Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Times they are a-Changin'

The Times they are a-Changin During the last half-term break, I reflected on what I would write in my last blog.
Seven years ago, when our neighbour in Burton asked me if I would be writing a blog, I decided that I would do so, but only under the following conditions:
  1. I would regularly update it.
  2. I would write in my own style with references to my favourite poets and writers:
Gill Scott Heron, Bobby D, Tagore, Ehrman, Gibran…. . as well as my favourite musical artists: Alison Kraus, Joni Mitchell, Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel and Joan Baez.
  1. I would attempt to write to multiple audiences of students, staff, parents, Corporation members……
  2. I would refer to my beloved Leeds United because I believe that there are many parallels between leading a football team and a College.
  3. My blog would be celebratory and transmit key messages and values.
The Bard’s words from As You like It are (as always) very poignant as a starter:
“All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts
…. (in the fifth age) And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part….”

In my ‘fifth age’ during the half-term week, we travelled to Hay-on-Wye, to stay with friends and attend the annual Hay Festival.  Whilst the festival was certainly stimulating with many renowned world “experts” and authors, (and convinced me that a second referendum or vote in Parliament on Brexit is essential), our most memorable moments were with our friends.  Their generosity, humour, support and intellectual challenge were life-affirming.  The opportunity to think and reflect is so important and I feel incredibly privileged that my role enables me to do so.

We travelled to the Festival after attending our Sports Presentation evening on the Friday.  It was amazing to see so many of you (staff, students and friends), looking so beautiful, ready to party and celebrate your amazing achievements.  I was truly humbled by the presentation and achieved a “first” for me.  I have always wanted to have “minders” and in Chris and Andy, I had the very best.  To be serenaded by Toni, Kate and Hollie from the PE Department was unforgettable and the words rang back to me as I drove home to Burton:

“We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high….
We’ve come a long way
But we’re not sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success, we’ve had good times
But remember this….
Never forget where you’re coming from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream”,                Take That

Thank you to Mark and the team who made it so special. 

When I returned to College after half-term, it was clear that the examination season is truly underway.  I was delighted to learn about how so many of you came into College for revision, support sessions and to use our facilities.  Thank you to all of the staff who came in specially to support you and put in the “extra mile”.  This is what makes our College so special.  Long may it continue.

As we approach the end of an academic year and (for me), the end of an era, the starting line from Dickens comes to mind:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,….”    A Tale of Two Cities

So many things have happened at our College (in the short and medium-term): the amazing academic success that you have achieved; the range of national accolades for so many of you (academic, intellectual, sporting, musical, dramatics, dance), the success in competitions….  The reputation that we have in the local, regional and national arena is phenomenal.  It is a testament to the superb work that takes place day in and day out by every one of you.  It is therefore no surprise that some of you spend over an hour travelling into College and that our College has ‘grown’ from 1300 to just under 2000 full-time students.

I maintain that the range of trips, visits and residentials, is truly unique: Iceland, Italy, South Africa, Thailand, Germany, Belgium, France, Tanzania, New York, Washington, Spain, Poland; all in the last few years.  There are very few colleges that can boast such a range and I believe that the ‘sorts’ of experiences that are gained from such visits are ‘life changing’.

I hope that you will retain very fond memories of our College, the trips, the visits, the staff, the colleagues, the fun, the laughter, the friendships that exist and the hard work of everyone around you.  Remember that all of us have to work hard in order to enjoy the success that follows.

“You are never really playing an opponent.  You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits that is real joy”,                                                                      Arthur Ashe

So what of my beloved Leeds?  We have changed managers (again) and are likely to ‘buy’ an ex-Tigers goal scorer.  I believe (with James, my Leeds compatriot in the History Department), that this will be the year.  We will hire an outstanding coach, spend the much-needed money to win in the Championship and get the right team balance between youth and experience.  This will be our year.  (Did I say this in 2017?)

Like my beloved Leeds, I believe that whilst we will be losing some of you, we have appointed an outstanding team of staff and created the right structure to take us to the next level.  Exciting times indeed.

My advice, as always, is to believe in yourself and take control of your life.

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate
version of somebody else”,                                               Judy Garland   

Love conquers all, so enjoy and don’t run away from it.  Look for beauty in so much of what happens around you in our College.  As Khalil Gibran wrote:

“When love beckons to you, follow him.
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you, yield to him.
Though his sword hidden among his pinions may wound you            
And when he speaks to you, believe in him.”

Remember that there are no easy solutions, and the “grass is not always greener”.  Beware of the easy fixes.  As Buddha said:

“If you find a man who points out faults and who reproves, follow such a wise person as you would a guide to hidden treasure”.

As the time approaches to “pass the baton” for others to lead our College to the next exciting step, remember that we have all played our part in the journey.  I would like to use the metaphor of the cedar:

“The heart, with its ramified feelings, is like a cedar with spreading branches.  If the cedar loses a strong branch, it suffers, but does not die.  It carries its vital energy to the neighbouring branch, that will grow and fill the void with its young green twigs,”                                                            Gibran

I leave with really fond memories where “we have danced the clumsy dance and sung the sorrowful song”.  Such bellicose laughter, fun and exhilarating moments discovering the power of a team.  Thank you to students, staff, friends (near and far) and family for believing in me.

The very best of luck to all of you and to the continued success of our College.  As Bobby D sang,
              “The times they are a-changin'”.

Jay Trivedy

Monday, 30 April 2018

The "Right" Thing

The "Right" Thing

This morning I listened to a track by Bob Dylan called “Buckets of Rain”.  It inspired me and made me think about our College and my role:

“Buckets of rain
Buckets of tears
Got all the buckets coming out of my ears
Buckets of moonbeams in my hand”.

As Principal, the vast majority of my time is spent attempting to solve problems and find acceptable solutions.  Sometimes on my own but mostly with different teams of staff, students and of course, our Senior Team.  Sometimes this involves making tough decisions but always with our whole College in mind and ultimately, with what is in the best interests of you (our students), to enhance learning and success.  In the course of my daily dealings, I encounter so many “moonbeams” that it reinforces what is so special about our College.

“I been meek
And hard like an oak
I seen pretty people disappear like smoke
Friends will arrive friends will disappear”.

Trying to do the ‘right’ thing is always very difficult and cannot be taken lightly.  With a College community of nearly 2000 students, 180 staff plus the associated parents and external partners, pleasing everyone is impossible.

“Life is sad
Life is a bust
All ya can do is do what you must
You do what you must do and ya do it well”.

However, within all of this, the “moonbeams” shine through, lighten our hearts, make me smile about our purpose and raison d’être.  On a daily basis, I hear beautiful conversations and meet with so many selfless people who are prepared to go the “extra mile” for our College.

“I like your smile
And your fingertips
I like the way that you move your hips
I like the cool way that you look at me”.

At Easter, I was privileged to take part in the visit to Poland.  Throughout the trip, I kept pinching myself because I could not believe how special it was.  Apart from the emotional (Auschwitz), physical (walk to the top of the mountain in the snow) and intellectual (salt mines) challenge, the trip was by far the best that I have been on.  Throughout, there was laughter, support of one another, deep intellectual conversations and reflection.  I found it extremely gratifying to witness the next generation of leaders emerging.  Our College (and society) is extremely safe and in great hands.  The support and encouragement that I got on the walk was incredible and the experience is one that will always remain with me.

As we approach the examination season, it is imperative that we are all extremely focused on what is required for success.  I felt humbled earlier this week when I talked to some of you at 4.30 pm, as you were having a “break” from your “stint” in the Library.  Our conversation was wonderful and it reinforced just how committed you are to ensure that you succeed.  This combination of friends was also very interesting.  It made me think about a metaphor that I have heard from a close friend of mine.  There are energy givers (radiators) and energy sappers (drains).  During this period and in the future, ensure that you are a roaring radiator (positive, finding solutions, optimistic and taking control of your life) and not a drain.  Surround yourself with roaring radiators and avoid the drains.  From my experience, the radiators tend to gravitate towards other radiators and the drains are drawn to other drains.  I love this quote from Nelson Mandela:

“I never lose.  I either win or learn”.

I would like all of you to be winners and to have this attitude to life.

Earlier this week, when so many of you were arriving through the main entrance and I was concentrating on checking lanyards, one of you came up to me and offered me some sweets.  It made me smile and once again, I thought of “moonbeams”.

Finally, remember to believe in yourself.  We all have an inner strength that we need to harness and try on “different faces” but remember your ‘real’ face.

“Well we all have a face
That we hide away for ever
And we take them out and show ourselves
When everyone has gone.
Some are satin some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on”,                 Billy Joel.


Good luck in the examinations.  You can never be over prepared.


Jay Trivedy

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Making the right choice

The Easter break represents a crucial period in the academic calendar.  All of you are at a point in your Wyke career when the choices that you make will greatly influence the degrees of success that you are likely to achieve.

The Rag Week is in “full flow” and I have just been downstairs to witness the students vs staff games as well as the Super Mario races.  There is a great atmosphere and a tremendous level of energy throughout our campus.

Amidst all of this, many of you, students, teachers, support staff and members of our Corporation are involved in choosing the next Principal for our College.  How do we reconcile such divergent and complex things that surround us?

So much is going on and the decisions that are made will have a significant and profound influence on us all:

  • What do I need to do to improve my grades?
  • Which events should I participate in during Rag Week?
  • How can I influence the choice of our “new” Principal?
  • What sacrifices do I need to make now in order to achieve success in the future?

The complexity and connectedness of things that happen at our College and that we do are a testament of the beauty of all that happens.  Albert Einstein said:

“Genius is making complex ideas simple, not making simple ideas complex”.

So the appointment of the Principal will occur and whoever is chosen to lead our College to the next stage will be an excellent choice.  I am certain that the “new” Principal will want you to make the necessary sacrifices at Easter, to get involved in all that happens at our College and to listen to your voice about how your experience can be improved.  Remember that all of us have to work exceptionally hard in order to succeed.  Albert Einstein said:

“Inspire others by the way you deal with your struggles, your heartache, your imperfections”.

So my message to you, and one that underlies everything that I have previously said, is that you need to take control of your life and look for positive solutions to the issues that you face.  Do not look for others to solve the everyday issues that concern you.  Be part of a team in which your positivity helps to bring about the greater good.  My close friends and the ones that I value are all people who are “energy givers” rather than “energy sappers”.

“The essential challenge is to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole”,          Peter Block

My beloved Leeds are faltering but have a new manager who I am confident will lead us to success, perhaps not in 2018 but 2019.  But then again, I am just an optimistic fan.

Have a great Easter.

Jay Trivedy

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Celebrate all that is excellent

Celebrate all that is excellent All employers, pre-or post-university, look for candidates who have a range of characteristics which include: resilience; the ability to communicate effectively; an excellent work ethic; the ability to provide solutions to problems; the ability to work effectively in a team and to have a track record of success.  An excellent attendance rate, punctuality and presentation are essential and should never be underestimated.  Indeed, no employer will want an employee whose attendance is infrequent, who is frequently late and cannot be relied upon to complete tasks effectively.  I believe that these skills are essential for success in every ‘walk’ of life and at every stage.  Our role as a College is to ensure that we are outstanding role models in the development of these skills.

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself”,                
Chinese proverb

Many of you will have certain goals that you want to achieve, some of you may even have certain resolutions for the New Year.  Our family have started the “30 Day Song Challenge” where each of you has to think of a song which you link to certain memories (good and bad) and with certain titles, for example, a song that makes you sad, a song that moves you forward, a song that breaks your heart… This has been a very revealing exercise and meant that I have listened to songs that I have never heard before: “Boy from School”, Grizzly Bear or “Chi Mai”, by Ennio Morricone; “Halfway Round the World”, Aurora or “She moves in her way”, Kooks…..

The term has started well and it was wonderful to meet up with last year’s leavers on the Awards Evening.  So many students returned to collect their awards and I couldn’t help thinking how they have changed in such a short time period.  The whole evening made me realise what a fantastic College we have and I felt incredibly proud of the amazing achievements.  Of course, none of this would be possible without the hard work that is necessary to make this happen and long may that continue.  I particularly enjoyed the performance of our musicians and dancers who demonstrated the extremely high standards that they have been set.

“The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word”,
Mata Hari

I would like to congratulate our 1st XI football team who were selected by the Hull Daily Mail as the Team of the Year last week.  What an honour and my thanks to Nick and Puj for all that they did last year. 

There is a great line from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

“Experience shows us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking together in the same direction”.

I believe that this is what we all need to do to look together in the same direction and celebrate all that is excellent about our College:
  • The record number of offers (11) that you have from Oxford and Cambridge Universities;
  • That over 600 of you have submitted your UCAS applications;
  • You continue to excel in sports, music, the arts and academic achievement;
  • Many of you will be travelling to New York, Washington, Berlin, Thailand, Iceland, South Africa….
  • The wonderful mentoring work that many of you engaged in with Year 10 and Year 11 at the Boulevard Academy;
  • Your impending visit to the London Universities;
  • Our first ever trip to Poland at Easter;
  • Our Rag Week in March and the monies that we will raise for MIND;
  • Our hosting of and participation in the Youth Speaks Competition;
  • Our cross-College production of Grease (first performed 30 years ago at Wyke), in February.

There is so much going on but we must remain ‘grounded’.  As DH Lawrence said:

“The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its roots in earth and manure”.

Being grounded at our College means that all of us must work very hard for a common purpose, take control of our fate and talk to each other rather than on relying on hearsay and gossip.  Vincent Lombardi in “The Chase” said:

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up”.

We have to learn to be resilient.  My beloved Leeds have had a bad run of late (again) but as ever, I remain optimistic and continue to “draw” lessons from their fate:

“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning”, Pele.

So aim for the best and push yourself to strive.  Leeds have certainly made it difficult for themselves but their eventual success will be all the sweeter.

“You are never really playing an opponent.  You are playing yourself, your own high standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy”,
Arthur Ashe

In aiming to do so well, it is your high standards that you have to reach.
As the racing driver, Mario Andretti, said:

“If everything is under control, you’re not going fast enough”.

Enjoy the remainder of this term and the start of spring, it will come and go in a flash.

“A lifetime of training for just 10 seconds”.
Jesse Owen

Jay Trivedy