New GCSE grades and exam pressures for teachers and students – Why this summer will be no holiday

In 2011 I began writing a blog to support my Year 11 class as they left for study leave. Seven years and 850,000+ views later I continue my hobby with the humbling thought that the internet has allowed my ideas and resources to be read all over the world – according to WordPress, there are only seven countries in the world where the blog has never been accessed. Jonathan Peel, English Head of Department writes in Teachwire.

So this is where I start. This time of year is a killer for all teachers, and as an HOD I feel the twin jaws of fate beginning to close.

My responsibility to the students I teach is one jaw, my responsibility to my team of dedicated professional colleagues is the other. Like many HODs I want to protect both sides.

Let’s start with the students:

This last two years has been unlike any other – new syllabi to embed; new marking patterns to predict and the curious phenomenon of applying inferences to data which by definition have no real relevance to any which have come before since the new examinations are often wholly different in content and form than those now lost.

We are all affected. Come August there will be students who miss their required grades by one or two marks. These will include students whose life choices are ruined in the short term by the vagaries of marking and the application of boundaries.

Some will obtain a re-mark, yet even then, their university places will have been passed on to another student. In that situation, life stinks. It is not the students fault. We must be on hand to console and to advise in equal measure, and above all, not to judge.

Which brings me to my colleagues.

The students are different, sitting different papers and working with an utterly new context each year. Yet teachers will still feel responsible for the negative outcomes far more than for the extremes of success.

This makes for a nerve-racking August. We all wait with baited breath for the outcomes – it is ridiculous that the notion of ‘is my job safe for another year?’ should rest on the efforts of a small group of students on a given day in May and June, over which we have absolutely no influence.

Read the full article New GCSE grades and exam pressures for teachers and students – Why this summer will be no holiday

Do exams results overshadow your summer holiday? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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