“None of us can know what we are capable of until we are tested”
A school year is rather like a big theatrical production. Students spend the early stages exploring the plot, learning their lines and taking direction from their teachers. After months of rehearsals and countless hours of hard work and dedication both inside and outside the classroom, the summer term arrives bringing a new level of intensity. Teachers finish syllabuses and provide classes with revision guidance, while the highly complex logistical task of organising rooms, producing timetables and allocating examination papers ensures the ‘stage is set’ for what we hope will be an outstanding performance!
The most noticeable aspect of this time of year, however, is commitment and determination of students across the school. The vast majority will be putting in the hard graft required to prepare for and pass their examinations. Our staff work hard to support our students through this period, both academically and personally, helping them to develop resilience in the face of challenge, a quality that will continue to be valuable in later life.
As Head Teacher, I cannot help but have mixed feelings about a society that sometimes seems to judge students solely by examination results. I am rightly proud of the achievements of Ballakermeen students throughout the years, but I never lose sight of the fact that our children amount to far more than a collection of grades. Seeing the mature and civilized manner in which our Year 11 and Sixth Form students conducted themselves on their final day demonstrated the many more important qualities they possess.
While examinations are part and parcel of the school experience, it’s important to maintain a sense of perspective. What we ask of our students is quite simple – that they give their best. Equally important is learning how to respond when the results are in; for all of the triumphs, there will be some disappointments. If our students can learn how to respond positively to such challenges during their time at the school, they will have every chance of succeeding in the world beyond Ballakermeen.
The unspeakable events in Manchester came close to us and have been very much on our minds. The tragic and shocking loss of so many young lives has touched us all and reminded us of what is really important, beyond academic concerns. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. In times of adversity, we often see people at their best. The response of the people of Manchester has been remarkable and uplifting. It is confirmation of the fact that, although there are those who may seek to destroy our way of life, their twisted actions only make us stronger. It should also remind us that we should ‘seize the day’ and make the most of the opportunities that this wonderful and safe island of ours offers.