Pupils’ recipe for success

Susie Chippendale, 13, and Imogen de Ste Croix, 14, studying one of their English GCSE texts
Susie Chippendale, 13, and Imogen de Ste Croix, 14, studying one of their English GCSE texts

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More work and less play is clearly a recipe for success for Southsea students who are studying towards their GCSEs six weeks early.

Year Nine youngsters at St John’s College say they have benefited hugely from kick-starting important exam work since the May half term – instead of waiting to join the GCSE year group in September.

They may not have the luxury of winding down before the summer break, but the unanimous feedback from students since the initiative was launched two years ago is that it makes time fly and prepares them for difficult years ahead.

Harrison Debathe and Harriet Harding are relishing the chance to get ahead in their studies.

Harrison, 14, who has chosen history, drama and ICT GCSEs, says: ‘By starting our GCSEs earlier it gives us more time to get to know our teachers, and their teaching style.’

Harriet, 13, adds: ‘It makes sense to bring GCSE studies forward. This way also allows for students to change their mind if they feel they have made a wrong decision about their GCSE choices.’

GCSE students Rosie Adams, Andrew Maxwell and George Gissing, 15, are all grateful for the additional study period they received last year.

Rosie says: ‘I enjoyed starting my GCSE subjects earlier. It made the year seem shorter and learning new things was interesting.’

Andrew says: ‘I wasn’t worried about starting my GCSEs when I returned to school in the September as I knew what to expect.’

George adds: ‘The system is a good introduction into GCSEs. It was different when we returned to school after the summer holidays as there was more pressure on us, but the six weeks prepared us for what was ahead.’

Historically GCSE study starts in Year Ten but staff at St John’s were determined to make effective use of the demotivated ‘dead time’ for Year Nines after the May half term and before the lure of fun summer holidays.

Graham Best, headmaster, says: ‘Year Nine pupils sometimes lost momentum after exams in the summer term, particularly in subjects they were giving up.

‘By starting their GCSE options in June instead of September there is a new energy and sense of excitement of moving on and getting into new courses.’