It’s been a while since my last blog (largely because I wasn’t sure if anybody read it) but so much has been happening in the sixth form recently that I thought I’d resurrect it but this time on a monthly basis.
So June brings the exam season and all the associated paraphernalia. Assessment has become a huge industry in itself and whilst I won’t rehearse the various arguments for and against the system here, we have to acknowledge that current students have been brought up in a school environment which has tested them more than any other generation. It's remarkable that most of them cope with such good humour and equanimity.
Year 13 had their leavers’ assembly just before half term and I’m indebted to parents who sent me some remarkably cute, if embarrassing, baby and toddler photos which I included in my presentation. There were some rather dubious awards given and I was profoundly touched to receive one myself though I won’t divulge what was on the certificate.Below is a photograph of the class of 2018; you will notice that it is a very small year group and it has been a privilege to be able to work with students very closely supporting their progress and planning for the next step. We wish them all the best for the exams and their next step whatever that might be.
The sixth form is now growing steadily – and will probably reach 200 in September - but we certainly intend to continue with this personalised approach which values every student as an individual with different qualities, needs and ambitions. It may well be that we are able to augment the sixth form team to support this growth in student numbers and we also need to start thinking about sixth form facilities; my imagination often runs beyond what budgets might allow but I’m thinking mezzanine study areas, learning pods and flat whites on tap. Watch this space.
Year 12 have internal exams starting next week and these will give us a good indication of where students are. Following these we will continue teaching as normal but also move on to looking at Higher education and careers research and planning. I’m putting together a programme with support from all sorts of providers and programmes and can promise that students will not be short of options. In no particular order we are working with UCAS and Universities UK by attending their conferences, have visits to Newman and Coventry Universities and are hosting the University of Birmingham here. We are also running a series of ‘soft skills’ workshops in conjunction with Coventry University College. We’ll also be looking at the composition of the new senior student leadership team and I’ll be challenging them to put their own stamp on the sixth form with some new ideas.
Our first year with the Deon Burton Football Academy has been a success. Both teams have performed creditably in their leagues and a number of year 13 students are continuing their education at University with others combing semi-professional football with work. One highlight of the season was a tour to La Nucia in Spain where the side was unbeaten against quality Spanish opposition. I was very impressed with the work ethic during a very structured training week which included gym work, beach training and hydrotherapy sessions – all very professional. Deon has been hard at work recruiting the next cohort and we see this side of the sixth form as going from strength to strength.
The summer term is always an interesting one in that it marks all sorts of transitions. Year 13 move on to their next phase in a career or education and year 12 become the senior students with all that that entails.
It’s also the time when students have their leavers’ events. I’ve refused to countenance calling our sixth form do a ‘prom’ mainly because I don’t want to ape another fashion from our cousins over the pond so I’ve tended to advertise it as a ball. This year, however, we’re doing something slightly different. We’ve hired a private dining space at a city centre restaurant and after the meal students will be able to do their own thing at their choice of establishment, leaving staff to catch the last trains home. Sounds like a good scheme to me and will buck the trend of expensive dresses, formal suits and eclectic transport. Well done to the sixth form team whom came up with the idea.
Oh, and has anybody caught La Casa de Papel (or in a bad English tramnslation 'Money Heist') on Netflix. Outstanding and a must for all A level students of Spanish.