End of year exams have been a staple at Fyling Hall since I started working here almost 10 years ago. Boarding students and house masters rummaging under the seating in the Barn to pull out the exam desks and carrying them across the school once the dailies leave for the day. Dr Richardson laying out the carpet and meticulously arranging the tables and chairs in the sports hall and a mad dash to the photocopier to get your papers ready in time.
It is a time of year that can also ramp up the pressure for some students as they begin to realise maybe they should have paid a little more attention to some topics! The increased stress often shows in multi coloured revision cards appearing in lessons, pupils muttering in corners about chemistry equations or conjugating verbs over lunch. The pressure is especially high for the international students I teach, many of whom have arrived for a short stay at Fyling Hall and have not covered all of the content over the year. Students are also battling against language barriers and trying to learn complex vocabulary in your second or third language really taxes the brain at times.
So why do we continue to do end of year exams? What benefits does it bring?
For year 10 pupils preparing for the GCSE exams next year, this is their first chance to see how the exam system will work. For many they will not have had the experience of sitting in silence in an exam hall for a long period of time and this practise will be crucial for next year.
Practising revision skills
Revision is different for each person. Do you prefer revision cards, using coloured highlighters or do you need to speak your answers? You will only find out by practising. Having exams in year 10 give pupils the opportunity to try out a variety of methods before the real GCSE exams in year 11.
Give teachers the chance to assess where students are now
Whilst we would love every student to walk away from these exams with a grade 9 in each subject, we know that some are going to find these exams harder. There may also be sections of the paper they sit that they will need to cover again before next year. This is absolutely expected. Teachers want to know what they need to cover again next year and what areas of the course the students have really understood well. These exams give us the chance to see where to focus us our efforts next year.
Exams are not happening for everyone in the sports hall. This year we are completing end of term assessments within lessons for Years 7-9, but Year 10 pupils begin their exams in the sports hall on Monday. We wish them all the best with their revision and would like to remind them not to panic too much!
Lizzie Jeeves, Head of Drama and English as a Second Language, Year 7 Tutor