HT Weekly Blog
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!