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The Skinners’ School Newsletter April 2014

In this issue: Our Junior London Marathon runner’s success Young Actor’s performance in ‘Oliver’ Work starts on the School Garden & more………….

From the Head Master

With the Summer Term upon us, the exam season is underway. Particularly good fortune to those taking public exams. In an increasingly competitive world, high quality GCSE and A level results make a real difference. They remain a passport to the best universities and to the most rewarding (in every sense of the word) careers. Looking forward to next year, the ‘job interview’ season is almost over. There will time at the end of the year to pay proper tribute to those colleagues who are leaving us; in the meantime a brief summary of movements: Matt Flower leaves us in July to take up a post at Merchant Taylors’. He will be replaced in the History department by Charlotte Shillinger (from Essex and Oxford Universities). Kim Allen has been appointed as Director of Studies at Beechwood Sacred Heart; we will welcome Christopher Walton (from Durham University) to teach Maths and John Bullen will step into Kim’s shoes as Head of Department. Eli Lawless’ acting career means that she can commit less time to Skinners’ now, so Helen Kirk (formerly Head of Drama at Bethany School) will join the Drama department. Lindsey Wilson has decided to leave Skinners’ at the end of the year; Kevin O’Brien will join us from S Anselm’s School in Rochester as Head of Religion and Philosophy. Finally, Matt Morrison’s return to the US has seen us appoint Jacqui Charvat (Head of History at the London Nautical School) as his replacement. Schools are always sorry to lose valued members of staff, and you don’t need me to tell you that those leaving us have contributed hugely to Skinners’, but I am reassured by the quality of their replacements and we look forward to welcoming them in September. Meanwhile, on the pastoral front, Rob Hardy will be Head of Year 9 in September, Neil Dedman will become Assistant Head of Sixth Form, and Tim Watts will be Acting Head of Year 11. Congratulations to them on their appointments. Edward Wesson Our front page pictures Year 9 boys who recently took part in the Mock Trial at Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court on 8th March. Congratulations to the boys, whose enthusiasm and professionalism resulted in a very enjoyable morning.


After a long day at Ypres in March, Oscar Hussey, in Year 9, had an early start the next morning to qualify for the mini Marathon as part of the Bromley U15 team. He was one of 8 in the team which came second overall out of 33 London teams. The team ran the last 3 miles of the course but started before the main marathon. Although Oscar was slightly disappointed with his time of 18mins 47, he still managed to score for Bromley as one of their top 6 runners. It was a great day and is the 4th time Oscar has run the mini marathon.

LAW SOCIETY TRIP TO LONDON The Skinners’ School Law Society enjoyed a visit to the Houses of Parliament in March with support from Greg Clarke, the Tunbridge Wells MP.

An impressive seventy-five minute tour included an hour-long lesson in which we were enlightened on ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘what’ exactly takes place within this grand building, followed by an aweinspiring opportunity to witness captivating debates unfold in person from the Gallery in the House of Commons.

A dedicated member of the Law Society, Liam Jones, reported that the trip was “insightful and inspiring!” Alexander Priston Year 12

BBC SCHOOL REPORT During term 4, all Year 8 students completed a BBC School Report scheme of work as part of their English studies. Tasks involved analysing newspapers, including features of a broadsheet and tabloid, writing a news feature using the 5 W’s, and producing a news report and/or podcast. Once again, we were lucky enough to have a reporter from the BBC, Emma Saunders, visiting the school and spending the day with some of our Year 8 BBC reporters. Emma gave a brief summary of how she entered journalism, following which the students looked through the newspapers. Their first task was news day planning and news gathering. Students had to select their top stories and decide a role for the day – Editor, Presenter, Researcher etc. Each team had to pitch to their Editor and to Emma. The students had to ‘sell’ their story and justify why it should be the top news story to cover. They had to plan interviews and compile stories which were limited to a 150 word count. Some students interviewed members of the public in St John’s Road. Emma spent time with the remaining students, answering their questions, listening to their group BBC School Report podcasts and advising them how to improve.

At the end of the day, after the final editing and evaluation, each group reflected on the day and discussed the most enjoyable aspects and any challenges. ICT and working to a deadline were the greatest challenges. Emma gave very useful and encouraging feedback. Will Colyer from 8 Hunt presented Emma with a box of chocolates as a thank you and a Skinners’ pencil to use in her day job! Emma (of course) commented on how polite, enthusiastic and intelligent our boys were. Karen Wright English Department

LUKE’S CHARITY COLLECTION Last term’s charity clothes collection raised a staggering £2,550 for Cancer Research. The campaign, spearheaded by the Head Boy, Luke Maskell, and in conjunction with Cancer Research and the Tunbridge Wells branch of TK Maxx, resulted in the school donating a total of eighty-five large bags to the store, who in turn expected to raise an average of £30 per bag.

Luke is pictured, in characteristically retiring mode, at TK Maxx with some of the clothes donated by Skinners’ pupils and parents. He commented, with equal humility, that “this most recent effort makes Skinners’ probably the best school in the world for charity fund raising, although that fact admittedly remains unchecked.”


The VEX robotics team took part in their first competition before Easter and were pleased to win the shield for Best Team. Unfortunately our primary robot had a modification too far, as far as the judges were concerned, and as a result we were handicapped, thus only finishing 3rd overall. Even so it was a great learning experience for us all as well as being lots of fun! If anybody wants to develop their STEM skills and learn about robotics, programming code or Autodesk design, then pop in to lab S2 any lunchtime to find out more, and meet the rest of the team. Mr M Moody Head of STEM

George Wood, one of our Year 7 pupils, recently took part in the TWODS production of ‘Oliver’ at the Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells. George, who played the part of Oliver, put on a brilliant performance with some fabulous singing and acting. Well done George!


Our best ever team result, with 4 silver medals and 1 bronze, plus a Highly Commended and a Commended Award Front row, from L to R Nick May (Silver), Rory Buttle (Silver), Ben Keeley (Silver), Sehajdev Bhatia (Silver) Back row Isaac Hooper (Commended), Charlie Lay (Bronze), Toby Wright (Highly Commended)

YEAR 9 VISIT YPRES, BELGIUM The aim for a trip to Ypres was to experience history outside of the classroom and up close. It was also to experience sights where the Great War had been fought from 1914-1918. Firstly, we visited ‘In Flanders Field’ - a modern museum house in the old, iconic Cloth Hall, that displayed artefacts and models, but also had a wide range of interactive activities. For example, we could research soldiers with our names, who fought in the Great War. Secondly, we visited the Yorkshire trench. The Yorkshire trench is a reconstructed trench network that was discovered in 1992 and was dug out for a BBC documentary. This site was the British frontline in 1917 and had been used throughout the Great War. With some caution, we entered the trench and even in a short space of time, could feel the claustrophobia and emotions (due to the wet, dark, muddy conditions) that front line troops must have experienced. After the Yorkshire trench we visited two cemeteries. The first one was Langemark, one of four locations where German troops were buried. There are 44,000 people buried in Langemark, and notably 24,834 in the mass grave in the middle of the cemetery. The second cemetery we visited was Tyne Cot. Tyne Cot is the biggest British war cemetery in the world with 11,908 graves, situated on a slope. Further up the slope was the village of Passchendaele. Passchendaele was regarded as the worst battle of the war. This battle took place from July to November 1917, with the British suffering 400,000 casualties. Finally, we visited Hill 60. Hill 60 was considered a dangerous place throughout the war, so named due to the fact it is 60 metres above Sea Level. This was because everyone wanted the advantage of high ground, so both sides fought desperately for control. Mines and explosives were used a considerable amount, which is why the ground was so bumpy. Thanks go to Mr Clucas for setting up such a well organised and educational trip. Ben Thornton – 9Y

With winter finally over, attention has turned to our school garden. A working party of year 9 boys had a successful first ‘dig’ in the school garden on the last day in April. Further updates on progress will be published in subsequent newsletters. With thanks for all your hard work to: Mujtaba Azeez, Nick Buxton, Jack Burcombe, Will Hardwick Syimyk Kyshtoobaev, Newton Self. Miss Moss Montoya HEAL

Newsletter april 2014