Cast your minds back to your school days and in particular, the days when you received your final exam results.
As you opened your results envelope, did you do that excitedly, with a flourish, or did you shield it from your friends, worried that you might not get what you expected?
Last week, students across the UK experienced those feelings of excitement, often tinged with some dread, as they got their GCSE and A-level results.
They have had challenges many of us barely could have conceived. My classmates and I didn’t have a global pandemic to contend with, requiring many classes to be taught virtually, and our grades were based on our performance in examinations, not carefully considered assessments by our teachers.
It has been quite a year, and to have got this far deserves some celebration, even before those envelopes were opened.
Schools and academies around the country have had to adapt and find new ways of working, requiring considerable flexibility and patience from students and teaching staff.
And there were some excellent results and of course, some will have received grades that they were not expecting. In any case, I am entirely confident that the teaching staff in schools across the capital have been unfailingly supportive and encouraging, and have offered students every opportunity to achieve during this most difficult period in their young lives.
But no matter how hard students may have worked, we know that some inequalities remain.
Many of the best-paid jobs in the corporate world are secured by people from privileged backgrounds who have enjoyed an elite education, and this creates huge hurdles for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. They can struggle to find a place or make progress within the workforce.
Many bright and talented young people from a wide range of backgrounds, all of them keen to get ahead in life, are held back in this way.
This is wrong on a social and moral level and it is also bad for business.
When employees are drawn from a small talent pool, employers experience a lack of diversity, and evidence suggests that it results in less innovation, more “groupthink”, and reactive – rather than proactive – problem-solving.
The City of London Corporation is committed to tackling this problem. That is why we have announced that we are planning to open two additional Sixth Forms in Hackney and Islington which will give talented young people new opportunities to access the best universities in the UK and abroad.
We are working hard to help develop young Londoners into successful adults who make a positive contribution to their local, national, and global communities.
Many of the academies that we sponsor through the City of London Academies Trust are located in some of the most underprivileged areas of the capital — and their links with London’s firms and institutions have served them well.
And we are proud to have been named twice by social mobility charity, Sutton Trust, as the UK’s best academy sponsor for empowering pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to perform above the national average.
So, let’s return to last week’s results. Whatever grades students received, they deserve every opportunity they can dream of in the future.