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Views from the White House

Reflections on the world of education from the school community

Members of the Senior Management Team at Trinity School regularly contribute to this page and comment on the latest changes in education and the way in which Trinity School is responding to these changes. The page is called ‘Views From The White House’ and when I started thinking about what to write, I went to my favourite place and quite literally looked at the view from the White House!

At Trinity we are immensely lucky to be surrounded by so much natural beauty, the rolling hills of Dartmoor and the expansive coastline were major factors in me relocating with my family here.  I simply love living beside the sea, not every day is the same and the ocean is full of unknown mystery which is ready to explore.  It is here that I am going to be very clichéd and draw comparisons with our Sixth Form pupils; and highlight the reason I find my role as Head of Sixth Form so exciting.  The same mystery withholds our Sixth Formers, Trinity is a safe and supporting environment and I think I can safely say that our main strength as a school is supporting individual pupils in a caring family environment.  This is why Sixth Form can be such a scary time, because students are just about to set sail into the unknown.  This is why we have worked so hard to ensure that we can support our students onto the correct pathway through the wide ocean that awaits before them.

Over the last few years there has been a cultural shift in the educational landscape, with university not necessarily being the correct logical step after Sixth Form study.  The fact that employers are favouring more practical skills in some vocations is a large contributing factor to this, as is the build-up of large student debt.  The views of some is that why start earning instead of start borrowing?!  However, a university education is also imperative for some vocations and the life skills gained at university are also invaluable.

Through running a Sixth Form at Trinity I try to ensure that students are best prepared for their own individual pathway and we instil the confidence and leadership skills within them to best support this.  This is why the overall curriculum at Trinity is so diverse.  The introduction of more holistic A levels mean that students can have access to a more traditional form of education.  Research, analytical skills and evaluative skills are encouraged early on in a Sixth Form career to ensure a smooth transition into university.  However, A levels are now supported by our BTEC options, which rely upon the independent study skills which are so needed at university.

BTEC qualifications can also support students on the alternative pathway and skills can be gained which will help a CV stand-out to a local employer.  Work experience is also invaluable and over the last few years a number of pupils have been able to gain regular work experience whilst completing their Sixth Form study.  This has resulted in leavers now confident to take an Apprenticeship pathway, rather than feel they necessarily need to follow the university route.

Whichever pathway a Sixth Former chooses to take, there is no doubt that the opportunities for personal development at Trinity help them leave school with the courage and confidence to show leadership and responsibility in the seas beyond Teignmouth.  I have been particularly lucky to be involved with four successful Young Enterprise teams at Trinity School.  Through doing Young Enterprise I have gained immense satisfaction from seeing pupils grow into resilient and aspirational young adults ready face the challenges of unpredictability that our ever changing political and educational landscape next throws at them.

Mike Milne (Head of Sixth Form)

April 2017