Whilst it is disappointing to read the less than inspiring results as the educational standards of our local youngsters has once again hit the headlines this week, I found myself at Wadham School again.
On this occasion, as I do every year, it was to assist The Rotary Club of Ilminster with their practice interviews. This is something the club have been doing at the school for some years now, enabling Year 11 students to see what it is like to be interviewed, and to give them pointers on how to sharpen up their CVs, their appearance and their communication skills, if required. Despite their usual initial apprehension and shyness, I found myself once again surprised and delighted at the 'energy' and 'passion' of these students just starting out on their journey to adulthood. For some youngsters life can be especially hard. We've all heard news of bullying, and in our current society there are many challenges to be overcome. What I found here though is that each and every one of them felt they had benefited from some support, be it from friends or family, their tutors, or the school as a whole, which if they are to be believed, excels in pastoral care. They all however had the ability, no matter what the situation, to pick themselves up, start all over again, and 'go for it'! I certainly went home in a pensive state of mind, for which I thank Wadham students, and the staff, of course. What the outcome of their exam results next year will be is anyone's guess, and yes the results will be important. In fact, for some they will be life changing. However, as someone who has largely been self-educated as an adult I am well aware, even if some employers are not, that it is not just about academic prowess but also about the person and the complex make up of skills, knowledge and character that will to a large part determine their success in life. By chance this week I have also been involved in the recruitment of non-executive directors at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS FT, and we have been busy short listing candidates for their final interviews. In assessing their suitability, I was reminded of this whole issue of exam results when one candidate felt, at a rather advanced stage in their career it was appropriate to mention O-level achievement. I would certainly hope that on nearing retirement they had something else to offer other than exams taken at the age of 16. Likewise, another candidate felt it incumbent upon them to mention every single thing they had done in a career spanning 40 years, all 15 pages of it! They may well have been academic, and eminently suitable for selection, but in terms of their ability to put that across succinctly other less well qualified candidates were much more likely to pass muster. In many years of recruiting people from all walks of life, for many different jobs, it is sometimes those that on paper seem less impressive, that if given the chance, can really come up trumps.