The New Beacon’s Headmaster, Mike Piercy, shares his thoughts on the school’s exciting merger with Tonbridge School
Much has changed in recent years; from Brexit to pandemic to geopolitical instability. Through lockdowns, families have reviewed their lives, priorities and, in some cases, their children’s education. Were I to have any influence on education policy I would advocate the revival of the middle school model, 8-13: such is the tradition of prep schools. In the case of The New Beacon (a boys’ school) compare an 11 and 13-year-old – a little boy to a young man who has greater self-confidence, self-awareness and understanding of his place in a community, with a more secure grasp of learning habits.
In 2021 The New Beacon merged with Tonbridge School: two like-minded boys’ schools with a remarkably similar mission. While boys have gone from The New Beacon to 23 different schools in the last six years, many proceed to Tonbridge. Boys aspiring to Tonbridge from 11+ prep or primary schools can now join The New Beacon for Years 7 and 8. For us, we remain a 13+ school with those two important early secondary years to inculcate learning habits, resilience and self-confidence.
An exciting aspect of the merge is the development of an academically ambitious, enlightened curriculum from years 7 to 9. Respective Heads of Department have had fruitful discussions regarding which skills and what knowledge best prepare boys for the rigours of GCSE, 6th Form and beyond.
It is early days in the merge of our two schools but there have been some ‘quick wins’ such as our older boys having a half day in The Barton Science Centre and Tonbridge UVI sailors teaching our younger ones at Bough Beech reservoir.New Beacon staff have enjoyed working with students at Tonbridge and likewise Tonbridge staff have met with and taught boys at The New Beacon. newbeacon.org.uk
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