DSFC Celebrates 40 Years – Ruby Anniversary & Phyllis O’Grady’s Last Day as Director
19 April 2017
The College’s Welfare and Learning Committee – part of the College’s student-led Senate – held an official ceremony on the last day of term to mark both the College’s 40 year anniversary and Phyllis O’Grady’s last day as College Director.
Ben Greentree, Chair of the College Senate, opened the ceremony. He spoke about the founding of the College and how, due to a shortage of money from the local authority, the students and staff helped to decorate the building and buy new furniture. From its opening in 1977 the Senate calculated that approximately 8,000 students have studied here. You can read more about the history of the College, its expansions and innovations in a special commemorative edition of our newsletter, The Sixth Former, later this year.
Ben then went on to explain how the entire student population had voted earlier this year for seven ‘special sites’ which will be commemorated as special sites of interest around the College for future students to enjoy. The winning seven sites are: Memorial Trees; Eco Mobile; Pedestrian Gate; Eastern Stream; Four Chimneys; College Sundial; and Reception Archway. Ben ended his speech by thanking the Welfare and Learning Committee for making the voting process such a success. “Here’s to another 40 years of the Sixth Form!”
Ben Greentree Phyllis O'Grady
Phyllis O’Grady spoke to the crowd next. She described her experience of coming to Dereham Sixth Form College and her joy at being involved in such a unique setting with such staff expertise. She described her time as Deputy Director under David Richardson as an “apprenticeship” helping to prepare her for continuing his vision after his retirement. Phyllis spoke about the challenging times she has faced as Director including the merger with Swaffham which unfortunately was not able to proceed, a large increase in student numbers and the ongoing reduction in sixth form funding. However, she also spoke about the “fantastic” things she has also seen: new buildings including the Library block, the Eco Café and psychology block as well as new staff appointments, new courses and new collaborative partnerships. She cited her proudest achievement in terms of collaboration and partnership as DESA – the Dereham Education and Soccer Academy – which is run in partnership between the College and Dereham Football Club.
Phyllis will be returning in September after a sabbatical to continue teaching at the College. She said she was looking forward to working with the College as it goes forward as part of the Unity Education Trust and the benefits that will bring, and thanked the staff and students past and present for helping make her time at the College so far so enjoyable.
Next we were treated to a short performance with Kane McAllister and Oli Rose from the BTEC music course on guitars and Deputy Director Mr Brook on drums.
Oli Rose, Kane McAllister and Dave Brook
To end the ceremony Year 13 Cerys Orriss, ceremony organiser, thanked the entire College Senate for their help in organising the morning and presented Phyllis with a bunch of flowers. Robert Rickard, our LA 16-19 Advisor, also stood up to say a few words. On behalf of the County Council, all the students and parents, he said “it has been an honour to work with Phyllis.” He praised her welcoming and collaborative attitude saying “If only everyone in Norfolk believed in partnership as she does there would be so many more places flourishing like Dereham.”