Nearly Christmas!

Just three days to go before we break up – yay!

Sorry to sound like a whinging teacher … but we are so glad we’re near the end! It’s a long term, and it’s been absolutely shattering. For me personally, as soon as I’ve got the bulk of the UCAS forms sent off, we’re straight into mock interviews, and quite a few of the candidates have had three or four of these. The subject-based ones do require some thought in advance, as I need to have problems that are accessible to sixth-formers in the sense they can reason them out, but are not things they’ve actually been taught – and by the time I’m thinking up this sort of problem for maths, physics, chemistry, engineering and even the odd bit of biology for the medics, it’s a reasonable amount of work.  Of course, all the normal things are still going on – lessons, marking, parents’ evenings, meetings, internal exams, attending and delivering CPD sessions, extracurricular activities…

And if I’m shattered, I think the kids are even more so. The upper sixth, particularly, have had a stressful term. UCAS applications certainly take it out of them – whilst from a distance the exact wording of the last paragraph of the personal statement, or the choice of the fifth university, may not seem that momentous, at the time they certainly are. Then there’s the stress of waiting to hear, preparing for interviews etc – it doesn’t help that one candidate may have heard from four out of five of their universities within a couple of weeks of applying, whilst another, equally good, hears from none within a couple of months.  And of course their teachers are pushing them hard on the A2 work trying to urge them on to achieve their best.   It is very hard to get the level of “push” right; there are certainly some kids who are so laid back they’re horizontal, whilst others will tend to stay up to all hours perfecting that essay. Unfortunately, the former tend to be oblivious to any words of reproach whereas the latter take even the most trifling mistake to heart, and interpret possible suggestions for extra reading as absolute requirements.

The younger years are tired too, but they display it in different ways – they are absolutely hyper and bouncing off the walls! That’s been exacerbated in the last week by the annual inter-form dance competition (which is called “Karaoke”, for some reason lost in the mists of time). This is seen as the absolute central point in the school year and successes or resented defeats are still discussed many years later. This year I was rather pleased to find the songs allocated were all from the 80s so I knew them for a change… though the expression of disgust in one of my Year 9’s face when she told me that her mum actually liked the song they were dancing to was quite something!

Some of my conscientious colleagues will be getting proper work out of the kids next week. I won’t. With lower school, I’m playing Countdown and then a rather riotous activity with some vestigial mathematical content called “The Circle Game”. My Upper Sixth single maths class are having a pizza party. The Upper Sixth Further Maths class also want to play the Circle Game! Haven’t decided the plan with the Lower Sixth classes yet.  The Year 7s with whom I am promoting thinking skills and intellectual risk taking will probably be getting a Christmas quiz.  There will also be a disproportionate amount of cake and chocolate consumed; I make a half-hearted attempt to justify this because we will all be walking a mile up hill to a local church for our Carol Service on Wednesday, which will obviously work it all off, won’t it?


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