The lengthening and lightening of evenings in the summer term holds different attractions for different people. Some relish the chance to sit out late in the garden with a glass of wine and a good book. Others prefer to stay indoors, eking out the daylight and totting up how much they are saving on electricity. And parents of young children deploy all manner of black-out blinds and psychological strategies in a desperate but mostly futile effort to keep bedtimes and wake-up times a decent span apart. I am a member of this last group and my goal on non-school event evenings in summer is simple: to win the “But the sun hasn’t gone to bed yet!” argument with enough light left in the day to get out for a decent hill run.
Ah, running over the Quantocks! You really can’t beat it on so many counts – the views (even Bridgwater looks good from up there), the solitude, the wildlife, the red earth. I am neither a classy runner like Mr Tickner or Mrs Cutts, nor do I have the steely determination of Mr Bluemel or Mr Brodie, but my chugging speed is just enough to give me the two things I need, namely a decent workout and a clear brain.
From this, you can imagine my delight when not one, but two articles on the importance of keeping active during the exam period popped up in my news feed recently. The first has an HMC angle, the second is more general. Both chime nicely with the advice that Taunton School exam groups have been receiving for years – to keep co-curricular routines going as much as possible during the summer term, to honour commitments and responsibilities, and to not fall prey to last-ditch cramming which rides roughshod over previously successful timetables. In my Deputy Head Academic role I have to ensure that exams are done properly, and that all the regs are followed (like AC-12 – to the letter!), but this must not mean that students allow all their other plates to stop spinning for two months.
Fundamentally, exams are a Big Deal but each set of exams is only a stepping-stone to something greater, preparing children for adult life. So let us encourage students to establish balance in their young lives, and maintain this into maturity, for their health, happiness, and success.
May I wish the whole Taunton School community (but particularly fellow runners) a great summer.
Deputy Head, Academic