Mock the week – practice exam survival for teachers

It’s mock exam week for our year 10s and 12s and I’m not sure who’s more stressed, me or them.

Being one of those women who fully expected my A level students to have taken heed of my advice and spent half term revising and preparing for the week ahead, I had to forcefully prevent myself from twitching when I asked to collect in the practice papers that they had been given and was greeted with a collection of ‘oh I only did it yesterday’ and ‘I forgot that you wanted me to compare it to the mark scheme’. I know that it is ultimately their exam. I know I can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink.


I have to confess to being a total control freak. I can’t stand to see them waste this opportunity to learn. I want to do it for them. I want to drip feed them so they get it. I am personally wounded by each incident of lacklustre apathy.


These are the rantings of a teacher on the edge. Maybe. Or, these are the rantings of someone who loves learning and finds it difficult to understand why someone would not want to do their best, go a little bit extra, get that teacher’s pet award. Was I always like this? I remember being a total nightmare at their age. A pierced and tattooed punk/ goth who insisted that she wanted to be a fashion designer (and who later ended up studying computer science and being a software developer…. ). But despite rebelling against my perceived normality with bizarre hair and body decoration, I have always hankered after academic achievement. I have studied in a variety of forms for 33 years and still strive for my best (if I’m honest, I would have been devastated if my recent review had been anything less than a grade 1. In person, I would never admit that.).

I’m actually not studying for anything for the first time in years and I miss it. I have a lot of other things to juggle now, and I’m still learning new programming languages and planning my next book. Oh, and teaching. I love teaching, which I guess is why I find it so hard when my students don’t take ownership of their own learning and give it as much enthusiasm and passion as I have for the subject.

Maybe I’m deluded. I don’t care whether they love the subject with a passion and study hard because they need to learn more, or whether they despise a unit and aim for top marks because they’re going to prove me bloody well wrong. What I object to is apathy. We are the result of millions of years of evolution, we really ought to act like it.


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