It was a year ago this month that I first met Daniel Ionescu of The Lincolnite to discuss the new Lincoln UTC and initiate my relationship with this fine online newspaper. This is my twelfth monthly article and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to stop, reflect and put pen to paper or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard.
Much has changed in the last twelve months and I am sure that when I look back in August 2015, having celebrated the first twelve months of Lincoln UTC, I will find myself once more reflecting on huge change.
For many, August is heralded as a relatively quiet month with schools out for summer and families taking time out to spend quality time together, heading to pastures new for a break and a change of scenery. Yet August is also seen as a time for change. In this month young people from across the country will nervously receive envelopes, finding out how well they did in their summer examinations. Tomorrow we will see our newspapers filled with photos of sixth form students, clutching results forms, hugging one another in happiness and, sadly in some cases, shedding a tear due to unexpected disappointment.
Next week a similar picture will unfold as GCSE students receive similar news. Nervous yet exciting times ahead for teachers and families as much as students: the pressure of expectation is equally shared.
Beside these young people, their families will wait: having lived through the last two years, they appreciate their toil and commitment and they too will have provided great support and care to help them achieve their outcomes. In the background will stand a team of school or college staff.
The teachers, who have given so much to their students by enlightening their minds, challenging their opinions, developing their thinking and growing them both academically and personally. The array of support staff, who go unnoticed by the press at this time of year, yet who have provided the learning environment, resources, personal support, entered them for exams, fed and nourished their minds and ensured they have travelled safely to and from school each day. This is a team of unsung heroes, without whom these results would never have been possible.
These two weeks are certainly times to celebrate the achievements of students across the country; equally, they are times to congratulate all those who have supported them along the journey. As individuals we can only achieve so much – as a team, we are significantly stronger and ultimately more successful: it is true, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
In this month of change these young people will head off to pastures new. Whether that is to employment, apprenticeship or university, to embark on post-16 studies in a new institution or indeed to change school at 14 to join the UTC, such opportunities provide excitement and can be equally daunting. Important decisions are made and futures begin to take shape as career pathways become more refined and considered. This is a pivotal month – it is good that for many it is a time of rest, as such decisions need to be made with an uncluttered, focused mind.
Here at the UTC we are not in a period of rest – indeed, this time could not be more active! Chad Varah House is brimming with specialists in fields such as information technology, interior design, engineering and construction, to name but a few. In a little over two weeks experts in education will fill the building, preparing for the arrival of those young people who have made a life-changing decision to join us at the UTC.
They have taken a significant step in their career pathway, joining us to focus on their strengths and interests in Science and Engineering. We look forward to celebrating the GCSE results of our Year 12 students next week and welcoming them and our Year 10 students to the next exciting phase of their education. Education in Engineering, Science and Mathematics has never looked stronger in Lincolnshire.
We wish all our colleagues across the county the very best of luck for them and their students this week – we raise a glass to your collective hard work and achievements and look forward to reading of your successes.
Dr. Rona Mackenzie is Principal of Lincoln University Technical College (UTC). She has a strong background in education, having worked in six local authorities during her career, and is passionate about providing an education that meet the needs of young people and their community industries. She is a keen sportswoman and mountaineer, recently trekking to Everest Base Camp, and has an interest in photography.