Exam time is stressful enough without having the weight of people’s expectations on your shoulders — or around your neck, as students at one British school have discovered.
Sixth-grade students at Sharnbrook Upper School in Bedfordshire, England, have been instructed to wear lanyards with their target exam grades written on them. The predicted grades are based on the students’ previous exam results and what teachers expect them to achieve in their A-levels.
Tellingly, some teachers have referred to the lanyard, which also features each student’s name and photograph, as “the noose.” Students were told that the lanyards were to increase safety measures by identifying students not in uniform and making sure no unauthorized people were on school grounds. They were also informed that the lanyards were for an upcoming inspection by Ofsted, or the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, to remind students of their targets in case an inspector asked.
It’s no surprise that some of the students are less than enthused about the move. Would you want to walk around with your IQ printed on a lanyard? How about your SAT score? It would be kind of strange, right?
The students at this school are going to be feeling enough pressure already with their exams looming ahead of them without feeling alienated or embarrassed by what’s hanging around their necks.
Schools need to remember that students are much more than the grades on their exam papers. Not all of them are academic — their strengths lie in other places. There’s nothing wrong with asking students to wear lanyards as a security measure, but displaying their target grades has nothing to do with protecting them and risks placing unnecessary stress on them at an already highly stressful time.
This school would help its students more by developing ways to help them reach their full potential (and perhaps smashing those targets) instead of focusing on impressing inspectors with a bunch of grades that may or may not appear on their exam certificates.
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