Exams are back

Dated: 23 February 2022

Our year 13 students will go down in college history as one of the most interrupted year groups ever. Nothing has and hopefully ever will compare to their difficult educational journey over the past two years.
For our year 13s there were no GCSE mocks, no GCSE exams, no end of school prom. Just months stuck at home with classes on Zoom and no opportunity to say goodbye to their year group. There was no introduction day to Woodhouse College, and when they did arrive here it was to socially distanced class groups in cold, windy classrooms. Bubbles, masks, long lessons, staggered days… and of course huge disruption to their social lives and development.
And yet, here they are - still working, still learning… and many of them thriving. That’s not to say they are unaffected by the last two years, but they have been supported here every step of the way.
Our student services staff have been working non-stop with students that ask for help, and often with those that don’t realise they need it. With a return to exams this year, the college recognised the need to offer extra support in coping with exam stress, particularly as this will be the first time many students will have experienced it.
Assistant Principal Student Services, Lubna Hussain told us“We acknowledged that students had found the end of summer class tests very stressful. We looked at how we could support their development in this crucial area. So, putting these tests and stages in will help our students prepare for a summer exam schedule unlike one they have encountered before. Student services looked at how this will help develop emotional resilience and lessen the impact on their wellbeing if we have better prepared them for this examination period they face”
Assistant Principal Curriculum, Peter Thompson agreed and explained “Since A levels are still such heavily exam-based qualifications, we give our students lots of practice during their two years with us. We try to make them ‘exam fit’.
In addition to regular classroom tests, each year group experiences two sets of high-stakes internal exams, where they are required to work against the clock in conditions that closely match those of the final external exams. Our sports hall is often filled with up to 200 students, sitting exams. We believe that it is vital for our students to become fully accustomed to these uniquely challenging conditions. For this reason, the internal exam process at Woodhouse provides our students with invaluable resilience-strengthening benefit, as well as serving a necessary academic purpose.”
This term, many of our upper sixth faced their biggest test yet. Two whole weeks of proper exam conditions. They will find the gaps in their knowledge that they need to work through before the summer and fine tune their revision schedules, but more importantly they will find out how well they cope with the pressure of performing when it matters. And we will be here to support them in developing coping strategies where needed.
Many students feel mocks are a good idea. History student Sebastian (who has an offer from Oxford) told us “The mocks are a fantastic way to practise for the real thing. Doing them in the sports hall, as well as imitating the real thing, gives me a real adrenaline rush and a sense of solidarity with my fellow Woodhouseians. I think I have performed well (so far), but I also know there are things which I can sharpen up before the A level exams in May and June.”
Only time will tell how affected by the pandemic our students have been, but we believe our efforts to prepare them, and our emotional wellbeing centred approach, will give them every chance of success in the summer, and beyond.

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Finchley, London, N12 9EY

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