I’d like to congratulate all the students here today for their exceptional achievements. And I’d like to thank Kumon UK for hosting this event.

We are all here today to honour and commend your academic achievements. Achieving academic excellence – as you have – requires serious hard work and commitment. That is no mean feat! Your education holds the key to your future.

You might not know what you want to do, or who you would like to be as an adult. And that’s fine, you have a long time to figure out what you want to do with your life, and what contribution you want to make to the world. 

The importance of education, of achieving excellence in your schoolwork, is that it will open up all the doors and opportunities to potential futures. Whichever paths you may choose to take in life, a solid background of academic excellence will make sure all options stay open to you. 

But education isn’t just about your future career or future self. It is about you, who you are today and you would like to be tomorrow. This time you have is precious and your opportunities are boundless. 

Education is a way to learn about the world, to learn about what you’re interested in, and to discover what you care about. You have the opportunity to explore and discover everything about the world you live in. Are you fascinated by the mathematical and scientific rules that explain the natural phenomena we see around us? Are you inspired by the novels and epics written by our forefathers? Perhaps you want to learn languages and learn about different cultures. 

Sometimes what you learn in school can seem far removed from the real world, and what we experience in our everyday lives. If you study geography, you might be at the forefront of tackling climate change in years to come. If you choose politics – perhaps you’ll help us understand Brexit! If it’s English, you could help contribute to the rich literary tradition we are all born into. A good education allows you to play a part in the world around you, whichever role you’d like. 

But none of this comes easy! What you have achieved, what you have succeeded in, is something even greater than the awards given out today. You have learnt the value of hard work and the value of perseverance. 

You have shown yourselves today just how highly you can achieve if you put your mind to it. The people who achieve and contribute the most are those who commit themselves to hard work, and are not disheartened by setbacks. We all experience setbacks. But you are all already doing so well, I know I speak for everyone here when I say I am excited to see what your futures will hold, and what contribution you will make to the UK and to the world.