Principal’s Blog: A Zest for Life

This week we held our annual Open Day and Open Evening, inviting all the Year 6 pupils in the town schools to spend a day with us to give them a taste of life at Penrice, and to see what secondary schools are like.

We asked for hands up on who had a brother or sister here and two thirds said ‘yes’. We asked who had a mother or father who also came here and it was about a half. We didn’t ask the next question about grandparents but I suspect that it would be a significant proportion. Whether a student has history with this school or whether they are new to the community, they will all be made equally welcome. However, the sheer number of families who have lived and worked in St Austell for generations and continue to support the school is heart-warming.

We could not run Open Day or Open Evening without our students. The students could probably run the event without the staff, though. The maturity with which they approach the role, the energy and enthusiasm they demonstrate and the sheer warmth of their welcome says all there is to say about why this school is so outstanding. The school is not a set of buildings; that is just the background. It is the young people in the school that make it what it is. In the holidays and in the evenings the school feels flat and deserted, but once our students arrive we have a buzz, a raw energy, a zest for life and an infectious enthusiasm that sends the staff home smiling at the end of the day.

Every now and then I meet ex-students who spent a lot of time in trouble when they were with us. Invariably they tell me that, if they could have their time again, they would have worked harder, taken more advantage of what was being offered and got a lot more out of their education. They ask if they can come back and do an assembly with the students who are like they are now. You can try I say, but they probably won’t listen…would you have at their age? They smile ruefully, shake their heads and tell me ‘no’. I used this as a theme for the Year 9 assembly this week, by contrasting the opportunities they had compared to the many millions of children worldwide who were not in school, were not learning and would always be illiterate and unable to access the higher paid jobs in their own countries.

Education is a privilege, and I am pleased to say that nearly all of our young people can see that. Time is precious too and we have so little of it, especially when GCSEs suddenly loom. My message was that we will never have the time back which we waste at school; make the most of every moment.

David Parker, Principal