GCSE results 2017: How does a teacher feel days before results?

Photo: Simon Finlay

Photo: Simon Finlay - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

It's not just students anxiously waiting for GCSE results day. Holly Duxbury gives a teacher's point of view.

I'm not sure who's more nervous – me or the kids.

Their future college places and consequential life opportunities may well rest upon their GCSE results, but my worth as a teacher is also riding on whether or not little Jonny decided to revise, as I instructed him, or, as is more likely, spent the night before his exams playing something unthinkably violent on his Xbox.

And therein lies the rub - every time results day rolls around, every teacher is prized with their paper trail, ready to prove to anyone and everyone just how much they did to help their students.

I have ticked off the magic three: Yes, I provided opportunities for one to one help. Yes, I called parents to 'keep them in the loop' with Jonny's progress/lack of and, yes, I directed students to resources they could access at home.


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However, there is the fear that perhaps this may not have been enough.

This year, there is another pedagogic spanner in the works - this is the first year of the government's new rigorous 'we must keep up with Europe' exams.

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As someone who has spent the last two years trying to make them relatively engaging for my students (a feat no amount of cat-themed resources can achieve), I can testify that they are harder, longer and generally less accessible than what came before.

MORE: A guide to GCSE results day 2017 in Norfolk and Waveney

Add to this the fact that the grading is totally unfamiliar, and you will understand why I have spent the year batting grading queries away like Henman after a protein-rich meal.

On the subject of the grades – we are all clamouring for success (students and teachers alike), but the truth is we don't even know what this looks like.

First the boards said a 5 was the equivalent C, and then they seemed to realise just how hard the papers are and told us all that probably, maybe a 4 would also be a C.

It sounds like they are just as clueless as us. Thankfully, the exams are still marked on a bell curve method so roughly the same proportion of students should come out with the A*and D equivalents each year irrespective of how hard the text is.

In addition to this comfort, my suspicion is that because students will not do as well in this exam as they will in future years, everyone will be marked slightly more generously than they will in four or five years' time (when teachers will have wised up as to how to tickle the examiners' fancies, and schools will have developed resources to power even the most recalcitrant students through the course).

I cling to this hope as I cling to the hope that my students did more than dissect glue sticks and throw them at my ceiling this year.

• To read more of Holly's writing, click here.

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