This week, our Year 11 and 12 students have had a full week of exams.
This week, our Year 11 and 12 students have had a full week of exams; the atmosphere around the school has been extremely focused and full of concentration. This made me think about the media coverage that we have recently had on Marcus Hutchins who helped shut down the cyber-attack virus that threatened the NHS computer system a few weeks ago. The newspapers provided much detail on how this young man had failed his GCSE IT when at school; part of what is increasingly becoming a narrative around exams season - where details of famously successful people, who failed their examinations are published. The aim is seemingly based around making anxious students feel better. I read an article that commented on examples ranging from Jeremy Clarkson’s twitter boast last summer: ‘If your A Level results are not joyous, take comfort from the fact I got a C and two U’s. And I have a Mercedes Benz’ to the revelation that Robbie Williams failed all his exams ‘really badly.’ There is also the ubiquitous, but untrue, tale of Einstein failing Mathematics at school.
You will know from either conversation with me, or from previous articles that I am passionate about the fact that achievement in examinations, is only one part of the skillset young people need to acquire if they are to prepare for success in the world of work and adulthood.
Nevertheless, it is fact, that we do have a system of public examinations in this country that focusses on end of course outcomes. I also have no doubt that the very large majority of our students, currently studying for GCSEs and A Levels feel that they have worked extremely hard. So, in response to the current media, I would say that there is a real danger that, by trying to reassure students – in simplistic, terms - that there is more to life than exams, we do actually run the risk of ‘lessening’ the efforts of our students and of downgrading their achievements. These are examinations for which our students have studied incredibly hard, revised for months and poured over at length. So, I do ask us not to denigrate their hard work and commitment – nor, indeed, that of their teachers – by insisting that they mean very little.
In the meantime, I would like to congratulate them on how much they actually have done. I spoke to our Examination Invigilators on Friday afternoon, who said that our girls were an absolute credit to themselves in the way in which they have conducted themselves. They really, truly deserve to do well. I should like to take this opportunity to also thank our Examination Officer, Mrs Gilkes and all our invigilators for their hard work too. It highlights too, just how much of a team we are!