Secret Teacher: Last-minute revision classes do more harm than good

The latest Secret Teacher, writing in the Guardian, says that with the impending exam season  pressure builds to add additional revision classes, but suggests the evidence shows this will do more harm than good.

…Staff will be encouraged, coerced, guilted and nudged into providing all manner of after-school booster sessions, Easter holiday classes, breakfast clubs, targeted interventions, catch-up sessions, take-out groups and Saturday school… 

The reasons for the temporary suspension of all sense of proportion are clear enough. Schools are under tremendous pressure to deliver results… 

I was relieved to hear John Tomsett, headteacher of Huntington School in York, say that he has scrapped revision sessions at his school. He argued that such sessions were being offered so that staff could “cover their backsides” if results were poor. He said: “I’m not going to get results at the cost of the mental health of my staff and pupils.”…

For a start, the message it communicates to students is that last-minute cramming is a good way of studying. More than that, it unsettles them: children can sense fear and, as the requests for them to come to out-of-hours lessons increase in frequency and urgency, there can be no mistaking the clammy palms of their authors…

… all these extra sessions don’t seem to work… But the year we did most intervention was the year our results dropped the most.

My hypothesis would be that staff were stretched so thin that they ended up delivering more mediocre lessons rather than fewer really good ones. Plus students are just exhausted: even the keen ones can’t keep up that level of intensity throughout the build up to and actual exam season. They peak too soon and arrive at their first exam demoralised, overloaded and under-rested…

More at Secret Teacher: last-minute revision classes do more harm than good

 

I’m sure we would all prefer students to work in a sustained way through their courses, and maybe the last minute revision sends out the wrong message from the outset, but do you agree with the Secret Teacher (and John Tomsett) that revision classes are counter-productive?

What about those who – belatedly – decide that they really do need to pull their fingers out and want to do the best they can – do we write them off or leave them to their own efforts?

Please give us your thoughts, feedback and insights in the comments or via Twitter…

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Comments

  1. russellhaggar1

    SchoolsImprove Maybe but aim should be to develop revision sessions which help pupils to realise how much they already know

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