Study Leave

Rather belated commentary on the article on this subject in “Education Guardian” on 20 May.

Schools are restricting the amount of study leave pupils taking external exams are allowed. From when I was at school until fairly recently, once the external exams had started, pupils were required to be in school for their exams only; the rest of the time was their own. (Admittedly, in my day, we only had O-levels and A-levels, not the current crop pf KS3, GCSEs, AS and A2s). You were supposed to revise during this time but if you didn’t it was your tough luck.

Nowadays though, pupils are expected to come in for revision lessons between exams in many schools. Many feel that a rigid revision timetable set to suit a group does not suit their own needs.

The article contained some head teacher saying that the old way was all very well for middle-class children in a supportive environment but working class children do not benefit. Apart from the rather overt class snobbery on display, I have a couple of problems with this view. First, bunking off is not a purely working class activity and hard work is not the exclusive preserve of the better off. Second, in the case of GCSE and AS pupils, we are talking about people who are not far off legal adulthood and in the case of A2 pupils people who for the most part have already achieved it. We expect teenagers to learn to take rsponsibility for their own actions but with this policy they are being told they are not capable of it.

I agree that pupils may discover problems with their understanding of a subject. There is no reason why this can’t be sorted out on an individul basis with the teacher (who, having fewer classes to teach, will be more readily available). After these exams, many pupils will be entering the world of work or going on to higher education. In both cases they will be expected to organise themselves to some extent. We should allow them the opportunity to practice this skill at school instead of teaching them to be useless.

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