If we removed this expectation (implicit or explicit?) of revision sessions, maybe we'd take away 'comfort blanket' that students feel... my teachers will work in overdrive to help me pass my exams. I sometimes ask my Y11 cohort - who is working harder right now? You or your teacher? Often the answer is the latter.
We need to make students realise that after 18 months of failing to work, last minute revision sessions won't solve their problems. If you have attended over 200 hours of English lessons, will 5 hour-long revision sessions make any difference?
Schools have become obsessed by interventions, a buzz word that's become every day usage in education, which often means teachers should be able to demonstrate and document that they have gone above and beyond with students. Where does good teaching end and intervention begin? I'm all for identifying the underachievers and trying to get to the bottom of why they are underperforming, and teachers are well aware of their responsibilities to get the best grades possible. What's intervention? What's revision? What's just teaching?
I really enjoyed Shaun Allison's blog on "What to do with Y11?" (see <here>) and shared it with all staff. I really think that teachers should be putting all their energy and time into delivering the best possible lessons: "the people who will make the real difference between now and the exams are the teachers that see Y11, day in and day out.".The advice that Shaun then provided about effective learning and revision was excellent - read it, share it widely!
- Abolish the 'official' revision timetable (sadly staff don't stick to it anyway and we end up with staff competing and undermining one another).
- Discourage all revision sessions.
- Encourage staff to plan for learning throughout their syllabus (principles of metacognition and effective learning) so revision doesn't become such high stakes.
- Create effective work spaces for Y11 at lunchtime (i.e. a rota for the four form rooms for lunchtime: silent work / quiet work / 2x social - and enforce it!)
- Maintain detentions for work, homework and behaviour issues - these expectations must remain at the core of effective learning.
- Generate a culture of greater independence, self-reliance, determination and consequence - if you do not work, there will be repercussions (and it won't be a teacher reteaching you after school and in the holidays!).
I believe that this will help in some waycreate less dependent and teacher-reliant GCSE students. It will also be beneficial for the mental and emotional health of both staff and students, taking off some of the high stakes pressure.
My Y11 students, come August, will always be more than a set of grades. I also want them to be healthy (physically and mentally), happy, knowing that they can go out and change the world for the better in many, many different ways.