Year 11 anxiety(8 Posts)
I'm a secondary teacher and this year, a mentor for a handful of KS4 pupils. I monitor their levels, attitudes to learning, attendance to curriculum and after school revision classes.
At the moment, one of my pupils is suffering increasing 'Year 11' anxiety. This pupil used my room from last March onwards to study at every single opportunity (break, lunch, after school). Her exam notes, prep etc were second to none. Her parents told me that she was the same in the house - totally dedicated.
Her GCSE results (at year 10) were disappointing. She was devastated and hasn't really recovered from that. They certainly didn't reflect the mammoth effort she put in. In the meantime, she's had a dose of shingles and hates the way she looks. She really is in a bad place.
I'm finding it hard to counsel someone who is (by all accounts regarding tracking, performance in class, reading age test, all data basically) a typical B-D pupil. In her coursework, she is achieving B's, exams - D's, yet the very clear message we are sending all our pupils is "You have a C? Why not a B. You have a B? Why not an A?". Instead of saying "...a B grade pass is awesome - well done you". She isn't ever going to get the grades that she is being pushed towards and her feelings are now of poor self- worth and increasing distress. It's becoming a real point of concern and other than telling SLT to back off, I don't know what to do.
I mentioned this to my Mentor leader and their response was to put her on our weekly pupil scrutiny list i.e. how to push her towards maximum success. I could scream. How can I strike a balance between fulfilling my duty of care to a pupil who is in danger of 'checking out' completely without ignoring my responsibility as a teacher? DO you come across this and how do you deal with it?
No advice but just wanted to say it's great she has you as her mentor.
I don't feel I'm doing a great job at the moment tbh.
It sounds as though you are doing a v good job at protecting this girl's mh and it is very difficult to fight 'against the system' (we live in a country which has a very rigorous and uncompromising education system - endless testing , rote learning and assessments - hard exams at the end of each year leading to many pupils having to "re-sit" the year or told to leave. We had to enlist the support of an educational psychologist for our child at one point over exam stress, so you have my sympathies ... . If the school aren't open to different strategies, could her parents afford private therapy for her to boost her confidence in other ways? I'm not an HCP but doesn't shingles strike people who are under stress?
Could a focus on exam technique rather than just revising the information help? It might help her to feel more in control in the exam
If her exam prep is amazing and her exam achievement below what you would expect, then have you had a discussion about what's going wrong in the exams? Is her anxiety affecting her performance? Does she need some calming techniques? Help with exam technique?
You also need to talk to her about burnout. It's early in Y11 yet and she has been full-on for so long already. Is she exercising? Seeing friends? If not, then she also needs to understand that taking time out from study will improve her performance, not damage it. Maybe a meeting with her and her parents to discuss a plan for the rest of the year?
I'm a pastoral manager for Year 11 and I'm seeing a lot of this. I tend to go for the 'year 11 is a marathon not a sprint' analogy, with a hefty dose of 'you can only do your best' and lots of cups of tea! I don't think there is a concrete answer, tbh, just lots of moral support and as @noblegiraffe says, make sure she's having a balance. So many of my students are dropping everything else in their lives (sport, hobbies etc) to study all the time which I think is a recipe for burnout.
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