Posts filed under ‘Stress’

Stranded in Lanzarote – JCQ response a disgrace

When people first heard that we were stranded in Lanzarote as a result of Eyjafjallajoekull a first reaction was to comment how lucky we were. However, the truth belies that.

We were psychologically prepared initially for a one week holiday in a villa on the island. We were not psychologically prepared for our stay to be extended indefinitely, in the event for an additional week.

A great deal of the extra time was spent trying to find a flight home, feeling lost in limbo up to the time we did eventually manage to find one.

There were additional living expenses, which in theory we should be able to claim back from our airline, but in truth are expecting a mighty battle over.

Whilst you might think our kids would have relished this additional time off school there reactions were in fact very different.

Our 15 year old daughter got very upset at the prospect, realising that she would miss key lessons as preparation for GCSE’s, in particular missing a mock GCSE in PE the proper exam of which she is taking next week. She is a high achiever, very motivated, and until this happened on track for some great results. What upset her was the prospect of this being put at risk, through no fault of her own.

To help with this we got the school to email the mock GCSE paper which she then took in our hotel room, emailing the results back to school for marking. Up to the point of taking this mock she had been quite worried and miserable, but it was remarkable how she perked up immediately after having sat the mock.

Our 12 year old son reacted very differently. He is in Year 8, not yet on the GCSE treadmill, apart from in fast track French. For him the extra time off school was a bonus, more time in the pool and in the sea.

They did both miss their friends, Mum and Dad being poor substitutes, despite my efforts to regress which served only to embarrass. They were able to have some Facebook contact but despite all you can’t beat good old face to face stuff.

In response to our email to them explaining the situation the school did manage to inform ‘most’ of their subject teachers. I highlight ‘most’ because I do feel that missing the odd teacher was sloppy. One of my daughters’ subject teachers had no idea of the situation and was completely unprepared for remedial action on her return.

In order to reassure my daughter that she would not miss out as a result of our enforced stay I told her that her circumstances would be taken into account, and if it was adjudged that due to the prevailing circumstances she was put at a disadvantage in her preparation she would be able to take, say her PE GCSE, at a later date. She said this would not be the case. I swore it was. She was right.

It seems that whilst the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) has said that some oral exams and practical tests would be re-arranged they also insist that no written A level or GCSE exams would be rescheduled. Why? I’ll tell you in a minute.

And where does that leave my daughter. She has done absolutely everything that has been asked of her, she is an asset to her school, she is on track, through her own efforts, for some fantastic results in her exams. When some of this is put at risk, through no fault of her own, can she depend on the ‘system’ to be sufficiently flexible to support her appropriately? No she can’t. Why not? Simply because they can’t be arsed – it would require a certain about of reorganisation and I can only assume that it is to avoid the necessity for this that the JCQ have decided, ahead of time, not to offer any flexibility for written exams.

I think this is appalling, and yet another nail in the coffin for an education system that thinks more of itself than it does of its pupils.

April 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Play the ‘Mock the week’ Ofsted exam game

mocktheweek

In their wisdom Ofsted have decided they are going to make it harder for schools to achieve an ‘outstanding’ rating by placing greater emphasis on raw exam results.

What a great idea. Just when we are being lulled into some sense of hope that the general exam regime is being relaxed in favour of other forms of assessment Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert takes a significant step backwards.

“Our focus is on getting a better deal for children and young people,” Ms Gilbert said. I don’t suppose the young people themselves will see it that way. I don’t suppose anyone has bothered to ask them!

Anyone who watches ‘Mock the week’ on BBC 1 (and Dave) will know that there is a section of the programme where the stand up comedians come up with ‘things you are unlikely to hear’ in certain situations. Here is my version:

Things you are unlikely to hear young people say when asked whether they would like exam results to be even more important than they are considered now.

‘It’s a great idea. I don’t think I suffer anything like enough stress at school at the moment’

‘It’s a great idea. It will help teachers just focus on the things we need to do for the exams.’

‘It’s a great idea. I’m enjoying school far too much at the moment’

‘It’s a great idea. Confirms that people who aren’t good at exams are failures’

‘It’s a great idea. Means that schools will do less creative stuff.’

‘It’s a great idea. Means I’ll do much less of the stuff at school that I really enjoy’

‘It’s a great idea. I get very nervous about exams and am not very good at them. This will help me to pull myself together’.

‘It’s a great idea. I burst into tears before my last exam. Hopefully this will mean more people will join me and burst into tears also.’

Why not add yours, either in reply to this post, or @MickLandmann on Twitter, and I will compile them all and do my best to get them to Ms Gilbert.

June 12, 2009 at 1:59 pm 1 comment

SATS make you stupid!

Here’s another interesting angle on the debate about SATS. According to an article in the Economist I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told research at Pennsylvania University and Cornell University has shown that children of poor families learn less well than children of middle class families because their working memories, critical in learning, have smaller capacities.

This is not put down to poverty per se, but to stress, presumably induced by being poor. I know some high achieving children who come from poor families. I also know some children of well off families who undoubtedly undergo a great deal of stress, nor because they are poor but for a whole variety of other reasons.

So if stress is the issue as is suggested then one would imagine that this would permeate the whole spectrum of wealth.

And if stress is the issue this would be a very strong argument for ridding our kids of the stress of sitting SATS tests, which, if the research is correct, can only get in the way of their learning.

April 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment


Mick Landmann on education, digital technology, and the 21st century

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