21 June 2021

The Monday Briefing: Day Tripper

The Monday Briefing: Day Tripper

The last week of term at Ealing Independent College brings two foci, both incredibly important and both fitting ways to bring the academic year to an end - Futures Week for Year 12 and Activities Week for Years 9 and 10.

Futures Week brings together staff, outside speakers and alumni to form an excellent programme organised by our Vice Principal, Laura Bellerby, and geared towards informing, advising and motivating our Year 12 students to commence their applications for university. It is an extremely exciting time for them: planning where they intend to be for the next few years of their lives; contemplating new beginnings, new opportunities and new responsibilities; and realising that through hard work, commitment and dedication, they have the chance to move closer to realising their career ambitions.

We hope to inspire them, and will provide them with extensive support in order to give them the best possible chance to receive offers from those institutions where they aspire to become undergraduates. Since Laura joined the College, our provision in this area has certainly improved. She has established systems which maximises College students’ opportunities, going to extreme lengths by offering them unlimited consultations regarding their personal statements, arranging mock interviews which have prepared them ably and making herself available for meetings when concerns arise at any point of the process.

When our students receive emails from universities like the ones below, our approach to supporting university admissions is vindicated:

“I wanted to write personally to express how impressed the School is by your application. In reaching our decision, our admissions team noted from your personal statement “I have setup an ecommerce business which features on Amazon and eBay. I am already liaising with manufacturers in China, and researching existing high-demand/low competition products. Essentially, I am eager to delve into the world of macroeconomics, and explore opportunities to create wealth.”  These examples of your character have given us absolute confidence that you will thrive at the School, to reach your fullest potential. Your strong profile is a testament to your proactive attitude and business mindset, and we believe you will make a valuable academic and social contribution here.”

We will, however, look to enhance our offering - and the reorganisation of this week, I’m sure, will do precisely that.

Whilst the Year 12s take their initial steps towards making a clearer future for themselves beyond the College, our younger students will, deservedly, enjoy a series of activities, educational, physical and team building, which have now become possible with restrictions due to the pandemic now starting to ease.

I’m a huge advocate for the importance of trips within the curriculum, particularly given the enforced lockdowns and continuation of travel limitations which ensue. Martin Hudson, heavily involved with PGL Travel, a company which can be termed as experts in the field, makes an excellent case for learning outside the classroom in his article entitled 'Benefits far outweight risk.'  However measures can possibly be taken to broaden the horizons of students, they should be utilised. 

From a personal perspective, trips have offered unique opportunities to forge, strengthen and capitalise on ensuring that staff-student relationships are robust, whilst ensuring that vital memories of an enjoyment of learning whilst out of a comfort zone are created.

I have been fortunate enough to participate in several excursions outside of school grounds during my career, domestic and international, and they have always left an indelible mark. I’ve presented to over a thousand students whilst taking an assembly during a visit to a partner school in India, and I learned a great deal about my endurance levels whilst undergoing a five day trek through the jungles of Borneo. Travel has allowed wonderfully formative experiences in my working life and outside of it, and I believe that it’s important for students to gain some insight into the positive effects of that.

Two particular expeditions during my time at the College will linger long in my recollection as character building and which truly enhanced student growth. 

In 2016, the College took a small group of students on a month-long expedition to China, organised by the STC. Experiencing a culture so alien, whilst undertaking a gruelling trip covering several regions around the country made everyone in the group delve into levels of resilience which they perhaps felt before the trip that they did not possess. One can not profess to really having eaten authentic Chinese food, amongst the best I’ve ever tasted, until one visits the country itself whilst climbing Mount Siguniang, which stands over 5,200 metres high, still ranks as one of my proudest achievements. A full description of the trip can be read here...

Perhaps less physically demanding, but no less intellectually stimulating, the College has proudly been the only UK school which has sent students to MIT in Boston for their Model UN conference for three years leading up to the pandemic (2018, 2019 and 2020). Giving our sixth formers a chance to debate with the peers from different countries, cultures and outlooks opened their minds to new ways of thinking, and challenged their perceptions about the world itself. There can be few better preparations for the transformative experience of university. Read a student perspective on MITMUNC here...

I hope, as the world starts to reconnect in the months and years following the pandemic, that similar opportunities can be reestablished for our students. Without such experiences, the crucial, formative years of our young people will be a story of what might have been, rather than a collection of life affirming memories which drive them on to better things.

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