This week I celebrated having been at The Henley College for two months. It has been a fantastic half term here and I am very excited about being part of this great College.
In these first few months I have met lots of students, staff and other college stakeholders. I have visited lessons, spoken to our local sports clubs and had the pleasure of congratulating some of our high performing students in both academic, enrichment and sporting contexts.
I hope to keep you all informed about the excellent things that happen here at the College.
Last night I was at one of our four partner schools, Langtree in Woodcote. We are very lucky with the standard of education provided by our four local schools. They prepare their pupils exceptionally well for their next stage at sixth form college. I was talking to parents about post 16 choices and,in particular, about the impact of the new A Levels starting in September 2015. What is particularly positve for me is to meet the very enthusiastic parents who have made sure their daughters or sons are considering their options carefully. The Year 11 pupils had had their talk the same day from the outstanding Head of Performing Arts, Nic Saunders. On Thursday all of the Year 11s in our partner schools will be spending a day here trying out three subjects as a away of preparing them for next September. For those looking at alternatives modes of study or training we invite other colleges and training providers to provide impartial advice and guidance on the best way forward. I look forward to seeing all the Year 11s on Thursday
I know that many of you will have attended our very busy open events in October. We had a record number of parents and potential students on both the evenings and it is great for us to see the enthusiasm and ambition of those who may start here in September 2015. In the surveys that many of the visitors completed we asked for comments on the evenings and over 50% rated the advice and guidance of our staff as being ‘outstanding’. This is not a surprise to me but it is always wonderful feedback to receive. Our next event will be on Saturday the 22nd of November – our open morning. We introduced this two years ago to give parents, guardians and potential students an alternative to the evenings when the college could be viewed in daylight and at a time when parents are not having to rush back from work. As with all our events it is wonderful to see our student ambassadors talking with me in the drama studio and giveing advice to young people. I hope to see many of you on the 22nd.
It is difficult to believe that once again term has started and our 1900 students have settled in so well to the college.We make sure teaching starts promptly on the 4th September. This afternoon the majority of our students are taking part in enrichment acitivities. Over forty of our students are trying out rowing on the river this afternoon and the sports teams have their first fixtures. I strongly believe that it is vital for students to take part in activities such as sport, drama or music as it is a great way to build up skills and make new friends as well as to appreciate that education is not all about exams and coursework! This year a record number of students will be taking part in employability programmes including extended work experience helping to make sure that they build up the best possible CV for the next stage in their life. I would like, therefore, to welcome all our students to the college and wish them every success during their time here.
Last night the college hosted its annual Awards Evening when we celebrate the success of our students on a wide range of courses. It is wonderful that so many businesses continue to sponsor our awards which demonstrates our close relationship with local companies. This year the college results were the best ever and so it was a particularly uplifting occasion. Citations on each student who received an award were read out by Tristan Arnison, head of one of the college’s three schools of study. For each student reasons for the award were given as well as any particularly difficulty the student had had to overcome. It was great to hear how many of our students were progressing onto Russell group universities or higher apprenticeships, which is down to the hard work of our students and the outstanding teaching they receive from our teaching staff. I would also want to thank their families for the tremendous support they receive whilst at college. Well done to all our students.
I just want to thank future students and parents for their patience over the last couple of months as they have waited for their interviews. We have never had so many applications before which is the reason some interviews have taken a bit longer to arrange than normal. Our trained interviewers have been working incredibly hard to make sure everyone is interviewed as soon as possible. I think it is so important to ensure that students are interviewed well before their GCSEs start so that they can focus on achieving the best grades they can. I have been delighted with the quality of the applicants which gives me great hope for the future. So thank you once again for your understanding.
This college has a proud record of winning sports competitions and this term we have added another trophy – the British Colleges Cup for hockey. The mixed team won the competiton by beating South Dartmoor at Burton on Trent aided by a great contingent of supporting staff and parents. I presented the trophy to the team on Tuesday- we are the first college to be on the cup! Our manager, Linda Conafray, did an amazing job keeping the team going as they went to matches round the country. I want to congratulate all those who took part in this great victory! This is further evidence of the strength of sport at the college. In addition our Sport England grant is enabling us to get students back into sport through a wide variety of activities they might not have tried before from fencing to karate.