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With preparations for our A-level mock exams and the agonising wait for university decisions underway, much of our focus this term so far has been concentrated on student voice and maintaining clear communication between ourselves and the rest of the Senior School. So, in deciding what interesting topic I could cover for our Head Student Team blog, I have chosen to use this opportunity to exemplify the importance of taking time out for reading, especially in the Sixth Form, when it feels like there is almost no time for leisure.
Having made it a habit to read for at least 30 mins every day, even during the peak of my exams I kept up with my reading schedule. Over the exam period I read Iris Murdoch’s 'The Bell' and, although I am possibly biased having taken English Literature A-level myself, I found that it provided a welcome form of escapism while remaining intellectually stimulating.
By immersing myself in reading literature in my free time, including well-known poetry collections, I have been able to take my mind off the stress of exams while giving myself an advantage in my A-levels by seeking content that is outside of the specification of my exams. It goes without saying that my personal interest in poetry is heavily intertwined with my A-level poetry module. This made having the opportunity to question the intention of poet Ian Duhig in his poem ‘The Lammas Hireling’ (coincidentally my favourite in the A-level Modern Poetry Anthology) at a recent conference attended by my English class all the more exciting.
Additionally, reading fiction has given me a good foundation to understand and critically engage with complex non-fiction texts, which has been incredibly useful in my academic pursuits. Understanding theological feminist literature, such as ‘Beyond God the Father: Towards a Theology of Women’s liberation’ by Mary Daly and ‘After Christianity’ by Daphne Hampson helped me in university interviews and ultimately resulted in my receiving an offer to read Theology & Religion at the University of Oxford. Moreover, reading Hampson meant that when my A-level Philosophy, Religion & Ethics class had the opportunity to attend a series of lectures on Theology at the Bloomsbury Baptist Church the lecture provided an even deeper level of insight into the subject of women and Christianity.
Now that my mocks are over - and most of the impatient waiting for university decisions! - I have more free-time. I have been using that time to revisit my ‘To-read’ list. I am currently reading Christopher Isherwood’s ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ in preparation for seeing the West-End hit musical ‘Cabaret’, which will be a well-earned respite following the frenzy of the start of spring term.
Written by Rachel, Year 13, Head Student Team