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Year 10s and exam stress

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by jhnhns, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. I am a parent of a Year 10 student who I feel is being put under too much pressure and at too early an age by new exam systems. I am interested to see if others agree or disagree with this.
    Year 10s now have to face modular exams and resits throughout the year. They can spend at times up to half the week doing coursework under controlled assessment conditions. This summer my daughter has 12 exams and no study leave to help to prepare for the exams.
    She is getting very stressed and has been put on medication to cope with the situation. The doctor said this is a very common problem.

    I know that exam time has always been a stressful time but I am interested to know what others think about what is happening in Year 10 in particular. Are schools just interested in improved performance figures and not the health and welfare of their students?
     
  2. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    Part of the aim of the modular system was to reduce stress by spreading the load over two years (like at A level) and stopping the year 11 exams being all or nothing. The difference between GCSE and A level, and especially between Yr 10 and Yr 12, is the relative level of maturity (not that all Yr 12 students are mature)
    In the long term I can see GCSEs being moved back towards terminal exams though there may still be some exams in Year 10 e.g. if the two science GCSEs are still separated then one would normally be examined in Yr 10. Unfortunately this will not help your daughter.
    As ferrisbeuller said, contacting the school about your daughter is important and they may be able to help with some of the stress by giving slightly different arrangements for exams e.g. away from the hall. Equally the school may be able to move around when the controlled assessment tasks are being done to avoid clashes (though this is easier said than done).
     
  3. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    I am sorry to hear the difficulties the OP mentions, and am sure it is increasingly common as our pupils do exams/controlled assessment/A level coursework in Years 10,11,12 & 13. It is madness. I am glad my children are now post school age.
    I would contact the school, of course, but also my MP (& Michael Gove!) and complain about this target driven system. IMHO it will only get worse in future...
     
  4. My daughter has been on medication for 3 - 4 months not just now as she has started her main summer exam period. Her symptoms have been stomach cramps, sickness and infections which have all been related to stress caused, partly through school experience and partly stress I suppose of being a modern day teenager.

    The bit I have refrained to mention so far is that I am a teacher at the school that my daughter attends. I am teaching mainly now at KS4 and 5 courses which are 100% coursework with no exams and so I do not feel as guilty of inflicting the exam stress on other children.
    I am beginning to question just what it is we are doing in schools? What are we doing to the children we teach and just what is the value of the education they are getting? You would thank that over time with all the billions spent on education we would get something better, but I think we are in the darkest days of the education service that I can ever remember. The whole system seems in a total mess of false mantras and compomised ideals. There is too much political interference. Schools appear to be more self serving institutions instead of serving the children that make up the school community.
     
  5. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    Part of the problem links to the way schools and teachers are made accountable. Going back prior to the national curriculum, teachers taught and were monitored by the schools. If a pupil did not do well at their exams it was seen as the pupils failure either due to laziness or a lack of ability. Either way, failure at exams did not stop them moving into a range of jobs. This reduced the pressure on the schools and the teachers beyond attracting pupils in areas which had a number of schools (mainly urban areas). There was still stress but it was limited.
    Fast forward to now where schools are fully accountable for the results of their students (and therefore pass on the responsibility to the teachers). The teachers are under pressure to get good results and so pass on the pressure to their students (and not just at secondary level). There is a lack of entry level jobs for 16 year olds and jobs that previously required only GCSEs now require A levels (or equivalents), A level entry jobs twenty years ago now require degrees.
    The main problem is that it is nearly impossible to get a happy medium between the two extremes. Schools should be accountable for their pupils progress (across a whole cohort) just like teachers should have some accountability for the pupils that they teach. Equally pupils and parents have to accept that the greatest influence on exam success is down to them and that it is impossible for everyone to achieve the highest grades.
    I love teaching my subject to pupils of all ages but do not like the way that assessing what they have learnt is becoming more the only end. With the introduction of APP I spend 4-6 lessons teaching a topic and then at least two lessons assessing what they have learnt. Whilst I am not saying that all assessments should be removed (and there are some aspects of APP in science that I like) I think that the system needs to be rebalanced.
    Going back to the OPs situtation, how do you think your daughter would cope if we went back to the O level system of all the exams at the end of the course with no coursework / controlled assessments at all?
     
  6. Mrs Music

    Mrs Music New commenter

    I have witnessed the confidence of two year 11 students I know absolutely zapped this year, as they are D grade students in maths, and have had extra maths at least once a day, numerous lunchtimes, out of some other lessons throughout the year, and so many resits.
     
  7. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    I completely agree, many students are battered into submission about their "predicted" grades and what they are actually achieving. And yeah, some do have **** lives and this should be taken into account.
    Unfortunately, this isn't taken into account. FFT (i keep siting this as its what we use) looks at things like postcodes, ks2 performance, free school meals, previous school grades, cat scores, e.t.c. It is supposed to be adjusted by the school depending on individual student circumstances but simply isn't.
    Students are under pressure, but then, you could say it's the same for the students as being set targets in a job... clean "X" rooms per hour, pack "Y" boxes per hour, seal "Z" contracts per month. Its life skills for the modern workplace [​IMG]
    just a thought.
     

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