18 September 2023

The Monday Briefing: Love on the Run

The Monday Briefing:

The start of term brings with it new opportunities for students to adopt a fresh approach to their studies, whilst also allowing chances for them to try new things.

Whilst the College is somewhat restricted in terms of the amount of space it has to offer limitless activities, being located right in the middle of Ealing, we have always followed the mantra that ‘what we do offer, we do it well.’

Alongside this mantra, we try to satisfy the wishes of students - where there is a demand for it from the College community, we look to fulfil it. With this in mind, the extra curricular provision at the College is built around the students who come, and the guideline is that they should involve themselves in at least one activity.

There are numerous drop-in sessions available to help with English, Maths, UCAS - including the interview processes in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, or simply to support student wellbeing. The newly introduced mentoring programme at the College will hopefully provide younger students with critical advice which can save them time and reinforce their confidence.

Beyond supporting studies and academic empowerment, there are many activities to consider, from the expected to the less so:

It would be remiss not to open with the College’s own student newspaper, Distinct, with the editorship moving from Noor to Ryan this academic year. Noor signed off with another exceptional edition - number 7 since the superb project began in 2021 - and the publication, I’m sure, will go from strength to strength. Writing and essay competitions are open throughout the year, and our students frequently have their efforts published nationally.

If spoken, rather than written communication is more to the liking of a student, then the Debating and Model UN club is a good outlet. Ealing Independent College, as part of the Bellevue Education group, can make good use of partnerships in place - and hosted a fiercely contested debating competition last year. Participants went on to thrive as the only UK school to attend the Model UN get together at MIT in Boston.

Nemone, our Head of MFL, helps guide two very popular clubs at the College: the Metaphysics and Folklore Club, which covers all things spooky, ghostly, supernatural and unexplained; and Book Club, fostering a love of both fiction and non-fiction texts. The College’s well stocked range of books in the Reading Room is a good introduction for those less sure about where their interests lie.

A long running club which has enjoyed a history of supporting medical applications from the College is the Biomedical Society, led by Guillermo, the Head of Biology. Any student considering a career in medicine, dentistry or pharmacy can make contributions in the form of presentations on contemporary topics and the group has often linked with the Book Club to elaborate on themes from texts which have a medical basis.

A range of new activities will no doubt come to fruition from our newly joining staff, and I’m keen to support their endeavours in any way I can.

In a sporting sense, the College, with no green fields or indoor courts, may not appear to have much to offer, but that would be a mistaken assumption. Football has a strong tradition at Ealing, with two league trophies still enjoying pride of place in reception. When I first joined EIC, this was very much ‘my baby’. Given the time it takes to carry out the role well, which I don’t possess, I’m glad to have passed the baton on to our Sports Coordinator Wes. He’ll also be establishing a basketball team at the College this year - the appetite for one, particularly from the Year 10 male cohort. I’m really excited to see how this develops.

For my part, I’m always keen to be involved where I can, and today sees the recommencement of the College Running Club. It was great to have some Year 12 students approach me last week demanding it start this early in the term - a timely start given my upcoming half marathon commitments at Ealing at the end of the week and at the Royal Parks Half in October.

With my ageing years in mind, my footballing days are very much in the past, but I’ve found a new sporting love - and I’m very keen to encourage the take-up amongst the students when considering the huge benefits it brings.

I read a wonderful short article documenting the gains of running according to the BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth, a multiple marathon runner - but one who only started in her late thirties (a similar time to myself).

Rueing the fact that she only found the joy of distance running so late in her life, she remarked that “I wonder why I didn’t take to running in my youth. It’s not just the physical strength I’ve gained, it’s the mental fortitude, too. Running has given me a level of confidence I lacked in my twenties and thirties.”

Getting better at this, whether it meant going longer or faster, made an incredible difference to her happiness, and brought a new lease of life. “I was surprised to find I was getting faster. It felt incredibly empowering. Running gave me a new identity.”

Beyond physical and mental fitness, the discipline of running can also bring tactical awareness of a better approach to life. Raworth has an incredibly stressful and pressurised job, but she has found ways to cope with it, and her running has shown her the way. “The marathon-training mentality started to slip into other parts of my life, too. Big live broadcasts became less daunting. Long-distance running had taught me that preparation was key. If I did the work, I knew I’d get the results.”

My hope is that through running, in a time of such anxiety on the part of students in schools, and the difficulty with which many young people find conducting their lives with balance, that they can find an easier way. I know that it has made a huge difference in keeping me on an even keel, in spite of the vast array of issues which can surface in the life of a Principal.

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