Principal’s Blog – 21st July 2017

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Places In Time

Last week I received my copy of Places in Time. This is an anthology of poetry from Year 7 students studying at Minsthorpe and is an excellent read and shows the incredible talent that we are nurturing here. It is available to purchase for £5 and can be ordered via our SchoolGateway App and I heartily recommend it to you – some of the poems will bring a lump to your throat.

STEM Challenge

Last week the Smallpiece Trust worked with our Year 8 students who have chosen Separate Sciences as an option next year. They set up a STEM challenge to show students the possible careers that studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths can open up. Students built and raced solar powered cars in a series of activities that demanded that the cars took a particular route and stopped at a pre-determined point – activities that drew upon all of their STEM skills. The Smallpiece representatives commented on the excellent behaviour, attitude and effort of our students – this is what one of them said;

"It was a real pleasure to be in your school on Tuesday. The staff, the pupils and the atmosphere in the school makes my job so much easier."

Early Careers Coaches

On Wednesday 19th July twelve Year 8 volunteers began training to become Early Careers Coaches in a programme that is being provided by an organisation called Talentino! This is part of our broader aim to create a range of different peer coaching and peer support mechanisms in the college. The students spent a morning in the Library Learning Centre being shown how to use a careers programme that will help students in Years 7 and 8 make some broad careers choices that will be gradually whittled down by the Learning For Life curriculum and the MAP Office as the years pass at Minsthorpe and students begin thinking more deeply about their future lives and careers. The students will become our Careers Ambassadors and represent the college as the student voice element of the national work being done by the Careers and Enterprise Company.

Oliver Takes A Tumble!

I have reported on the achievements of Oliver Watson before. He took part in the semi-finals of the National Development Plan and qualified for the finals in Telford on July 8th where he was placed in eighth position. He is getting better and better and is moving up a level to National 4 and is already training for next year – well done, Oliver!

Hot Chocolate with The Head

A number of students who designed the new uniforms for Next received prizes that ranged from £15-£25 that were kindly donated by the company in recognition of their hard work. I was proud to present them their prizes in a Hot Chocolate with the Head ceremony on Wednesday July 19th.

A Fishy Story

This week students from Minsthorpe came 5th in the National Fishing Championships. The event was held at Hallcroft Fishery at Retford on Wednesday 19th July. It was a tough day for fishing and the competition was extremely close. All the Minsthorpe anglers however successfully caught something. The catch of the day was by Levi Bateman who landed a 10 pound carp. A big thank you to our coach Barrie Spencer.

3 of the team are in Year 11, and will be too old to compete next year. If you are a keen angler and wish to be considered for next year’s competition please see Mr Mann in the PE Department.

Last Night At The Prom

On Tuesday 18th July the Year 11 Prom took place at the King’s Croft Hotel, Pontefract. The students looked fantastic, the girls in glorious ball gowns and the boys all suited and booted. This was a triumph for the girls in Year 11 who organised the event and, as Head of Year, it was a fitting event for Dave Lloyd to see his year group mark the end to their period of formal education. Proud parents and staff witnessed the grand arrivals of the students in an incredible variety of vehicles and it was a fantastic evening. As ever, our students did the college, their family and themselves proud, behaving superbly throughout – my thanks and congratulations to everyone involved.

That Was The Year That Was

I cannot believe that another academic year has gone by. With the tragic deaths of Bradley, Spencer and William before Christmas it has to count as one of Minsthorpe’s toughest years. It would have been Will’s birthday next week and we plan to hold a memeorial service for him early in the next academic year. As tough as it was these tragedies brought out all that is good at Minsthorpe and showed the strength of the relationships between staff and students as we supported one another through those dark days, weeks and months.

It was also a triumphant year with a number of external visitors and assessors paying the highest of tributes to our students and to the Minsthorpe culture. Minsthorpe is an incredible college with the highest of aspirations for our young people and from September we start it all over again. In the meantime, I wish everyone associated with the college a happy, enjoyable and, above all, safe summer break.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

Principal’s Blog – 14th July 2017

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Basic Skills Quality Mark

On July 5th we were visited by the BSQM Quality Assurance assessor to examine our provision for developing literacy and numeracy at Minsthorpe and her feedback on our work is excellent – it was clear that she was incredibly impressed by the work that we are doing here. We received the report this week and it notes:

Minsthorpe Community College uses its inclusion in the Basic Skills Quality Mark (BSQM) award very successfully to make and build on continuous improvement in the provision for the learning and teaching of mathematics and English and all the associated basic skills. This is because very knowledgeable, very well qualified, influential leaders have long experience of the implementation and monitoring of the 10 Quality Mark elements. I thank Principal Ray Henshaw for his warm welcome and valuable input during the meeting with leaders of BSQM.

Literacy and numeracy skills are vital for the success of our students and this external report is a validation of this key aspect of the work of the college in promoting and developing these key skills.

I’ll leave the last word to the Assessor; "I really enjoyed my visit and always leave Minsthorpe feeling inspired by your wonderful school."

Dancing At Disneyland

Four Minsthorpe students took part in the Dancing at Disneyland Paris event as part of the Sugar Kane’s dance troupe during the weekend of July 7th to 10th. With 6am wake-up calls and gruelling days, the dancers learned a routine from Hercules and took part in a performance workshop with the cast members from Disney. The girls performed two of these routines in the Summer Concert on Thursday.

Disney commented on how professional our girls were and liked our buddying system whilst moving around site, the older students did a great job looking after the younger students helping them with their bags and park tickets – we are so proud of them.

Sports Awards

The annual awards ceremony took place on Wednesday July 12th and a massive thank you goes out to the PE department for putting on such a great event. The Main Hall was packed and the audience was treated to a review of the brilliant team and individual sport performances of the year. As ever, the mid-point auction saw some frantic bidding from parents and staff – all in all a great night!

The Summer Show

Minsthorpe seems to put on more shows than the Apollo Theatre and Thursday July 13th saw the Summer Show which featured an astonishing array of talent from the student body. Sadly, this was one of the last opportunities for some of our Year 13 students to shine but what is encouraging is the wealth of new talent that is emerging from lower down in the college. The incredible performance of Matilda two weeks ago gave us a glimpse of this new emerging group and we will be in for years of top class entertainment if last night’s showing is anything to go by. Well done to the Creative Team for yet another tour de force.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

Principal’s Blog – 7th July 2017

School Diversity Week

Celebrating Diversity

Many of us celebrated the life of the MP, Jo Cox in the Great Get Together weekend on June 16th-18th 2017. Famously, Jo said during her inaugural speech to Parliament, "We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us." In this spirit the Student Council and the College Action Teams have been fantastic in assemblies over the past 2 weeks promoting diversity, specifically our work with Barnados and the DfE in raising awareness of LGBTQ issues.

They put together the following PowerPoint and delivered it to Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 – School Diversity Week – Just Like Us! Assembly

They are now collecting Diversity Week pledges at social times and P&A time. This has been organised to tie in with the School Diversity Week that has run nationally from the 3rd to the 7th of July 2017 and we will be posting on Twitter and Facebook to promote our message of acceptance and tolerance further – Just Like Us

Awards Evening

Our annual Awards Evening for Years 7-10 took place on Wednesday July 5th 2017 and what a night it was. This is one of my favourite Minsthorpe events as we celebrate the effort and achievements of our students. The Main Hall was packed with proud family members who had come to show their support for the youngsters who have shown such resilience, effort and excellence over the year. This was their night, their time to shine and everyone was so proud of the students and the people that they are becoming. Support was the keynote theme of the evening as it also gave the award winners the chance to remember the teachers, family and friends who have supported them. The support we receive is vital to our development, but we should always be prepared and willing to support others as well as acknowledge those who have supported us this far. Day in, day out, Minsthorpe shows that support is a value that we live our lives by because, as the old African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Sports Day

Another of my favourite events took place on Friday July 7th. Once again it was a great spectacle. A huge thanks goes out to the staff who supported the event, the PE staff who marshalled and directed and to Mr Mann who organised the whole shebang like a military operation. It was a day of fun, joy and achievement and our students, as ever, rose to the occasion.

At Minsthorpe we believe in the value of sport as the importance of sports and games in school goes far beyond just the physical benefit of activity. By supporting each other in the various events you could see that staff and students were deepening and strengthening their relationships and this pays dividends back in the classroom.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

Principal’s Blog – 30th June 2017

The Reconnect Project

Letter from America

We recently received a letter from Ellie Gura, an Eighth Grade student studying in New York regarding our recent involvement in The Reconnect Project. The Eighth Grade is the equivalent of our Year 9 and, as you can see from the actual letter attached, hers is a thoughtful, considered position on the importance that young people place on their digital technology. Ellie read about our involvement with the project in an article published in The Wakefield Express and it is great to see that Minsthorpe is provoking thought on both sides of the Atlantic! Some of our students involved in the project are going to correspond with her – but not by email!

You can view the original letter from Ellie and our reply.

Matilda – The Musical!

On Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th June packed audiences were treated to an outstanding version of Matilda condensed into a blistering one-hour performance. On Tuesday morning I received this lovely review from a parent:

I have just attended the Matilda show tonight. Beside the fact we are very proud parents, I was immensely impressed by the entire performance and the quality of the show. The actors were amazing! From Year 7 to Post 16, everyone had an equal chance to shine. Many congratulations to the band led by Mr Jones. It is so nice to see children perform live music. Congratulations to the choreographers, Miss Williams, Mrs Kelly, Miss Thompson and all involved. What fantastic members of staff!

It made me proud to be part of Team Minsthorpe!

The show was an absolute tour de force with a multi-talented cast acting, singing and dancing to delight a full house. So many people were involved in this triumph – the Creative team who organised it, the student orchestra who provided live music, the cast themselves and the students who provided backstage and front of house support. What is truly amazing is that the whole show was put together in under 7 weeks – an indication of the commitment and talent that we have here at Minsthorpe!

Year 6 Parents’ Information Evening

The event on Wednesday 28th June was really well attended with large numbers of parents turning up to the college presentations at 4:30pm and 6:00pm. College staff were able to showcase our offer and let parents see the site for themselves. It has been a busy week in terms of transition with Year 6 students experiencing high school lessons as part of their Induction Days on Monday and Tuesday. As a treat the newbies were also able to see some scenes and songs from Matilda as well and many returned on Monday and Tuesday night to see the full show.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

Principal’s Blog – 23rd June 2017

Minsthorpe The Next Generation

Minsthorpe – The Next Generation

Year 6 students from all of our primary feeder schools have been up this week taking part in the annual Murder at Minsthorpe transition activity. They are presented with an intriguing murder mystery in which one of my Leadership Team (with malice and forethought) allows a simmering bitter resentment to bubble over, causing them to murder me in a manner most foul! Year 6 students then use a whole range of detective and forensic skills during the day and piece together the clues in order to expose the murderer in a dramatic denouement. However, I pop in at the end of the session to reassure our little ones that they have not joined a college packed full of murderous staff! Next week, the Induction Days on Monday and Tuesday will see students experiencing some actual secondary lessons.

We must never forget that this is a testing time for Year 6 students – they are moving from a relatively small primary school to a college that must appear vast by comparison. As adults, a move like this would test our coping skills, so it must seem incredibly daunting for students at such a young age.

We work hard here to make the transition process as smooth as possible. Our staff are in and out of the primary schools all year long and we want the students to see our staff regularly as encountering many familiar faces help make Minsthorpe to be a welcoming place. Over the past four years we have worked ever more closely with our primary feeder schools, doing joint professional development, student support lessons and joining up our provision in terms of educational welfare, special educational needs and attendance to make sure that we are dealing with student issues before the students even arrive at Minsthorpe. For the third year in a row we have large numbers joining us in Year 7 as students, and parents, want to become part of the Minsthorpe success story.

Primary Sports Day

On Friday June 23rd we held our annual Primary Sports Day; a participation event for children in Years 2, 4 and 6. Children took part in relay races over different distances and a tug of war competition with a trophy up for grabs for the winning team. Schools who sing, dance and support in the most positive manner are also awarded a trophy for best supported school. We had DJ Dave in attendance to help with the singing and dancing in between the relays and tug of war and students and their parents had a fantastic time. It was very well attended with all of our feeder primary schools bringing teams along for the day. Our Year 12 Sport students helped to lead and manage the event and without their skills and expertise, it would not go ahead. A great day!

Minsthorpe Students – A Different Calibre

I had great pleasure in being able to send home a Mentioned in Dispatches card to one of our students this week. The girl concerned volunteers at a soup kitchen and helps the homeless. Recently she was given some money by her parents to buy some holiday clothes and was told to keep any change. What she and her friend did with the leftover money was to buy bottles of water, food and dog treats and then travel on a bus to different parts of Leeds to distribute them to homeless people who had dogs. What an amazing person! Minsthorpe is full of students like this and, when I hear about their sterling work it makes me proud.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

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 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDQ0Cu5oeJ8

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
Principal

Principal’s Blog – 9th June 2017

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Testing Times

On Tuesday June 6th Minsthorpe observed the National Minute’s Silence for the victims of the terrorist attack in London the week before. We are not avoiding having difficult conversations about the state of the world at the moment because we know that these testing times are causing great concern for our young people. Older people like myself have been through such harrowing times with the IRA attacks in the 1970s and 1980s – but we have to remember that for the younger generation events like this have not happened in their lifetime and we have to be open and honest in our discussions and also add a sense of perspective and reassurance and to stress that the terrorists involved represent a sick ideology that reflects themselves but nobody else.

At this time schools have a really important role to play in demystifying some of the questions that are being asked and to just enable young people to ask open and honest questions – and get open and honest answers to them. At present the most important thing is not how people voted in Brexit or who is a Christian and who is a Muslim. It’s our family, it’s our community and it’s our humanity.

Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award

On Thursday 8th June Mrs Fallon, Mr Dowey and 13 Key Stage 3 students visited the University of Huddersfield to take part in iDEA (Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award). This award is the digital equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Students completed various digital tasks online in order to earn a Bronze Award. If students can complete their 4 badges by the 23rd June 2017 they will have the opportunity to meet Prince Andrew and receive their awards.

This is an exciting and excellent opportunity for our students to gain new skills and inspire them and allow them to influence others to become digital learners. Technology is forever advancing and our students are the future, therefore we need to best prepare them for life after Minsthorpe!

Adieu Year 11

Friday 9th June was the last official day at Minsthorpe for Year 11. Students had a farewell assembly to mark their five years at Minsthorpe and it was an emotional time for many of them. Of course, students will still be in and out of the college for their remaining examinations and for their results in August and we hope that many will be joining us as Post 16 students in September. We wish every Year 11 student every success for their future careers.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

Failing To Fund Education – The Real Costs

Institute for Fiscal Studies

Last week the Institute for Fiscal Studies did a cost analysis of the manifesto pledges of the three major political parties and it digs deeper than any national analysis has previously been able to do. It shows the projected effect of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat funding changes on every school in England and Wales.

Minsthorpe Community College can be found here – School Cuts (Minsthorpe Community College)

We need to look carefully at claims of a "real-terms increase" in education spending that hide the fact that, by 2022, 93% of schools will experience a real-terms per-pupil spending cut of 7% per pupil if Conservative spending policies are adopted and a 4.2% cut if the Lib Dem pledges are followed. Labour policies would result in a real-terms per-pupil increase of 1.6%.

Failing to invest in education is penny wise, pound foolish and risks our future in a post-Brexit world that will need young people to become entrepreneurs and engineers, scientists and mathematicians.

The idea that schools can continue to maintain educational standards whilst having to cut teaching staff, support staff and to teach students in ever larger classes fronted by non-specialist teachers is fanciful. With an election looming, it is time for voters to challenge and change the way that education policy is formulated and debated and for the electorate to raise the standard of argument where politicians can no longer get away with making misleading claims, lazily repeated.

There is a link on the School Cuts website that allows you to email the Hemsworth candidates and I invite you to ask them to explain their education policy to you.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

Principal’s Blog – 26th May 2017

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The Reconnect Project

For eight weeks Year 8 students have been invited to spend a little less time on their electronic devices as part of The Reconnect Project that we have run at the college and that I have reported on in previous blogs. I have included some of their reflections below – they make for interesting reading.

Student 1: I used to spend at least 4 hours in an evening on YouTube and on Facebook but since the participating in the Reconnect Project, I have reduced this to only 1 hour and I switch my phone off at least an hour before I go to sleep. I’m socialising more with friends and I’m getting to sleep easier on a night.

Student 2: I have enjoyed taking part in the Reconnect Project during CDM lessons, we have been working in groups and carrying out debates. I have presented to the class and I feel more confident speaking out in front of an audience now. It has helped me and I will continue to reduce the amount of time I use/look at screens.

Student 3: I used to play computer games every night and I never went out to socialise with my friends, but the Reconnect Project has encouraged me to get out more and socialise with people face to face. I feel better in myself and I feel a bit happier. I am going to continue this even though we’ve finished the project.

The results echo those of others who have taken part in project in other schools. "Better conversation" was high on the list of positives reported by the 1,500 pupils who have participated in the programme so far. They also reported improvements in family life, sleep and homework, amongst other benefits. Although they spent an average of three hours a day on their screens, a significant number of the students who took part said they were regularly online for six, seven or even more than eight hours a day before the project. Many believed they were "addicted". However, many were also surprised to find that spending time offline wasn’t as hard as they anticipated.

The ethos of the experiment is not anti-technology – the benefits of online connectivity are obvious. However, it’s a question of balance. When students spend too much time looking at their screens other areas of their life can suffer and there is a knock-on effect in terms of health, happiness, friendships, concentration and employability. We hope that, by taking part in this project, the students involved now become active users (rather than passive consumers) of technology.

Maths Challenge Prize Evening

Last week two students from Minsthorpe, Ella and Cobey were invited, along with their families, to the Maths Challenge Prize Evening held at the University of Leeds. Aimed at mathematically able and enthusiastic students, the original challenge was set to be completed at home during the February Half Term.

The May event was a prize winning ceremony for both the Junior and Senior Half Term Maths Challenge and a chance to celebrate the outstanding entries of the students who won. This is the eighth year that the competition has run in our region and it received over 650 entries.

Ella and Cobey were both awarded a Certificate from the University for Merit in the Junior section and also won a book of their choice. Minsthrorpe was the only school from Wakefield represented at the event – all of the others were from the Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees area. We are so proud of both students – this was some achievement!

The Appliance of Science

Year 8 students held their annual Science Fair on Thursday May 25th. This is the third Fair that I have attended and it was, by far, the best I have ever seen. Lots of proud parents also turned up to see their sons and daughter explain some very complex scientific phenomena and the quality of the student presentations was incredible and the models they had made to illustrate their research simply outstanding. Well done to everyone involved, it was an absolute privilege for me to judge the work.

Manchester, United

Words cannot describe those who carried out the cowardly attack on unarmed children on Monday night and then dare to call themselves ‘soldiers’ so I will not waste them on people who cannot see how evil they have become. However, words can describe the magnificent response of the people of Manchester in the immediate aftermath of this terrorist attack. The incredible humanity of the taxi drivers who worked through the night in order to get people to where they needed to be and reunited with their loved ones and the selfless people who offered shelter to those who were lost and in need of help. The dedication of the medics who poured into the hospitals to help the injured and wounded and all of the members of the public who queued up to give blood. Thankfully, the people of Manchester have shown us what true humanity is.

Ray Henshaw
Principal

Principal’s Blog – 19th May 2017

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Going The Extra Mile

Minsthorpe is really benefiting from the extra funding that we have secured this academic year from the Go Higher West Yorkshire project. Whilst a number of our Post 16 students go on to Higher Education – many of them the first in their family to do so – we are in a so-called ‘Cold Spot’ in that less students from our area think seriously about a University education earlier in their school career. The college has received significant extra funding for the period January – July 2017 and will receive a further injection of money to cover the period September 2017 – July 2018. This is allowing us to do some innovative projects that would, frankly, not be possible in the current economic climate that are aimed at raising achievement at both GCSE and A-level. One programme is called MyTutor. In this 10 Year 11 students have been randomly selected to take part in a trial that sees University undergraduates providing live, online one-to-one tuition twice a week for a month in Maths. They are getting bespoke advice on their areas of weakness from students studying Maths at University and we hope to see significant improvements in their grades. Another exciting innovation is the Manglish Residential which will see 30 students spend a weekend at Tankersley Manor to enjoy the splendour of the hotel’s facilities and also receive some concentrated tuition and support ahead of their Maths and English GCSE examinations. Over the next 18 months every student in this college will benefit from this extra funding in one way or another.

Minsthorpe – Proud To Be An Inclusive College

Students are far more receptive today about the gender and sexual orientation of others and I was proud to see this confirmed by Barnados who have been working all week with both staff and students as part of their review of our LGBT provision. The researchers were blown away by the way in which our students celebrate diversity in the college and by their acceptance of different lifestyles. As a college we see this as a core part of The Minsthorpe Way but it is good to see it also being praised by external agencies.

Whatever Next?

Visitors to the college might be surprised to see the appearance of a number of mannequins in reception that are all dressed in Next uniforms. These have been designed by students in Year 7 and Year 8 as part of a number of work-based learning programmes that we have set up with the Next Distribution Centre just up the road from the College. Students took Next on as a client and designed some new uniforms for the workers in the Centre from the brief that Next gave them. Next judged the best three and made up prototypes which are now on display. At Minsthorpe we actively promote this type of applied learning that allows students to see how the world of work operates as it gives them the chance to learn by taking part in real-world, real-time activities.

Funding Problems

On our website today is a letter issued by all of the secondary heads in Wakefield outlining the scale of the financial crisis that is facing schools all across the country. Pound-for-pound the crisis facing all schools is every bit as serious as the NHS. However, it is obvious in hospitals when patients can’t get seen in A&E or spend the night on a trolley in a corridor. In schools the impact of these cuts tends to get hidden by having larger class sizes, less services such as mental health care and fewer options. With a General Election looming it is time to ask all the political parties what they intend to do to stop schools having to go to four day weeks or making massive staffing redundancies as the idea that schools can cope with less funding in the face of increased numbers of young people needing school places and yet standards not be affected has to be challenged.

Ray Henshaw
Principal