Thursday, 17 May 2012

Talking of Success

This is the time in the academic calendar when the focus of our College community is on ensuring success in the forthcoming examinations.

This morning I learnt about the Breakfast Revision Session that our Media Studies Department had organised before the examination.  Croissants were provided for the students who attended but I believe the real inducement was the last-minute guidance and help that was available from the staff.  With over 50 students attending, I am humbled by the commitment and dedication of our staff.  As I stood near the entrance at the start of the day, I wish I'd had a camera to capture the look on the staff faces as they "buzzed" around trying to calm the students and ensure that all of the students were in the right place and at the right time.  In an age of accountability, one can easily forget how important the results are and also just how much it means to us to ensure that all of our students achieve their potential.

Talking of success, I was privileged in attending our annual Sports Awards Evening last week at the University of Hull.  There was a really vibrant, energetic and expectant atmosphere.  So many young people with their team managers and coaches from the PE Department were enjoying the evening and their outstanding success. I have never worked anywhere where every single team wins every league that they have taken part in.  I believe the exception was one league where two of our teams were entered and they came first and second.  Clearly, this is a result of the hard work and tremendous commitment of the students and all of the staff.  The line from Tiger Woods comes to mind when it was suggested that he "got lucky again".  His response was, "Isn't it funny that the harder I practice, the luckier I get?"

The Sports Awards Evening is an important event on the calendar and a highlight for many students.  I managed to 'slip out' at 9.30 p.m. but I believe that the celebrations continued till late.

The impact of very successful and high quality PE, performing arts, dance, drama and music at Wyke is very discernible.  For many students, this is the highlight of their college day/experience and motivates them to work harder in their subjects.  Certainly, on occasions, it is almost like seeing a completely different person when they are performing on the pitch, in the gym or on stage in front of an audience.  The old adage that "we all need something to succeed at" is absolutely true.

It has been an interesting few weeks in terms of world events: the economic and political crisis in Greece; the victory of Fran├žoise Hollande in France; the local government elections and the fragile partnership of the Coalition Government; the mayoral elections in the capital; President Obama's endorsement of same sex marriages; the proposal of "no notice" Ofsted inspections; the prosecution of Rebekah Brooks and the consultation on the modular nature of A-levels.  The latter is one that worries me.  I am committed to modularity because it is an excellent way to learn "bite-sized" information and to have external feedback on your progress.  I fear that a return to a terminal examination at the end of 2 years will be a retrograde step and at odds with Higher Education where all courses are modular and the academic year semesterised.  The great thing about modular A-levels is that "If you get it wrong, you’ll get it right next time" (Gerry Rafferty, Night Owl), and we all make mistakes.

Whilst the main focus of our College community is on examination success, it is also the time of year when planning for the next academic year is in full flow.  Curriculum reviews, staff appointments, timetabling, budgets and other changes are being planned and costed.  On occasions, I do feel like the Leeds Manager and his plans to bring promotion and success for my beloved Leeds United.

Bob Dylan in "Bringing it all back home" writes "….  My love knows no success or failure but knows that failure is no success at all….”

I hope that all our students attain the grades that they deserve and, if the commitment of our staff is any reflection, then you should do extremely well. 

Good luck.