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Education view: Take ‘inspiration’ from our students

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 November 2018

Archant

As I arrive at NewVIc for another day of hearing about funding cuts, staffing shortages and spiders, I see a large group of students being very loud, perhaps some would describe as intimidating, hanging outside the front entrance on Prince Regent Lane.

As I walk over to them to have a “word”, a boy looks up and says, “Hi Sir!” Upon hearing this, some of the others look over towards me and greet me with wide smiles. I raise my voice so it can be heard over the noise and ask the group, “What are you up to?”

“Nothing Sir, it’s Benita’s birthday and we’ve chipped in to buy her a present. She’s just opening it now!” Shouting over the crowd as I walk away, I wish Benita a happy birthday. A few more steps and further noise erupts from the group - cheers and laughter.

I arrive at my office with a huge smile, full of energy and ready to take on the world. For me, it’s easy to cut through the constant negativity I hear and read about concerning education. Yes, we are facing challenges such as: funding cuts; the impact and uncertainty of Brexit; Ofsted moving the goalposts - again; new providers closing after just a few years; staffing shortages; new qualifications; government policy that seems to fly in the face of logic and common sense; and now, to top it all off – spiders! But actually, when you really focus on the truth, the only thing I see is the shining light at the other end of this tunnel – our students.

Despite what many people think, the young people I spend time with are not “intimidating” or pessimistic about their futures. The above difficulties do not concern them. They are filled with hope, ambition and excitement. Every year at NewVIc 2,500 16-18 year olds arrive, entrusting us with their aspirations and enthusiasm, a total of 7,900 in the entire borough. Considering this, it’s difficult to comprehend that Further Education has proven to be the most severely cut in terms of funding within the entire education sector - 21 per cent cut as reported in the Guardian in September.

Yet, in spite of all of the cuts and negative press, let’s take inspiration from our optimistic students and rejoice in the things that Further Education has successfully achieved .

Because of this, my biggest concern is ensuring that the rest of the world sees our young people in the same positive way that NewVIc does.

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