What should your child be studying during Covid-19 School Closures?
Have the Covid-19 school closures left you uncertain about what students should be focusing on in their home learning?
In this article, I'm going to give a run-down of the things that students can most usefully be doing with their time to make sure they achieve their academic potential, whether that's being judged by exams or teacher assessment.
What should Years 11 and 13 be doing during Covid-19 School Closures?
Many students, and parents, are feeling lost, directionless and confused about what students in exam years should be doing with their time now that schools have closed and exams have been cancelled.
We know that GCSE and A Level grades are going to be awarded based on the judgement of teachers who know students well – and they will take into account things like mock exam grades as well as coursework and classwork.
However, many parents are uncomfortable about this because their children didn't perform at their best in their mock exams, with a huge majority of students working towards peaking their performance for the real exams in May and June.
What can parents and year 11 and 13 students do now?
These are the things that students in years 11 and 13 should be focusing on at home right now:
- Improving their performance where they didn't do very well in their mocks. This could be by re-doing the sections of mock papers that let them down or by accessing new exam papers from the exam board websites and doing them under timed conditions at home. This will give teachers additional, improved evidence to base the grades they submit to the exam boards on.
- If students achieved grades that they're happy with in their mocks and have proof that they were consistently working at that level, they can probably afford to relax.
- Focusing on finishing the syllabus for subjects they want to study at A Level. This is really important, particularly for subjects that rely on linear progression of knowledge such as maths and the sciences. If students haven't finished the specification they will be at a distinct disadvantage when they start their A Level courses, and stepping up to A Level is a hard enough transition in normal times.
- Similary, year 13 students who are going on to university should make sure they've finished their specifications in any subjects they're doing at A Level that are relevant to their undergraduate study. Once they've done this, they could source reading lists and start familiarising themselves with the content of the first year of their degree.
- Having said the above, students in years 11 and 13 shouldn't be pushing themselves too hard right now. They will be tired from the build-up to the exams that they're not now taking and there is also the emotional burden of dealing with the global health crisis we find ourselves in. I would suggest studying for no more than the length of a normal school day.
If year 11 students are studying independently at home I have a huge number of resources in The Extraordinaries Club that can help them finish their courses and make sure they know their specifications for the subjects they wish to study at A Level.
I am also supporting members with their home learning with a morning Zoom call where they can plan their day and do a 25 minute study session to start their day off productively.
What should Years 10 and 12 be doing during Covid-19 School Closures?
Years 10 and 12 are probably the year groups who are going to be most disadvantaged by an extended period of time outside the school environment and without formal teaching. They are potentially going to miss months of education. And, with teachers struggling to complete teaching the curriculum for some subjects in normal times, it is going to be nigh-on impossible to complete it when schools return.
I am sure that the exam boards/government will come up with something in due course to make it fair for the students in years 10 and 12 when they do come to sit their exams. But, what can students do while schools are closed to make sure they're not falling behind?
What can parents and year 10 and 12 students do now?
- The single most important thing is to do any work set by school as well as possible. This will keep you as up to date with your own school's teaching as you are able to be. And, make sure you take every opportunity to submit work to be marked and communicate with your teachers.
- Focus on core skills e.g. if you're doing a language, read articles in that language, watch Netflix in that language or listen to radio stations from countries that speak that language. If you maintain these core skills you will be in a really strong position to pick up where you left off when you return to school.
I am putting on a series of lessons focused on maintaining and developing students' core skills for members of The Extraordinaires Club. These will be active and engaging lessons, delivered on Zoom by experienced tutors and teachers.
What should Years 7, 8 and 9 be doing during Covid-19 School Closures?
Years 7, 8 and 9 should be doing pretty much the same as years 10 and 12, but there is less pressure on students in these years because they're not expected to do external exams next year. So, if your child is in year 7, 8 or 9 please get them to do all the work set by their school, and come along to the lessons I'm putting on to help them maintain their skills across all their subjects.
I will be updating the timetable of lessons as they are confirmed.
The one thing EVERY student should be doing during Covid-19 School Closures
Every student should be reading for at least 20 minutes per day. It doesn't really matter what they're reading: a novel, a magazine, a non-fiction book, a newspaper, my blog(!) but keeping their reading going is essential and poor reading skills are the biggest reason for students underperforming across the curriculum.
Listen to my podcast about how to get reluctant readers reading here.
Do you need more help with this?
If you're stressed out about working from home and worried about your children having a big gap in their education because of school closures, join The Extraordinaries Club for more help in the form or daily check-in calls to get the day started and lessons from subject experts to maintain and develop core academic skills, as well as advice during the tricky times we're living through.
Click here for more information. If you have questions about what I'm offering in the club at this time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.