The summer after GCSEs at the end of year 11 is a long break. It’s full of possibilities. Before we even get to the school summer holidays my daughter Fizz has an awful lot of revision and pressure. As her parent, I don’t get a lot of information in advance.
School in the final weeks of year 11
For example, we have no confirmed start date for study leave. It will be a last minute decision by the school based on the behaviour of the year group. I don’t know when my daughter is going to be working at home, which is awkward as we have some disruptive plumbing work to book in!
Other things are very last-minute too. The history and science courses are so long that they will only just finish teaching them all before the exams start. That makes revision pretty difficult.
Arrangements and re-arrangements
Some important things have to be re-booked at a late stage. Months ago the school asked the year 11 children to find work experience starting in the week of 18th June. Fizz did a great application and landed the perfect spot. Now in mid-February the exam timetable has finally been published by AQA. Guess what? Fizz has two very late language exams in the same week as her work experience. We now have to negotiate (very apologetically) with the employer and see if it can be moved.
It feels a bit like we are flying by the seat of our pants. Things have changed a lot since I was 16. Most teachers are too busy to tell us much and I pick up bits of information from Fizz, mostly. I haven’t even been given the date for the exam results.
The final end of year 11
After her last GCSE exam in June, Fizz will have left school. Some of her friends are staying on to join a school geography trip to Iceland. Those who are doing work experience will have the teachers visit them in their workplaces. The end of year 11 is quite a soft finish, and I have found it tricky to get my head around the arrangements.
Even with the late language exams, Fizz will finish school four weeks before the end of term. If all goes to plan, she will have two weeks of work experience and then two more weeks before her younger sister Belle joins her at the end of term and we can take a family holiday. I wonder how Belle will feel heading off to school each morning for a month while Fizz is still asleep.
The Summer after GCSEs
Fizz will deserve a break but eventually she may get bored and under my feet. With all these weeks free at the end of year 11, I asked some other parent bloggers for their tips. They have shared their own memories and ideas for things to do.
Helen from Casa Costello says: “My 16 year old will be competing in Finland & Glasgow but if she wasn’t she would be taking part in the Young Citizen Service. My niece did it last year and loved it. It took up her whole summer & she made loads of friends.”
Victoria from Lylia Rose says: “My school didn’t organise anything as after the last exam that was my last day at that school. I worked extra shifts and saw my friends before we went our separate ways to various jobs, colleges and sixth forms.”
Mandi from Hexmumblog says: “Both of mine have helped out with the family business to earn themselves some money, as they were working their younger siblings have never minded as they said work doesn’t sound fun!!”
Natasha from Mummy and Moose says: ” My son did NCS (National Citizen Service) last summer following his GCSEs and I cannot stress enough how brilliant it was for him. Masses of fun, it helped his self confidence and learning lots of new skills. 15 days of things to do for £50 was excellent value too. I think every 16 year old should do it.”
Colette from Truly Madly Cuckoo says: ” My son got himself a part time job in a local café. He normally only works Sundays but did extra hours after GCSEs and works more in the holidays now. He loves the extra cash, also it’ll look good on his personal statement if he goes to university.”
Nellie from Nellie Pom-Poms says: “When my older two went on study leave a fortnight before the exams they were pretty much left to their own devices as to whether they actually went to revision classes, they got to exams and afterwards they kicked back and relaxed. They are no longer pupils at school so the school don’t do anything. My youngest had no jealousy whatsoever, she enjoyed not having her older siblings at school.”
Is this how you expected the end of year 11 to go or are there some surprises here? How are the last weeks of year 11 organised in your area? Do let me know in the comments!
Read more from me about children learning: Six stages of kids learning a musical instrument.