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Principal’s Welcome Dear friends, We are now almost halfway through the academic year and although the winter weather is still with us as I write this, it’s already time for our Spring Newsletter! We certainly had a wonderful run up to Christmas at Blackpool Sixth with a series of brilliant music, drama and dance performances. You can see some of the pictures from these excellent events on page 6. We have also been fortunate to have had lots of inspiring and thought-provoking talks recently for our students kindly provided by guest speakers such as Colin Parry OBE and Sylvia Lancaster OBE. We feel that it’s hugely important that our students benefit from the expertise, wisdom and insight of those who have achieved great things through hard work, determination and vision. We were also delighted by the Outstanding grade achieved by the Fylde Coast Teaching School’s initial teacher training programme of which we are a key part. Helping to develop teachers and educational leaders of the future is something we are proud to work on along with our partners across the region and beyond. We are also incredibly proud, as ever, of the achievements of our students. As the article below details, our exam results from the summer have once again led to us retaining our status as the Fylde Coast’s leading provider of A levels and BTECs. We are looking forward to celebrating the achievements of our current upper sixth students who will complete their courses in June. Best wishes for the rest of 2018! Jill Gray Principal

Number one in the Fylde again! Students and staff at Blackpool Sixth celebrated further success in the 16 to 18 performance tables published in January. We are now number one on the Fylde coast across all schools and colleges on the key measure of students’ best three A levels. We are also top of the table on students’ progress in applied general qualifications (mainly BTECs) These two measures, once again, make us the best post 16 provider for A level and BTEC across the Fylde coast.

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Number one in the Fylde again! (continued) Our ‘value-added’ scores for both A levels and BTECs rose once again, showing that our students are making really excellent progress during their time with us. This means that students are doing significantly better in these qualifications than would be predicted based on their GCSE results when they join the college. Our value added results for A levels put us in the top 15% of all schools and colleges in England, furthermore our valued added score for applied general qualifications is equal to the very best achieved by all colleges in the country. We had over 800 students complete their qualifications in 2017 and these leavers excelled themselves by achieving exceptionally good results. Our results for A level and BTEC Level 3 were the best ever for a third year running. The overall pass rate rose to 99.6%. Nearly 70% of our students gained a high grade and over 40% gained an A* or A grade or equivalent.

In the autumn just under 80% of our students progressed directly to university. A significant number of these students gained places at the most selective universities (highest and high tariff), including the Russell Group. The vast majority of the rest of our leavers have secured apprenticeships or other high quality employment with training, or have taken a gap year before progressing to university. Blackpool Sixth Principal, Jill Gray, commented, “We are absolutely thrilled with the outstanding success of our students. This success is represented not only by their fantastic exam results but, even more importantly, by their excellent progression to the next stage of their life – whether that be university, apprenticeships or other high quality employment with training. The hard work and dedication of our staff is commendable and demonstrates that they really are helping to build futures for all of our students.”

Ivy League Success for Keiran Keiran Mitchell, 18, from Fleetwood, who is completing his A levels at The Blackpool Sixth Form College has won a place and a financial aid package to study at a top US university after participating in the Sutton Trust US Programme, run in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Keiran will take up his place at Yale University in Connecticut this autumn. Yale is famous around the world as one of the prestigious Ivy League institutions and is the alma mater of many celebrated alumni such as US presidents Bill Clinton, George H. W Bush and George W. Bush as well as a host of Nobel prize winners, business leaders and writers. Amazingly, Keiran will be the second Blackpool Sixth student in the space of five years to go to Yale, following in the footsteps of Lucinda Denney and the third to attend an Ivy League institution with Gemma Collins currently completing her degree at Harvard University. All three were supported through the Sutton Trust programme. Keiran said, “I’m so excited to be able to study in the US for four years and get a liberal arts degree out of it. I can’t thank the people at the Fulbright Commission, the Sutton Trust US Programme, Blackpool Sixth and my teachers at Cardinal Allen enough for all the help they’ve given me.”

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SCITT ‘OUTSTANDING’ We are very proud to report that, on completion of a very rigorous six-day inspection between June and November 2017, our school centred initial teacher training programme (SCITT), in which Blackpool Sixth is a lead partner, was judged by Ofsted to be ‘Outstanding’ in every category.

We would like to thank every school, every leader and every mentor for their complete commitment to our programme and our shared vision to grow our own teachers. The report stated that our “exceptional levels of communication permeate every aspect” of our work and that is down to our partnership and the positive relationships we have. So thank you!

The inspection team considered our provision to be a national benchmark for teacher training providers, and highlighted how effective we are in supporting school improvement in the region. During the November inspection, they visited last year’s trainees as Newly Qualified Teachers in their employing schools including Fleetwood High, Longridge High, Aspire Academy and Montgomery. Every NQT was judged as being “fully equipped with the tools required to teach”. They described our “wrap-around, bespoke care of NQTs” as one of our “unique selling points”.

Oxbridge offers for eight students Eight Blackpool Sixth students have recently discovered that they have been offered places at either Oxford or Cambridge, two of the world’s top-rated universities. These students have successfully gained their much sought-after offers, competing against many hundreds of other applicants for each place. The selection process involves interviews and highly demanding aptitude tests. The students’ offers cover a wide range of subject areas. Two of the students, Jade Williams and Jacques Bonsell have both been offered places to read medicine: Jade at University College, Oxford and Jaques at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Antonio Marmo has the offer of a place to read natural sciences at Clare College, Cambridge and Callum Wardle has an offer from Queen’s College, Oxford to read maths. This year three students have offers related closely to their humanities studies at Blackpool Sixth:

Tara Choudhury – history and politics at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Ethan Lees – archaeology, also at Sidney Sussex and Jack Webster – ancient and modern history at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Jack commented, “I’d like to thank the Blackpool Sixth team for their excellent support, especially for supporting me through the application process and for arranging different activities to ensure my application was at the high standards Oxbridge demand.” Talented classical pianist, Declan Molloy has the coveted offer of a place to read music at St. Peter’s College, Oxford. Ethan added, “Blackpool Sixth has been really helpful in my application: giving me great advice on structuring my personal statement, fantastic references and great advice on how to cope with an interview at Oxbridge.” Blackpool Sixth provides very extensive specific support for academic high fliers to help them gain places at the top universities in the UK and abroad. The college runs an Excellence Programme to help stretch the students’ knowledge well beyond the A level curriculum and provides individual support so that students are fully prepared for entrance tests and interviews. Head of Gifted and Talented, Michael Waterhouse commented,“Competition for places at Oxford and Cambridge is exceptionally high and Blackpool Sixth is very proud of the fantastic achievement each of these students has made. They have all worked extremely hard in preparing for the application process and I’m sure that they will be very successful in the future.”

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The Odyssey Blackpool school pupils experienced one of the all-time classics of world literature. Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ about the troubled journey home from the Battle of Troy of Greek hero, Odysseus, had a rare performance in play format at Blackpool Sixth in December. This version of the dramatic story, which included encounters with mythical monsters such as the dreaded Cyclops and the mysterious Sirens, was created by Blackpool Sixth students and staff.

As well as introducing Fylde Coast youngsters to the fascinating ancient world of Greece and Rome, a key focus for this work is building their literacy and languagelearning skills. There is considerable evidence that learning Latin, often something only offered to the most privileged as part of their independent school education, can supercharge pupils ability to master their own language as well as foreign languages.

Around 170 Year 8 pupils from Montgomery High School attended this thrilling re-working of the 2,800 year old story. This was just the latest development in a ‘Classics for All project’ spearheaded by Blackpool Sixth which has seen local primary and secondary pupils learning Latin, taking part in Roman Army-style military training and interviewing Cleopatra.

Project leader, Peter Wright, who teaches on the highly popular and successful Ancient History course at Blackpool Sixth, commented, “This is incredibly exciting. Through ‘Classics For All’ we are opening doors to local school children to explore another world and we are also helping them gain massively important literacy skills for the future.”

sixth at sainsbury’s The Sainsbury’s superstore on Talbot Road in Blackpool hosted a special exhibition of Blackpool Sixth students’ artwork in November. This ‘Visual Arts Showcase’ was part of a unique collaboration between the college and the supermarket which has enabled students’ work to be seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors. The special exhibition marked a full year of Blackpool Sixth artwork being on display at the store. The Blackpool store is the only Sainsbury’s in the country to work with a college in this way, with the iconic building providing a fantastic venue for the public to view work by A level and level 3 BTEC students. The work covered a wide range of styles and genres and included fine art, graphic pieces, photography and textiles. The exhibition had a private view on Wednesday 18th October. This gave the artists and their families as well

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as college and Sainsbury’s staff the opportunity to browse the work before the main exhibition opened on the first and second levels at the front of the store. The management team from the store and community partners awarded five prizes for work that they judged to be exceptional. - #BuildingFutures - @BlackpoolSixth 08/03/2018 11:32

An act of Remembrance On Friday 10th November, first year BTEC Level 3 Public Services students held a Remembrance Parade at the college to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in the service of their country.

Public Services student, Chloe Tipping, said, “It was very good to take part in the parade and spend four weeks practicing the drill. It made us realise on the day the sacrifices people gave for us.”

The blustery and cold conditions did not deter the students from putting on a highly disciplined display in front of fellow students, staff as well as current and former service people and their families.

One of the distinguished guests, Lt. Col. John Lighten from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, himself a former student of the college, commented, “It was very poignant to see students taking the remembrance event so seriously and respectfully.”

The students marched in formation to the college front car-park where they were reviewed by the college principal, Jill Gray. Following short readings on the theme of remembrance, music student Robert Lambert played the Last Post and two minutes of silence was observed. The parade was followed by a coffee morning for the guests which the students also organised.

The lecture was held on Thursday 9th November in the Blackpool Sixth Theatre. Mr Parry addressed an audience of students, staff and invited guests from the community. Mr Parry’s talk started with a very personal and moving description of the immediate aftermath of the Warrington bombing and his son’s death in hospital five days afterwards at only 12 years of age.

The college’s Memorial Lecture in November had a timely focus on peace in a year which saw many appalling terrorist atrocities in the UK and abroad. The speaker was Colin Parry OBE who is internationally renowned for his inspirational work in the field of conflict resolution. Mr Parry’s son, Tim, was tragically killed in the IRA bombing of Warrington in March 1993. In subsequent years Mr Parry became a leading campaigner for peace, especially in the years leading up to the Good Friday agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland. The charity which he and his wife, Wendy, helped establish, Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, works nationally and internationally for peace and reconciliation from its base in Warrington.

He then recounted his involvement in a BBC TV documentary about the Troubles in Northern Ireland which led to his wife Wendy’s idea of a foundation for peace to help bring an end to the conflict. He said that Tim’s death was ‘the kind of momentous event which lays down a challenge’ and that challenge turned out to be the beginning of what has been nearly a quarter of a century of tireless work on conflict resolution, peace-making and victim support. The Memorial Lecture is supported by the Trustees of the Blackpool Grammar School War Memorial Foundation which was established in memory of the old boys of Blackpool Grammar School who fell in the two World Wars and remembers former pupils who have fallen in later conflicts.

Sylvia Lancaster Visit In February, the college hosted a talk by Sylvia Lancaster OBE. Sylvia gave a very personal and moving account of the murder of her young daughter Sophie which led to the setting up of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. The foundation works to address the causes of hate crime through education and work with the police and other agencies. The talk formed part of the college’s Resilience Week at college and also coincided with the start of the national LGBT History month. The college will be fundraising for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation at our ‘Show Your Pride’ event in April.

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Christmas 2017 As ever the weeks leading up to Christmas saw a wide range of festive performances as well as charitable work taking place in Blackpool Sixth and in our wider community. Here are just some of the highlights.

Christmas Craft Fair

Christmas Craft Fair Visual arts students’ entry to the Winter Gardens Christmas tree competition

Christmas Showcase, Aspire Academy Choir

Blackpool Sixth’s Christmas Pantomime

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Former students win awards Two former Blackpool Sixth students received £1000 cheques just before the Christmas holidays for their excellent work at the college. Thomas White, who attended Cardinal Allen Catholic High School before progressing to Blackpool Sixth, won the ‘most deserving student’ award and Jacob Hall, a former St. Mary’s Catholic Academy pupil, won the ‘most outstanding student’ award. Both awards are funded from a generous bequest made by the late Mrs Joyce Birtwhistle. A condition of the bequest is that students receiving the awards progress to higher education after college. Both students have now successfully completed their first term at university: Tom is studying ancient history at the University of Manchester and Jacob is studying law at Bristol University. Thomas praised the support he had received from both teaching and pastoral staff to help him succeed.

“The teaching was great and I had a lot of help from my pastoral mentor with my university application.” He said he was very grateful for the award which he may use in part to help him travel to Rome so he can see first-hand the key historical sites of the city. Jacob said that he was ‘quite stunned’ by the size of the award and that he had not expected to do quite so well with his A levels (two A stars and an A). He too was full of praise for the teachers and other staff who had helped him set his sights high and had supported whilst at college. As well as achieving stunning A level grades in the summer, Jacob was also heavily involved in fundraising and voluntary work for an impoverished community in Nepal whilst at college. He may use the award to help continue his work with that community during his university studies.

Paramedic inspires Public Services students Students from the BTEC Level 3 Public Services course had an inspiring visit from Blackpool’s only motorbike-based paramedic, James Gorrie.

He also praised the public services course at Blackpool Sixth, “It’s structured really well with lots of ‘live learning’ and the opportunity to learn from professionals.”

James, himself a former Blackpool Sixth student, spent a morning at the college, talking to the students about life as a paramedic. His talk included his experiences in dealing with a wide variety of emergencies, including this year’s terrorist attack in Manchester. He also helped out our second years with an assignment on responding to emergency incidents.

If you are former student and are interested in coming back to Blackpool Sixth to share your career experiences with current students, please contact our Futures Team at

James was clearly impressed by the students and the way in which they engaged with what he had to say, “They are all really good students – a mature bunch who are genuinely interested in what they are studying.”

Starred Success for Lucy Students and staff at Blackpool Sixth were delighted to see the glittering career of young TV star and former performing arts student, Lucy Fallon, reach new heights. The Corrie star featured on ITV’s All Star Musicals programme on Christmas Eve and won the show with her rendition of “Don’t cry for me Argentina” from Evita. Then, in January, Lucy won the best serial drama performance category at the British Television Awards.

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Calendar 2018 7th March 14th March 20th March 21st March

March Tasters March Tasters March Tasters March Tasters

22nd March

Building Futures Evening

13th March 14th March 15th March

Chicago - Annual Musical Chicago - Annual Musical Chicago - Annual Musical

23rd March 9th April 26th April

College closes for Easter College reopens Musicians of the Fylde Concert

10th May 17th May

Dance & Musical Theatre Showcase Performing Arts Acting Showcase

25th May 4th June

College closes for half term College reopens

21st June 27th June 29th June

Oscars Event Summer Music Concert College closes for Summer Holidays

2nd July 3rd July 16th August 23rd August 24th August

New Student Day Drama production A level and BTEC results day Enrolment day 1 Enrolment day 2

Musicians of the Fylde 2018

Thursday 26th April 7:30pm White Church, Clifton Drive, Lytham St Annes

10th May - 7pm Dance & Musical Theatre Showcase Blackpool Sixth theatre

A classical concert to include performances by:

A Level Music students Chamber choir Instrumental ensembles Adults - £5 • Students/ Concessions - £3

Book your tickets at:

17th May - 7pm Performing Arts Acting Showcase Blackpool Sixth theatre

For our upcoming events please visit: 8 Spring Newsletter 2018.indd 8 - #BuildingFutures - @BlackpoolSixth 08/03/2018 11:33

Spring Newsletter 2018  
Spring Newsletter 2018