Principal’s Blog: Looking at Your Future

Another busy week at Penrice Academy.

Year 10 have been looking at their future with a visit to the Cornwall Careers Show. They will have accumulated a lot of leaflets and brochures from prospective employers, but much more importantly will have given serious consideration to their future.

I do follow the fortunes of our ex-students; some of them turn up to do work on my house as electricians and plumbers, some we see in uniform in the Armed Forces, others we hear are going to university or starting careers as doctors or vets. We also keep in close contact with employers organisations on what they want from schools and the curriculum. The big growth areas for jobs in Cornwall are green technologies (solar, wind, geothermal) and food – producing it, serving it or getting involved in the bio-engineering of it. Marine engineering remains strong as do the caring professions and general retail and administration jobs.

It is not necessarily a decision for now, but knowing where you might be going means you can make the right choice between academic A Levels, advanced vocational qualifications, more general occupational qualifications or apprenticeships. The fastest growing choice is apprenticeships and around one student in five will choose that route this year. Apprenticeships offer the chance to do an advanced qualification, get work experience and get paid up to £150 a week.

We have also had a catering competition this week and once again the standard of food prepared was well beyond expectation for a 13 or 14 year old. The judges come from professional catering backgrounds and are looking for future stars to work in top class restaurants in the future, either in Cornwall or anywhere else in the world. Cornwall has a well-deserved reputation for the quality of its food and chefs and our students proved equal to the task of matching up to those standards this week. Last year we won through to the South West regional finals and I know the catering staff here want to go further this year. It is a great opportunity for our students to show what they can do, be put under a bit of pressure and also work with top quality chefs.

As well as all this we have enjoyed inviting four local primary schools in for ‘learning about physics’ with the Science staff. Also, our Year 8s have been doing the Big Draw in Art, our PE department have started a new Basketball Club (already popular) and new orchestras and performances are developing all the time. The music team will finish the week with an outdoor concert in the student’s garden called Gig in the Garden.  Coming up soon we have the Fashion Show; the curtain raiser for the May Ball in seven months’ time, which will be the first time Year 11 have run a production largely on their own initiative. We hope you will be able to come and see the show.

The breadth of activity at Penrice means that every student can find something they want to do or like to do. It is all there for them and the learning and broadening of the mind that comes from sport, drama, music, playing a gig in front of your friends, cooking with master chefs or helping Primary children learn is exactly the kind of educational experience that employers tell me they are looking for. They think academic qualifications are important but above all they want students who can work in a team, can be polite to customers, can work on their own initiative and are resourceful and cheerful. That takes me back to where I started – with our mission to make sure that by the time they leave us, our students not only have the qualifications they need, they also know what they want to do and have the character and positive attitude that employers are crying out for. So the Careers Show is not just an excuse to collect leaflets (!) – it is an important step in our mission to educate the whole child.

David Parker, Principal