Welcome to the Sixth Form blog/news page. I will post on here at least every Monday and more often as the occasion demands. It’s not a formal site as such and will not replace official announcements and letters but its intention is to reflect on sixth form experiences and events, to keep abreast of good practice in Post 16 education and to alert students and parents to opportunities now and for the future.
I know students have plenty of work to do in their A level subjects but I have an impassioned view that it is what they do beyond that which can often make the real difference in personal development, employability and fulfilment. So you’ll hear plenty on here about those opportunities.
Just to kick off I’ll mention three of my favourites:
TED talks is an online video library of thousands of talks on a huge variety of subjects. Always interesting, usually challenging and often entertaining.
Future Learn offers free online courses from universities and specialist organisations. I’ve done two so far and several students have taken them up. Have a look – they’re brilliant
Reading books makes a difference.
Have a great 2017!
It’s parents’ evening for the sixth form this Thursday and I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to meet parents and try to complete the triangle between home, school and student. It often seems to be the case that parents back off a bit at Post 16 but, for me, it’s massively important that they keep abreast of what’s going on especially at the beginning of year 12 where so many new things are happening.
We’ve collected data recently on all our students and it always gives us a good starting point for having a conversation. One of the best of these conversations was a year 13 student asking to talk to me about his targets because he felt that they were too low. I was really happy to talk this through and agreed that we should raise his targets to a more aspirational level, something I’m always more than willing to do. That’s one of the difficulties of using broad national data sets to deal with individuals but as long as we remember that the individual can always buck the trend then we’re ok.
The first university offers are coming through for year 13 and it’s always great to see the students’ reactions when they get their first one; it makes the prospect much more real and usually spurs students on to make sure that they get the required grades. From time to time Universities give out unconditional offers (ie you don’t need to get anything beyond basic passes) and one of our students has one of these from Nottingham Trent for a degree in Law. They can be a mixed blessing but most students I know who have received one of these tend to relax and get great A level grades anyway.
We’re also planning our Sixth Form Open Evening at the moment – it will take place on Thursday 16th November at 6.30pm. We already have the biggest sixth form in living memory and expect to recruit at least another 80 students into next year’s year 12 cohort. Exciting times ahead so spread the word about the great deal students get here in the sixth form.
I’m also looking forward to meeting with the senior student leadership team this week. They have some great ideas on how to make the student experience at Coleshill even better with some unique enrichment experiences on Wednesday afternoons. Watch this space.
There are very good reasons for my having missed last week’s post as I was in Aberdovey with 10 of our year 13 leaders. I last visited The Outward Bound in 1985 and still have fond memories of the week and how it made a difference to the twenty-four year 9s we took then. They will all be in their forties now but I bet they still remember that week.
If anything, the experience is now even stronger. They have had a significant building programme and the social and catering facilities are bigger and better. The Outward Bound Trust is a brilliant organisation – the leader in its field in my view - which has been in existence for 70 plus years and is passionate in the view that outdoor education can be of huge benefit to young people. I happen to agree.
It was fantastic to see the personal gains that our students made and the leadership and team skills that they picked up. Within fifteen minutes of arriving they were scaling a 10ft wall and the very next morning they were heading off to scale Cadair Idris, camp wild overnight and head straight for the Dovey Estuary and a sailing expedition in an ancient cutter! Add to this some raft building and the high ropes course in the grounds and you can see that this was a full-on experience. Well done to all who took part and I look forward to the assembly you will be presenting.
Elsewhere things are moving along nicely. We have our leadership team established and they are already proving successful at organising school events. The Deon Burton Football Academy is prospering academically and on the football field – they have a good competitive record so far this season and we have been over to watch them at Pack Meadow.
It’s getting to University application time, so I’m spending a lot of time at the moment looking at drafts of personal statements. If you want to find out more about any aspect of the University application process, click on the sixth form higher education tab and head for the UCAS widget; this is a portal into a huge fund of information and advice.
This week we have the first data collection for students and, whilst we can be over reliant on data alone, it gives us a good starting point to have useful learning conversations with our students.
We’ve also set the date for our Sixth Form Open Evening. It’s on Thursday November 16th at 6.30 pm.
Spread the word!
I feel very remiss for not having posted my blog so far this term but there are very good reasons. It’s testament to the resilience of the human spirit that teachers turn up on the first day in September. Yes I know that we have great holidays, but the sheer number and volume of tasks that assault us at the beginning of term mean that anything resembling a measured, normal existence has to wait for a week or two. I think we’re nearly there.
I’m always really pleased that we get our sixth form students into lessons on their first day and it’s been a brilliant start in that respect. Teachers sometimes have a sixth sense for how groups of students are going to develop and the new year 12 have settled extremely well to routines and private study which bodes really well for their futures.
So what’s new this year? The big change is that we have welcomed 40+ footballers as part of the Deon Burton Football Academy. This is an exciting venture which allows these students to follow their footballing dreams whilst gaining valuable academic qualifications. This week they excelled on the pitch, beating Crystal Palace in two academy fixtures.
It’s also great to report that we had 80+ students join us in our regular year 12 with over 25% of those being external students who have chosen to come to Coleshill from other schools. Increasing numbers give us the opportunity to do so many more things. It’s not just that it makes balancing the books easier, it’s more the fact that it brings a renewed energy to the student body.
One very positive aspect of this energy is the new leadership team that we have established. I’ll blog about this at more length in the near future but for now it’s great to report that we have over twenty students from year 12,13 and the Academy who are forming our 2017-18 leadership team.
So, a very brief summary of what we’ve been up to so far but it will indubitably become more eventful and exciting as the term progresses and I’m looking forward to a stellar year.