Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Exam Fever

It's either almost all over or else it's only just beginning. But whether you've finished one set, made the grade, done one paper or finished so-called 'finals' you'll probably soon discover that it's never really over, there's always another grade, a higher level, a further degree, another qualification.

My wife is celebrating the end of the 'A' levels with her sixth form this evening; a friend's son is graduating in a few days time and my eldest child is in the middle of a week of internal exams.


The obvious answer is, well... obvious. Isn't it?

As a teacher I've given that answer often enough, persuaded enough pupils to work a little harder, study a little better, go a little further with their education for the sake of something greater in their future. I still meet some of them around town taking a break from one McJob or another and desperate to use that degree I persuaded them to go for and finally climb onto their chosen career ladder.

'Test us with tests but the final is never final...'

My daughter discovered this video a couple of weeks ago at a time when she was feeling the pressure of her first GCSE exams. It contains more sense than any of the educational philosophy I ever studied, more wisdom than in the last two decades of educational policy and more truth than any number of speeches and statements by experts, ministers, inspectors and school leaders.

'Parents who say they want educated kids but constantly marvel at how rich Richard Branson is...'

As a fully paid up member of the system for so long I'm sure I've been guilty of putting too great an emphasis on exam success, studying hard, getting those GCSEs, those A levels, that degree, a Masters maybe.

But there are many for whom that 'system' is guaranteed to perpetuate a sense of failure, for whom school does nothing to prepare them for their future and some for whom it stifles the creativity, enthusiasm and love for learning that would guarantee them success in adult life.

Because, at the end of the day, it isn't about exam results. It isn't about working hard for the sake of ticking boxes, earning certificates and adding noughts to a potential salary. It's about drive; it's about dedication. Educational attainment can measure the kind of determination, dedication and application necessary to succeed in life but those who've got it will probably succeed anyway.

And those who haven't?

Most, if not all, have got something to offer. It's our job to find it and to find a way of nurturing it.

'We will not let exam results decide our fate...'

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