THE SKINNERS’ SCHOOL Newsletter – Term 1 2010-11 Headmaster’s Foreword This is an incredibly full newsletter – even by the standards of the crammed newsletters of recent terms. It’s not unusual for Skinners’ to be a hive of activity and enterprise, but this term has topped all previous records. These are just some of the key developments and events of the last few months that are included in all their glory: • • • • •
Our developing role as a national leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths; Our Appeal to raise funding for the Sports Hall and the developments to follow; Exciting successes in sport; A new school play to look forward to; A musical tour to celebrate.
In addition, we must reflect upon our successful defence of our admission arrangements. A very large number of complainants objected to the Adjudicator, supported by Kent County Council. Their desire to ensure that only Kent children could come to Skinners’ School is a reflection of the attraction the school holds for many. The Adjudicator found in favour of the school’s defence of the current system and the Governors are pleased that we have been able to mount a successful defence for the second year in a row. That emotion is tinged with sympathy for the situation that Sevenoaks parents find themselves in – the only solution is for a new grammar school to be established in that town, but to do so would take a great deal of political courage.
The Governors have also decided to move cautiously to the next step in exploring possible Academy status for Skinners’. Mindful that the school is performing very well, and that we don’t want to change a successful formula, we will investigate what specific things the school might gain and what might be lost. There will be a full consultation and discussion with parents as part of that investigation. Finally, may I say what a pleasure it was to meet so many parents at the recent Open Evenings. There were lively question and answer session and a chance to show off the school’s plans for development. Our Appeal is off and running and the Sports hall is becoming more and more of a reality. Simon Everson
CONTENTS In this issue: 3
Sports Hall Appeal
Healthy Eating and Living update
Solar Car Racing
Skinnersâ€™ Young Equestrian
Debating Team visit Newcastle
CCF Parachuting at Netheravon
Trip to Mongolia
Music Department Trip to Devon
Dates Ahead 2
SPORTS HALL APPEAL OUR VISION for the FUTURE We held a series of open evenings in the first half of the Autumn term, inviting parents to participate in an open forum discussion where they were able to put questions to the Headmaster and relevant Heads of Years on matters relating to the school and their son’s education. These have been well attended; we have had some enlightening discussions across a wide range of topics including: the pros and cons of becoming an Academy; our admissions policy; possible changes to the curriculum and examinations; and the challenges of accessing and funding further education at university.
I am conscious that a some parents were unable to attend on the dates we offered. We will be holding another open evening on Thursday 4th November at 7pm in the Thomson Theatre. This session is for any parents who may have missed their year groups’ open evening. In order to manage numbers, please let me know if you will be attending via
email@example.com The open evenings also provided us with the opportunity to share with you the exciting plans for the future development of the school and our vision to achieve a ‘Space for All’. Please keep sending your pledge forms in, whatever the amount, it brings us a step closer to providing the boys with the facilities that they desperately need. Thank you again to everyone who has pledged their support so far. We will of course keep you updated on progress which you can also monitor via These sessions have been invaluable in providing feedback as to how we are performing as a school and areas where we can improve and I hope that these will become a regular addition to the school calendar. Don’t forget you can always let us know your views by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
www.skinners-school.co.uk/spaceforall . However, if you do have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me on extension 226 or via e-mail
H. E. A. L. Healthy Eating and Living A few boys, now in yr 9, helped with a carrot growing experiment and managed to produce some lovely, edible, salad-size carrots. We have had an AMAZING summer and have regularly kept the canteen stocked with some choice vegetables including broccoli, swiss chard, herbs, tomatoes (some VERY ugly!) runner beans and sweetcorn. Our vegetables have been SO successful, we came second in the Tunbridge Wells in Bloom schools garden contest .
James Miller showing the carrots we grew
The Technology departmentâ€™s new cooking facilities had their debut on Open Evening ; over 2000 cakes were baked on the night and presented to visitors! Year 8 and 6th form chefs were excellent - many people returned for seconds! Special thanks to Maxine Pancaldi for her help and ideas at the planning stage, as well as to the DT department for letting us take over . They even pitched in to help to clean up afterwards! Maryce Moss Montoya Head of PSHEE and HEAL
St Matthew’s Primary School Solar Car Racing – Working with our partnership schools It was a sunny afternoon when ten newly trained solar car engineers set off for St Matthew’s Primary School, year five. We were carrying the state of the art solar car kits in order to teach the children about a sustainable future and sustainable transport. The kits we took were simple to assemble and simple to take apart making it quick and easy for the students to get them together - they seemed to enjoy it as well. After showing our groups how to assemble the cars, we started on the artwork and team name. The team names included a number of clever ones, such as Ferrari Ozone and Capri-Sun. After a tinker with the wheels and modifications to the bodywork for ‘aerodynamic design’, the afternoon sunshine beckoned and the teams were ready to start. The four heats were widely contested, and an hour later, when the sunshine was starting to dim, only two cars were left. The teams, led by solar engineers Ross Manwaring and John Britton, had to fight it out. However in the end, Ross’s team car, with its aerodynamic properties and well made chassis, won. The prize giving followed, in which Mr Moody gave everyone a certificate for taking part. The winners and runners up were given special prizes: a tiny solar ‘bug’ car for the winners and recycled rubber pencil cases for 2nd place. Not only did the primary school children have fun, but it put STEM and sustainable development into the minds of local children; the implicit message is that it will hopefully lead to more awareness of climate change and solutions that are possible to stop it. These solar cars are a tiny piece in the jigsaw for helping to combat climate change and now more people are aware of what we can do about it. Dan Ingman 10B
Nuffield STEM ‘Futures’ Project Education in schools today is based on subjects where each seems to be separate from the other. However in the real world this doesn’t happen, and we have to learn to combine the subjects together for good use. Therefore the Nuffield STEM Futures Project was designed to make this a reality for pupils. Out of all the Year 9s in the school, one class, 9Blue was chosen to participate and so, still dizzy after their Science GCSE exam the day before, we went for our first STEM lesson. It was only one hour long but we learned a great deal, such as the concept of ‘closed loop’ thinking. This is an idea for a system in which nothing is wasted, imitating nature. The best phrase we learnt to describe this was….
‘One man’s poo is another man’s stew’! We also learned new terms such as ‘up-cycling’ and ‘down-cycling’. As well as this we learned how the way we currently live is unsustainable in the long run, and about new solutions that will help create a sustainable future.
DRAGON’S DEN & HOUSE POINTS We even took part in an exciting Dragon’s Den scenario where each team had just one hour to design a recycled product and pitch it to the ‘Dragons’ (our three teachers, Mr Moody, Mrs Stanley and Mr Walters) in return for an ‘investment’ of house points.
Effects of combustion of fossil fuels However, all of this was building up to just one thing: the Big Project. We were given a closed loop question – “How can we reduce Air Pollution along St John’s Road?” – and then split into 3 groups who would each tackle a different aspect of the question. One group used GPS Data-loggers to monitor Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide along the road and then plot it into Google Earth. They discovered huge ‘spikes’ of pollution outside the Bus Depot, at each road junction where cars idle their engines and outside Sainsbury’s next to school. We think this bus depot should be moved to an industrial estate and old buses replaced with ‘clean’ technology.
The following Friday we had our first full STEM day which focussed on How We Get Around, with cars in particular. We learnt about different types of car engine designs, including new hybrids, electrics and capacitor cars. We also went around the school looking at lichens found on trees as they are a good indicator of local air pollution caused by vehicles. As the days continued we learned about Waste, Climate Change, Peak Oil and The Four Ages of Man. It was shocking to find that we only recycle 38% of our aluminium cans in the UK. The photograph to the right shows the level of carbon monoxide outside the school. The peaks bottom right are where cars stop at the traffic lights
SULPHUR DIOXIDE (SO2) LEVELS OUTSIDE SCHOOL A second group used maths to measure traffic flow and density and made an amusing video of their results. The third group made 1:20 scale buses that are powered by capacitors which are in turn charged by solar cells – this is a closed loop solution. They found that batteries would be too heavy and slow the buses down, whereas capacitors are lighter and more powerful and have a very short charge time. The group’s calculations showed that the bus could travel 6 miles at 36mph before needing another 10 second charge, making them useful inside towns but useless between them. Each bus stop would have solar panels so that every time the bus stopped to pick up passengers it would get recharged. The final day of presentations went well; each group had to present their findings to the other groups as well as ambassadors from the Nuffield Foundation and KCC Highways. All in all I really enjoyed the STEM Futures project and think it has prepared me much better for the real world than if we had done the same things in normal lessons. Henry Gibson (Yr10)
Selected Comments from other STEM pupils on the project: ‘We learnt a lot in our STEM project and it really opened my eyes to the mess that humanity has got itself into, and has provided me with some skills and ideas with which we can maybe have a brighter future.’ Ben Leeming Yr 10 ‘ I really enjoyed retrieving data from the data-loggers and measuring the lichens around the school. The most interesting part was when I synchronised the data from the loggers and photos with Google Earth. It was amazing to see the spikes of SO2, NO2 and CO around Skinners’ School. I never believed we were breathing in so much pollution!’ Anthony Skinner Yr 10 ‘The aspect of the project I enjoyed the most was the final 2 days where we combined all our knowledge and skills to come up with a sustainable development idea – in this case, how we could reduce traffic pollution along St John’s Road. Overall I enjoyed the project. We learned lots of new ideas and concepts about how we can change the future.’ James Comer Yr 10 ‘I believe this was a very worthwhile project as it taught me the different ways in which we could reduce air pollution, from car sharing, capacitor engines to ‘smart’ traffic flow, we could make a difference now which may change what happens to us in the future.’ Harry Woodmansee Yr 10 ‘We were constantly asked rhetorical questions like ‘are cars a bad thing?’ and ‘would cutting down trees reduce CO2?’ These questions are simple but couldn’t be given a simple answer because you had to take into account the effects of saying yes or no. This made us think more.’ Will Clark Yr 10 ‘I most enjoyed recording lichens outside, it was fun. The introductory videos were really cheesy but fun as well.’ Sehajdev Bhatia Yr 10 7
YOUNG EQUESTRIAN AT SKINNERS’ A First for Skinners’ – new year 7 leads the way Hugo Toyne- Bridges, one of our new year 7s, recently represented Skinners’ at the local NSEA Jumping with Style Competition at Mayfield at 70cms and 80cms. Hugo had a clear round, rode really well and came 11th out of over 50 competitors. As he was the only Skinners' rider, he could not qualify as a Team (min. 3-4 riders) for the Championships in December so we shall hopefully try to find out if there are any other Skinners’ riders. At local Hunter Trials Hugo also competed, doing really well, particularly as some of the jumps were quite chunky. Additionally, Hugo entered Cross Country classes for children who were 16 years and under and so was competing against other children who were much bigger. Hugo won a 5th rosette in the 2’6-2’9’ Individual cross country class (out of 14) and a 6th rosette in the 2’6-2’9 pairs with his sister (out of 14 pairs). Pictures show Hugo Toyne Bridges, proudly wearing his Skinners’ Rugby shirt whilst competing!
Debaters from Year 11 went to The Royal Grammar School at Newcastle on 25th September for a national competition. After a horrendously early start, we flew to Newcastle so that we could be up and down in a day. Motions included some controversy – ‘This
House believes Lady Gaga is a bad role model for women’ was just one proposition that was considered. James Beeson and Oliver Baines did
exceptionally well in their first national competition outing coming sixth out of sixty teams. Barnaby Peacock Young and Ross Bennett scored very high speaker points but unfortunately did not win their tables. Given that the students have only been debating for a couple of months, this was a very commendable showing. Deborah Halifax Teacher in charge of Debating
Year 11 Competitors, left to right, Barney Peacock Young, Ross Bennett, James Beeson & Oliver Baines
This year on their return to Skinners’ in September, the pupils were amazed to find that the Library had undergone a complete refurbishment. Gone were the obscured glass windows to reveal a wonderful vista across Tunbridge wells to the fields beyond. This has resulted in a bright and airy feel, which along with re-decoration, new furniture/carpets/more computer terminals and a complete re-organization of the shelves has resulted in the ‘wow factor’ and 100% approval from the students. Below: Mrs Weaver (Seated) & Mrs Deller
Mr Everson at the entrance of the Library
Mr Everson cutting the ribbon with Jack Barker (Head Boy) and the two youngest members of Year 7
A new computerized system for management of the books has been installed and once this is firmly established, the Library will be – in the words of the lads – COOL! The Librarians, Mrs. Weaver and her assistant Mrs. Deller, have long awaited this event and it was with great excitement that the Library was officially opened during the first week of term by Mr. Simon Everson the Headmaster, accompanied by the Head Boy and the two youngest new members in Year 7.
During the summer holidays , 12 cadets from TWGGS and Skinners’ (Matt Bassi, Alastair Woodburn, Jake Sayers, Will Jellis, Will Dedman, Ed Young, Nick Couchman , Emmerson Wood and Joe Kershaw) and 3 staff went to Netheravon Airfield on Salisbury Plain to learn how to parachute on a static line. I still wonder to this day who was more nervous, the cadets or the staff!!! On arriving, we were warmly welcomed and told where to pitch our tents. We were then invited to a barbeque with live music and fireworks. I began to wonder what all the fuss was about – however, thoughts of The Last Supper came to mind!!
Preparation for the Jump………. We were up early on the Saturday morning and began our training straight away. All sorts of scenarios were thrown at us. The training was intense - repeated over and over again. We were also put in harnesses which resembled my daughter’s baby bouncer which used to hang in a doorway!! So there we were, all bouncing away in harnesses going though exactly what we needed to do when we jumped from the plane. Sunday morning soon came; we all woke up nervous of what was to come. It was a long wait, waiting for the weather to settle. Eventually we were all being loaded into
the plane. Where they find these pilots I have no idea. It takes them seconds from take off to get to 3500ft. The side doors open and the airfield looks a very long way down! Our legs dangle over the edge of the plane and on the count of three…….GO!!! It is a very rapid 10 seconds of falling towards the ground until your parachute is fully opened. Once that has happened, you experience what for me was the most exhilarating few minutes of my life. You float down guiding the parachute exactly where you want to go.
A successful landing for everyone……… The next obstacle……..landing!! The ground approaches quickly and you know you have to pull on the toggles at a precise moment. At this point I was just hoping my judgment of 10ft was good. I managed to land safely and looked around for everyone else. There were cadets all over the airfield. Some were close to the hanger and some……….not so close. I am sure all agree that this was definitely an experience of a lifetime. I would like also to congratulate Matt Bassi for raising £1500 for the Skinners’ Charity “Build Africa”.
Major Anthony Stone Officer Commanding CCF 11
English Champions ‘Skinned’ The Skinners’ School hosted national champions, Whitgift on Saturday, 25th September at Southfields. With a host of England representatives in the Whitgift side, the match was always going to test the Skinners’ U 16 to their limit.
the Champions’ quality and extra size would see them through this early onslaught. However, Skinners’ switched kickers and Ryan Fuller landed two penalties before the break to make the half-time score 6-5 to the home side.
From the kick off, Skinners’ laid down the gauntlet, tackling and rucking ferociously, whilst surprising the opposition with the intensity and speed of their play. Despite their first half pressure, possession and territory, Skinners’ failed to capitalize on several try-scoring opportunities and missed three penalties. When Whitgift scored with their first meaningful attack, it seemed
The key moment came at the start of the second half when Skinners’ 6, Sam Catling’s interception saw him out run the desperate Whitgift defence. The excellent Will de Smith claimed the re-start (as he did all afternoon) and Skinners‘ recycled fast, clean possession through several phases to send Fuller over for a second try and a 16-5 lead.
As expected, Whitgift rallied and the teams traded a series of penalties to take the score to 2214. With the clock ticking, Whitgift became increasingly frustrated as the Skinners’ players refused to give any ground, finishing the game camped in the Whitgift ’22 and looking threatening as the final whistle was blown. With Whitgift due to leave for the World Schools Championship in Japan before Christmas, the Skinners’ team should rightly be proud of this scalp and look forward to the season ahead. Nick Oldham Head of Rugby
Lee Hall has brought up to date The Servant of Two Masters with which Goldoni broke with commedia dell'arte tradition and wrote down the script for his comedians. The star character is a zanni called Truffaldino, the servant, who in trying to fill both his wallet and his stomach, attempts to hold down two jobs. It is a variation on the mix up of twin masters and servants used in Italian comedy. This farce moves at breakneck speed through eighteenth century Venice. Florindo has been forced to flee after killing his lover's brother in a duel in Turin. Beatrice, his lover has come to Venice, disguised as her brother Federigo Rasponi to collect the proceeds of his business ventures in sun dried tomatoes and so pay to get Florindo off the hook. Clarice was engaged to Federigo but since the news of his death, has fallen for Silvio and thus the play unfolds â€Ś..
Tickets on sale from Denise Tourle after term break, ÂŁ5 concessions, ÂŁ8 Adult.
A small team from Skinnersâ€™ undertook a one month World Challenge expedition this summer to Mongolia. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and were struck by the easy-going friendliness of the people, their completely different culture and lifestyle, and the endless journeys â€“ without metalled roads - needed to go from one place to another. We began with a building project at an orphanage in Ulaan Baatar (a much more interesting place than we were led to expect) followed by 40 hours actual travelling time to the north west near to Siberia. There we went on a 4 day circular horse trek, followed by a 5 day foot trek, during which we cooked our meals over wood fires everything from baking bread to stews. After another long journey back to Ulaan Baatar we flew on to Beijing where we squeezed shopping at The Silk Market, The Great Wall, The Forbidden City and the Flag Ceremony in Tiananmen Square into a stay of about 30 hours. John Burton Expedition Leader
On Friday 24th September eleven members of the music department, together with Mr and Mrs Hendry, packed themselves, luggage and instruments into a minibus and set off for the wilds of North Devon - Appledore to be precise. The main object of the excursion was to stage a concert in the local parish church of St Mary’s to raise funds for the RNLI. Appledore is situated on a beautiful but highly treacherous estuary causing the lifeboat to be in frighteningly regular use, manned by local volunteers, making it the focus of much of village life. As we travelled West the weather improved, although it was very cold, and we stopped en route to have our lunch at Stonehenge. After a rather brisk trip around the stones, and many photo stops, we retreated from the North wind and resumed our journey, crossing the Army training areas on Salisbury Plain as we did so. The sun gradually emerged as we finally arrived at Skern Lodge; the sky was blue, the sea sparkled though, sadly, the North wind came too. After supper the whole company walked to the beach and skimmed stones, walked along the coast whilst admiring a vibrant gold sunset out across the headland and sea, to the accompaniment of more photographs. Returning to Skern we rehearsed in our meeting room (called ‘Blossom!) until everyone was too tired to read music - finally retreating to the ‘bar’ for giant Jenga and Pool, and so to bed. Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, still cold but beautiful. After an enormous breakfast, all musicians were to be seen dangling from ropes, walking, or hopping along beams, standing on poles, all 6 metres up, and throwing themselves into mid air catching a trapeze. Yet more photo opportunities, a lot of bravery with moral support shouted by colleagues. The afternoon brought a visit to the Lifeboat Station for a guided tour, with
the opportunity for some to try on the all-weather lifeboat gear and a lesson on navigation using sea charts from a retired RNLI navigator. Very inspirational. St Mary’s is a traditional fishing village church yet we had managed to arrive in the middle of Appledore Book Week, an important date in the village year, so we played in front of a giant setting for the speakers. With rehearsal ended we returned to Skern for another enormous tea and changed, setting off in full school uniform to the rather astonished gazes of the rest of the Skern guests! Many good wishes went with us. The concert was a great success, not a huge audience, Book Week got in the way, but a very enthusiastic one with lots of compliments about the boys’ playing. Extraordinary coincidence brought a lady who lives in Tunbridge Wells and an ex-Skinners’ boy from many years ago to the concert too. We piled back into the minibus to set off for Pusehill, a village outside Appledore, for a sausage and pizza supper provided by Mr Mike and Mrs Penny Hughes, staunch supporters of the RNLI and our son-in-law’s parents. This welcome end provided a wonderful social occasion for the boys to sit together around a table and chat, and eat a lot too. The lock on the gates of Skern proved rather temperamental, but all ended up in bed – tired but happy!
Despite the previous jam-packed day we were all up bright and early for a kayaking expedition and could be seen paddling down the River Torridge in bright sunlight - everyone wet, with those brave enough to have jumped off Bideford quay wall into the sea even chillier than everyone else! Our instructors were very sympathetic making the journey a real joy, and we all, after only one capsize, landed back at Appledore quay, cold but pleased with ourselves. Hot showers, followed by yet more football, sandwich lunch and a final visit to the beach to throw stones at the rocks exposed by low tide. Instruments, luggage et al piled back into the minibus and we headed off home. Within 20 minutes all the boys were asleep, awake intermittently to be plied with sticky sweets until we reached Leigh Delamare Services where we bought burgers, new to some, and other (un) suitable junk food. Sadly the M4 and M25 didn't co-operate - the last stretch of our journey took over three hours, but we arrived at Skinners’ around 9.00, tired but well satisfied with the weekend.
The staff at Skern Lodge were most complimentary about our boys' behaviour and their willingness to have a go, even at activities which frightened them. John and I were very pleased with the whole weekend, from the musical performance, the behaviour of the boys on the journey and the visit to the Hughes' house, to their support of each other, both in performance and in the sporting activities. The eleven boys were a real credit to the school. Those involved were: • • • • • • • • • • •
Henry Gibson Nick May Tom Corner Dan Corner Jon Britten Gabriel Thallon Matthew Turbett Cameron Relton Tom Nohre Solly Hardwick Nick Holberton Mr John and Mrs Jackie Hendry Music Department
November 1st 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 9th 10th 11th 11th 11th 11th 12th 12th 13th 13th 14th 15th 15th 16th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 24th 25th 25th 26th 27th 27th 29th
Term 2 Starts Senior Maths Challenge in School Hall Skinners’ Day at The Assembly Hall School Drama preparation in Thomson Theatre School Drama preparation in Thomson Theatre PA Committee Meeting at 7pm Year 11 GCSE Maths Unit Exam (Set M) Year 12 Geomatics Engineering Trip to UCL Non Uniform Day Remembrance Day Assembly Year 10 GCSE Science re-sit exams Year 7 Form Tutor Parents’ Evening in Dining Hall Sixth Form Evening with Peter Tatchell School Hall, 7pm Year 11 M set GCSE Maths Unit Year 12 “Licensed to Kill’ Road Safety Presentation in Maidstone Rugby vs Cranbrook School Drama preparation in Thomson Theatre School Drama preparation in Thomson Theatre Year 11 Maths GCSE retakes Year 12 Chemistry Conference Year 12 Maths Conference St Celia’s Day Concert, 7.30pm in Thomson Theatre Team Maths Challenge Year 13 Parents’ Evening 5pm – 8pm CCF Dinner School Drama preparation in Thomson Theatre School Drama preparation in Thomson Theatre Stars in Their Eyes at TWGGS Stars in Their Eyes at TWGGS A Servant to Two Masters in the Thomson Theatre 7.30pm A Servant to Two Masters in The Thomson Theatre 7.30pm A Servant to Two Masters in The Thomson Theatre 7.30pm Rugby vs Eltham Year 11 Trial Exam Week
December 2nd 2nd 2nd 4th 6th 6th 6th 7th 9th 9th 11th 11th 15th 17th 17th
Drama ‘The Trial’ AS/A2 Workshop Non Uniform Day Senior Maths Challenge follow on round Rugby vs Chis & Sid Year 11 Mock GCSE orals Year 13 Economics trip MACD Debating competition in Thomson Theatre Year 11 Mock GCSE orals Non Uniform Day Year 8 Parents’ Evening 5pm – 8pm PA Christmas Bazaar 12pm – 3pm Rugby vs Ravenswood Carol Service at St John’s Church 7.30pm Progress Reports issued for years 7, 9, 10 and 12 Term 2 Ends – dismiss from school at 2pm
January 2011 6th
Term 3 starts