Highlights of Childhood {The Prompt}

“The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out of his nose”
Garrison Keillor

One of the highlights of my childhood is when I left school. It’s one of these days you spend years looking forward to and then when it arrives, it’s just a bit terrifying. One of my own students summed it up perfectly this year, “Miss, school is all I’ve ever known and now it’s gone. I don’t know anything else.” That’s scary and exciting all at the same time.

The final day always had a huge build up. We met at my house at half 7 with a bottle of Taboo and a 4 pack of Castaways (don’t judge me, it was just the done thing at our school). Being slightly tipsy made our final history lesson a lot more entertaining than usual and god bless our history teacher for being a complete superstar on that day, and not giving us the bollocking we probably deserved.

Of course, the absolute icing on the cake was always the Prom. A chance to get dressed up and celebrate end of exams and to an extent the end of childhood as you knew it.

Now let me tell you about a boy named Dan*.

Dan is a bright, popular student. Dan should be enjoying one of his best summers ever. A week away from picking up his GCSE results, he should be excitedly nervous, but fairly confident his grades would be good.

But he isn’t!

Dan should have spent the last 12 months enjoying his final school year. He should have been deciding who to take to the prom, signing year books and taking photos of his friends.

But he didn’t!

Dan should have been enjoying the last days of his childhood before embarking on college and the fast approaching adult years.

But he couldn’t!

Dan has spent the past 8 months virtually house bound, his mum worried sick, he has been physically sick on the few occasions he has managed to get into school to work alone in the library.

The reason?

Dan is one of an increasing number of children who can’t cope with the pressure they find themselves under once they hit the GCSE years. As they are continually told on the news the exams have been too easy and must be made tougher, as coursework and modular options are removed, everything is focused on the final exams and for some students they worry themselves so much it is making them ill.

I know that not too long ago exams were always at the end of the 2 years, but education has changed so much since then. Schools and staff are under pressure to get results, and this ultimately filters through to the pupils.

Of course, exams are important, but they are not the be all and end all. We need to let kids have a childhood and school should be a part of those treasured childhood memories, not just exam factories!


*Not his real name


  1. Leigh Kendall
    August 15, 2014 / 11:23 am

    Oh bless him, poor Dan. You’re absolutely right, while it’s important to work hard at school and do well in exams, they are not the be all and end all. It’s so important to enjoy your teenage years. I worked so hard for my A levels I went a bit off the rails in my first year at university to (over-)compensate. It’s all about balance x #ThePrompt
    Leigh Kendall recently posted…Brotherly LoveMy Profile

  2. August 15, 2014 / 11:45 am

    It’s awful to think about teenagers being put under such pressure that they can’t cope. School years should be happy ones. I hope Dan and all like him find a way through it and that the education system starts to value kids as individuals not statistics. Oh, and I drank diamond white on my last day at school so can’t possibly judge you for the Castaway! #theprompt
    Maddy@writingbubble recently posted…brothersMy Profile

  3. August 15, 2014 / 11:50 am

    It’s so confusing for everyone when governments keep changing their minds all the time about what is the best way to do things. I was in the last year to do O’levels and even then we had some ‘gcse-style’ exams as well which involved more coursework. I think they should just have a mixture of coursework and exams and be more flexible about it and not keep changing it. As you can imagine, we didn’t have proms back ‘in my day’ – god I sound like an old granny now ๐Ÿ™‚ X #ThePrompt
    thenthefunbegan recently posted…Love the Little Things Aug 15th 2014My Profile

  4. August 15, 2014 / 2:11 pm

    We had a ‘prom’ I dressed fairly sophisticated in a slinky maxi dress and lace cardigan, everyone else dressed like they were going clubbing – oops! I think it’s appalling the amount of pressure that’s put on 15-16 year olds to show their intelligence in a short space of time in a highly pressured environment and to churn out brilliant course work at an incredible rate. I took 8 GCSE’s and stayed up regularly until 2.00am to finish off course work – with my Mums help. My average exam results were C-D. I’ve never felt more of a failure in my life. Ridiculous system.
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  5. August 15, 2014 / 2:20 pm

    That’s absolutely awful, poor dude. The pressure to churn out an unrealistic amount of course work, all leading up to one moment that your future supposedly hangs on is appalling. I did 8 GCSE’s and stayed up regularly until 2.00am to meet deadlines and that was with my Mums help. I still only got on average C-D grades and felt like a total failure before I’d even started being grown up. Ridiculous system of ‘learning’. For my prom I dressed pretty sophisticated – everyone else dressed like they were going clubbing. I was mistaken for being a mother – doh!
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  6. August 15, 2014 / 6:25 pm

    Great post lovely.
    A serious side of leaving school with the pressures of exams…poor Dan. ๐Ÿ™
    “god bless our history teacher for being a complete superstar on that day, and not giving us the bollocking we probably deserved.”
    The end was in sight lol…probably didn’t want the hassle of putting you in in detention. ๐Ÿ˜‰ X

  7. August 15, 2014 / 6:28 pm

    There really is a ridiculous amount of pressure on teenagers now; so much of what they learn should be (in my humble opinion) about learning how to learn, not simply regurgitating facts in an exam. College/Uni/Jobs are about so much more than facts. I feel so awful for kids that are missing out on so much of what being a teenager is all about as the pressure from exams and expectations becomes too much. Brilliant post, thank you so much for linking to #ThePrompt x
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  8. pottymouthedmummy
    August 17, 2014 / 7:08 pm

    I honestly cannot believe the amount of pressure put on kids these days. Revising was hard work, but I didn’t feel the sense of pressure that I see today. This post really made me think lovely xx
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  9. August 20, 2014 / 6:29 pm

    Yes! Exams shouldn’t determine so much. We are all different and learn in different ways. It make a me sad to see that the number of kids being put on the kind of pressure that makes them physically sick is increasing. School had changed so much. Very thought provoking post. X
    Chrissie (Kristina) recently posted…The Prompt โ€“ LaughterMy Profile

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