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  • Reece Bithrey

A Tragic End To The 2019/20 Academic Year


(Picture Credit - Legal Cheeks)

Yesterday marked the final day of every GCSE and A-Level student's formal education. What was meant to be a Friday of hard work and revision has now become a struggle to decide what to do over the longest break of students' lives.


Just walking into Sixth Form yesterday morning seemed to be a sombre occasion. Ever since the announcement was made on Wednesday, education hasn't felt the same. All the hard work that has been done over the last eighteen months now seems redundant, as does a lot of hard working people's jobs. It just doesn't feel right.


The hardest part of it is to wonder what to do to fill the time. Some will sit and play video games all day, others will finally get through that long reading list of philosophy books that they've been meaning to read for months on end. And me? I plan to keep writing and writing until I'm blue in the face and then keep writing some more. Anything to keep me occupied.


Yesterday's celebrations for Year Elevens and Thirteens were certainly bittersweet for some. Whilst we're all going to be joyous for the moments following this week, it's going to be a short-lived euphoria. Everyone seems to feel short-changed, especially those doing A-Levels. Most of us have worked hard for the duration of the course, and it's been stopped drastically. There's something psychologically wrong with that, as your mind has been focused on an end goal and you've been in the correct mindset to work for months, and then in a matter of days, that end goal has drifted away suddenly.


Everyone's been walking around corridors, hanging their heads in disbelief and disillusion. It's become the norm for people to be absolutely clueless and for everyone to be "alright, I suppose.". You hear the sound of aimless footsteps and random intermittent grunts of disapproval at the current situation. It's as if everyone has given up, and it certainly seems like they have.


At my Sixth Form, it certainly seemed that way. We've all been bored these last few days and have nothing to do. Do we work? Or do we not? This is the main conundrum that we're all facing at the moment, and it's certainly difficult to know what to do. I think we're all inclined not to work, especially given the cancellation of exams from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Wednesday afternoon. On the bright side, at least it gives us a chance to talk to one another more frequently.


On the subject of Gavin Williamson and indeed the entire method of these daily briefings by the Prime Minister, the drip-feeding information hasn't put everybody's minds at rest, not least the stranded students. Following the two days of limbo, the Government finally announced some measures yesterday afternoon. The assessments offered by teachers to the exam boards are taking a holistic approach, utilising predicted grades, mock results, and non-exam assessments (coursework) amongst other factors, to determine an individual student's grade. It's a fair system, although if too strongly weighted towards mock grades, then it stuffs both the cohorts over immensely.


Williamson has spoke of an "appeals process" for the new grades, which would only draw out the whole situation even longer, especially given the fact that they're not planning to distribute results until the end of July this year meaning that students will be waiting some four months for their grades. The new system issued by the Government also mentioned the option for students to either take exams early into the next academic year, or entirely defer their education and take the exams with the cohorts of 2021. That latter option is a massive gamble, especially given the way that these next few months will go. I highly doubt that anybody, after what appears to be a long break, will have the real willpower or tools and preparation to sit A-Levels or GCSEs respectively. Sitting an exam into the next academic year, dependent upon the time that it's set, makes little sense as you're taking a step backwards whilst at the same time you should be moving forward.

Now we've got all that news from yesterday, at least we've got some clarity and closure on the situation we've all been shoved into. It's just a case of looking forward to the future and whatever route everyone's going to take and making sure that everyone gets what they deserve. The waiting game begins.

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