This is what we do 2


Another beautiful testimonial from one of our former students:


Before I went to BSix I had been kicked out of my sixth form with U – D grades. BSix offered me a second chance to start again. The college provided me with the right support and advice every step of the way. The teachers at bsix were also extremely helpful with a hands on approach. They invested a lot of their time in encouraging and motivating me to continue and do more. I left BSix with A – C grades and I am now a qualified teacher myself because of how inspiring I found the teachers to be at BSix. I would not be have been able to achieve what I have achieved without their support and the support of the college. I hope it continues to inspire others as it has inspired me.


Kind regards,


Fatma Rahmi


This is what we do

Our Assistant Principal: Student Recruitment and Development , Rebekah Westgate, is gathering testimonials from our former students. They are moving and inspiring reminders of what BSix does:


Cassim Akhoon

Cassim Akhoon


Of course, it’s my pleasure to repay the favour to BSix. BSix is largely the main reason I’ve now been able to become a doctor. Being born and raised in Hackney, I wasn’t exactly given the greatest ‘head-start’ in the city. However, my dreams remained big and curious to know what I could achieve. After having achieved terribly low GCSE grades, BSix was the only Sixth Form in the city which allowed me to attempt A-levels on the condition that I simultaneously retake two of my GCSE subjects. In addition, the Sixth Form truly cared about students eager to make the most of their education, and BSix granted me ample opportunities which I could never have dreamed of experiencing, such as taking part in a European Union Comenius project on sustainable energy, and presenting it to a French and Danish audience in Denmark. During my A-levels, the teachers went out of their way to help me and the college provided such a wealth of opportunities to aid with my learning, including 1-to-1 tutoring for A-level subjects I struggled in, extra support for the GCSEs I was re-taking (for which I also managed to get an A*), and plenty of higher education career support. In fact, thanks to BSix I also had the opportunity to take part in a fully-funded gap year volunteering in a Red Cross Hospital through a charity called ‘Lattitude’ – thanks to BSix’s higher education fair. BSix also granted me several more opportunities for personal development with their enriching student ambassador scheme, allowing me to host prospective students as well as speaking at secondary schools. The list can go on and on, and I genuinely have such warm memories and gratitude for BSix, it made me who I am today. It turned a boy who only got 4 C-grades in his GCSEs to being amongst the top 10% in a year of 450 students at one of the UK’s most prestigious universities, King’s College London. I’m proud of BSix and I hope BSix is proud of me.


Many thanks for everything.


Best wishes,
Cassim Akhoon


On meaning and purpose

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

Pablo Picasso


Guernica, 1937, Museo Reina Sofia

Guernica, 1937, Museo Reina Sofia


1909, Femme assise

1909, Femme assise



On human kindness



One of our students, Jalani Bakar, is a steward at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea FC’s ground.


On Wednesday night  the mighty Nottingham Forest (European Champions, 1979 and 1980) played Chelsea. It was a narrow 5-1 defeat for Forest.


Jalani knows that I am a Forest fan and bought ne a match programme the next day. What a lovely gesture.


An act of human kindness. BSix to the core.


On avoiding “permanent sadness”

Juan Riquelme, industrial Oxford and BSix

Juan Riquelme, industrial Oxford and BSix


The great midfielder Juan Riquelme moved from Boca Juniors in his native Argentina to Spain. Uprooted from his family, friends and familiar surroundings he was terribly homesick. Barcelona’s vice-president described him as “pulled down by a permanent sadness.”


Moving environment so drastically can be traumatic. I felt it moving from industrial Nottingham to Oxford with its lunchtime recitals and coffee-smelling book-lined rooms. I knew how Riquelme felt (although he was a slightly better footballer than me). Every day , without fail, I would set off in the week at 5’o’ clock and walk round the town. At first, I didn’t realise what I was doing. Then it came to me. 5’o’clock in Oxford was familiar to me as the car factories finished work and men in overalls with a sandwich box under their arms made their way home. I felt comfortable and reassured in that routine.


Yet, leaving a familiar environment is not inevitably bad. It is a chance to refresh and renew. At BSix our students come from over 180 educational institutions. Large numbers of a year group from the same school , bringing with them friends, relatives and already-formed relationships, do not arrive. Yet, within days, every year the BSix community gels at such speed. It speaks of acceptance, tolerance, kindness and respect. That is a wonderful thing.


Shaking hands with all the world


“I’ve come to shake hands with all the world”

Pablo Neruda, ‘Then Come Back’


One of the (many) amazing things about BSix is its diversity. Our staff and students come from all over the world. We all study and work together as one community. As a college, we embrace and celebrate this diversity. We love it. It is one  of our values. ‘BSix is a distinctive community, promoting and celebrating diversity in all its forms.’


Coming to work or study at BSix is ‘to shake hands with all the world’ every day.


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On changing lives 2

Adam Poland

Adam Poland


Adam Poland is the son of Steve (Poland), the College’s HR adviser. He took his A Levels in his school sixth form and didn’t do as well as he would have liked. He was uncertain about which route to take; his school had felt that he had excelled at science and maths and should pursue these subjects. Adam came to BSix and met Gill Boocock, one of our Sociology teachers , who immediately said to him : “you’re a Humanities student.” So he was.


Adam went on the study Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London. In July he graduated…with first class Honours.


BSix and Queen Mary University

BSix and Queen Mary University


There are many morals in this story. Not least, the defining value of finding what you enjoy. The great historian J.H. Plumb once described Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, as ‘a mollusc that never found its rock.’ So many of us go through life never finding our rock. We never find that subject, interest, activity that fires us . When you do find it, a whole world opens up*. Adam can now choose  a career doing what he enjoys doing. It won’t seem like work. This is such a rarity, something to be cherished deeply.


BSix is here to help young people find themselves for themselves. One of our values is that the College  ‘seeks to act in the best interests of young people rather than narrowly and ruthlessly pursuing institutional self-interest.’ Queen Mary is a great institution with a great mission. I have known so many people whose lives have been radically transformed by the place (from barrow boy to professor of business, from bookshop assistant to Shakespearean scholar, to name just two).


Helping people to find their rock; that is what we are here to do.




*I avoided using ‘the world is your oyster’ to continue the mollusc theme.


This is what we do



I have just received this lovely message:-


Dear Ken,

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you directly to congratulate you on Bsix and the work that goes on there.  As a Hackney Headteacher of 15 years (Primary) I didn’t know a lot about Bsix until my son ddecided to apply to study A levels with you last year.


I have to admit to being unsure as he had been at (a school) I thought he would find it easier staying where he was but he was very determined so he and I came to your registration sessions this time last year.  I was so impressed with the time your teachers and heads of department took to explain the subjects and curriculum and to listen to him.


He had been unwell during the run up to  GCSE’s and got much lower than predicted results and in particular failed history and RE the two subjects he was very keen on.


Other colleges and sixth forms said as a result he would not be allowed to take history A level.  Your staff at Bsix told him he could take history, RS, Sociology and politics which he was delighted with.


Although it has not all been plain sailing this last year, he has been much happier at Bsix then he was at (his school)  and has just achieved some great AS level results (3 Bs including B for history the subject no one else would let him take! ).


As I expect you know, your staff in the humanities department are great and very dedicated and really care about their students.  I am very grateful to Bsix for helping my son to get back on track academically and for giving him a chance to succeed and hopefully go on to further education.


As a fellow headteacher I do know how often our jobs can be hard and unrewarding and I hope my letter will let you know how much your work is appreciated and that I will be sharing my experience with anyone who wants to hear it.




On Changing Lives 1


A few weeks ago I had a lovely experience. I went in to Marks & Spencer in Islington. A young female cashier smiled at me. As I left, she asked me: “Do you happen to work at BSix?’ I replied: “Yes, I do happen to work there” (it all sounded a bit accidental to me). Then she said : “I went there.” Me: “I know. What are you doing now?” Her: “I’m studying Engineering at Nottingham University.” Cue for a long monologue about my hometown, the university and on and on.


The very next day I was in a local teahouse with some colleagues when two young women walked in and said: “Hello, sir.” Two former BSix students, one studying Forensics and Criminology at Portsmouth and the other Medicine at Queen Mary.



Omolade Osinaika, future engineer; Aisha Rahien, future forensic scientist or criminologist; Artum Durrens, future doctor.


Three young women about to embark on meaningful, fulfilling careers and expansive lives. BSix will have played some part in that. Of that all staff should be deeply proud. We do what my father would have called ‘useful work.’




Moving in zig zags

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, Juventus goalkeeper Buffon and Theresa May

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, Juventus goalkeeper Buffon and Theresa May

We can often begin to think that what is now will be forever more. The future is a prolongation of the present. Yet History can hit another gear, shifting suddenly in speed  and scale. The invincible can be beaten. The unstoppable shudders to a halt. Inveterate losers galvanise themselves. Everything that is solid melts into air.


An in- form Chelsea faced a sometimes dismally disorganised Arsenal in the FA  Cup final. They lost 2-1. A seemingly impregnable Juventus defence went to the European Champions League final. They conceded 4 to Real Madrid. Theresa May called a snap election confident of a significantly increased majority. It didn’t happen.


This is what Lenin meant when he said that “history is moving in zig zags.”


Arsene Wenger,Real Madrid player Marcelo and Jeremy Corbyn

Arsene Wenger, Real Madrid player Marcelo and Jeremy Corbyn