Principal's assembly 7 January 2020

There is a famous view that great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and that small minds discuss people. I’m not totally convinced – great change comes through great people – but I get the idea.

As this term progresses, each of our Houses will be leading a Tuesday Assembly and they have plenty to discuss. 2020 is going to be an exciting year.

For those of you who got interested in politics with our extraordinary general election, the coming months see presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan, South Korea and, perhaps most significantly, America.

For the historians, 2020 sees the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the formation of the United Nations. Unusually, the early May Bank Holiday moves to a Friday to allow us to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Events will also mark 400 years since the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers on board the Mayflower, leading to the birth of a nation.

Scientists will note that the window for missions to Mars reopens in July. So far, the US, China, Europe and UAE have all announced unmanned missions. Later in the year, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible in the South Pacific and South Atlantic. Closer to home, 200 world leaders will attend a climate change conference in Glasgow in November.

Lovers of art might attend one of the many shows dedicated to Raphael this year, marking the 500th anniversary of his death. Classical music lovers will feel similar affection for Beethoven, whose 250th birthday is celebrated in December with concerts around the world. Jimi Hendrix fans might mark the 50th anniversary of his death in October.

2020 possesses a bumper sporting calendar. The greatest show on earth opens in Tokyo in July and is followed in August by the Paralympics. Perhaps 54 years of hurt will end with English success in the football Euros in June. September sees Europe take on America in the biannual golf Ryder Cup and our cricketers aim to add a World Cup T20 triumph to last year’s victory in the One Day version.

No doubt I will have missed something of significance to you. It’s even possible that the UK will have left the European Union before the decade is out.

I’m looking forward to listening to your views on these events, the ideas that have inspired them and the people that have driven them.

We can say, with a degree of certainty, that these events will take place this year. The outcomes we can be less sure of. That’s not so different to our lives. Some things will take place. Some of you will sit trial exams over the next few days and real public exams in the summer. The rest of you will be putting in place the important foundations for GCSE, A Level and Btec success in the future.

Whether it is academic or extra-curricular success you have in mind, we know that the important work, practice and training takes place every day. Success is not defined solely by performance on the day; it is determined by the hours of work put in over the years and months before an exam, match or production.

My New Year’s advice for you is very straightforward. Control what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t. The most important thing that does rest in your hands is how seriously you take the up-coming challenges.

Work hard, win easy.

Our thoughts for the day must be with the people and wildlife of Australia who have suffered so horrendously over the last few weeks.

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