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Good luck to all the year 11 students who have their mock exams next week.  Without adding any undue pressure, these mocks really count, and they are important to us in the school. We use them for various purposes: clearly they are a practice run for the real exams in the summer, and the feedback the students get is paramount to signposting what they most need to do in the limited time available.  They also enable us to make predictions about summer outcomes that help with entry to sixth form or college. Teachers mark the exams very carefully with two foci – first to get an accurate GCSE level and second to look formatively at the mistakes made and the less secure topics, so that teaching can be adjusted accordingly in January.  But we also use the results to identify students who may be underperforming and we then put support in place, where needed.  Equally we use them to find those who show improvement, and we try to motivate those students even further to maximise their learning.  Subject heads carefully analyse the exam results by question and by topic, enabling some remedial work to be done on those aspects of the course that need attention and plug any gaps. And senior staff look at the big picture across the whole year group, working out areas that need developing and establishing better ways of working across a number of features. So, there are many reasons these mocks matter and we use them for  a range of purposes.

In the period after the mocks we encourage good communication and teamwork between teachers and parents so that together we can bring about the best eventual results for each student.  This has massive positive impact when it works well.  We also ask the students themselves to lift their game too and exert themselves in a way they may never have done before.  We expect cooperation and engagement with teachers in the classroom and over matters like homework, preparation and extra sessions.  We know that the students after the mocks need to be in the zone and be gearing up for the exams proper in the summer.  Today all of year 11 students were given their final formal briefing about exam conduct and the rules they need to follow.  These must be followed to the letter.  The next ten days themselves are a practice in self-management and how to cope with the exam period itself.  Students next week when not in an exam are expected to be using their time to revise and prepare for their next exam; that needs planning.  Please help your son with these concepts and activities, and do alert us if there is anything we need to know.

I wish everyone good luck with the mocks. Prepare as well as you can and try your best.

Gavin Henderson