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20 September 2022

The Monday Briefing: One Vision

The Monday Briefing: One Vision

It has been a pleasure to welcome the students, both new and returning, to the College in the last fortnight, and to see such an atmosphere of excitement, motivation and drive to improve.

It was especially pleasing to see the students connect so well with our guest speakers from Bath Coaching last week, and, indeed, to see such a high turn out of parents who clearly took a great deal from the follow up session.

Students were guided through the importance of goal setting, the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy and the growth coaching model. It’s never too early to consider the importance of making long term goals and how one maintains the necessary principles in order to realise them. Though it may seem like a premature task for Year 9 and Year 10 students to consider, they threw themselves into the task.

Year 11 and 12 students showed a great deal of purpose in setting out their five year plans, and working through scenarios of potential pitfalls in the process.

I was particularly impressed by the maturity of the Year 13s during their assembly with our guests. They are the leaders of the school, and they seem to be rising to this task. Each of them seemed to grasp the importance of the topic, and were clearly comfortable when expressing their individual thoughts and apprehensions about the changes to come. 

The impression I had taken from their session was reinforced when I met the Student Leadership Team for the first time on Friday. They said that they wanted the group to achieve substantially beyond the four walls of the College, improving links with our partner schools and colleges within the Bellevue Group, forging ever-stronger links with the local community and raising the profile of EIC. They are clearly very proud to be a part of the group, and they are keen to leave a legacy of positive change.  

The evening session, delivered by Bath Coaching, where a significant proportion of the parental body of the College attended, was immensely insightful and valuable for those who partook. Parents were given the chance to ask questions and seek advice, and one could clearly see that the advice resonated. One parent asked me what my message was for those in attendance, and what they should say to their sons and daughters. I said with conviction that the message needed to be clear, regularly voiced and unequivocal: that the students are made aware by their parents that ‘I believe in you - and I believe in the system in place at the College to get the very best from you.’

I’m very keen that everyone connected to the College - students, staff and parents - adopt a shared goal for this year: to work together in order to encourage and empower the young men and women who attend Ealing Independent College to continually increase their resilience in the face of the many challenges which face them. This should not be confined simply to school work and academic study. I am keen that all students leave the College as fully rounded individuals who rise to the occasion to produce their best, particularly when faced with adversity.

To this end, we will be welcoming another guest speaker to deliver assemblies on Wednesday this week. Darren Edwards embodies this shared College goal, overcoming a life threatening event, and subsequent disability, in order to achieve some truly remarkable feats. I hope that the students drew inspiration from his story.

Darren is a former mountaineer and Army Reservist who sustained a life-changing injury in the summer of 2016. The near-fatal climbing accident would leave Darren permanently paralysed from the chest down. With determination, grit and positivity, Darren has overcome adversity by becoming a Disabled Adventurer, Expedition Leader and Motivational Speaker.

In August 2016 Darren’s life changed forever. Whilst rock climbing in North Wales, he was involved in a serious fall which would leave him with a life-changing injury. As he climbed a 120ft (36m) exposed rock face, a section of rock unexpectedly shifted below his feet, and he was sent tumbling uncontrollably towards his climbing partner below. The injury he sustained would leave him instantly paralysed from the chest down and with a severe spinal cord injury.

Lucky to survive Darren Edwards made an important and life-changing commitment to himself that he wouldn’t be beaten.

Refusing to let the word disability define who he is as a person, and committed to helping challenge the perception of what those with a disability can achieve, Darren has gone on to lead a record-breaking and world first expedition (Kayak 4 Heroes), which saw him lead a team of five injured/wounded veterans in kayaking 1,400 kilometres from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’ Groats in Scotland. 

This incredible undertaking, which was Darren’s toughest physical and emotional challenge since becoming paralysed in 2016, saw the team paddle across some of Europe’s most challenging coastal waters before arriving at John O’ Groats 26 days after setting off on their world first expedition.

Later this year, Darren will be aiming to become the first disabled person to complete the iconic World Marathon Challenge (seven marathons, seven days, seven continents).

I first saw Darren speak at the Annual Heads’ ISA Conference in the Lake District earlier this year. Not only was I moved by his story, but I felt that everyone who heard it would be inspired to push themselves to strive for better - and this is what our College does best.

Whatever position students find themselves in, we will always look to help students to become the very best they can be. I’ve taken great pleasure in interviewing an unprecedented number of students who wish to buy into that vision over the last month, meaning that not only is the College in rude health in terms of the number of students, but that there is an overwhelming sense of purpose to realise the vision identified above.

EIC is a nurturing environment where people come to grow in confidence and achieve both academically and in a wider sense, making the very best of what they have. I hope that the vision, introduced by Bath Coaching, embodied by Darren Edwards and reiterated on a day to day basis by staff at the College, that any challenge can be overcome with grit, determination, application and desire, will continue to resonate throughout the lives of everyone connected with our College.

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