Recently I participated in the first of two parents evenings for our year 11 students who will be sitting their GCSEs next summer. The first is towards the start of year 11, the second just before the final exams. Our school introduced double year 11 parents evenings a few years back, and they have proved extremely valuable. As a parent myself, I want to understand how I can support my child in this crucial year, and understand the different revision opportunities on offer (so that I’m not out of the loop). As a teacher, I want my students’ parents to know that revision is essential if students are to gain good results in these crucial exams, and I want us all to send the same message about the importance of this year.
At the first of this year’s year 11 parents evenings I observed two types of parental approach. There were those who were desperate for their child to do well in Maths – so much so that the games console had already been packed away (by October) and friends banned from the house until next summer! There was talk of private tutors and total support for the additional revision classes I have already started to offer. Then there were those parents who were honest and said ‘I won’t be encouraging my child to revise as it’s all too much pressure’. I understand both approaches. Is this a crucial year? Yes. Is it appropriate for students to get their heads down and start saying ‘no’ to party invites, or maybe reduce their focus on sports for a while? Probably. But does the seriousness of the year mean that students should be stressed and anxious? Not at all.
My response regarding pressure and stress in year 11 was and is this… a child will experience less stress and anxiety when they are prepared for the exams. Therefore I guarantee that a choice NOT to revise in year 11 is a choice to increase stress, not decrease it.