Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Final Push

Untitled Document I hope that you have all had a great Easter and are ready for the 'final push' to the end of the year.  I do know that all of you have worked hard but the ability to work at one's own pace in one's own environment and without the structure of College, is itself, restful.  Many thanks to all of you who came into the College for revision, further preparation for the forthcoming examinations and those who journeyed with you to Scafell, poetry competitions in London and the national sports competitions.

Clearly the focus this term is very much based on the classroom, attending lessons and any support sessions that are organised by departments.  Races are often won on the final lap and it is never too late for the last minute push to succeed.

Just before Easter, I had the privilege to travel to Beijing in China, with a colleague from Hull University, Dina Lewis (who is on our Corporation), and Andy Grace, the Principal of the Boulevard Academy.  All of us worked together and individually presented 'papers' on some of the innovative liaison work that we are engaged in, as three separate organisations.  Dina’s paper on the ‘engagement’ of Hull University with the community was the focal topic, which was extremely well received, and around which both Andy and I were able to tell "our" stories.  Our hosts at Beijing Normal University were wonderful in ensuring that we were very well looked after, and able to visit a school and be involved in discussions about some of the educational issues facing China (many of which are similar to the ones we face in the UK).  I found the whole experience very moving and as always, it enabled me to reflect on our College.  We met some incredible students who were highly articulate, very positive, amazingly bright, generous and confident and were superb hosts.  They also had a wonderful sense of humour which made the whole experience fun, enjoyable and enlightening.

These characteristics are universal.  I witness them throughout our College on a daily basis in members of our College community who are positive, hard-working and only want our College to be successful in everything that we do.  This is what so many visitors say to me when they come to our College and the reason why I believe that our College is so special.

Just before I went to Beijing, we had dignitaries from Thailand who came to our College to meet some of the staff and students who will be visiting Thailand in July.  They were overwhelmed by their reception, the performance of our musicians, dancers and even our 1st team coaches, Nick and Michael (aka Pugg), who ‘popped’ in to "say hello".  Our friends from Thailand left Wyke feeling welcomed with warm/lovely memories of the day.  I have absolutely no doubt that this hospitality will be reciprocated to our students and staff in July.

The line from Lord Tennyson in Ulysses comes to mind:

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield".

This has become a call to the human spirit to never give up even in the face of adversity.  I believe that it was also used as an inspirational maxim to greet the world's athletes at the entrance to the London Olympic Village in 2012.  I believe that travel and reflection are great motivators to continue to strive.  I would urge each and every one of you to continue "to seek" and to be true to your values during the final few weeks before your examinations.

"A person doesn't have to change who he is to become better",   Sidney Poitier

As the football season draws to a close, like on many occasions, my beloved Leeds United have fallen short of all the promise that was evident a few months ago and like all lifelong supporters, I am deeply saddened.  Indeed, both James Goodchild and I can be found lamenting on what could have been.  However, I am really pleased that Hull City (the Tigers) are likely to survive.  In this Year of Culture, Hull desperately needs a team that is in the Premier League and to benefit from the accompanying investment as well as publicity.

Next week our Under 19 Boys' football team will be playing in the Association of Colleges' national final at the Walsall Stadium.  This is an amazing achievement and a great honour.  It is a 'first' for our boys' team and one that is thoroughly deserved particularly as we have been competing against some of the largest Further Education Colleges in the country.  Clearly, I know that we will give a 'good account' of ourselves and hopefully, that we will win.  However, regardless of the outcome, this needs to be celebrated and as a College, we will all be rooting for our team in Walsall on 4th May.

I am immensely proud and would like to thank all of the staff who have been involved with the team: the coaches, the referees, the squad of players, the whole of our magnificent PE Department, the cleaning staff and our minibus drivers.  This team ethos is one that can achieve at the highest level and the metaphor of the success of our football team can be used to illustrate your "drive" for success in academia.  Ultimately, you will be judged by your performance in the examinations (much like our football team).  However the "team effort" in College in preparing you should not be underestimated: the departmental staff; support staff, the tutors, examinations team, our library staff, minibus drivers, premises staff, IT staff….  The list is endless and each of us has a part to play in your success.

"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."                              William Shakespeare

Remember, that all of us have to work extremely hard and that success has to be earned.

"So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune",                                                                   Ruth Ginsburg



Finally, to return to our wonderful team and the cup final in Walsall, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, voted athlete of the century in 1999, said:
"The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning",     Pele

Work extremely hard and play hard.



Jay Trivedy

Principal

Monday, 13 March 2017

Level of Commitment Sets Us Apart

Welcome back after the well-deserved half-term break.  As the daylight hours increase, I feel increasingly optimistic about our College and the range of activities that you are engaged in.
  Only last week, students returned from Florence (Mathematics), Berlin (Film Studies and German), Cern (Physics), New York (Media Studies), and I am delighted by the brilliant comments made by staff.  You continue to be such outstanding ambassadors for our College and I am certain that your experiences will stand you in good stead for the future.  Of course, none of these trips would have been possible without the tremendous commitment and dedication of our wonderful staff.  Organising such excellent experiences is certainly not easy and can be extremely demanding, both physically and mentally.  These trips also mean that our staff are away from their immediate families.  However, we are blessed with such commitment and we know how beneficial these trips can be.  I do believe that this level of commitment sets us apart from almost all of the post-16 providers at 11-19 schools and colleges.  The fact that the following trips are organised for later this year is testament to this: Thailand (July); South Africa (July); Tanzania and Kilimanjaro (June); Paris (June); Washington (April); Iceland (March). 
  So much has happened since I last wrote both at our College and in the world. 
  Recently, I had the fortune of spending time with four wonderful students who "volunteered" to take part in the Youth Speaks Competition.  It was such a privilege to experience the development of an argument about role models; the thoughtful, sensitive way in which the group supported each other and the passion with which Sarah Magaharan delivered the argument.  It was no surprise that Sarah’s speech won the day but the team effort was incredible.  There is a great line from the writer Calvino,
  "I speak and speak, but the listener retains only the words he is expecting.  It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear."
As our group finished their presentation, one noisy adult behind me said,
  "Wow!  Who said young people don't care.  Doesn't it give you hope for the future, Jay?"
  Last week was 'Book Week’ and it was great to see evidence of reading, the book of Wyke, quotes and to hear famous lines.  After all, as an educational establishment, we are nothing without books and the written word.
  "The desire to have many books, and never to use them, is like a child that will have a candle by him all the while he is sleeping", Henry Peacham
"The pen is the tongue of the soul", Miguel de Servantes in Don Quixote.
Two weeks ago, some of our photography students won prizes and accolades for their outstanding work.  I am hoping that their work will soon be displayed at our College so that we have the opportunity to 'enjoy' their creative endeavours.
Our boys' football team have progressed on to the national semi-finals (once again for the third year) and it is an incredible achievement for a College of our size.  We are participating in a competition where most of the colleges are at least five times our size and we continue to "punch above our weight".  I am immensely proud of our students, the manner in which they conducted themselves on the day and our outstanding coaching staff.  I will certainly be attending the semi-finals in Crewe and hope that we can progress on to the finals.  I have always maintained that when one achieves or reaches a certain level on merit, there is no stopping them.  This applies in all walks of life: academia, music, drama, sport…… It is crucial that you believe in yourself and the evidence is in your success, whether it is being accepted at the top universities, on the most prestigious courses or in a competitive environment on a national platform.
On Friday, our dancers will travel to Liverpool to take part in the National Dance Competition Finals.  I wish them luck because it is an honour to compete at a national level against some of the best dancers in the country.  It is certainly something that you will never forget and at a level that we have never achieved at our College.
On Wednesday I went to the first night of our College production, Your House, and loved every minute of it.  As always, the team of staff and students decided to push the boundary.  The live music was performed in the atrium and digitally transmitted into the theatre and to the cast.  Clearly, the acting, singing and music had to be synchronised.  What a difficult challenge to set ourselves but the outcome was truly amazing.  Well done to all of the cast, the musicians and the staff.
As we approach the examination period and that time of year when judgements are made, I am really convinced that you should be true to yourself:
"Above all, do not appear to others what you are not".   Robert E Lee
Hold your counsel and be focused on the next stage:
"A bore is a man who, when you ask how he is, he tells you,"      Bert Leston Taylor
Take control of your life and do not expect others to make things happen for you:
"The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is right.  You have to make it fall,"
Che Guevara
The world is a more uncertain place at the moment with the changes at national and international level.  However, I believe that truth, like quality, always rises to the fore.
"Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things and discloses all,"                                                                                                              Sophocles
Finally, I will leave you with one of my favourite quotations from an English "convict", imprisoned for hunting and poaching:
"The Law locks up the man who steals the goose from the common, but leaves the greater villain loose who steals the common from the goose".

Jay Trivedy
Principal

Friday, 27 January 2017

Try Something New

As we approach the end of the first month in this ‘Spring' Term, it already feels as if the Christmas/New Year celebrations are a distant past.

The mocks have been marked, reports written and all of us are concentrating our energies on the Parents' Consultation Evenings and the areas that need our attention in order to improve.  I have had a number of conversations about the mistakes and silly errors that were made in the mocks.  I have been pleased to hear about the lessons learned and how these will not be repeated.  I am glad this happens during the mocks rather than the actual examinations.  We all make mistakes but only some of us learn from our mistakes.  Einstein said,

"The person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."

Mistakes can be made when you take risks, try something new and push yourself out of your comfort zone.  Too many people just "play safe" and as a consequence, never "move on".  I believe that it was Einstein who also said,

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

During January, many of you have begun to receive offers from universities and employers.  It is really pleasing that so many of you are being successful.  Invariably, some of you may be a little disappointed, but remember, that for many of the most prestigious universities and courses it is a bit of a lottery.  I believe that sometimes it is their loss.  They are the ones who will be losing such outstanding students.

During this month, I have had the privilege of speaking to all of you about the next stage in your career and what you need to do to be successful.  Clearly, hard work, commitment, the drive to understand and practice under examination conditions is essential.

Successful people in all walks of life always work extremely hard and are aware of what needs to be done.  I hope that by now all of you have had one-to-ones with your subject staff and your tutors.  I do hope that you are inspired by many of your subjects and that you are accessing all the support that is available at our College.  Einstein said,

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge" …. and remember,… "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough".

At the start of term, we had our annual Awards Evening and it was wonderful to see so many of our students returning to collect prizes and share some of their experiences.  Invariably, the students who received awards were the ones who had a 100% attendance record and who worked extremely hard.  It was a privilege to meet with students whom I last saw in August.

Our musicians and dancers performed in the marquee and I realised the level of talent that we have at our College.  It was fantastic to learn about the amazing success of our dancers at the National Semi-finals in Blackpool.  We have managed to progress through to the National Final in Liverpool despite being the only College that is not a dance school.  I am extremely proud of our students and staff who have taken dance to a completely new level this year.  To return from the competition, laden with trophies and having learned so much, is truly incredible, especially as this is a 'first' for our College.

World events in January continue to be a worry.  The growth of Nationalism and a "Forrest Gump" approach as guiding principles is a concern.

"Nationalism is an infantile disease.  It is the measles of mankind," and … "the world is a dangerous place to live: not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it," Einstein.

I believe in the power of young people, like yourselves, to change things for the better but I also believe that none of us can be complacent.  We all have to believe in what we are doing and strive to make the world a more informed, safer and better place to live.

Finally, I am ever the optimist and as always, believe that this is the year for my beloved Leeds United.

My talks to you were about "time" and academic maturation so I will finish with two quotes from the genius that is Einstein,

"When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second.  When you sit on a cinder a second seems like an hour.  That’s relativity."

"Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature".

My next blog will incorporate quotes from my brilliant EPQ group that is a microcosm of our College.


Jay Trivedy
Principal