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Mougins School

The Learning Curve

‘Live the questions’ - Rilke‘
  • Secondary Matters
Paul Michael

It is reasonably well known that sports coaches who prepare elite athletes for 100 metres competitions frequently tell their runners to aim to complete 101 metres. The thinking is this: if they aim for 100m they run the risk of slowing down too early, losing focus, not bursting through the final moments at their very best. 

I often think of such advice at this time of year. Our students, in every year group, have much to still strive for. The consolidation of a long curriculum journey, be that in Key Stage 3 or in the external exam years, takes stamina. Our staff work very closely with our students during this period, keeping one eye on the present and one on the future. Have our students reached their desired end of year ‘transfer goals’, for instance. Ensuring they are ready to meet the challenges of their next chapter matters a great deal. 

And for those students in Year 11 and Year 12 who return to us after their examinations are over, the impetus to come back with vigour and enthusiasm is even more important. Experiencing an introductory A Level programme, with subject experts, raising their expectations and whetting their appetites for deeper academic adventures in the Sixth Form gives them a real head start once Year 12 begins. And for our Year 12 students, there is not a moment to lose: getting the A2 ball rolling now pays dividends during the busy period when university applications are being finalised. 

Often, at these stages in the year, real academic epiphanies can occur. Students frequently report that this is the time when an inaudible click happens. Complex topics begin to fuse together and the purpose, scope, and scale of their year’s work becomes increasingly coherent. What does this look like in practice? Well, just last week a student in Year 9 told me that they now see why, in English, studying poetry has helped their creative writing, their comprehension skills, and their understanding, and enjoyment of Shakespeare. As a former Head of English, this last part brought me much joy. 

It is great to see our students in school at this time of the year, still relishing challenges, still thirsty to learn, still curious, and as Rilke so memorably expressed, ‘living the questions’. We have much to achieve in these final moments and look forward to stretching our students to the 101st metre of the term before we all enjoy a good summer break. 

Paul Michael
Head of Secondary School

  • Secondary