‘Pre-exam warm-ups were helpful, supportive and worthwhile for pupils. Naturally, they’ve been banned’

Exam board JCQ has banned teachers from holding pre-exam warm-up sessions for pupils – this absurd and extreme move will benefit no one, writes one head of humanities in Tes.

Thank goodness those people at examination HQ have their finger on the pulse and know what is in everyone’s best interests.

This year a new exam regulation from the JCQ insists that “prior to the examination commencing, centres cannot hold revision sessions or coach candidates in the designated examination room(s)”. 

A masterstroke. This warm-up slot had become increasingly popular with schools and their students – a hundred or more candidates were able to gather together, work in groups, discuss a few typical questions and generally “feel a bit more ready” (as a couple of students shamefacedly confessed to me last year) for the exam they were about to take. A couple of subject teachers also wandered around them like drug-pushers, offering last-minute tips about exam technique, sometimes to a small cluster and sometimes to the entire group from the front. Students found that advice “helpful”, too. It was clearly a terrible thing to do.

It obviously had to be stamped out – it’s impossible to be sure but these warm-ups may well have helped some students achieve a better grade. No-one wants that. Let’s hope other enterprises follow JCQ’s pioneering approach here. 

Alternatively, perhaps the new JCQ diktat is not such a good idea after all. Maybe this new regulation is, in truth, just the latest extreme move in the long-running ‘results’ game being played out between schools on the one hand and exam authorities and the government on the other – with over-pressurised schools finding a new way of securing a marginal gain, the authorities then blocking it. It’s a game that has been going on ever since league tables came along. 

With exam performance being so excessively important for heads and teachers these days, the JCQ plainly appears not to trust schools always to run those last-minute warm-up sessions in a fair and honest way. Either that or they think such sessions are just too helpful. Either way, it tells a sorry and rather desperate story about the absurd, exams-obsessed educational backcloth in which we all operate at the moment. 

Read the full article ‘Pre-exam warm-ups were helpful, supportive and worthwhile for pupils. Naturally, they’ve been banned’

Did you run pre-exam warm-ups? Were they beneficial? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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