On Friday we went down to K2 for Thomas Bennett’s Year 11 Record of Achievement ceremony.Â Â I had not not been to one of these before – I missed Frankie’s and Chas’s school did something in the evening which was on a much smaller scale: he did go to a much smaller school.
The TBCC things occupied most of the large hall at K2, with parents filling the grandstand and the floor being filled by year 11 students – at least 200 of them.Â There were speeches, some dancing, speeches, handing out the ROAs, speeches, extra awards, speeches, music and a few speeches.Â A lot has changed since my day, but teachers still like to talk as much as they ever did.
It was a good day though. Â I don’t know when all this was invented, but they didn’t have it when I was at school.Â Â Maybe its all the result of us Brits seeing portrayals of American graduations and proms on film and TV and wanting to do something like that over here, but it does do a bit more to mark the end of school than we did.
What seems strange to me is that they are effectively leaving school before their exams have been taken, so Chrystal has now left school but goes back there to sit exams and do revision – but not (I hope) in that order.
After all the speeches and awards, one of which found its way to Chrystal, everyone dispersed and then met up again at the school in the afternoon after changes of clothes and visits to the hairdressers so they could get on coaches to go up to London for a riverboat disco.Â ((Do they still call them discos? ))Â Â The girls all changed into more dressy evening outfits.Â The boys’ idea of changing for the evening was in most cases to just lose the jackets of the suits they wore in the morning.
It was all a bit scary seeing them them all dressed up and looking so grown up, but it was encouraging all the same.Â Thomas Bennett has come in for a bit of criticism lately for its results, but the evidence of the graduation told a different story.Â It was a bunch of kids who appeared happy, well-balanced and confident.Â Many had gone through some vocational training at Central Sussex college and are leaving school already partly qualified.
The attitude of the school was summed up pretty well by one teacher (Mr Sheridan I think) who said “Here at Thomas Bennett we are always looking for new ways in which our students can succeed”.Â Â So if someone really can’t get high marks in traditional subjects they do not write them off but make the effort to find something which they are good at.Â It might not do wonders for league table placings but it seems to prepare the kids better for life after school.
The one thing all of them failed to learn, of course, is that schooldays are the best days of your life, but that has always been the case.Â I sort of wish they had a graduation ceremony when I was at school.Â At the very least I would have liked one of those ROA folders.Â If I had one of them I might now be able to find my exam certificates.