Friday 8 September 2017
I trust you enjoyed a relaxing and enjoyable summer holiday. The school looked absolutely splendid yesterday morning and I should like to thank all staff, especially Paul and Ron from the estates team, for their time and effort in this respect. There is a lot of information contained in this letter so whilst I appreciate that it is lengthy, please do take the time to read it carefully.
Naturally, I have been looking forward to seeing the boys and it was a great pleasure to address them in my first assembly. One of the subjects I discussed at some length was the importance of maintaining shared values in our school community. It is my expectation that the boys will understand the importance of listening carefully, trying their hardest in all aspects of school life and treating others as they would wish to be treated. In addition to the Kingswood House Way, I believe that these values are the platform for a convivial, purposeful and supportive environment where each child can achieve his potential and grow in self-esteem. I should be grateful if you were to reinforce these at home in order for there to be a consistency of approach, which will be a significant benefit to us all, not least the boys.
I am pleased to announce that I have recently been accredited by the Society of Heads (SoH). This is a prestigious accolade and benefits the school hugely because it enables our senior staff to have a range of excellent professional development opportunities in terms of teaching up to GCSE. My affiliation with the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS) has also been endorsed and this offers an equally high level of professional development opportunities for our staff in the Lower and Upper Prep divisions.
This term, the boys will be practising their skills and playing matches on fantastic new pitches; we have reached an agreement with Chessington & Hook FC to enable regular use of their facilities at Chalky Lane, Chessington, in the football and rugby seasons. This is an excellent sporting opportunity for the boys, as well as being convenient for parents since it is just five minutes away from school, and I look forward to attending fixtures there in due course.
We are in the process of submitting a proposal for new senior teaching accommodation. If it is approved, and we are hopeful that it should be, then it is scheduled for completion in time for next September. I can announce that Kingswood House will look to become a school for
boys only. Hitherto, girls have been admitted from Reception up to Year 2 but since we no longer have any on roll, it seems a logical time to streamline our admissions and move towards a single-sex model of education throughout the whole school. Additionally, the Reception class will now stay open beyond the end of the academic year. We will focus on this age as a natural point for admissions and seek to strengthen our numbers in the Lower Prep as well as further up the school.
I will continue to work with a wide range of prestigious senior schools and ensure that our pupils are well-prepared to meet the demands of pre-testing in Year 6 as well as Common Entrance and Scholarship admissions in Year 8. However, with the advent of our own senior department, parents are able to consider future schools carefully – secure in the knowledge that we already offer an excellent pathway for the boys through to GCSE. Strong links exist with independent and maintained sixth forms, as well as local employers, to ensure that each boy is guided carefully towards the next step in his educational career. Please be assured that I will meet with each family to listen, give advice and act accordingly in their best interests. If any Year 6 parent wishes to see me in this respect, please arrange an appointment via the school office this term. Thereafter, I cordially invite all Year 5 parents to book a meeting with me during the course of the spring term. For the record, I intend to hold a future schools’ evening, at a date to be confirmed, in which I will present information about the process of applying to senior schools. This will be repeated annually and is open to all parents in Years 4, 5 and 6.
I extend a warm welcome to the new pupils who started at Kingswood House today; I feel very sure, given the friendly nature of the school, that they will all settle in quickly. Additionally, I should like to congratulate Mustafa Yousaf (Head Boy), Freddie Harrison and Conrad Burton (Deputy Head Boys) as well as Theodore Burn, Ethan Frost, Joshua Graham, Jack Leonard, Edward Monk and Jude Poulson (Prefects) upon their Year 8 appointments. They will, I am certain, be fine ambassadors for Kingswood House. There will be plenty of other positions of responsibility in due course for other boys to aspire to and I trust that they will put themselves forward for consideration accordingly.
This term, we welcome Mr Rudkin, Miss McSweeney, Mrs Lewis, Mr Sanderson, Mrs Webb and Mr Rogers to the teaching staff. Mr Rudkin will be Head of Seniors and Head of History; Miss McSweeney will take a form in Year 6; Mrs Lewis will teach mathematics in Years 4 & 5; Mr Sanderson (a former KHS pupil) will undertake an iPGCE course and assist with sport; Mrs Webb will be Head of ICT and teach mathematics and English; Mr Rogers will be our GAP student. In the Study Centre, we have recruited Ms Budasz as a specialist mathematics tutor and Mrs West as a Learning Support Assistant. The Bursarial team has been augmented by the addition of Mrs Edwards who joins as our compliance officer, Mrs Steer as a finance assistant and Mrs Stepney as our school accountant. I am sure you will join me in wishing them all a long and successful association with Kingswood House.
I am grateful to Mr Mitchell for his work on the timetable over the summer. With the continued expansion in the seniors, it proved to be a complex logistical challenge but fortunately it is one he has resolved with steely determination! In terms of channels of communication, please kindly note the following: Mr Mitchell, as Deputy Head, has whole school responsibility for all administrative and pastoral matters and will be in charge on a day to day basis as and when I am away on school business; likewise, Mr March, as Director of Studies, has whole school responsibility for all aspects of academic management and pupils’ progress. The divisional heads are Miss Walliss (Lower Prep R-Y4), Mr Clarke (Upper Prep Y5-8) and Mr Rudkin (Seniors Y9-10). Please note that whilst your first port of call should remain your child’s form teacher, or the front office, these are the people with whom you should communicate in the event of a query needing further resolution. In the unlikely instance that you have met with the relevant divisional head and a question still remains unanswered, you should arrange to see Mr Mitchell or Mr March. I will also be available to meet with parents by appointment and will arbitrate on unresolved matters once this process has been followed to a natural conclusion. Please be assured that I will be informed of relevant information on a daily basis by the Senior Leadership Team in order that I have an effective overview of the boys’ progress and well-being at all times.
I am pleased to advise that all teaching staff will now be contactable via their school email address. A list will shortly be posted on the Kingswood House website for your information. With the prospect of increased email dialogue between staff and parents, I request the following as a basic premise:
i. Email contact with staff should be on a ‘needs must’ professional basis and is expected to be polite and respectful in tone at all times in keeping with our values.
ii. Teachers spend most of their time in direct contact with the boys – as such, please do not expect an immediate reply – but staff have been asked to check emails daily and you can anticipate a timely response.
iii. Urgent emails should always be sent to the school office with the form teacher copied in.
iv. In the event of a query, email should be used as a precursor to a telephone conversation or a meeting – not as a replacement.
The direct email communication will be trialled for this academic year but I reserve the right to withdraw it next September if it proves too problematic in any respect.
Assessment, Reports & Behaviour
There will be a slight amendment to the programme of assessments and timing of reporting to parents this year. Mr March, Director of Studies, will write to you separately in order to outline key changes and the reasoning therein. I have also initiated a review of the procedure for pupils’ behaviour and sanctions. Once this has been completed, you will again be informed accordingly but the current template will be operational in the meantime. Needless to say, it is my aim to maintain a philosophy of ‘prevention is better than cure’ in this regard; the boys have been made aware of my high expectations and I trust they will meet them accordingly. There will always be plenty of informal opportunities to speak with staff throughout the term and there is a proud ‘open door’ culture at Kingswood House.
Consequently, you are warmly invited to meet with any member of staff at mutual convenience to discuss your son throughout the year – it is not necessary to wait for a parents’ evening.
Drop off, Pick up & Parking
At the start of term especially, there will be some pressure on parking in and around the school. Please use drop-off points responsibly and with consideration for other drivers as well as our neighbours. A member of staff will be present in the car park from 8.15am. Where possible, parents should use the car park and drive around it clockwise. I am meeting with a representative from the local council about our arrangements for pick-up before half term and it is possible that I may have to write again with more specific instructions if our neighbours complain about the volume of afternoon traffic.
A reminder, please, that your child should arrive for the start of the school day in good time for registration – but no boy should be left unattended before the duty staff arrive at 8.15am. Breakfast club runs from 7.30am each day and early arrivals should report there in the first instance. Any child coming in after 8.30am will be marked as ‘late’ on the register. The provision of effective registration is a statutory requirement and I would appreciate your support in making it as easy and accurate a procedure for us to apply as possible. Equally, the light is already fading in the evenings and it will not be long before autumn draws in and summer becomes a distant memory. For the safety of the boys, please ensure you arrive promptly at the end of the school day and that you are visible to the member of staff on duty. Teaching staff have been asked to be vigilant and will not release pupils unless they have had eye-contact with their parents. This is especially important after the clocks change because it will be dark at the end of the school day.
The bursar, Mrs Witts, has overseen an extensive programme of summer works and I thank her team for their hard work over the holiday period. We are very proud of our new science laboratory and office on the first floor of Langlands – please do take a look when you are next in school. Furthermore, a number of form rooms have moved location, the kitchen has been comprehensively refurbished, some updated interactive whiteboards have been installed, the school office boasts smart new fittings, an Exams Office has been created, the Study Centre has gained some new customised furniture and my office has been beautifully redecorated.
As ever, there are plenty of exciting activities and trips taking place in the coming weeks so please refer to the calendar to check specific timings throughout the term. Any changes will be posted on the website and included in the newsletter; these are published each week, and, if you so desire, you can also receive regular updates throughout the term on Twitter by following @KingswoodHouse or my new Headmaster’s account @KHSPrep. A reminder that boys are expected to volunteer as guides for the open mornings from time to time and Mr Mitchell will be in touch to this effect shortly; your help on these occasional Saturday mornings is greatly appreciated. Parental support at school matches, concerts and other occasions is also warmly encouraged. The KHA and KHSA are a source of valuable information and I know that any parents who are keen to get involved would be most welcome; if you would like to volunteer, please let Mrs Witts know and attend the AGM dates which are in the school calendar.
Finally, I am looking forward to the rich and diverse opportunities on offer this term and hope to chat to you all on the touchline or at one of the many school events in the near future.
Duncan A I Murphy
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