It’s not every day that Ullswater Community College gets to showcase its work at Clarence House, the London home of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales but, on Wednesday 19th November 2014, I had the pleasure of showing a file starring our students in in vocational subjects to introduce a discussion about what constitutes meaningful and relevant vocational education.
The film showcased work in Motor Vehicle Engineering, Hair & Beauty, Professional Catering, Construction and Environment & Land Based courses. Students and staff starring in the film included Jessica Gardham, who introduced the Applied Learning Centre; Liam Braithwaite, who was shown working on a Massey Ferguson 35X tractor; Ethan Swann, who explained why the Hair & Beauty course was key to his future career and motivated him to improve in his maths and English GCSEs; William Garbarino-Danson, who was seen preparing food in his Professional Catering course; Zach Walsh, who demonstrated his skills in bricklaying and urged policy makers to protect the practical skills in danger of being swamped by too much paper work; and Bobby Atkinson, Leon Askins, Rebecca Ellwood, Megan Harrison, Alex Kay and Ben McGuffog, who were seen working on their small animal care and arable studies in preparation for careers in agriculture and veterinary science.
The Prince of Wales expressed his keen interest and encouragement for the development of vocational education in order that the country’s economic stability and social cohesion are well supported by a knowledgeable, skilled and reliable workforce, as well as ensuring that traditional crafts in a variety of areas continue to thrive.
The seminar was attended by 30 representatives from diverse organisations, including the Prince’s Charities as well as a select group of experts, business leaders, policy makers and practitioners from across the country, including Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education; ex. Secretary of State for Education, Lord Baker; Lord David Sainsbury, ex. Chairman of Sainsbury’s; Sir Mike Thomlinson CBE, ex. Chief Inspector of Schools and Chair of the Working Group on 14–19 Reform as well as representatives from the National Health Service, Royal Horticultural Society, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Duchy of Cornwall.
I was hugely proud of the students at UCC who appeared in the film and of those staff of the Learning Resource Centre in the school who produced the film in such a short period of time for this event. Those present at the seminar were delighted to see Ullswater students working in vocational areas and thought it was a fantastic stimulus for their discussions. It was the first time I have given a presentation to such an eminent group; people who have responsibility for ensuring that vocational education continues to thrive in the country’s schools. It was also the first time I have had to give a presentation in the Heir to the Throne’s private sitting room with members of The Irish Guards patrolling outside, drill sergeants barking orders to the ceremonial troops in The Mall and horse-drawn carriages passing the windows.
In discussions after the event, Prince Charles told me that he had heard a great deal about the successful work of the school and that he hoped to visit to Ullswater Community College in the spring to see for himself the excellent work in the school’s vocational subjects.
The art department are having a one week sale of work to raise funds for materials. There are lots of art works on sale including; life drawing, painting, sculpture and textiles; ideal for Christmas presents.
The exhibition is open at 12.35-1.35 & 3.40-4.40 in the pig pen on:
Monday 1st December
Wednesday 3rd December
Thursday 4th December
Friday 5th December
Professor Michael Preston-Shoot (Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences at the University of Bedfordshire) gave an inspirational lecture to the sixth form: “On the threshold of new dreams”. This was followed by a debate with students on a diverse range of social issues. The Sixth form questions were excellent. The Professor then visited lessons in school with a focus on philosophy & ethics and health & social care. He had a thoroughly enjoyable visit and would be happy to return. A small amount of footage was taken from the session:
It’s difficult to find words to describe the overwhelming brilliance of our Prize Day celebrations on 23 October 2014. It was always part of the plan that these events should be entertaining, uplifting and of outstanding quality. Indeed, pupils receiving prizes and those watching in the audience ought to get as much pleasure from the event as one another.
This year the staff and pupils of the school excelled themselves and we enjoyed a stunningly good pair of Prize Day ceremonies. The opening sequences of film showcasing a new 3D graphic of the school crest, a year in the life of UCC and some of the TV appearances of our guest, Adam Thomas, got the events off to a great start. The Year 13 drama students performed a cheeky look at the history of theatre, our wind band of 50 students blew the audience’s mind with Katy Perry’s Firework, our dancers had people open-mouthed with the fusion of ballet and street choreography and our national championship-wining cheerleaders brought the house down with their performance.
Since the big day I have had a steady stream of e-mails and letters, all positive, about the event and as the dust settles on this year’s proceeding we’ve already begun thinking about how we can make next year’s Prize Day even bigger than this year’s.
A huge thank you to all staff, students and parents who are playing their part in selling raffle tickets for this term’s Grand Christmas Draw. Proceeds will support a “social space” project for students at UCC as well as contributing to our overseas development work in Tanzania. A good number of pupils have requested additional books of tickets so we hope we can raise a good amount of support for these two interesting ventures.