to the first newsletter of the Odyssey Trust sent to our staff, parents and wider community. We wish to use this update to inform you of the work we are doing and of our longer-term plans and goals.
The Odyssey Trust was formed in September 2018 comprising of Townley Grammar School and King Henry School (formerly Erith School). It has been our goal to show the benefits to the community of collaboration between such schools and to focus our energies on the following areas:
- High quality teaching in every lesson.
- Professional development of our staff, teaching and support, to create a happy and effective workforce committed to the best education for our young people.
- A fully inclusive school experience that “leaves no student behind”.
- The creation of a wide range of opportunities for our young people to enable to progress into happy and fulfilling lives.
Since our formation we have been working on how we might achieve these goals and I would like to share some of that work with you. Firstly, at King Henry School we have identified the following priorities:
- The Quality and Capacity of Leadership
- Investment in our Staff
- The standard of Teaching
- A values based behaviour strategy that equips students to make better choices about their behaviour
- High quality SEND provision to support learners with a range of needs
We have acted on these by rebuilding the leadership team and we welcome Ms Zara Tippey, our new Headteacher at KHS. We are continuing to build this team and therefore are currently recruiting additional Assistant Headteachers. Adverts will be out in the New Year and we are looking for experienced and able professionals who demonstrate a passion for working with this community.
We have also created a new governing body consisting of local and highly experienced individuals from a range of occupations and backgrounds. To support this process, we have brought in leading professionals to train, mentor and advise the school’s leaders. These have included Mr Andy Buck, a national respected leadership trainer and Mr Gary Lewis, a successful former Headteacher.
We are confident that with this continued support and additional recruitment from the Trust we will build a high calibre leadership structure that will take King Henry School into its rightful place as a leading school in the area. We are grateful to leaders at all levels within the school for their continued commitment to the improvement journey and their passionate engagement with the community they serve. We have continued to grow and develop leaders at Townley Grammar School with many now acting to support King Henry School in its journey.
That is why great Leadership and governance will remain at the heart of our work. Leadership is about service to others and as a Trust we serve our communities. Our leaders work together across the Trust, sharing best practice and growing together.
The Trust holds as a core value its dedication to its people. It is the teachers and the support staff that make great schools and we know that this requires investment. We have therefore brought in a nationally recognized adviser, Mandy Coalter, to review our People Strategy. Mandy has surveyed staff and made recommendations. It is clear that staff at KHS have a strong sense of commitment to the local community and to the future success of the school.
There are of course areas we need to improve upon and this will be discussed with the staff in the New Year. We will also be building upon the very strong staff relationships at Townley Grammar and as a Trust developing and sharing our strategy for supporting the people that work for us.
That is why we are providing more holidays for our people, a focus on personal wellbeing and an investment in high quality training and development. We will continue to listen and engage with the people in our Trust to make it the best place to work.
Teaching staff across the Trust have been engaging in continuous training on teaching supported by our very best practitioners. The Trust School Improvement Team have played a key role in this and are supported by a Teaching and Learning Team at Townley Grammar School. Our goal this year is to establish a similar team at KHS. Great teaching is based on evidence and up to date research. It requires frequent reflection and adherence to core principles.
That is why we have devoted every Monday afternoon and 10 training days in the year to staff training. Students in our Trust will get the very best of teaching providing the very best education.
We believe that the very best behaviour is taught. Young people must learn to make the right choices and manage their own behaviour but this must be learned. We see within the Trust such great examples of the very best and we recognize that in King Henry’s journey there are those that have further to travel.
We have begun a focused strategy on improving the behaviour of those that struggle to make the right choices. It is based upon boundaries, clear expectations and the development of good character values. Staff have begun to receive training from leading professionals in this field as a result of the Odyssey Trust. We are grateful for the continued support of parents in upholding high standards of behaviour and we are confident that the New Year will show the impact of our work but changing lives and attitudes takes time and perseverance.
That is why we will continue to teach, challenge a reaffirm our values at every opportunity. We will set boundaries and enforce them so that the young people who eventually leave us can add value to the world they enter.
Some young people come to us with greater challenges than others. While we continue to have high expectations we also must provide high levels of support. We have appointed two former SENCOs as Deputies at King Henry School and appointed a Lead Practitioner for Inclusion for the Trust.
We have built productive partnerships with the local authority to support our most vulnerable students and in the New Year we will be opening our new Inclusion Centre based at King Henry School. We understand that what is good for students with special needs is good for all students and so we placed Inclusion at the centre of our mission, whether that be for the most able, diverse groups or vulnerable students.
That is why we are recruiting for additional SENCOs at both schools and will be sharing our Trust Inclusion Strategy with staff during the New Year. We can do better and we will, because our young people deserve it.
It is an exciting time for the Odyssey Trust and its two schools, Townley Grammar School and King Henry School. We have achieved much since we began but this is still only the beginning. There are too many developments to put here but we will share them in regular updates like this one.
Until then may I wish you a very peaceful and joyous Christmas and a prosperous and happy New Year.
King Henry School
King Henry School is a vibrant centre of learning for our community, with a relentless commitment to enhancing the lives of all young people, regardless of their ability or aptitude.
We have recently reframed the six KHS values of - Politeness, Courage, Respect, Ambition, Kindness & Resilience to three specific areas of – Resilience, Compassion & Ambition. We feel these reflect the characteristics of all at King Henry as we develop students’ knowledge, academic excellence and character by building their resilience, compassion and ambition. These core values provide our young people with the wisdom and independence to make the right choices and lead happy, fulfilled lives.
We have a strong focus on improving students’ resilience in their learning and in how they conduct themselves in lessons and during social times. We have also made a commitment to equipping our teachers with the skills to teach consistently good lessons with professional development for our staff being another key focus.
Our students have shown excellent achievements this year
Daisy & Callum I are both part of the youth voice for GOSH, and were invited to a VIP day at Silverstone race track to represent the charity, where they met Lewis Hamilton and had a tour of the workshop and pictures with the team and Formula 1 car.
George G held a bake sale to raise funds for his late sister’s legacy. £286.07 was raised for the GOSH charity. George wrote a poem about his sister and read it out at Year group assemblies. For his charity work, George was nominated for the Jack Petchey award.
Brooke W went to Ireland to compete in the ISKA World Championships in Muay Thai & K1. She won and is now World champion in both of these for her age group.
The Odyssey Trust School Improvement Team have been incredibly busy in recent weeks working collaboratively with both schools on their improvement journeys; we have been fortunate enough to forge some valuable links with a number of experts in the field of education who have been supporting the work we’ve been doing across all aspects of school improvement.
We’ve had the privilege of working alongside Andy Buck who has supported senior leadership teams across the Trust with their personal and professional development; the opportunity to work collaboratively as leaders of the Trust was welcomed by all and strengthened the understanding of both leadership teams about the challenges faced in our differing contextual settings. Andy is also delivering middle leadership training for all middle leaders from across the Trust. Feedback from the sessions delivered so far has been excellent and demonstrates the importance of ensuring we prioritise our own professional development.
Tom Bennett has also visited King Henry School to work with SLT on becoming conscious architects of school culture and he’ll be returning in the new year to lead a bespoke training session for the whole staff body; his expertise in the strategic approach to creating a culture has supported leaders to develop their response in manufacturing the norms of behaviour-the habits that we want to encourage and reward in students at the school.
Research shows that Quality First Teaching is the thing that has the greatest impact on the welfare and outcomes of students, by continuing to develop our staff we will be improving outcomes for all our students. CPD sessions across both schools in the Trust have focused on developing our understanding of the science behind learning using Rosenshine’s principles of instruction as a model for this in our classrooms. We’ve had the opportunity as a Trust to work with Tricia Taylor to support us in ensuring we continue to develop the best possible practices for our students and as a body of staff our pedagogy is guided by the most current educational research. It is our intention to ensure that our students are also research informed about how we learn best; Tricia will be working with a group of colleagues to write a programme for delivery in 21c sessions with a focus on developing student metacognition.
During this term the team have also carried out a Monitoring Visit at King Henry School with a focus on Behaviour & Attitudes and Student Engagement. Outcomes of this have been shared with relevant stakeholders and will be used to inform the next steps of the school improvement journey. The visit provided an opportunity to talk to colleagues from various teams about the role they play in raising standards across the school and highlighted the dedication so many of our staff have to ensuring the very best outcomes for the students we serve. The School Improvement Team would like to thank everyone at King Henry for their involvement on the day and look forward to the follow-up visit in the new year.
Our Links with the local authority have been further developed this term with our Lead Practitioner Inclusion Mr Tate Co-Chairing the Borough’s working party who are developing a best practice guide in education for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller students. Mr Tate is also coordinating on behalf of the Trust a pilot programme with the local authority to reduce the risk of exclusion in schools.
Working with Strengthening Minds Ltd, we have started to deliver two programmes to develop self-esteem and positive behaviour improving the opportunities we can give our students. The Trust is committed to ensuring that we ‘Leave no Child Behind’ and will be investigating links and partnerships that will benefit our students in the future. Training delivered this term by David has included: Building Positive Relationships, De-escalation techniques, Students mental health, and Quality First Teaching and its impact on Special Educational Needs.
Townley Grammar School
It has been our first term with the new school day structure and 21c sessions for students. The changes to Townley’s curriculum, with the introduction of 21c sessions, as well as the symposiums, have been well received by students and initial feedback has been very positive.
Since 1984, Townley Grammar School has raised £61,000.00 in 24 Readathons. We have been recognised as an outstanding Readathon School. This recognition is testament to the charitable culture of our staff and students, not just this academic term but throughout the years.
In collaboration with Digital Schoolhouse, ten students competed in a gaming competition in front of a thrilled audience of students and staff. The competition was filmed by the BBC for its InsideOut programme, which aired nationally in October. Computer Science is a popular subject at Townley. We embed in our students that young women can participate and compete in all fields…
One student in particular has stood out at Townley this term for her success in Sports. Kelechi Ambros (11 Hera) has been a committed and dedicated sportsperson throughout her time at Townley. She has particularly enjoyed success in athletics and netball with her focusing more on the latter of late. She has worked hard and recently been selected for the Under 19 London Pulse Netball Team which is a huge achievement. Kelechi remains a focused and committed sportswoman and is a huge credit to the school. Because of this, Kelechi is one of the nominees for the Civic Recognition Awards 2020. Congratulations Kelechi.
International travel continues to be at the forefront of Townley life. Over this half term, students across the key stages visited New York, China and India, which provided our students the opportunity to experience cultures unlike their own. Townley Global is at the heart of our school’s cultural and social enrichment.
Our third ‘Townley Inspire’ conference for both Townley and King Henry staff was immensely successful with a range of engaging and thought-provoking speakers. The feedback from both sets of staff has been overwhelmingly positive and has confirmed our belief about the value of organising such large scale events – they are certainly worth doing!
Townley Grammar school, the Creative music programme ‘ArtsTrain’ and the London Borough of Bexley collaborated to launch the borough’s first ever Creative Careers Night on November 28th. Offering year 9 students a practical insight into the creative industries. The event was very successful raising the profile of Creative Arts and showcasing our wonderful school facilities. The event brought together over 150 parents and students from across the Borough giving them access to a range of inspiring creative workshops and talks with leading industry professionals all here at Townley.