‘They have achieved Mission Impossible’ - Head praises students at Wisbech Grammar School speech day
GRAMMAR school head Nicholas Hammond poked gentle fun at Education Secretary Michael Gove on Friday inviting comparisons with Einstein.
“Schools should be in the business of firing young minds rather than force-feeding them with facts,” Mr Hammond told Wisbech Grammar School’s annual speech day.
“The father of modern physics, Albert Einstein, had argued that imagination was more important than knowledge, but the Education Secretary had demanded a core curriculum content of facts.
“One of them is a genius who changed the course of the world. The other is Michael Gove.”
Mr Hammond, head of the �10,950 fee-paying school, argued that it would be better for Mr Gove and his colleagues to spend more time in schools and find out what made them tick rather than using statistics alone to define what made a good school.
Mr Hammond said: “We remain committed to the education of minds, not simply the training of people who go on to succeed in examinations.
“We continue to teach traditional academic subjects such as single sciences and separate humanities and it is good to see that the educational world is coming back round to our way of thinking.”
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He said students were faced “with a seemingly never-ending treadmill of exams, the setting and marking of which should be subject to much-needed scrutiny.
“They rely on a society which seems keener to vilify than to praise and they face an impossible task, far harder than the educational challenges that I was presented with at their age.”
Mr Hammond added that the students had weathered yet more initiatives imposed by well-meaning but ill-informed politicians and he was reminded of Simon Jenkins’s comment on the Blair reforms of education: “those who can do; those who can’t teach, those who can’t teach reorganise.”
He looked forward to seeing the new reforms to GCSE and A-Level examinations that had recently been announced and he hoped that these would lead to teachers being allowed to teach what was necessary and appropriate.
“The challenge faced by upper sixth form students can be compared to the feat of licking their own elbows.
“This is a fantastic physical metaphor for the current challenge posed by our educational system.
“Our sixth formers have faced something akin to ‘Mission: Impossible’. What is remarkable is that these young people have not only accepted the task, but have succeeded in it. They have climbed Mount Impossible and deserve to enjoy the view.”
The guest of honour for the speech day was the Bishop of Ely, the Rev Stephen Conway. He told students: “You should aim to be a mixed age community where people pull together in mutual friendship and responsibility.”
SPECIAL PRIZES FOR SPEECH DAY 2011
The Prize for Drama & Theatre Studies: Eleanor Overvoorde
The Balding Prize for French: Sophie Prentis
The Kenneth Neale Memorial Prize for Physics: Matthew Evans
The Senior Prize for Biology: Christopher Clements
The Prize for Geography: Eleanor Overvoorde
The Prize for Home Economics: Food Science: William Tysterman
The Prize for Art & Design: Textiles: Saskia Cooper
The Guy Pearson Memorial Prize for Art: Sammy-Jo Tawn
The Prize for Physical Education: Sarah O’Hare
The Cyril Saunders Memorial Trophies for Sport: Lisa Williamson, Alistair Price
The Prize for Graphics: Sammy-Jo Tawn
The Prize for Business Studies: Victoria Turner
The Prize for Economics: Dominic Rusman
The Skinner Prize for History: Connor Rand
The Salters’ Institute Prize for Chemistry: Dominic Rusman
The Dorothy Hartley Prize for Modern Languages: Eleanor Mole
The Prize for Music & Music Technology: Matthew Ekins
The Stationers’ Prize for Printing: Emma Barker
The Prize for Spanish: Catherine Horne
The Prize for German: Katharine Treasure
The Prize for English: Emily Addington
The Poyser Memorial Prize for Mathematics: Timothy Harrington
The Prize for Design & Technology: Jack Hastings
The Arthur & Dorothy Kolbert Prize for Musical Performance: Eleanor Mole
The Prize for Dramatic Performance: Kieran Golding
The Prize for Technical Support in Drama: Ryan Calleja
The Anniss Memorial Prizes: Vincent Tsoi, Bharthi Keshwara, Rachel Coleman, Adam Al-Taher
The Lawrence White Prizes (all round endeavour): Matthew Evans, Oliver Ison, Kieran Golding
The Kathleen Crowden Memorial Prizes (outstanding service to the school): Emily Holt, Catherine Horne, Connor Rand
The Magdalene Prizes (academic excellence): Christopher Clements, Saskia Cooper, Charlotte Hay
The Alan D Salmon MBE FCA Memorial Prize for Endeavour (Senior School): Tara Canning
The Prize for Community Service: Amy Seaton
The Rex Carkeek Prize for Mathematics for the Best Performance by a Third Former: Georgia Spencer
The Penny Carkeek Prize for Textiles for the Best Performance by a Third Former: Nicole Almond
The Neil Russell Memorial Prize for the Best Scholar in the Fifth Form: Matthew Coleman
The Heather Repper Memorial Prize for the Best Scholar in the Sixth Form: Dominic Rusman
The Head Boy’s Prize: Timothy Harrington
The Head Girl’s Prize: Sarah O’Hare