With mid-year tests and Common Entrance mocks looming, all of the Seniors are developing or putting into practice their revision skills.

For the children in Year 6, these tests are as much about providing them with experience of sitting papers under more formal conditions as they are about anything else. It would be remiss of any school not to ensure that the pupils are familiar with what it is like to sit at a desk on your own, in complete silence, with no-one to help you.  Those words are probably giving some parents unwelcome flashbacks, but that is the reality of the English education system, and it is our responsibility to make sure the children at Vinehall are as prepared as we can.

For the Year 7s, the upcoming tests give them the opportunity to hone and put into practice their study skills. This is also the start of the process of the children becoming familiar with the style and format of the Common Entrance papers.  As with all externally-set exams, including GCSEs and A-levels, the Common Entrance papers generally do not change very much year-on-year and consequently working through past papers is useful preparation. Every class I have ever taught since I started teaching has groaned when we get to ‘the bearings question’ in the Common Entrance Maths papers.  But the fact that there is nearly always a bearings question to answer, combined with the fact that the bearings questions all look very familiar, means that it is at least a relatively easy question to prepare for – you just have to do lots of practice!

By the time the children get to this point in Year 8, hopefully they are familiar with the style of the papers they will encounter, as well as with how best to prepare for their exams. (It is important they identify their own learning style – see the attached presentation for different revision techniques that can be used.) The mock exams the Year 8s will sit next month are a way of encouraging(!) them to revisit and revise what they have learnt since the beginning of Year 7, but, more importantly, they are an opportunity to identify any areas of weakness so that these can be targeted in preparation for the final exams in June.

Whatever year the children are in, their mental well-being is our foremost priority, at all times, but especially around tests and exams. We start preparing them early, not to cause undue stress but to try to reduce stress as they progress through their education. Please be mindful when talking with your children, especially with younger children, that these tests are a staging post – they are a gauge of their strengths and weaknesses and a starting point for the next phase of their learning.

Paul Borrows