Juan Mata, as you know, is a footballer. He plays for Manchester United. He has two feet and he knows how to use them. He uses his left foot for repeated moments of genius, carving defences open or hammering the ball into the roof of the net. He uses his right foot to stand on.
Or he did until Sunday 22 March. On that day at Anfield, in front of the Kop, he swept into the home team’s penalty box, controlled an exquisite through-ball from team-mate Ander Herrera, and slotted the ball past the outstretched Liverpool ‘keeper: with his right foot. One-nil.
For the rest of the game he reverted to type: left foot producing the genius, including that diving scissor-kick in the second half; right foot standing, or propelling his body towards the scissor-kick. Two-nil.
Yet for one moment, in one instant, his right foot had transformed the game.
And that, you see, is why you have to do English and maths as part of your Programme of Study here at this college. English and maths is the right foot you stand on, while you are creating genius with your left.
Maths is the right foot you stand on while you measure and weigh your ingredients, cost the purchases from your supplier, or make sure the angles on your brickwork are right. English is the right foot you stand on while you submit the proposal for the job, respond to that customer complaint, or engage with your most important client.
The genius is the way you cut the hair, or prepare the meal, or frame the doorway. That’s what takes my breath away.
And then occasionally, just occasionally, you will find yourself in the penalty box, the Kop baying for your blood, and to your own and everyone else’s amazement, you will achieve your goal, a remarkable and skillful goal, through English and maths alone.
You score! You secure that sought-after job, the elusive contract that allows you to create that sensational hairstyle, those cordon bleu meals, that stunning brickwork design; and it will be the further development of your English and maths skills wot won it for you: your presentation, your bid document, your ability to construct a persuasive argument, your understanding of the figures, your appreciation of ratios and shapes…
And that’s why, even though you finally achieved your hard-won Grade C GCSEs in English and maths last year, you are still being asked to develop those English and maths skills as part of your Programme of Study this year: so that you’ll be ready for the opportunity when it arises; so you’ll meet that exquisite through-ball from Herrera with a game-changing shot.