Secret School: Teachers turn the screw in exam season because they care for pupils

A total of six Doncaster schools failed to achieve the national benchmark of 40 per cent of pupils achieving five A-C GCSEs, including english and maths.
A total of six Doncaster schools failed to achieve the national benchmark of 40 per cent of pupils achieving five A-C GCSEs, including english and maths.

Teachers from across Sheffield are raising their game for a final push before exam season is well and truly upon us. The level of dedication that teachers show around this time of year is staggering, quite extraordinary.

They put a huge amount of work in throughout the year, of course, but when it comes to the home straight they – and the whole school – up their game.

If they didn’t go the extra mile they would not be able to sleep soundly in their beds at night

It happens in various ways, but children who are sitting exams in the next few weeks will have noticed. Whether it’s A Levels, GCSEs or SATs, those attending school will be able to give examples of this massive level of commitment.

It may be after-school revision sessions, it could be focus clubs to get the most out of coursework. It may be a heightened level of homework and mock exam marking, it could be lunchtime and even early morning help being offered. Teachers across the city are going above and beyond their job description and the mission is simple – they want to get their students the best possible result they are capable of.

Some parents may think the teachers are going too far; the large levels of homework and the rhetoric about exam importance they come home with is increasing pressure on our Year 6, Year 11 and Year 13 children. And sometimes there are negative consequences of this.

Turning the screw on young people is not something all teachers agree with, but there are two main reasons why it happens at this time of year.

The first is that teachers care about their students and want them to get the best result they possibly can. If they didn’t go the extra mile they would not be able to sleep soundly in their beds at night – teachers are generally a worrying bunch who will feel dreadfully guilty if they are selling their cohort short.

And the second reason they put in the extra work to get learners up to speed before the exam?

It’s simple. A 16-year-old may turn up at school to get their GCSE results just once in their life, but a teacher goes through the gut-wrenching experience every year. And if the students underachieve on results day, their teacher underachieves as well.

Poor results are not something that are tolerated in schools and teachers know they are in for a hard time during the following year if the results this summer go against them. The same is true for those delivering A Levels and GCSEs as it is for those preparing for SATs.

So there’s an element of self-preservation in this time of heightened exam pressure, for sure. And when combined with the raw passion for wanting to help young people achieve their potential, you get the magical mix that schools are experiencing across Sheffield right now.

Although some students and parents are finding it hard and cannot wait for exam season to come and go, remember that the teachers are doing their best so that the students can do their best as well.

And if there are any problems with stress or increased pressure, it’s important to talk to the teacher so that they are aware. It can be a difficult time but, by working together with parents and students alike, our committed teachers can try to ensure as many of our young people have as successful an exam period as possible.