The last lazy days of summer proved anything but for our new Year 12s, as we embarked on a pilot Sixth Form induction in Cornwall, hosted by Falmouth University. An opportunity to pick up where friendships had been left at the end of Year 11, and to welcome incomers into the fold, the three day visit was ground-breaking, bonding and mind-broadening.
For many returning fresh from holiday, the shining sands of the Mediterranean were quickly swapped for the more temperate sandscapes of the south Cornish coast, and first steps on British soil for some new boarders were quickly followed by having their toes introduced to our famously invigorating seas. A mellow barbecue on Falmouth’s laid-back Gyllyngvase Beach proved a highlight for the girls.
But they had more than earned it, having been put through their paces during our first afternoon away at BF Adventure. This outdoor activity centre threw the girls together in teams to tackle classic head-scratching tasks like traversing a flooded quarry using only (slightly too short) planks, and constructing giant medieval style catapults. Most fun by far was the kayaking, which the girls took to like proverbial ducks, with disappointingly few watery wipe-outs.
Monday and Tuesday had us getting down to business, with Falmouth University showcasing its many cutting edge creative courses. From Fashion and Textiles, to Games Design to Performance, to Film, Photography and Creative Advertising, the girls had the opportunity to work in small groups with peers from Howells School to experience how innovative and future-facing courses such as these are delivered at this modern, superbly resourced university. ‘The studios were amazing! Wonderful teaching! Inspiring!’ one girl commented on her evaluation sheet. ‘Loved the course and it was very hands-on and all the tutors were very enthusiastic’, wrote another.
For the staff on the trip, the overwhelming conclusion was how university has changed. From the comfort of the accommodation (effectively a Premier Travel Inn, on campus) to the relevance of the teaching, largely delivered by current industry professionals. This university is impressively progressive.
But not all things have changed, and a night in the Union is still a must. A curry night kicked off a gig from Falmouth alumnus Ronnie Cook and his band, fresh from the festival scene, and finished up with a set from alumnus DJ Hallam.
Tired and energised all at once, we returned to the usual buzz of the start of the school year, but this time pre-bonded as a year group, and with eyes a little wider open to future possibilities.