This is the first newsletter of the year and is intended to replace the weekly bulletin issued last year. Whilst I know many of you liked the regular communication in difficult times, some parents still felt it was a little too much information. We also want to show you all the wonderful things we are doing, so we have decided on trying to produce these twice a half term. It’s so good to have school return to some semblance of normality. You can sense that both staff and students were genuinely happy to return in person and work in a way they haven't been able to for well over a year. I have been really impressed with the way our students have presented and conducted themselves so far, particularly to and from school. As you walk around the school you can sense the optimism and the fact that we are back to what really matters; learning and building relationships.
I would like to thank you for your support in helping us to test students on their return. Whilst we had very few positive cases, I think it proved that it was worth doing properly. In the interests of continuing to keep us all safe, please continue reminding your child to test themselves twice weekly and not to come to school if they test positive or have symptoms. A reminder to Parents who are reporting absence regarding Covid, please clarify if a test result is for an LFT test or PCR test. We are still sanitising and any student or member of staff is welcome to wear a face covering if they wish. It is always worth students having one on them as the guidance still recommends these in certain situations. We will also continue to ventilate with windows and doors open, so having a warm coat (name labelled!) is essential as we go further into Autumn. Since we have a split break and lunch to minimise numbers, students aren't able to return to classrooms during a wet break, but we have opened the main hall for eating in general which should accommodate, however, we will evaluate how well this works as we go. We will also continue to set work remotely via Google if students are forced to isolate. You will have seen that the government will be rolling out a vaccination programme for 12 to 15 year olds and it seems likely that the NHS will use our school to do this. Whilst we know consent is voluntary, we have yet to have further guidance on this and will let you know as soon as we know more.
We are doing our best to run our usual events again this year, but risk assessing everything and trying to put mitigation measures in place. It is certainly true that I regularly feel like the ‘party killjoy’ but have to balance what we want to do against keeping us safe.
We therefore ran a much reduced version of prize giving this week for our Year 13 students who left us last year and intend to run something similar for Year 11 near to Christmas. Our speaker this year, Dan Germaine, was an ex-Bordenian and was co-founder of Innocent Smoothies, now working at a senior level in Google. He made a virtual appearance, but it took nothing away from the honest, ethical and self-effacing nature of the talk.
Similarly, we will be closing early to run our annual open evening on the 5th October for prospective students and will be asking for guides from Year 7, 8 and 12. However, to mitigate numbers, we are running additional shorter talks, asking Parents to minimise numbers attending, opening more classrooms, creating a maximum number in rooms and asking visitors to wear masks. It isn’t going to feel quite the same, but at least we are running something.
Next Wednesday afternoon on the 22nd, an organisation, supported by Kent Police, is visiting us to present 'Is it worth it?' which delivers an educational message about the dangers of online behaviour and particularly sexualised behaviour. This will be presented to Years 8 and 9 and is part of our embedding of the RSE curriculum and safeguarding our young people.
Finally, we are also starting to run clubs again and you will see on this newsletter that PE clubs, trials and fixtures abound, as well as performing arts clubs four nights of the week and chess club will be restarting very soon!
Staff training days and motivating boys
I am fully aware from my own friends that when schools have training days, there is often the temptation to think that they mainly involve drinking tea and catching up on emails. I can assure you that whilst there may have been some tea drinking, the two days at the start of this year were jam packed with sessions ranging from safeguarding, relationships education and teaching students with special educational needs, through to behaviour management and exploring the research on the latest theories on teaching and learning. One area I would like to talk to parents about further this year is about how boys tend to think and learn (I apologise for those parents of girls in our 6th form). There is significant evidence that boysunderperform compared to girls because of attitudes and approaches rather than ability. Boys tend to be more motivated by rewards or recognition than internally motivated, and tend to be focused on overall performance rather than getting better at something. Many also don’t like taking public risks if they think they may fail and so ‘self-sabotage’ as a result. Of course these are generalisations and may be true or not true for many boys and girls, but it is useful to think about what this means in terms of the language we use, how we set tasks up in class and what messages we need to send. Why am I telling you this? Because it is as important at home as it is at school. If we can send a united message that effort counts most, that small steps make large ones and to compete more with themselves than others, then we will help motivate those that struggle to motivate themselves.
We had‘Jeans for Genes’ day today, 17 September, to raise money for families impacted by genetic illness, and have a number of other charityevents in the pipeline. School council and sporting representatives have been elected already and we are keen to make the student voice aspect of this as meaningful as possible. We also now have ambassadors at every key stage that were trained at the end of last year; anti-bullying ambassadors at Key stage 3, diversity ambassadors at Key stage 4 and wellbeing ambassadors at Key stage 5. All of these things show how our Borden value of “Kindness” is alive and well.
So thank you again for your support in complex times, and I do hope you can see that we are doing all we can to balance delivering what is important, whilst keeping our community safe. I hope you enjoy the rest of this newsletter and look forward to seeing many of you in person this year.
Our Heads of Years look forward to the year ahead
Our new Year 7s have settled beautifully into Borden life and they should all feel extremely proud of the courage they have shown in making that huge step up to secondary - especially when we consider that many of our boys had not even set foot inside the school before September! As well as finding their way around and getting to know new friends and teachers, the boys have been learning all about the importance of our Borden Values and I am thrilled to see the huge number of achievement points that have already been given out by staff as they see your children actively displaying those values.
This week elections for Form and Vice Captains have been taking place and I look forward to our first “business meeting” of the year, where our newly elected team will have the opportunity to feed back to me about their experiences so far in Year 7 and help me in my planning for the year ahead!
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our new parents and carers for your invaluable support during the transition into Year 7, The tutor team and myself look forward to catching up with you via video link in our virtual ‘meet the tutors’ event later this term, the details of which will follow soon.
Mrs J Frost Head of Year 7
Year 8 have returned to Borden smartly dressed, well-equipped and ready for their first real experience of school life after a fragmented Year 7. New form tutors, new classrooms and timetables and the freedom to move around the school, eat in the canteen and attend clubs. In Year 8, our students add Personal Development to their timetable and this, in conjunction with form time activities, will help them to develop an understanding of a wide range of global and more personal issues that affect young people as they grow up. I hope to see Year 8 students representing the school in the sporting events and musical groups this year, as well as taking full advantage of opportunities that arise over the course of the year to demonstrate our Borden values.
Mrs A Edwards Head of Year 8
It has been wonderful to be able to welcome back the Year 9 students. This year group have coped amazingly well over the past two years with a transition to secondary school shortly before a global pandemic. They have shown so many of our Borden Values in how they have responded to a challenging time and they deserve praise for their resilience, kindness and effort amongst many other things. I hope this year will be more of a normal school year for them and that they will be able to experience all that Borden has to offer them. I would encourage them to take part in as many activities as they are able to outside of their lessons. We are now able to offer far more extra-curricular activities in music, drama, sports and other areas and this is a great time for students to find things they are passionate about.
One of the key events in Year 9 is the GCSE options process, where students choose the optional subjects that they wish to continue with at GCSE level next year and I would like to provide you now with an outline of some key dates that are a part of this process. It is worth noting that for core subjects such as English, Maths and Science, students are starting to study GCSE content already this year and therefore it is important that maximumeffort is put into work and books and notes are kept for revision purposes.
Future dates to remember:
Year 9 Options Exams - 6th - 10th December
These exams will be taken in lesson time for options subjects only during this week. The results of these exams should help students decide whether that subject is a good choice for them.
Year 9 Options Evening - 26th January
This is an evening event which will provide more information about how to complete the options process in school. It is also a source of advice and guidance for both students and parents.
Year 9 Parents’ Evening - 3rd February
This will provide an opportunity for parents and students to speak with subject teachers regarding options choices. This is a time to confirm that your son has made suitable choices.
GCSE Options Deadline - 7th February
This is the date for all students to complete and submit their options choices.
Core Subject Exams - June / July
Core subject exams (English, Maths, Science) and confirmation of option choices.
Miss A Phillips Head of Year 9
This year pupils will be taught key content from all GCSE courses whilst learning invaluable skills that equip them to tackle exam style questions. Within morning registrations pupils will explore a range of revision techniques and be given directed time to use this to consistently rehearse and repeat key content within their GCSE courses. A voluntary parents' consultation event will be offered for parents to find out key information and talk to staff if they have any concerns or questions regarding the process for GCSE qualifications over the course of Key stage 4.
Mr J Weller Head of Year 10
Year 11 face an important year ahead. The GCSE exams at the end of the year will be the culmination of several years of hard work. Before the exams take place, the year group will be busy learning new revision and study techniques to help them grow into independent, proactive learners. Alongside their academic studies, in Personal Development the boys will explore their futures, study healthy choices around mental, sexual and physical health and look at their future relationships. Year 11 will also make important decisions around sixth form options and further education, to build on their successes in the forthcoming year.
Mr B Finch Head of Year 11
We have a busy year ahead in Year 12, with students starting their A levels and settling into the Sixth form. Our students will be visited by external speakers focusing on a range of life skills and study skills, including a singer that focuses on the importance of mental health and wellbeing. Students will also be actively organising and running our charity week to raise money for a charity of their choice, which often leads to lots of fun sporting activities involving students and staff, as well as lots of yummy food on sale at break and lunch times. We will also be planning to take students on a trip to Cambridge to inspire and promote high aspirations, as well as arranging for ex students with experience in exciting apprenticeships to lead motivational talks to our Year 12 students. Overall, our Year 12 cohort will be working hard to progress in their studies this year in preparation for taking big steps towards their future careers.
Miss Andrews-Lucas Head of Year 12
It has been a pleasure to welcome back the Year 13s into their final year at Borden. It is an exciting time of year as tutors, teachers and Heads of Year help students finalise their plans for when they leave Borden. Over this term much advice and guidance will be given to students during their enrichment sessions and assemblies on careers, UCAS support and degree apprenticeships. Other important themes that we will be working on closely with this cohort will be driver safety, gambling, First Aid, responsible use of social media and Black History month. There will also be some fund-raising events chosen and run by a team of Year 13 students, so there is much to look forward to!
Mr Whiting Head of Year 13
It was a pleasure to see so many Year 11 and Year 13 students delighted with their exam results in August and whilst special congratulations go to our highest achievers, we would like to personally congratulate every Year 11 and 13 student who worked tirelessly to achieve their GCSE and A Level Teacher-Assessed Grades which allowed them to progress into Sixth Form, their post-16 courses or chosen University.
Some words from the School Captain
Hello and welcome back from the Borden Grammar School Prefect team. Ihope you all had a good summer.
It'sa real honour to be able to representnot only the Prefect body but alsoBorden Grammar School’s student body. It’s a role that no one in the team is taking lightly and we all hope that we can make a difference.
As the Headteacher said in the last newsletter, “I look forward to seeing you all, hopefully in person, next year.” This thought is extended from thePrefect team as well. Our job is to be visible in the school community and last year’s ‘group bubbles’ didn't allow for this, but this year is different and I hope to be speaking to lots of you over the next few terms.
From next week, students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will have two ‘Form Prefects’ come into their form rooms during Tuesday AM registration. These Prefects will be there to give guidance to the forms on different aspects of Borden life, taking options, and how to deal with exams. I have full confidence that they will do a fantastic job at representing the Prefect body and provide the valuable knowledge they have (having gone through the process themselves). Please do speak with them if you have any questions!
We’ve got lots of plans for the next few terms and I hope to keep you all updated with them in this newsletter and remember: Nitere porro!
School Captain of Borden Grammar School
Aim Higher started after school this week and the Year 6 visiting boys enjoyed lessons in Spanish, French, Science and Music. The atmosphere was exciting and the boys are looking forward to coming back next week.
Learning Resource Centre
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” - J.K. Rowling
We’re really pleased to welcome back all years to the library again after the restrictions over the last 18 months. We are open Monday to Thursday 8.15am to 4.15pm and Friday 8.15am to 4pm.
Another year another new layout. Over the summer holiday we have revamped the Sixth form section of the library in order to offer a silent place to study for our Year 12’s and 13’s during their free study periods. This section is also reserved for Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 students who wish to quietly study during their lunch breaks and after school.
A number of classes are held on a regular basis in the library during the week; Years 7 and 8 continue to have accelerated reading lessons every other week and our Year 7’s also have weekly ILP lessons. Year 9 tutor groups are now having a morning registration every other week in the library as we want to encourage them to continue reading books for fun.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” - Dr. Seuss
Finally, we are pleased to announce that the homework club is once again available for all year groups to use, Monday to Thursday 3.15pm – 4.15pm and Friday 3.15pm to 4pm.
Please do make use of YOUR library. It is a resource that helps support your formal learning, but also allows those who like to read for fun a place to indulge themselves. With the latter in mind, do contact one of the Librarian team – Mrs J Hall or Mrs M Lowe, if you are seeking out a particular book – email us at email@example.com and we’ll be glad to help.
Relationships and Sex Education
For years Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) has been a key part of the Personal Development (PD) Curriculum at Borden and so while the recent introduction by the Government of the Statutory Guidance on RSE has not resulted in huge changes for us, it has necessitated a review of our provision which has resulted in some new topics being introduced, and others being given more curriculum time.
For Terms 1 and 2 the following topics will be studied by the Year groups listed
Year 8 – Community; Rights and responsibilities where students will examine their values and our values, rightness and wrongness, human rights and healthy relationships
Year 9 – Staying Safe: Sex and relationships where students examine how attitudes towards sex and relationships have changed over the last 60 years, contraception, consent, STIs and STDs, pregnancy and miscarriage, teen pregnancy and the impact of it and abortion
Year 10 – Staying Safe: Sex and relationships where again will students examine consent, pregnancy and miscarriage, abortion and also fertility treatments. Followed by a small unit of work on Making Healthy Choices which will involve studying what we mean by healthy sexual relationships and will include a study of sexual harassment and violence
Year 11 – Students will begin the year by reflecting on their future and how best to utilise their time, skills and opportunities to realise their potential. We then move onto a unit of work on Making Healthy Choices during which students will complete their work on alcohol and drugs from Year 10, study testicular health, consent, pregnancy, miscarriage and abortion
All content is planned to ensure it is both age and stage appropriate, with a focus on providing our boys with the necessary knowledge, understanding and tools to make good choices for life.
If you have any questions about this, or anything else relating to the PD curriculum then please don’t hesitate to contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or the usual school telephone number
Lead Teacher of Personal Development
We are excited to be able to hold our open evening in person this term, following a number of virtual events. Years 7, 8 and 12 will be invited to guide prospective Parents and their children around the school and answer any questions they may have, whilst our guests enjoy a variety of activities and displays from departments. We very much hope support from our current students will be forthcoming in order to showcase our wonderful school because, who better to talk about Borden life than those who experience it first hand?
We look forward to seeing our smartly dressed students ready for their individual school photographs taking place in school on Monday 20 September.
Clubs and Activities
Below are some of the clubs and activities taking place this term that students can join in with.