students playing sports

The Head’s reflections on the week

Posted: 29th January 2024

students and teachers showing off cakes

We are celebrating our first Scholarship Award of the year. The assessments and awards for Co-curricular areas take place much earlier in the year than the Academic ones; there are many more coming up over the coming weeks. I wish our Year 8s who are applying for Art, Music, Drama, Sport, and All-Rounder awards the very best of luck.

To put yourself forward for something you may well not achieve is to take a chance, but to spend a life without taking chances is to live a very dull one. To think “I won’t apply for that award, because I probably won’t get it,” is to live a life that offers you fewer disappointments, but will be full of endless “What if?” moments of reflection. I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Scholarships to senior schools are a venture into the unknown. You have no idea who you will be up against from other Prep schools, or their abilities compared to your own. Or you might be competing for the same award with the person you sit next to in lessons. Co-curricular Scholarships mean the pressure of producing an Art portfolio, extra sport training sessions, or learning a Drama script on top of all your regular academic work. There are lots of reasons why it might seem much easier not to apply, before you even consider the emotions that may be involved.

I encourage our Year 8s to see the bigger picture. To use a Sports Scholarship metaphor, you might go to the Assessment Day and score three goals in the exhibition match. Then, the letter arrives informing you that you have not been awarded a Scholarship. The fact that you have been unsuccessful is not the one to dwell on. Focus on the fact that you have been brave, you have put yourself forward. In addition, your senior school has seen you play and score three goals in a match against county-level players. Know that they are already thinking about what role you will play in the Year 9 teams. And you still have half a year before you leave St Christopher’s – you’re on their radar before you’ve even begun. The match to concentrate on is the next one. It is easy to extend this metaphor to an artist, musician, or actor, too.

Learning to put yourself forward is a vital skill in life, as is developing the necessary resilience when your efforts are unsuccessful. As ever, the growth mindset is key, and the process of applying for Scholarships, with the attendant interviews and new experiences, should be seen as a positive one regardless of the outcome. I am always impressed with the level of empathy and support for each other that our Year 8 show when not everyone achieves their goal. Practising these very important skills is also a positive outcome for everyone.

We are of course delighted when our applicants are also successful in achieving the aims they set out to!

The School Flag flies for a day in honour of each award winner; watch for the first of 2024 next Thursday.

Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head

Categories: Head's Reflections