Earlier in the term, Year 11 pupils at The Friary undertook their first experience of mock examinations. Having missed the opportunity for their end of Year 10 exams, there was all the more excitement and anxiety than usual in the run-up to this first series. Despite the additional Covid procedures, we managed to run the exam series pretty much as normal compared to previous years, with pupils sitting papers in a wide range of subjects over the week.

In the run-up to the exams, we saw our Year 11s working incredibly hard to plough through course content and hone their exam techniques; this was all the more important considering they have missed a large chunk of their taught qualification time in school.

In order to best support our pupils, staff across the school pulled out all the stops to try to bridge any gaps in learning as well as trying to build pupils’ confidence. This support has continued following the mock exams, with after-school booster and revision sessions running every night of the week. Departments including English, Maths, Science and History held Saturday Schools in the run up to the mock exams. Pupil attendance at these was particularly impressive with over 100 Year 11 pupils attending each of the sessions, even when they occurred during the weekend of October half-term.

Charlotte Kenney, Faculty Leader of Mathematics, said: “The response from the vast majority of pupils has been fantastic. They have attended what amounts to essentially a period 6 in their droves, and have been working really hard during these extra sessions. We are very proud of the effort they have demonstrated so far.”

A recent Year 11 survey showed that 98% of pupils questioned had participated in some form of additional revision (either after-school boosters or a Saturday School). Their feedback was extremely positive with pupils showing genuine appreciation of everything that had been provided so far, along with an almost insatiable desire for more!

Emily Turner, a Year 11 pupil, commented that she felt that “boosters in Geography, Maths and English were particularly beneficial in supporting my preparation for the mock exams.” Rowan Downes, also a Year 11 pupil, said that he found “Maths sessions were useful because we revisited topics we might have forgotten.” Katie Browning stated that “French revision was really helpful because it showed me specifically how to push for the top grades.” Other pupils said they were pleased to be able to take mock exams in Business Studies and Health and Social Care as this gave them a useful opportunity to practice for the unit examinations which will take place in these subjects next term.

Immediately following the mock exam week, Year 11 pupils were able to focus on their futures by attending our Sixth form Open Afternoon. This put their mocks exams into context, as well as nurturing their ideas and desires for the next chapter of their lives. Many pupils have reflected that they now feel they have a real goal to aim for; they can see past the current restrictions of the Pandemic, and recognise that there is lots to look forward to in the future. Their positivity and commitment should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Matt Allman, Headteacher, said: “We will be reiterating to parents before the end of term that all signs are that the summer exams go ahead and that these mock exams will retain our primary purpose which is to inform what we need to re-visit and what skills we need to hone. The dictionary defines a ‘mock’ as ‘make a replica or imitation of something’ so these mock exam are not the real thing, and they are not a real result. Our mocks are simply about getting everything in place for the summer.”