Monday, 7 November 2016

"For the times they are a-changin…."

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depths of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habits;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action –
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”,
Rabindranath Tagore
Tagore wrote this about the birth of his country but it could equally apply, with its universal aspiration, optimism and hope, to the success of our College. 
Our story, too, needs to be witnessed and experienced:
  • On Wednesday, the Oxbridge mock interviews took place, with over 25 students, and nearly 30 interviews.  It made me so proud to listen to the thoughts and ideas of some of our students; your ability to think "on your feet" and to be able to articulate your wonderful thoughts.  We also interviewed a very small number of outstanding students from Kelvin Hall School.  All of our external interviewers were incredibly enthusiastic.  What was interesting was that some of them were unaware of our existence and our unique atmosphere/ethos.

  • The large number of staff and students who were involved in activities, walking, camping, dancing and map-reading during the half term break.
  • The amazing success of our teams in the Regional Sports Finals and all the results from the fixtures on Wednesday, particularly our 3rd team in Netball.

  • The incredible atmosphere that was created by those of you who volunteered during our first Open Evening.  So many of the parents commented on how much they enjoyed talking to you and your sheer enthusiasm for our College.  You are definitely our best ambassadors.
  • The willingness of my delightful EPQ group to think "outside the box".

  • The wonderful stories about your behaviour and conduct that I hear from staff who have returned from a trip.
Currently, there is a great deal of turmoil in the world and tremendous rapid change which can be a little unsettling: increase in tuition fees; linear two year A-levels; new ways of assessing what is learnt; the reintroduction of grammar schools….. Our role is to survey the landscape and make sense of so much of the nonsense.  It is crucial that you remain focused on what is important and that you continue to work extremely hard, to learn what is needed to access your dreams. 
It is sometimes difficult and unsettling when there is so much change: what will happen in the American elections; will the UK invoke Article 50; what will happen to the refugees in Calais; the role of Russia; the growth of the xenophobia; employment for young people, the growth of the National Debt… (Incidentally, so many of these are courtesy of my EPQ group).  However, it has always been thus.
Yesterday, I listened to a song and it made me really think about how change can feel threatening and that it is a perfectly natural reaction but one that we have to take in our stride.  We must not put up barriers or go into a cocoon.
"Some people stay away from the door
If there's a chance of it opening up.…
Some people see through the eyes of the old
Before they ever get a look at the young….
Some people hope for a miracle cure
Some people just accept the world as it is….
But I'm not willing to lay down and die
Because I am an innocent man",
Billy Joel
Change happens and we must all embrace it and take control.  We have all been back for at least 7 weeks and in that time, I am sure that we too will have experienced and undergone change.  During that period, it is imperative that we return to our fundamental values and our belief in education and its ability to transform all of our lives.
As the 2016 Nobel Prize winner for Literature sang,
"For the times they are a-changin…."

Jay Trivedy