Academic Scholars' Evening 2020
Lord Patten of Barnes, alumnus and Patron of St Benedict's, spoke to the Sixth Form scholars at a virtual event on November 23rd.
Lord Patten attends the Academic Scholars’ Evening at St Benedict’s each year. This year, he addressed the incoming Lower 6th scholars online instead, at a virtual event in which the new Lower 6th scholars were introduced, and the Upper 6th scholars gave presentations on their particular academic interests.
Phoebe Lawes, the Head Girl, spoke about her interest in psychology. She described how, over lockdown, she had discovered “an incredibly rich online space for expanding my knowledge. I could be in California one day, listening to world famous psychologist Philip Zimbardo, and then hop over to the Netherlands to hear the author of Human Kind, Rutgter Bregman, discuss how we humans are all pretty decent really.” She encouraged the new scholars to “dig deep into what really fascinates you beyond the curriculum.” Oscar Jones talked about his interest in engineering and how he has researched green energy this year: “The challenge of energy storage will arguably become the greatest challenge facing engineering in the years to come”, he said.
In his address, Lord Patten congratulated the new scholars on their hard work and academic success, which, he acknowledged, cannot have been easy for them in the current situation:
“It has been particularly difficult, I think, for the young, at school and at university, as I see from my own grandchildren, having to work on their own, or often with remote support. I think we have to recognise it’s really tough on young people at school who are dealing with this pandemic, and still managing to secure the best possible education, often with their own effort - which of course is what a good education nearly always amounts to. So the first thing I want to do is to congratulate everybody who has worked so hard this year, in order to get to the sort of universities they want to get to, everybody who’s made sure that they’ve made the most of the considerable academic and intellectual talents they have by working so hard, very often in difficult circumstances.”
He then highlighted the importance – and obligation – of using good education for the benefit of society, and to go on to make a valuable contribution to the world:
“We do say to each other that we live in a meritocratic society in which ability gets you to the top. There is some strength in that argument, but there are still an awful lot of people who have a tougher time making the most of their talents. One of the areas in which we’ve seen social inequity in our society is in education. I just wanted to remind you that if you’ve been lucky enough to get a really good education at a fine school like St Benedict’s, there is a real obligation on you to try to put back into society some of what your parents, teachers and school have enabled you to secure."
Lord Patten finished by congratulating the scholars on their success and wishing them well in the future: “I’m sure that on the basis of the academic achievement you’ve had so far you’ll do fantastically well and take the world by storm. So good luck, thanks for working so hard and I’m sure we should all express our gratitude to those who’ve helped you through this difficult period.”
The new Lower 6th academic scholars were then formally announced by the Headmaster, Mr Johnson.