I think the main thing about society now is that everyone seems to be under so much more pressure than 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. You probably feel this in your jobs; everyone has targets, deadlines need to be met, success needs to be instant and everything must be tested!
Our young people enter this world when they leave school. However, we all know that some of the stresses of the modern world filter down into the lives of young people. For example, my own 7-year-old daughter is currently taking SAT tests at her primary school. The teachers are doing their best to describe the tests as ‘fun worksheets that will be a good challenge!’ However, even 7-year-olds know them as a test and I read one worrying report that children were having sleepless nights and being sick before coming to school because they were worried due to the pressure placed on them to achieve highly.
Of course, surely this can’t be right. Where is the joy in learning? Or the pride of a parent when hearing their child sing in assembly or when bringing home a great piece of artwork? Of course, we’re proud when our children do well in their tests but there are other ways in which children prove their talents.
At Cowplain we know we put our Year 11 students under pressure to do well in their exams and we give our younger students plenty of practice in doing tests and exams to prepare them for the summer of Year 11. We do this because we know how important those exam qualifications are for the life chances of every one of those students. However, we understand the stress that this places on those children and their families and we try to manage this so that we strike the balance in pushing our students to achieve their best and maintain high standards whilst also making sure their mental health is good. That’s why, for example, we have Mindfulness as one of our 7 values and why we incorporate it in many of our lessons.
The key to all of this is to work as a team and I know students, parents and teachers will devote many hours over this ‘exam season’ in supporting and encouraging each other so that all our Year 11 students achieve the success that they are working so hard to achieve.