It’s been a busy start to term as always, with everything falling into those patterns of school that we, once again, take for granted. This has been made to feel all the more hectic because of the extraordinary building work we have taking place all across the site. The beeping sound of reversing vehicles by S block sometimes seems too distracting for students! The kitchen extension is on hold until the summer but the foundations have also further restricted the site at the back of the school. Meanwhile, the new 1.9 million heating and plumbing systems are being fully completed in S block and work starts on the main 1928 building over half term. Whilst a big chunk of this work will be completed out of hours, it will necessitate lots of room changes and mess over the next 4 months. This isn't even including the plans for new toilets, ripping the stage out of the hall, making the gym into a performance space, various planned renovations and reconfiguring of our outside spaces once the temporary classrooms have gone. It’s complicated, time consuming and exciting, but also means having to regularly make “omelettes and eggs” analogies and trite comments like “It will be worth it in the end”.
But it will. A new sports hall, new 6th form area, new classrooms, changing rooms, loads more cubicle toilets, a fit for purpose eating space, a larger presentation/event space, bigger kitchen, more offices, a purpose built isolation room, bigger library, more covered outside spaces….I could go on. As a history teacher, I like to think in terms of the bigger historical picture and I think it is fair to say that for Borden, this year is one of those historical moments in its development.
1878 ‘Barrow Boys’ or Borden boarding school (with less than 40 students)
1929 Borden School built on current site (280 students by 1939)
1979 ‘Hardy block’ added on to main site named after the prior headteacher
1995-98 ‘Short block’ added as a separate block named after the prior headteacher
2004 Astro turf and pavilion jointly built by the school and hockey club (750 students)
2023 New sports hall, classrooms and 6th form space (now almost 1000 students)
There’s also no doubt that the context in which we are working is harder than it’s ever been, but you will see from this newsletter that, despite this disruption, the school is going from strength to strength. We await our GCSE progress 8 score to be published, but already know this is going to be the best for many years. We had two students go on to Cambridge University this year, record numbers of students have joined our 6th form, and we have over 30 students going on to pursue their silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, having already been successful at bronze. Our 6th formers have been selling cakes at social times to raise money for the Macmillan charity and students have been reflecting on Black History month in assemblies and tutor time. On Friday, Borden staff are taking part in professional development delivered by the national anti-bullying foundation, where Borden has become one of only 16 schools in the country being asked to pilot the programme. We all have a great deal to be proud of.
On the note of bullying, the current issues taking place across the world require us to be vigilant in challenging expressions of hatred and encouraging our Borden values, particularly kindness. Please do take a look at the parent resources in the Educate Against Hatewebsite and talk to us if you have any concerns. I am happy to say that for the vast majority, most of the time, the Borden values of kindness and respect dominate, but it is important not to be complacent. Although, having listed the above, I hardly think we can be accused of complacency!
Thank you to the students and staff that make this all possible and please enjoy the rest of the newsletter.
Ashley Tomlin Headteacher
Some words from our Heads of Years
The first term is always daunting for our new arrivals, they are meeting new people and are learning new things every day. The year group is coping with this transition remarkably well, showcasing the Borden Values with their resilience to change, putting great effort into all of their lessons, showing kindness to each other during tough times, being respectful when discussing important topics such as Black History Month, having the courage to ask for support if needed and thinking of creative ways to help our school community.
I'd like to give a shout-out to 7SJH as they are the winners of this term's competition! Well done chaps!
Next term is incredibly busy for Year 7: we will be selecting our Form Captains; training our next cohort of AntiBullying Ambassadors; we see the return of Hot Chocolate Friday's, and we will start preparing for our Charity Christmas Fair.
For now, please enjoy your half-term break Year 7. Thank you for an eventful seven weeks!
Head of Year 7
Year 10 have made an impressive start to their GCSE studies and have shown real engagement with their Option subjects. I would like to thank parents and carers for their support of the students in finding Work Experience placements. Mrs. Mahoney will be updating the students about next steps after half-term. In form time we have focused on British Values, how we learn and how to look after our mental health, alongside studying the issue of consent in Personal Development. Although the majority of students have adapted well to the demands of work at GCSE level, selected students will be invited to attend a compulsory after school homework club in order to support their learning outside of the classroom. This will be reviewed half-termly. In addition, I would like to thank our form prefects for their support of the new Year 7 students during registration time, as well as the students who represented the school so well at Open Evening. A further thank you to Mrs. Carter for coordinating the Year 10 forms in raising money for Macmillan through daily cake sales during the last week of term and to all students who contributed by bringing cakes, cash or giving up their time to sell to their peers. A final reminder that as the weather starts to turn, students should be suitably dressed to be outside at break and lunch time, as well as bringing a waterproof school bag each day - you do not want to lose whole books of GCSE notes needed for final exam revision!
Head of Year 10
This month has been extremely productive for Year 12 students who have attended both Talk consent sessions, which focus on the importance of sexual consent and Mental Health First aid training.
We now have eight trained MHFA ambassadors who will work with students in the lower school to support them with their mental health and wellbeing, demonstrating how, as a school community, we are actively modelling the Borden values. This invaluable training will be repeated in November, providing a further opportunity to extend our support network within Sixth Form and the wider school environment.
This quote from one of our Year 12 students perfectly encapsulates how the social and emotional learning within school can be applied to the wider context of the world around us:
"The consent talk was very helpful and educational on topics like what consent really is, and how it can be applied in real world scenarios. I learnt that consent is not just asking for permission, but it's also an agreement between two people that can be withdrawn at any time."
This is an unwavering testament to the holistic approach to learning that we embed in the Sixth Form at Borden, alongside our students' increasing knowledge and resultant application of the PSHRE curriculum.
Acting Head of Year 12
Attendance reminders for Parents
If a student is unable to attend school, parents should report this on Edulink (Absence Reporting) before 8:00am. Calls should only be made to the school for absences if Edulink is unavailable.
If the school has not been notified for the reason of absence by 9.10am the absence will be unauthorised and will affect your child's attendance figures.
FIRST DAY CONTACT
For all students missing from school we will make first day contact to establish the reason for absence, this is to safeguard student welfare. We apologise if you receive more than one call or an additional call where you have attempted to contact us.
If your child is off school due to illness, medical evidence will be required for your child's absence.
If after 3 days of absence, your child has not been seen and contact has not been made with the school, we will make all reasonable enquiries to establish contact with parents/carers and the child, including making enquiries to known friends and wider family. In the event of an absence of three or more days without contact from the family, a home visit will be made to ascertain the safety and well- being of the child and in addition to the reason for absence from school.
TEN DAYS ABSENCE
We have a legal duty to report the absence of any student who is absent without an explanation for 10 consecutive days. If the child is not seen and contact has not been established with the named parent/carer then the local authority is notified that the child is at risk of being missing from education (CME). The Education Welfare Officer will visit the last known address and alert key services to locate the child.
FREQUENT / PERSISTENT ABSENCE PROCEDURES
We want to avoid absence wherever possible. If there are any issues preventing attendance please communicate with us. When absence first becomes a concern we will write to you to outline our concerns. The letters are designated by the Local Authority, so the tone can sometimes be harsh, however we are required to follow Local Authority guidance in this. If there are no improvements to attendance, we will invite you in for a meeting with the school to put an action plan in place. In the event of no change to attendance after this step, we have a duty to involve the Bexley Education Welfare Service.
There are 190 days in a school year, which leaves 175 days to spend time with the family, shopping, dentist appointments and other things. At Borden Grammar School, our attendance target is to achieve higher than 95%. Frequent absence can add up to a lot of missed learning time and can seriously disadvantage your child in adult life. How does your child compare?
Good attendance at school is essential for a child’s education and establishes a positive working ethos early in life. It has been proven by DfE studies that students who are absent from school do not reach their full potential when measured against their target grades and those that have a higher attendance percentage. Parents should bear this in mind when allowing their child to stay at home.
English trip to the Globe Theatre
In September, the English department were able to take nearly 100 Key Stage 4 students to visit Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to see their production of Macbeth on two separate days. Students enjoyed seeing one of the GCSE set texts being brought to life and had the fantastic opportunity to experience what theatres would have been like in Shakespeare's lifetime.
Second in English
We were delighted to open our doors to welcome local families and their Year 5 and 6 sons, on Wednesday 4th October, for our Autumnal Open Evening. It is always a really important community event for Borden, and it made us extremely proud to see so many of our students volunteer to be guides for the evening. The feedback from visiting families was overwhelmingly positive, and the guides did a fantastic job of being ambassadors for the school - displaying many of our core values, such as respect, effort and kindness.
Meet the new Prefect team
VICE SCHOOL CAPTAIN
VICE SCHOOL CAPTAIN
The Prefect Team has already made great progress in our first half-term. We’re setting up a school paper for students across the school to contribute to, planning fundraising events and working on student-led revision sessions, as well as supporting the peer mentoring already in place. We want to make sure that the lower years can be as involved as possible in our plans, and we have enjoyed visiting their assemblies and form times. I look forward to seeing how these projects move forward over the school year, and how they can have a positive impact on students.
Prize Evening 2023
On a muggy September evening, Borden Grammar School celebrated the achievements of its Year 13 and Year 11 students. The school calendar has a rhythm and cycle to it; a comforting regularity that brings stability and direction to all. Prize Evening is no exception, but the students this year gained their prizes in exceptional circumstances.
Headteacher Ashley Tomlin, in his witty and urbane speech, placed into context the remarkable achievements of Year 13 at A-Level, due to the unprecedented disruption of the Covid -19 pandemic, their A-Levels were the first external exams that they had sat since Year 6. Year 11 were equally praised for their mental fortitude and resilience. Mr Tomlin highlighted the importance of “shared experiences” at Borden, including events such as World Book Day, Skiing Trips and after school clubs. All these moments create memories and help to forge the identity of the school.
Becca Powell, Head of Key Stage 4, in her warm and open speech reinforced that “the community at Borden is unbelievable” and praised students for their cooperation in her first year at the school before the GCSE prizes were handed out. Head of Sixth Form, Chris Brinn had the privilege of guiding the Year 13’s to their success this year, and expressed his admirable congratulations to a cohort who have been through a unique experience.
The keynote speech was delivered by former student Peter Dyson, resident of San Diego California and owner of Studio West recording facilities. In his recorded speech he focussed on two key areas for the prize winners, firstly to “engage with other people” - utilise the talents of others and collaborate with them to achieve. Next was to “work hard". Peter said he had long held a passion for music (despite not passing his O-Level in music) but that didn't prevent him from pursuing his dream and working in music.
School Captain Noah Flatt thanked all those for attending and wished all the prize winners well before Mr Tomlin concluded the event with Robert Frost’s poem about choices.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
We have a straight forward uniform policy. Now the cold weather is returning, we have moved away from our summer uniform back to blazers and ties. Every year we seem to have this adjustment phase where students struggle to remember…so please remind them! They must wear full school uniform to and from school which includes a blazer. If they are wearing a ‘hoodie’, it can only be as a coat i.e. on top of their blazer and never under their blazer. It will get cold and wet, so please supply your child with a water resistant coat. We will be signing uniform cards after half term which may ultimately lead to sanctions, but we would much rather they all get it right in the first instance.
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