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