A Theory of Everything

Monday saw the end of the PPEs for Year 11. This marks their last formal bench marking before the actual exams commence. It was lovely to hear the buzz of the students as they came out of their exams discussing what they had written. I was, however, hit with reality while at a conference on Tuesday when there were discussions around ‘the last 50 days’ before the bulk of the written examinations start. It always comes as a shock how quickly the academic year goes by and the exam period is once again upon us. Year 11s are already juggling their time between lessons, revision and intervention sessions as well as finalising their preparations for practical exams. This week we have seen the Music soiree where students were showcasing the culmination of their two year course as well as the final Drama rehearsals for the Drama practical exam today.

I don’t think any of us will have missed the sad news about Professor Stephen Hawking, the inspirational physicist and writer of ‘The Theory of Everything’, who died peacefully at his home this week aged 76. Having been diagnosed at 21 with a rare form of motor neurone disease and being given two years to live, he ‘showed breathtaking courage to overcome life’s adversities’. There have been many tributes to him, amongst them Lord Rees said, ‘even mere survival would have been a medical marvel, but of course he didn’t just survive. He became one of the most famous scientists in the world’. Not many physicists become household names but, as his children have said, ‘His courage and persistence with brilliance and humour inspired people across the world’. I wonder what inspiration our students have come back with from their visit to the ‘Big Bang Fair’ yesterday?

As our students approach the end of year 11, I always wonder what paths they will take in their futures, what influences them and what inspires them. By reflecting on the life of Stephen Hawking, it reminds me that anything is possible. Our theory in school is that if we can encourage our students to show resilience when things don’t go quite how they planned, and believe that ‘they can do it’ and who knows what they may achieve.

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