Happy 2018 to the readers of this blog…all three of you at the last count.
Nevertheless I’m going to continue into the new year sharing a few bits and pieces from the sixth form which might just be of interest. And, as ever, I’ll drop in some links, some suggestions for reading and even some views on TV blockbusters (especially Peaky Blinders) and the state of the game of rugby union.
Yesterday students were treated to an extra day off as staff had a training day. I have non-teaching friends who are very sceptical about what we get up to on these days but I can guarantee that the majority of them would have enjoyed many aspects of our programme yesterday.
We’re part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership and it has always been an ambition of the leadership of the partnership to bring all of the staff of all of the schools together for a day which would have something for everyone. So, not just teachers but administrators, site staff, IT technicians, teaching assistants, lunchtime supervisors and so on and it’s a pretty tall order to organise a day which will have something for everyone. What they plumped for in the end was a series of well-known speakers who would be able to share some stories and ideas which would have relevance for everybody.
We started off with Tanni Grey-Thompson who most of the population will have seen in the Paralympics and she has a great personal story that is familiar to many. It’s clear that she has many brilliant qualities but what shone through on the day was her sense of humour and her level headedness when in difficult situations. I’m sure she’ll be a force for good in the House of Lords.
Next up was Ashley John Baptiste who also had a remarkable story of his route to success. He made a documentary called ‘Care Home Kids: Looking for Love’ which detailed his time spent in over 35 different foster and care homes and told us of how he overcame these challenges to win a place at Cambridge University, reach the finals of the X Factor and get a job at the BBC as a journalist on the Victoria Derbyshire show. He had some significant teachers and adults in his life who made a difference when it mattered by supporting him.
Professor Mick Waters drew the short straw by following these two after lunch but he made light of it. Despite having held some very heavy duty posts and responsibilities – including the design of the National Curriculum – he told stories about children which made you realise why you work with them in the first place. Without being remotely didactic he managed to outline a philosophy of teaching which anyone would buy into.
So the term began with staff being inspired and we hope to carry this through 2018 and beyond. As ever it’s a busy term and we start off with some mock exams. University applications are almost all done and other students are looking at the apprenticeship and job market. Year 12 should now be fully fledged sixth formers and will be beginning to form ideas themselves about what their next steps might be in the HE or job market. We’ve got some great enrichment activities lined up and some more speakers of international renown; it’s going to be another great term.
Best book I read at Christmas was: David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones