An­gered by your story about school

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

I felt an­gry read­ing your ar­ti­cle on The Tow­ers School (Tow­ers Jobs To Go, Says Union, KE, Jan­uary 28).

I found the ar­ti­cle neg­a­tive and scare­mon­ger­ing to par­ents who may have re­cently cho­sen Tow­ers as their school choice for the Year 7 in­take in Septem­ber and also to par­ents whose chil­dren are cur­rent stu­dents.

My child is in his fifth year at this school and with an­other that has just started, so I feel jus­ti­fi­ably qual­i­fied to com­ment.

Since Richard Billings has taken over as prin­ci­pal he has turned the school around. Speak­ing hon­estly, it has been tough at times while mas­sive changes have oc­curred dur­ing the process, but we al­ways knew it was a means to a pos­i­tive end.

The changes made are count­less, and all for the bet­ter.

The pro­vi­sions made for new Year 7s are se­cond to none, and the sup­port for the chil­dren and par­ents is ex­em­plary. Fa­cil­i­ties for all the stu­dents have ex­panded and im­proved, in­clud­ing af­ter school ac­tiv­i­ties.

School times were al­tered which is far more ben­e­fi­cial to the stu­dents as more time is spent learn­ing. All staff are ap­proach­able and re­ally ‘know’ the stu­dents, we re­ceive reg­u­lar progress re­ports, there is zero tol­er­ance on bul­ly­ing and dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour, I could go on and on.

Most im­por­tantly, the pro­vi­sion and sup­port for cur­rent Year 11s who take their GCSE’s this year has amazed me.

English and maths mock ex­ams that were re­cently taken were fol­lowed up in great de­tail with an in­vi­ta­tion to the school for an in­for­ma­tive talk, with teach­ers on hand to guide you and your child through the pa­per.

Dur­ing th­ese talks, par­tic­u­larly the 6th form talk, you can tell that all the staff, and in par­tic­u­lar Mr Billings, who is the best mo­ti­va­tional speaker I’ve ever heard by the way, re­ally do care about this school and most im­por­tantly, their stu­dents.

Ev­ery de­ci­sion made at this school has been for the good of the stu­dents’ well­be­ing and education.

Your ar­ti­cle hasn’t swayed me one bit. I have made the right choices for my chil­dren in their school­ing. In fact one has just ap­plied to Tow­ers 6th form, as we be­lieve it is THE best school in this area, de­spite what your ar­ti­cle im­plies, and of­ten what all your ar­ti­cles on this school tend to im­ply.

You said: ‘The school says it strives for ‘Ex­cel­lence in Ev­ery­thing’ but Of­sted in­spec­tors found it ‘re­quires im­prove­ment’ when they vis­ited in Septem­ber 2014.

Well, Septem­ber 2014 is a while ago now, and the visit was made while ma­jor im­prove­ments were still in their in­fancy.

If you were to have first hand facts your­self about this school you would know the motto stands and will con­tinue to be­come even more pow­er­ful.

Maybe you could con­tact the school (if they’ll speak to you) and ask them about their re­cent re­sults for the cur­rent Year 11s who have al­ready taken their GCSE English Lan­guage exam.

They may not wish to share with you the high per­cent­age that passed, due to all your neg­a­tive re­port­ing, but I sus­pect even if they did, this is

Tow­ers School some­thing you would sim­ply not wish your read­ers to see.

Its in­cred­i­bly sad you can’t sup­port your lo­cal school and only dig for dirt. Get more facts, in­sight from peo­ple with first hand ex­pe­ri­ence and, most im­por­tantly, re­port with more up to date in­for­ma­tion, and you could maybe pub­lish a more pos­i­tive ar­ti­cle, es­pe­cially when it is so de­served. Ni­cola Perry, Sin­gle­ton

EDITOR REPLIES: Our story last week cen­tred on planned re­dun­dan­cies at the school, one of the largest in Ash­ford, which is of ob­vi­ous in­ter­est to the staff in­volved, par­ents, pupils and the wider com­mu­nity. Mr Billings was ap­proached on sev­eral oc­ca­sions for his com­ments but de­clined to re­spond to our re­quests. the exam re­sults at the North School (Must Do Bet­ter, KE, Jan­uary 28).

I had the priv­i­lege of teach­ing at the North for many years un­der the di­rec­tion of sev­eral head teach­ers.

Each suc­ces­sive man­age­ment team en­deav­oured to pro­vide pupils and staff with a safe and pur­pose­ful learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment, re­flect­ing the tal­ents and strengths of all those present.

All of this was car­ried out un­der the di­rec­tion of min­is­ters of education, re­gard­less of political colour, who at­tempted with some suc­cess to re­strict school bud­gets and al­ter the cur­ricu­lum to suit their re­spec­tive political agen­das.

The co­he­sive na­ture of the school was fre­quently up­set by such in­ter­fer­ence. A dis­tinct re­luc­tance to al­low the school to de­velop its strengths and re­solve any weak­nesses, was a con­tin­ual thread through­out my ex­pe­ri­ence.

The frus­tra­tion of try­ing to do the best for the pupils took its toll on the staff, who of­ten felt that govern­ment guid­ance was com­pletely out of touch with the real world!

De­spite all this and un­der the watch­ful eye of Of­sted, pupils were able to flour­ish, some more suc­cess­fully than oth­ers.

If teach­ers were al­lowed to teach us­ing their con­sid­er­able skills to hone a con­sis­tent cur­ricu­lum for the ben­e­fit of pupils who have only one chance of gain­ing a sound education, this would make a sound ba­sis for im­prov­ing exam re­sults.

Dis­man­tling a school and at­tempt­ing to re­solve ed­u­ca­tional prob­lems with­out con­sen­sus will only re­sult in con­tin­ual dis­ap­point­ment and fun­da­men­tally dis­turb the op­por­tu­ni­ties for gen­er­a­tions of young peo­ple.

One fi­nal point, the cost of a ‘Su­per Head’ and con­tin­u­ous in­spec­tions would be bet­ter spent for the ben­e­fit of both staff and pupils at the North School.

Happy mem­o­ries of a school that has served Ash­ford well. Nick Fysh, God­in­ton Park, Ash­ford


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