Over the last 4 weeks, I have been listening to the music of Sixto Rodriguez, after watching a brilliant documentary entitled, "Searching for Sugar Man". It is the story of the very talented Rodriguez, who produced two albums during the late sixties. Neither of these sold more than 100 copies in the States but unbeknown to him, these were huge hits amongst young people in South Africa who were campaigning against apartheid. The words are really poetic (even more so than Bobby Dylan) and his music is an amalgam of Dylan (with a better voice) and the music of Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. The documentary is about how they searched for Rodriguez and eventually found him as a shy man living in relative poverty in Detroit. He has subsequently performed to packed audiences in South Africa and the UK and has given his money away to friends and family.
What has this got to do with our College, I hear you ask?
Well, in "The Establishment Blues ……….." he sings,
"Woke up this morning with an ache in my head
I splashed on my clothes as I spilled out of bed
I open the windows to listen to the news
But all I heard was the Establishment’s Blues".
At the moment we hear a lot about the establishment's blues:
Higher prices for petrol, gas and electricity;
Ofsted concerns about underperforming schools and colleges;
The horrific execution of the British soldier in Woolwich;
Footballers biting fellow professionals;
The Coalition's troubles.
What I find difficult is reconciling the amazing things that I see around me:
Our wonderful students working hard and not worrying about the establishment’s blues;
The commitment and dedication of our wonderful staff – teaching and support (last week one of our senior team counted 19 separate revision sessions during a lunchtime);
The energy, enthusiasm, good manners and kindness of our students;
The humour of our students (and staff);
The success stories that I hear every day, whether it is sports; Mathematics Olympiad; Youth Speaks; performing arts; music…. but the biggest success is being a part of such a wonderful community. As I write this, I have just had a student who has popped into my office to say “thank you”. He has not been a ‘perfect’ student (who has?) but has matured, will be very successful and was quite reflective and emotional.
At lunchtime today, I witnessed one of our Learning Support Assistants sprinting from one end of the campus to the next, so that students would not be disadvantaged at the start of an examination. How brilliant is that?
At this time of the year, we are busy planning for the new academic year and dealing with some of the related issues. For those of you who are returning, you will find a number of changes:
- A new building being constructed next to the Wilson building;
- The appointment of 15 new teaching staff, some of whom will be Heads of Department as well as subject teachers and tutors;
- Two new science laboratories;
- Auditions for all students to take part in two Cross-College productions;
- The abolition of January module examinations;
- A large screen, above the whole College photograph, where you will be able to see College events;
- Some new ICT equipment;
- An additional six/seven College minibuses to transport students to and from College.
There are also a number of new subjects and other curriculum changes.
Finally, good luck to all of our leavers. We wish you every success and all that you hope for in the future. We are extremely proud of you and hope that you will always have great memories of your time at Wyke.