No GCSEs...now what?
21st March 2020
Before the announcement that no public examinations were to take place this May and June we were unsure how examinations logistically could take place with the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold of the world. Now we know for sure that there will be no GCSEs and A Levels this summer educators across the country are wondering what the implications of this drastic measure will be.
The absolute most important thing to remember is you, as a parent or pupil, are not alone. Every single candidate across the country who was planning on sitting public examinations this year is going through the exact same thing, whether you were relying on your results to get into college, to go on to university or simply to prove your parents wrong, everyone is in the same boat.
Here are our tips for supporting your child’s learning at GCSE level:
1. Use the resources given by the school
Your child’s teacher is in the best position to support the continued learning of your child, so please don’t ignore the advice/resources they have given you. However, be patient with them getting materials ready. Whilst they may have all the resources ready to teach in the classroom, making the materials they have already accessible for using remotely takes a huge amount of time and effort. Some schools were able to provide staff with INSET to do this preparation; other teachers have had this sprung on them suddenly and are also possibly now juggling childcare.
If you don’t have work yet, or need more support here are some of our suggestions:
1. Exam Specifications
Go on the examination board’s website for the various subjects. The specification details what your child had to learn for the examination. Some schools use this as a check list which will be incredibly useful in these circumstances, if you don’t have this, sit down with your child and their file/exercise book and determine what has already been covered, and what still needs to be done. If you are in a position to do so, you could contact your child’s subject teacher to find out what has been covered. They most definitely should be aware what stage of the specification the cohort has got up to. You should now have a list of what you child has been covered (and can now be revised) and what still needs to be learnt. This should guide your learning for each subject.
2. Study Guides
The revision guides and workbooks provided by exam boards are an excellent learning device. We are aware that CCEA don’t have these however, would recommend purchasing the ones that AQA and Edexcel have released for the GCSE 9-1 specification. The revision guides explain the ENTIRE course content in a very clear and concise fashion with lots of examples. The workbook then has a range of exercises to complete on the topics at varying degrees of difficulty so all candidates can access the work. The answers are also provided at the end of the book. We particularly like these as pupils can use them without having to go online. Your teenager will insist that they need the computer for a lot of their learning, but with the study guide and workbook they 100% don’t! The guides and workbooks can be purchased online for £4.
3. The Internet
There is so much out there that it is really hard to know where to begin-even as an educator. Your first port of call should be the websites recommended and used by your child’s school. A lot of these platforms are now offering their services for free. When it comes to YouTube be careful. Anyone can upload a video! If the provider is from an educational institution and uses the name of that institution in the title it should be legitimate and thus worth viewing. The BBC has some educational videos, as do some examination boards.
This is all very well and good if you are fortunate enough to be parenting a child who engages well with their education. We understand that the situation now presented before many parents is a teenager who now simply wants to “check out” of learning. We are writing a separate blog for you, as we know that your situation is entirely different.
4. Mobile phones
A final thing for all parents and carers, please take care of your child and the time they are now spending on their phone. As adults we are all feeling quite overwhelmed by what is taking place around us, however, we full brain maturity and have the self awareness to process these emotions as best we can and take measures to combat any negative feelings we have. A key strategy used by many adults to overcome anxiety is simply removing ourselves from our phones, be this physically or putting them on flight mode and only checking them every few hours. The notifications are no longer informing us of positive events, but rather the absolute opposite. They are a huge emotional distraction during this challenging time and our young people will struggle to cope with the impact they have. Helping your child distant themselves from the social media onslaught will support their learning massively. They are not permitted their phones in school, so we suggest that their phones are at least on flight mode while they are learning from home. This means an hour of study is an hour of study, and not an hour of distraction while trying to study.
This will all pass. You are not alone with your concerns regarding your child’s education. We will get through this together.