Tonight, you’ve guessed it, we’ve been to an information evening at school, to prepare us all for Year 11 (my eldest son). We weren’t too sure what to expect, and there’s certainly a lot of information available to pupils and parents to support year 11 pupils make the best they can of the year ahead.
My son, I have to say, is already fed up with teachers telling him that this year is important, and “you know you’ve got exams coming up soon”. His reaction yesterday, on day 1, was, “do they really think we’re stupid and don’t know we’ve got GCSEs this year?”. I take his point!
Whilst I’m all for preparation, and understanding the process to give confidence to our young people, there’s also a point at which too much information, advice and support could tip the balance the other way. At the end of day 2, my son is at risk of ‘switching off’ from messages from his teachers, which I know isn’t their intention!
Far from it. Tonight the focus was all about support. The teachers were focused on the growth mindset, (again, this is a term my sons roll their eyes at, but they do understand the intention behind it), focusing on the year 11’s goals, and how best to study for maximum results.
The teachers openly told us that some year 11s are already telling teachers they are worried about the exams. They told us they have support in place to help those who feel pressured, or stressed this year; those who seem not to be taking GCSEs seriously at all, and all those in the middle. I believe them. The results the school achieved this year were excellent – English and Maths results were all above the national average. The school has confidence, and this is rubbing off on the young people.
We were pleased to see that when devising a study timetable that Extra-Curricular activities came top of the list, and to put those in the planner first. Yay! We’re on the same wavelength with school on that one.
The other really pleasing point, which my son won’t be happy about as it’s been an underlying point of dispute this last year, is that of the use of technology, particularly before bedtime. Despite all the research papers we’ve shown him, this backup from school, and their partner organisation Elevate Educate, can’t be ignored. Getting 8.5 hours sleep was seen as really important, and NOT drinking energy drinks. The speaker gave the statistic that if you drink an energy drink you’ll only retain 10% of the information you’re trying to learn….not worth the effort then?
Following on from yesterday’s post, the Greatest gift you can give your child, it’s great to see this support from school, supporting year 11 in a broader way than simply teaching subjects, and learning facts. I understand the new GCSEs are more about applying knowledge, rather than just being able to regurgitate information, and this wider support from school will help the young people to have the confidence to practice their understanding in new ways.
So, whilst no 1 son may feel there’s a lot of focus on “it’s an important year”, at home, we want to ensure he has the right support. The fact that school said, ” use any member of staff you feel happy and confident talking to”, if you have a concern, means the school are working together to offer a caring environment for the children there.
We hope all schools have this approach, or similar, to supporting year 11 pupils, prepare themselves for the year ahead. And we hope it’s a fun year for them all, and gives them lots of happy memories.
Any other advice or suggestions for supporting Year 11 pupils this year?