Today is the day my daughter will pick up her exam results. She is at work and can’t pick them up until later. Already I am worried for her, thanks to the press reporting that this year’s are the worst results for a while. Well when they go up year on year, eventually something has to change, right? She had her next step all planned out: A’Levels in Sixth Form, place already confirmed. On the surface, she hasn’t looked worried. But last night she announced that next week she is going to the local college to find out about taking her A’Levels there. Why the sudden change of heart? I think she believes her results aren’t going to be good enough and has already decided she isn’t good enough to stay on at Sixth Form.
This is such a shame. In the German A’Level class there will be two students. That’s a fabulous student/staff ratio. Not to mention it’s closer to home, familiar to her and the pastoral care she has received at that school has been fabulous. It’s been more like an extended family. Sending a child to High School is a scary business and for someone like me, who didn’t have continuity of education, it’s a particular challenge. Finding a school that caters for their individual needs, personality quirks and individuality is a very intense process. Then supporting a child through five years of learning to spend every day with the same thirty children, their arguments, fallouts, parties, puberty. With the school we chose, I feel we got it right. I’m not expecting a stream of A*’s today. The reason for this is the amount of pressure my daughter felt was so intense I had to do something. She lacked confidence, felt she wasn’t good enough to be in the top sets because other children were better than her, had no self belief in her own intelligence. So we sat down together and talked about what was important. Which GCSE’s she really needed, and the grades she needed for sixth form. She doesn’t need a double science award, doesn’t ‘get’ science, cannot comprehend physics and has no desire to learn. I couldn’t understand this as I didn’t struggle with those subjects, but I could see it was causing her stress. So, rightly or wrongly, I told her not to waste time on them. She wants to follow a media career, how will Science benefit her? So she concentrated on German, maths, English, and saw her grades dramatically improve. She needs five passes at C and above, and if that’s what she gets, I will be deliriously happy for her as she can move on to the next step.
I don’t think people realise how hard it is to raise a child to be individual. I want my daughter to be confident, to embrace who she is, to enjoy life. And I think she does, on the whole. But the education system does everything it can to level children. It doesn’t embrace individuals. A National Curriculum is a ‘One Size Fits All’ kind of education and my girl is not a ‘One Size Fits All’ kind of kid. All children should be allowed to follow those subjects that capture their imagination. If a child doesn’t like art, and loves science, like my son, then they should be allowed to stop wasting time on a subject they hate and concentrate on the areas they flourish.
I will be going through all this again in three years time.