“We all have a chance.” – Greta Thunberg

As well as providing access to the world’s most prestigious universities and being a sound basis for life-long learning, the UK educational system is one in which choice is a key component. Whilst there may not be a huge amount of choice about the subjects that you study in the primary years, choice begins to appear in the secondary years. At the BSP the first choices are made at the end of Year 7 where there is a chance to study either German or Spanish alongside compulsory French. At the end of Year 9 there is more choice as GCSEs beckon. Whilst a broad base is maintained until the age of sixteen there are opportunities for pupils to make a subject selection in three option blocks. This provides the opportunity to follow academic interests, to focus on the things that matter to the individual, often forming the basis for long term learning. By the time GCSEs are taken and A levels have been selected, the learning pathway is well established. These qualifications are the key to study around the world and give our pupils the opportunities to delve deep, to explore and to understand. They allow for individual study to take place, time for interests to be developed.

But choice can be bewildering. It is definitely a good thing but if you aren’t quite sure where you are going then this can be a concern. We do our best as a school to guide and support our pupils in the right direction. Year 9 had their options evening on Wednesday and are now deciding which three options they will take alongside the core subject load including Maths, English, French and the sciences. Next week Year 11 will stand at a similar fork in the academic pathway and they will consider which A levels they will choose. Our tutorial system and Careers Department provide valuable guidance through a programme of lectures, interviews and individual consultations. The collective wisdom of my teaching colleagues, working in partnership with parents and (of course) pupils almost always means that the right path is chosen and flourishing results.

Our world is a complicated one. Young people are given a bewildering choice when it comes to their future. In this I am talking of more than their academic subjects. We value the choices that are made around participation in activities, about making wise choices in a social capacity and simply knowing when to do the right thing. Whilst we spend a lot of time at this stage of the year talking about academic and subject decisions, it is a year-round task to guide and develop young people of character who will go on to make the right decisions. I hope that this ensures that they grow into the individuals of good character that this world so clearly requires. We are lucky that so many choose to consider the advice that they are given and, having reasoned, make sound decisions.

Have a great weekend.

Nicholas Hammond