Ethos, Aims and Strategy

Tonbridge School aims to provide a caring and enlightened environment in which the talents of each individual flourish. We encourage boys to be creative, tolerant and to strive for academic, sporting and cultural excellence.

Respect for tradition and an openness to innovation are equally valued.

A well-established house system at the heart of the school fosters a strong sense of belonging. Tonbridge seeks to celebrate its distinctive mixture of boarders and day boys; this helps to create a unique broadening and deepening of opportunity.

We want boys to enjoy their time here, but also to be made aware of their social and moral responsibilities. Tonbridgians should enter into the adult world with the knowledge and self-belief to fulfil their own potential and, in many cases, to become leaders in their chosen field. Equally, we hope to foster a life-long empathy for the needs and views of others: in the words of the great novelist and Old Tonbridgian, E.M. Forster: ‘Only Connect’.

Tonbridge School aims to provide an unsurpassed education of excellence and breadth; we focus our efforts and resources on achieving this by:

Continuing to strive for Academic Excellence, with our boys achieving the highest possible academic standards, routinely exceeding initial expectations when they join the school. Tonbridge takes advantage of its independence, innovating in curricular matters as appropriate; the academic programme is designed to support, engage, stretch and challenge all boys (including the most able), equipping them for later life.

Offering Co-Curricular Breadth and Depth, with a vibrant and balanced programme encompassing sport, music, art, drama and many other activities to underpin a culture of creativity, innovation and excellence, but also to provide opportunities for service to others, self-reliance and leadership.

Providing Pastoral Excellence, with the house system at the heart of pastoral care, generating the small group identity that strengthens a sense of security, belonging and well-being, and allowing boys to contribute meaningfully to house as well as school activities. This system also aims to focus on each boy’s progress and ambitions (encouraging all to contribute to the school and house communities) and to foster mutual tolerance and respect through appropriate rewards and sanctions.

Encouraging a heightened sense of Individual and Collective Social Responsibility so that, along with the privileges and advantages of a Tonbridge education, there is also a strong sense of social responsibility across the entire school community, among staff as well as boys, based on self-knowledge, carefully fostered spiritual and moral values, and a grounded, outward-looking awareness of others.

The school aims to recruit, retain and develop the best and most committed teaching and support staff to ensure that it is able to achieve its aims. We ensure that all our staffing, communication, recruitment, admissions, development and financial activities support the school’s aims, and that, through the Tonbridge Society, the wider Tonbridge community (including parents, Old Tonbridgians, Tonbridge School Foundation, the Parents’ Arts Society and the Skinners’ Company) also helps us achieve them as well as feeling the benefits of them. In addition, through our experience, we have adopted a number of operational principles that underpin the achievement of our aims, and these are regularly reviewed to confirm their continued importance.

In summary, Tonbridge School aims to provide an excellent and broad education, to ensure that each boy fulfils his potential and is able to make a significant contribution in his chosen field(s) both at school and in the adult world, where many will become leaders.

Academic Excellence

We continue to strive for Academic Excellence, with our boys achieving the highest possible academic standards, routinely exceeding initial expectations when they join the school. Tonbridge takes advantage of its independence, innovating in curricular matters as appropriate; the academic programme is designed to support, engage, stretch and challenge all boys (including the most able), equipping them for later life.

Objectives

  • Encourage intellectual advancement, curiosity and creativity in a stimulating, challenging and supportive academic environment;
  • Develop boys’ love of learning for its own sake, and their general study skills and team work;
  • Provide opportunities for cultural, linguistic, scientific, and physical extension and enrichment;
  • Develop an awareness of, and service to, the school, local, national and global community and heritage;
  • Prepare Tonbridgians for entry to good universities, either in the UK or abroad;
  • Enable Tonbridgians to enter the adult world with the knowledge and self-belief to fulfil their potential.

Actions

  1. Recruiting, retaining and developing the best teachers: offering attractive packages and conditions of employment, fostering a culture of professional development, regularly reviewing teaching and learning within and across departments, and developing Tonbridge as a centre of excellence for professional development.
  2. Monitoring national curriculum and examination developments to ensure that subjects and courses offered preserve choice (allowing boys to play to their strengths), are compatible with academic rigour and a broad educational experience, and support the development of analytical, interpersonal and leadership skills.  For Tonbridge this means offering a wide range of subjects at A-Level / Pre-U and GCSE, and increasingly adopting the more challenging iGCSE courses: the school is supportive of A-levels and the Pre-U examination because they preserve choice and allow boys to play to their strengths; they are also compatible with academic rigour and a broad educational experience.
  3. Promoting teaching beyond exam specifications to foster academic rigour, intellectual curiosity and independent learning, with the pursuit of excellence including not only suitable challenges for the gifted and talented (through extension and enrichment activities) but also effective support for those with specific educational needs.
  4. Maximising prospects by providing the best possible environment and equipment for teaching and learning, including the effective use of ICT and the improvement of facilities.
  5. Recruiting the most talented boys locally, from a wide geographic area, and from across a range of diverse socio-economic and international backgrounds.  This requires marketing the school effectively to potential parents and schools, and continuing to modify the admissions process to maintain a stable and appropriately high standard of entry (but still minimise failure at Common Entrance), and also to give candidates from all educational backgrounds an equal opportunity.
  6. Supporting boys in selecting subjects, identifying potential careers, and choosing and gaining entry to university.

Measures of Success

  • Levels of achievement in public examinations.
  • Consistent delivery of “value added” to boys compared to other local schools and national averages.
  • Success in gaining entry to Oxbridge and other top universities.
  • Parental (and boy) satisfaction with levels of academic support.
  • High quality ratings for teaching standards received from external inspections (i.e. ISI). 

Co-Curricular

We offer Co-Curricular Breadth and Depth, with a vibrant and balanced programme encompassing sport, music, art, drama and many other activities to underpin a culture of creativity, innovation and excellence, but also to provide opportunities for service to others, self-reliance and leadership.

Objectives

  • Offer a programme of activities that provides not only the opportunity for boys to demonstrate creativity, innovation and excellence, but also the opportunity for leadership, self-reliance and service.
  • Ensure that all boys are encouraged to participate as widely as possible in the programme of activities.
  • Encourage the gifted and talented to pursue excellence, and look after the needs of those who wish to participate at their own level.

Actions

  1. Developing and offering a sports programme that promotes excellence, depth and breadth, encourages individual skill and character, promotes teamwork and good sportsmanship, and allows boys to contribute to the best of their ability in inter-school and inter-house competition.
  2. Offering a cultural programme that reinforces and broadens what is done in the academic programme, especially with regard to music, drama, art, creative writing and design and technology, allowing broad participation at different levels of ability while also promoting excellence in the gifted and talented.
  3. Organising a programme of Wednesday Afternoon Activities which promotes a culture of challenge, leadership and service and offers boys opportunities to develop skills which will enhance their lives.
  4. Promoting the student voice agenda by encouraging boys to take initiative and play their part in leading and managing all aspects of the co-curricular programme, including running societies.
  5. Providing the facilities and equipment to meet the needs of each activity, and requiring staff to offer their time and expertise to different aspects of the programme.
  6. Promoting activities that result in links with the local and wider community, contribute to the development of (and participation in) the co-curricular programme, and help to establish Tonbridge as a centre of excellence for activities beyond the academic curriculum.

Measures of Success

  • The number of boys participating in each activity (e.g. playing a sport, learning an instrument).
  • The number (and breadth) of activities that each boy participates in.
  • Levels of individual and team / group external achievement in each activity (e.g. sporting success, musical performance, dramatic productions, external awards such as DoE).
  • The number of activities in which we have notable external achievement.
  • The experience and qualifications of staff leading activities.
  • Parental (and boy) satisfaction with co-curricular provision.

Pastoral Excellence

We provide Pastoral Excellence, with the house system at the heart of pastoral care, generating the small group identity that strengthens a sense of security, belonging and well-being, and allowing boys to contribute meaningfully to house as well as school activities. This system also aims to focus on each boy’s progress and ambitions (encouraging all to contribute to the school and house communities) and to foster mutual tolerance and respect through appropriate rewards and sanctions.

Objectives

  • Ensure the personal and social well-being of each boy by addressing issues of physical and emotional health and development, safety, behaviour, and moral and social education.
  • Guide each boy’s progress and ambitions in academic study and co-curricular activity.
  • Encourage each boy to contribute positively to the school, his house and the wider community.
  • Manage behaviour, encouraging tolerance and respect through rewards and sanctions.
  • Protect each boy but still challenge him.

Actions

  1. Developing the roles of housemasters and house pastoral teams through regular review and professional development to ensure consistency of outcomes and continuity of care.
  2. Committing to the provision of a full but flexible boarding education in a predominantly boarding school, and ensuring that the needs of boarders and day boys are equally well served.
  3. Maintaining and upgrading the physical condition of the houses to a standard that competes with the best of other similar schools.
  4. Ensuring that the interests of overseas boarders are appropriately protected and promoted, that the views of boys are considered in the management of houses, and that parents are involved in the pastoral care of their sons.
  5. Providing appropriate support structures for boys, including a caring and efficient medical service, a School Counsellor and Chaplain (who also supports the whole School community), and a Welfare Group that shares information on those pupils requiring specific support and helps housemasters to write welfare plans for those with particular difficulties.
  6. Having robust child protection, anti-bullying and health and safety policies and cultures, and responding appropriately (through ST and Governor monitoring) to all external legislation and guidelines, including National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations, Working Together to Safeguard Children, and Keeping Children Safe in Education.
  7. Ensuring an effective PSHEE programme to promote a healthy, fulfilled and responsible lifestyle and to strengthen emotional intelligence, and developing the student voice agenda on School as well as house issues.

Measures of Success

  • The highest quality rating achieved in external (i.e. ISI) Inspections.
  • A comprehensive welfare system in place, and specific, up-to-date plans in place for boys deemed ‘at risk’.
  • Facilities that compare favourably with other schools.
  • The number of boys in the School, and proportions of boarders and day boys.
  • Parental (and boy) satisfaction with the pastoral provision.

Social Responsibility

We encourage a heightened sense of Individual and Collective Social Responsibility so that along with the privileges and advantages of a Tonbridge education, there is also a strong sense of social responsibility across the entire school community (staff as well as boys) based on self-knowledge, carefully fostered spiritual and moral values, and a grounded, outward-looking awareness of others.

Objectives

  • Raise awareness of social and cultural differences and environmental challenges locally, nationally and internationally. Provide opportunities for taking individual and collective action to make a positive difference to individuals and communities.
  • Help boys become leaders and fulfil their potential, to foster empathy for the needs and views of others, eschew prejudice, and to develop the confidence to “connect” by becoming involved with people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences, seeking to understand their needs and points of view, and developing the skills and experience to do things that make a difference.
  • Connect the School, its staff and the boys to the community that they are in, through participation in activities that are clearly for the benefit of the public.

Actions

  1. Continuing to develop Tonbridge Community Action, with the aim of involving every boy in community-related initiatives at some point in their education at Tonbridge.
  2. Developing a seasonal arts programme to enhance the cultural opportunities for the school and the wider community.
  3. Encouraging teaching and support staff to share their expertise with local schools and the wider community as appropriate, including actively participating in the sponsorship of the Marsh Academy.
  4. Using the Green Committee (comprising boys, teaching and support staff) to promote environmental awareness, and to work alongside the ST to develop and implement the School’s environmental policies.
  5. Maintaining Tonbridge as an Anglican foundation and the Chapel (the only place where the whole school can meet) at the heart of the School community, whilst recognising that the School does not limit the promotion of spiritual and moral values to Chapel alone or to any one particular faith. 
  6. Encouraging the exploration of and exposure to other belief systems and issues of “prejudice” and tolerance in Chapel, in the PSHEE and Seminar programmes, and seeking opportunities to explore spiritual and moral issues across the curriculum.
  7. Developing events and activities that expose boys to people and situations they are unfamiliar with, to help increase their understanding of, shape their view on, and build their confidence in dealing with new environments and different individuals (including girls in appropriate social and academic situations).
  8. Continuing to develop ways of bringing many nationalities into the school to enrich and diversify the school community, ensuring that the experiences of all are enhanced.

Measure Of Success

  • The number of boys participating in some form of community action.
  • The level of contribution to and participation in community or social action.
  • Consistent evidence of former Tonbridge boys making significant contributions in their chosen field(s), and occupying positions of leadership.
  • Clear evidence that the School meets relevant tests of “public benefit” as they emerge.
  • Few incidents involving prejudice or discrimination among boys and staff.
  • Means-tested support received by up to 10% of boys.