Housemother Blog: Rogerson
29th March, 2019
A Penny For Their Thoughts
It happened at the same point last year. The shift felt subtle at the time but the energy within Rogerson changed quite considerably. The body language displayed by the boys was different and they were no longer desperate to pop to the local shop during the half day – opting instead to attend academic clinics. This year has been no different – the penny has dropped:
My GCSEs begin in 35 days.
For some, the penny was never in the air. A large number entered V Form feeling acutely aware that their GCSE examinations were just around the corner.
For others, though, it was an inevitability that felt far enough away not to be of too great a concern. It was an out of reach prospect that lingered in the backs of their minds and stayed there – until now.
There are a few things that trigger this so-called ‘awakening’ among the V Formers. Firstly, the release of the exam timetables. All of a sudden, the prospect of their exams becomes very real and tangible because they can physically hold their exam schedule in their hands.
The second trigger is the upcoming Easter break – note; I avoid the term ‘holiday’ because that is not how the boys will feel about this period of time away from school. This Easter Holiday will be very different to any that have gone before and will require committed periods of revision ahead of their exams, which begin within two weeks of their return to school. The hardest part can be encouraging them to take time to rest and have some fun.
The Easter break is also a clear marker that teaching time for new material has ended. After Easter, lessons will be spent carrying out focussed revision.
During term time, it is our job, as House Staff, to help all of our boys manage the way they feel about their exams and to support them in finding a good harmony between their work or revision commitments and some much needed rest. The latter is essential to ensuring they can absorb and retain the information they need, not to mention crucial to their mental and physical wellbeing.
We try to encourage this in the Boarding House by providing opportunities for the boys to use the Sports Hall or play activities on the AstroTurf after prep sessions. In the Summer Term, when the exams begin, they may want to make use of the lighter evenings and kick a ball outside or practice their musical instruments, as a means of changing the scenery and burning energy.
The other offering, which proves particularly popular during exam time, is the option of early bed for boarders. This is something that I, with my Housemother hat on, am always very keen to encourage.
NHS guidelines suggest that 15 and 16 year olds require at least nine hours of sleep each night, while researchers at Royal Holloway University discovered that learners can remember and consolidate information more effectively if they opt for sleep over last minute cramming before an exam. A similar study by neuroscientists at Baylor University found that students who slept eight hours or more during their finals, performed better in their examinations.
Exams can be extremely stressful for the boys and this is something we really focus on, as a team, under the leadership of our fantastic Housemaster, Mr Rossiter.
The exams are an inevitability for the boys, yes, and one they have been working towards for two years but with our support – and that of their family and friends – we can help them to minimise the stress and convert that into positive and productive energy.
The NHS has some fantastic resources for learners and their families on ways to cope in the build up to and during the exam run and it is very much in line with what we do here. We actively encourage healthy eating, sleep and exercise and, of course, talking. Boys know they can talk to the House Staff, each other, their teachers, myself or ‘the other Mrs Blair’, our wonderful school counsellor who is very much on hand for the boys to chat to.
We are all here to support the boys as they enter this new and exciting chapter of their young lives.