Today, GCSE results were published. These are the exams that every pupil at a British school, in the UK and internationally, must take at 16 years old. A pupil’s results will stay with her/him for life: great GCSE grades open doors; poor GCSE grades limit future options. Most immediately, today’s grades will determine a pupil’s next steps in education or vocational training post-16.
Every August, I am asked why the Olive Tree GCSE results are so much higher than the average, both for the UK and for local international schools. All our pupils, including those with a special educational need or with English as a second language, achieve highly with us each summer.
There are various reasons for this.
Great exam teaching requires a teacher to know each pupil’s needs at every step, and to provide personalised attention on a daily basis. This is best achieved in small teaching groups, which is an essential feature of The Olive Tree Secondary.
Great exam teaching also needs to address the whole young person. The young adult’s social, emotional, physical and creative development must be given opportunities to continue to blossom through the exam years. For this reason, we offer non-exam subjects such as choir and daily sports up to age 16. We also provide a strong system of emotional support with a mentor for all secondary pupils up to age 16. Balance makes for less stressful exam years and for more focused, deeper learning.
Great exam teaching also requires…great teachers! No surprise. Our exam staff are of course highly experienced at this level but, more importantly, they are committed to inspiring and exciting young people with their subject. Through open dialogue and debate, and through making the learning accessible to the young adult mind. They are a staff who are not simply focused on exam results but on the joy of their subject area.
Paradoxically, it would seem as though a less obsessive chasing of the top grades leads to precisely those high grades. Coupled with heaps of hard work of course!
Congratulations to our Year 11 pupils and GCSE teaching staff on this year’s outstanding results.