Headteacher's Weekly Update - 12th May 2023
Updated: May 15
I hope this letter finds you and your families well, in the circumstances; a Friday update for you, after a very challenging week in school.
I’m sure you are aware that it is one week, to the day, since Renell’s life was so tragically cut short. It has been moving to see Renell’s family, as well as members of our school community, pay their respects at the memorial site every afternoon. A sombre mood remains in school, as you might expect.
On Wednesday I attended the community meeting set up by the police that provided an opportunity for people to ask questions of the police and local authority, and raise any concerns that community members have. When I had an opportunity to speak, I wanted to pay tribute to Renell, and help those in attendance understand, who he was as a young man, and the huge potential he possessed.
I talked about the support I have received from, you our families, the local authority as well as support from further afield. I have received a number of emails from Headteachers at other London schools, who tragically, have had the same experience as us, in the past few years. It is upsetting to comprehend that senseless knife attacks are happening across our cities each week. The community present on Wednesday, are determined to try to come together, in the coming weeks and months, to try to do something about this.
Statistically, young people are more likely to choose to carry a knife, to protect themselves, following tragic events, such as last Friday. I know Kelmscott students would not consider this, as they know that just carrying a knife puts them in huge danger. Whilst I do not want to alarm anyone by raising this, I would like you to talk to your daughters and sons about this statistic, to ensure that it does not become an eventuality.
I also paid tribute to our staff, in the meeting, who have done a terrific job this week. Despite being very upset themselves about the loss of one of the Kelmscott family, they have taught fantastic lessons and provided lots of love and pastoral care. They are, truly, outstanding colleagues to work with. I also paid tribute to our students. What a time of it they have had these past years, when we consider the pandemic, subsequent societal problems and now this. They have been amazing this week both in class, as well as supporting one another outside of class. I am continually surprised and impressed by their resilience.
These last four days have been atypical for our school, to make a huge understatement. A normal Kelmscott day is full of challenge, excitement, laughter, engagement, awe and wonder. Many of you have asked, this week, how you can help us as a school. Once we come up for air, I would love you to champion our school, locally and beyond, singing its praises, for all to hear.
A number of primary aged parents spoke at the meeting, about how their children are feeling about starting secondary school now, following incidents in the Borough these past few months. It was heart-breaking to hear. I am halfway through a letter to our feeder primary schools and our new Year 7 families, whose children start with us in September this year. I am hoping to provide some reassurance, if I can. I know that words in a letter can only do so much though. I think conversations with our families or our students can be far more powerful, and useful in such situations, as you know first-hand, I hope, who and what we stand for as a school.
It has been pleasing to see students enjoy a number of different co-curricular activities take place this week. Today, we saw our future Year 10 modern historians have an excellent day out at the Imperial War Museum London. After spending most of this year studying the world wars, the students were able to deepen their understanding of what life was like for people, both at home and at the front. with an immersive experience from being in a re-creation of a trench to seeing the rations people at home were given by both wars' ends.
Some positive news this week, we are delighted and very proud to announce that the stop motion animation film created by Year 10 student, Isabella Ryan for her Classics lesson has been selected for the Junior Royal Academy Summer Show. 'The Children of Gaia' will be seen by thousands of art lovers as the annual show opens in June. The decision to select from the submissions must be incredibly difficult as the standard of artwork from Kelmscott students alone was very high indeed.
It was very nice to see so many Year 10 families at school on Thursday for Progress Evening. Year 10 are progressing well with their GCSEs so far and have exactly one year to go, until their GCSE exams begin. With that in mind, I would like to wish Year 11 the very best of luck for their GCSE exams that begin in earnest on Monday. I can’t imagine a less appropriate build up to the exams, than the one we have had this week, but know they will acquit themselves very well nonetheless. Despite the challenges of this week, Year 11 have done incredibly well to remain focused on the job at hand.
Following our very successful inaugural classicists residential trip to Bath in January of this year, we are planning to run the trip again in January 2024, for our current Year 7 and 8 students. Also in the planning stage, for the eighth time, is our ever popular Shakespeare residential to Stratford-upon-Avon, for students currently in years 7 to 10. Expression of interest forms for these trips will be sent out to families on Monday, please look out for these.
If you’re reading this on Friday afternoon, I would like to signpost that the Family Hub is open this afternoon, and this evening, at the Children’s Centre next to the playground outside The Red, on Queens Road. Steve Barnabas from Project Zero is running things today, providing a safe space for students to unwind, play video games, play sport, as well as receiving emotional support.
Finally, well done to Brandon Parry in Year 11 who topped the rewards points charts last week, testament to the excellent Year 11 attitude that I have referenced earlier in this letter.
With special thanks for your ongoing support.
Mr Sam Jones