“Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.” Charles Caleb Colton

GCSE resultsAn academic year doesn’t really finish with the last day of term or even with the first day of the holidays it really finishes when you have been given your exam results. The UK system is perhaps unique in that it demands extreme patience from its students when it comes to results. Many A level students finished their exams in June but they have had to wait until mid-August for their results. Today it was the turn of the GCSE students who have also had to wait the best part of two months. Now that some exam boards publish online we don’t have the pleasure of seeing every student on results day. Today there were a good number of students who made the time-honoured walk through the school gates to collect their GCSE results. Some looked supremely confident, others were wracked by nerves. I’m glad to say that by the end of the morning we had had far more smiles than tears (and that was just the parents).

Much will be written in the coming days about how exams have become easier or how they have been made more rigorous. I’m not sure that this is the time to be having these discussions and I certainly think that the news media is often ill-informed. Many reporters resort to cliché and “it was harder in my day” comments. It is vital to remember that exams do not define the worth of a person. They are simply the passport to new courses and new opportunities. We shouldn’t make too many assumptions about a person based on how many Grade 9s they achieved, although those students who achieve this accolade deserve to feel pleased. Looking back over the performance of our students in their exams I am immensely proud of them. Many have taken these exams in a language which is not their mother tongue. Some have had to contend with settling into a new school at the very start of the exam course or even mid-course. All of our students have had to grapple with newly introduced exam specifications. Make no mistake, both GCSE and A level are academically challenging. Today’s results tell me a good deal about the sort of young people who make up the BSP community. They are adaptable, resilient and smart. Some have exam results that make this very clear, for others their achievements may not be so easy to see but they have achieved. Our teachers have provided excellent support and parents have provided the right sort of constructive encouragement. Alongside these grades are other stories of lessons learned while helping others or on the sports field or in an orchestra or on a stage or during a debate or out on expedition. School is about so much more than just a bunch of results.

Today our GCSE students have every right to reflect upon work done well. They should be proud of all that they have achieved and they are ready to move on with the educational journey. I hope that they are excited about what lies ahead. Our A level pupils now leave us for the wider world. They have given themselves a great start in adult life and have academic qualifications and social skills which will serve them effectively. They have done well indeed.

Nicholas Hammond

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