Grammar Schools in the 21st Century'. I have never heard him speak but I am sure he will be fascinating to listen to and provide the odd smile as he delivers it in the only way he knows how!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

We returned to school following the May Half Term with an Inset Day which was essentially divided into two main sessions.  Firstly, in the morning, I shared with the staff where I see MGS in five years’ time: the 2020 Vision!  This was followed by a large discussion on how we currently see our House structure, but more importantly where we see it developing in the near future.  Both the 2020 Vision and the outcome of the House discussions will be shared with the rest of the MGS Community in the coming weeks and months. 

The second part of the day was to provide more time for subject departments to continue the important work they have been doing for the last year or so preparing their schemes of learning to reflect the curriculum changes at both A-Level and GCSE.  Many changes are afoot and it is vital to ensure what we do at MGS takes into account these changes and continues to stretch and challenge our students to ensure they go on achieving the high standards we expect of them.  On Wednesday I spent a day away from school visiting Pate's Grammar School in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.  It is important as a Headmaster to look outwards and see how other schools do things and see how we can develop what we do.  This will be followed by another visit to another grammar school in Buckinghamshire later in the term.  I am looking at a number of aspects: teaching and learning, curriculum and accountability changes, pastoral structures, how we monitor and support the development of staff, the recruitment of good quality teachers and the issues related to reduced budgets.  These visits not only provide opportunities to experience new ideas and approaches, but also provide time, in what is a busy job, to reflect and consider how we can do things in a different way. 
On Thursday, myself, the two Deputy Heads and my PA spent some time evaluating every aspect of the School by reviewing our School Evaluation Form. (SEF)  Each school has some form of self evaluation process as it is important to be reflective and self-critical.  The aim was to produce one concise document that reflects the workings of the School and helps to identify what things are important to do to go on developing.  This will then contribute to the creation of the School Development Plan (SDP).  Both the SEF and SDP are for internal use only, but many aspects of them will be shared throughout the year in this Blog and our Termly Newsletters. 
I hope you all value the introduction of the Headmaster's Blog and see it as an opportunity to keep you updated with what we do sometimes behind the scenes and share news that sometimes your child forgets to tell you when you get home!
Mr Tomkins