Editor’s comment: Why exam results make me sad

Students celebrating their exam results day. Picture: ELLIE HOSKINS

Students celebrating their exam results day. Picture: ELLIE HOSKINS - Credit: Archant

Results day: two words that strike fear into the heart of any local newspaper journalist.

My days of (in some cases literally) running between schools with a notebook and a camera are probably behind me.

But I recall this: I used to find the day quite depressing not because it made me feel old but paradoxically because of how much excitement and potential all the kids showed, how much deserving self-belief they had - because I feared it was the last time many of them would be made to feel that way.

Some cling on for a few more years to the belief that the world is genuinely interested in them, but on the whole the machine of capitalism is crushing and undiscerning. Those with privileged backgrounds or the most easily examined abilities get most of the best-paid jobs (and even those will be exploited in one way or another); those who don't fit the mould, who need to be given the freedom they were as children to thrive in their own way, too often won't be.

Yet we need people who think differently if we are going to solve the multiple crises we now face as a country and a a planet.

Results day can be a huge relief or a catastrophe. In the latter case, if young people don't perform best in exam settings, or don't learn best in the most conventional, measurable classroom ways, they may not have received grades that reflect their ability.

Teachers do a sterling job of building different methods of learning into lessons, but their hands are tied by the curriculum and (perhaps more so) by the enormous volumes of work they are expected to do, and the relentless culture of assessment to which both students and educators are subjected.

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For teenagers, results day is the beginning of the future that everyone's been telling them about for so many years. But that future should see them improving the system, not becoming part of it. A government's education policy is really its policy on change. Judge them by it.