I want to avoid my child becoming stressed with their GCSEs, what can I do to support them?
Firstly, the main reason why students become stressed with their GCSEs is because they have fallen behind with work or do not understand the work. The key is to be pro-active, attend school, and if they do need to be absent for a legitimate reason, they must catch up on their work. If they do not understand the work, it is important that they do not put their head in the sand and hope it goes away. They (or you) can speak with their teachers who will help them through the work set.
Ofqual (the government body who regulate exams) have created a guide for students on how to cope with exam pressure. The guide is really useful as it acknowledges the reality of exam pressure, but combines it with practical tips to deal with the pressure in the build up to exams and in the exam room itself. We do recommend that you sit down and read this document with your child. The link is here - Coping with exam pressure - a guide for students - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Other ways to avoid stress is for them to continue taking part in any hobbies or clubs. This time where they can ‘let their hair down’ is very important.
Finally, there are lots of ideas on the Anna Freud website to keep mental health in tip top condition.
How can my child stay motivated during their GCSEs?
It is important that we all remind the students regularly the purpose of being in school. They are in school to get their best GSCE results, so they can go to the best universities and gain places on the most attractive apprenticeships. This allows the students to have fulfilled working lives which in turn allows them to have financial security. Bribery is also good!
My child does not know what to do after school, is there any support in school?
Yes! The Balfour Journey includes Careers learning. This involves assemblies, work on PSHE days, visits and appointments with Leadership Group. Each student in year 11 will have a one-to-one with a member of staff from the Careers Service. This session will offer completely impartial advice. However, in the meantime, any student can make an appointment to see Miss Watson who is our Careers’ Lead during Form Time in the DAC. There are also a number of Careers pamphlets and books available, which your son/daughter can use as reference points.
I am worried about what my child will experience as they are growing up. Is there any advice you can give?
All students have Sex and Relationship lessons which outline potential dangers with negative relationships and more importantly how to deal with them. PHSE days are also designed to deal with other external influences like drugs and alcohol.
Who do I need to talk to if I am worried?
Your child’s Form Tutor in the first instance.
What does good revision actually look like?
Revision is such an important skillset to develop in preparation for GCSE (and A-Level) exams. The key to successful revision is ensuring that the content being revised is transformed from one form to another. If revision consists of reading over the same notes time and again or highlighting key points in the notes then it will be highly unlikely that the student will be able to remember what they read or highlighted in the weeks ahead. To address this, we have produced a revision guide, with each subject highlighting 3 or 4 effective revision strategies to try which work in that subject. Students will then be able to try these strategies and identify which one works best for them in each subject. Please do encourage your child to use this guide to support their revision.
It is also important that revision takes place in a quiet room away from distractions such as frequent social media notifications popping up on mobile phones. Creating a comfortable and quiet study environment is a really powerful way of ensuring that the time your child spends doing revision is as impactful as possible.
Where can I find out what my child is studying and when they will have Pre-Public Exams (PPEs)?
The link above takes you to the curriculum section of the school website. You can click on each subject and then the year group to see the curriculum content at GCSE. GCSE students have 4 sets of PPE during their course. In Year 10 there are PPEs in March and June/July. In Year 11 there are PPEs in December and March. These PPEs are an important part of the preparation for GCSEs as the students develop an understanding of what it feels like to revise for a large number of exams over a short period of time, what it feels like to sit in a room under exam conditions and how to put the exam technique taught in class into practice. It will also allow the students to find out which revision techniques work best for them.
How much homework will my child get and how can I help with homework?
Year 10 follow a Homework Schedule which can be found at the link above. They will receive homework which will take them approximately 7.5 hours per week to complete. We have arranged the schedule so that if students complete their homework on the night it is set, they will have no homework to complete over the weekend. Homework is organised in this way for Year 7 to Year 11, so it will really help with homework if your child can get into a regular routine of doing homework each night and completing their homework away from distractions such as mobile phones, the TV, games consoles etc.
If your child is struggling with the subject content in a piece of homework, then please see the link above for details of the various ways we can provide additional help and support to your child so they complete the work and hand it in on time.
One more thing…
It is entirely normal for students to feel a wide range of emotions towards their school work at any point during their GCSEs. These feelings could range from feeling demotivated or overwhelmed to being complacent about their work. We do speak to the students about this in school and have people such as Form Tutors, a Year Head and a Student Support Manager who they can speak to about this, but if this does occur please talk to your child about their feelings and liaise with school if you feel it is necessary – we will always listen and try to help.