Shortly after I posted the last post I discovered this cartoon which illustrates in many ways why Dartington was so successful (at least from my viewpoint as a pupil) under Bill Curry, helped by the low staff to pupil ratio. Everyone is different and has strengths and weaknesses. At Foxhole every child was treated as an individual and was allowed to do the things that gave them the assurance that there were at least some things they could do well. Forcing pupils to do things where they are never going to do well will only convince them that they are a failure. The door was always open and while I have never been good (in the formal assessment sense) at art or music I used to wander into the art room and did one or two paintings and sometimes I would sneak into an occupied music room and try and see if I could reproduce a popular tune on a piano keyboard.
Some children are god at taking exams and some find them so stressful that they do comparatively badly.