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About Consilium

Consilium Academies is a multi-academy Trust working across the North of England. It has nine academy schools located in Yorkshire, the North West, and the North East. Consilium is dedicated to enriching lives and inspiring ambitions for both students and colleagues.

Revision & Exam Support

Exams and assessments are undoubtedly nerve-racking experiences for pupils and their parents. It can be an anxious time during the run-up to exams and parents may wonder to what degree they should be helping. So, with that in mind, here we aim to help parents and carers of Thornhill pupils support their children as they approach exams, mocks and internal assessments.

Revision Advice

We all know the importance of revision and preparation for assessment and exam success, but how much do we know about what makes for effective revision? There are some very popular strategies that our students spend A LOT of time doing, yet they are proven to have little impact.

3 commonly used and poor revision techniques are:

  • Highlighting
  • Rereading texts
  • Copying out notes

The reason these are so ineffective is that they require little thinking... and it is THINKING about things that makes us remember them.

It is easy to see why students like these strategies. They are low demand but make students feel assured that they are ‘doing revision’. They will come bounding downstairs from their room to show off their neat files and highlighted sheets of texts that they have ‘revised.’ Gratifying? Yes. Effective? NO.

So what does work? Below are 3 of the most effective approaches to revision.

1 Distributed practice

Rather than cramming all of their revision for one subject into one block, it is much better to space this out, right from now until the exams are over. Revision for GCSE can start from the very first day in year 10! Why is this better?

Bizarrely it is because this gives students time to forget. This means that when they come back to it a few weeks later they will have to think harder which helps them remember it better. By interleaving and mixing up different topics together, and continually revisiting their learning, students will be more successful at remembering and remembering quicker!

2. Testing, testing, testing...

This technique is pretty straight forward. Students need to keep testing themselves (or each other) on what they have to learn and remember. This technique has been shown to have the highest impact in terms of supporting students recalling and remembering. Some ways in which student can do this are:

  • Creating flashcards with one question and one answer on the back- keep testing!
  • Work through past exam papers (you can get these direct from exam board websites)
  • Create ‘fill the gap’ exercises and come back to them later to practice
  • Create multiple choice quizzes
  • Use apps such as Quizzlet, Gojimo and many more

3. Interrogation

One of the best things that students can do to support their revision is to ask why an idea or concept is true... and then answer! Students can ask themselves and each other or be asked by parents and carers. For example:

In science, increasing the temperature can increase the rate of chemical reaction... why?

In geography, the leisure industry of seaside towns like Barry Island in South Wales has deteriorated in the last 4 decades... why?

In history, in 1929 the American stock exchange collapsed. This supported Hitler’s rise to power... why?

So rather than just learning facts or ideas and reading them over and over, student should get into the habit of asking themselves WHY these things are true.

Top 10 Tips for Parents

Top 10 Tips for Parents

  1. Encourage your child to make a revision timetable – and stick to it. This includes planning in time for friends, exercise, and relaxing.

 

  1. Make sure your child has a quiet space to work, with no distractions. Putting the mobile phone away can be a challenge but removing that distraction can help too.

 

  1. Help to find the method of learning and retaining information that works best for them. It could be reading and summarising notes, using flash cards or Post-it notes, looking at video clips, playing back recordings of their own voice, mind mapping or perhaps a mixture of these.

 

  1. Check the exam specifications. All exam boards publish these, along with practice papers and mark schemes too.

 

  1. Search out revision apps and online resources – such as BBC Bitesize and Gojimo – to clarify areas your child feels less confident about. Teenagers sometimes concentrate on their best subjects and leave their weaker ones till the end, but it is a good idea to tackle weak areas early on.

 

  1. Be around as much as possible. You don’t have to be at their side 24/7, but children like parents and carers taking an interest in their revision. Be careful however not to take over.

 

  1. Keep the kitchen cupboard stocked with delicious food. When the going gets tough children really appreciate a cup of tea, a plate of biscuits or their favourite meal.

 

  1. Encourage them to break revision into manageable chunks and to take regular breaks in between revision sessions. It’s far more effective to do 30 minutes of successful revision – rather than plough on for hours on end and not get anywhere.

 

  1. Exercise, fresh air, healthy food and lots of sleep are crucial.

 

  1. Most important of all, help your child to keep everything in perspective. Remind them that the better they prepare and the more confident they feel in their subject knowledge the less stressed they will feel when the exams start.

 

The OCR exam board have produced an excellent guide to revision which can be found here:

https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/295221-the-ocr-guide-to-revision.pdf

 

GCSE Support at Thornhill

Throughout the GCSE exam years, a series of formal and informal interventions will be in place to support and prepare all students for their GCSE exams.

Firstly, regular classroom assessment take place to enable the teacher to shape and guide students to close gaps in learning or to extend their thinking. You may hear your child talk about ‘Do Now’ tasks or ‘POW’ opportunities where they perfect their work. Homework tasks are designed to support revision and exam practice and are essential to GCSE success.

Outside of lessons, before school, lunch and after school sessions are made available by teachers for students to attended to revisit learning, revise topics and prepare for exams.  Whilst these are voluntary, we would encourage every student to attend where possible and take all the opportunities available to them. A timetable of these sessions is available to help student plan their time effectively.

Revision guides are available from each subject areas and will be an invaluable support for student studying towards GCSE’s.

We have targeted interventions for some students to focus on their progress in core subjects however most intervention and support is classroom based. Keeping in communication with classroom teachers can help both students and parents. Class Charts messenger is an ideal tool to keep these lines of communication open.

Students are often attached to their mobile devises and gain a lot from websites and apps. Some great online resources are listed below:

https://collegeinfogeek.com

https://studywise.co.uk/GCSE-revision

https://www.gijimo.com

https://revisionword.com/GCSE-revsion

https://senecalearning.com/en-GB/

https://classroom.thenational.academy/subjects-by-key-stage/key-stage-4

 

Managing Exam Stress

Working towards exams can create feelings of worry and being under pressure. However, three are a range of things that students and parents can do to help deal with the stress you might be feeling.

When students are feeling stressed, get them talking.

  • Remind them that a certain amount of stress is normal and good for motivation. They can use this emotion to improve their performance.
  • Encourage them to talk to friends, they are there to help, and they will realise they are not alone.
  • Encourage them to talk to teachers, they will have a different perspective and can help to solve problems and offer practical solutions.
  • Get them to take breaks and get plenty of sleep
  • Encourage them to revise with friends. Learning is a social thing, and they don’t need to be isolated and alone.

Mindfulness activities such as breathing techniques can help to support stress, find out more here: https://franticworld.com/mindset

How else can parents help?

  • Encourage them to start revising NOW... as soon as possible! Athletes don’t just train the day before, actors don’t just rehearse the day before filming/a play.
    •  “The more I practised, the luckier I get” Gary Player (golfer)
  • Provide a quiet space to work. Most people work well in an undisturbed place with space to spread out. Make sure it is well lit and that there are no distractions
  • Help them get a balance in their revision timetable for work and social time. Breaks will help learning, giving the brain time to store and sort information. Keeping up with friends will help put the stress of exams into better perspective.
  • Make time for exercise. This naturally relaxes us even just a brief walk in the fresh air can help.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. As exams get closer you may notice that your child’s room becomes messier than normal. Try not add any additional pressure- their room can always be tided later.
  • Help them to eat and sleep well. Make time to sit down and eat together. Discuss ways to help your child to get a good night sleep, maybe by switching off the phone, iPad, or games console to get a clear head before bedtime.
  • Keep them talking. All student's feel demotivated, overwhelmed, nervous, and can struggle at times. Help them to see that this is OK, talk to them about how you felt nervous too. Help them in overcoming these barriers.
    • “How can I help?”
    • “If you’d like me to test you, let me know”
    • “I’ve brought you a snack to keep you going”
  • Give plenty of praise and encouragement and don’t pass on your stress. Young people, are under more pressure today than ever before. Try not to show how worried you might be about exams. In fact, make it explicit that you love them whatever happens (sounds too obvious, but it really matters to young people, who can often feel they will let their parents down).
  • Expect and encourage your child to attend additional sessions where extra support can be received.
  • Communicate regularly with the school; we all want the very best for your child.

 

For more information about managing stress during exam times, the links below will be useful

https://www.studentminds.org/examstress

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-exam-stress

https://www.ncsyes.co.uk/themis/5-ways-destress-exams

GCSE's 2022

The ongoing impact of Covid, lockdowns, and school closures has resulted in the DfE completing a consultation over the summer regarding potential changes to GCSE exams for 2022.

The outcome of this consultation has been published and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-changes-to-the-assessment-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2022

As summary of the changes to GCSE assessment is outlined below

Maths

Formula sheets will be provided

English Language

No changes

English Literature

Optional topics and advanced information to be revealed in February 2022

Science combined and separates

Practical tasks are now encouraged

Equation sheets provided for physics and combined.

History

Optional topics and advanced information to be revealed in February 2022

Geography

Optional topics and advanced information to be revealed in February 2022

French and Bengali

No changes

RS

No changes

Art, Graphics and Photography

Portfolio based assessment only- No externally set task

Business

No changes

Computing

No changes