Principal’s Blog – 16th June 2017

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Why Do We Read?

We read to gain knowledge of the world. We read to escape everyday life into a different world. A world of imagination – a world of endless possibilities, opportunities and characters. We read because reading is a part of everything we do. If you can read and read well, you will be always in control of your thoughts, views and ultimately your destiny. Minsthorpe Community College is proud to support its students in reading. Reading goes beyond exam grades into the key skills our pupils will need to negotiate in everyday life. It enriches students in a way television or music or social media cannot. This is why Minsthorpe has been committed to giving Year 7, Year 8 (and from next year Year 9) one reading lesson per week. Minsthorpe is proud to support World Book Day and National Poetry Day with a range of bespoke activities completed to mark the occasions.

On Friday 9th June 2017, 17 students from Year 7 completed a ‘Readathon’. Readathon is a national charity which encourages students across the UK to raise money by reading. Readathon are a charity devoted to reading and use the money raised to take books and storytellers into hospitals to read with seriously ill children. It is a worthy cause and the whole of Minsthorpe Community College are immensely proud of the Year 7 students who have dedicated an entire day to reading in order to help this charity. The students behaved perfectly throughout the day and it was a privilege to witness their passion, devotion and love of literature. The students will be rewarded later on in this half term when the total amount of money they have collected is finalised. Readathon will also provide book vouchers for Minsthorpe Community College’s library in recognition of our students’ achievement.

Why do we read? We read because it helps us grow morally, spiritually, socially and culturally and at Minsthorpe reading is at the heart of everything we do.

The Great Get Together

On June 16th 2016 the MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist. To mark the anniversary of her death her husband, Brendan, has organised a nationwide celebration of togetherness called The Great Get Together that will last from Friday to Sunday. We discussed her murder and the recent events in P&A time on Friday 16th June. We have an obligation to our students to have some difficult conversations in the light of current events and to try to present a balanced picture that stresses that our society is not full of people actively trying to cause harm. This is a link to The Great Get Together video –

The words of Jo’s inaugural speech to Parliament are incredibly relevant at this time as she said "We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us." The terrorist atrocities in Manchester and London have stemmed from a different kind of extremism that led to the loss of Jo’s life – but the thread that joins all of these barbaric acts together is hate. We have a choice between two competing ideologies – one that recognises that we are imperfect but that still offers us the chance to become the best version of ourselves – and another that offers nothing but hate and violence. Brendan Cox thinks that we are living in a divisive time and a divisive moment and that it is time for us to make a choice between these two opposing world views. I choose humanity, for all its flaws. We can all see what the alternative is: bigotry, hatred and pointless bloodshed.

That Was The Week That Was

I guess we should no longer be surprised by the volatility of voting behaviour these days and the ramifications of calling a snap General Election last Thursday are still rumbling on. No one was as surprised as me to see that I was making front page news in The Wakefield Express on Election Day, having responded to some questions from The Yorkshire Post on the letter from Wakefield Head Teachers (a letter that we are featuring on our website). The whole point of the letter is that it does not reflect any particular school nor does it describe strategies that any particular school is introducing. At Minsthorpe we have been preparing for this crisis since I took over in 2014 and, as a result, are looking financially stable until at least 2019, so there is no question of us introducing a shorter day, cutting subjects, asking parents for financial contributions or making staff redundant. However, whilst we are in a good place, for many schools things like this are fast becoming a reality and I was speaking for them, not Minsthorpe Community College.

School funding, or the lack thereof, was put firmly on the agenda during election campaigning and parent groups and union campaigns made politicians listen and finally forced them to admit that there is a crisis. Education has become a key battleground and I hope that a message has been received loud and clear and the message is that this country needs a government that invests in the future and that means investing in education.

Future Careers Event

Our Year 12 students took part in a future jobs programme facilitated by C & K Careers along with Minsthorpe Community College Careers Lead Tim Dowey. Building on the careers programme that Minsthorpe already offer our students, we felt it was a great opportunity for our students to enhance their knowledge further in the world of work.

Each student received a 1-1 careers intervention to discuss progression pathways and then this was followed on with 4 workshops which students rotated around. The students will also receive a Careers Action Plan from their 1-1 discussions. Future Jobs focused on four key themes: labour market intelligence, employer expectations, apprenticeships, self-employment and entrepreneurship – all highly beneficial to students’ understanding of the employment world.

The event also raised awareness regarding key skills employers expect and value in future potential employees, something that we feel is important for our students to understand.

Ray Henshaw