Banovallum School Awards 2017
Mr Mayor, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and most importantly students – tonight is an evening of celebration of all that we stand for. Of the collaboration between your teachers and yourselves, of the immense creativity that comes with working in an environment such as Banovallum and of the endeavours that have been undertaken to achieve excellence. It is therefore, with great pleasure and privilege that I take on the task, for the last time, as your Headteacher of leading the awards speeches.
Although I’ve been head here for six years, our guest speaker tonight, is likely to be in a position to claim that he has been in this hall on more occasions than I have! It is a privilege to introduce and share the stage with Ged Forster who retires from his role as Assistant Headteacher and Head of Sixth form at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School after 30 years of dedicated service. Not that QEGS was his first love though! Ged was associated with Banovallum before QEGS as his father was the first ever Headteacher of our school from 1963 – 1970. Ged often tells me of his memories of playing in our hall as a child whilst he waited for his Dad, hence his claim on the space. Ged started as a student at QEGS in 1970 and in 1975 he was the selected from many applicants to be the one Lincolnshire student who got a full scholarship from the County Council to study at Atlantic College (St David's in Wales) where he completed his Sixth Form and did an IB. He started teaching at the school in September 1987 following a four year career with the Royal Navy. During my time at the school, Ged has provided considerable support to our staff and students and has worked to enable the transition of our Year 11s to QEGS sixth form, really championing their progress. He is always utterly chivalrous in ensuring we share the credit when they go on to great things at university and beyond! Thank you for being here and we look forward to hearing from you later.
Although Ged’s claim on the hall is greater, I think he will acknowledge the significant enhancement of this space and the site and working environment over the last few years. I am extremely proud of the improvements we have made and thank Mr Bushell and Mrs Swain who have been as tenacious as I have in making sure we squeeze the most out of every penny of funding available and take a very professional stance to ensuring the school setting is as inspiring and bright a working environment as possible. Before my tenure officially finishes, we will have installed a new state of the art fire alarm system and refurbished the last of the main public spaces.
Ensuring Pathways to excellence has been one of the headlines of the school’s development plan this year and with Ged’s help, we launched Banovallum Alumni last summer. I am grateful to past students for sharing their stories and explaining their pathways to great futures. I hope this is a tradition which survives long into the future. For at this point, I am extremely cognisant of the fact that those of us privileged to lead schools are simply custodians for a period of time. The school will remain long after us and our role is to secure and develop the futures of the students in our care at any given time. To take every chance to improve and enhance the climate and environment for success. And your role, students, is to make the very most of every opportunity that comes your way whilst you are here. We are much more likely to regret what we haven’t done than what we have. When we think of students of the future, we consider the words of the great American writer Maya Angelou who said “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Our core business is teaching and learning and a second headline in our school development plan has been “thinking hard about learning.” Your teachers think hard about how to ensure that the teaching offer at school is as good as it can possibly be and the students here this evening are recognised for their day to day commitment to studying and working hard. It was Voltaire who said “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” Our partnership work has seen real innovation in this area this year with our Saturday morning workshops, led by Mr Leary. We have encouraged personalised learning by employing high performing Year 12 students to coach and mentor our Year 11s for two hours every Saturday for a 12 week period in SAS workshops. For staff and governors who attended, it was truly inspirational to see Year 11s from both schools collaborating and developing study skills with the support of their peers. We did try and keep Mrs Ireland away so that she didn’t come up with a quick way to save on school budgets, they were so good! Many of our Year 11s who took part in this initiative will go on to continue their education at our partner school,– I am delighted to welcome Mrs Payne, their new Headteacher this evening. You are inheriting a fantastic group of students – but more about Year 11 later.
From the extremely high quality pitches from Year 9 potential House Captains this week, to the inspiring assemblies led by anti-bullying ambassadors, to the tremendous work of the student council and student interview panel, to nineteen students achieving Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Awards, our students have shown time and again this year that they can lead with great responsibility and character. Our Development plan also highlighted “insisting on positive engagement” and there are so many examples of that. We operate as a unified team of staff and students and whilst we couldn’t possibly name every single success, it’s fair to say that tonight’s students represent only a small proportion of our cohort and they share their accomplishments, and to some extent owe some of them to those who are not represented here but have contributed positively to the ethos and culture that has enabled them to reach their goals.
The outgoing Year 11 has some of our most impressive leaders within it and the student leadership team will be represented later by Oliver and Darcie, both of whom have had quite remarkable terms of office and whose stories are full of opportunities taken. Thank you to both of you – it has been wonderful to watch you grow and fulfil your ambitions. Darcie was definitely the driving force behind the prom last week and it was a fantastic evening. It was a testament to the inclusivity and caring nature of the year that it was the best attended by staff and students in all of time here. It would be remiss of me not to pause and acknowledge another student leader at this point. One of the highlights of my year was in February when Daniel Bennison Pauls moved us in assemblies by sharing his story of how as an autistic young man, he perceives the world differently – in his words: “I have journeyed through Banovallum safely and happily and arrived in my final year having achieved plenty.” You have inspired us and taught us, Daniel and we are the better for it. It was also great to see your colleagues recognise this with your final accolade of prom king with Molly McGrath as the queen last week!
In the same way as I now pass a baton to Mr Edgar, Year 11 will pass theirs’ to Year 10. The incoming prefects are also an impressive bunch and I wish them every success in their final year and new terms of office.
Many of these students will be leading our last celebration on Friday night in Sports Personality Awards. This event has been a personal favourite of mine over the years and there is a great deal to recognise in terms of sporting success this year. The accolades range through the school with our Year 7 netball team being unbeaten all year and they only drew to the second best team who happen to also come from a Horncastle school! Last week we became the superzone athletics winners with championship records broken by Evie Brooks, Emma Leggate and Alfie Johnson. We were the Year 11 girl’s superzone basketball winners as well, with a number of the places on this team being taken up by year 10 students. Our Year 10 Rugby team were also runners up in the superzone this year. We have seen great success for the first time this year in girls’ cricket with our Year 10 team coming second in the county and the Year 8 team becoming county champions and runners up in the regional finals. They were coached along the way by ex-England Captain Aran Brindle who provided some great encouragement and expertise for the girls before their final competition.
We are fortunate to live and work in a community which supports our aims and ambitions so strongly and I am, as ever, extremely grateful to the Jobson Trust who have, been so generous in their sponsorship of our awards this evening. I’m glad that Mrs Marshall, a trustee of the charity has been able to join us tonight. Much of our work in Creative Arts, Design and Technology has been based in the community this year and the joint Emerge project with Mrs Ireland’s Red Lion theatre company saw Shakespeare performances and all things Elizabethan taking over the town on the weekend of Shakespeare’s birthday in April. The second St Mary’s Festival of Arts also saw some wonderful installations and first-rate musical performances, a couple of which we will be lucky enough to enjoy later.
Again, we must pause to acknowledge the tremendous dedication and commitment of Banovallum’s staff. As well as showing resilience and ambition for our students in terms of the academic progress they make, events such as most of those described here tonight would not occur without the willingness of our staff to give so freely of their time and energy outside of the curriculum. The staff here are an impressive and supportive team – a personal thank you from me for your loyalty, kindness and patience – it has been a privilege to work with and for you. Parents and students, I know you will want to join me in showing our appreciation.
We have some goodbyes to say this year. Mrs Scott who has managed not one but two ambitious productions in her qualifying year with us is moving on to work with Year 3 students – perhaps some of your days with Year 10 have felt like good preparation! Miss Mallinson, has also successfully completed her NQT year with us and is now going on to Castle Academy in Lincoln – we look forward to playing them in sports matches! And finally, someone who has been here nearly as long as I have, Mr Thorpe leaves us this year to pursue a career in the clergy. We wish you all good luck and every happiness in your futures.
And so, back to the students, you are the reason we are all here. Enjoy your moment of celebration and recognition and make sure it is just another chapter in your story of achievement. You are a credit to your parents and to the legacy of Banovallum School.