A conversation with a caring parent – exam success is not everything in life but it’s important …
We are now at that time of the year when the results of the mock exams have just been released for those students who are taking either GCSE or A-level exams in the summer. You may be right in thinking that this only applies to 15 to 18 year olds; however, in reality – even for younger children in secondary school, the GCSE curriculum starts from the beginning of Y8 at the very latest. This is because KS3 SATs no longer exists and GCSE’s are the only main examination at secondary school level. Although the pressure is a little less on younger children as opposed to those in the final years of their schooling, it still exists for all sort of reasons, including the fact that teachers start very early to make long-lasting decisions very early about which tier of exam – higher or lower – a child will sit at GCSE.
Performing well in school and achieving high exam grades is not something that happens by chance and does not depend entirely on how academically talented the child is. Experience tells me that nurture plays a greater role than nature. I’ve seen time after time, bright young people drifting around, not being stretched or challenged and sadly ending up with mediocre exam grades in subjects that matter most. Fortunately, I’ve also seen many children of average ability at GCSE and even at A-level. I must emphasise again that not all the children that I’ve seen achieving the top exam grades in examinations are necessarily naturally very academic. Many of them are of about, or just above average intelligence.
Nature or Nurture?
Speaking philosophically, there are three aspects to what it takes to achieve highly: the mind, the body and the environment. Success in education is not in isolation to other aspects of life and ought to be incorporated into daily life. Understanding this critical point is so vital as it is what makes the biggest difference. I discussed this several times in the past, including in one of my blog posts called “Nature or nurture.”
When exam results are released in August and we see those smiling faces of teenagers who have achieved the top grades, they usually come from a diverse range of backgrounds, with so many different parental and social environmental conditions. We needn’t dwell too much on how they are so different in terms of their background and personality and so on. What we must focus on is the commonalities in the way those successful young people and their parents think and more importantly, act. There is a common theme in how those children go about their daily lives with respect to their schoolwork and preparation for examinations.
For any child in secondary school, it cannot be too early to start thinking about university and we all know that there is a huge difference between universities. With the proliferation of universities and so many graduates ending up doing the so-called McJobs, such as flipping burgers in take-away restaurants or stacking shelves at Tesco. There are so many factors at play in shaping a young person’s future. One of these factors is that careful thoughts ought to be given to making the decision about which university the young person should go to and which course should they should study. The frightening thing with young people is the rate at which they grow! For any parent who has children of pre-teenage years or actual teenagers, I’m sure you can remember not so long ago, when people see you with the little ones and smile to you and say to you “enjoy it” – meaning enjoying their company whilst they are still little.
No chance of mucking up the mocks!
After the result of the mock examinations there will be a relief for some young people and their families; for others, it’s a wake-up call. I guess for most, it is a mixture of the two, as the child would have done well in some subjects and not as well as they would like in other areas. The autumn term that finished before Christmas is a long one and the coming two terms are much shorter; with teachers trying to condense a lot of material into a relatively short period as the summer exams approach.
In my next set of articles, I will be writing about each of the Three Key Stages of Secondary Education: pre-GCSE (KS3); GCSE and A-level. Watch this space!
Please see below for a link to some of our previous blogpost and it is hoped that you’ll be able to find one that relates to your child’s age group. I hope you enjoy reading and please do not forget to leave a comment as your thoughts are important to us.
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