So far, I have tried to share as much information about when your child (and they will always be your children!) goes to university, before and soon to go beyond.
However, I have been thinking. Our children, it seems, are one of the most tested in the world. My son, for example sat GCSE’s aged 16, AS levels aged 17 then A levels aged 18. He immediately went to university, where he has studied non stop for three years. My daughter is a bit more fortunate. No more AS levels!
But… and but…….
Let’s start with GCSEs. I really don’t want to talk about ‘my day’ when we did O levels and then A levels. And yet… we didn’t have to get Grade C and above for English and Maths. We just took our O levels and picked the subjects we were best at for A levels. That was if you wanted to stay in school after O levels – at the age of 16. If we wanted to go to university, there wasn’t the stress of writing a personal statement. And don’t get me started on university fees (or lack of).
I look at my two now. They have to get C/grade 5 and above in English and Maths. In fact, even though these are passes, they are the equivalent of that dreaded word – satisfactory. GCSEs seem to change every year – going from modular (‘too easy’) to linear (‘still too easy’) to grading in numbers rather than letters. Teachers are under pressure to ensure their pupils pass in order for their school to rank well. What happened about going to your local school as all schools were the same! Sorry, I digress.. I did say this was a rant
Then A levels. These too are now linear – ie an exam after two years of studying. University days are prevalent and the required grades are set. Suddenly, it’s not acceptable to obtain, I don’t know, two Bs and a C at A level. Now, our students have to get three As – even better at A*. In spite of the university, the charges are £9,000 per year whether your grades are A* stars or all Ds!
As a parent, you watch and worry. I have witnessed a teacher, at my son’s sixth form, reduce an 18 year old to tears at a parent’s evening. This was two months before they were to sit A levels. I wouldn’t say that’s great teaching. Maybe that was what was needed to give them the final push. Who knows?
I don’t know too many people who thrive under constant pressure. Do you?
But this is what we are putting our young people through. The adoloscent brain is forming and reforming all the time. If you get a moment to listen to this podcast on teenage brain development, please do.
The mental health of our teenagers and young adults have – at last- been studied. Organisations such as Mind (@mindcharity), Samaritans (@samaritans) and Papyrus (@papyrus_tweets) have looked at the effects of stress during exam season and, consequently, results day.
The Department of Education have suggested that our students need to be tested further in order for them to get used to exams by the time GCSEs begin. Activists such as http://natashadevon.com would disagree.
What do you think?
We need to support our children in so many ways. And recognise the pressures both mental and physical
So here ends my rant – for now anyway