This week, while many of us enjoyed delving into the dark comedy of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, performed with great chutzpah by students from the lower school, others have entered a world that, at times, seems equally frightening. This week has seen the start of study timetable for the Fifth Form and the final week of lessons for the Upper Sixth A Level students. Both cohorts will soon join the IB students in the examination halls. As many parents will know, and many more will soon to discover, this can be a daunting time – a time that sees stress levels rise and confidence levels fall. It can be a time of second-guessing, last minute cramming, and relentless obsessing about grades, levels, and assessment objectives.

But it does not have to be this way.

During mid-week Congers (which, for those not yet versed in the Wellington vernacular, is short for ‘congregational practice’, and otherwise known as ‘hymn practice’), Dr Tapley gave us a reality check and reminded us of what exams are all about.

Exams can be scary, they can be unpredictable, they can test our nerves. As a result, we become fixated on the outcome (will it be a 6 or a 7, an 8 or a 9?) but, ultimately, it is not all about the grades; much more important, is the wisdom gained in the process.

As I often say, our students will not be defined by their exam results, but they could be defined by the way in which they manage the process, by the resilience they gain and, most importantly, by the wisdom and self-knowledge they acquire along the way.

Reading from the Book of Proverbs, Dr Tapley encouraged all listening to reflect on why exams exist in the first place: ‘blessed are those who find wisdom… for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold… Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace”.

Wisdom, according to the Book of Proverbs, “is a tree of life to those who take hold of her”.

And if wisdom is the tree of life, she must be nourished.

If this tree could talk, like the plant in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, her message would be this:

“Feed me”.

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