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Intervention sessions 'harm students’ mental health'


Extra revision sessions for Year 11 students should be abolished to protect the mental health of learners in the run up to the summer exams, according to a Headteacher.

In a recent blog, John Tomsett of Huntington School in York, instead advised teachers to save their energy for planning and teaching great lessons that will prepare students well for their exams.

He said: “Why do some students think, when they have seven hours of English lessons in Years 10 and 11 a fortnight, that 10 one hour lessons, one a week leading up to the examinations, held after school when they and their teachers are tired, will suddenly transform them from D grade students to C grade students and make up for their lack of effort in their seven hours of lessons a fortnight over the past 18 months?”

Mr Tomsett said extra revision sessions overloaded teachers and pupils with pressure, causing them to become ill.

“Wellbeing is of prime importance, because if you and your students are pressured to the point of stress then no-one will perform well,” he said. “All I can ask is that, on results day in August, we can truthfully say to ourselves that we did the very best we could without damaging our own mental health or the mental health of our students. We must not push for even better examination results at the cost of our wellbeing.”

In a separate blog, Mr Tomsett said extra revision sessions and interventions were undermining the development of students and making them passive learners.

“We have to stop encouraging students to be helpless; it does us no good and, most importantly, it does the students no good in the long-term either,” he said. “We have to look at current Year 7s and Year 8s and imagine them being more independent and engaged with learning because they see the relevance of it and can envision their futures. We want to inspire confident learners who will thrive in a changing world.”

ASDAN offers a wide range of courses that help students become more confident, take responsibility for their own learning, and develop key skills for further education, training, employment and life.

One such course is the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE), which is suitable for learners in Years 10 and 11. CoPE is proven to help students perform better academically. A study from the University of the West of England of more than half a million pupils found that young people who passed CoPE raised their chances of achieving A* to C grades in GCSE English by 10% and achieving five A* to C grades including English and maths by 5%. 

Other courses ASDAN provides at GCSE are Wider Key Skills, Bronze, Silver and Gold; and a wide range of Short Courses.