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March / April 2024 blog

At the start of the Summer term, Mr Collins and I did an assembly to each House about OPEN MIND- the mnemonic that summarises our learning ethos at the College.

We reiterated to students that this is the third strand of our whole College ethos with the Cornerstones being the foundation, defining who we are and how we behave within this community; followed by GO WEST, which defines how we look after ourselves; and culminating in OPEN MIND, which is how we learn.

Mr Collins and I love talking to the students about OPEN MIND, because we, alongside all the staff here, believe passionately that all the attributes are core to lifelong learning. In this blog I want to focus on the 'O' which represents Opportunity.

We talk to the students all the time about making the most of the opportunity here at the College through the learning on offer and the extracurricular activities. Throughout the Spring term, there was such a wealth of extra-curricular activities for all year groups to go alongside the learning that I have tried to capture the range and focus in the table below:

Mid to end of February
Trip Year Group Focus

Ski Trip - Austria.

9 - 11 Adventure and personal challenge.
The Boy at the Back of the Class - Chichester Festival Theatre. 7 & 8 English Enrichment. More and Most Able.

Annual Employers exhibition.

8 National careers week and inspiring aspiration as early options are made.
Hosting of the Rock and Pop section of the Portsmouth Music festival. 9 - 11 Music performance.
DBLP - Developing Blended Learners Programme Part 1. 9 Learning how to understand how the brain works, how we can break questions down and a recap on mind mapping.
St Paul's Cathedral and the Royal Courts of Justice. 9 - 10 Religious Studies.
Mock results evening. 11 Preparation for exams.
University of Portsmouth – Multi subject taster day. 8 Supporting options choices at GCSE and beyond.
Trip Year Group Focus
The Spring - Arts & Heritage Centre. 10 & 11 Music performance.

Developing skills for the future- Southampton University.

8 Careers/ aspiration.
Health and wellbeing Roadshow. 10 Mental health/ GO WEST.

Winchester Cathedral.

7 & 8  Religious Studies.
Football competition - John Jenkins Cup. 11 PE.

Science Museum.

7 Science.
STEM Week House competitions – Kahoot & Egg Chuck. 7 - 11 Promoting STEM.

Easter Rewards.

7 - 11 Celebration of hard work.
Jesus Christ Superstar - Mayflower Theatre Southampton. 7 - 11 English & Religious Studies enrichment.

‘Thriving Minds’ Conference.

9 Critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Maths Fiesta. 9 & 10 Mathematical challenges to develop teamwork and problem-solving.
Mental Health Support Team Assembly. 8 The importance of sleep.
Trip Year Group Focus
Alice Through the Looking Glass. 9 - 11 Textiles and Art.
Hobbies and Interests Day 8 Personal enrichment.
Developing Blended Learners Programme - Part 2. 9 Learning how to understand how the brain works, how we can break questions down and a recap on mind mapping.
Junior maths challenge. 7 & 8

National Competition.

Knife Crime Workshops. 7 & 8

Personal safety.

Election Week – Senior Student Role elections. 7 - 11 Democracy & the right to Vote.

As you can see, there has been extensive opportunity in all year groups for students to engage with enrichment activities across many subject areas or through activities to promote their wellbeing and safety, as well as activities to build resilience and aspiration.

At the start of May, Mr Armstrong put on the Music Showcase, which is the second year we have run this event. It is an opportunity for any students who wish to, to perform musically in front of their peers and family. Over 30 acts involving 53 students took part this year, and it was compered by the brilliant Casper H and Henery G. There was great as well as developing talent showcased, but what struck me more than anything as I watched all the performers, is how courageous they were to make the most of this opportunity.  

On reflection following this performance, I have thought hard about how important it is to promote the concept of courage, when it comes to making the most of opportunities. Many people comment, and I know that I can be one of them, on how lucky some people are, because they get all the breaks in life. Actually, luck has nothing to do with it. It is more likely that those people did something courageous and made the most of an opportunity, no matter how small, that took them outside their comfort zone and from that action other opportunities have come.

At the end of the OPEN MIND assembly at the start of this term, I used a quote from Teddy Roosevelt which for me captured the importance of aspiration and dreams, but thinking about it I have come to realise that it sits perfectly with the courage required to make the most of opportunities as well. Who wants to be the invisible person, who is quickly forgotten, because no effort or courage has been put into how life is lived?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt

If we never take the opportunity and if we never try, then we are destined to be the cold and timid souls referred to by Teddy.

Likewise in this time of challenge, political and economic uncertainty I have found great hope and shared with the students as they are the ‘Next Generation’, the following quote from Anne Frank:

How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment to start improving the world.” - Anne Frank

So we are going to promote the moving forward with courage, certainly as a College community, but hopefully increasingly as individuals, as we, but most especially our ‘Next Generation’, seek to enter the arena of life and what it has to offer through the opportunities that arise and our individual will to make the most of them.