September marks the start of a new academic year and as such it’s an important time for many of us. After spending months with relatively little structure over the summer, it can be difficult to get back into the flow of following a more rigid school schedule. This blog post highlights some strategies you can implement to re-establish your momentum.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been shifting between enjoying summer and then suddenly fretting about results day - actively distracting yourself from the terrifying thought of opening the envelope and being face to face with your grades. One minute I’m soaking up rays from the sun and sipping on a freshly made juice, thinking to myself - ‘Ahhhh...This is the life...’ and the next I get a random flashback of question 3 on my physics paper and start wondering whether or not the answer I wrote down was clear enough, or if I checked my working with enough care.
And just like that I’m overtaken by these meticulous, overbearing thoughts.
Last week, thousands of Y11s across the country sat down and opened the pages of their first exam; we’ll have to spend the next two months writing paper after paper, fiddling with calculators and trying to figure out how to use a compass for the hundredth time. As I was sitting in the exam hall I couldn't help but think: why am I doing this? We’ve all been told that GCSEs are important; they can help us get good jobs - or at least craft good applications - but how important are they really? And are they worth all that stress?
It goes without saying, but Covid-19 has caused a nice little disruption in students’ education and wellbeing. From school closures to exam stress, we’re left floating in a void of uncertainty. What’s next? To help clear up the confusion, we share a few tips on how you can regain control, reduce anxiety and achieve your learning goals.
Reality check, maybe you haven’t been having the best summer ever. Maybe you feel like you’ve got tight knots in your stomach every time you think about the future. Maybe butterflies flutter in your stomach every time somebody mentions ‘grades’, ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘university’. Results day is August 10th and it couldn’t have been further away. It’s hard for this empty time in the no man’s land of uncertainty to be liberating or enjoyable to anybody.
Unless you’ve managed to live in a blissful oblivion in a great summer of forgetting results day, you’ll probably be finding it hard to distract yourself from this dawning anxiety… how can the outcome of two hard years of work be all over in less than a month? Will I even be ready to move on? How do I trust my grades will be right?
And, the big one.
What will I do if I don’t get what I need?
Let me tell you about my GCSE and A Level experience…
I was a straight-A student. I am firmly in the "was" corner as opposed to the "am" corner. For any student reading this, stop right now and say out-loud either way “I am a 1-9 student” or “I am a BBB student” and “I was a 1-9 student” or “I was a BBB student”, with the grades you are personally predicted. Now, honestly: how does hearing yourself say each version make you feel? I know how deeply personal and long-lasting grades can feel. They are lodged in the mindset, and some believe they define who you are as a youngster or as a unique individual later in life. I look back with a "phew" in my mind: a (retrospective) fondness for the stress I went through when I was 15/16 and 17/18 years' old, and the rewards that ultimately reflected both learning experiences. I know a lot of people in the "am" corner when they talk about their grades from years past. They are usually the ones that can’t let go, and most haven’t gone on to fulfil their true potential. People either do or don’t associate their current selves to their GCSE or A Level / B tech grades
Whilst basing your grades on the work you’d done up until 20th March might not seem fair as you didn't get Easter to hand in any great work based on past papers (naturally people improve the closer to the exams it gets), getting your teachers to take responsibility for your final grade does take away the potential pitfall of the exam itself…and we mustn't forget how many students' nerves get the better of them on the day.
A "winner takes all" approach doesn't work for every student. I’d say it doesn’t work for most and isn’t a healthy way to grade long-term effort and progress, and it certainly isn’t reflective of the working environment most people will find themselves in, where every single day, the realities of the job (and keeping it) is the grade
Exams are cancelled because of the global pandemic.
That we know.
So what's happening with your grades? I'm sure you're eager to get a bit more clarity about your future. Well we've started to get some assurances from OFQUAL (Which is the abbreviation for the mouthful that is - Office of Qualifications and Exam Regulations). Their Chief Regulator Sally Collier has now issued a letter outlining how grades will be calculated and reassuring students these will be 'exactly the same as in previous years'.
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