Royal Grammar School

Newcastle

Keeping Focused

Keeping Focused

Well, this week the country’s political and legal system is busy shaking itself to its very roots: a Trump victory in America seems more likely again, raising the spectre of a man of untried leadership and erratic views heading the most powerful nation on earth; and mayhem and bloodshed continue in the Middle East. What are young people to make of it?

I’m not being flippant. I hope they are able to rationalise and argue about all of it. Certainly there’s plenty of lively discussion in history, politics and economics classrooms, as there should be – and in many others.

I don’t believe for a moment that our young people are oblivious to these things, but in many ways they also have to accept what they can’t change. Actually, at this stage of term, eight weeks in with six to go, they need to remain focused and working hard, and they do.

On Monday we’ll nonetheless have great fun and entertainment – also keen competition – in the Senior School’s House Drama competition. In a couple of weeks’ time we shall be throwing ourselves with our usual enthusiasm into Charities Week. But the hard work goes on all the while.

Upper Sixth Formers are focusing particularly on achieving the high grades they will need to win places at the top institutions and courses they’re applying to. On that topic, I was immensely impressed yesterday by the practice MMI (medical interview) programme run for potential medics and dentists, some 30 of our own students and a number from outside schools. 

I took part in the morning session, quizzing candidates on their knowledge of the NHS as it appears in the news at present. These were quick-fire questions in a 6½ minute interview – before they moved on to another one of nine mini-interviews, with 90 seconds between each. Even for the interviewers (and those teachers relishing the chance to role-play as stroppy consultants or anxious patients!), the pressure was significant. For the candidates, I can only imagine it! 

Yet they were supremely well prepared and gave excellent accounts of themselves. Certainly there are things to learn and, after that intensive experience, we can be sure that they’ll perform that much more strongly when the real thing comes along.

It was fantastic practice for their real interviews. I was proud of my colleagues who put the programme together so expertly and played their part so convincingly – and of the students who, as always at the RGS, combined good preparation with panache on the day, to considerable effect.

And that, after all, is what it’s all about.

Bernard Trafford
Headmaster