Fifty-four weeks after commencing my previous reflections, the time has arrived to write on the subject of another year which has passed me by. Whereas before I could comment on the unconventional way in which the term petered out, this time the process reverted to the manner which was typical for the majority of years before. That is not to say, however, that elements introduced in Year Eleven were entirely absent in Year Twelve, in fact this year featured a hybrid structure of the conventional and the special which ultimately proved far stranger than the special alone might be.
Least conventional was the way this academic year began: On the first day of September we were assembled in the Sixth-Form block to formally sign on to our AS-Level courses. At all prior corresponding points in life, movement from one academic year to the next had been automatic, but this time we had to deliberately choose to return. As never before there was a brief but distinct purdah between the announcement of GCSE results and the commencement of Sixth-Form. The two meetings were temporally very close, yet they outlined the vital shift in the state of affairs we occupied. On results day it was near the end of a very long holiday and several months had passed since we last had engaged in the normal operations of school life, yet legally we were still Year Elevens. One week later we were Year Twelves. Never before was this dissolution of circumstance so clearly pinpointed.
For some considerable time before we began this term, teachers and elder pupils had repeatedly told us that A-Level was to be radically different to GCSE. The term “step-up” continued to be used countless times over the course of this year. However, in many ways the change from Year 11 to Year 12 was much smaller than I had been expecting…
In fact I would go so far as to say that much of Year 12 felt like something of a re-run of Year 11, combined with a rehearsal for Year 13, with all of the stresses and dangers of both, but the rewards and privileges of neither.