Dear Year 12s… – 10 September 2013


A frighteningly fast year on from my own Year 12 Parents’ Information Evening, I’ve sat two batches of exams, helped with the school’s 50th birthday celebrations, and been made Head Boy. And it’s in that role which I spoke tonight, to this year’s Year 12s and their parents.

Here’s a version of the speech I gave.

Every year, at this stage, the entire of Year 13 helpfully offer their advice to the new Year 12s. And every year, at this stage, the entire of Year 12 blissfully ignore these pearls of wisdom.

And why shouldn’t they? It’s only right and proper that the year below make their own mistakes, learn from the things that go wrong, and become better people for it.

The thing is, though, that unfortunately for you everything’s different for your year group.

Gone are the days of January exams – which, awful as it seems, were seen by some as a ‘trial run’ for the summer season. You’ll have mocks just after Christmas, but you’ll arguably have to treat them even more realistically than we did our first batch of ASs.

My advice for next summer’s exams, then, is to work as hard as you can throughout the next nine months. You cannot afford to have to worry about retakes.

Get organised now. If you haven’t already got a massive ringbinder for each and every subject, with the work you’ve completed since Wednesday carefully filed within, you’re already a step behind. If my words sound terribly hurried, it’s because of the great rush that is Sixth Form – blink, and it’ll be summer. It goes that quick.

Make the most of everything we have here. If you’re returning to Furze Platt, you’ll already know the vast range of activities, clubs, and societies that are on offer. If you’re new, you’ll find out at Friday’s Freshers Fair. Seriously, do sign up for anything that grabs your interest. You’ll realise that lots of the groups are student-led – it’s one of the best things about the school’s community-centric ethos, so take as active a role as you can manage. Not only will stuff like that look great on a CV or UCAS application, but – what’s far more – it’ll give you real leadership and team-player skills that will be great in later life.

So, to recap: work hard, play hard, and keep everything in order as you go.

Yesterday, I saw a tweet, along the lines of “Sixth Form is so hard. Every day feels like a week of work.” And it’s true: it’s exhausting. If you can agree with that tweet, you’re working hard enough. If you can’t, I’m afraid you really need to work a little harder.

The reward will be gargantuan. Throw yourself into the life and soul of these two years and, come your Year 13 ‘Prom’, I promise you this: you won’t want to leave.

Another version of this speech, with comments from Head Girl Sarah Donlon, can be found here.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.