Top Grades and Timeless Values
Like many a teacher, I try to view the busy period between the end of results day and the start of the new school year as a time of self-reflection.
Exams are, of course, an important part of any child’s time in school, and seeing so many Bede’s pupils achieving so highly, including earning the school’s best-ever A Level grades and best-ever GCSE results, has provided a fantastically positive backdrop to my arrival.
Indeed, as my family and I have moved into our new home and begun to learn our way around both Bede’s and Upper Dicker, these sensational accomplishments, combined with my new and leafy surroundings, have provided a great deal to reflect upon.
It is, of course, only right that exam results are celebrated. It is incredibly important to analyse what went right, what might not have gone quite so well, and to plan for the future. As I have settled in however, I have also found myself reflecting on how schools, teachers and children sometimes risk forgetting that exam results are only a snap-shot of achievement behind which lie vast and intricate stories of companionship, adversity and personal challenge.
A Level pupils jumping for joy.
It might be argued that exam results provide a crystallisation of everything that has come before, that they are the culmination of a person’s time in school, but even if that were wholly true I would still think it regrettable that schools, like businesses, are so often judged on such easily quantifiable measures of performance. Things like exam results, attendance levels and the number of pupils going on to University offer raw figures that do matter enormously, but those statistics simply cannot reflect what underpins them – namely the values and ethos of a school.
Values are something you can only really judge through personal experience, and it has long been my observation that strong values underpin successful schools. They give us all a foundation which governs how we behave, what we see as important and what we do when faced with a problem.
Clear values give people structure and, in doing so, they enable people to know where they stand and what to expect from others, be they colleagues or classmates. They create a stable environment which nurtures trust and makes it easier to get things done.
Some of the school's most successful GCSE pupils celebrating their successes.
I firmly believe that it is who you are not what you know that carries you through life – that personality and character, tempered with self-discipline and the resilience to carry on when the going gets tough, are what determine whether or not a person finds true happiness and self-fulfilment.
These things come from values, and as such I believe that values are what really determine whether or not a school is successful.
Needless to say, one of the most remarkable features of Bede’s is its clear values, and they are ideals that I share wholeheartedly. From my first visit earlier this year, it has been striking how the school’s dedication to putting pupils first is fundamental to its ongoing success, and while exam results are part of that picture they are only one component: it is Bede’s capacity to foster personality and character that defines it as truly exceptional.
With all of this in mind, it is vitally important that we celebrate how Bede’s helps young people to develop values. How outstanding teachers enable children to grow into rounded personalities, each with unique talents and characteristics.
To learn about some of our students and their school journeys, click here.
To do this, girls and boys have to be encouraged to step outside their comfort zones, to try new things and discover where their talents really lie, and although BTECs, A Levels, GCSEs and Pre-U qualifications hint at this process, and although Bede’s is accomplishing remarkable things in each, we must remember that exam results offer only a fractional measure of the transformative power of an extraordinary school.
In light of our recent explosion of achievement, I therefore urge everyone in the Bede’s community to take this opportunity to look back at the past and where they’ve been, and then to look forward to the future. To think of the ways they might have coaxed children, or might have been coaxed themselves, into making the most of what Bede’s has to offer and the discovery of that which they are capable.
In doing so, I encourage every one of us to take a moment and imagine the best versions of ourselves in ways not defined by percentages, accolades or certifications.
Rather, let us be defined by our values. After all, they are what will enable us to find purpose and will serve us well not just in the upcoming year or our next set of exams but for the rest of our lives.