The Headteacher’s Address

Y13 were born between the beginning of September 1996 and the end of August 1997 — In September 1997, I started as a Deputy Headteacher, here at Colyton Grammar School.

This cohort have had an extraordinary 18 years, perhaps matched only by those born in the early 1920s in terms of economic, social and international upheaval.

The launch of the euro, the minimum wage and devolution all occurred when they were toddlers. Their first week at primary school fell in September 2001 and the 9/11 terrorist attacks have cast a long shadow. As these children began secondary school, the global economy went into meltdown, making family life much harder for many. The transfer to secondary school in 2008 also marked my first year at Colyton as Headteacher.

They have grown up in age of instant fame and rapid communication. The iPhone and iTunes launched in 1997, Big Brother started when they were three, The X Factor when they were seven. When Tony Blair entered Downing Street as Prime Minister for the first time in 1997, DVDs had not yet come to Britain and the internet was mostly restricted to university computer rooms. Now films and self-made videos can be streamed online from a mobile using Periscope.

Until this Y13 turned nine, only birds tweeted.

Things have changed here too. In the last seven years you have seen the refurbishment of the Music Centre, three science labs, two maths rooms and we added the food room. We’ve extended ‘Take Five’, built new outdoor changing rooms and of course, transformed the Cottrill Hall.

The latter project, while much needed, has greatly impacted on you as a year group, preventing you from undertaking some of the traditional Y13 events. But this hasn’t stopped you from getting involved in a wide range of activities, particularly supporting events and clubs to the benefit of other students across the school. You retained your sense of humour … even if there was nowhere to park. Thank you.

Most of all, you have changed. You are transformed from slightly nervous Year 7 children to confident and accomplished young adults.

Today we celebrate this group of young people as they prepare to leave school, having completed their examinations and looking to university and the world of work.

They are bright, informed and well educated. They may be fearful of the future, particularly over the cost of education and the jobs market after university, but they are better placed than most of the national class of 2015 to face the challenges ahead.
Today is the end of seven years of secondary education but it’s not the end of all those friendships forged; nobody can take the experiences that have shaped some nervous Y7’s in 2008 to be the adults we see here today, leaving school and setting off to forge their own destiny.

I know that probably the most important thing you take with you today is the lifelong friendships that you have made, your shared history of lessons, the trips, exchanges and visits, the competitions, productions and other activities. And particularly in the sixth form, where you have run and been involved in events for your own to the benefit of others. Thank you.
Leaving school is a time of mixed emotions. Some of you have been apprehensive about today. Some will see today as your last day at school, while for others, today is the first day of the next stage of your lives.

You will all go your separate ways at the end of the summer, but you’ll all take some of that Colyton spirit and all of those friendships with you, so don’t look back too long; look forward. You will always be Colytonians and I hope that is something that you will be proud of. Make the most of the exciting years ahead.

Later we will sing the school song which encourages you to remember the school fondly when you are ‘far and asunder’, so I hope that you will remember those friendships, the good times, and that you are as proud to be the Class of Colyton Grammar School 2015 as we are proud to have known and worked with you.
Good luck, thank you and good bye!

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The Head Girl and Head Boy’s Address

At lunchtime on the last day of term before Christmas, the study centre was taken over by the Year 13 band ‘Pocket Jacks’, providing much enjoyment to staff and students. Rather fittingly, Henry, Bart, Jesse, Theo and Chris finished their set with Kings of Leon’s song ‘Sex on Fire’. That song topped the UK Singles Chart on the 20th September 2008, the very same month that the 11-year-old versions of the people you see in front of you today, arrived here at Colyton. We had just enjoyed a long summer watching the Beijing Olympics and recovering from the hardship of Key Stage 2 SATs. We knew little of what the next seven years would bring. And now those seven years are over.

Now, for a moment, just ask yourself what has happened in the last seven years. No doubt, big changes will have occurred in your own lives, with your friends and your family, alongside events that will be familiar to all of us.

In 2008, the current Year 13 joined Colyton. Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and a year later, we were shocked by the news of the death of Michael Jackson.
2012 was the year of the London Olympics. And Obama? Well he was re-elected for a second term as US president. By this stage, those 11 year olds had completed their GCSEs and joined Colyton’s stripy shirt gang.

In seven years, the world has changed dramatically. In fact, if you’d spent that time locked in Mr Smith’s lost property cupboard, you’d emerge to a bizarre world where ‘self-timers’ had become obsolete to selfies. Even Mr Bush has stopped neatly writing the names of badly behaved year 7s into his little black book, resorting to a series of angry clicks on SIMS instead.

Despite Mr Bush’s constant uniform reminders, we barely resemble the ‘double-blazer buttoned’ Year 7 classes of 2008. Thankfully, the changes have not just been physical and we have Colyton to thank in part for helping us develop over the last 7 years of our lives. We have met friends who we will share stories with for years to come; developed personal passions for music, sport and drama; and faced the difficult challenges of growing up. One notable incident occurred during our return journey from the infamous trip to Kelly College. One particularly nervous year 7 was yet to grasp the importance of bladder control. Let’s just say that it probably wasn’t that bus driver’s favourite journey with Colyton Grammar School.

On that note, a rather large proportion of our time here seems to have been spent on buses. For many of us, the daily journey into school takes up a large chunk of the day. Not many schoolkids’ first response when they see snow out of the window is to dash to the computer, log onto the school webpage and repeatedly press F5, praying that school will be cancelled due to poor road conditions. Of course, when year 13 turned 17, many of us took to the roads in earnest. Yet be warned, driving is not as glamourous as it appears. By all means read an unpublished copy of Alex Light‘s “A to Z guide to parking in the Coly Valley” but heed warning: I can tell you from personal experience that stalling in front of a crowd of 500 onlookers at the bus stop is not the best way to assert yourself as part of Colyton’s finest.
‘Colyton Coach Trips’ certainly have a reputation and one of the limitations of being slap bang in the middle of nowhere is that going just about anywhere requires many hours on a coach. So where has ‘Colyton on Tour’ taken us?

Bristol University, The Eden Project, Caerphilly castle, GCSE drama trips to see productions with more innuendo than Mr Smith’s GCSE English classes…and waiting around for hours afterwards on one occasion when, yes, Mrs Duffin got the minibus clamped; Dunkirk, War Horse, Chemistry at Bath & Bristol Universities, the watersports trip, @Bristol, the murky expanses of Dartmoor, The SS Great Britain, An Inspector Calls, Ypres, the Paralympics, the Goethe Institute, London for Politics, French and Psychology, Mock Trials, EYP and further afield, French & German Exchanges, ski trips, choir tours, Berlin and Iceland (when Viking Chieftain Stidwell came face to face with his favourite volcano….Eyjafjallajokull). Many of these trips required long journeys to various London airports and we can inform you that Mr Woods is currently exploring the possibility of opening a franchise of Take 5 at the M4’s Fleet Services.

It’s been a long seven years at Colyton, but for many of us the last year has been the most intense and challenging, which makes the sense of achievement, excitement, sadness and even relief that we feel today all the more significant.

It was amazing to finish off those seven years on Wednesday evening with our Leavers’ Ball at The Rougemont Hotel in Exeter. This marked the end of an era and it was great that so many staff were able to join us to celebrate. At this stage, we have Harvey McIntosh to thank again for all his effort in making the event such a success and, amongst other things, letting me sleep safe at night knowing that, if one of Exeter’s most popular 4* hotels burnt down, then I’d only be liable for half the bill. At least when the scandal hit the Daily Mail, Mrs Burns Price could have stuck the newspaper cuttings up in the library.

This brings us on to the most significant part, or rather people, of our Colyton journey. The people who have come all that way with us, sharing those memories that we will cherish forever and achieving with us those things of which we are most proud. Of course, we all have strong friendship groups that we will nurture long after we leave, but we have also, as a year group, been incredibly close. By supporting each through our hardest challenges and happily sharing jokes (and cake, plenty of cake), we have helped forge an easier trail to the place where we stand today.

Yet there is one more companion that we need to mention. As it was put on Wednesday evening, the 121st member of the Class of 2015.

Mr Evans, has been a teacher for 32 years, but took over as headteacher when we first arrived here in 2008. Since then, he has guided the school through a huge range of challenges – including a name change that nobody actually noticed. In all seriousness though, he has become one of the most loved and respected members of staff by Year 13. He has supported us as a year group and as individuals in all of our endeavours. He is the kind of guy who stops, midway through a crisis, to congratulate you on playing in last week’s rugby match. He will never say ‘no’ to an idea without taking the time to explain why and never say ‘yes’ unless you promise to let him write about it on his blog. He has been an incredible role model to us all. No doubt, the rest of you will find your own way to thank Mr Evans later in the term, but we wanted to take this opportunity to thank him again, in front of all of you, for everything he has helped us and this school to achieve.

We have many more people to thank today and of course top of that list are the inspirational teachers who have guided us for three or more years through our studies, going beyond the call of duty to give us a huge range of extra opportunities. Even as we speak, three of our year are on their way back from Hong Kong, having won the PolyU global student entrepreneurship competition yesterday. Another individual who cannot be forgotten is the wonderful Mrs Orchard. Some of you lower down the school who have never been so intrepid as to venture into the murky depths of the Study Centre may not have met this lady. Your loss. Alongside Mr Smith, she has been a friendly face to support us through the challenges of sixth form life, particularly the perils of UCAS. Finally, we all too often take for granted the beautiful grounds that we are so lucky to spend our time in and so we must extend our thanks to the friendliest site staff team imaginable. We are proud to say that we are very much on first name terms with Dave, Duncan, Brain, Mel, Ted, Fran, and even Steve (sorry, Mr Cook). We will be sad to say goodbye.

We can procrastinate no longer and on behalf of Year 13, it’s time to thank you all for being a part of our time at Colyton. We have so many defining memories from this special place, full of incredible people. Enjoy it while you can. You might overhear members of Year 13 getting nostalgic today, but it is the realisation that today we are parting with friends, and leaving behind a community that we have come to value and rely on, that is a painful one.

Today, a day we will look back on for years to come, is a day to remember and a day to say goodbye, but tomorrow will be a day to look ahead to new opportunities that await us.

Heed warning, all of you, that your time to leave will arrive sooner than you expect. For us that time has come. When you leave here, never forget what you achieved in seven short years. Ask yourself what will you achieve in the next seven years?

To finish then, what do we tell you about the class of 2015? I think it became clear what to say when we ordered their Leavers’ hoodies. It sounds daft but when I was ordering I realised that there was no way that we could all have the same hoodie – even though it would have made my life a hell of a lot easier! Our year are picky people, they are opinionated, expressive and always like a good moan. However, they do not moan in vain. They are energetic, outgoing people who have strong beliefs and big aspirations . From Doug with his bright green hoodie or George Hall with his lady-killer hot pink one, to Meg’s sky blue sweatshirt, each one of us is different. We certainly have some characters too with printed nicknames including Fringe, Sephy, Heebles, Diggle, Beef, Jimmy Nicks, Pring, Livvykins, Sarge, Smi, Flozza, Sluce and Bopkins.

Colyton has helped shape all these personalities. And this is what links us all together; we might all have different hoodies, different favourite colours and different opinions but each of those hoodies has the Colyton logo. We have had the privilege of belonging to this community and we have all flourished in it. It’s a privilege that we will, with no exaggeration, cherish for the rest of our lives. Colyton has inspired us all, but now it is time for each of us to take that inspiration and share it beyond this little school in rural East Devon.

We’ll keep in touch, so don’t go forgetting us too soon. Thank you for everything.

Anna and James

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