Back to School // Year 7 and GCSE Advice
Congratulations for finishing primary school! Now, you're about to enter secondary school which is not that different to your old school just a bit bigger. There is no need to feel anxious about starting your new school, it should be an marvellous start to the next chapter of your life. However it is only natural to worry about issues like workload, teachers, friendships and bullying but I can ensure you it is not as bad as the movies make out.
What about bullying, what if I get bullied?
What is bullying?
Bullying is an act of physical, verbal, psychological and social form of aggressive behaviour that is intended to make the victim feel helpless and defeated, often repetitive.
What is considered "bullying"
- Verbal (Name-calling, teasing, controlling you, victimising jokes and written comments)
- Physical (Hitting, kicking, punching. You get what I'm coming from.)
- Homophobic (Disliking/hating due to sexuality and gender).
- Cultural Discrimination (Being treated different because of race, beliefs and identify.)
- Cyberbulling (Usage of technology to attack victims, social media, texting, emailing, prank phone-calls).
Bullying will happen regardless of the stages of education you are in primary, secondary or further. If you feel you are being bullied, tell someone whether that is a parent, sibling, form tutor or head of year/house/pastoral (whatever your school calls it). They can help you! If you decide to tell someone within school, they will be supportive but yet they have to be impartial so they have to know both sides of the story to support you and the bully in order to resolve the issue.
Will I get too much work? I think I may struggle.
The workload will not be unbearable. Schools understand the transition from primary school and will make sure you adjust to the new system/routine. My secondary school gave us a brief daily homework schedule so we knew when we should get homework. This fizzled out half way through the year when we were used to the routine but I knew to expect Maths homework even two days or so. The work won't be a big jump when it comes to level. You would have been tested in year 6 (SATS) which will help your school to put you into sets suited to your ability. The SATS results will be the level you should start on in year 7. You won't be thrown into the deep end. Don't expect GCSE papers in Year 7. When it comes to struggling with workload, tell your teacher if you struggle with the task before homework is due in then the teacher won't tell you off if you can't complete the tasks fully and will offer extra support such as tutoring (Mainly subjects such as English and Maths do these extra-help).
What are teachers like? Do they hand detentions out like candy?
Some teachers can be really grumps and most of them will be ever so lovely. Every secondary school has a grumpy teacher who hates their job and how education is not the same. Teachers are there to teach and inspire students to do the right thing and make the most of their education to help them in the future. Some teachers do give more than plenty detentions out but if they give detentions the more they have to do detention duty. My advice is to stick out of trouble and focus on school-work. Being sent out of a lesson will disrupt your education and affect performance in tests and level assessments.
I want to stay friends with the people from primary school, how do I stay in contact?
How do I make new friends?
If you remain friends with people from primary school just stay in touch and make sure they can rely on you to stick by them and not use them when you have no-one. To make friends with people can be difficult as you don't have to do it very often and let's just say it is awkward for everyone. Just make small talk in class discussion and don't shy from conversation which will be hard if you are a shy person. In form/registration talk to people you have the most classes with, this will mean you have a buddy to talk to en route to lessons and during lunch and break-times.
I'm scared that I might get lost?
Secondary schools are most definitely bigger than primary schools but they're not as big as they seem. You will probably get lost to and forth from lessons but older students and teachers will help you find your way. You won't get punished for it in the first few weeks as you aren't used to your surroundings. Your planner/jotter may have a map of the school, use it if they are provided. That's why they are there.
I've chosen my subjects, what should I expect?
You should expect to be doing subjects you like and enjoy. Within your chosen subjects you should expect to do coursework and assignments regularly and keep on top of it to avoid falling behind everyone else. Revise regularly (weekly) to keep the units on the top of your mind.
What is a BTEC? GCSE equivalence?
In BTEC subjects, they are fully coursework based and a graded on a Pass (P), Merit (M), Distinction (D) and Distinction Star (D*). They are equivalent to 2-4 GCSE's. Most schools use BTEC's for vocational courses such as Media Studies, Music, Child Development, Performing Arts, Health and Social Care and many more. In some occasions schools use BTEC's to help support students who struggle with core subjects such as Science to ensure that they have the qualification.
My predicted grades are ridiculously high, I don't think I can achieve them
My predicted grades are really low.
Don't take too much notice when it comes to predicted grades. They are made up by many factors like the area you live in, primary school SAT results, Year 9 results. Ignore them, they are self-fulfilling prophecies and want you to achieve these grades even if you want to achieve higher. Put effort in your work and you'll achieve it. Aim high! Do what you want.
Are linear exams bad?
They are harder in a sense as they are all at the end of Year 11. So you need to revise Year 10 content before the exam at the end of Year 11 so you have all the information needed. They aren't bad, you just need to keep your mind up to date so the information is fresh.
Year 10 Early entry exams?
Early entry exams are up to your school. They will put you in for it if they have doubts that you won't pass the subject or they intend for you to do another GCSE in your last year. I did early entry Maths in November last year and I passed so I did GCSE Statistics for a further Maths qualification. If you do an early in Science and English Language don't be in the mindset I can do it next year. This will be your grade and you may not be able to resit the next year.
I don't have any classes with my friends.
It's good that you've chosen subjects without your friends. This now gives you the opportunity to crack down on your subjects and not have any distractions. Being in a new class with new people is amazing you create bonds with people you would never have thought be friends with and you can help each other with assignments.
How should I revise effectively?
That shall be my next blog post!☺
I don't know what to do after GCSE's?
You, me, both. All I can say is search and look at all the opportunities you have. Visit Sixth Form centres and colleges to get a feel for the environment. Go to taster days to have a hands on experience in all the course they have to offer. Google search apprenticeships if that is the direction you would rather go to get a job and training.
What are mock exams?
Mock exams are fake exams made by your school to prepare you for the actual exam. In theory these exams are fake but a little bit of revision won't go a miss. Your results help subject teachers with extra guidance and preparation. These will benefit you for the exam.
I panic before exams, how do I calm nerves?
Breathe. Exams aren't as bad as they seem. Take a bottle of water in and maybe some mints. By sucking a mint you will be focussing on the mint and the exam and not the exam environment. Also, I wouldn't cram the night before or before the exam that only works you up into a state which isn't the best mind frame.
|Last day of school // May 2014|
I survived, you will too.