School ends automatic study leave

By Liz HearnshawTHE temptation to spend study leave pursuing entertainments unrelated to revision is to become a thing of the past for pupils at one school, where time off to read up on difficult subjects will now have to be earned.

By Liz Hearnshaw

THE temptation to spend study leave pursuing entertainments unrelated to revision is to become a thing of the past for pupils at one school, where time off to read up on difficult subjects will now have to be earned.

From this summer, GCSE students at the King Edward VI Upper School in Bury St Edmunds will be assessed by tutors before they are granted permission to revise at home ahead of their main exams.

Pupils who have not demonstrated a capability to study independently will take part in a range of extra classes and supervised coursework sessions at school instead of taking time off.


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Geoff Barton, school headteacher, said the scheme had been introduced to give more help to those most in need, while making better use of teacher time, which would otherwise be spent invigilating exams.

“For some students, study leave is an advantage as they can work independently, but for others it could be a disadvantage as they lose momentum,” he added.

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“The study leave will now be earned by students capable of independent study. This is definitely in the interests of those students who may not have a brilliant track record of organising their lives and might be tempted by other opportunities.

“We would be able to put on a series of sessions in small groups for them to help them prepare for exams. Educationally it is very sound.”

But the innovative scheme has received a mixed reaction from students, with some feeling the system will be unfair.

James Starling, 15, a year 11 group leader who helps communicate teachers' ideas to the students, said: “Quite a lot of people disagree with it, but I think that is because the year 11 pupils last year automatically had study leave.

“There has been this mixed reaction because of the fact there has been a change to the system.

“But it is definitely good as in some subjects, like English, people might not know how to structure their revision. If they are in school, then the teachers can help them.

“I think it will be effective for everyone as you work all the way up to the end of the year, then have this break before starting your exams, so it can be easy to lose the momentum of what you are doing.”

Sally Harris, another 15-year-old GSCE student and year 11 group leader, agreed, saying: “The change is good in some ways, but people think it is quite unfair in other ways.

“The people that are not so good in school are very annoyed about it and say they are being discriminated against.”

Mr Barton said the new scheme could give teachers potentially 10 days to run structured revision programmes between the traditional beginning of study leave and the start of the exams.

Careful assessment will take place before deciding which pupils will stay in school and who can work from home.

“There are a number of ways to decided which pupils will get study leave,” said Mr Barton. “We will look at how they are doing and ask if they reached their potential in their mock exams.

“Clearly if they are falling below the levels we might expect, we would want to ask questions about extra support.

“I think the pupils probably have mixed feelings on it. Provided we are quite clear on the educational rationale, ultimately it is in their interests and I think many will accept it is a good idea.

“I think this will certainly help both with results for the school and for individual students, who will be more likely to be able to reach their potential with structured support.”

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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