Year 11 The Final Push
Our Year 11 students have now had several weeks to digest the outcomes of their mock examinations and as a school we are acutely aware of the importance of the next 13 weeks before GCSE exams start. Striking the balance between a frenzy of exam preparation and ensuring students and staff have the stamina to push for peak performance is always a tricky task. This year we have tried to coordinate the support and intervention in place more effectively. In this blog I will outline some of the key changes we have made.
Parental engagement is key. This year we significantly changed the process of handing out mock exam results. We have tried various approaches over the last few years, from an assembly in the hall followed by sealed envelopes handed out, to results being given out in separate lessons with exam feedback. This year we withheld the results until parents had attended an evening event. Our students were handed their results and opened them in front of parents before meeting with a senior member of staff to discuss the next steps required. Whilst there were several uncomfortable conversations, this approach meant that the vital collaboration between school, students and parents could take place immediately. There was no ducking the stark reality of the results achieved and the action now required.
Intervention and support must be targeted effectively. In previous years we have been guilty of trying to provide everything for everyone, but that only serves to dilute the impact of our hard work. This year we have identified 20 students where intensive mentoring and monitoring from the senior team will make a significant impact. Departments have also used data to identify their key intervention students and this information has been used to timetable a highly focussed and carefully organised programme of activities.
There is plenty of time left to have an impact in lessons. All departments have now produced their countdown plan for the final 13 weeks. This is working most effectively where departments have chosen to look carefully at each individual class, used personalised approaches to recognise where there are gaps in understanding and then created bespoke plans for each class and student.
Year 11 must feel our urgency. I’ve deliberately used the word urgency rather than pressure or stress. We have to motivate them to want to achieve for themselves. We need to acknowledge the pressure they are under but give them strategies through form time, assembly, and our actions around school to give them the resilience to cope with the demands of the next 13 weeks.
We have a fantastic staff team working incredibly hard for our students. We have a supportive parent body and many hard working students. We now need to ensure we enable them to build towards an outstanding performance in the main event.