Sir John Cass’s Foundation’s Deputy Chairman of Grants, Sophie Fernandes, joined a host of Governors, teachers, distinguished guests, parents and pupils for an evening of celebration at the Sir John Cass’s Foundation & Red Coat Church of England Secondary School Prize Giving Evening on 2nd November 2017.

Amongst a full evening of achievements from pupils, Sophie was warmly welcomed by Head Teacher, Mr Paul Woods, to present the Sir John Cass’s Foundation Prizes for Progress. These were awarded to students who had made excellent progress across all subjects with ten awards presented to Key Stage 3 students and another ten for those in Key Stage 4. This was then followed with the presentation of Sir John Cass’s Foundation University Scholarships to two outstanding Sixth Form students who had achieved high academic results and made a significant contribution to the life of the School.

Sophie shared the history of the Foundation’s support for pupils of the School and also shared her own reflections of her time as a student, with an impassioned message to encourage all students to make the most of the opportunities their education offers.

A copy of Sophie’s full speech is shared below.

Sir John Cass’s Foundation and Red Coat Church of England Secondary School – Prize Giving Evening 02 November 2017

Sophie Fernandes, Sir John Cass’s Foundation’s Deputy Chairman of Grants
Chair of Governors, Head Teacher, Staff, distinguished guests and pupils, I am very pleased to be here this evening.

Firstly, may I begin by saying on behalf of the Foundation that we are all hugely proud of your achievements and another successful year for the school’s student exam results.

It is particularly pleasing to see such high numbers of students who continue in education, training, or move on to employment after the end of key stage 4; an impressive 96% of students successfully transitioned on to the next steps in their careers.

As many of you know, the Foundation was the original proposer for the School and has supported it since its establishment in 1966.

As sole Trustee, the Foundation is pleased to continue its long history of support for its pupils.

That’s why, alongside our annual gift towards this evening’s prizes, we continue our support through, amongst other things, student bursaries, hardship and uniform funds, funded trips to the Hampshire and Cass Foundation Mountain Centre in the Brecon Beacons and facilitated partnership working with the Cass Business School.

We have also given major grants to the School in 2006 and 2012 for the establishment of its new Sixth Form Centre.

And we want to continue supporting you, the pupils.

So as the School’s biggest benefactor, we were terribly excited earlier this month, to announce a grant which will be the single largest donation to the School since the Foundation funded the original build.

Our pledge of £750,000 will transform the School’s Virtual Learning Environment into a state-of-the-art independent learning centre, and will be named after the Foundation’s founder, Sir John Cass.

The learning space will enable students to access resources, study, and learn seven-days a week.
It will help instil a greater sense of independent learning, and prepare students to progress into their lives after school.

We really hope you enjoy using it, and I want to extend my thanks, on behalf of the Foundation, to Head Teacher, Mr Woods and his Senior Management Team for their valuable leadership in making the School such a success and hope this will contribute to continued future success.

And talking of success, today, I can confirm a total of twenty prizes and two university scholarships.

Prizes of £100 and £200 are to be awarded to ten pupils at key stage three and four respectively.

I am also delighted to present Sir John Cass’s Foundation University Scholarships of £1,000 a year. This is for the duration of two students’ undergraduate studies at Imperial College London, and City University.

So that’s the official part of my speech over but just before we go onto the prizes, I want to spend a few moments speaking to you as young adults.

I used to be one too, a long time ago.

And I remember that school isn’t always easy, or your favourite place to be – but remember: education is essential in life.

But school is more than that. It is also where you learn what makes you unique and special.

And every single one of you are unique and special.

There will be future doctors, barristers, accountants and politicians in the room today.

There will also be entrepreneurs, artists, actors, programmers and engineers.

And with the world moving so fast, there will be those in the room who forge careers in professions that don’t even exist yet.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a passion for it and make sure you do it in an environment where you can thrive.

Don’t fit in to something just because you think you should. The world is open to you. Go and explore what it offers.

Of course, it won’t always be success that you find, whatever path you follow: there will at some point also be a failure.

But failure simply means life is also throwing you an opportunity. Keep your eyes open, make sure you see it… and then grab it with both hands!

And if you think that all sounds a bit scary, take a lesson on success from Eleanor Roosevelt who said:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

For me, today, that was standing up here, speaking to you.

So ask yourself: What have you done today?

Thank you.