Headteacher's Blog
  • September 2014

    date posted: Monday 15 Sep 2014
    We have been very pleased to welcome back all of our students over the last 2 weeks and are particularly pleased to see how well the new Year 7 have settled in to Coombe. There certainly seems to be a buzz around the school, a strong and tangible desire to make a very positive and productive start to the new academic year.

    There is no doubt that the news of Coombe’s outstanding examination results at GCSE, AS and A2 Level has been the perfect springboard for this term. It was wonderful to be able to relay these successes in our start of term assemblies and to show just how our students have been so justly rewarded for their hard work, aspiration and determination at all levels. I was particularly pleased that the reported volatility in examination outcomes was not at all evident in Coombe’s results.

    In particular, this summer’s achievements heralded new heights for our most able students with very impressive increases in A*/A at both GCSE and A Level; these very talented students will relish continuing on their academic pathway in the Coombe Sixth Form and at the very best universities accordingly. Our more able Ad Astra programme begins again in earnest this week with visits, speeches, challenges and enrichment designed to enthuse and inspire our Year 10 to Year 13 to complement and enhance their GCSE and A Level studies.

    At this stage in the year, what matters most however is that our Coombe students are fully focussed on their studies, aspirational in their thinking, keen to take advantage of all the opportunities on offer and that they enjoy and look forward to coming into school. We wish them all a very successful year! 

  • July Blog

    date posted: Tuesday 15 Jul 2014

    As the academic year draws to a close, it is wonderful to reflect on all the many successes and achievements of the past year.  Alongside the outstanding progress our students have been making, are the very many extra-curricular opportunities and activities that they have excelled in. Students this year have ventured to Washington and New York, Paris, Germany, Italy, Spain, Isle of Wight and Devon. I'm so proud that after every visit made whether a day trip or an overseas residential, Coombe students are congratulated for their exceptional behaviour and enthusiasm - they represent the school and themselves superbly.

     

    The year started with an exceptional performance from our 2013 Year 11 cohort of which 95% achieved 5 A*-C, 78% with English & mathematics and 30% of those results at either A* or A, a stunning accomplishment which places us as the highest achieving non-selective school in the borough.

     

    The Autumn Term also brought a new challenge of becoming an academy sponsor. Knollmead Primary school converted to academy status on 1st April 2014 as part of the Coombe Secondary Schools Academy Trust. We all truly believe that this is a new and exciting experience for us and one that will enhance our knowledge of the primary curriculum as well as the transition into secondary school. I look forward to reporting back to you in the future as the partnership develops.

     

    We received notification over the Easter break that Coombe had again been awarded outstanding national educational outcomes awards at GCSE level.  We were congratulated on being in the top schools nationally for outstanding attainment and progress. 

     

    At the start of this term, we received notification that Coombe Girls’ had been successful in its application to become a National Teaching School. We are now one of only 200 schools in England to be granted teaching school status in the latest designation round and will be taking a leading role locally as well as nationally in recruiting and training new entrants to the profession.

     

    It was lovely to see so many Y10 girls and their parents at our Sixth Form Opportunities Evening a couple of weeks ago and we very much look forward to receiving their applications. Their IAG and PSHE programmes will now focus on preparing them for their Sixth Form choices and I encourage the girls to start asking tutors and subject teachers about these essential decisions.

     

    Alongside these particular whole school achievements, Coombe has continued with business as usual. I am continually amazed how every year students push the boundaries of creativity and achievement and produce work that is truly stunning. Coombe Creates highlighted the work from Art, Technology and Media with pieces that were breath taking. School productions and performances that as a Head Teacher I am very proud of the commitment and talent we have instilled in our pupils.

      

    July marked an important breakthrough for the Coombe Secondary Schools Academy Trust. All Year 8 students from across the two schools were brought together at the Clarence Avenue site for a ground breaking PSHE day called #Virtual Safety. The day focused on a variety of hard hitting issues. The aim was to make the pupils aware of the risks and their vulnerabilities to these difficult issues and give strategies and guidance on tackling these problems. The event was the first of many cross-academy PSHE days that the school will be designing to help support and guide students into their journey into adulthood.

     

    We wish you a wonderful summer holiday and look forward to welcoming all of our students back in September refreshed and refuelled for the new academic year.

     

     

     

     

     

  • June 2014

    date posted: Tuesday 17 Jun 2014
    As some of our older students are now starting to finish their external examinations, the internal examinations for Years 7-10 are either in full flow or imminent with the very last for any Coombe students taking place on Friday 27th June.   Good Luck to them all!  

    This half term sees a number of events preparing us all for the new academic year.  We look forward to welcoming our new Year 7 and Year 12 students and their parents to Coombe at their respective induction days and welcome evenings at the beginning of July and for all Year 10 Coombe students and their parents, we are holding our annual Sixth Form Opportunities Evening from 18.30 at Coombe Girls’ School site, Clarence Avenue.  

    This week marks the start of the Year 9 Enterprise week at Coombe Girls’.  The Dragons’ Den presentations which took place before half term were very impressive and we look forward to seeing the innovation, creativity and resourceful approach to both design and creation that usually characterises this week and culminates in the very popular Enterprise Fair at the end of the week.

    Congratulations go to the girls who performed in the Richmond Theatre showcase on 2nd June and the boys who performed Henry V at the Lyric Theatre in the West End on the same evening.  We are so proud of all of our Coombe talented performers and they truly deserve the accolades that have come through since the respective performances.

    On the sports front, it was a privilege to watch the Coombe Boys’ Year 9 football team become national champions shortly before half term and a real joy to watch the performances of over 400 competitors at the Sports Day on Friday where a number of Coombe records were broken; we look forward to seeing the girls perform at their Sports Day on Monday 30th June.

    A real highlight of the term is always the exhibitions of art, design technology, photography and media studies work which are shown at Coombe Creates and the separate exhibitions of GCSE work at both schools.  The standard this year was exceptionally high and showcased just how incredibly talented many of our students are – the precision, flair and originality of many of the pieces on display was truly impressive.

    Once again, we have a very busy half term ahead and we look forward to sharing our news with you via our twitter feeds and website news updates!

  • May 2014

    date posted: Thursday 8 May 2014
    It was lovely to have enjoyed such warm weather over the Easter break and our Bank Holiday weekend and we hope that it will remain pleasant but not too hot over the examination season which started in earnest this week.  Our advice to all of the students in our examination classes has been to pace themselves and remain fully focussed and positive over the coming weeks but remember that the staff are here to guide and support whenever needed.  We are confident of their success this summer which we fully expect to compare favourably with last year’s cohorts at GCSE and Advanced Level at both Coombe schools and wish them all the very best of luck.

    Particular congratulations go to our Year 10 students who successfully completed their work experience placements before Easter.  We have received so many positive comments back from their employers as well as the students themselves; it is fantastic to see our Year 10 girls and boys starting to fully understand the demands of the world of work and the importance their education will play in their future careers.  Careers education under the guise of our IAG (information, advice & guidance) provision plays an extremely important part of our curriculum and permeates throughout the academic year.  

    I was immensely proud to receive notification over the Easter break that Coombe had again been awarded outstanding educational outcomes awards for the GCSE results at both schools in 2013.  We were congratulated on being in the top schools nationally for outstanding continuous improvement at Coombe Boys’ and for outstanding attainment and progress at Coombe Girls’.  These awards are superb for the schools but most importantly for our students who have achieved so highly and subsequently been able to make such a smooth, confident and very successful transition into the Sixth Form.

    Finally, it was announced last week that Coombe Girls’ has been successful in its application to become a National Teaching School. We were one of only 200 schools in England to be granted teaching school status in the latest designation round and will be taking a leading role locally as well as nationally in recruiting and training new entrants to the profession, identifying leadership potential and providing support for other schools. I am so pleased that Coombe’s outstanding performance and track record in raising and maintaining high standards has been recognised and we are very excited about the opportunities that this status will provide for all members of our community. 

    Once again, we have a very busy term ahead and we look forward to sharing our news with you via our twitter feeds and website news updates!

  • March 2014

    date posted: Thursday 6 Mar 2014
    I am extremely proud and thrilled to report that this year, applications for places at both Coombe Boys’ and Coombe Girls’ have far surpassed anything that we have previously seen in the history of the two schools!  I would like to wish all potential parents the very best of luck in the application process and we are very excited at the prospect of working with our new-intake parents and the new generation of Coombe boys and girls during the Summer Term!

    Our external sixth form interviews are also now well-underway and it is wonderful to see such a wide range of well-qualified students from other schools choosing Coombe as their first option for this crucial phase of their education; I’m confident they will relish the opportunity to join our own internal Coombe students from September 2014. 

    Other aspects of the busy of life of the schools continues apace!  It may seem hard to believe, but we are now around 10 weeks away from this year’s first public exams – even though it feels that Spring has hardly sprung! This year’s exam-season begins with the AS exams which are considerably earlier than usual – possibly because there were no modules in January of this year. 

    Last half term saw a number of highly successful federation activities culminating in our fabulously successful joint-schools’ ski trip at half term to Bardonecchia.  Thank you to all the participants as well as the staff who accompanied the trip!

  • January 2014

    date posted: Tuesday 28 Jan 2014
    As we head rapidly into 2014 and with the days getting longer, I’d like to report some stunning news and remarkable successes at both of the Coombe Secondary Schools during January!  

    Having barely waved goodbye to the OfSTED Team after the highly successful inspection at the Boys’ school it was a real pleasure to open my post on the 22nd to receive a letter from David Laws, MP, Minister of State for Schools. ‘It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on the excellent improvement in your GCSE results over the last 3 years’, it reads.   Crucially, Coombe Girls’ is in the Top 100 schools for sustained improvement in terms of pupils achieving 5 A* - C grades at GCSE with English & mathematics.  Please read the letter for yourself on the website!

    If you didn’t catch the Evening Standard’s league table of London schools, let me encourage you to seek it out! We were all thrilled to see both Coombe Boys’ and Coombe Girls’ achieve stunning borough rankings on the basis of last year’s stellar GCSE results – I am looking forward to another letter from David Laws next Year! However, it is a real shame that the same paper is unable to represent the performance of the sixth formers at the College Gardens Campus adequately – particularly as they achieved BTEC scores that put them in the very top league in terms of student progress!

    I’d like to thank all of our sixth formers at both sites for the studious and focussed approach they  took to their mock exams  during the first two weeks of term – good luck with the results on the 29th.  I also hope that the intensive careers guidance day that followed has all of you all thinking that the sky really is the limit!  

    Thanks also to everyone at both schools for the extremely well-attended Cluster Concert and Federation Showcase at the Rose Theatre last week as well as both schools’ stunning Youth Speaks Teams who represented Coombe in the Rotary Club’s Semi Final.  We look forward to the range of future events to enjoy over the coming term and wish the staff and students involved in the Girls’ School production of Joseph next week the very best of luck! 

  • December 2013

    date posted: Monday 16 Dec 2013
    I’d like to welcome all readers of my blog from across both schools within the Coombe Secondary Schools Federation and beyond ! Incredibly, it feels like only moments ago that I was writing about the record-breaking achievements of our students at both of the Coombe schools during a momentous summer and reporting on the outstanding start made by our Year 7 pupils and sixth form boys and girls during September ! Now, already, I find myself reflecting back over an extraordinary term and a range of activities and events that have the most exciting implications for both schools – where does the time go!

    Everything at the Coombe Schools is firmly focussed on our students’ progress, success and confident transition into the world beyond us. Whilst our Year 11, 12 and 13 results and the confirmation of our students’ destinations in the summer creates a vivid impression of their success, it is during this term that we receive essential ‘progress data’. This information tells us exactly how well we are doing with pupils and students at all Key Stages and helps us to ensure that every individual in the schools is on a journey to success. I am extremely pleased to report that this information really has made the most positive and uplifting reading for myself and the leadership teams at both schools!

    Crucially, it validates exactly what OFSTED and Michael Gove told us about the Girls’ School during last year – that it is ‘Outstanding’ in every regard ! In fact, whilst I had barely finished writing about the OfSTED inspection at the Girls’ School, we were pleased to meet another team in the run-up to Christmas – but this time at the Boys’ School. An OfSTED inspection is always a rigorous and challenging process for every single member of a school’s community, but with a confident and dynamic staff and record-breaking results and progress data, we genuinely welcomed the opportunity to ‘showcase’ Coombe Boys’ ! Very much like our experience at Coombe Girls’ the teams’ assessment was overwhelmingly positive and a tribute to an incredible body of students and staff – all of whom thoroughly deserved such a powerful vote of confidence in their work. Whilst I would love to reveal the outcome in proper detail, I am unable to do so until the report is published - which should be any day !

    Numerous other developments and activities have taken place during a term which would require a novel to record it all! We are in the process of developing a new and special relationship with Knollmead Primary School in Surbiton – something which many of you may have read about in the local press. This is a particularly exciting development for the Coombe Federation and we are really looking forward to working in partnership with them and sharing ideas, initiatives and expertise in ways which will be beneficial to all.

    Parents of Year 13 students at both schools will also know that this is a momentous term for students making decisions about Higher Education and going through the university application process. We have seen a very positive range of offers coming in for students at both schools, but it has been a very interesting year in terms of the numbers of interviews that are taking place – not only for Oxford and Cambridge, but also at Russell group institutions that seem to be adopting a new process. As ever, we ensure that all students are superbly prepared and we look forward to more positive news as those offers come through!

    Our Year 13 students certainly aren’t the only ones having interviews at present as our Year 11 boys and girls are currently making their applications to our sixth form. One of the real pleasures of my role at this time of year is interviewing a range of these students and discussing their futures with them. I am always struck by the intelligent, focussed and aspirational thinking that characterises our girls and boys – it leads me to feel that our future will be in very safe hands ! I would also like to thank our Year 11 students for the effort that they put into their mock exams which ran extremely smoothly and I would like to wish them luck with the results that they will be receiving in January !

    Finally, I would like to mention a number of other hugely positive elements of the term. Whilst it now seems a good while ago, both schools ran particularly well-attended Prospective Parents’ Evenings – which were also the launch of our brand new prospectus. Our external sixth form evening was also an impressive and positive event during which large numbers of our Year 12 students made a very strong impression on potential new students through their representation of subjects and advice to applicants. As ever we have also welcomed numerous high – profile visitors to the schools and will be doing so to an even greater extent in the future as our ‘Ad Astra’ programme attracts an even more eclectic mix of inspirational and thoughtful speakers than we have had previously! Earlier this term we welcomed two inspirational sports-related speakers, David Dein and Hannah Beharry, and it is always wonderful to be able to develop our students’ aspirations through such powerful role models.

    However, we are now are all looking forward hugely to our federation ‘Carols by Candlelight’ celebration and then the end of term beckons - and I know that the students and staff at both schools are ready for a well-earned rest ! I would like to wish everyone a very restful, happy and peaceful Christmas and a great start to 2014.
  • September 2013

    date posted: Tuesday 10 Sep 2013

    Readers of my Summer Term blog might recall the adjectives ‘breathtaking, invigorating and outstanding’ that I used to describe my feelings about the momentous and incredible term that we had just experienced at Coombe – not least being told for the fourth time by OfSTED that we are an ‘Outstanding’ school!

    Well, what can I say about the summer, our results and our students’ successes? Quite simply, whilst the sun made it one of the best summers ever, our students and staff ensured that it was simply the very best summer of results’ that we have ever seen!

    Exam results’ days at both AS and A Level and GCSE are always profoundly emotional, exciting and intense – all at the same time! It is that critical moment in time where the whole of our community – staff and students, parents, and governors realise everything that we have strived for during the year.

    I won’t rehearse the detail – no doubt you will have seen the press and the numerous league tables. Suffice to say, Coombe students are in a league of their own – both locally and across the UK. Against a national back-drop of tougher standards at Post-16 and a decline in the top results, Coombe doubled the number of students achieving A* grades at A Level and massively increased both the pass rate and ratio of top grades at AS Level. Individual successes are far too numerous to mention, but when we have students achieving 5A* grades and being very closely followed by numerous of their peers we know we are doing well!

    However, our GCSE students were very definitely not to be outdone by the sixth formers! In fact, their performance was equally emphatic and again very much against the local and national trend, we saw our girls achieve record results. 80% of the girls who studied for their GCSEs at Coombe achieved the magic 5 A*-C with English & mathematics with 30% of those results being either A* or A grades – a truly stunning accomplishment!

    I really would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank every one of our students, staff and parents who have worked so incredibly hard and with such tenacity, intelligence and commitment to achieve such wonderful results! No pressure for next year for our current sixth formers and Year 11!

    Whilst these results are moment in time to genuinely celebrate, of course, in reality it is about a great deal more than that - it is a process of profound transformation in our students’ and parents’ lives as that ‘dream place’ on the cherished course at university is secured– or the possibility of studying the perfect subjects in the sixth form to launch a passionate career direction becomes reality. I can honestly say that this is something that this was powerfully evident to anyone who attended either of our results’ days or our sixth form enrolment at the end of August!

    However, the summer was not only about those crucial results! We saw a significant proportion of our new Year 7 students actively involved in an amazingly busy and vibrant summer school. It almost felt as if the school was back ‘in business’ before the start of term. Our Sixth Form enrolment was also hugely successful and it has been fantastic to see such focussed and well-qualified Year 12 students making such a positive start to their sixth form careers at the same time as our new entrants to the school begin their ‘journey’ with us in Year 7.

    As ever, an incredibly busy and exciting term beckons – not least because we look forward to our Prospective Parents Evening on October 9th, closely followed by our Sixth Form Evening for new applicants to the school in November (TBC).

    Lastly, we have just commissioned a brand new school prospectus which will take us forwards for the next four years. I am absolutely thrilled with it as I think that it really captures the essence of life at Coombe ! If you’d like to have a look at it you can see it on our website now!

  • August 2013

    date posted: Monday 5 Aug 2013
    Breathtaking, invigorating and outstanding! There simply is no other way that I can describe this most exciting and incredible year at Coombe Girls’ School! I would even go as far as to say that it has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of my career to date.

    It goes without saying that the students and staff at Coombe are a privilege to work with but I am constantly struck by the dynamic, positive and purposeful way that the school responds to the myriad events that are part of the vibrant life of this hugely successful and ‘Outstanding’ school!

    To name but a very few of this year’s happenings - it has been our first year as an academy, something which has brought a number of exciting new ways of working and thinking. We also met Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, in January who was followed by Ofsted earlier this term - they told us that we are an ‘Outstanding’ school for the fourth time! We now have an amazing new Geography and Science complex – something that didn’t even seem a possibility at the start of this year.

    However, this does not begin to describe the incredible range of events that have comprised the summer term here! Every single week seems to have been packed with high-profile and successful events – for which I would like to thank every single student and member of staff involved. We had an exceptionally stunning Year 9 Enterprise week – which features in our brand new forthcoming prospectus! This was closely followed by the impressive ‘Coombe Creates’ evening and Art Exhibition – which took place on the same night as our Year 13 UCAS evening. I have lost count of the requests that I have had to purchase art works from that evening!

    It was also wonderful to see the start of the secondary education ‘journey’ for our new Year 7 entrants and their parents – and in the very same week that we welcomed our new Year 12 students and new staff to the school as well!

    However, one of the real highlights of the year for me is that moment where we pause to reflect on the breath-taking range of talent, hard work and success that is the real focus of our entire school. The ‘Coombe Celebrates’ event was a very powerful reminder of the calibre of our students – something that was clearly obvious to our esteemed special guest Frances Cairncross, Rector of Exeter College, Oxford.

    However, whilst we are about to pause for a well – earned break, we are looking forward excitedly to seeing the fruits of all of our labours in the results for our Year 11, 12 and 13 students. For them, this will be one of the biggest and most exciting moments of their lives as they become eligible for the next step in their ‘careers’ whether it be the sixth form, university or employment with training. I know that our Year 13 students have worked with an incredible focus in pursuit of their university goals and it is one of the proudest moments of our year as we see these achieved. Equally, I know that our Year 11 students are incredibly excited about the prospect of joining Year 12 and we look forward to seeing you all at enrolment on the 22nd August.

    As one year ends and we are busily preparing for the next, I am aware that there is already an enormous amount to look forward to and I could easily write my next blog already! However, it is important to pause, reflect and refresh ready for the next chapter at Coombe. I would like to wish all of the students and staff who are leaving us this summer the very best in all of their endeavours and I hope that everyone has a relaxing, safe and enjoyable summer.
  • June 2013

    date posted: Tuesday 4 Jun 2013
    Welcome again to readers of my blog and I hope that you are enjoying weather which is suggesting that summer is now genuinely upon us!

    You might recall from my last blog that we were anticipating the arrival of summer and with it the yearly exam session that is without doubt the most important time of the year for many of our students – and parents as well! I can now report that the huge range of exams that our students sit at Coombe are now well and truly under way along with the enormous number of revision sessions, breakfast pre-exam briefings and the like – all of which run like a smoothly oiled machine!

    However, this obviously belies the incredible amount of organization and effort that is central to supporting our students in achieving their very best. Clearly though, without our focussed Coombe students working with their typical determination, energy and resilience we would achieve little and I would like to wish them and their parents the very best during this extremely important and pressured time.

    Talking of ‘importance’ and ‘pressure’ you may well be aware that we had our own whole-school ‘exam’ in the form of a visit from Ofsted just before the half term break. In some ways it had already been an unusual year, thinking back to our January visit from the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education. However, whilst we knew that an inspection was imminent, in many ways the waiting was more difficult than the event itself and it was almost a relief to know that we would be receiving these high profile visitors to Coombe – albeit with even less notice than Michael Gove !

    In the event, everything went superbly and I was extremely proud and grateful that the inspection team were able to see and assess Coombe for what it really is – an outstanding school in every regard. In fact, their judgements were exactly this and we have been rated as ‘outstanding’ in each of the four categories that are assessed during an inspection.

    For me, however, almost more important than the official judgements are the strength of the positive and almost effusive comments about the work of the school that populate this report. For example, the team judged that ‘due to very high expectations, students’ attitudes to learning are extremely positive’ and that ‘their behaviour is exemplary both in and out of class’ They also felt that ‘teaching is of exceptionally high quality’ and that ‘teachers have high ambitions for their students’. These few quotations do not begin to convey the tenor and impact of the inspection team’s findings as conveyed in their report and if you haven’t already done so, I would urge you read it in detail through the link on our website.

    What is central in all of this for me, however, is that the staff, students and I know that Coombe Girls’ is a truly wonderful school. However, it is immensely gratifying when rigorous, critical and official outsiders confirm our convictions!

    However, the pace of life at Coombe is as dynamic and positive as ever and we are looking ahead to another extremely busy and vibrant half term! In the immediate future we have the opening of our stunning new ‘Parker Building’ and the ‘Coombe Creates’ exhibition, closely followed by our Year 11 Opportunities and Guidance Evening, New Year 12 student Induction Day, Coombe Celebrates event and our new Year 7 Entrants’ Evening, to mention but a few of the high – profile events to take place over the next seven weeks!

    All in all, it will be an action-packed half term that is focused both on the closing of the current year, but equally on our readiness and preparations for the next exciting chapter which commences in September 2013!