Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Great Optimism in the Air

The Spring Term comes to an end with great optimism in the air: the light evenings, staff and students shedding their coats, hats and scarves, the smiling faces of students in the morning, a change in the fortune of my football team, students sitting, chatting and working outdoors on the campus (this really is the time when Wyke SFC feels like a mini-University) and some outstanding modular results.

My favourite poet sang,… "You don't need to be a weatherman to see which way the wind blows…".  I am confident that this augurs well and that our results will improve further with the necessary hard work and sacrifice to ensure success for this final stage.

For our second year students, this period represents a crucial 'final leg' of a marathon.  With just six weeks left, it is essential that the Easter period is used productively and in a structured way.  All students should endeavour to do at least six or seven hours of study a day as well as listening to the staff and attending the revision classes organised. 

Bob Dylan also said in the same song, ".… 20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift.…".  One doesn't need reminding about how competitive the environment is and many of our students have received excellent offers from the most demanding universities and on the most prestigious courses.  Remaining focused, being determined and thoroughly committed is crucial to ensure success for this stage.  The rewards are self-evident and within reach.

It has been an unusual term, mixed with lots of hilarity and celebration, but also sadness.  Last week we learned about the loss of one of our colleagues, Alexandra Bankoff, after a prolonged period of illness.  The shock of losing one of our own has been felt deeply and is a numbing experience for all.  Alexandra will always be remembered as a colleague for the tremendous work that she did with her Classical Civilisation students, and our Oxbridge applicants.  Our thoughts are with her daughter and family.  One can only begin to empathise with those who have lost their young in France, Switzerland and on the M5 last weekend.

Last week saw the return of our students from their "exchange" in Malmedy, Belgium.  All have returned with stories to tell and reflections on their work experience in schools, shops and companies.  What a brilliant way to learn a new language and experience the unique culture.  I realise that it was a gruelling experience for the staff, but I am delighted to see them rejuvenated by the experience, and convinced about the merits of such an exchange.

Two weeks ago, we had our first Rag Week and I was delighted with the enthusiasm of the students and staff in being involved.  I thought that my costume would certainly be one of the best because of the similarity of my body-shape to the character, but I was disappointed.  To be greeted by Edward Scissorhands; Clint Eastwood; Sherlock Holmes; Smurfs; Skeletons; Scarecrows………….. What a fantastic effort and over £2000 raised to be shared between the Teenage Cancer Trust and to subsidise our students for trips and visits.  Whilst the final day fancy dress was the highlight, I will also remember the sponging (gladly the students are bad shots), five-a-side, buskers, cake selling, the tuck shop, doing strange things with nails and the sumo-wrestling.

Our sports teams continue to achieve success (more on that after the Sports Presentation Evening on 4th May); our debating team reached the finals of the Northern Sixth Form Colleges' competition and came third, and two of our students have reached the final stage for prestigious accountancy scholarships.

May the good weather continue as I will be joining our students for a short stage (6½ miles) of the 40 mile walk on Saturday to raise funds for their visit to South Africa.

Have a great Easter.