The Master’s Voice
When I spoke to the pupils at our End of Term Assembly I took the opportunity to remind them of how lucky they were to be at a school that takes them as seriously as Wellington does. They have teachers who not only have expert subject knowledge, but who also take care to make sure they don’t slip through the net by chasing up overdue work and constantly monitoring their progress. They also have an astonishing range of academic enrichment opportunities: individual academic departments put on regular study and seminar evenings, and the “Inspire” series of lectures ensures a steady stream of the brightest and most interesting minds in Academia regularly come to College. The sport here is second to none, as is art, music, dance, debating and drama – and of course most Wellingtonians also have many opportunities through service and travel to both literally and metaphorically expand their horizons. The result of all of this, I said, is the strong likelihood that most of them will end up with not only very good exam results, but also will have become genuinely rounded and interesting young men and women. I am proud and excited to lead such a school and to see so many of our pupils making such good use of their time here.
But I then went on to suggest that all of this opportunity, which for them is so easily accessible, could also prove to be their Achilles heel. When they leave school they will not just be competing with people like themselves who have enjoyed such a privileged start in life, but will actually be up against others of their generation who, despite not having had all of their advantages, have nevertheless left school with excellent grades and achievements. The point I was making was that once they are in the outside world – at University and beyond – they will be rubbing shoulders with genuine self-starters who have managed to find openings and opportunities where perhaps initially few seemed to exist. More often than not it will be the self-starters, the ones who not only have a vision, but also the desire and energy to make those dreams come true, who go on to enjoy the most successful careers. It’s a message reiterated time and time again by CEOs and academics alike, including one of our Governors, Professor Peter Frankopan – an Oxford Don himself.
I was not trying to scare them, but rather reminding them that for the exam year groups, these Easter holidays are hugely important, and that if they gave anything less than their maximum effort to their final preparations they would be guilty of letting themselves down. They would also be running the risk of jeopardising many of the advantages they have been given and of conceding ground to all those who do see the next three months as absolutely vital for their futures. And for all those who do not have examinations on their immediate horizons, they could do worse than use these holidays to reflect on whether they really are getting the most out of the extraordinary and inspirational environment that is Wellington College.
I wish you all a very Happy Easter.