Sigma Sixth College Blog

The Head of College Reports

22nd January 2024

So, we call this the spring term but it couldn’t feel further from spring right now. Whilst it has been a chilly start to the new term it has not dampened spirits and the college is ready and raring to go. On day one the January exam series for external examinations began and students were prepared and eager to demonstrate what they had learnt and apply it in an exam setting. To ensure our students were cozy and comfortable we held the examinations in the college building, rather than the sports hall, which was appreciated by all. So far students have found the exams worthwhile and they look forward to seeing the results of their hard work in the next few months. We have been proud of the way they have conducted themselves and the commitment they have shown throughout, so we look forward to seeing the outcome too.

Many students feel a mixture of anticipation, fear and excitement when they receive their examination results. This is totally understandable as it is the culmination of exhaustive effort, “blood, toil, tears and sweat”, to quote Winston Churchill, but working hard and staying focussed will surely be rewarded when students receive their grades in mid-August.  Full attendance is crucial, students should maximise every learning opportunity and all of the support available from their teachers, who are very committed and want the best for all of their students.

One of my favourite evenings in the college calendar is our annual Presentation Evening where we acknowledge and celebrate the work, effort and dedication our students showed during their time with us.  Students from the Year 11 and Year 13 2022-23 cohort were invited.   This evening was held just prior to Christmas and we saw many students return after their first term at University. We had 74 award winners and an audience of over 200 family and friends wanting to share this special occasion. We awarded students for both progress and achievement along with some specific awards linked to leadership, STEM, the arts and contributions to the wider community. As a presenter at this event, the feeling of pride can be overwhelming and I often feel a lump in my throat when I give individual student speeches. Some of our students have overcome enormous personal challenges and to see their relentless pursuit for self-improvement is truly inspiring.

After the awards were given many of the students gathered to reminisce and share their stories of college. In my discussion with them it was clear that what they cherish the most is their shared experiences. Whether that was participating in the student ‘cook off’, the Duke of Edinburgh expedition in minus temperatures or walking through the players tunnel at Twickenham Stadium it was the events and activities that went beyond the classroom that they found the most memorable. 

We believe that enrichment opportunities are incredibly valuable as they can shape the individual. These experiences often expose students to subjects and places they would not normally access. Since November we have had three theatre visits both locally and in London to see ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘Balletboyz’ and ‘Gecko’; our geographers went to Brick Lane and Sky Gardens and they have also been to the University of Essex for a talk on ‘Green Careers’; our historians visited Hampton Court Palace and our Bar Mock Trial group took part in the annual Bar Mock Trial competition at Ipswich Crown Court. The group of 18 undertook roles of barristers, court clerk, usher and members of the jury and only just missed winning the heat. They were highly commended and well thought of and the group cannot wait to take on the challenge again next year. 

This half term we will have a visit to the Old Vic and National Theatre, Philosophy in the Park at the University of Essex, a day at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and our Duke of Edinburgh students will be having their first hike of the year around Harwich and Frating. I look forward to reporting back on these in my next blog report. 

It has been a particularly exciting time for many of our Year 13 students who have been sharing news about university interviews and offers, whilst others continue to work on their UCAS applications. With an end of January deadline, Mrs Reed and Mr Dale have been working tirelessly to provide guidance to our students and we are delighted that so many more have made the decision to move on to higher education. 
University is just one career pathway available for post-18 options and we look forward to the National Apprenticeship Week at the end of this half-term. This week-long event focuses on how apprenticeships can help develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career. Students at Sigma Sixth will be able to meet with apprentices and apprenticeship employers throughout the week and receive individualised support with applications. Career support clinics will continue beyond this week for those still undecided about their future pathway as preparing students for their post-18 pathways is a focus all year round. Their time spent here is the period of self-discovery and in which they can define their future. 
I look forward to sharing successes, achievements and further information as we progress through the spring term.

Sarah McKarry, Head of College