A positive balance

At a time when thousands of sixteen-year-olds are sitting their GCSE examinations, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week. Policy-makers have been acutely aware of the increase in mental health concerns amongst adolescents, but that did not stop them raising the stakes through the creation of the elusive grade ‘9’ at the top of the GCSE scale. As teachers and parents, we can (and should) tell our young people that an ‘8’ is already an A* and therefore outstanding, but the brightest and most determined will still ramp up the pressure through a race to the top.

Yet we know that success and happiness in life amount to more than a string of top grades. Yes, it is important that we encourage our children to do their best, but we also want them to be balanced human beings who enjoy positive mental health. A piece of UCL research released a few days ago found that secondary school pupils benefited from 65 minutes less break-time weekly compared with 1995. This week is also National School Sport Week, and the Youth Sport Trust has published data revealing that curriculum time devoted to Physical Education dropped by over 15% between 2010 and 2017.

It is surely no coincidence that Mental Health (with a focus this year on body image) and School Sport Weeks coincide! Our students work very hard at Leicester Grammar, but we recognise how vital it is for them to enjoy their PE, sport and other active pursuits alongside their studies. Our long lunch-hour enables this, as do the many opportunities for school and house sport. It has also been great to see so many students outside at lunchtime over the last few days, simply enjoying each other’s company and soaking up some glorious sunshine.

It is, of course, somehow easier to revise when the sun is not tempting us outdoors! As our Year 13 students depart today for study leave, we thank them for all they have contributed so positively to the balanced life of our community. We wish them calm and effective revision, as well as every success in their examinations.

Best wishes

John Watson
Headmaster and Chief Executive