Pupils voice concerns over handling of exams and a lack of sport

“For both teachers and pupils, this is a very sad, underwhelming end to something which has been such a large part of our lives for six years.” Joshua Mockett.

With exams cancelled and schools and universities closed, this is a very uncertain time for pupils and students across the country. Here, Joshua Mockett, a sixth-year pupil at Plockton High School, voices his concerns about the future.

If you are under 25 years old and have experienced the impacts of the coronavirus lockdown then please send us your words through editor@whfp.com. Contributions should be between 200 and 500 words in length.

The cancellation of this year’s SQA exams has left us all concerned as to what will happen regarding the results that many of us have worked hard for all year.

Recently, an announcement was made by the SQA that the results will be based on prelim results, coursework throughout the year and our estimated grades given by teachers. This, however, has made those who did not do as well in their prelims worried, especially as a lot of work goes in between prelims and exams.

Prelims are taken far earlier in the year when the full course hasn’t even been covered. I, myself, feel that if exams were still running I would have performed much better than I did in the prelims and so it would not reflect what I am actually capable of, which I am worried may affect my plans for my future career.

Personally, I am not going to university but have friends who have received conditional offers from universities and, as it stands, will not be able to get in, having not had the chance to get the grades that they need in the final exams. It is not a nice feeling having no control over things. There is so much uncertainty around so many massive aspects of this stage in our lives.

For myself and all of the other sixth years, it is a very strange ending to our time at high school, our last few days being filled with so much stress and confused hurry, everything happening so quickly. It is now clear we won’t be able to take part in the usual traditions and formal goodbyes that every other year before us got to do when leaving school. For both teachers and pupils, this is a very sad, underwhelming end to something which has been such a large part of our lives for six years.

That being said, under the current circumstances I think that it is the right decision for the exams to be cancelled. Although the prelim results might not reflect mine or others true capabilities, and many will feel an unjust waste of time and effort, teachers will be able to give their professional judgement on how we got on throughout the year and what we were on track to get finally. This to me seems the fairest and most efficient way forward.

This comment is by another senior pupil at Plockton High School. The contributor asked to remain anonymous.

I feel as though I’m ticking boxes for stubborn, expectant adults here; that because I’m a senior pupil, I should feel disappointed with the decision to close the schools and cancel the exams. Although I do partly feel this way — along with many other seniors, I’m sure — I also know that many are far more devastated by the football season being cancelled.

As the great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said: “Football isn’t a matter of life and death – it’s much more important than that”. Of course, I understand that the football had to be cancelled because of the growing number of cases of coronavirus and the added pressure from both the Scottish and UK Governments, but it doesn’t soften the blow. Every Saturday still feels like there’s something missing.

With Skye and Lochalsh being a melting pot of sports — shinty, football, golf, badminton and long-distance running — thousands of people have seen their weekends affected by the pandemic. Hundreds of people in the area take part in these sports every week – that’s all gone now. Thousands watch live sports every week – that’s gone too. You still get the excited, expectant feeling as you approach Saturday, just for that feeling to go as quickly as it came as you remember that the football is off.

With no football and no exams to work towards, many students are becoming increasingly bored. As far as the exams are concerned, we were told that we were  “not at a disadvantage” by “responsible” adults, despite having six weeks less to revise for most subjects, and five months less in others. Some teachers decided that it was best that our grades (which will determine many careers) were decided by prelims that we sat in January. Being a senior student this has inevitably worried me and my classmates as future jobs and careers will be decided by this. I do understand why this solution to the problem was chosen, as the exams clearly can’t go ahead. But I’m confused why the SQA haven’t explored the possibility of postponing them. Instead, while the schools were open, we had to settle for squeezing four or five prelims into a three-day period, when usually they take place over at least three weeks. Personally, I feel that if I’d been given enough time for revision I would’ve done far better. Ultimately, we now have to accept the possibility of getting poorer grades than those we might have hoped for.

Anyway, that’s enough about the exams — it’s the football that really matters!