Marva's blog: Give it a rest

The children are back at school now after what, as I’m told by my 15-year-old son, was a very well deserved and long-overdue break from the rigours of being a full time student.

At what I initially perceived to be a clear exaggeration, I began to roll my eyes and say something along the lines of “oh please, back in my day we…” due to the copious amounts of half-terms they receive, which are also sprinkled liberally with an Inset Day here or there. 

In fact, does anyone know what an Inset Day actually entails?  My imagination tells me that it consists of the teacher’s doing a shot of tequila each, attempting a poorly blindfolded pin-the-tail-on-the-Head and several unsuccessful “trust falls”, before consuming a long lunch, and preparing to welcome our little angels back into the playground the next day. Or maybe that was just my teachers, back in the 80’s, but I digress…

My son is up for school at 6.40am and leaves home by 7.20am every day – a good half hour earlier than I do!  The school gates open at just after 8am and close again 4pm, so he and his comrades are, in effect, doing the hours that constitutes a working day for many of us.

He has shared with me, that already in his first few months of starting Year 10, he feels under considerable pressure from the teachers and school to ensure that the work he submits and the results he produces will be one of many that continue to bolster the schools excellent position in the league tables.  He also confesses that he is scared of messing up his whole life, should he not pass his GCSE’s.

He says that this is the impression given to the students – the inevitable outcome of any grade less than a 4, which in old-speak is a ‘C’, is the beginning of a lifetime of irrecoverable underachievement.  Yes, there is also a new grading system, and the A* - G grades have been done away with, in favour of numbers 9-1.   Although, they have kept the ‘U’, I suppose just in case anyone was in any doubt that any result less than 1, was unsuccessful.

I am concerned about the pressure that there is on students to constantly excel, and whilst I do tell my son that not passing his exams with flying-colours is not the end of the world, I do still expect him to do his absolute best and ask for support at school and at home, as he requires it.  I try to keep a keen eye on his mood and willingness to communicate, and also encourage him to get enough sleep, take time out to pursue his artistic interests, and also have fun with his friends, which is now usually virtually, in the world’s of Fortnite or Overwatch.

Of course, there are many factors that contribute to a child’s emotional and psychological well-being, however, could the increased anxiety that is experienced due to the demands of traditional academia, be a considerable one? 

What happens to the children who are largely creative, rather than academic? The creative subjects appear to have been all but eliminated and are under-appreciated as life-enhancing skills that should also be well-compensated.  They will likely have to get “real jobs” to supplement their artistic pursuits.  Again, I digress.

It is a fine balancing act as a parent; encouraging your child to do well, and understanding what it is exactly that the school is asking of them, but seeing the absolute need that they have for the school holidays, and also helping them to be compassionate towards themselves, is an education that they cannot afford to miss.

Marva is single parent of a 15 year old boy. She has worked in the City for 18 years and is currently a Financial Operations Team Leader for a Global Investment Manager.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

Comments
Dean Johnson - 06/11/2018 - 20:31

`Hi Marva, 

Please let your child know that the outcome of his life is determined by him as a person and not his grades. Let him know he is special, talented and unique. Tell him that every day. 

D

Marva-Leigh Francis Marva-Leigh Francis - 07/11/2018 - 16:21

Hi Dean - yes, I do every day!  I'm incredibly proud of him, and encourage him not to seek validation as to his worth from anyone else, other than who he sees when he looks in the mirror.

I myself did not follow the tradition route into the City, and left mainstream education at the age of 17, therefore, I believe that whatever path my son wishes to take (with guidance, as required), it will turn out to be the very best one for him. I'm very relieved also that he has his artistic outlets, as it provides a kind calm, re-invigoration, and restoration of balance to what can be quite a stressful day.  

Thanks for your comment - vey much appreciated.

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