Thursday, 12 February 2015

Success Means Many Things

As the days get longer and the ‘dust’ has settled from the mock examinations in December, I hope that there is clarity about the goals that we are all striving for.  Success means many things but I would like all of us to feel that we have done as much as we can.  The worst thing to feel whenever we have striven for something is “If only I had done more”.  This is the case in all walks of life: our academic achievements; our work career; our relationships with peers, colleagues, siblings, children and partners.  Very little is achieved without effort and sacrifice.  Throughout, it is critical that we retain our values, our dignity and professionalism.  In order to achieve our Vision,

            “Inspire and support all students to achieve exceptional success”,

it is necessary that we work as a team for the “greater good” of our College. Rousseau talked about this in “The Social Contract”, when he wrote about when things are going well:

“… all the springs of the state are vigorous and simple and its rules clear and luminous; there are no embroilments or conflicts of interests; the common good is everywhere clearly apparent, and only good sense is needed to perceive it….
A state so governed needs very few laws; and, as it becomes necessary to issue new ones, the necessity is universally seen."

I love the quotation from J.F. Kennedy when he talked about personal interests versus those of the greater good,

"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

During this week, there are more events and visits than at any time during the academic year, listed as follows:

·         The Film Studies students are in Berlin for the Film Festival;
·         The Media Studies students are in New York;
·         Religious Studies students are in Manchester;
·         Science students are at the Hull York Medical School;
·         Students studying English Language will be in London on Friday;
·         The PE/ski trip to Italy leaves on Friday;
·         Students on the flyers’ programme will be at an HE+ event at St Mary’s College on Friday;
·         Creative Writing/English students will be travelling to Whitby on Sunday.

All of the above comes after a week of our first cross-College production of the year, “Sweet Charity”, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The level of commitment, work and talent was very evident - many thanks to all those involved.

On the Tuesday and Wednesday after half-term, our Flyers will be in London visiting some of the prestigious universities in the capital.  Our Spanish students will be visiting Seville and also taking part in a half-day language school.  On 7th March, we have the visit to Washington by the Politics students and just before Easter, we will have our annual expedition to South Africa.  This week we have our last two Consultation Evenings.  I hope that you are able to attend and that the discussions with the staff are very useful.  The aim is to ensure that you are absolutely clear about what you need to do to improve.

On Monday lunchtime, I was privileged to be able to watch the staff versus students’ netball game.  It was brilliant to see so many taking part and the hordes of enthusiastic supporters.  It doesn't matter who won but it was certainly very competitive and close.  I was particularly pleased to see two members of our Senior Team so involved.  Unfortunately, I missed the concert to raise money for the Peru expedition at lunchtime yesterday but I believe it was also very well attended.  I hope that it managed to raise the much-needed funds for the students that are taking part.

We are all a little nervous about the "staff event” at lunchtime on Friday.  It is all getting quite competitive.  I believe that Chris, Meg, Brenda et al have been busy rehearsing late into the night and have spent £000s on preparing the relevant props/costumes in order to ‘shine'.  Alas, Mark Rothery and the Senior Team have struggled to find the time and have had to contend with rehearsing by text and e-mail.

Anyway, as always, I find it really nerve wracking but enjoy it after the event, much like the bucket challenge and Gangnam.  We shall see, but I hope that as many of you as possible can attend, be supportive and raise lots of money for the building work at the orphanage in South Africa.  Remember, the secret is to work hard, play hard, have fun, and take control of your life.  A verse from Neil Young/Bob Dylan comes to mind from "Forever Young":

"May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of change shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay for ever young.”

So what uplifting stories have been particularly poignant for me?

·         My beloved Leeds winning last night and gradually pulling away from the relegation zone.
·         Seeing the wonderful, effervescent, adventurous folk in their endeavours at the Banff Film Festival in Birmingham last weekend.
·         The news that the "super-rich" and their accomplices at the Inland Revenue are being pursued for tax avoidance.
·         That over 75 MPs from all parties have signed the petition on "Drop the Learning Tax on Sixth Form Colleges".
·         That the London School of Economics has opened a global centre for women in war zones.

Have a really good and productive half-term.