Two weeks’ ago on Friday afternoon, I drove home in anticipation of news about our College success. I listened to "Oh, Lonesome Me" by Neil Young and thought about the pressures on young people to succeed and to make the necessary short-term sacrifices.
"Everybody’s going out and having fun
I'm a fool for staying home and having none."
Clearly, all of you have a lot going on in your life and the temptation/pressure to prioritise the social aspects of life at the expense of academic success is always present. However, the point I would make is that sometimes it is possible to do both by being well-organised, using your time productively and being well disciplined. On other occasions, it is necessary to make short-term sacrifices for the long-term gain. Indeed, recent reports in the press (Institute of Fiscal Studies) clearly show that students with A-levels outperform those without in terms of future earnings and promotions. It is also no surprise that, on average, graduates outperform in comparison to students who have succeeded at A-level.
So, the message is work hard even if it means that you have to defer things that others are 'enjoying’ at the moment. We all have strategies to avoid work. Mine is to decide to tidy my desk but I am now aware of this and when I find myself doing so, I am better positioned to stop myself.
The mock examinations are looming and I hope that you are all revising hard and clear about what you will be assessed on, when and know the structure of the examination. Please do not be lulled into thinking that it doesn't matter. It certainly does and will give us a clear indication of what you have learned and how you are likely to do in the summer.
Over the weekend, I learned about the thrilling way in which our netballers triumphed in the Regional finals, our Economists were runners-up in the prestigious Bank of England competition in York and about the 15 students in Year 11 from our partner schools, who were taken to Cambridge University. I was particularly pleased that these prospective students were shown around the University by our former students, Connor Fowler and Katie Craven. Long may this tradition continue. Success breeds success and there is no reason why we cannot have this arrangement at every Russell Group University.
On Sunday evening, I learned that one of our students, through his own endeavour, had won the Hull Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014. Clearly, this young man has a tremendous future and is one to watch for the future.
Today, in staff briefing, we enjoyed seeing a short clip of a video when it was announced that we had reached, for the first time, the final of the Law Mooting Competition in Leeds. Even though we were narrowly beaten by another Sixth Form College, it shows what we are capable of. I feel so proud and genuinely believe that there is no limit to what we can achieve provided that we believe in ourselves, work extremely hard and aim for the very best. It is not enough to be very able; what makes the difference is that extra commitment, drive and practice (10,000 hours) that the top performers in all areas put in.
I heard on the news this morning that £15 billion will be spent on the much-needed 'road revolution' and at the weekend, an extra £2 billion for our deserving NHS. I'm very pleased but cannot help wondering why there isn't a commensurate increase in funding for Sixth Form Colleges. I feel it is wrong that, despite being one of the most successful and cost effective sectors within education, unlike academies, schools and free schools, we still have to pay VAT on our provision. The Sixth Form Colleges' Association has launched the "DROP THE LEARNING TAX" campaign and I would urge you all to have a look at the web page, dropthelearningtax.org, and sign the e-petition.
I was delighted with the performance of my beloved Leeds United at the weekend. The result reflected the power of teamwork and self-belief. I feel quietly confident and slightly smug, just for this week.
Finally, as the darkness 'draws-in’ and daylight hours appear to diminish, remember to remain upbeat. You are not on your own. On the Neil Young theme from 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart':
"When you are young and on your own
How did it feel to be alone?
I was thinking of games
That I was playing
Trying to make the best of my time"….
"I have a friend I’ve never seen.
He hides his head inside a dream.
Someone should call him and see
If he can come out.
Try to love the down that he has found".
Have a great build up to the end of term.