All Aboard – Victory and Holcombe students set sail along the English Channel

All Aboard – Victory and Holcombe students set sail along the English Channel

Students from both the Victory Academy and Holcombe Grammar School in Chatham, took part in an exciting sailing experience, completing a voyage along the English Channel from Chatham to Portsmouth.

Students from the Victory Academy and Holcombe Grammar School joined forces to embark on a momentous five-day sailing trip, crewing a vessel from Chatham to Portsmouth.

The trip, organised by the charity Cirdan Sailing Trust, offered the opportunity for six students from each school to embark on a five-day voyage designed to help them develop valuable life skills.

Despite some sea sickness throughout the trip, the students did all the cooking and cleaning, as well as taking shifts steering the vessel, including taking watches during the day and night, under the close supervision of Cirdan Sailing Trust staff.

The experience was hugely rewarding and enriching for all the students involved, teaching them not only about sailing, but also important teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. The trip also helped to boost the students’ confidence and resilience as they undertook and overcame new challenges to complete the voyage successfully.

Commenting on the success of the trip, Emilio Neita, a teacher, from The Victory Academy who accompanied the students on the trip said:

“By the end of the week, I was overwhelmed with pride. The students, all from different backgrounds, upbringings, ages, gender, schools worked fantastically together, communicated maturely and became one functioning crew!”

Two of the students who made the voyage were also members of the Medway Victory Sea Cadets. Medway Victory Sea Cadets was set up in 2018 and operates within the Thinking Schools Academy Trust family. The unit is open to all students at both The Victory Academy and Holcombe Grammar School.

The students were greeted by their counterparts from The Portsmouth Academy when they stepped off the yacht, another school that are part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, who were taking charge of the vessel and setting sail on the return leg from Portsmouth to Chatham. The trip was a fantastic way to celebrate the links between the schools and their shared ethos of “Aspire, Challenge, Achieve”.

The trip is just one of the many extracurricular and enrichment opportunities offered by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, a family of 17 high-performing schools across the South East, with hubs in Medway, Kent and Portsmouth. The Trust places significant emphasis not only on academic excellence but on student’s overall personal development in line with its ethos of “Aspire, Challenge, Achieve”.


Mandy Gage, Executive Principal at The Victory Academy, said: 

“We are thrilled to have been able to offer this fantastic opportunity to a number of our students and one so in keeping with our rich naval tradition, having been named after the HMS Victory.
“We pride ourselves on offering students the opportunity to take part in a vast array of enrichment and extracurricular opportunities and we believe these types of experiences are an integral part of a young person’s development.”


Daniel Bridges, Teacher at Holcombe Grammar School, said: 

“We were delighted that students were able to take part in such an amazing trip. It was a real once in a lifetime experience, providing huge opportunities for personal development and helping them to develop an array of important life skills – as well as a knowledge of sailing and practical skills. 
“I know that all the students gained a huge amount from the voyage and I would like to thank Cirdan Sailing Trust for making this possible.”


Stuart Gardner, Chief Executive of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, said: 

“What a fantastic experience for all students involved! Trips like this give students the opportunity to try new things and push themselves – teaching them not only about sailing, but also about themselves. The skills, resilience and confidence students gained from this experience will benefit them throughout their lives.
“It is a testament to the fantastic students and staff of both schools that it was such a success and we are grateful to the Cirdan Sailing Trust for making this possible.”