From 16:30 to 18:50 on Wednesday 23rd March I made my second appearance as an observer on the Corporation of Wilberforce Sixth Form College.
This time the council president was absent for reasons he was reluctant to explain the next day, so I delivered the Student Council’s report by myself, telling of the council’s activities since returning from Christmas.
On February 9th several of our number formed an interview panel for the position of Assistant Principal, which eventually went to the Director of STEM, Dr Karen Ashman.
Our biggest workload came on Tuesday 22nd March when we launched the Tour de Wilberforce – a fundraising event in which students and staff alike were encouraged to take turns riding exercise bikes. Together, they covered a distance equivalent to the entire Tour de Yorkshire cycling challenge.
On the same day, the college welcomed The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Doctor John Sentamu. He gave an interview to a group of students as part of his pilgrimage of prayer. We were told of how God must make himself known, how the name of marriage would not solve the problems faced by sexual minorities, how religion is so often contrived as an excuse for war and how the traditions of the first century prevented the consecration of women in the twentieth.
At the corporation meeting, the subject of a great deal of debate was the prospect of academisation. A gathering storm since 2010, this is the process by which a comprehensive school would be removed from the control of the local authorities and funded directly by the Department for Education and the faculty would be given much greater freedom in setting term lengths, opening hours and curricula. Already more than half of comprehensive secondary schools have been academised, and in the Autumn Statement 2015 (which came shortly before the previous corporation meeting) the Chancellor announced that the option was to be extended to sixth form colleges as well. Following the Budget Statement 2016 it became an inevitability that Wilberforce will convert to academy status by 2022. We therefore were led to discuss potential other institutions with whom a Multi-Academy Trust might be formed, namely Wyke or Hull College, as well as potentially Franklin. I was assured upon querying the matter that academy status would not cause any changes that would be noticeable to students who were outside of the corporation meetings.
The next meeting is likely to be sometime in late June. Before then, the college is to stage a mock referendum on Britain’s potential exit from the European Union. ITV Calendar have agreed to host a televised debate on the issue, with a number of politicians visiting the college. So far the only confirmed attendee is the honourable member for Kingston-upon-Hull North, Diana Johnson (shadow Foreign & Commonwealth minister).
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