It is always a pity when the number of entrants goes down as happened this year.
A pat on the back, therefore, is due to the schools that took the trouble to enter.
These words are, of course, addressed to the teachers of the candidates. It is they
who carry the burden of their pupils' performances, whether good or bad. It may be
that sometimes you enter a pupil whose performance you know will not pass muster.
I wonder whether you think this is a kindness to him or her, maybe to provide a chance
to compete with others in the school. Unfortunately there were several candidates
who found the Latin difficult to read, or even who frankly didn't understand it.
I don't really think it's a kindness to such people to encourage them to proceed,
though of course they will always be listened to attentively and given a mark. More
work needs to be done both by pupils and teachers to make sure the entrant can read
reasonably fluently and with understanding, can pace the reading appropriately, and
can pronounce it correctly. On this last matter, it is clear that nobody will pronounce
it perfectly, but it is reasonable to hope that the pupil will be given enough information
to make a serious attempt at a respectable pronunciation.
So it is evident that quite a lot of different qualities are required of the
readers. This year it was fairly hard to find enough prize-winners, three emerged
in the junior section, I am very pleased to say, but there was a dearth of good performances
among the older entrants, and only one person deserved (but really did deserve!)
a prize in the senior section.