This weekend I raised my chronological bat to acknowledge an undefeated half century at the wicket of life.

So last week I decided to be self indulgent in my start of term of assemblies. It went something like this...

Question: What connects this rather odd mix of video clips? Bet you don't get it!


Lynn Davies at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics >>> 

Ann Packer at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics >>>

Answer: They all happened within the first month of my life.

The Kinks at Number 1...

The KinksLynn Davies

Ann Packer

Olympic Gold Medalists from Tokyo Lynn Davies and Anne Packer the sporting icons of 1964...

Reflection: So what?!

One of those 'milestone' birthdays. A great time to reflect on 'seizing opportunities'. The opportunities that are offered to us and, sometimes, we actively create. The opportunities that go on to define us in terms of what we do and believe in.

So many of those opportunities happen at school. I won't trouble you with the personal anecdotes I used to regale the audience!

I will however share my message of excitement at addressing a room full of opportunity takers and makers. A room full of young people.

So, the message:

Seize every opportunity presented. And try to make them for both yourself and for others.

Students from Year 10 and 11 certainly did exactly that on the first day of term when showcasing a House debating competition for the Youth Sport Trust which ran alongside the opening of the National School Games in Manchester.

We developed the competition at the request of the Youth Sport Trust to show how public speaking in schools could potentially follow a sports competition format. And how it could be used to engage young people with wider issues relating to sport and physical activity as an academic discipline.

It was always going to be a logistical challenge to prepare in a very tight timeframe... And to get the students to Manchester the day before the official start of term. But this was an opportunity to do something special. Members of the school's national champion Sixth Form Debating Team worked as learning coaches to students from Years 10 and 11 representing each House to argue over a range of contentious sports-themed motions...

An hour of physical activity should be made compulsory in all primary schools

There should be an annual salary cap of the earnings of all professional sportspeople

Serious infringements of sporting rules should incur a lifetime ban

The venue for this battle of ideas, judged by leading sports administrators, a BBC sports journalist and Olympic Gold medalist: the city's suitably atmospheric Baronial Hall. It was like being in Hogwarts!


The result. Judges and VIPs so impressed by the work of our students that we will now have the opportunity to lead the roll out of this concept on a national basis next year.

An opportunity created, and brilliantly taken.

How's that?