A teenager’s passionate post about how the government’s new GCSE grading system has put so much pressure on students they are “crying in the toilets” and “breaking down in the middle of a lesson” has gone viral.
Under major reforms set to be introduced in August, pupils will no longer receive traditional A*- G grades. Instead, exams will be marked from nine to one, with nine considered a higher grade than the current A*.
But GCSE student Emma Jameson say the changes are pushing pupils to the edge.
According to the teen, she has been expected to memorise two books, a play and 15 poems for her English literature exam, while the GCSE maths course now covers A Level material.
“In fact, the standards have increased so drastically, that the 2nd set in our school that would be achieving B-A grades are now being moved onto foundation tier for the new system (in which the highest grade possible is equivalent to a C) just to have a shot at passing the exam,” Jameson wrote on Facebook.
“At school, we are not taught about our subject or inspired to learn, we are informed of what examiners want to hear. It is a test of memory if nothing else.
“Of course I can’t speak on behalf of everyone my age, but in my school, everyone’s mental health isn’t exactly tip top,” she continued.
“Despite support from teachers, they know there isn’t much they can do as it is the government that puts pressure on them. It’s not uncommon to see us roaming corridors with faded looks in our eyes or crying in the toilets and I’ve kind of got used to people breaking down in the middle of a lesson.
“Looking around a classroom 3 weeks away from exams, I see a group of kids slumped over desks with books closed and minds shut off to the work as well; we’re all exhausted. There is a healthy amount of challenge and stress but honestly I find this ridiculous.”
Adding that teenagers are often mis-labelled as “a lazy young generation” despite the pressure they’re under, Jameson concluded: “I appreciate the fact that this isn’t the biggest issue in the world and that life will only get harder when we get a job, a house, and debts, but if something doesn’t change then I think this country may wake up one day to a mentally unstable generation that have no ability to think for themselves.”
The schoolgirl has had support from students, teachers and parents across the UK, with more than 30,000 people sharing her message since she posted it on social media last week.
“This articulate young lady will go far, but her point is valid,” a woman named Jo Shaw commented on Facebook.
“Who does it benefit if the education system pushes teachers and pupils to such levels of stress and pressure they cant cope? The adults can leave the profession, and do so in droves. The youngsters can only fail.”
“As a retired secondary school teacher, I weep for you all,” a man named Peter Wilkinson added.
The new grading system was proposed by the government to allow more differentiation between students and give the most talented pupils room to succeed.
In 2017, the nine to one grades will only be used for English language, English literature and maths, wth plans to move other subjects over to the new grading system in 2018 and 2019.