There’s a lot of pressure on our ten, eleven and twelve year olds at this time of the year. The Grade Six Achievement Test was supposed to relieve the enormous psychological burden that was the Common Entrance but it only added more subjects to the curriculum, keeping the strict “90s or nothing” mindset.
Backbreaking bookbags, sleep-deprived homework schedules and thousands of dollars (hundreds of hours) worth of extra classes are the reality of every child in Grade Six. Like coal, our twelve year olds are compressed into diamonds (the ones that make it, anyway) by unrelenting pressure from parents, teachers and peers. These children put in a lot of effort, but (like most people in our society) they are rushing into a bottleneck situation of too many students and nowhere to put them.
GSAT results are set to be released in schools today (according to the Observer). But with the 70% placement in “schools of choice” there is going to be 30% disappointment. Tears. Depression. Attempted suicide. (Too often we push our children too far).
So hug someone who did GSAT. They need to know that, good or bad, their grades do not define them. Their high school, traditional or not, does not define them. Tell them this isn’t the end of the road. Tell them the only thing that matters is doing their best and that you will love them no matter what.
You can wait til they’re older to tell them it only gets harder after here.
You can also read this sweetly nostalgic article about our rural primary schools and what they have to offer written by Head of Surgery at UHWI Prof Duncan. I’m completely surprised and delighted at this side of him.