Extra school work in the Easter holidays can be intense but rewarding – here’s how to nail the holiday period this year, ensuring your child stays at the top of their game for teacher-awarded grades this summer.
Even in less unusual times as these, the Easter Holidays are a prime time to hire a tutor and help your child toward doing their best in the upcoming exam period. This year, it’s more important than ever to be well-equipped for the coming months, thanks to the shift in examination and grade awarding that’s occurred as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Easter Holidays are the last possible time you can use to get ahead and exam-ready, offering as they do a concentrated period away from the usual weekly onslaught of homework and testing.
This year, in order to truly succeed and get the best grade possible, your child might well need to use the Easter Holidays as a crucible for doing the work that their teachers will be using to award them their final exam mark for the year.
In this blog, we take a look at what Teacher-Awarded grades mean, how they might be judged, and why a bit of extra Easter Holiday tuition can prove invaluable in firming up the grades students deserve at the end of the year.
Why is Easter Holiday Tuition so important?
Easter Holidays mark the final push in the academic year to get ready for the coming exam season. The break in the daily school routine they provide offers a chance for students to pin-point the areas that need extra work, as well as gain a bit of perspective on their academic year as a whole.
This can be a make-or-break point in confidence building, as well as a crucial time to set a bit of structure and revision work-ethic in place.
It can often be hard to get a student to latch on to the importance and the opportunity the Easter Holidays provide, and hiring a private tutor can help to motivate and focus a child, as well as building their aptitude in the areas they’ve hitherto struggled with.
What’s Different in 2021?
We often work with pupils over the Easter Holidays for a small, concentrated burst – say three to four hours tuition a day over the course of a week – but in 2021, thanks to the new Teacher-Awarded Grades system put in place by the government due to the disruption to education Covid-19 has caused, the Easter Holidays are a more vital time than ever to increase the focus and attention to the schoolwork a pupil is completing right now.
The new Teacher-Awarded Grading system in place means teacher’s are tasked with awarding final grades to their students based on their current and prior performance, rather than everything hinging on a single exam sitting in the summer.
Every school is assessing things in their own way, and teachers will be building up a file on each student. The Easter Holidays will likely be used to set a number of papers and miniature coursework projects that teachers will use to formulate students’ grades with.
The fact that grades will be awarded slightly earlier this year – in early August, rather than mid-to-late August, means that teachers will have had to decide their students’ grades earlier, too. This all points towards the Easter Holidays, and the period immediately following, as a key time for gathering grade-indicative work from pupils.
Key things to note include
- Assessment will only be on material and topics students have learnt so far.
- No algorithm will be used to decide grades: it will be down to each individual subject teacher
- Everyone’s assessing in their own ways: some teachers are making DIY exams, some are setting coursework, some are gathering work gradually. The assessment period is flexible and might have already begun at your child’s school
- There is a stronger reliance on past papers this year: many teachers will look to use exam questions set in previous years
- Check out the Department of Education infographic and twitter for further details
How to Succeed at “Exams” in 2021
With the above in mind, we’ve compiled some top tips for how to help your child succeed in their exam work in 2021.
Practice Past Papers
Because of the lack of official exams, teachers will be pulling a lot of what they’re using to test pupils from past papers. Using exam questions from previous years will be commonplace in 2021.
Find out your child’s exam board, head to their website, and you’ll be able to download numerous past papers that they can practice. Bear in mind that the new GCSE and A Levels mean different style papers – see below.
A tutor will be able to quickly and easily provide past papers, as well as being already up to speed with the latest curriculum developments.
Find Un-Seen Material
Drilling students on past papers can never cover everything, though, so keep on testing them on their ability to cope with unseen material.
A tutor can work with a student on lateral thinking and problem-solving to ensure they are able to solve any problem or tackle any essay question by applying their knowledge. It’s the questions that are designed to look unseen, but they’ll still be testing on material your child will know. It’s good to get them well trained in discerning how different questions can formulate around the same material.
After the Easter Holidays there will be no ‘secure’ material: all exam boards across every subject are releasing all the materials, including past papers, that are available. A tutor may be able to help access these before they are released, helping your child get ahead in the holidays.
Get up to speed on the new(er) GCSE and A-Level
In 2015 Michael Gove introduced reforms to the system, with first cohorts taking these reformed examinations in 2017 and ‘18.
This narrows the pool of past papers whilst widening the issue of un-seen material: the reforms are commonly understood to have made these examinations more difficult. Again, a tutor will be able to help a student adapt, as well as working with them on more difficult types of exam questions.
Consolidate What You Know
Pupils will only be tested on material they’ve learnt and covered this year, so there’s no need to cram in extra topics on the syllabus if your child hasn’t actually covered them in lessons.
Working on consolidating what you know will prove invaluable: a tutor can work on a revision schedule and work timetable that boils down the year’s syllabus into weekly revisable topics.
Identify the Weak Spots
Consolidating what you know also means identifying those things you struggled with at the time. It’s now or never to go back to those weak spots and firm them up!
A bit of gentle testing – as well as a good conversation about what a student feels most nervous about – is a good way to ascertain this. Then it’s a case of confidence building and continuous practice, both of which usually go hand-in-hand.
Plan for the Future
Thinking about the future is a nice way to actually alleviate some of the pressure on your child in the immediate moment. Are they particularly interested in a subject, even if it’s a subject that they haven’t been able to study yet, like philosophy, law or creative writing?
The Easter Holidays can be an excellent opportunity to hire a tutor in order to nurture particular talents or interests. It’s this nurturing that means they’ll be well-prepared for later tests and examinations down the line.
A tutor can help deliver inspiring, interesting and exciting sessions on a topic that might spark a passion, or nurture that precious flame into a fire. Taking the opportunity to get in a bit of outside-the-box thinking and academic excitement at this stage pays huge dividends later.