It’s that time of the year all those in the education system dread - the exam season
As well as being a consultant on all matters regarding young drivers, I am also part of the team running exams at my local secondary school. As lead invigilator for the last five years, I organise and look after all things relating to exams, from the students to the invigilators, exam after exam. I’m also the son of two teachers, and for everyone involved it’s stressful, but for pupils it really is one of the most stressful and pressurised times in their lives.
There are more exams than ever, more difficult, even greater pressure and the constant reminder that if they don’t succeed in this five-week window, they are going to find it very difficult forging a meaningful future for the rest of their lives. It’s a period where the cleverest of people make the stupidest of mistakes, where late night revision leads to early morning revision. It’s brutal, unrelenting, and the culmination of focused stress from the previous September. It really is hellish. It’s easy to forget that exam stress later in life (unless you are a parent), but we need to try to remember so that we can understand just how it may affect their actions, attitudes and characters. Alongside the exam nightmare, they still have lives to live, need to enjoy themselves and practise their hobbies, not to mention learning to drive and probably a part-time job to help pay for the lessons. It’s making me tired and dizzy just thinking about it all!
We can all help them at this decisive point in their lives just by simply acknowledging what they are facing. The simple question “How are your exams going?” could either be the same question they are being asked by everyone, or it could be the first opportunity for them to share the experience with anyone. But being interested and understanding can be a huge relief to them. Whilst they are with you, they are also away from all that revision and stress. Driving can be a great escape, and a valuable breath of fresh air. Ask your student to share their exam timetable with you, again taking an interest, but you may also be able to schedule more demanding lessons away from their challenging exams, or provide a welcome break when they need it most. Small gestures like this can make a real and beneficial difference to them, but also take your relationship to another positive level going forward. Young people are still pretty tough, but perhaps showing them the recognition the season deserves, acknowledging what they are going through, might make a real difference in more ways than you realise.
At one of the most demanding periods of their life, this will not only help get the best out of them during their driving lessons, but also in their exam preparations. The results may surprise you, whilst rewarding them.