I had nothing but admiration for six Upper Sixth students last week as they stood in front of a panel of experts and spoke on a topic of their own choosing. It was all part of their preparation for the forthcoming Oxbridge interviews and the girls clearly rose to the challenge.Speaking requires confidence, but the girls were also asked to respond to questions that challenged their presentations. This is even more demanding as it requires quick thinking and a lucid mind to avoid being forced into a position that contradicts their initial proposition.
The girls made the staff and parents proud as they argued either for the vote to be given to prisoners, the role of the IMF to change, cancer treatments to be tested on children, space exploration to be encouraged or press intrusions allowed into the lives of celebrities.
Not only was the panel impressed but so too was the audience, relieved that they did not have to answer such a battery of questions, and yet still be able to hold on with some conviction their point of view.
Oxbridge looks for intelligent students who are passionate about their subject and are willing and keen to read around their subject. They want to see that students are hungry for knowledge but can also engage in critical thinking and debate.
We work with our Oxbridge applicants to help prepare them for their interviews and assessments, but it is my belief that these skills and this approach to learning should be applied to all our pupils at Bedford Girls’ School. At the heart of our educational philosophy is the desire to teach all our girls from Year 3 to 13 to think, not simply amass information. Facts alone cannot make an educated mind.
It is this ability to think, reason, engage and challenge that our Upper Sixth demonstrated and I am confident that all of them will have very bright futures whether that be amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford or the iconic backs of Cambridge. What really matters is that they are capable of using their minds and will apply them wherever their paths take them.