Farewell Year 13. I’ve been so busy of late I think I may have missed you growing up.
The realisation came to me as I watched your ‘leaver’s assembly’ last week. You put it together with such style, panache, good humour and grace that it dawned on me that at some point over the last few months (or even years) you turned from children into adults right in front of my eyes. And I hadn’t even noticed.
How very ‘unmindful’ of me.
Please forgive me. Please forgive the teaching profession in general. You see you may not believe it but we became teachers because we want the best for you. And the best for the other year groups we teach too.
And yet somehow over the last few years, ‘the best’, due to other people’s agendas and external pressures, has narrowed so much that it often feels like this simply translates to GETTING A HIGH GRADE in the subject that we specifically teach you. The over-riding purpose of our day now seems to be to prep you for one day where you ‘show off’ your knowledge, understanding and literacy skills to someone you and I will never meet. According to today’s UK education system, that person will decide if you and I succeeded or not.
Yet today I began to be more observant again. I woke up when I was watching your colourful, vibrant and energetic assembly. I was reminded why I became a teacher all those years ago. Yes, I love sharing my passion for my subject, but really, it’s more than that. I became a teacher to help young people develop skills and personal characteristics to stand them in good stead in adulthood. I didn’t come into teaching to focus so narrowly on one particular day in someone’s life.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that day of your exam is important. But because all of our reputations seem to be hinged on this date these days, the importance of it has begun to dominate and stifle school life.
Watching you today reminded me that your teenage years are about so much more than just exams. The teenage years are about friendships, first loves, your social life. It’s good to be reminded that exams merely fit in around all of these other things.
So good luck in your exams Year 13, but more importantly good luck in life. At times I may have behaved as if your History A Level grade is the only thing that I care about. But in reality I care about much more than that.