Week Ending 28th February 2020
Blog Entry #35
It has been a busy half term holiday for our premises staff as they have been busy helping Kier move the History department out of their current accommodation into the newly renovated library, fiction room and one of our computer rooms. I am very grateful to Mr Marsden and Mr Clayton, History department leader Mr Smith and his colleagues and to Kier themselves for all the work which needed to be done during the holiday. I am happy to report that the move was completed successfully and colleagues and pupils are now getting used to their temporary new homes! The Department for Education and Kier are in the final stages of contract submission and signing with the main works due to commence at the end of this month. We will see a real difference to the school site once we return from the Easter holidays.
As you will be aware from letters I have sent home, I continue to be guided by Public Health England about the evolving Covid-19 situation. Please be reassured that any issue will be dealt with according to the correct protocols and that you as parents and carers will be informed appropriately. In the meantime, our site staff will continue to disinfect door handles and panels across the site 3 to 4 times a day to help prevent the spread of any viruses, including Covid-19. Please talk with your son or daughter about hand and respiratory hygiene - particularly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when arriving home and when arriving at school. If you are able to provide your child with a small 'travel pack' style bottle of hand sanitiser, that would also be a useful aid in the current situation. As with all such things, we will remain calm and measured and do all that is necessary to keep everybody associated with DGSB safe and well.
Preparations for our Y11 and Y13 cohorts' public examinations continue apace, with Y13 mocks now completed and Y11 spring mocks about to take place. If you are a parent or carer of a child in either or both of these year groups, please continue to encourage your son or daughter to take advantage of the huge amount of support that is on offer to help them with preparation for public examinations. Our staff go above and beyond to help our students, but the help and support is only ever of use if students are proactive and take advantage of it!
Week Ending 24th January 2020
Blog Entry #34
A belated very happy new year to you all! I hope you were able to enjoy a well-earned break over the Christmas holiday. Although we have been back only a few weeks, a huge amount has already happened this term, with much still to look forward to. If you haven't already had the chance to watch Mr Cunningham's brilliant video montage celebrating our DGSB History Day in December, and subsequent fly-by, please click here to view the video. It is a wonderful celebration of our current buildings and what they have provided us with over the last 90 years or so, and I do hope you will enjoy what Mr Cunningham has so generously produced. We are now in the advanced stages of pre-construction planning for our new build, with a number of works due to take place over half term in February - including moving the History Department from their current base to re-furbished accommodation within the main building, and converting the caretaker's lodge into our constructors' main base of operations - and works proper are expected to start towards the end of March. Our decant into the new school will take place in December next year, which we are all very excited about. Year 13 have of course just done their mock examinations, and like Year 11 they are now on the 'home straight' of planning for the final examinations, with all still very much to play for. The hours of hard work put in now will, I can assure you, pay dividends come August. As always, teachers and subject leaders at DGSB, together with our excellent pastoral staff, will continue to provide support and encouragement in equal measure, but it is the students themselves who can make the biggest difference through the work they put in between now and May/June. Do please keep underlining the importance of putting the hard graft in now, so that the results are as they want them to be come the summer.
Week Ending 13th December 2019
Blog Entry #33
Well, it has been a very busy few weeks! We were delighted to receive planning consent for our new build on the 4th, after a 4 and a half hour meeting in Maidstone, and the recent decision by Historic England that our current buildings are not of listable status means we can now get on with the planning for the first phase of construction, due to begin in February. I will be at a meeting in Aylesford on Thursday 19th putting the finishing touches to the overall plans. On Friday last week we held our "DGSB History Day" to mark the special place our school buildings have in our collective memory. It was fantastic to see students engaging in activities related to different periods of the last 90 years or so - from rocket building and testing to recording war time radio announcements! I am incredibly grateful to all my staff, who, at a time when everyone at school is tired, really pulled out all the stops to create a memorable day. Unfortunately we weren't able to have the drone on site due to high wind speeds but we will be trying again on Tuesday 17th. Mr Cunningham was our cameraman and director on Friday and together with two of our Year 11 house leaders spent the day filming all the activities which were taking place. Watch this space for a digital record of all that we did last week, coming early 2020.
Last week also saw our annual carol concert which was brillliantly attended. Thank you to all of you who came to support our students and staff on what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Our students - and students from Astor and DGGS - performed impressively. Thank you in particular to Mrs Simes who, as always, spent a huge amount of time putting together all the performances for everyone to enjoy; she really is "Super Simes"!
In the new year, you will be able to enjoy a brand new DGSB website. Our providers, Cleverbox, are currently working on our new site and we hope to be able to launch by late January.
In the meantime, thank you for your continued support of our school and all that we are doing for our students. Have a lovely Christmas break, and I look forward to seeing you in the new decade!
Week Ending 22nd November 2019
Blog Entry #32
Apologies for my recent hiatus - it has been a busy time since half term! First and foremost, I hope you have been able to read our OFSTED report which confirms our belief that we remain a "Good" school with an excellent foundation for making further progress in all that we do. I am immensely proud of my staff and our students, and I am now looking forward to all that we will do over the coming months and years. Since returning after the holiday we have had our annual Remembrance Services, which were, as ever, deeply moving, as well as our Sixth Form open evening which drew large numbers of students and parents both from within DGSB and further afield. Like our Year 8 parents' evening this week, these events showcased all that is so wonderful about our school and I am immensely grateful to our CCF, to our Sixth Form team and to all our staff who contribute so much to the work and life of DGSB. Of course we have a very big date coming up in the calendar, with our new school planning application set to be heard on December 4th at County Hall in Maidstone. I shall be there with Les Craggs, our Chair of Governors, and will let everybody know the decision as soon as I am able.
Week Ending 18th October 2019
Blog Entry #31
Well that turned out to be a busy week didn't it?! As you will be aware, we were able to welcome OFSTED to DGSB on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th October, so that they could see first hand all the fantastic things we are doing to help support, encourage and challenge our students. Thank you to all of you who were able to complete the OFSTED parent questionnaire which I sent out last Monday; your responses were very much appreciated. I would also like to say a huge thank you to my staff, who showed yet again just what a committed and talented group they are, and to our students who showed what an amazing school DGSB is. Even faced with an unscheduled fire evacuation (in the rain I might add!), the boys and sixth form girls were silent, respectful and mindful of others - all of the qualities that I want to see in our students in such a situation. I cannot praise them highly enough. We will receive our OFSTED report in 4-5 weeks, at which point I will send it out electronically to all parents, carers, staff and governors. Finally, a big thank you to all of you for supporting your son/daughter this term; we look forward to more exciting, challenging and innovative events next term! Have a lovely October half term holiday.
Week Ending 11th October 2019
Blog Entry #30
As we approach the end of term 1 of this academic year (though I am not sure where the time has gone!), we have a number of important events on the horizon to look forward to in the very near future. Anybody who would like to do so still has the oppportunity to add supportive comments to our new build planning application by visiting the KKC planning portal at:
Comments will be accepted up until 16th October, so do please lend your support if you are able to. Our application will be considered at the KCC planning committee meeting on 4th December, and both I and our Chair of Governors, Les Craggs, will be present at that crucial meeting. This coming week we have our 11+ Open Morning from 9.15 a.m. until 11 a.m. which gives me an opportunity to meet our future Year 7s! This is something I really look forward to, and we hope to see many students and future pupils at DGSB on Wednesday. And of course shortly after half term we have our annual Remembrance Day services, which are always deeply moving events. Finally this week, I would like to say a particular and heartfelt 'well done' to Logan C in Year 7 who has received a St John's Ambulance "Hero" Award at a celebration in London for saving his grandfather's life after he had suffered a heart attack. Logan had undertaken emergency first aid training just days before his grandfather's attack, and he acted swiftly and with great calm to get him the help he needed. I am pleased to report that Logan's grandfather is now back on his feet and making an excellent recovery! Well done Logan!
Week Ending 27th September 2019
Blog Entry #29
It was a privilege to be able to take part in the Old Pharosians' AGM on Saturday. The association, which brings together former staff and students of our school, met for tours of the school, a wonderful buffet lunch provided by Matt Norton our Catering Manager, and its annual meeting and I was delighted to be able to present an update on our proposed new build to all those who attended. It is always so heartening to hear how DGSB has played - and continues to play - such an important part in former students' lives, with members coming from as far afield as Orkney and Australia! Although our old boys feel a completely understandable emotional and sentimental bond with our current buildings, they are also fully aware of why we need new accommodation and I was delighted to receive their support for our proposed new buildings on Saturday. If you are a former student or staff member of DGSB, do please have a look at the work the Old Pharosians do by visiting http://www.dovergrammar.co.uk/ and perhaps consider joining the association. In other news, on Thursday I attended the Military Covenant signing ceremony at Dover District Council, which confirms DGSB and other schools' intention and desire to recognise and support the work of our armed forces. With DGSB having such a large and successful CCF unit, I was delighted to have been offered the opportunity to attend this event and lend my support to the work of our armed forces in the Dover area.
Week Ending 20th September 2019
Blog Entry #28
I hope you won't mind my devoting the majority of my blog this week to our planned new build. We are now at a critical stage of the process, with our planning application having been submitted in early August. It has now been validated and, as I hope you will have seen from my recent letter to parents and carers, we have an opportunity from now until 10th October to add comments in support of our project. A huge amount of work has gone into getting us to this stage, but I really need your support now to make sure we get this application over the line. The difference that our new school will make to the opportunites that we can offer current and future students cannot be overstated. If, therefore, you can spare 5 minutes to submit comments in support of what we are trying to achieve for our boys and sixth form girls, it would be greatly appreciated. If you missed my recent letter, copy this link into your browser to take you to our application and associated documents:
In non-building news (!), I have been stressing the importance to students and staff at the start of this new academic year of high expectations. My expectation of everyone in our community is that 'good enough is never good enough' - and we need to be constantly reminding ourselves and our students that we should always aim as high as possible. Our boys and sixth form girls deserve nothing less, and we - as parents and teachers - need to make sure that we continue to play our role in helping students shoot for the stars, and not for the moon. Our new "This is Who We Are" expectations charter and the "Fiat Lux Programme" in Year 7 will play a key role in our aims for this year and beyond.
Week Ending 6th September 2019
Blog Entry #27
Welcome back everybody! I hope you have had a lovely summer and that you were able to spend some quality time with your families. It has been a busy first week of term for us all at DGSB, not least because we have welcome in our new Y7 cohort. What a pleasure to meet such fine young men, eager and ready to learn! Seeing them on the first day of what we all hope will be an enjoyable and productive 7 year journey was a real joy and if you son has just started with us, I hope he has had a brilliant first week. More of the same next week please! We have seen lots of positives in our public examination results this summer and I would like to place on record my congratulations to all our outgoing Y11 and Y13 students, as well as my sincere gratitude to our staff who have worked tirelessly to support pupils over the last 12 months. However, we still have lots to do to get our school to where it truly belongs and I look forward to working with you over the next 12 months to see how highly we can help all our children achieve. The them of this year is most certainly "Fiat Lux" - "Let There Be Light" - as we aim to ensure that all students look up to the light and aspire to be the best they can be. In other exciting news, our planning application for our new school was submitted on August 8th and I have been attending weekly meetings in Maidstone as we begin our work on the final design and interior finishes of the new building. As soon as I have the link for the planning application, I shall put it on the school's website. Once there, do please take the time to have a read and - if you feel able - to let the council know just how important this new school is for everyone - current and future - connected with DGSB.
Week Ending 19th July 2019
Blog Entry #26
We made it! The end of term is here and what a week it has been, with Los Mondiales and Fiat Lux Day two of the highlights of my first year as Headteacher at our wonderful school. My immense gratitude goes to all our students for the way they threw themselves into our charitable, sporting and creative endeavours and to the PE department, Mr Rosier and Mr Cunningham in particular for organising Los M and Fiat Lux Day. A huge thank you as well to all our staff who gave of their time and energy to creat two fantastic days of fun. On Thursday we had our final public consultation on our new school build with over 120 feedback forms being submitted - more than Kier and the DfE have seen at any similar school event. Talking to parents - both present and future! - and to old boys and local residents was incredibly positive and beneficial, and I am grateful to all who turned up to see our displays. Today (Friday) we have said goodbye to a number of colleagues who are moving on to new projects. Mr Reilly, Mr Connolly, Mr Burgess, Miss Tipping, Mr Chipchase and Mr Pout will all be pursuing new projects in September, whilst Miss Calver will be embarking on her year-long sabbatical travelling the world and writing her book. Watch out for her updates on the school website in the new academic year! I would like to say thank you to all departing colleagues for their fantastic service to the school and to wish them well in the next stage of their careers. Finally, thank you all for the wonderful support you have given me as your new headteacher. It is a genuine privilege and pleasure to work on behalf of our students, parents and teachers and I am already looking forward to what we will achieve together next year. Have a wonderful summer!
Week Ending 5th July 2019
Blog Entry #25
Apologies for the lack of weekly blog since 14th June, but it has been a tremendously busy and exciting time at DGSB with very little time to even stop and breathe let alone write my blog!! Since I last wrote to you in this forum we have had a really successful CCF Annual Inspection, a superbly attended and enjoyable Year 5 Open Evening and this week just past we had our Year 6 Induction Day. It was lovely to meet the class of September 2019 and their parents and carers and to show them what opportunities await them at our school. My mantra over the last few weeks has been that for all of us, "good enough" should never be good enough. I want all of us - me included - to want to improve and aspire to greater things, whatever they may be. On Friday 5th July I experienced my first DGSB Sports Day - and what a brilliant day it was, with new house "Pharos" under the stewardship of Mr White winning the House Shield, which was first contested in 1915. Our new 4m high house flags (designed by Roger Knight at RK Graphics in Dover) brought some much appreciated colour to the event and our students gave a fantastic account of themselves. I am immeasurably grateful to our PE department who worked tremendously hard to make this event such a success. In other exciting news, we will soon be having our second and final public consultation on our new school build. This will take place on Thursday July 18th in the main hall between 3.30 p.m. and 8.00 p.m.. A letter about the arrangements will be going out shortly. Please do come along and lend your support if you can; your presence - even if only for 10-15 minutes - would be hugely appreciated.
Week Ending 14th June 2019
Blog Entry #24
It was lovely yesterday (Saturday 15th June) to be able to attend a reunion of former DGSB students at Dover Rugby Club. I was given an incredibly warm welcome by Mike and all his colleagues, and it was a real privilege to be able to hear some of our old boys' stories. They came from far and wide to attend the reunion - Australia and the Isle of Skye being but two! - and after I had been given the honour of addressing the assembled masses, a few former students serenaded us with a rendition of the school song. Time to bring it back perhaps.....? Thoughts welcome! Back in school our revitalised and reinvigorated house system, with our new house - "Pharos" - comes into effect on Monday 17th June and Mr Rosier and I were able last week to hold year group assemblies to explain the new system. We were also able to talk to the boys about the new "This is Who We Are" student charter - which has been driven by the boys themselves - and the "Fiat Lux Programme" which will come into effect in September. New signage will appear around the school over the coming months and ready for our return in the autumn. In other news, the "client engagement meetings" with our constructors and the DfE began last week, and I hope to be able to bring you news about the second and remaining public consultation which is planned to take place later next month. Finally, well done to Y11 for (almost! There are a couple left!) completing their GCSEs; they have worked really hard and deserve their extra long holiday! We look forward to welcoming them into our sixth form in September.
Week Ending 7th June 2019
Blog Entry #23
We had a very good meeting with students this week in year 8 about the relaunch of our Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme here at DGSB - keep an eye out over future weeks as we unveil more details about the programme in 2019-20. Mr Cunningham, who will be jointly running DofE also this week staged our first Year 5 "Masterclass" in DT, which was a highly enjoyable and interesting experience for all concerned. Seeing the students leave each with his or her own newly created desk tidy was a real pleasure. Next week we will be talking to all of our students about some new projects which we are excited about. I cannot say much more at this stage, but will fill you in next week once the cat has been let out of the bag! Finally for this week, if you haven't yet had the chance to look at my letter to parents and carers in years 8-11 about a proposed visit to Miami and the Coral Glades High School next May, do check your email inbox and complete the 'expression of interest' form if it is something you want to consider for your son or daughter.
Week Ending 24th May 2019
Blog Entry #22
Our new school build project enters an exciting new phase over the half term as Kier (our constructors) will be on site to complete core sample drilling around the school site. Engineers will be drilling down to a depth of about 30 metres to check the composition and structure of the soil below the current site. Once we are back after half term, I will be meeting with architects, constructors and planners in a six-week series of what are called 'client engagement meetings' as we finalise what our new school will look like and how its various component parts will be organised. This is a critical stage of the process, and I will be calling on many of my colleagues next term to aid me in ensuring that our new accommodation reflect our needs completely. Our hope is that by the end of the summer we will have a fully-fledged design to take to our second public consultation prior to beginning the planning process. These are exciting and important times for DGSB and I look forward to working with all our stakeholders in the weeks and months ahead to ensure that our new-build comes to fruition. In the meantime, thank you for all your support of our school this term and do enjoy the half term break.
Week Ending 17th May 2019
Blog Entry #21
With public examination season now underway, I would like to wish all of our Year 11 and Year 13 students the very best of luck in all of their exams. My colleagues have been working exceptionally hard to support our students and my thanks go out to them for all they have done, and continue to do, to ensure the best possible results this summer. In my experience, the single most important element at this time of year is hard work; if students work hard, focus and keep their eyes on the prize, there is very little that cannot be achieved. I would also like to say a big thank you to all of our parents and carers who will also be going through the mill at the moment as they support and cajole their sons and daughters to help get them through what is undoubtedly a stressful period. A big thumbs up from me to all of you!
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing home to you to let you know about a number of new things that we will be doing, as a school, both this year and into next academic year. Having had almost a year at DGSB now, I have been able to form a clear vision for how I want our school to develop over the next 3-5 years, and for how we can build on all the wonderful things we do. Ours is an excellent school, with committed staff and wonderful students, and my intention is to ensure we amplify all the brilliant things we already do, to ensure that our students get the best possible preparation for adult life. Do therefore keep an eye out for news coming your way....
One of the elements that we will be introducing next year is a series of weekly 'masterclasses' for Year 5 boys and girls. We are trialling two of these sessions next term, and the demand for places was such that tickets sold out within 24 hours! So, if you have a child in Year 5 and were not able to secure a place this time round, don't worry - there will be many more opportunities in different subject areas next year.
Week Ending 26th April 2019
Blog Entry #20
Welcome back to another busy term at DGSB! I hope you were all able to enjoy some time with those who matter to you over the Easter break. My holiday started in quite a busy fashion with an almost immediate flight from Heathrow to Miami where I spent two days visiting Coral Glades High School. This was a fascinating experience, but one thing you learn when you are a teacher is that children the world over are pretty much the same, and they are always keen to find out more about the people in front of them. Many of the subject leaders at CGHS are keen to work with their opposite numbers here at DGSB and I will be speaking to my colleagues about how we can take this forward in the months and years ahead. Plans for our first official DGSB student and staff visit to Florida are already in motion and I hope to be able to provide further details towards the end of this academic year/beginning of next.
Our plans for new school buildings took another positive step forwards recently with the arrival of the site survey team from Kier to construct a radar topographical map of the DGSB site. This will aid the construction team when building commences. The DfE and partners are currently finalising their feasibility studies for our new accommodation and we hope to have positive news in the near future about when we can start our planning application.
As we approach the busy summer public examination period, I would like to welcome our new data manager and examinations officer, Miss Kim Dancer, who has already had a very positive impact on our school. Likewise, this is an opportune moment to encourage all of our Y11 and Y13 students (with help from parents and carers) to take every opportunity to revise effectively and productively. For both GCSE and A level, the importance of sheer hard work cannot be underestimated in terms of ultimate examination success, so do please do all you can as mums and dads to cajole and encourage our students in their final push!
Week Ending 29th March 2019
Blog Entry #19
As we approach the end of another busy but productive term, I just wanted to say thank you to you all for your support of your son or daughter and of the school in general. GCSE and A level examinations are fast approaching, and Easter will provide a useful period both for our students to get some rest and to prepare for the exams which they will soon be sitting. Thank you too, therefore, in advance for all that you will be doing over the Easter break to help prepare your son/daughter for what lies ahead. Whilst I may have mentioned this before in this blog, one of the most powerful tools we can use is to ask students to imagine opening their results envelope in August, and think what they want it to say and how they want to feel. This then provides the motivation for ensuring that all the necessary preparation has been done in order to ensure positive results. With still no end in sight to the Brexit process, I will of course update you via our website if there is a need to do so, and will make sure that DGSB is doing all that it can to ensure education continues as normal in our school. Last night saw our annual spring concert, which, although I was unable to attend due to illness, was a fantastic success. My thanks go to Mrs Simes and all of the students who took part. They all performed fantastically. Do please make sure you have a wonderful Easter, and I look forward to seeing all of our students back in school for the start of term 5 on Tuesday 23rd April.
Week Ending 22nd March 2019
Blog Entry #18
One of the most important things I have been working on this year is the development of our "Fiat Lux Programme". This is a programme which will be introduced in September 2019 and which is designed to help our students go as far as they can in all that they do, both academically and in terms of their social and personal development (more to follow on this in due course!). "Fiat Lux" - "Let there be light" - is possibly the best motto any school could have, and I want all of our students to be looking up. not down, and to reach as high as they can. Part of the programme will involve broadening horizons and to this end, I will be travelling to South Florida in the Easter holidays (at my own expense, not the school's!) to visit a high school with which I want to set up a link. This link will, I hope, lead to potential visits and exchanges with our students experiencing learning in an American high school and US students coming to DGSB for a set period of time. This opportunity has come about through a former student of mine from over 10 years ago who now teaches at the school. I am very hopeful about the positive impact this part of the "Fiat Lux Programme" could have and will report back to you all after the holiday!
Week Ending 15th March 2019
Blog Entry #17
We welcomed a new member of the DGSB family last week when our new school mnibus was delivered. This will give the PE department in particular a great amout of extra capacity and flexibility when it comes to away fixtures. Do have a look at my HT Twitter account for some pictures of our new arrival! Our new buildings project continues to gather pace, and I spent time last week working with colleagues on the school specific brief - an important document that will help us ensure that everything we need to access in the new accommodation is included in the design and build. At the end of this coming week we shall be saying a sad goodbye to Mrs Powell, our Data and Examinations Officer who is taking up a new role within EIS, one of our data support providers. Mrs Powell has given fantastic service to DGSB over many years and she will be very much missed by both staff and students. Finally for this week, I would like to highlight the achievement of Mrs Dalton, one of our excellent science technicians, who has been working with our Young Carers and who recently achieved the Bronze Young Carers Award for DGSB. She was invited up to the House of Commons last week to talk to MPs about her work. You can read more at https://bit.ly/2Fb8NKc. We are incredibly proud of Mrs Dalton and all she does to support our Young Carers.
Week Ending 1st March 2019
Blog Entry #16
Thank you to everybody who was able to visit the public exhibition for our proposed new school buildings which took place on Tuesday 26th February. It was great to see so many parents and carers take the time to look at our proposals and to give us their feedback. The overwhelming sentiment that came through from the event, both in conversations and from reading the feedback sheets, was that improved facilities for the students at DGSB, both present and future, are long overdue and that the proposals on display are our best chance of securing our school's long-term future. In other news, we now have our new projector mounting and projector screen in the hall, which I was able to use to deliver my assembly on Tony Fouldes - the Sheffield man who has tended a memorial for US airmen for over 70 years - this week. I am extremely grateful to Dr David Belford, a former student of the school from over 60 years ago, who generously gave us a donation which has enabled us to purchase the new screen. Finally, we have Y11 spring mocks taking place next week and I would like to wish our students the very best for these important tests whilst at the same time urging them to make maximum use of this important period. With only a few months to go until the GCSE examinations, it is good to hear from my colleagues that our Year 11 students are putting in the effort to secure success this summer.
Week Ending 15th February 2019
Blog Entry #15
As we reach the end of another busy term, I hope you have all received my invitation to take part in the public consultation on our new school build, a project which is now moving into a crucial phase. If you are able to attend the consultation on Tuesday 26th February at any point between 3.30 p.m. and 8.00 p.m. it would be greatly appreciated. It will be an opportunity for you to tell us what you feel needs to be incorporated into our new buildings and what aspects of our school and its ethos need to be present in the new build to ensure our history is appropriately represented. I very much look forward to seeing you there (we will be in the gym) and to discussing our new school buildings with you. Of course, our Year 11 and Year 13 students are already in an incredibly important phase of their school lives with the approaching GCSE and A level examinations and I know they will want to take advantage of every opportunity both this half term and in the weeks ahead to revise and consolidate their knowledge and understanding. As American author Robert Collier once wrote, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
Week Ending 8th February 2019
Blog Entry #14
After a week's hiatus, my blog is back and I am happy to report that our new security gates are now fully operational and working effectively, which is really pleasing. On Friday 1st February we welcomed KCC's safeguarding auditors to DGSB who had selected our school as one of 20 schools selected at random for an audit of safeguarding mechanisms. Whilst we won't receive their final report for a few weeks, I can tell you that our visitors were very impressed with the work we do to ensure students, staff, parents and visitors are kept safe. Our new drama project will begin immediately after half term (Wednesday 27th February) as we have now received the necessary clearances to allow Miss Briley to start. Finally for this week, I have some important news to tell you on Monday when I shall be writing home to parents and carers. Without wishing to sound cryptic, I can't say any more until then; suffice to say, your help and involvement will be very much welcomed. More news to follow in due course!
Week Ending 25th January 2019
Blog Entry #14
The snow certainly caught me unawares last week, having left home with bone dry roads, only to get to Lydden and see cars coming the other way with an inch of snow on their bonnets! I am told that this is not unusual, given Dover's micro-climate, but it was nonetheless a shock to the system! Luckily, our excellent site staff were quickly on the case making the site safe for all to use and ensuring that lessons were able to continue as normal. A few months ago, I received an email from a former pupil of the school, who was going to be in the area and who wanted to visit his old stomping ground. I was more than happy to oblige, and when he arrived at DGSB in late November, he informed me that he had last set foot in reception some 65 years ago! He had extremely happy and positive memories of his time at our school and it was lovely to listen to his recollections of school life in the 1950s. What I wasn't expecting was to receive, a few days later, a cheque for £1000 as a gift to be spent on the fabric of the school or to support student learning. This was such a generous and thoughtful thing for our visitor to have done, and I am pleased to say that we have been able to put the money to good use. In a few weeks, we will have a newly installed electronic projector screen in the main hall and a ceiling mounted projector, so that the quality of presentations to students, staff and parents can be improved. The new equipment will bear its benefactor's name, and I am genuinely grateful to him for what he has done. He certainly personifies all the qualities we hope to nurture in our students.
Week Ending 18th January 2019
Blog Entry #13
Our Y13 students have been busy doing their mock examinations this week, as they, like Y11, start to look forward to the final examinations this summer. It's a useful point in the school year to think about what is needed to ensure success at either GCSE or A level in 2019. My experience of many students in many different schools is that those who do best are those who start their revision early. This is absolutely critical, and there are many studies that show starting revision early and revisiting notes little and often is vital for exam success. Likewise, practising exam questions and exam-style questions under timed conditions gives students the best preparation for what is to come. Remember that all teachers at DGSB - and I absolutely include myself in this - are ready and willing to provide students with whatever additional guidance and support that they need. Do please reiterate this with your son or daughter over the next few months and make sure they undersand that if they need anything, they just need to let us know. Thereafter, they simply need to make sure they are putting their talent to good use and working as hard as they can to make sure that when they open that envelope in August it says everything that they want it to.
Week Ending 11th January 2019
Blog Entry #12
Welcome back to a new calendar year! I hope you all had an enjoyable and peaceful Christmas and that you were able to spend time with friends and family. Over the holiday, we have been able to give a facelift to main reception at DGSB, which is now decked out in a 'coprorate' DGSB blue, just like the Old Tower, which has also had a fresh coat of paint and now looks a lot more loved! Our new security gates are almost complete, although installation of the electric motors was delayed slightly after the company's electrician unfortunately broke his leg whilst skiing over the holiday (I am sure there is a lesson in there somewhere!). However, he is now recovering and his temporary replacement has been working hard to get everything finished. This year is an incredibly important one for our Y11s and our Y13s in particular as they begin their preparation for their final examinations this summer. I have used the motif of success being the sum of small efforts repeated day in, day out in my assemblies at the start of this term, and this is very much the case for our students. Little and often has to be the mantra when it comes to revision, and all of our fantastic staff remain available to support students whenever they can. I will also be doing a lot of work with the DfE, KCC and DDC on our 'Priority Schools Building' project, which we hope will gather momentum in the first half of this calendar year. I will certainly need all of your help over the next 12-18 months in particular, and will let you know how you can support us in ensuring that we achieve the buildings and facilities that our students and staff so badly need and deserve. Exciting times ahead!
Week Ending 14th December 2018
Blog Entry #11
We certainly got into the Christmas spirit last week, with a wonderful Christmas concert organised brilliantly by Mrs Simes. I have been teaching for over 20 years, and rarely have I been as impressed as I was by what was on show last Tuesday - absolutely fabulous, with contributions from so many students. This week we are looking forward to welcoming back our Year 13 students from 2017-18 for Senior Prizegiving on Tuesday evening, together with our Year 11 leavers from the same year group. At every school I have worked at, this has always been a lovely occasion, and I have no doubt whatsoever that my first experience of the DGSB version will be just as impressive and enjoyable. I will be giving an assembly to each year group in the school on Wednesday this week, where I will be talking to our students about the importance of charity, thinking about others and selflessness - all of which I feel we recognise fully, but which are so important at this time of year. I mentioned last week that I would give you more information on some proposed freshening up of our main building. Over the Christmas holiday, main reception and the Old Tower will be completely redecorated and given a 'make-over' to make them more attractive and welcoming spaces, something which I know we will all welcome. Finally, thank you all for the way you have made me, as new headteacher of our wonderful school, feel so welcome since September. I have very quickly taken DGSB to my heart, and as we look forward to all the things we will be doing to further improve our school in the new year, please allow me to wish you all a restful, peaceful and enjoyable Christmas holiday.
Week Ending 7th December 2018
Blog Entry #10
It's hard to believe that I am coming to the end of my first 'big' term as headteacher at DGSB, but Christmas is now clear on the horizon. This week we have our annual Carol Concert, which Mrs Simes has been working hard to prepare over recent weeks, and I am really looking forward to experiencing this event for the first time. Our new security gates will be completed by the end of the last week of term, and I am very grateful to Four Seasons Fencing Ltd who have been working like the clappers over the last week to make sure the project remains on schedule. Over the Christmas holiday, our main building will also be seeing a few changes - more of that next week.....I hope you have by now had the opportunity to read the letter I sent out last week about the new DGSB drama project, to be run by Freya Briley of Jest UK, and which will start in January. Do please encourage your son or daughter to take part. Finally this week, a note of gratitude to old boy Dr David Belford, who visited DGSB a few weeks ago for the first time in 65 years. David now lives in Pontefract, Yorkshire, but has fond memories of his time at our school. He enjoyed a guided tour with some of our Sixth Formers and took great pleasure in talking to staff and students. As a thank you, David has donated £1000 to the school to be spent on improving the fabric or facilities, and I am incredibly grateful to him for his generosity and kindness. Such is the nature of our Old Pharosians and the students we develop at DGSB, and at this time of year, in particular, Dr Belford's gift really warms the heart.
Week Ending 30th November 2018
Blog Entry #9
Lots of exciting things going on at the moment, not least the imminent arrival of our KS3 and KS4 drama project. Freya Briley, who owns and runs the Dover-based "Jest" theatre company will be coming into DGSB one day a week from January to run drama and comedy clubs and to undertake subject-specific work within departments. Really looking forward to her presence in school and the work she will be doing, as I believe very strongly in the transformative power of theatre and drama. Of course, before then our new security gates will start to be installed next week with completion due by the end of December. I will also soon be sending out a summary of the information you kindly contributed to our recent Kirkland Rowell parent survey, so do keep an eye out for this. Our Year 11 students are fully immersed in their mock examinations at the moment, and I would like to give them all my best wishes for this important period. Finally this week, I would like to say a huge well done to Mrs Dalton, one of our science technicians, who this week saw her hard work rewarded with DGSB being awarded the "Young Carers Bronze Award". Brilliant work Mrs Dalton, which will help raise the profile of all our young carers.
Week Ending 23rd November 2018
Blog Entry #8
As you may have seen on my HT Twitter account (HT@DGSB), it was really enjoyable and useful to have been able to talk to so many parents at the Year 8 parents' evening on Thursday. This is how I learn - by talking and listening to staff, students and parents about what is going well and what we can do to improve. Likewise, I am learning a lot from your responses to our recent Kirkland Rowell survey, the results for which came in at the end of last week. I am busy looking at the information that has come through and will share a summary with you in due course, most likely early in the new year. Thank you for contributing to this survey if you were able to do so; it is very much appreciated. With Year 11 mock examinations just around the corner, I will be speaking to our students early next week about the critical importance of treating these mocks like the real thing and preparing as effectively as possible, whilst at the same time recognising that they are the perfect opportunity to identify areas for improvement and to then address these areas post-Christmas. We learn the most from the things that don't quite go right, but the important thing is what we do afterwards to make things better next time. Christmas is only a few weeks away now (where does the year go?!), and we are all looking forward to the events that will be taking place in the run up to this important time of year.
Week Ending 16th November 2018
Blog Entry #7
This week was my first DGSB Sixth Form Open Evening, and it was absolutely fantastic to see so many students and parents in attendance. My particular thanks for what was a very positive and energetic event go to Mr Polden and the Sixth Form team, and our fantastic staff who, as ever, went over and above the call of duty to ensure parents, carers and students received all the information they needed to make informed decisions about their future academic options. I have also been getting around the school dropping in on lessons which has given me a really good flavour of our students' learning. It has been pleasing to see students engaged and active in their studies, as invariably it is hard work that gets us where we want to go. One student in Year 8 even told me that he has been reading this blog, so hello to you if you have 'tuned in' this week! You may remember that I told you a few weeks ago that I had arranged for the site security to be improved, and I am pleased to report that work will start on 3rd December with a projected finish date of 21st December. The work will see new electronic gates, with video intercom, installed at the top of the main drive and on the top drive, as well as new gates at the bottom of the main drive. This will make a huge difference to our site and I will be writing home to parents and carers this week with further information. Keep an eye out for updates over the weeks ahead....
Week Ending 9th November 2018
Blog Entry #6
Well, it has been a very moving day here at school with our annual Remembrance Day Services. I cannot tell you how impressed I have been with our staff and students today - they have done the memory of those from DGSB and the wider country proud with the manner in which they have respectfully observed today's events. I would like to express particular gratitude to Mr Rosier, Mrs Simes and our CCF students, all of whom have worked incredibly hard to make today's event so meaningful. Thank you, too, to a number of former colleagues and current Governors who also attended today. I have mentioned in a previous entry how much of an impact CCF can have on the lives of young people in our town and that was certainly in evidence today. I feel immensely privileged to lead a school with such a strong sense of respect and empathy, and am proud to have been able to attend my first Remembrance Day service at DGSB.
Week Ending 2nd November 2018
Blog Entry #5
I hope you were all able to enjoy a break over half term and that our students, too, were able to get a good rest. We are now on the run in towards Christmas, but there is so much to do and look forward to this term. Next week we will be holding our annual Remembrance Day services, with this year adding particular poignancy as it is 100 years since the end of WW1. I am very much looking forward to seeing the very special way in which our school remembers all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our country, and have been told that DGSB Remembrance Services are something to behold. On a related note, this weekend I will be visiting our CCF cadets at St Martin's Plain in Folkestone to see how their recruit weekend is going, which will be a great experience for me as new Headteacher at DGSB; I have been really impressed by our cadets this year, and seeing them 'in action' at camp will be a valuable opportunity for me. We will shortly be installing new security gates at the top and bottom of our site, and I will write home to parents and carers shortly to let you all know when this work will be taking place. We expect all the work to be complete by Christmas, with relatively little disruption to our normal working environment. If you haven't already had the opportunity, please do complete the Kirkland Rowell survey which was sent home earlier this week. Your views really matter and will help me understand how to make the most positive difference to our school in the future.
Week Ending 19th October 2018
Blog Entry #4
Well, where did the time go?! Here we are, already well into our half term break - a time to rest and recuperate, and to take stock of what we have already achieved this academic year. In the last few weeks, after meeting all of our fantastic staff for 'one-to-one' meetings so that I can get to know each and every one of them, I have been able to start walking around the school to see the students 'in action' in their subject lessons. I have been very impressed by the attention and focus that I have seen, as well as the desire to learn and improve, and all of these attributes will be critical in the weeks and months ahead, whichever year group your son is in. The last week of term saw our Year 6 open morning, a hugely positive occasion, which allowed me to talk to many future parents and students about my intentions for our wonderful school and all who work and study here. We have also recently welcomed a party of Dutch students to DGSB, and have been working with our chosen media partner, SEA, to introduce a new digital prospectus for the sixth form. And of course, our CCF students and staff continue to show just how positive an influence this organisation can be for our community. I am immensely grateful to Major John Wiggell and Miss Orr in particular for their dedication and commitment.
After half term, I will be sending out the link to the Kirkland Rowell survey that I mentioned in last week's blog and I would be very grateful if you could spare 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Your responses will help us to plan our development more effectively. Next term you will also see some changes to security arrangements on our site, as we introduce new gates at the top and bottom of the main drive. More news on this to follow in due course.....
Week Ending 12th October 2018
Blog Entry #3
I thought I would mention in my blog this week that after half term, we will be running a series of surveys for parents, pupils and staff under the auspices of Kirkland Rowell. KR have a huge amount of experience in gauging the attitudes of all stakeholders in schools where their surveys are used, and also analyse responses to see how a school's stakeholder views compare with other schools nationally. After the October break, therefore, you will receive from me a letter with a link to a short survey on your views about DGSB - where we are now, what we do well, where you think we could develop - and I would be very grateful if you could spare 10 minutes to complete the survey for me. It will really help me, as your new Headteacher, to understand what pupils, parents and staff think about our school in order to help plan our development more effectively. I look forward to receiving your views in due course!
Week Ending 5th October 2018
Blog Entry #2
Another busy but successful week at DGSB! This week we were able to receive a party of Dutch students of Year 7 age who visited the school to see how an English school functions and what students here learn. They were also able to visit local landmarks including Dover Castle, which they enjoyed immensely. In school, I have been delighted to be able to present so many "Headteacher Awards" to students across the year groups, for a variety of different reasons including kindness to others, helping those in need, sporting success and academic excellence. As well as recognising students' successes in all areas of life, presenting these awards has given me the opportunity to get to know more of our students, and to see all the excellent things that they do, both inside school and in the wider community. Long may that continue! I have also been getting to know the work of the CCF under Major Wiggell and I have to say how impressed I have been with our cadets. A recent survey by a British university highlighted just how much being a cadet brings to the lives of our young people and it is something at DGSB which I will continue to support.
Week Ending 28th September 2018
Blog Entry #1
It gives me great pleasure to be able to greet you all on this my first weekly Headteacher's blog entry. This is something new for DGSB - and for me! - and I hope it will allow you to keep in touch with me and with what is taking place in our school each week and each term. It has certainly been a busy, but very productive start to term. I have been able to welcome all of our students either back to DGSB or for the first time in the case of Year 7 and some Year 12 students. I have also been meeting with each member of our wonderful teaching staff and our amazing support staff, so that I get to know more about each person within "Team DGSB". My focus this year is on ensuring that everybody within our community is able to achieve his or her very best, whether student or staff, and I am immensely grateful to everybody at school for the tremendously positive welcome which I have received, and the clear desire shown by all to push our wonderful school on to even greater heights.
Last Wednesday, it was fantastic to meet and talk to many of you when you attended my "Headteacher's Welcome Evening". I found this a hugely beneficial event and the emails I have received from parents and carers following the talk seem to indicate that you did as well. If there is ever anything you feel I need to be aware of or that you think would be useful to know or utilise as we seek to develop further everything we do at DGSB, do please contact the school. It is always good to hear from parents and carers, and I am hoping that we will be able to work constructively together in the months and y ears ahead.
On Friday 28th September, I was able to attend my first "Sports Presentation Evening" at DGSB. It was a great evening, with special guest and former DGSB student James Brown giving out awards. James spoke confidently and passionately about his career as a young professional footballer at Millwall, and all those who were present on Friday night were incredibly impressed by his poised contribution to proceedings. Our students could do a lot worse than look to James as a role model, both professionally and academically. I would like to place on record my immense thanks to Mr White, Mr King and Mr Beaumont who put on such an enjoyable and informative event. I look forward to many more in the years ahead!
My new Headteacher Awards are really taking off now, with almost 30 students having already received their first (Bronze) Award for all manner of successes, from sporting and academic to acts of kindness towards others and service to the school and local communities. I have even had some recommendations from parents for things students have done outside school, which is fantastic; long may that continue!
Finally for this week, I would like to congratulate Mr Graham Dangerfield, who works for our CCF Unit, who was this week presented with the Lord Lieutenant of Kent's Meritorious Service Award at a special ceremony which took place on the Salomans Estate in Tunbridge Wells. Well deserved Graham - hearty congratulations from us all!