When I was in primary and secondary school, I thought I was stupid, the kids around me all seemed to be getting top grades in everything and I was just lagging behind. I put as much if not more work into my classes and yet I couldn’t easily scrape a C.

You are not stupid

When I was placed in my set 4 maths class I thought my destiny was sealed, that I was just going to be perceived by everything around me as ‘the kid who isn’t smart enough to do anything well’.

Now, as someone in university in a different country who is top of their classes, I want to break this mentality down and let you know what is wrong with it.

And here’s why…

Firstly, students in lower sets for subjects are not ‘stupid’. There are many reasons that a student may be in that position, but it usually has to do with the way that we educate children, young people and even adults in Wales and the UK as a whole. You have definitely heard the expression that for some students, asking them to take a test is like asking a fish to climb a tree, with the correct resources and support you bet that fish would make it to the top, but if it is left completely alone, you never know they may be able to do it, but it is unlikely.

What this means is that there are just some students who need extra or even just a different kind of support in order to succeed in school, this has nothing to do with intellect or intelligence it is merely a result of the lack of resources and specialised education structures within our education system.

Secondly, if you are that fish, and now with the knowledge that you aren’t stupid, you feel like you are not getting the right support, reach out to a teacher or parent/guardian and have a conversation about it. There are many different opportunities for support out there, you just need to know where to look.

For me, this support looked like having meetings during break times and after school with many of my students so that they could tailor their approach to my learning style. It gave me the opportunity to ask any questions I needed, and I always came out of these meetings much more confident than I did going into it.

Reach out!

This tine of zoom and infrequent in person classroom experiences can make this difficult, but now your teachers are only a simple email away! So, if you yourself is struggling in school, or you think you know someone who is, why not think about reaching out to your teachers and having an open conversation about it. You never know what might come from it!