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Exam success was the day job- but igniting interest and passion in all things

School grade results open the door to the next societal checkpoints our young strive for, important of course, but passion once sparked can be set for life.

There are many things I’ve tried to get the kids to try.

Music lessons, sports lessons, artistic hobbies, be they graphics tablets, cameras, coding robots, you name it.

I’ll focus on the eldest for this and say in her 11 years and her fewer years with physical control and sentience, I just have tried to encourage 30-40 hobbies hoping one would stick.

She’s politely attempted them all, with little interest, and we have a rule, if after 5 lessons she doesn’t like a thing and I don’t regard it as compulsory, she can drop it. And so she’s dropped many.

I was always looking for that thing that would make her a creator, not a consumer and after years of working with other people’s kids in schools, I know it can happen anytime, you just have to try and broker the angle and the interest… and most importantly access to the thing has to be available.

Now, of course, her school and its curriculum are attempting to do exactly the same thing each week of the day - forest schools, silent drama, electronics, Eco-committees, Minecraft club.

Some she likes, some she drops, but I’d never seen the passion strike her until the last few weeks: surprise surprise, a teacher, surprise surprise, volunteering, lunchtime and after-school sessions of Shakespeare monologues.

Now I wander the house to see my 11 old performing in front of any sibling or mirror she can cost - berating herself on missing a beat here or mangling one of the bard’s chosen phrases there.

She is sparked. Utterly.

And I have a teacher and their passion to thank.

This of course is a bread and butter experience for teachers, but with cuts forcing leaders to reduce or close art, drama, music and sports departments, teacher shortage and overworking due to pandemic effects, the window of opportunity for this in many schools is closing slightly.

While we all know grading and marking have a place and utility in society, I hope the government catch-up initiatives focus too on how important creativity and activity in all the arts and sports are in getting our schools and children ‘caught-up’.

More is needed to support a rounded recovery.

Seeing my daughter take to this only reminded me of years in schools where exam success was the day job, but igniting interest and passion in all things was the real focus.

No leader or teacher would forget this, I just hope government support and focus help them make it more of a priority.

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