“Run your own race” is a great metaphor for life and an important message for children. You do YOUR best, not judging yourself against others’ performances or indeed their targets. It is ok if your strategy is unique to you and different from everyone else’s. I was reminded of this by two recent events, House Cross Country and the Brighton Marathon. The House Cross Country races on the very last day of last term saw great determination from all involved, from those who pushed themselves to the limit to win medals, to those who completed the course to show themselves that they could set a goal and achieve it. The Brighton Marathon saw exactly the same range of goals and achievements on display, and I am very proud of the team of parents, staff, and pupils who worked hard to run our Water Station.
It’s nearly time for our Year 8 pupils to run their race - the exams that they have been preparing for which lead them on to the challenges of senior school. Our role at school now is to cheer them on from the sidelines, and yours at home is to keep them well watered and well rested. I am sure that they will run their own races to the best of their abilities, and that we will be proud of every single one of them. Back in September, the prospect of Common Entrance and Scholarship may have seemed as daunting as signing up for a marathon, but they have worked hard and are ready.
By the time children reach Year 8 at St Christopher’s, they have several years’ experience of formal assessments and are very familiar with the key skills required to complete an exam successfully: time management, checking the number of marks for each question, and checking their answers to look for mistakes. They know what they need to do and they will have a plan in place for each exam. In lessons, teachers have introduced them to a variety of revision techniques as well, from spider diagrams, to mnemonics, to flash cards, and mind palacing. Once again, it’s about finding the strategy that works for the individual.
Just as people work towards exams in different ways, different members of a group bring different skills to the table, and enable the group as a whole to make progress. The start of term has seen some team building sessions for different year groups in the upper half of the school. After the Half Term break, Years 5 to 8 will be able to use all of their different skills during their residential trips. Many of the activities on the trips, from bushcraft to raft building, will need team efforts in environments a little more challenging than our front playground, and the children will be well prepared to succeed.
Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head