Many of you will be aware that I am retiring from my post as CEO of the Trust at the end of October.
I would like to take the opportunity to mark the occasion with a few words, which, of course, will never be enough to say all that I feel.
It has been the honour of my life to serve first of all New College Pontefract, and later New Collaborative Learning Trust and to be involved in a powerful and significant experience which I know has changed all of us who have been privileged enough to be a part of it.
Over the last 10 years, the college has not only overcome all the expected challenges of funding reduction, qualification change, changes in educational policy, new funding regimes,a transformed educational landscape- but has taken the opportunities offered by these to innovate and do things differently and better in the interest of all our young people. In the face of unprecedented educational change, we have delivered results which continue year on year to exceed expectations; and to give our students the skills they need for life and work, the knowledge they need to succeed, and the qualities to enable them to deal with challenges and become responsible 21st century citizens.
I am proud of what we have built. New College Pontefract is the “mothership” in a Trust with two sister colleges in Doncaster and Bradford and a new secondary about to join the family. I have been fortunate to have around me a team of gifted individuals who share a moral vision for social justice through the enabling power of education. We recognise the gifts and abilities of every one of our almost 5,000 students and value their contribution to our college communities. They are our hope for the future and every day they demonstrate that this hope is absolutely well-placed.
Our students recognise the necessity of honesty and integrity, despite some poor examples in public life. They are passionate about making their world fairer and eradicating inequality. They are global citizens with strong roots in their families and communities in Pontefract, Doncaster and Bradford. They will, through their educational experience, enrich those communities.
I leave the Trust in the safest possible hands. The incoming CEO, Richard Fletcher, has been an integral and central figure in the Trust’s development and he leads a team with a collective and profound commitment to the vision for excellence and social mobility which has motivated us all along the way. Our students will thrive and flourish in happy schools and colleges. I will not be part of the next chapter but I will watch with great satisfaction in a job well done.
Wishing all our colleges, and their communities the very best of luck on the next stage of the journey.