An Honest Opinion On School Exams

Good Evening World ❀️

I really need to get back into sorting out my blog posts and get them published again in the mornings πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ I’m just so πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ right now to be honest! I’ve definitely been in a sort of funk but I am doing my best to get into the swing of things again!!

Anyways, today’s blog is a bit of a rant – you know by now that I love them! And sometimes you just need to have a good ol’ rant to make you feel a bit more centred with the world again. Today’s rant is something that as a teacher myself really does boil my blood: school exams!

Don’t get me wrong, having qualifications is a good thing as it can highlight the interests that you have or to even build you upwards for the career that you want.

But in my personal opinion, the examination process that we have is utter BULLSHIT! And fundamentally, completely discriminatory.

Essentially exams and exam results are used to decide the following:

  • Which schools not to send your children to
  • To decide which teachers get fired for failing to reach impossible targets
  • Who gets a pay rise *cough* headteachers / governors
  • How much money the government will provide schools – fuck all like always, thnx Michael Gove, DICKHEAD! 😘
  • Which pupils are labelled as a success or a failure for the rest of their lives

Not everyone is what they say ‘book smart’, all students learn in different ways, have different interests, so having an exam after studying for 2/3 years to decide their fate is fucking torture! It’s too much pressure.

When I did my GCSEs in 2010, I had one of my first mental breakdowns because of exam pressure. Being constantly reminded if you don’t revise you’re an absolute failure and a joke! You need to have these grades or you can’t do A Levels and if that’s the case you get treated worse than dog shit on a shoe!

I was brought up in a very middle class, conservative area outside of Reading in Berkshire (where Teresa May lives when not at 10 Downing Street). I was put under so much pressure to go above my predicted GCSE grades, because it would look good for the schools ratings! I was in some of the really high sets classes in school and we told that (this is not my opinion whatsoever) if I don’t get the grades to do A Levels I would have to the Btech courses like beautician courses and travel & tourism and apprenticeships that only ‘stupid’ people do πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I mean, c’mon!

It was far too much pressure! At the age of 15 I had so many breakouts on my face and I was gaining more and more grey hairs and getting fatter every goddamn day because I was told I would be fucking stupid if I didn’t pass my GCSEs.

What really hurts me now as a teacher, is that this view, this opinion towards apprenticeships is still being used! Personally I think apprenticeships are brilliant and we need more of them!

Doing a 3 hour written exam does not prove whatsoever the intelligence or even the skills that a young person has. More often than not, more and more young people are leaving school without even the basic skills of common sense as they have become so robotic like to the exam system.

One thing I will say about my GCSEs is that I had coursework to fall back on for each of my subjects just in case I choked under pressure in the timed exam. Coursework was a beautiful thing! It gave all pupils the chance to gain a grade, in their own time which would go towards their overall mark in Year 11 (age 16). What makes me so angry is that the government – Michael Gove in particular who was in charge of Education decided to scrap the idea. NOT ALL STUDENTS CAN WRITE IN TIMED CONDITIONS! NOT ALL STUDENTS CAN MEMORISE 2/3 YEARS OF WORK FOR ONE EXAM!! Coursework was my best friend in school, I have always struggled in exams, the pressure, the silence, the timed conditions gave me so much anxiety – especially seeing everyone around you filling in their answer booklet and you haven’t got a clue on what to do. My coursework allowed me to work at my own pace, in my own environment and it was so much calmer and more efficient. It allowed pupils who have learning difficulties to take their time, it allows pupils who struggle to understand the topics to do extra research and so forth. But it was banned! In favour of going back to Edwardian style teaching πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Michael Gove and his team established the Ebacc – where all pupils must do two English courses, one maths course, triple science, one language and either History or Geography. Their plan was to completely remove the creative arts from education! Subjects like Art, Drama, Technology etc. were too easy and not seen as proper subjects!

I’m sorry, but I lived with theatre students when I did my History degree, they did x4 the amount of work I did every goddamn week!

The arts are an amazing way for young people to learn not only about themselves but to also learn such important and valued life skills.

When I had to pick my GCSEs, my teachers went out of their way to convince me that I shouldn’t take an artsy subject – that’s for stupid people they said!

Fuck you Geography teacher! If it wasn’t for my Drama GCSE my head would have fucking burst with all the anxiety and stress I was under from all the subjects that were considered ‘proper’.

I feel like I’m going on such a tangent!

But I honestly do think exams are fucking stupid and I’m a teacher!

At my previous school, we had to assess every single class after 12 lessons of work, a full on GCSE style exam – even for our Year 7s (11/12 year olds) and it was so demeaning. So many students at my old school decided to pick Geography over History because of the constant examinations we did. I honestly don’t blame them, GCSE History is the hardest subject. Even though this pains me to say, I’m encouraging my young cousin to pick Geography, to even go with more creative subjects that he will actually enjoy instead of feeing forced to pick subjects with such horrible exams.

Exams now, the majority of them are over 3 hours long! And some young people have two or even three exams in one day! No wonder so many people are struggling and that mental health is on the rise for teenagers!

Take AQA GCSE History for example – it’s two exams, but each exam has two parts, so students are taking 4 exams – yet the content they need to learn is disgusting, it gave me an absolute headache trying to not only teach it but to also create the lessons, and to even have the time to teach all of the content ready for the exams! No wonder pupil numbers are dropping, likewise with overall exam grades!

During mock examinations, I decided to sit all of the history exams and even I couldn’t finish the paper – just proving how wrong the exam system is, that qualified teachers are unable to do the impossible.

In my honest opinion, the entire education system needs a huge overall, we are asking too much of young people, the majority of teenagers who take their own lives have risen in the run up to school examinations. We should be teaching our young people life skills, common sense, things they need to know when they enter the workplace! Instead of forcing teenagers to sit 3 hour exams, multiple exams in one day!

I mean just reading through the twitter threads for GCSE just proves my point that exams are fucking stupid!

If it was up to me, I would spend less time in the classroom with my pupils and more time educating them outside, going on team building exercises, visiting different communities or even countries – seeing the real world instead of memorising a textbook, build connections with local businesses.

Anyways, what are your thoughts on exams? Do you think the government needs to do something? Or should we let the teachers themselves decide what is best? Leave a comment below!

Until next time,

Peace and Love ❀️

4 comments

  1. You know what always sucker punched me? I had good grades until I dropped out of school, I have A-Levels and a degree – but I only got my degree because it was part time with NO EXAMS.
    I either scored highly or flunked an exam – there was no middle ground for me.
    And you know what? None of it has had any bearing on how I’ve coped as an adult or what I’ve done when I was managing employment.
    In my life, my academic prowess has ended up being meaningless…despite all the teachers telling me it would be the most important thing ever!

    Like

  2. I think coursework is a good idea but I always knew their friends, parents and tutors were having a lot of input so it was very rarely β€œentirely their own work”. It would need to be done in a far more supervised way to be fair, like a controlled assessment which would probably end up just like an exam.

    Like

    • They had controlled assessment until about 2016/17 which was later banned! But it was essentially an exam, in exam conditions and timings, the only positive thing was that you had notes and your teachers were without and could answer questions – as long as you didn’t give them the answer!

      Liked by 1 person

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