Principal’s Blog: Year 8 Tasters

It’s been a good week at Penrice and the sun also came out at times too which means we can have some more active break times. Many of our students want to be active at breaks and all of them enjoy being outside, so any breaks in the rain are welcomed.

Year 8 have been having ‘taster’ sessions for the new subjects on our choices programme. Later this term they will make choices for the subjects they want to study next year; there is much less choice than in the past because every student needs to do a fairly extensive core offer of English, Maths, at least two Sciences and for most a Language and Humanities subject. This means that by, the time they are 16, all of our students have had a broad education that gives them a huge range of options about what to do next. Where in the past some students specialised at 13 or 14 years old, we now don’t want that to happen until 16 years old at the earliest. In the past we knew what kind of jobs would be available but increasingly the future job market looks more and more difficult to predict – so we equip our students with as many skills and experiences as possible to make sure they can be flexible and able to shift career areas probably more than once in their working lives.

The news recently about the partial closure of the Port Talbot steelworks in South Wales that traditionally employed half the workers in the town – and the way that has forced workers to find different types of jobs – is an example. The ones that have got new jobs fastest were the ones with the best education, most perseverance and greatest ‘get up and go’. Cornwall depends on tourism for one third of all of the jobs in the county – but tourists are fickle and there is no guarantee this will be sustained at the current level forever. Care and medical support is the next biggest job sector followed by engineering and construction. Two years ago there was huge growth in demand for people who could service and supply solar panels – recent drops in the price of oil and the end of subsidies has seen that market shrink. Two years ago we were pointing students in the direction of ‘green’ jobs; now it is more uncertain. So, Year 8 are trying out some new subjects and will get some choices – but they will all have a great core education that is transferable to any job. That education is partly about qualifications and partly about the skills and attributes that will make great employees or entrepreneurs.

The Race for Life that students organised in the last week of term has continued to attract donations and we can now announce that the grand total, as of the morning of Friday 29th January 2016 is £3,447.52 – and the total is still increasing! This was approximately seven times greater than the original target. That is an amazing achievement for a group of young people and is a testament to their dedication and hard work – and ambition. Running a race in the last days of December, in the mist and rain with such enthusiasm says more than anything else about the spirit of the school. We are lucky to have some fantastic young people in our school.

There is plenty to look forward to next week. We are hosting a conference for Apple based on our experiences of being an iPad school for some years, we have drama students performing in a public event at the Hall for Cornwall and on Friday Pirate FM are with us all day running sessions on e-safety with Year 8 who, in return, will be tasked with creating radio adverts.

I think I write every week that it feels like a busy week at Penrice – but we would rather be busy than allow anyone to be bored!

David Parker, Principal