Left or right? Forward or back? Tea or coffee? Red sauce or brown? Life is full difficult choices. Some of us are determined choosers, committed to the decision we make, firm in our convictions. Others amongst us vacillate, waver and worry about the choice we made, constantly imagining better results had we chosen differently. The English language is full of idioms related to difficult choices: ‘in two minds’, ‘having a foot in both camps’, ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ and England’s greatest punk band – The Clash - had their biggest hit with a song called ‘Should I stay or should I go now?’. Decisions can be tough.
Many of our students in school are currently making some difficult choices. Our Year 9 students are weighing up their GCSE options, and Year 11 are staring hard at the International Baccalaureate choices. These choices seem like huge ones, destined to shape future University places and careers. In reality, no 14 or 16-year-old makes a choice which closes doors to the future, but it doesn’t seem that way when the choices are presented. It can be rather overwhelming for young people to have to think about their future beyond school, especially for those among them who don’t yet have a firm idea about which direction they want to travel in.
It is not just Year 9 and Year 11 students that are making choices though, students in our school make choices everyday, and our teachers are there to help and guide them as they make those choices. As adults, we aim to give students the tools to make great choices, not to make the choices for students. Our school values of respect, honesty and kindness are a great foundation for making good choices and our core business – educating – gives students the knowledge and skills to help them make sensible, evidence-based decisions. Even with these values and skills, students still sometimes make poor decisions, or decisions which don’t turn out quite the way they planned. At that point we are there to support the students in their reflections, and to help them find a positive way forward. Decision-making isn’t easy, but it helps when people around you are determined to stand by your side as you consider your options.
Chris Lowe, Head of Secondary