Framlingham: College headmaster warns of exam overload

A HEADMASTER at a leading Suffolk school has warned there is too much focus on exams at the expense of co-curricular activities such as music, theatre and sport.

Paul Taylor, from Framlingham College, was speaking at its annual Speech Day yesterday. He praised the co-curricular activities of his students and said they were “absolutely central” to education provision.

Mr Talyor, who has been headmaster at the College for three years, said: “I am determined to protect the breadth of the education here from the exam-creep of recent years, and believe that this aspect of our educational offering is, increasingly, one of the key raison d’etres of independent education: we are here to educate the whole person, not just the examination candidate.

“Such breadth is, of course, under special threat during the exam-filled summer term. This term alone, for instance, we have had four separate schools pulling out of fixtures just days before they are due to take place – saying that they were unable to raise a team.

“I am proud of the fact that we have honoured every fixture we have committed to – this matters – even though there have been times when it would have been easier to cancel after late withdrawals.

“While of course I have every sympathy with individual pupils who feel they need time at their books on a weekend before a full exam week, rather than get on a bus for an away fixture or make that Sunday afternoon rehearsal – and there is always room for considered flexibility when there is proper planning, communication and forward thinking involved - but as a trend this does seriously concern me.

“I firmly believe that constructive respite from the books is as important as time at the books themselves, even in the final run-in to exams, and if pupils plan their time properly there should be no need to have to rely on such last minute measures.

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“No one is questioning the primacy of academic performance as the central priority for our pupils and for this school, but a sense of perspective is required, and I will not be one of those heads who simply gives up on co-curricular pursuits during exam periods; to do so would, in my view, be doing our pupils an educational disservice.”

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