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Opinion: Exam results are not the be all and end all – it just seems that way right now

Teenagers across the district have been collecting their exam results – last week it was A-levels this Thursday GCSEs.

There was joy from most, but there was also disappointment for many too last Thursday, and the two emotions were felt in equal measure again this week.

And whilst at the age of 16 or 18 a failed chemistry exam or a lower than anticipated geography grade may feel like the end of the world – it really isn’t.

Some of this group of Neale-Wade students will be returning for A-levels while others are off to college.
Some of this group of Neale-Wade students will be returning for A-levels while others are off to college.

Although I suspect it will be hard to get that message over to the distraught teen facing such a ‘catastrophe’.

It never ceases to amaze me how much emphasis we put put on ‘good’ exam results and the pressure our children feel to perform to an A* standard at all times.

How awful is that? Exams are important, in so much as they are a stepping stone to the next milestone, but a dropped grade here and a failed exam there, really, in the great scheme of things, is not going to make a huge amount of difference in the long run.

An image of children climbing the scaffolding outside the Cashino building in Wisbech was posted on Facebook this week.
An image of children climbing the scaffolding outside the Cashino building in Wisbech was posted on Facebook this week.

The internet is full of success stories from people, who despite a poor school career, have gone on to out perform many of those who did get the coveted straight As – just google Richard Branson for one, Steve Jobs for another, Eminem and even Walt Disney were all less than brilliant at school.

And I bet there aren’t many people who wouldn’t like there success now. Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss, Simon Cowell and even Thomas Edison inventor of the light bulb were deemed failures when it came to education.

So I really hope all those desperately upset teens take heart, and realise there is always a way.

I say to them: “You may not be heading off to your first choice uni, you may be starting your career at a lower entry level, or you may be facing a retake of a GCSE so you can pursue your hoped for future path, but if you are committed you will get there in the end.

“And who knows you could end up being an inspiration for the next generation of students who are facing the same upset you are today.”…

Kids pictured climbing the scaffolding outside the fire-wrecked Cashino building in Wisbech Market Place have prompted a heated discussion on Facebook this week.

Many people were pointing out the dangers of such a ‘risky’ under taking, but there were a great many others who simply said ‘kids will be kids’ and stating they had done something similar when they were children.

In fact I bet there is hardly an adult out there that did not do something that could have resulted in death or serious injury when they were growing up – except maybe former Prime Minister Theresa May, whose only bit of bad behaviour was running through a corn field.

I remember clambering over building sites, scaling walls and exploring places that were perhaps not the wisest to venture into.

But, and at the risk of showing my age, we did have a lot more freedom. We also had parents who were a lot less risk-adverse and would let you learn from your own mistakes. How many had the words “if you fall and break your leg don’t coming running to me” said to them, or something like it?

Now gone are the high slides that were ridiculously steep, the witches hat that you stood up on and swung about on as violently as possible, and the metal climbing frames with concrete underneath (OK getting rid of the concrete is probably a good thing).

Instead play equipment is encased in soft rubber flooring, the slides are low or tubular, roundabouts have proper enclosed places to sit and the climbing frames are pretty low and tame too.

All of which means kids wanting to test their limits and push those boundaries are forced to go looking for challenges, like climbing scaffolding outside a derelict building.

I know we want to keep our children as safe as possible, but perhaps we have taken it a little too far these days, and maybe adding a few more challenging pieces of play equipment would swing the pendulum back to a more happy medium and children would enjoy them more…

Finally the asylum seekers lodging at the Rose and Crown Hotel in Wisbech have enjoyed a visit to the gardens at Peckover House.

They were taken there by local Catholic parishioner Sean Finlay and friends and I for one think it is a wonderful gesture.

I know asylum seekers is a touchy subject and that they spark much controversy and outrage among large numbers of people.

But we should remember they are only human beings who are seeking a better, safer life away from some of the most hostile places to live in this world of ours.

I bet those whose homes have been ravaged by war, drought or famine couldn’t quite believe the beautiful oasis that is Peckover’s gardens.

And I also bet that for once they felt human for the first time in a while, because someone took the time and trouble to show them some kindness.

No we don’t know what the future holds for them, sure some may turn out to be on the make and be sent packing, but many will be found to have a real need to be here and will be allowed to stay.

But whichever way it goes for those asylum seekers who Sean took out for the day, I hope they will remember how one kind man gave them a glimpse of just how wonderful this country is – something we all take for granted every single day….

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