Well, this is my last blog as Principal of Hamilton College and it is rather an emotional moment. Although I am very much looking forward to beginning my retirement and starting a new 'journey' with my wife, Sarah, I cannot deny that being part of Hamilton's 'Remarkable Journey' (to quote Ofsted one last time!) has been an incredibly special time of my life. I have met some wonderful people and worked with some exceptional colleagues over the years; ones which I will never forget. I have also been honoured to have taught your children. Hamilton children really are very special - they are incredibly bright, loyal and very funny, and they have brightened my day, every day, for the last ten years. I will miss everyone and I wish everyone every continuing success for the future. Hamilton really does have a great future ahead of it - a state-of-the-art new building, a smart new uniform and best ever exam results (equalling the National Average for the first time ever in the school's history!) - so the school, its staff and its pupils are in the best place to continue to thrive and to continue to do great things.
As you know, I leave the school in the capable hands of Mr Ed Carlyle from Huxlow School in Northamptonshire. Mr Carlyle is very much looking forward to getting to work in September and has already been in to school on several occasions to meet the staff and the students. In July he also came to our Induction Evening and met our Yr6s and their parents which was a great opportunity for our newest pupils to begin to get to know the Principal who will take them through these next important five years of their education. I have every faith in Mr Carlyle's ability to do a great job for the school and I know that you as parents and supporters of the college will also want to get behind him as he settles into his new role.
As always, the end of term has been a hectic one with the pupils and staff giving me no 'get out clauses' despite my impending retirement - in fact during Sports Day, for the first time in ten years, I was roped into taking part in the Teachers' Relay and was asked to head up the 'oldies' team (charming!) It was all going very well - I got off to a speedy start, followed by Mr Davidson (Head of Drama) who managed to do two legs despite his advancing years! However, our lead sadly all went to pot when we handed over to Mr Rogers (a member of my Senior Leadership Team and, an ex PE teacher, may I just add!) He managed to lose it all on the final leg and throw away our potential glory at the last minute! Despite this obvious disappointment, pupils had a great day during Sports Day, competing in their Houses for overall victory in the afternoon. This year's winning House was Bosworth who just snatched victory from second placed Bradgate but no matter where pupils were placed in the competitions they still had a brilliant time outside in the sunshine.
Another important event in our social calendar at this time of year is the Year 11 Prom. This is long anticipated by our oldest pupils and is something which they carefully plan for long in advance. This year, our Prom was held at the Leicester Tigers' Ground on Friday 19th July. The sun was shining as pupils made their arrivals in a variety of fantastic cars, from vintage Cadillacs to traditional limos, and looking absolutely lovely in their beautiful dresses and stylish suits. Inside the venue pupils enjoyed a meal together, where the part that pupils enjoyed the most was undoubtedly the Chocolate Fountain, before their awards ceremony and disco to round off the night. This year, our Prom King and Queen were Ellis Green and Jelena Colovic - both worthy winners! A variety of other prizes were also handed out, some of a slightly less serious nature than others! As always, it was lovely to spend these final hours with our oldest pupils and to see them looking so grown up. We wish them every future success for their lives beyond Hamilton, and we look forward to seeing them again when they collect their GCSE results on 20th August.
You may have seen in our recent newsletter that this year's winners of our annual MP6 contest were Uppingham Community College, represented by Alfie Finch-Critchkey who gave a very knowledgeable speech on Non-domicile Tax status. However, our own Yr9 Brahmpreet Gulati delivered an exceptionally passionate and engaging speech on the topic of Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan's changes to GCSE exam grade boundaries. I was highly engaged by what Brahmpreet had to say about how she felt that these changes were having a negative effect on pupils in colleges, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and Brahmpreet gave a really enthusiastic delivery. As always, the competition was tightly judged by some esteemed colleagues from the world of politics and education including the Right Honourable MP Keith Vaz, our newly elected ward councillor Vi Dempster and the Dean of the College of Teachers in London, Professor Rosemary Sage. Our pupils, not just from Hamilton but from the six colleges represented from across Leicester and Leicestershire, really did us proud.
Something else which I really enjoyed this month was our very first annual Health Fair, held on 19th June. The day was organised to give pupils the opportunity to meet with different health providers in an informal way and ask the questions that they may have always wanted to know. They were able to move around the different 'stalls' which represented the various health organisations and gather important information in a way which was best suited to them and their needs. Alongside the school nurse, other services which were represented included Breast and Testicular Cancer, Smoking Cessation, Cornerstones (an Alcohol Awareness charity), CAMHS (a mental health support service), a dietician and Barnardos who can give support to Young Carers, in particular. Students were given a booklet to complete to help them focus on gathering relevant information but were also encouraged to ask any questions of the advisors too. I think that this kind of opportunity really complements the academic work that we do with pupils and helps to ensure that our pupils can lead healthy safe lives.
There has been so much more going on in college this month that I can't fit everything into my blog, but you can read more about what's been going on in college in our latest Newsletter which has been posted to you and is also available on our website. Please do take the time to read all about pupils' work in connection with things like Enterprise Day, Health and Fitness Week, the Chemistry Challenge, their visit to Dovedale and far more besides.
Finally from me, can I just take this opportunity to thank you for all of your support over these past ten years. I have loved getting to know many of you (lots of whom I also knew as students too, before you became parents!) and I will miss Hamilton. I look forward to watching the college's continued growth from the side-lines now, and I will always remain interested in this wonderful, really rather special, place.
Good luck to you all. I wish you every future happiness.