I am delighted to be joining Kingswood House in September. Please be assured I am already working in tandem with Peter Brooks and his team of staff to ensure a smooth transition. During recent months, I attended the carol service and school production of “Oliver!” – it is evident that there is a great team spirit, not to mention an abundance of talent. During the summer term, I will spend more time in school with the children so that they can get to know me a little better. There will also be an informal opportunity for current and new parents to meet with me, on a date to be confirmed, and I very much hope you are able to come and introduce yourselves over a glass of wine.
The evolution of Kingswood House towards a 16+ model of education is very exciting. It presents an unrivalled opportunity for us to pioneer a “prep school environment” in senior year groups for our pupils through to GCSE examinations. Given the changing landscape of independent education in this area, and the lack of places at maintained secondary schools, this is a forward-thinking initiative and fills a growing niche in the market. However, any shift in strategic direction inevitably presents as many questions as it does answers. I will work carefully, in consultation with the school community, to consider the implications of every decision and ensure that the school’s historic ethos remains paramount. Our boys will benefit from a broad, exciting programme of curricular and co-curricular provision which will help them grow in confidence and achieve their potential in and out of the classroom.
I envisage that Kingswood House will be a high quality school of choice for families who are seeking a well-rounded education for their sons in the local area and beyond. We will retain our reputation as a friendly school where boys are treated as individuals, encouraged to learn with positive reinforcement and challenged to take themselves out of their comfort zone. There will still be a great emphasis on traditional virtues, like good manners, whilst tolerance and respect will be common currencies across all parts of the school. Furthermore, a genuine commitment to the development of new educational initiatives will see our pupils fully prepared for an ever-changing world in the 21st century. A focus on strong academic rigour, the acquisition of contemporary skills and the cultivation of a growth mind-set will serve our boys well for life beyond the school gate.
Kingswood House will continue to send pupils to well-renowned senior schools at 13+ and I will personally review and oversee the preparation for those important pre-tests at 11+ to ensure that each child has the very best opportunity to gain a place at their school of choice. However, those families who select Kingswood House will have the security of knowing that there is a high-quality route to senior education in place at the school. In summary, there will no longer be a fundamental need to move your child elsewhere at the end of Year 8. Instead, parents will be able to make an informed decision in their son’s best interests and I will work closely with each family, and with admissions staff at senior schools, to ensure that the right destination is secured for each individual.
Naturally, the addition of a senior department at Kingswood House will see the potential for a moderate, incremental increase in the number of pupils. Any growth will be managed in accordance with the constraints of the site and consideration for the unique family feel of the school. This will fund a development programme, augmenting the excellent new buildings in recent years, as well as the recruitment of high quality teaching and support staff to cater for the expansion in year groups through to GCSEs. Whilst it is not possible at this stage to give a specific time frame, a dedicated senior school building and a sports hall will be high on the agenda. It is my expectation that, in time, we will run two classes through to the end of Year 11. At the other end of the age spectrum, we will continue to run a Year 1 and 2 class and I am open-minded about the possibility of reconsidering Early Years provision in the future.
Prior to my appointment, I had visited Kingswood House on a number of occasions and always enjoyed the conviviality of the atmosphere. The boys impressed me when taking me on a tour, shining with obvious pride at their school, and it is exactly this sort of transferable life skill that I will seek to find opportunities to enhance – the effort spent by pupils securing academic grades is redundant if they lack the charisma, empathy or humour to make a lasting impression as a candidate for a place at a senior school, sixth form college or even with an employer.
I am sure that as I spend more time at Kingswood House these thoughts will crystallize further but please be assured that the heritage of the school will remain inviolate, and, indeed, will continue to benefit countless pupils in the years ahead. I look forward to meeting you all in due course.
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