01 September 2020

The Monday Briefing: Hello, Goodbye

The Monday Briefing

Generally speaking, I’m not a great fan of romantic comedies. My wife loves them, but I tend to find them either depressingly predictable or sickeningly saccharine. I’m happy to make one exception in terms of the content within these movies, and that is the inclusion of sport in some form. Granted, there have only ever been a handful of sporting romantic comedies ever made, and the best example of an ‘acceptable’ rom-com for me is the 1996 movie ‘Jerry Maguire’.

A film which introduced several phrases into mainstream culture, like ‘show me the money’ and ‘you had me at hello’, the plot revolves around a sports agent who has an epiphany about the future of the industry: that they should take more personal care of their clients, foregoing a relentless pursuit of profit for stronger relationships.  In the last week, I’ve been thinking about this extensively in connection to my own role, and the new responsibilities I’ve taken on this year. Due to the small size of the College at Ealing, and the intensive nature of our teaching, I feel very strongly that we embody the words of his mentor, the late, great Dicky Fox when he told Jerry: ‘the key to this business is personal relationships.’

This time of the year is bittersweet at the College. Some of the students in our GCSE cohort move on to pastures new, and we have to bid them farewell with a heavy heart. Having form tutored them during the previous academic year, I was particularly watchful of their progress. The nature of the close relationships which we build with students makes it all the more difficult to see them go, but it was heartening this week to read some delightful messages from the parents. They were truly life affirming – and they leave me convinced that what we do here is transformative for the students under our care. They showcased the best of the College - the flexibility to take students and different stages of the course, in different circumstances, but to produce the same excellent results upon completion. To hear such satisfied testimonials from parents confirmed to me, without a doubt, that we are taking the correct approach in everything we do.

“When, around this time last year, we were pretty desperate to find somewhere for our daughter, Ealing Independent was in many ways an answer to prayer.  You took her in, followed her thoroughly and supported her relentlessly.”

“He grew up at your school, learning knowledge, skill to think and express, and social responsibility. We believe he is now at his best as a young person just starting Sixth Form. We cannot thank your school and everyone at your school enough for giving him the education, which has resulted in the superb GCSE achievement and also guided him to grow up to be a considerate and insightful person.  We owe this to you all.”

“I just wanted to thank you so very much for everything you have done for my daughter.  You gave her a chance at a very difficult time and she could not have been happier at Ealing. We were delighted with her results and it is very much thanks to the College's support and outstanding teaching that she was able to achieve this.  It is the most caring, warm, environment with exceptional teaching and pastoral support and I couldn't imagine a better place for her to have spent the rest of Year 11.  The online teaching was amazing once lockdown occurred, it was all organised so smoothly and gave the students a great sense of routine and stability at a time of upheaval and I don't know of many schools who provided such structure and so efficiently.”

As students move on to new challenges, so too does the College. The College has been working over the past few weeks to prepare for a new group of students who will be joining us in September. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several delightful students keen to be the best versions of themselves that they can be, but who have found that their past educational experiences have not allowed them to do so. I want these students to find a home here. I want them to increase their confidence, to find purpose and to excel.

Part of our recruitment process this year was the delivery of a successful Virtual Open Day (click here to view the video), which showcased much of what we do here. The importance of relationships was emphasised during an opening presentation and an extensive question and answer session, as well as how the support we provide, both pastorally and academically, is truly ‘above and beyond’ that usually expected in larger schools. 

As strange an experience as delivering a seminar to parents I could not see or hear was, the positive comments which it garnered from the attendees made it a valuable experience. In future, I’m keen to tailor future events to different entry points in order to give potential parents and students a greater opportunity to enjoy a more personalised experience. The overriding hope is that within the process of getting to know the Ealing Independent College family, they will quickly feel part of the nurturing environment here, investing in the partnership of personal relationships we hold so dear.

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