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How are you feeling now? Keep calm and carry on with your virtual school experience

The news broke last week in the UK and this weekend in Shanghai, that IB Diploma and IGCSE examinations would not happen this year. Just to be clear, the reason for the delay is not the speed of the internet in China, it’s because we use different examination boards than schools in the UK. This news has been met with a string of emotions; joy at not needing to revise for exams, fear about how grades will be calculated and anxiety about what happens next.


By Paul Kelly, Head of Secondary

These are indeed the strangest of times. As I read the news about people panic buying toilet rolls in the UK, not food but toilet rolls, I wonder what will happen next. I suspect that is a similar concern for almost everyone; the fear of not knowing is incredibly difficult for us to deal with as we will invariably consider the worst outcome rather than the best.

As I write this piece, I have great sympathy for all of my students who were due to sit examinations this year. The only analogy I can think of is to compare it to how the Olympic athletes must feel, having worked so hard to peak for the Tokyo Games, only to find that they are postponed for a year. The feeling of not knowing if you will be in the same shape in a year and whether you will indeed be picked for the national team again must be causing great anxiety amongst those athletes.

Now, I appreciate that in the grand scheme of things the cancellation of exams is not as impactful as other issues. I am acutely aware that through this crisis many of us have lost family and loved ones, but to our students, these exams have been the focal point of their lives for the last two years. In understanding this, I want to highlight the need for empathy and a compassionate response. In times like these, when we are being told to practise social distancing and self-isolate, it can be easy to put ‘me’ at the centre of things; ‘this is hard for me’, ‘other people don’t understand how tough this is for me’. This is the very time to reach out to friends and loved ones, and understand how they are feeling.

For those students who will not have the chance to take exams, I hope you can all take comfort in the fact that you prepared extremely well, and the journey can often be as important as the destination. For the rest of us, who do not understand what it is like to have lost the chance to take exams, I hope we can all do our best to empathise with our children, and keep them calm and grounded whilst the school works with the examination boards to understand the rest of this process.

Although exams are not happening, I still hope that all of our students will engage in Live Learning when it begins on Monday. This is not just an opportunity to get a better understanding of the next steps, it is also a chance to share feelings with others who are in the same situation.