As always, the first term is incredibly busy: for students in the first year, a new environment, getting used to new staff, a different culture, establishing new friendship groups and concentrating on a smaller number of subjects. For returning students, the emphasis has been on planning for the next stage beyond Wyke and ensuring that the foundations are in place to achieve the appropriate grades.
As I write this, the Sports Hall, the Elm Fitness Studio and the Theatre are full of students taking mock examinations. It is wonderful to see such focus and commitment from all of you. Of course, all of our staff will also ensure that the mocks are used to bring about further improvements in performance and the accompanying success.
Our College has a local, regional and national reputation for achieving excellent results by whatever standards we use to make the judgements. Therefore, it is galling for me to hear about some colleagues from schools with small sixth forms, castigating us and we have no opportunity to have a "right to reply". We are unable to engage in any sort of dialogue and to present the objective data countering the misinformation. As the late Leonard Cohen wrote in "Everybody Knows":
"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
Everybody knows the boat is leaking
Everybody knows the Captain lied."
So stories of excessively large groups and the impersonal nature of our College are perpetuated without students having the opportunity to hear the truth. Information about our outstanding results, our largest ever Oxbridge cohort, our applications for Engineering, Medicine, Science, Mathematics and the fact that 20% of our students went to the Russell Group of Universities, are "glossed over". Leonard Cohen, in "Waiting for the Miracle", wrote:
"Ah I don't believe you'd like it (at Wyke)
You wouldn't like it (here)
There ain't no entertainment
And the judgements are severe
The Maestro says it's Mozart
But it sounds like bubble gum”.
It's definitely "bubble gum" and I believe that students eventually "see through” it.
Last week I went to our Dance Showcase and I was mesmerised by the quality of our dancers. It really has moved to a different level and it is no surprise that our dancers recently returned from Liverpool with two first and two runners’ up prizes. A definite first for us and I'm really proud of the participants.
Tomorrow, our Christmas music concert will be in Beverley. I am delighted that for the first time in three years we will be returning and I'm certain that it will be a wonderful occasion. I am very pleased that so many staff and members of our Corporation will be attending to support the music provision at our College.
Finally, have a restful and fun-filled Christmas. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.