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The New Year brought a pleasant surprise for two Upper Sixth pupils who heard, just before the start of term, from the universities of their choice. Kathleen Elysee (South House) received an offer to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Keble College (Oxford), while Barnaby Lowe (Churchill House) received an offer to read Law at Gonville and Caius College (Cambridge).
Apart from the exacting academic requirements for admission to either university in question, especially significant is the fierce competition for places on the particular courses they had chosen. Every part of the selection process makes huge mental demands on a candidate: in addition to attending a challenging interview, applicants for both courses have to sit an additional test, designed to stretch their thinking into areas beyond their current studies. For his law test, Barnaby wrote an essay discussing whether judges should be elected or appointed. For her interview, Kathleen, had to face a series of thorny moral questions: Is there ever an occasion when breaking the law can be justified? Is immigration good or bad for a country? If you swap two individuals’ brains, have you swapped their identities? Kathleen and Barnaby coped admiringly with the pressure, demonstrating their intellectual insight.
Unsurprisingly, the places they have been offered are conditional upon their obtaining grades at A level commensurate with what is expected from pupils of their calibre. Kathleen must obtain at least three A grades. Barnaby, for his part, must obtain at least two grades at A and one at A*. Let us therefore wish both of them every success in their forthcoming A levels.
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