This week saw the senior school involved in the first week of their prelim exams.  For pupils in S5 and S6 this should now be familiar ground but for our S4s it is the first time they have really faced this intensity of challenge.  I really felt for them because they are facing a new type of challenge as a result of changes made to the National 5 qualifications.  This new challenge has seen unit assessments being removed and the length of the exam being extended.  Several of their exams are now 2 hours and 30 minutes long (without a break).  Indeed some youngsters with additional support arrangements (eg extra time) could find themselves sitting in an exam hall for almost 3 hours!  I know it is a long time since I last sat an exam but it would have been at university and I am pretty sure it was not as long as 3 hours long.  So I have nothing but admiration for the youngsters who are sitting their prelims, particularly those who are facing the new N5 qualifications.

I also have a mixture of appreciation and sympathy for the staff who had to produce new exams and are now starting to mark the pupil answers.  Marking was one of those parts of the job which I never really liked but I knew that to make a success of marking there were no short cuts, you needed to concentrate on the task (the marking scheme and the pupil answers in this case) and be willing to put in the hours.

I also want to highlight the extra miles many of the staff and pupils have gone to in respect of extra preparation.  I have seen a steady flow of seniors arriving to the school when they do not have exams to attend revision sessions organised by their teachers.  I am also aware of many teachers putting additional resources onto Google Classroom and responding to individual pupil enquiries on-line.  I am pretty confident that those who are willing to go the extra mile and put in the hours will see a difference in their eventual results.  Back in August when reviewing the results of the main exams the staff could see a 2-3 grade difference between those who regularly attended extra revision sessions and/or were active in Google Classroom etc and those who did not.

There is a parallel between what I have said above about marking exams and the advice I would give to those who are preparing to sit their exams – there are no short cuts, you need to concentrate on the task and be willing to put in the hours.  I have been really heartened to see so many pupils come in to do extra revision last week.  If they keep doing this through to their main exams in May it will make a big difference.

Before closing this blog I want to mention two other brief but important things:

  • Visit to Park Inn Radisson – on Wednesday morning around 90 of our S3 visited Park Inn by Radisson.  The visit was to speak about skills employers look for in a general sense and look at opportunities in the Hospitality sector in particular.  Our hosts put on a fantastic visit and our pupils returned with a much clearer idea that whilst qualifications matter so do things such as; punctuality, reliability, honesty, following instructions, getting on with others, communication, numeracy, IT skills, adaptability, flexibility, desire to learn and hard work.  Hopefully when teachers ‘nag’ on about these sort of things the S3 pupils might understand it not only matters in school but it is preparation for what lies ahead in the world beyond the school gates.
  • New advice on Jewellery – W have received new advice on jewellery and piercings which relates to PE and to other activities were jewellery/piercings could cause injury.  I sent out a group call to parents and asked staff to implement it with immediate effect.  A coup of the new advice is attached here Safety advice jewellery and piercings