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Students face ‘pressure- cooker climate’ in results driven schools system

PUBLISHED: 07:45 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:30 16 May 2017

Sarah-Jane Page, from EASTuition, with student, Ed Kerman-Lane. Picture: RYAN KUHL

Sarah-Jane Page, from EASTuition, with student, Ed Kerman-Lane. Picture: RYAN KUHL

Ryan Kuhl

A former high school teacher, who left the classroom to provide one-to-one tuition and exam preparation, believes many students are ‘surviving rather than thriving’ in a system so focussed on results.

Sarah-Jane Page began her career in Merseyside – going on to teach at Framlingham College, Thomas Mills High School, Stowmarket High School and Farlingaye High School, in Woodbridge.

An examiner for awarding body AQA for more than 12 years, her Framlingham-based company, EASTuition, offers academic coaching in English, maths, Spanish and creative writing.

“With league tables and Ofsted reports, there’s now huge pressure on schools to meet targets and get results – an ethos that generates a pressure-cooker climate with students the ones most feeling the heat,” she said.

“Ironically, we have come up with a fairer system for ranking hotels than we have for schools that are worth so much more than just their academic achievements.

“As a result, many students are now surviving rather than thriving in a system so focussed on results. At EASTuition, we are noticing a dwindling sense of achievement in teens – even in those who are achieving high grades – which has a knock-on effect on confidence and self-belief – leaving those teens to give up or switch off.”

Sarah-Jane has also observed societal differences between teens of today and people who grew up before the digital age, when concerns were focused in immediate peer groups, and where the occasional ‘Chinese whisper’ might flare up before being forgotten and replaced by the next.

“Today, teens battle an ever-increasing sense of inadequacy that comes from a society so dependent on validation,” she said.

“If they don’t reach a certain grade, they’ve failed; if they don’t have a certain number of friends or followers on social media, they’re inadequate; if their selflie doesn’t get enough ‘likes’, they’re worthless.

Now teens have their lives on show, out in the public arena for all to see. Such a public forum encourages comparison which only serves to sharpen their sensitivities and alert them to where they’re not matching up. Even normal playground squabbles are recorded on phones and posted online, with untold backlash.

“Teens are exposed to more than their brains are wired to process, and their results-driven school life can often compound an already shaky sense of self. Feelings of inadequacy then feed into other areas of life making adolescents seek validation in many of the wrong ways – most notably through social media and risky behaviour.

“Teens are teetering on a precipice where, depending on what they experience, they will either fly or fall. They need to be given wings not weights.”

Sarah-Jane Page offers her top 10 tips for exam revision here.

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