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Mock Trial Competition - Tonbridge School’s aspiring lawyers made the final of the inaugural Independent Schools Mock Trial Competition 2018.

A team of eleven Tonbridge boys took part in the contest, organised by the Citizenship Foundation and held at London’s Wood Green Crown Court on Saturday 3 February. The boys were narrowly beaten by St Paul’s Girls’ School in the final, described by the Crown Court judges as “at a level equivalent to mooting by post-graduates at the Inns of Court, and at a level of members of the Bar who appear in criminal trials”.

The event gave students from various schools the opportunity to take part in a ‘criminal trial’, working together in teams as crown prosecutors and defence barristers in front of real judges and in a realistic setting. Presented with cases specially prepared by professionals in the legal profession, students had to display skills in teamwork, public speaking and verbal reasoning.

Lindsay McDonald, Oxbridge Coordinator, and Sarah Pinto, Head of Debating, organised the Tonbridge team, with the invaluable help of Steven Gee QC (PH 66-71) and volunteer James Sutherland, a criminal barrister.

Lindsay said:

“The judges praised the boys’ efforts, so they clearly made a good impression. The boys themselves felt the mock trial was an excellent way to learn more about the legal profession and the workings of the justice system, and they had great fun along the way.”


STEM “University Challenge” Event - 'Most Able and Talented' students from Year 7 and 8 at Skinners' Kent Academy took on students from Skinners' Academy Hackney in a "University Challenge" style competition. The theme of the event, the first of its kind hosted at SKA, was STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Students had to work under timed conditions whilst using logic to solve mathematical and scientific problems. The challenge was designed and delivered by two Year 10 MA&T students who did a fantastic job. It was a tight competition but SKA's Year 8 team 'The Rogues' took victory by two points. This event was a great opportunity for promoting STEM careers and highlighting how problem solving is a key component of 21st century thinking.


Girls in Tech Summit at Adobe - A group of Year 9 and Year 10 girls from Skinners' Academy attended the Adobe Girls in Tech Summit, which took place at the new Adobe offices in Shoreditch, London. This was a fantastic opportunity for 14-16 year old girls to see what it might be like to work for an international tech company and hear more about the power of technology.

The day started with an insightful and humourous talk on the topic of “10 tips for staying sane online” by Emma Gannon, author of "Ctrl Alt Delete".  Tours of the office, presentations and interactive exercises followed including a group based competition working with girls from another school to capture the day using Adobe Spark software. Capturing images and video footage, and editing the whole presentation to be shown to Garrett Ilg, Adobe President of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to judge.  Two of our girls were part of the winning team.

Year 9 pupil, Tajala Ali, enthused that the Girls in Tech event at Adobe was "not only motivational but also inspirational! At first it was a little nerve-racking but once we let ourselves go and had fun with every picture shot we took, we ended up with a brilliant result which paid off to see Yellow Team (my group) win! "

Skinners’ Academy hopes to offer more opportunities to connect girls with employers in industries in which women are underrepresented. Women represent less than 30% of the workforce in global technology companies, even though studies have shown that teams with equal numbers of men and women are more likely to experiment, share knowledge and be creative. We need to invest in education, training and mentorship of future generations, and support the transition from school to technology careers.


National Financial Journalist Competition - Students at Skinners' Kent Academy entered a competition run by the London Institute of Banking and Finance.  The task was to write an article in less than 1,000 words - ‘How will financial education help me to meet the financial challenges I will face throughout my life’. Shortlisted entries were judged by BBC Business Presenter Steph McGovern who had to choose one winner from each of the age groups and one for the most original idea. Rosalind Carvell, Year 11 student and Head Girl at The Skinners’ Kent Academy was the winner with the most original idea, and was presented with a certificate and £50 prize by the Managing Director of Financial Capability, Alison Pask. Rosalind is aiming for an A* grade in her GCSE Personal Finance and intends to complete the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme in the Sixth Form at the Academy. Ultimately she aims to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at university and with early achievements such as winning the National Financial Journalist Competition, she is well on her way to a successful career.


Marsh Academy takes on Duke of Edinburgh Award - Marsh Academy students began the Expedition section of their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award with a training weekend involving a day of practical skills, a night of camping followed by a day of hiking in the Kent countryside.  Students learnt about locations, safe distances and the best ways to put up a tent in inclement weather - for some this was their first time camping outdoors! Next followed sessions taught by DofE Leaders demonstrating how to map read and navigate, cook outside on trangias, what to eat during hiking, first aid and route planning.  After the evening meal they spent time with other students from Shepway schools participating in the training weekend.  The following morning students split into their DofE groups and started a 10km hike which put to use the skills they had learnt the day before.  They took it in turns to read the map, use a compass to navigate and make sure the countryside code was being followed.  During spot tests they were reminded of how to cope in various first aid situations. Both teams had a great weekend in the sun and were exhausted by the end of it, deciding that next time they would need more food!


Skinners’ School Junior Chess Triumph - The Skinners’ School Junior Chess Team, having only recently taken up competitive chess, was thrilled to perform so strongly in the ECF Schools Junior Team challenge finals, held at Hertford College, Oxford. They won their regional heat and joined 12 other schools in the final - 7 state and 6 independent schools. Ben Barton (Team Captain), Efe Shimwell, Giovanni Currah, Lorcan Pritchard and Karam Al-Robaie came third overall, behind KCS Wimbledon and St Paul's School.  One of the remarkable features of this team is that Efe Shimwell is effectively blind but plays through touch with astonishing pace and accuracy. The team were treated to a tour of Hertford College and the Sheldonian by recent Skinners' School leaver Fred von Kaufmann, who is reading English at Hertford.


Leading Role at ASCL Conference - The Executive Principal of The Skinners’ Kent Academy, Sian Carr, was President of ASCL this year.   Students from all Skinners’ secondary schools took part in the Annual Conference in Birmingham. Sam Wheeler and Emily Raj, Sixth Formers at The Skinners’ Kent Academy, co-hosted the conference introducing speakers such as The Right Honourable Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education, Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief inspector of Schools and Baroness Sue Campbell CBE, Chair of the Youth Sport Trust. Sam and Emily also hosted a panel interview session with Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner.  

Mark Forkgen, Director of Music at Tonbridge School, coordinated groups from all Skinners’ secondary schools who performed in different venues around the conference during the day, before coming together in a combined performance on the main stage in front of all delegates. "Tin Pan Alley" was composed by James Maxim from The Marsh Academy, written for a new musical to be performed at the Academy. The piece was arranged for this collaborative performance by Hywel Davies, Composer in Residence at Tonbridge School. 


New Sports Fields and 3G Rugby Pitch - The Judd School opened their new sports fields at Vizards, a 26 acre site adjacent to Haysden Country Park, less than half a mile away from Judd.   The 3G rugby pitch will also be used by Tonbridge Juddians on weekday evenings and Sundays during the rugby season, as well as by other community sports groups. The playing fields have been purchased and developed through the kind generosity of parents, Old Juddians and friends, who support the school’s Development Fund, as well as Kent County Council.   Judd have vacated their former playing fields at Yeomans to facilitate the relocation of Ridge View School into purpose-built accommodation ready for September 2017. 

Headmaster, Robert Masters, thanked everyone who had given invaluable input into the long process of purchasing and converting the former farmland, saying that “The Judd School has always had a strong reputation in the sports arena and I am delighted that our students now have such a fantastic facility in which to train and play.  I am also pleased that we have been able to help Ridge View School find a new site, as they had been looking for suitable land for some time”.


Opening The Ashton Building at Judd - One present and two former Chairmen of Governors presided over the opening of the new Ashton Building at The Judd School. The Master and present Chairman of Governors, James Leahy, welcomed Hubert Ashton under whose chairmanship much of the fundraising and development work had taken place. The Ashton Building houses a new dining hall and biology department above. Hubert Ashton's predecessor as chairman, Professor Colin Seymour-Ure, was also present standing next to Beadle Mervyn Bassett. The retiring Headmaster, Robert Masters and Annabelle Baird (ex-Judd Governor and Master elect) complete the line up in the photograph.


New Headmaster announced - James Priory, Headmaster of The Portsmouth Grammar School, has been appointed as the new Headmaster of Tonbridge School.  He will take up the post in September 2018, following the retirement of current Tonbridge Headmaster Tim Haynes. Mr Priory was appointed Head of English at The Portsmouth Grammar School in 2000 and has served as its Headmaster for almost a decade. He graduated from Oxford University with a First in English Language and Literature and went on to teach English at Bradford Grammar School for six years. Mr Priory has held leading roles within the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) and chairs the Portsmouth Festivities, an annual city-wide arts festival.