Secondary: Focus on Pressure and Wellbeing
It has been a busy start to the school year in Secondary here at KIS, with our Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 groups already preparing for upcoming assessments, exams and (as you have already read) University applications. Time is flying!
As such, it is worth considering the multitude of pressures which can arise from working at such a high level in so many different subjects and extra-curricular areas. Teachers, parents, peers, Universities, Sixth Form Colleges, Assistant Heads and Head Teachers are probably all repeatedly saying things like “Give it your best”, “This is the most important time”, and “You need to be making progress”. And it all focuses on those students; under the microscope; putting in the hours; balancing every aspect of their education.
There is no sugar-coating or lying about this. Exam years have the potential to be the most stressful period of your life. Never again will someone be asked to simultaneously balance more than ten subjects (at GCSE for example), each of which has at least one exam looming on the horizon. Never again will someone be assessed at such a high frequency and with such scrutiny on your every word, calculation and verbal response. Never again will someone have quite so many varied academic pieces of information to be expected to learn, store, and summon immediately when asked. All whilst becoming young adults in a fast-moving world.
There are often stories circulated in the media about how this generation of up-and-coming young people are not as well-read, not as focused and not as thoroughly tested by exams and other means of assessment. Social media, technology and the internet in particular are fundamentally tools for good, with endless potential to enhance communication, learning and development. However, they can also serve to pile additional pressures onto the next generation of young adults we see passing through our gates.
Being connected with anybody else in the world at any time can be aspirational and positive, however, we must not forget that with this comes the potential for possible feelings of inadequacy and negativity too. We are often presented with ‘successful people’ who can become archetypes we can never quite live up to. I didn’t really have this to deal with growing up. I had three major things in my life: school, friends and football, and the three were interlinked very closely. The bulk of my world was centred on a very small square kilometre or two near my house. I liked that. I had it easy really. My potential for procrastination wasn’t enhanced by the world being instantly available at my fingertips. My world felt smaller and frankly more manageable. The long and short of it is: I would find being a teenager in 2018 to be challenging indeed, so I have a deep respect for the students we work with, particularly those at the more mature end of our student population.
We, as a body of staff, are here to assist, guide and mould this generation of students into the next generation of young adults. As such, it is of vital importance that students and parents communicate if they even have the slightest inkling that things are not quite right. This may be disappointment in academic work, or a social or emotional difficulty arising which affects mood and wellbeing. As a school, the better picture we have of our students, the more capable we are of assisting them further in their lessons, exams and as young adults in our care.
If you wish to raise any concerns whatsoever relating to the academic, social or emotional aspects of your child’s education, please email either myself (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mr Barker (email@example.com), Mrs Renshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mr Gross (email@example.com).
Wellbeing always comes first.
Mr Andrew Withers
Assistant Head of Secondary (Student Welfare)