Gap year a 'golden' chance for students, Ripon sixth form leader argues

Terry Fell
Terry Fell
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A gap year can be a “golden opportunity” at a critical time in young people’s lives, a sixth form leader has said, calling for students to consider all options.

Terry Fell, head of sixth form at Ripon Grammar School, says it can be tempting to “follow the crowd” at an overwhelming time in those final months in school. But, speaking on the benefits of a pause in education for those considering a traditional route into university, he said there are many benefits to a gap year.

“More and more of our students are choosing to pause for breath after completing their A Levels, and to build into their plans a period away from formal education or training,” he said.

“As a school we, like most universities, see immense potential value in a gap year so long as it is used productively, and to enhance the student’s experience and skillset.”

Ripon Grammar School, the county’s only state boarding school, was named the North’s top state school by The Sunday Times for the sixth year running.

Mr Fell, arguing that gap years can give students a chance to evaluate their career options away from the pressures of school, adds that it can provide opportunity for work experience before they commit.

Travel can broaden horizons and build confidence, he adds, while volunteer work can be immensely rewarding as well as instilling life-long skills.

“It is very noticeable that young people joining university courses or employment after a gap year tend to be significantly more mature and at ease with themselves than peers fresh from school,” he said. “The gap year allows you to reflect on what you want from life, and to establish a sense of purpose that is a great quality when undertaking study at the highest level, or to take the first steps upon a career.

“The year after school is perhaps the one time in your adult life when you tend not to have considerations of family, career, health to tie you down.

“This is the golden opportunity to undertake experiences and adventures that you may never have chance to do again.”