Last evening, it gave me the greatest of pleasures to welcome students, parents, staff, governors, the Fallibroome Multi-Academy Trust and members of the local community, including Mayor Gaskill-Jones and Cllr Kennedy, to our celebration of student excellence.

It was also a pleasure to welcome our Guest of Honour, Mrs Ann Moore, our ex-Chair of Governors, who has been so active in the important improvements that have been secured at our academy, not least her role in securing a fantastic £20 million new building. Inside the theatre, a packed house shared an evening of joy and warmth as we celebrated the achievements of our wonderful student body.

The many students sat in the auditorium have done themselves, their parents, their academy and their town proud. Whether or not they left with one of our many new trophies was secondary. The fact that they were present is a great accolade.

Knowing our students as I do, for all their strengths, I am often left frustrated at how sections of society appear intent on demonising our young people. Unfortunately, it is symptomatic of poor journalism that the tiny minority receive the maximum exposure. It’s always been the same. For some reason, young people have always got a bad press.

As early as 4th Century BC, the revered philosopher, Plato asked,

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders; ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”

A simple Google search on the word ‘teenager’ reveals similar concerns to those of Plato. In the first couple of pages, you will find predominantly negative webpages which talk of young people ‘destroying the property of others’, ‘stealing the seats reserved from senior citizens’, ‘being incapable of engaging in face-to-face communication’, being ‘petulant, violent, bored and uninspired’.

These are terms I simply cannot reconcile with the young people who were honoured in last night’s ceremony.

I looked at the students in attendance and I could only see young people who smile good morning, every morning; young people who show unrelenting focus and commitment; young people determined to improve and progress in order to lead a life that will contribute positively to society.

All I saw was young people with beliefs based on kindness and respect. I saw leaders, role models, expressive, assured and sensitive individuals.

I saw young people who have experienced and overcome critical challenges. They never complain and they still succeed.

I saw young people who don’t turn the other cheek, young people who are guided by fairness and a distaste for injustice. I saw young people who embrace challenge.

I saw young people who are witty, personable and a joy to be around.

So, going back to Plato’s question, ‘what is to become of them?’

It’s simple.

They will move through life as people society can be justly proud of. They will contribute and excel. They are prospering in times of unique pressures and exponential change. They are sowing the seeds now for continued success later in life.

We are deeply proud of them all and we celebrate and commend our students.

Thank you to all parents and staff who supported the event and a big thank you to Mrs Keegan who did such a fantastic job of coordinating the event. She was ably supported by the a large number of staff who took care of administration, displays, unpacking, packing, decorating, preparing performances, taking photographs, mobilising prefects and running a great creche which allowed parents to fully engage with the presentations. Thank you Mrs Fox, Ms Swinton, Miss Roberts, Mrs Harris, Mrs Lockhart, Miss Bogue, Mrs Bugg, Mr Farrimond, Mr Peacock and Mrs Tringham.

I finish by sharing some early feedback on the evening.

“Please pass on my congratulations to all the staff who contributed to a terrific celebration of student achievement this evening. It was a pleasure to share the occasion with students, staff and parents and a brilliant way to end the year.” Peter Rubery, Executive Principal.

It was a fabulous event and it was great to see students being celebrated for their achievement, progress and effort. I hope all the winners and nominees are suitably proud.” Mayor Gaskill-Jones.

“Thank you for inviting me to yesterday’s celebration evening. It was a terrific event. It was treat to catch up on all the news and to feel the familiar ‘buzz’ of being in a happy school.” Ann Moore, ex-Chair of Governors.

“Last night was a lovely event and it was fantastic to hear the stories about each pupil and see so many of them there with their families.” Joanne Watkins, Chair of Governing Body Committee for Curriculum & Standards. 

“Fantastic evening spent at Winsford Academy celebrating some of our young people’s amazing achievements.” Mr Wareing, parent

Thank you again to all who contributed to such a special evening.

Mr A Taylor-Edwards, Principal