The first few weeks of term has shown me just how important parents are to the school and students success. The children themselves are the obvious link between parents and schools, and their growth and achievements remind us that we are all working for the same purpose with the same aspirations. And at TWBS it is evident, not just in theory, but in practice too.
As a headteacher I am directly accountable to a number of people and groups, but none more important and ever present than the Governing Body of the school, which is almost entirely made of parents of current students or former students. And this fact makes them particularly effective, engaged and watchful. They give up so much time and thought to the strategic direction of the school, but at the same time commit to being a practical support for certain key aspects, like safeguarding, finance, leadership and development. We have an incredibly strong and intelligent team who regularly challenge me and my senior team, and who care deeply about the success of the school and all those in it. Because, first and foremost, they are parents. The Governing Body soon is going to need some new members to join their team, so please watch out for the information coming out soon about these opportunities.
I want to pay a particular tribute this week to one Governor who has stepped down after four years of significant service. John Carroll has been quietly incredible as a governor and has been a major force in ensuring that we have achieved financial security and cleared all our debts, without damage. He has been chair of the finance sub-committee and has been a tireless support for me and our school business manager, helping us with financial strategy and some very difficult decisions. His talents in accountancy and the education sector have been invaluable, yet his care for the school and his personal integrity have been a model of governance. We are going to miss him on so many levels, and it is only right that he gets all the applause he deserves for the tremendous job he has done. Thank you very much, John.
Our Parents and Friends of TWBS are another way parents make a huge contribution to the school. There was a great turnout at the first social meeting of the year at The Windsor and Eton Brewery, which bodes well for the future. Thanks to the PTA and Friends, our school has now got a refurbished and modern maths block, fit for the next few decades and a place where students can study to the highest level and staff can train and develop their expertise. This is down to the fundraising of the parents, who last year raised over £35,000 for equipment and furniture for the block. The year before they raised just under £40,000 for a new IT server system, which has futureproofed the school’s IT provision. In the forthcoming year we want to raise money to upgrade the media and music rooms with modern IT equipment and software – both outstanding areas of the school. On top of all this, the highly active parent body have helped staff in the school secure grants worth thousands of pounds, run a range of events to support sport, the arts and sciences, and also provided lesser sums of money for special projects and for disadvantaged students. I salute this incredible body of people, whose work seems endless but whose impact is instantaneous. There are so many ways to get involved as a parent, so please do give some thought to what you might be able to contribute, and get in touch.
One of the ways we get most support from most parents is in supporting the boys’ learning. This half term we host our ‘Now You’re In’ evenings, which focus on each year group, the curriculum coming up, and how parents can maximise their boy’s success. Parents being active in supporting their son’s academic learning is a no-brainer, and no doubt most have been doing this for years, but we aim to fine tune things as the exams loom large, the landscape changes and boys grow into young men. I would encourage everyone to come to these evenings, even if you have been to them before – each is different. This week we hosted a combined one for year 12 with parents and staff from both TWBS and WGS present. It was a pleasure to see some new faces and meet some new parents. It was so noticeable how much the staff from two different but connected schools were on the same page and said the same things. Thank you to all who attended.
But for some, sometimes, their son’s journey through school is harder than for others or has specific problems. On these occasions I understand that parents are under enormous pressure and can often be at a loss as to where to get help. I can assure you that our aim is to help all students and their parents, and that we will always be the first place to come when your child is having difficulties. We have a range of services in school, a strong and experienced pastoral team, a remodelled SEN department, counselling and support services, and a staff body who care. If we can’t provide specific help, we can act as an agent for seeking that professional help from elsewhere. I would encourage all parents to contact us without hesitation and work with us when things become difficult or a student has difficulties. We have a track record of successfully picking up those that stumble or need help.
There are so many ways parents can support their child in school, and all the above only suggest a few. But we all know that the role a parent plays in their child’s journey through school and into adulthood is the most significant partnership a school has, and we value it enormously. On behalf of the school, I want to thank all the active and engaged TWBS parents for everything you do. And, on behalf of the students, I would like to publicly thank all of the parents for everything they do for their boys day in day out …. because I know sometimes they simply forget to say it themselves!